The perfect philosophy book

May 22, 2014

I am here taking "philosophy" in its broadest context, something like the|an ultimate understanding of the universe, Many candidates for such a work appear annually. What is the best way for people to present their best ideas on how to talk about the most general aspects of existence.

There are more books printed on such topics than any one person can possibly read. In part because any bright person can open his mind|mouth and pontificate on such topics.

It is peculiar: If I were to ask you about the chemical structure of sodium sulfate, string theory, court intrigue in the time of Henry VII, or the geography of Peru, you would have no problem saying, no, I know almost nothing about such topics. But if I ask you about existence, human nature, God, the best system of government, how to raise a child, you will most likely (if you are the kind of person who reads this book) take a deep breath and launch into your profundities. This even though the latter questions are obviously much more intractable than the former.

(This may be a function of quasi-philosophical questions. They are melodies for riffing.)

Here are some don'ts and some dos.

DO:

  • Write down what you are saying. Write a really good overview.
  • Write down your best thoughts as carefully as possible. Note - this is not the same as writing down what you are going to discuss or demonstrate.
  • Write down why you book is better than the others.
  • Be aware of when you are extending words. in particular, be aware of when you are (so to speak) pulling words "out of your ass." (PWOOYA).
  • Why should anyone adopt your point-of-view?

DO NOT:

  • Distract the reader with too many long or personal anecdotes or displays of the recondite.
  • Start with any of these. Start with your best, most thoughtful ideas.
  • Spend too much time why arguing that someone else is wrong. This is philosophy. Everything is wrong and (for philosophy that lasts) you will not be able to fully explain why other points of view are wrong. All that have stood the tests of time are at least plausible. People blieve in philosophical points of view, most of which are bad.

Break any of these rules if you have great reasons for so doing.

Comments

Wait a minute! Am I breaking these rules even as I type?

All of these have exceptions. Look no further than Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations.

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