'ran-d&m 'thots

r&om Thoughts - The Philosophical Channel Discussion Generator

It is generally accepted that there are no "true" answers in philosophy, or perhaps one could say there are no questions for which the answers are set in stone.  What is less generally recognised is that there are no questions which are set in stone either.  The great philosophers whose names leap to our minds when we think of those who have addressed the great questions of life were not given philosophical questions or challenges as essay questions.  Part of the philosophical process they went through was to discover what questions were important.  They did this as part of living their lives.

In the Philosophical Channel there is a mechanism by which this process can be "seeded".  By typing the word r&om you will trigger a script which forces neopolitan's mIRC client to output a random quotation or philosophical challenge from the file randomthoughts.txt.  This file can be added to by sending email to the address below (please indicate in the subject line that you wish a quotation or challenge to be added to the text file).   How to take a discussion forward from one of the philosophical challenges is reasonably self-evident.  What might not be so clear is how to use a quotation, which might be a homily, a witticism, an "eternal truth" or a proverb.

An explanatory example is shown below:

<initiator> hm, that line of discussion died, didn't it? :)  Anyone mind if I r&om?

<accept> yeah, why not?

<initiator> r&om

<neopolitan> The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895, Act I

<dgruntled> bah, that's a useless one, let's r&om again

<accept> hang on, dgruntled, is that talking about real truth or perceived truth?

<initiator> what do you mean?

<accept> well, like this: I have a truth in my mind, and I try to express it, but it doesn't come out pure, you interpret what I say.  To avoid that I need to express myself very very carefully, which makes the "truth" more complex

<dgruntled> riiiight, but what do you mean a real truth then? an absolute?

<accept> well, I don't know about an absolute, but something like "the sky is blue" as a real truth

<dgruntled> but the sky isn't blue, it's more grey where I am

<intiator> and it's black where I am :) with little dots of white

<dgruntled> and the sky isn't a real thing anyway, it's an illusion

<accept> but conceptually it's real, the sky is a real concept, and that is generally light blue or very dark blue


From here the discussion can go a few ways either linking back to the concept of real and perceived truth or the vagueness of language or, alternatively, could continue on into a discussion about colour perception and maybe into the nature of space or about whether you can have "real concepts".  Another possibility is that a statement might trigger an entirely different train of thought - perhaps the word black reminds someone of a burning issue: about the use and abuse of fossil fuels, for instance.

The success of such discussions depends entirely on the willingness of the participants.

In the absence of neopolitan, the word >thought< will trigger a response from powerX.

2005 Philosophical Channel (neopolitan)

Last update 2005-04-12