14 December 2009

Surprise me

Opinions of philosophy on philosophy

The most surprising result to me was #3. I understand the concept of objective aesthetics, but I reject it completely as something created by subjective cultural environments that then vary and in rare instances as something formed by evolutionary responses. I'm somewhat less surprised in the idea of a moral realism claim relative to an idea that there are somehow objective standards on "taste", as it were. My own postulation indicates that these subjective standards are what give us form to something like a moral objectivity. That there is an objectively best case result isn't really a problem for me, but it does mean that "objectively best case" varies based on minor variations in circumstances and (aesthetic) preferences within the situation being resolved and thus only appears to normalize around a common set of ethics because those common set of interests are generally shared within cultures and living beings. Survival for instance is a rather strong motivator but rarely must be appealed to in modern societies.

Put another way, I think I could conceive that there is an objective definition of what beauty "is", but that the examples or recognition of it in actuality will vary enormously because of other factors and factors involved in perception itself. That means there isn't an objective standard, a "Helen of Troy", in reality. Only if we assume a Platonic formalism to our comparisons of taste and only there would it exist. Given that I'm not thoroughly swayed by Platonic forms to begin with, this is naturally an unconvincing arrangement for me.

The continued appeal of Platonism is surprising also relative to nominalism. I'm finding neuroscience to be reasonably convincing that we're just making that stuff up and that it does not in fact consistent of apprehension of external forms in which to place knowledge into predetermined boxes (outside of mathematical formula).

I shouldn't have to point out the high and consistent "atheism" result. I had sometime ago heard the line that philosophy was the "theology" major of atheists. While it characterizes the data well, it's not historically useful to make that assumption. Philosophy traditionally explored the existence of god or the form of deities before metaphysics became more or less a dead science. Suffices to say that considering both rationalism and empiricism tends to put a damper on belief systems rather quickly.

I suppose also the leanings of libertarianism being so low are interesting. But in that case, not totally surprising (it's not really that popular outside of liberal arts fields either relative to leanings toward egalitarianism or even communitarianism. Really it seems to be a field of thought dominated by people studying economics and not "dominating" economics itself either). If pressed, I'd have to say egalitarianism has some very strong appeals, but that libertarianism allows for it by assuming that at least political and legal equalities are regarded by the general public as important commodities worth protecting and further recognizing that equalities of opportunity can be beneficial to most people and thus creating systems organically to provide it (rather than to use government systems to enforce it). Subsequent imbalances are inevitable owing to variations of skills and current or expected future demand for those skills. The combination of both is far stronger than either is independently, but if you have to take only one or the other, I'm leaning on individuals rather than social systems.
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