Quid est veritas?

The Conservative William F. Gavin writes:

“What we have in the United States today is not an ideological battle, or even a cultural war, but something larger and deeper: a true clash of irreconcilable philosophic views, not just about abortion, but about truth. One of those views encompasses all that is best in the Western tradition from antiquity until now, including the findings of science, and the other holds that everything that is essential to human betterment in the modern world began during the Enlightenment, and everything preceding that was obscurantist, credulous, and bloody… the strategy is always the same: create a climate of doubt about the possibility of objective truth, discoverable by reason; corrupt the inherited intuitive wisdom by which the people have always lived; construct and then promulgate through mass-media entertainment a philosophy that puts an end to all philosophy, destroying civility in its broadest and deepest sense.”[Emphasis mine.]

I really wish I were better equipped to tackle this article, (I do raise some related, opposing points here) but it concerns philosophy, and philosophy is a subject at which I have never been terribly competent. As Paul Graham once wrote: “Most philosophical debates are not merely afflicted by but driven by confusions over words. Do we have free will? Depends what you mean by ‘free.’ Do abstract ideas exist? Depends what you mean by ‘exist.'”

I can grasp a few basic philosophical concepts, but when I try to understand the details, it all turns out as in Graham’s example. This is not to suggest for one moment that philosophy is a waste of time–I would not be so arrogant as to presume all the obviously intelligent philosophers of history were simply wasting time–but only that, for the life of me, I cannot seem to get the real “point” of it. Ockham’s razor suggests that I am too dense for the subject.

At any rate, it is an interesting article. Read it, and form your own conclusions.


What's your stake in this, cowboy?