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Briefs and Papers Drafted by Members
Alright philosophers, now's your chance: click on the email address at the bottom of this page to submit your contributions to this page. If you have a longer paper or essay we'll link to it from this page, if not you can adopt the brief format represented below and we'll post it here.
I seek the individual; powerΧ
I seek the individual: where are you? Does it make you uncomfortable when the self doesn't show through? “Grammatical habits do my thinking for me, therefore I exist!” is still a popular argument, even among people who should know better. But grammar is an aspect of language, and language requires a community of speakers and—above all—someone to speak to. Who it is we speak to, however isn't the self but a close substitute that has been called the persona. Most of our childhood has been spent developing many personas, sometimes personas upon personas, and we'll spend the rest of our adult lives refining and polishing these. Now, which persona we put on depends typically on who we are talking to, or sometimes our mood. For example, we'll put on a different persona for when we are talking to a stranger and another for when we are talking to close friends and relatives. Or when we are talking to someone who is aggressive or threatening us, we'll have another persona for that too, it all depends on what sort of effect we want to have on that person. What we put out depends fundamentally, consciously or unconsciously, on what we intend to gain. We're more selfish than we know, but what has come of the self? Sometimes our most habitual personas begin speaking to each other in the process of refining them (this is what most thinking is) and at other times we become confused because different personas are still referred to by the same name: this is primarily what we mean by self. But no where is there room for the individual as someone who is separate from the community, just language talking to itself. Oh cursed individual, where are you!
The trouble with analysis; powerΧ
The trouble with analysis is that it tries to answer problems by breaking them down into small parts. For example, what is knowledge? try justified true belief. But now in epistemology they ask: what does it mean for a belief to be justified? what is truth? and less commonly asked, what is belief? So now instead of one problem, you have broken it down into three problems, three problems instead of one, none that we have clear answers to—is this progress? I'm not going to spend any more time pulling out examples like this one, they are littered throughout the study of philosophy, and they were created by people who thought that they didn't understand the problems of philosophy to begin with, and thought they understood them better once they were divided up. But now we are forced to consider analysis as an error in method, and for some time the opposite method will need to be used: synthesis, taking these problems that have been separated and recombine them again. We'll be turning away from the analysis of language and all the rigor of logic will seem to us as running away from these problems and not “solving” them. And in the end either we will realize that we did understand the problems of philosophy after all, even before analysis, or we will find that they were never really our problems.
Why the brief; powerΧ
Why the brief accomplishes so much that other writing styles can't is simple: the first words in the brief must also be the title. This is for everyone who, after reading several long essays, has wanted of the author: “Please, get to the point!” There are too many college professors who have met every word-requirement in their student years with their tiresome-long attention spans, believing that somehow all future college professors would be like them, and never teach or learn that it is possible to write concisely. I consider this an abuse of the system against the attention deficient! We don't need paragraphs if all our ideas tie together, and if we use a word that can mean many things, then be sure to mean them all! Why must the essay be considered the short form when it could take an entire afternoon to write it, when the brief could be conceived in a moment (writing it down is just penciling out the details) and potentially say more with less?
Sure, you could say that goodness is an unnatural property; powerX
Sure, you could say that goodness is an unnatural property, it's certainly different to say that a thing is good than to say that a thing makes me happy or that a thing is useful, but then you and I may both wonder whether there is any difference between calling a thing good or bad at all, assuming that the facts are the same. You may call a thing good, I may call that same thing bad, and there's no contradiction involved so long as we have different criteria for determining good from bad, and there's no good reason why we should agree on what that criteria is. And then there is the question as to the origin of this criteria and we must find that the origin is natural, not arbitrary, and certainly not elaborated in any philosophical system. Our good and bad is determined by our own unique individual nature, in part by what we consider beneficial or harmful to us. This doesn't mean that we always act in our own best interest nor that we even know what our best interest is. But it does mean that it isn't our knowledge of the good that determines what is good, rather it is our knowledge of everything else: especially ourselves, we the evaluators.
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Last update 2005-04-09