Something I'd like to know

It would seem rather obvious, but maybe I’m missing something.

If you don’t believe a firm base exists, how can you have one? Why should we play the game of philosophy so arbitrarily? I feel if you do this, you will end up becoming a Bertrand Russell contradicting yourself as Chesterton has described in his book Orthodoxy(and please don’t read it like a kid with cough medicine):

‘But the new rebel is a skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. Thus he writes one book complaining that imperial oppression insults the purity of women, and then he writes another book in which he insults it himself. He curses the Sultan because Christian girls lose their virginity, and then curses Mrs. Grundy because they keep it. As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. A man denounces marriage as a lie, and then denounces aristocratic profligates for treating it as a lie. He calls a flag a bauble, and then blames the oppressors of Poland or Ireland because they take away that bauble. The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.’ (G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, 1909)

Now then, from what unstable floating answer, can you say I’m wrong? You can’t can you? too bad many of you don’t believe in monolithic truths.

Because some flow through and neglect the ideas and conventions of bases. Eastern philosophy taught me how to just be; as opposed to a foundation I flow with the situation and as a person.

Not believing that a firm base exists is in and of itself a “firm base”. That’s why the mantra is often recited, “Doubt everything, especially doubting everything.”

What you have proposed is a bit of a false dilemma. The choices are not “Have a firm base or don’t”. It’s a bit more complicated than that. Obviously, your most hardened skeptic at the very least will trust logic for that is the platform by which he must assault a given claim.

I guess the question to me would be more along the lines of “How can anyone NOT have a firm base?”

So then you’re just living a contradiction? A denial of your own claims? And your fine with that?

Nothing is clear cut in this world. Some people know this while other’s strive to define everything.

Then you have no reason to speak. If nothing is clear cut, how can we progress. If we must use logic we must have a epistemological base of some sort.

No matter how you look at it, when you deny that nothing in this world is clear cut you end up contradicting yourself.

It’s only a contradiction because you’ve decided to define it that way. My point was that everyone has a firm base from which to start. In this land deciding that there is no such thing is in essence such a base. We can question that base all we like, or we can leave that particular thing not subject to questioning.

All you have succeeded in doing is in pointing out something that is self referential. I have a firm base because I believe in firm bases because I have one that doesn’t deny the concept of firm bases isn’t exactly compelling either you see. Using that logic and your argument, I could start with the concept that all wombats are actually go-carts, and from your above statements have more credibility than someone who doesn’t believe in that to begin with by virtue of believing in a base that doesn’t deny a base.

The bottom line is this: your former posts takes skepticism to some extreme that I’m not sure that it ever reaches. I’m equally unsure that your question is askable in the first place about bases, and I’m not convinced that because something is self-referential it is therefore contradictory.

We must know that we exist.

That can be, or at least has been, taken several ways.

As a truism, an illusion, sanity, madness, speculation, truth, Truth, faith, belief - you name it.

Russell was, when he stepped away from his logical works per se, often an idiot. I’m not riding this particular pony with Bertrand Russell. But he never doubted his own existence, so far as I know. In fact, he doubted Descartes’ doubt.

The “base” does not have to be epistemic, at all. I think that rationalist arguments are not epistemic in the way we usually use that term, because they, sometimes at least, controvert the idea of “knowledge” in the first place. To a rationalist, the form is the content. Or so a case could be made, I believe.

I know that I exist, and I like to think about that. That’s one definition of “philosopher”. It’s also a definition of “guy with a lot of time on his hands”.

Anyway, if I don’t there is not only no reason to speak, there is no means whereby to.

If that is true, then your entire original post has created a false dilemma. How can a skeptic argue all those points logicallly without having this base?

I think that defining having no base as a base is disingenuous as best.

To say that ‘doubt everthing’ includes within it someone not doubting to doubt everything is also disingenuous.

I haven’t defined it that way, you have.

I’m taking this to a total sense, in which you are contradicting yourself.

Your denying an absolute with an absolute.

You are saying, not believing in Firm Bases is firm base in itself, but you don’t believe in them! So what are you saying? They obviously do exist if you believe you have one then don’t you?

But furthermore,

basically u could be wrong or right…u just dont know infinitely… so then you can never establish a base, because once you establish that you do know that you don’t know, you’ve proved you know that you can’t. I see what you are saying, don’t get me wrong, but in all actuality you are push backed infinitely in not knowing, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, etc… So basically you could just be a vegetable for the rest of your life if that is what you please, because whether you want to say it or not, you can’t help proposing that your certain of uncertainty.

You’re wrong. So yes, I can say that. 1909? Hmm. A bit dated for a tome by now. I don’t know of many who slice a paragraph or two from a book and somehow substantiate an entire philosophical viewpoint from it. You sound a bit tense, ill at ease perhaps with your own “discovery.”
Are you annoyed that some are able to modify, adapt, and flow with change?

This is a short little social diatribe, a venting of sorts, to which you obviously have permitted yourself to become wholly involved. As such, you now reap the benefits (or curse, if you will) of that which you now proclaim. Incidentally you may view this as a floating answer, whatever that means, but it feels pretty stable as I ride the cosmic wave. Better to be in the tube than stand at the beach marveling at someone elses accomplishments. It’s always more enjoyable to read an original thought than a series of quotations. Ciao.

Self referentiality is not necessarily a contradiction. It is quite simply, undecidable.

No, I’m not actually. I’m not posing an absolute although I’m sure it could be done that way. I clearly said that the premise is open to question itself.

That’s why your question is nonsensical. There are no firm bases–which is a firm base. An all inclusive denial is self-referential to the thing it denies. There are no tooth fairies. Don’t you believe in a tooth fairy to deny it? No. So why then are you talking about it, you MUST believe in a tooth fairy to bring her up? No I don’t. I’m denying there is such a thing. It’s a very FIRM denial that I can use as a “base”.

Similary, I can start with the premise there are no firm bases if I so desire and reason from that point onward. It depends on the “scope” I wish to give this statement…is it absolute? If it is, then what I’ve postulated can not be a “firm base”. Maybe it’s time to go looking for some other definition. Does it seem to be tentatively true? Sure–but that’s the BEST we can hope for in any given situation. In that sense it is as “firm of a base” as one can get.

The alternative, that is to say giving things absolute authority and all inclusion, does not fair any better as I’ve mentioned in my previous post. That is why your original post by that author is not a very good argument. He paints skepticim in an extreme form–in an absolute all inclusive way–all the while avoiding the implications of such thinking to a non-skeptical framework. There are ends of the tails in either situation that are equally absurd. Since that’s the case, neither side gets a point.

I’m not sure not knowing precludes one from forming a base. It’s just a tentatively accepted base.

Nah, you are making it an all inclusive absolute again. To be a true all inclusive absolute, it’d have to be in the formulation of “I’m certain of uncertainty, but even of that I am uncertain” and so on infinitely. I can never “say anything with certainty”.

I personally think that one cannot “make” an absolute base, but one can assume it and hold it to be true inasmuch as one can hold anything to be true.

However, one cannot escape in their first assumption some sort of self-referentiality if they wish to issue an all inclusive negative claim. I don’t regard that as either bad or good, I simply regard it as the way it is.

Did you read it by chance? I don’t think you did, because if you did you’d realize it applies to most skeptics of today. They are always involved in undermining their own mines.

You see, when you don’t take a stand somewhere, you can’t fight for anything. Everytime you find yourself fighting against something you believe in, you really don’t even believe in it yourself, so besides your points being useless, it makes you the person look useless. If Chesterton is outdated, Nietzsche definitely is.

For the record, this is Chesterton’s original thought, if I put your words in quotations would that make you less enjoyable to read?

Just like science a world based on assumptions that seem to make sense.

I believe it would be you who has no reason to speak if you believe that everyone is a walking contradiction beyond your own mind. Since you wish to overgeneralize everyone and oft place them in the same category for what reason is it you ask questions? If you know the world why search the world for mysteries?

Once again you are projecting. You need one. I don’t. My mind is my own .

Once again you are displacing your sentiments upon me. When I say that nothing in this world is black and white I mean and believe just that.

Solid post.

So let me get this straight…before we run in circles again.

All of you skeptics, feel the need to discuss things in which you’re certain about to gain knowledge that won’t help because we will always been uncertain? Will we always be uncertain? When do we draw this line if we ever draw one? When and Where do we draw distinctions? I think there is a difference between skepticism and gnosticism, and so do you, but it’s no reason not to be certain? We’ve given these meanings words have we not? But these meanings have been there before the words, so they still exist even without words to describe them.

Please tell me there’s something more to agnosticism other than, “I just don’t want to proclaim I know truth”, you’d just rather do it implicitly?

You can’t be a skeptic everywhere, it’s impossible to sustain life this way, you must be certain about somethings, or then as some of you have said Christians are Mad, you would be mad.

I am certain that I do not know enough to know the truth. I am certain that whatever opinion I have today may change tomorrow. Of this I am sure.

It is the solid foundation from which I launch myself into the world, eyes open, asking questions and getting as many sides of the story as possible.

I find only that the older I get, the harder it is to accept things at face value. I find myself needing better answers, more information than people are willing or perhaps capable of giving.

I often think that grasping onto some faith would make my life so much easier, everything would have an answer, a truth. But in the end, I cannot do it.

Perhaps when I am older I will be more sure of things, more conviced. Perhaps I will get an answer to my questions.


I’m going to say this one last bit, and then I’m going to be done in this thread.

It is possible for a skeptic to understand an absolutist viewpoint. Most of us were there at some time or another.

I’m not sure it is possible for an absolutist to understand a skeptical viewpoint. Quite simply put, as life progresses, most people find what they “knew” and “thought they knew” changes drastically. Sooner or later, something will happen that will challenge what you “know”. A golf game, in the spectrum of things to have happen to a person, is really not all that particularly earth shattering. It just temporarilly pissed you off.

There are many other things in life much, much worse than losing a golf game(maybe you’ve had some of these things come your way), and when those times come your absolutes will be called into question. Perhaps you will uphold them, perhaps you won’t. It is fairly easy to hold absolutes so long as everything is going swimmingly…the points at which a child dies, or you get cheated out of your retirement, or the entire world takes to kicking your ass down the hall make you often rethink what it is you “know”.

I think as a general rule, most “intelligent” people become more grey oriented as time goes on. There are a few exceptions, but one quickly finds that their ideals give way to survival…and survival is often enough challenge by itself without the need to try to “figure out universal unwavering truths”.

Is it that hard to understand? We gather, study, and analyze explicitly. We may not gather the truth but we gather.

A solid philosophical statement here.

I am not an agnostic. I feel that if there is universal truth it is beyond my reach, but certainly do not feel as if there is a God.

Sure I can. I have sustained life for quite some time. I have studied many ways of life and yet have not found the Truth I seek. And why must I be certain about anything? Does it really matter? I do not mean to believe that nothing is worthwhile but rather I can only learn/study so much that I question my certainty in the end. If you stop thinking; you die. Perhaps not in the physical sense but as a being. That is what keeps me going.

Simply put, yet exceedingly refined. Great job! =D>

I like what you’ve written here, it’s the most convincing to me.

Here’s what I can see. I could say, “I don’t believe I can be certain about many truths”.

to me that makes sense, to say, “I am certain Truth doesn’t exist” Or “I am certain that I can’t know truth forsure” Are both fallacies to me, because they are positing an absolute, while denying that they exist or that one can be sure(as in the second case). I think if I faced any logical professor, they would say the same thing about these last two statements.

But as I said, the only logical argument I can see is, “I don’t believe I can be certain about many truths” Because then you can be certain about this one, and uncertain about others, but then you get to pick and choose what you want to be certain about, which still in a total sense doesn’t make alot of sense to me.

I’ll also add, that when someone say’s both and logic is correct, they are implying that’s the right logic, and any other(either or) is not. I don’t see anyway to get around either or logic. Because it seems, any statement you make, no matter what, it’s comparable to an opposite or a different statement, so then it can be used as either or, you can say both and, but then you are still saying it’s correct as opposed to either or… and as I’ve said, I see no logical way to get around this, or get around it at all.