Re: mindfulness

Eric Watt Forste (
Thu, 03 Jul 1997 10:26:42 -0700

Kathryn Aegis quoted:
> >Gerhard Richter, painter and essayist:

and Joshua McMichael retorted by quoting:
> Ayn Rand, writer and philosopher:

A fairly reasonable synthesis of these two views (at least reasonable
enough for me to be experimenting with recently) is philosophical
pluralism. The first paragraph from Rand is a fairly solid argument:

> his only alternative is whether the philosophy guiding him is to be
> choosen by his mind or by chance

but this last bit is unfortunately not so clear a distinction as
we might want, as long as the nature of 'mind' lies buried in the
mysteries of neuroscience and the ceaseless controversies of
psychology. (Nonetheless, I agree with the first paragraph.)

It seems to me that having worked out in one's mind several different
self-consistent (but not necessarily mutually consistent) philosophies
from which one can choose according to the dictates of reason and
the situation in which one finds oneself, is a great advantage. So
philosophical analysis, exploration, and argument is useful and
even vital, but *commitment* to one particular philosophy or ideology
is perhaps not.

The current hardware platform on which most philosophers run is
Linguistic Monkey 3.24, and I don't see any particular reason to
think that this kludge should be capable of intellectual mastery
of the cosmos in some final, absolute philosophical sense. (Although
the Buddhists keep looking to me like either they're onto something,
or on something.) To err is human, and refusing to commit to one
particular philosophy or ideology is refusing to commit to our own
errors. I prefer to let my errors die in my stead, rather than
resolutely maintaining them to the last, and I'm fairly sure that
all of my current philosophies will have been demonstrated erroneous
within a few centuries. Call it a hunch, if you like. (If I'm lucky,
I'll have come up with their replacements long before my rivals
have written their refutations. ;)

In the meantime, I get by with the tools (philosophies) that I've
got, and try to use the right tool for the job that happens to be
in front of me at the moment. I am well aware that this treads
dangerously close to instrumentalism, and having long been dissatisfied
with the simpler varieties of instrumentalism myself, I'm not too
happy with it either. This dissatisfaction, though, is quite
satisfactory to me, because without it I might become a dogmatic
instrumentalist, and that would be simply dreadful. There are few
philosophical positions I can imagine that seem worse than dogmatic

I am also well aware that openly espousing such a radically
pluralistic philosophical stance might cause some to call my
integrity into question. All I have to say about this is that I
try to base my judgements of the integrity of others on my
observation of their actions more than on my observation of the
philosophical arguments they write. Perhaps this is a mistake,
but it's my current policy.

Eric Watt Forste ++ ++ expectation foils perception -pcd