The DIMA Hypothesis I: Clusters
The major epistemological mistakes seem to cluster in an interesting way, and I haven't figured out the exact reason for that just yet. The clusters are intrinsicism-rationalism-idealism and subjectivism-empiricism-skepticism. Those triads relate to the nature of knowledge, the method of acquiring knowledge, and the attitude towards knowledge.
If you take reason out of the picture, you can either view knowledge as an unquestionable absolute or a matter of opinion - intrinsicism vs subjectivism. If you take logic out of the picture, you can see either relate knowledge to "something within" or "something outside” - rationalism vs empiricism. Once you've taken honesty out of the picture, you can either deal with knowledge as "something to be blindly obeyed" or "something to be ignored at will” - idealism vs skepticism. The links between those positions are not absolutes, and do not seem obvious at all to me.
I'll use subjectivism to illustrate the point, but it is perfectly reversible. If knowledge is a matter of opinion, there is no reason to assume someone's opinion is reliable, therefore anything that goes beyond immediate perception is unreliable. Nevertheless, it seems just as obvious to assume that if knowledge is just a matter of opinion, one's opinion cannot be contradicted by anything else, therefore knowledge is internal.
Taking it even one step further: if knowledge is a matter of opinion, the proper attitude could be to distrust knowledge, as one's subjective knowledge can be contradicted by someone else’s - regardless of whether those opinions come from the “inside” or the “outside”. However, one is just as likely to adopt the contrary view - since someone else's opinion contradicts mine, I should ignore them altogether and stick to my ideas.
This is the first time the purpose of one of my posts is to ask a question - because I've just recently realized there are over 200 rational people listening. What do you guys thing is the reason behind that? Is it just coincidence? Is there a necessary connection between these ways of thinking? Is there a third factor, like a previously developed sense of life, responsible for all of them?
My bets are on the latter, but I honestly have no idea... yet.
- February 21st, 2020
The DIMA Hypothesis II: Arbitrary
Yesterday's post implies validity to a suspicion about Peikoff's DIM Hypothesis I've had for a while now.
To those who aren't familiar with his work, the hypothesis entails this: if one is consistent with one's way of thinking, there are essentially three modes of thinking. The Kantian mode (Disintegration) is the rejection of Man's conceptual faculty, resulting in the idea that sense perception cannot be integrated into abstract knowledge. The Aristotelian mode (Integration) is an acknowledgment of Man's rational faculty, resulting in the idea that sense perception can be integrated into abstract knowledge. The Platonic mode (Misintegration) is the elevation of Man's rational faculty to a supernatural level, resulting in the idea that sense perception is irrelevant - or even contrary - to abstract knowledge. Disintegration, Integration and Misintegration - DIM.
In addition to that, Peikoff also proposes two mixed modes. The intermediary between Aristotelian integration and Kantian disintegration is Knowing Skepticism - the idea that you can have abstract knowledge, but you shouldn't push it too far. The intermediary between Aristotelian integration and Platonic misintegration is Wordly Supernaturalism - the idea that some sensory-independent ideas give us knowledge about particular existents.
Why isn't there an intermediary between Kantian disintegration and Platonic misintegration? That question has been on my mind for years. I think the answer lies in the fact the both Worldly Supernaturalism and Knowing Skepticism rest on the same implicit premise: knowledge is whatever I want it to be. They're both instances of the primacy of consciousness being taken to its extreme.
The three "pure" approaches involve a standard external to the individual, and therefore an implicit form of the primacy of existence. Knowledge is either impossible, because consciousness is flawed (Kant); inevitable, because consciousness is perfect (Plato); or possible, because consciousness is what it is (Aristotle).
The two mixed modes are essentially the same, as they are consequences of an absolute primacy of existence. There are no external rules to guide thoughts. Reality is what I want it to be, and my clusters of arbitrary knowledge can either be perceived as externally (Knowing Skepticism) or internally (Worldly Supernaturalism) generated.
I call this approach A, as in Arbitrary, and it would turn DIM into DIMA.
What do you guys think?
- February 22nd, 2020