Friday, 23 July 2010

Philosophy - Introduction

I'm going to try and take a bit of advice from the essays of Paul Graham (a brilliant essayist, do look him up). I'm trying here to produce a substantial work of philosophy, and I'm going to do that by the method of “Launch fast and iterate”. This is a first draft of a complete body of philosophy as written by someone who is very young and as such almost everything I propose will eventually be changed for something more rigorous. So please bear with the more foolish elements and help me make this better if you would by suggesting where exactly the error lies. I've read a lot of philosophic ideas, but by no means systematically or thoroughly. If you happen to know that a thesis of mine if refuted an obscure chapter of Hegel please dont assume I'm aware of this fact but bring it to my attention.

Before I start, my biases: I have lots. Anything in this that is anti-clerical, liberal, scientific, atheistic, opposed to strict rules, mathematical, philosophically linguistic or elitist should be treated with extreme suspicion and generally regarded as proving merely that I am a British mathematician at Cambridge.

A quick note on interpretation, all my ideas are to be understood as broadly as possible. When I say perception I dont just mean things like sight and sound, I mean mental perceptions too, imagination, intuitions, emotions, everything that can be described as being experienced. Also, I almost never have absolute or discreet ideas in mind, almost all the concepts I employ are fuzzy around the edges, for example, to say something is good doesn't mean it belongs to a firm category of things that are good, it simply means that it is towards the good end of a continuous good-bad spectrum.

I'm going to try and post one blog a week, each one on a new topic, hopefully every Friday but bear with me. I would really appreciate comments, even if it's just to say "I dont understand" because it's important to me that this is understandable, the aim of this document is that it should be a way to think about morality. It's important (if I'm right of course) that as many people read and understand it as possible. So if something is unclear please tell me.

Sections I cant guarantee I'll have exactly one post for each heading but here's a rough outline.

  • Starting out - sure and certain knowledge
  • Expanding to the future - science, the problem of time, the world, other people
  • Limits and extent of science - metaphysics, the past, religion
  • Morality - basic ideas, action desire, should
  • Morality in the real world - some moral debates as an example
  • Moral progress - conventional morality, expanding spheres of moral interest

Would anyone be interested in this? I'll try and put the first chapter up today.

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