Friday, January 22, 2016

Notes Toward a Unified Philosophy

Notes Toward a Unified Philosophy
by Nathan Tyree
1. It is always the case that either p or ~p. This follows from the rule of non-contradiction. It is with this singular fact of logic that we begin to build (and justify) an integrated belief system. Any system of belief that does not take account of this rule will knock the pins out from under itself, and collapse.

2. Although certainty is an impossible goal (from Descartes) we can have knowledge of an objective reality external to ourselves. If one fails to believe in an objective reality, we are free to assume that they suffer from a disassociate disorder (e.g. schizophrenia). Berkley, of course, argues counter to this.

3. Cheese fries with bacon are tasty. Not just tasty in the highly subjective use of the word, but down right delicious. Berkley also argues counter to this, but he was nuts. The tastiness of cheese fries stands as a singular objective fact about external reality.

4. I am the empty space where a man used to stand. A cipher. A zero. Or just slightly less. This knowledge, this understanding of what I have become is strictly a priori.

5. An a priori understanding is that knowledge which can be had independently of any sense data, or previous experience. All things which can be taken as a priori can be gleaned from reason alone. The a posteriori, on the other hand, requires some previous knowledge, or sense data. 2+2=4 is an example of a priori knowledge, whereas the location of the Red Sea is strictly a posteriori.

6. She is gone. I know this to be true from observation. It is, in fact, a narrowly true logical proposition. That is, by substituting synonyms for the words in this premise we would develop a second true proposition (true in the narrow sense. There are no broadly true logical propositions). From the fact that she is gone I can continue to extrapolate the knowledge that she will not return. Neither will Pinkerton.

6a. Although I could not posit that no other sentient beings exist, I can conclude from observation that no other sentient beings are in this house. The cat does not count.

7. There is no god. We accept the common Judeo-Christian-Muslim definition of god (see Anselm) as the greatest conceivable being. We follow also the standard understanding of god as some entity that possesses a litany of wonderful attributes (these include, but are not limited to: omnipotence, omniscience, omni-benevolence, and an unchanging timeless nature). We further believe that this definition is self-contradictory, and therefore incoherent (see 1 above, see also Epicurus). No such being can exist (in reality).

8. We also accept that without god (or some external force) life can have no intrinsic meaning. Since she was the prime mover, the giver of meaning, without her life is meaningless. We follow with Sartre the belief that for man (and man alone) existence precedes essence. We are uncertain what this implies about freedom.

9. She muttered things under her breath as she packed. These were things I probably didn't want to hear. Even if she had said them loudly, I would have ignored them; would have blocked them out. I closed myself in the bathroom, letting the door serve as a thin barrier between us.

10. I feel like a rusty carburetor in a world of sleek fuel injection systems and computerized starters. A 1976 Chevy Impala that has been junked, stripped for scrap and piled or filed away behind the high fence that marks the edge of some back country road where a city will never grow.

11. The second law of thermodynamics tells us that the universe is in an increasing state of entropy. It all goes to shit in the end. Even the sun is running down like an old watch.

11a. We are all on the fast track to oblivion.

12. Her hair is brown, hangs around her shoulders or rests in a bun at the top of her head, and always smells like violets. Her eyes are an impossible shade of blue. They are so pale as to be almost transparent. Those eyes can harden; become obsidian, adamantine, and intractable. Those eyes can cut.

13. She left some of her clothes behind.

14. I'm just wasting time here. This is the equivalent of mental masturbation.

15. Morality is subjective. It is a product of culture and the human tendency toward empathy. Since we can account for our moral judgments psychologically there is no need to posit some natural objective standard of morality. Don't even get me started on Euthyphro.

16. She didn't agree. Neither did that little blonde.

16a. Humans are classified as serially monogamous. I was sure that she would understand my primate nature. Walking into our bedroom, she lost sight of that. I guess these truths don't always apply on the individual level.

17. The door slammed so hard that the entire house shook. I was crouched on the edge of the sofa, pretending to smoke a cigarette. I didn't run after her. I didn't beg her to come back. At least I've still got my dignity.

18. Dignity isn't everything.

19. It is absence that defines existence. Darkness is the absence of light. Cold is the absence of heat. Death is the absence of life. This room is full of absence. It is absolutely brimming with lack. Nothingness. The vase may be beautiful, but it is the empty space inside that lends it utility. Life is kind of the opposite. See 8 above.

20. My grandfather used to grow corn, and potatoes, and peas, and every other vegetable you could imagine. He would spend hours every day working the soil in his little garden, turning it and plowing it. It was, I suppose, a sort of meditation. Now he can't remember his own wife. For a deeper understanding of the implications of this see The Antichrist by Nietzsche.

21. I received an e-mail the other day that was titled: "Lose weight while you die with the Dr. Kevorkian starvation diet". It was sandwiched between missives promising to add inches to my penis, and help me find an affordable home loan. I deleted it. Maybe I shouldn't have.

22. When I close my eyes I see her damn face. It's like she's hovering over me. She's in cinemascope, in Technicolor, in THX surround sound. She bounces around my head like a record some asshole neighbor plays too loud at three am. She won't let me sleep. She doesn't want me to eat. I'd call her if I knew where she went.

23. Her mom hasn't heard from her. Unless, that is, she's lying.

24. Humans are purely material beings. We do not posses a non-physical spirit, mind or soul. We do not survive death. We are also prey to entropy (not to mention a certain species of politic worm). Anyone who says differently is selling something.

25. I feel like radio static in the space between AM stations with lousy reception on a long drive across the darkened highways of the rain splattered upper Midwest on the cusp of a new century.

26. I also feel like a head in a vat. I can't think of any counter argument that could convince me that I am definitely not a head in a vat. Fucking Descartes. I read about a two headed baby. I don't feel any less freakish than that weird little mutation. They're going to cut off the extraneous head. I don't think that's fair.

27. Nihilism may be the answer. Self destruction also seems like a viable option. Maybe I'll increase my cigarette habit.

28. I miss her.

29. The Hemlock society suggests taking a large overdose of narcotics, then putting a large plastic bag over your head and holding it in place with a big rubber band. This way if you vomit, you will still suffocate. It's supposed to be painless; down right humane. It certainly beats the hell out of putting a bullet through your skull. If I did shoot myself it would wreck the living room. Who the hell would clean up the mess? It's a moot point anyway. I don't have a gun. Pills though, I've got plenty of those.

30. Socrates drank hemlock.

31. An axiom's truth cannot be determined through the truth of its parts.

32. QED

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