What are your philosophical positions?

Tina at Diotima’s Ladder put up a very cool entry: What’s Your Philosophy? | Diotima’s Ladder.


Tell the world. Don’t be shy. Yes, we’re used to piggy-backing off the famous philosophers, and that’s why I came up with this prompt. Those well-versed in philosophy will appreciate a grassroots approach, even those who spend every waking hour thinking about the transcendental unity of apperception, believe it or not. No need to read everything everyone’s ever said about anything. Just say what YOU think. So rarely do we get a platform for original philosophical thought. Well, this is it.

No need to answer these any or all of these questions, but I thought they might help stimulate things:

I replied with a comment on her post, but thought it would be cool to paste it here, with some added links to posts I’ve done on these topics.

Her questions are bolded and my answers are in normal font.

How do you weigh in on the free will/fate debate?
Free will is as real or illusory as baseball. (see emergence)
Free will? Free of what?
Free will and determinism are separate issues
People attribute free will to mind, not soul

How do you determine right from wrong?
Instinct, justified afterward with logic.
Morality arises from instincts
Moral values aren’t absolute, but aren’t arbitrary either
The foundations of morality

Are you a rationalist or empiricist or both? (If you don’t know these terms, don’t worry about it. Or just Google ‘em.)
Both. But if my empiricism conflicts with my rationality, empiricism wins. (See quantum mechanics)
Science, philosophy, and caution about what we think we know
Is logic and mathematics part of science?
The double slit experiment and the utter strangeness of quantum mechanics

How would you solve the mind/body problem? (Clue: You can reduce things to one or the other, or…actually solve the problem. Good luck.)
The same way I solve the software / hardware problem.
The mind is the brain, and why that’s good
The dualism of mind uploading

Does God exist?
I’m not convinced that any of the emotionally comforting versions do.
“God” as the sum total of all natural laws?  Sure.
On atheism and agnosticism

If God exists, does that mean there is life after death?
Do carrots have an afterlife? What about jellyfish? Sponges? Did neanderthals?
Humans might eventually build our own afterlife.
Soothing the fear of death

What is a soul? Does it exist?
The unique information in our brain. Yes, but not in any ghostly sense.
The mind is the brain, and why that’s good

Do dogs have souls?

What about parameciums?
(I looked up parameciums.  Microbes that appear able to learn.  Interesting, and I don’t know.)

What is Justice?
schadenfreude, maybe.  (See response above to right and wrong.)

What is Love?
A mammalian instinct.  (Albeit an important one.)

What is happiness?
VTA dopamine surges  (The trick is generating them.)

What is courage?
Often, desperation seen from a distance.  (But there are definitely other types.)

Does happiness factor into ethics? (In other words, does being a good person mean being a happy person?)
Unfortunately, not necessarily.

What is the purpose of art?
emotional satisfaction

Some of my answers might be different tomorrow, next week, or next year.

What are your answers?

9 thoughts on “What are your philosophical positions?

  1. This is awesome! Thanks so much for participating! I knew this would be a bold enterprise, and that philosophers tend to shy away from such endeavors, but I hoped the blogging community would see it as an opportunity start an interesting conversation. You’ve done a brilliant job in incorporating your other posts as explanations. Well done indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How do you weigh in on the free will/fate debate?
I’m content with the illusion of free will (I’d hate to think that someone else is driving the bus.)

    How do you determine right from wrong?
    Prior conditioning (upbringing); instinct; thought.

    Are you a rationalist or empiricist or both?
    It’s really hard to not say both, but I gravitate toward empiricism. I often think that rationalism, in me, is a gut feeling (or sense) and hence is itself empirical.

    How would you solve the mind/body problem?
    I like to think of the mind (or consciousness) as a spandrel; I like to think of a spandrel as an effect, like a field effect.

    Does God exist?
    No. But that is a personal matter of faith.

    If God exists, does that mean there is life after death?
    Only to punish my enemies.

    What is a soul? Does it exist?
    I don’t believe in a soul as a separate entity; only in the poetic sense of characteristic.

    Do dogs have souls?
    If anything does it would be a dog. No.

    What about parameciums?
    Sometimes I imagine that humans are at the bottom of the intelligence scale and dogs, bats, paramecia, etc. are progressively more so. Bats you say? Well, they hang by their feet which allows the blood to pool in their brains which perhaps gives them superior intellectual abilities. What follows is that perhaps paramecia have links to other dimensions. 

    What is Justice?
    Fairness and forgiveness. Especially when we’re wrong.

    What is Love?
    The prime directive.

    What is happiness?
    Chemicals in balance.

    What is courage?
    Living; growing older.

    Does happiness factor into ethics?
    If we were designed for anything it is happiness. Not continuous orgasmic thrills but steady and constant beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

    What is the purpose of art?

    To provide another pathway or language to the indescribable; beauty; misery; horror; everything.


    1. Thanks for the responses. Good answers!

      Consciousness as a spandrel is an interesting idea that I seem to be running into increasingly these days. It raises the stark possibility that we may be the only conscious creatures in the universe. I tend to think that consciousness is adaptive in some way, but I have to admit that I have no idea what that adaptation might be.


  3. I’ve never heard this word before, so I had to look it up:

    spandrel |ˈspandrəl|
    the almost triangular space between one side of the outer curve of an arch, a wall, and the ceiling or framework.spandrel
    • the space between the shoulders of adjoining arches and the ceiling or molding above.
    ORIGIN late Middle English: perhaps from Anglo-Norman French spaund(e)re, or from espaundre ‘expand.’

    I’m still not following. What does “spandrel” mean in this context? (I don’t know what “field effect” is either).


    1. In biology, which I’m assuming is the context of el Ted’s statement, a spandrel means a characteristic that is a side effect of an evolutionary adaptation, but is not an adaptation in and of itself.

      There’s a growing sentiment in many circles that consciousness may be an accident, not something we evolved for a specific function. I tend to think it’s too expensive in terms of resources and so must have some adaptive function, but I have to admit that we don’t understand consciousness enough to back up that statement.


    2. I think that I coined the term spandril for my own purposes (it’s poetic perhaps and maybe erroneous or ineffectual.) I think of it as coming into existence independent of the thing that created it or caused it to come into being. But, it reflects the being that creates it so perhaps it is a ‘soul’. However, this soul will cease to exist when the physical unit dies. C’est la vie.

      Regarding consciousness, I think it exists in varying forms in all animals but the higher the level of evolution the more complex it becomes (or evolves.)

      Liked by 1 person

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