Epistemological Anarchy

One often refers to seeing or thinking more objectively and less subjectively as the foundation of the scientific method. What the usage of a term as ‘objective’ implies is that there is a physical reality external to and foundation of one’s own mind and that one can, by “employing reason and discarding emotion”, perceive objects as they are rather than how they present to be. However, rather than get into the debate of subjectivity, which since it is one of the most difficult problems in philosophy I am not eager to get into right away with merely my crude analytical axe, let me describe a background sensation that has been developing in my mind (over the past few months), which gets appealed to whenever I read, listen or simply perceive any sort of statement by any individual.

Many of us pretend to have seen a particular object or event objectively — that is, to have had a carefully examined first-person experience of it, not an en passant second-hand account — or at least we express it in a diction that seems to clearly represent objective phenomena rather than subjective perceptions (I am guilty of this myself in too many of my posts — e.g. using passive speech as a facade of objectivity). Now in reply to this, there is the universal refutation of philosophy: “but that is what you think”. Such an attempt at rebuttal is of course internally contradictory, unless there are in fact modes of intellectual activity in which truth can be known, or reality mirrored in the mind, and that the primary claimant has mastery of them.

Holding the view that knowledge of the true state and activity of an object is possible is essentially an assumption. But so is the view that it is not possible. The point here is that all our actions are guided not so much by “reason” but by belief. What is belief? To believe is to admit a statement as true. Without sufficient evidence? What is evidence? Considering what the Tortoise said to Achilles, it becomes especially clear that we begin with faith/assumptions, in all our endeavours.

If one is to consider the entire business of logic unworthy since it is all founded on assumptions, it would still be based on an assumption. If the other argued for its merit despite, or even because of, its basis in assumptions, it would be still be based in assumptions. Even this proposition that it is all based in assumptions is itself an assumption. Where do we go from here then? Wherever we want to. In short, I have become an epistemological anarchist.

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