The Most Important Question in Philosophy

I have to get some thoughts out. They will probably be incoherent and inconsistent, but I am more resolved to this reality these days as it is, after all, how reality works. Anyway, the Most Important Question is:

What came first: the chicken or the egg?

Hasn’t this been answered? Apparently. But it’s the metaphorical implications of the question that are important.

I do a lot of reading, especially of blog posts. Slatestarcodex, OvercomingBias, Xenosystems, MarginalRevolution. So obviously rationality is a big part of all this, how we think. Epistemology and how important it is. And whether what we think is actually genuine at all. From all this some things floated to the top, specifically what Jordan B Peterson talks about and what David Chapman talks about in Meaningness and how really they are coming at the same thing through slightly different methods and naming conventions. And then I realised YouTube star Elliott Hulse is ALSO doing the same thing when he talks about Breathing Through Your Balls and his holistic weight training service. And then I realised what all these people are doing is creating a big mess by trying to sort through the chaos that is Truth and Justice and Meaning. I mean, for example, I can get inspired by what all three of these hunters are, you know, really get uplifted by reading their thoughts and having Eureka moments. Each of them has something I can wrap my mind around.

But then I get brought back down. I realise they haven’t yet grasped the nature of the whole. They’ve flipped chicken and egg or vice versa. Often they put the cart before the horse. And I don’t specifically know how I personally understand that they haven’t achieved Finality but that there are definitely missing links in the chain.

So, systems. Different strokes for different folks. Is this where we drop metamodernism?

(On that note, are we must be at the last column of Chapman’s grid and that metamodernism is post-postmodernism.)

Each of these gurus discusses how various systems explain different truths, but then pronounce that their path is actually the one true path that explains ALL truths, which of course undermines their own argument. Hmm. Then I found this post and it looks like I’m not the only one who thinks this.

Fascists tend to adopt various myths and symbols, whatever is convenient really, to help justify their own dogma. (Separate from Bolsheviks who invent their own myths because then their dogma is harder to pin down and argue against.) Is this what these Truth Gurus are peddling? A bit of Cyclical Theory, a bit of St George storytelling, some Angry Breathing Therapy and voila, you have a mythical understanding of Reality?

What I think we can learn from this is that things are complex, and resting on your laurels is not beneficial for anyone. There is no single answer. Gender pay gap studies always blame discrimination, even though the actual nature of work is so, so very complex that blaming ‘discrimination’ is a complete joke. Not only do you have a huge range of actual types of work, which all pay differently based on anything from industry to temperament of the employer, you have a huge mish-mash of individual people with individual preferences, some who like to work really hard and some (most?) who don’t. So of course there will be differences in pay. In fact, all things considered I’m surprised the ‘pay gap’ is so small. This is a perfect example of an ideological group trying to sustain a truth via a single filter or lens. Another would be young Australians blaming the Boomer generation for unaffordable housing. Sure, some of the blame can be attributed to greedy Boomers, but there is much more to the story. And blaming others for your ‘loss’, whether a mysterious pay gap or not having a 4 bedroom villa, is ultimately a cop out and weakness.
But now I’m going to drop my own true systemic understanding of Truth.

Let’s say life is based on systems.

At the bottom is Mathematics. It’s pure but only because it isn’t ‘real’. As in, it isn’t physical despite being very real. Mathematics is probably as close to absolute truth as you can get.A step up is Physics. A complicated state of mathematics, physics has real world consequences. A rock is a creation of physics.

The next step up is Biology. This is a complicated arrangement of physics and mathematics, mostly dealing with entropy and the conservation of energy and matter.

So you can see that Mathematics feeds into Physics which feeds into Biology.

(This feels so obvious that it has probably been taken for granted for a long time, so let me know how far I have to go before I am Even On Your Level.)

What’s next?

The next step would have to be some form of consciousness. I haven’t read Schopenhauer, but I have read about some of his ideas, and I think this is where the concept of Will comes in. Will could very well be a real energy, a life force. At the lower end it inhabits plants, which enact their Will on things such as turning with the Sun. Animals exert their own Will but have a more complex Biology that allows them to better direct the energy of Will. And humans have developed a very complex Will machine, called the brain. We can project our Will through time as well as in physical space. That’s some pretty powerful stuff.

But there is another element to Will and that is the notion of Incentive. So let’s go back to house prices and gender ‘pay gaps’ for a moment. These are based on incentives. The people blaming Boomers or the ‘Patriarchy’ have an Incentive to do so. The causes of these ‘problems’ have their own Incentives, such as women preferring not to work as hard as men (which is perfectly sensible, let’s be honest) and young wannabe homebuyers not wanting to save money when they could spend now. So you have a struggle between Will and Incentive in some sense, and the question is: what came first, the Will or the Incentive?

If we go right back to looking at the problems that Peterson or Chapman discuss, it is fundamentally that people lie to themselves. Constantly. Cognitive Bias and a range of other subconscious mind tricks that allow doublethink to dominate our habits of mind. So we can say that we are enacting our Will when making a decision, but actually there might be a hidden Incentive that we are not admitting to. This is what we talk about when we talk about the Cathedral. This is what people mean by the Deep State. This is what Bolsheviks mean when they talk about Patriarchy. Hidden Incentives that appear to be the malignant Will of a certain group. And when these systems are in place, the tendency is for people to continue using their Will to facilitate themselves. Self-perpetuation is an Incentive. Victim culture is an Incentive. Capitalism is founded on Incentives. Everything, really, is Incentives. And we all lie to ourselves that it isn’t.

This is a fair bit longer than I thought it would be. It’s also highly probable I have presented nothing new whatsoever. Do let me know how wrong I am in the comments.

But I will finish with one last thought. If life is based on the sciences then what is fourth in the stack?

Mathematics, then

Physics, then

Biology, then…

(Dare I say it?)


2 thoughts on “The Most Important Question in Philosophy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s