Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Three Philosophies

Steven denBeste has recapitulated and expanded on this thesis of ‘three warring philosophies’. While I agree with his philosophical idealism and empiricist categories, I feel Islamism isn’t quite there. A more accurate categorization for Islamism, to me, would be Fundamentalism: a theocratic based rejection of both the empiricist and idealist schools of thought based on ‘revealed truths’. If one looks a militant islam, they have something very much in common with ‘creation scientist’ and their ilk: they completely reject empirical data that contradicts the ‘truth’ as defined by scripture. Any contradiction must be opposed as lies and eradicated for the betterment of all. Failure to do so reveals a lack of faith, and is in many ways a failure to god. Therefore, one can see the philosophical similarities between the idealists and the fundamentalists – both are ‘inspired’ philosophies – but their drive and focus are in many way in direct opposition and antithetical to each other.

But each has a far worse enemy: those pesky empiricists. The idealists sate, “The time is not to blow bridges, the time is to build bridges.” The fundamentalists exclaim,“die in the name of Allah/God/Cause”. Meanwhile, the realists wonder, “How the hell do you negotiate with someone who is shooting at you because you live?”

Is it any wonder the three philosophies are having a hard time ‘tolerating’ each other?

Anyway, as an Empiricist, the best tool and weapon we have against these competing philosophies is ‘Critical Thinking’. Not simply the adolescent ‘Question Authority’ but to really examine the ‘facts on the ground’ and to come to the simplest answer that fits the current data. One of the biggest problems us Empiricists face is the entrenchment of philosophical idealism within academia.

In academic discourse the authority and the verbiage of what you have to say frequently trumps actual content. This can be easily illustrated by Political Correctness, and post-modernists theory.

In conclusion, I’m not exactly certain what can be done about the schism between these three competing philosophies, except for pointing out the facts on the ground, and try to teach our kids that while some solutions may sound ‘elegant’, it is up to them to analyze the data and come to their own conclusions. Appeal to Authority is the ultimate dogma of both philosophical idealism and fundamentalism. Therefore it is up to us ‘little people’, the ‘ignorant masses’ to figure out who is trying to sell what, and what they have to gain by it.


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