Philosophical journal

October 4, 2015


It is better to be ignorant than deluded.
Better cock-unsure than cock-sure.

Universals are contextual.

Speaking of words or concepts is itself misleading. There are only specific words or concepts, each with their own contextuality and own possibility for poetry and creative uses in new contexts.

The world cannot be translated into symbols or a model.

FALL 2015

Years ago I wrote: "There are stories about monsters in all civilizations. Why is that? After all there are no monsters." Yesterday I realized it is (in part, always in part) because we understand things in terms of animality. We see our world in terms of animality: A tree, a shadow, a noise; our mind immediately construes it as an animal of some kind. And not only an animal, but a sentient (read: human) animal.
Monsters are simply large, indifferent, intentional beings.

We make sense of the world in many ways.
Is there a way of making sense of all the many ways of making sense of the world?

How did people live before the Internet?
Even people who lived through this cannot answer this question.
How did people live before the telephone, the car, the radio?
This shows several things:
First, we do not miss things that later we "cannot live without."
Secondly, we are probably living right now with many things our descendants feel one "cannot live without."
Thirdly, no one knows how they live.

The world is fastened in place by clichés.
Things taken for granted.

We trapped | hypnotized by our own vivid metaphors.

Philosophy, at least most important parts of philosophy, are poetical. A sentence, an expression, burst out of the philosopher's mind and out into the world. Hearing the words, other people agree they are deep. (The whole process is but dimly understood.)

You must counter simplicity with countersimplicity.


We like vague all those vague philosophical/religious/political questions without answers, in part because we can't be proven wrong.
Everyone is on an equal footing, as in sports. Of course not everyone is on an equal footing, as in sports.

Is not knowing why we humans function like not knowing how our cell-phones work? A little.
We are the human app. (The app that other apps imitate.)

But we are, or like to think we are, the controlling app.
This is probably not mostly true.
We are also the out-of-controller app.

Is knowing we are prey to social feelings a way to change them?
Look at all the thoughtful comments on Amazon, Reddit and Wikipedia.
What difference do or don't they make?
Perhaps it is like praying. Sometimes that is all we can do.

If you hunt for answers on the Internet, you will soon come across many people who think like you, and that itself is deeply comforting. You are not an isolated idiot. You have (your) defenders.

Don't sidetrack me by pointing out that what I say is false.

Don't sidetrack me by pointing out that what I say has been said previously and better by this or that thinker.
Thinking about other thinkers is a distraction.

Do you criticize to dismiss.
That does not seem thoughtful.
Big-word-thinking is not a measurable sport.

We need better skills of "questioning." A bad book is one that leads to no furthering questions and a wall goes up.

Thinking you can make a difference is making our world small.

People speak in associations.

In the past I thought I had the solution-beetle in my box, but today the box seems empty.

What can be done with a thoughtful re-evaluation of words?

Can all philosophical arguments be defused through?
Some can. Some may be more intractable.

The passage out of the fly-bottle is not a simple one.
It cannot be solved by a computer.

A philosopher (by which I mean a person who thinks like I do) would at least hesitate to make certain misleading and disfiguring generalizations. (Though many who stylize themselves by calling themselves philosophers would not hesitate at all.)
But we must be prepared to respond to those who speak out firmly and emotionally.

Anything you say about emotions, language, reason, using those very words. will be at best vague, and more likely misleading, by implying an overly simple picture of reality.

Philosophy does not answer questions about life. (Your intelligence does that.) Philosophy answers questions about philosophy.

Can one summarize Wittgenstein without understanding Wittgenstein? One can know smoking is bad for you and still smoke. One can know the rules of baseball without being able to hit a hardball.

"{This situation} is too complex for me. (The facts are confusing me.) I'll just rant and vote. That I can do."

What is the right thing to do here? Or, better: what are some right things to do here?

How can we find better ways of speaking? This will involve better ways of thinking. And better ways of understanding.

The words we know may pollute|color when we extend and use those words to say "new" things. So why not just make up fresh words, or even use numbers? For one thing, such "words" would be hard to hold in place. (If we did not use the basic one and two-digit numbers.)

It would be salutary to mistrust our understandings.

Clear, well constructed sentences, free of superfluous and meaningless words, are the best way of communicating.

How should we then speak, if all our common general words are suspect and in some senses malicious. My first response: carefully.

I am trying to have us speak more tentatively, as though we are making a building out of Jello Lego blocks.

We are seduced by our limited attention span. We think that thinking is like a math problem. We work on it and come up with (hopefully) the right answer. But our minds are multi-processing, doing many things at the same time, and we have no words for that.

Can I prove there is no privileged descriptive access of the world? There might be for parts of the world. The mathematical, or the descriptive, but it hardly follows that all things we call the world are capable of such a description.

Words are unconsciously actively practicing family-resemblance. This is called "understanding," and is based on the fact that people do not utter random information. When (normal) people speak, they are trying to communicate something.

Words have exert a force on our understanding. By making numerous unconscious connections. (All for lack of any better words.)

Once you start using we words we already "understand" we are in an arena of easy misunderstandings.

Read a quote by a great philosopher. You will needs a tome to understand this, in the course of which you redefine a whole bunch of terms. This is a lot of hand-Waving. By the time you are done you are speaking a different language. And you may be using "bad" to mean "good."

But what is the point of disparaging philosophy. There is hardly a shortage of such sayings. And we make sense of them in divergent ways.
It is because we make sense of them that it is hard to shoot them down from the inside. After all, they make so much sense.
They are charming symphonies of thoughts.

So what will stop the diversity? Austin (or was it Ayer) spoke of not letting the thing "get off the ground." That has never worked well; we'll say anything we think might make sense. And philosophy may well be what happens when we do get off the ground.

There is no tradition of conceptual skepticism.

News is really just the interesting stories they tell you to keep you here for the commercials.

We see what we see, or look at, but we do not see what we see in our peripheral vision.

The MTV video experience: flashing new images.
The MPhil conceptual experience: flashing new metaphors

Proposition 1: "You can't talk about the origin of language if you don't know what language is."
Proposition 2: You can't talk about language with all the generalized simple words we have in common thinking heritage. (The proof here is that such words are far too fluid.
Proposition 3: You can't talk about language in any new words either . (The Godel's theory of concepts.)

Paradox: I claim that someone does not understand language in an academic bookish sense, even though the book is written by someone who self-evidently "understands" language in another sense.

I must speak in simple if mildly paradoxical statements. "We don't know what language is." But I give a meaning to that.

We can speak but we can't speak about what we are doing when we speak. But we think we understand.

Thinking advice: Don't make your statement subject to a common sense refutation.

A dog does not know it does what it dies. But neither do we know why we do what we do. We are guided by voices in our heads, impulses, our choices, our emotions and our clicks.

In an ideal society, media would be sages.

We cannot see, we cannot go beyond, what we cannot see.

The philosopher seeks, not truth, but Deep Truthiness.
(Philosophers ring the big gong.)

The trouble is that often that here thinking rests. When it should be furthered. Another way that many of us think is to see our ideas coming out of another's mouth | pen. Suddenly we want to improve the mis-take.

When we further some lines of thought we stumble onto their limitations.

Words are not a picture but a grasping.

I have so many balls in the air I forget some are even up there.

I (or anyone else who wants to be a better philosopher than me) need to talk about the complex very simply.

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