Future, Present, & Past:
Speculative~~ Giving itself latitude and leisure to take any premise or inquiry to its furthest associative conclusion.
Critical~~ Ready to apply, to itself and its object, the canons of reason, evidence, style, and ethics, up to their limits.
Traditional~~ At home and at large in the ecosystem of practice and memory that radically nourishes the whole person.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
There is a strong meta-philosophical flavor in many of my posts. This has its reasons--I am constantly asking myself what it is I am doing here (what is this thing called philosophy?)--but I decided to sketch an outline of those first-order positions I find most congenial, partly because people sometimes ask, so, dude, what is it you believe? and partly because it's good to touch base with one's commitments. I won't be arguing for any of these positions here, let alone spelling out the details; I won't even argue that they are all mutually consistent. It's more or less a list of -isms, and perhaps not all that enlightening, though I try to provide some glosses-- mostly these are the from-the-hip variety, so it's possible that in refining them I will have to seriously revise.
in method, I am
eclectic (My working assumption is that the intuitions at the root of any position are valid even if the articulation is problematic);
generalist (Philosophy seeks to understand everything--which means in practice it is committed to incompletion);
traditionalist (I am always interested in what the precedents of a position are, and this interest goes deeper than the historical);
skeptical (I always think a good question is "how do you know?" and I cultivate not-having-an-opinion, which is not the same as indifference);
irenic (I am less interested in making anyone agree with me, than in how we can both get along).
In doctrine, I am an
ontological realist (the world exists whether or not I am there to look at it). This does not mean that mind is not part of this world, or that mind does not exist necessarily! Ontological realism in the sense I espouse it is consistent with certain kinds of idealism. It simply means that there are constraints upon what we can truly say.
Also as regards ontology, I am a
personalist (to be is to experience, and the conatus of experience is towards personhood);
and tend to be
relationalist (entities, and certainly persons, are, at least in time--in terms of their coming-to-be and passing-away--constituted by their relations).
I am also a moral realist (judgments about whether something is right or wrong have sense outside of who is making the claim). When one says that X is good, one is making a stronger claim than that one approves of X or that X is "good for me."
On the question of science and religion, I am an accomodationist (there is no necessary conflict between scientific and religious stances). I take this so for granted that I do not really consider it a deep philosophical issue--it's almost a more matter of current affairs--but it's worth mentioning.
In political economy:
In my aims I am anarchist (the more distant the relationship, the more intolerable coercion--because the less resistible--is within it);
in my loyalties, conservative (existing goods tend to trump hypothetical alternative goods);
in my reactions, cynical (the question cui bono? always comes to mind);
in practice, localist (the closer the relationship, the less reason within it for coercion).
(This last especially is very from-the-hip.)
I am more swayed by Marx than almost any other thinker politically: the relevant sociological category is always class.
In art: I am both a dada classicist and a romantic modernist. (Huh?) I believe with Warhol that art is what you can get away with; I maintain, with Tarkovsky, Goethe, Bach, Leonardo, and Confucius, that some things are waaay more worth getting away with than others.
In theology: I am a rational fideist (the structure of our experience is aporetic and does require a (Jacobian, Kierkegaardian) leap; but the disposition for this leap can be rationally cultivated and its consequences rationally discussed);
and at the end of the day an apophaticist (God is wholly beyond the pertinence of any created concept).
The more I reflect the more convinced I am that the best preparation for philosophy is listening to and playing music--as many kinds of music as possible.