Author Topic: Epistemological Unfriendliness (EU)  (Read 75 times)

Xepera maSet

Epistemological Unfriendliness (EU)
« on: October 26, 2017, 02:22:26 pm »

Epistemology refers to the theory of/study of knowledge, and unfriendliness is pretty clear. Basically EU is the position that those who disagree with your knowledge cannot possibly be correct or rational, that any rational and objective inquiry will lead to your position and your position only. Sadly, EU is ridiculously common in theology, both by many religions and many who are against those religions. Conservative Christianity or Islam, for example, believe that they have the one true knowledge, and everyone else is objectively wrong. This is “known” so clearly that other positions are rarely ever seriously considered. It happens in some form of Satanism, like the Church of Satan claiming they are the only valid form of Satanism, as any non-atheistic Satanists must be irrational and deluded by definition. Even in atheism, we often see the idea that theism cannot be rational, that there is no reason or evidence that could possibly support it. Indeed, EU pretty much comes hand-in-hand with exclusivity.

The lack of skepticism involved with EU and exclusivism is ridiculously dangerous. I, personally, can’t even really empathize with the concept that there’s no possible way I could be wrong, or that my position is the only thing that could ever be supported by reason. It is the utmost manifestation of dogmatism and closed mindedness, and yet is so damn common it’s almost inherent in these discussions. What is the point of talking with someone who literally believes all disagreement against them is irrational?

Epistemological Friendliness (EF) on the other hand, is an insanely respectable and mature stance within epistemology of all forms. Not only does EF come inherently with skepticism (I could be wrong/others could be right/maybe we can’t even know which of us is right). It encourages the philosopher to investigate other positions with the utmost open mind, to doubt their own position, and to reach a level of epistemological intelligence that realizes just how complicate our universe is, and how hard it is to know things with certainty. These are the individuals you want to debate and discuss with, because they can respect a wide array of positions, and are willing to consider your position in a rational and logical way, rather than a snap judgement. Unlike EU, EF seems harder to tie down to specific groups, and moreso seems tied to individuals.

The straw man I expect is that someone who is EF must respect every position out there as reasonable and valid. This is not the case at all. Just because other positions CAN be valid does not imply every other position IS valid. This is something surprisingly hard for people to wrap their heads around, that you can believe X to be true, but also be open to Y being true, even though X and Y are non-identical answers to the same questions. Pretty much every group out there has been ingrained with this idea that you have to pick a solid position, settle in, and defend it to the death. When I guest speak for example, students will often ask if I am confused on my beliefs and such, for I say things like “well I have no idea, but if S then P,” or point out other explanations that contradict mine but are more or less equally likely. A good illustration is that I believe in the afterlife, but would also totally understand if someone does not believe in the afterlife. I will even state “there may not be an afterlife, but if there is ABC.” And it just blows minds, especially of those who have not delved very far into philosophy.

So which is superior, EU or EF? One leads us to closed mindedness, to a biased position where we cannot become aware of our flaws, where skepticism is thrown out for an almost gnostic like certainty. Indeed, we may even be able to accurately call EU irrational itself, because it is opposed to rational thoughts which contradict it. EF, on the other hand, allows people to hold a position while also being skeptical of the truth of that position, in the most pure form of skepticism. EF encourages the individual to continue to investigate other positions and test/question their own.

As a final illustrative example, I want to discuss the simplest form of the cosmological argument. It is extra good for me to use this example, because I really have no idea whether I accept the cosmological argument(s) or not. Basically the cosmological argument uses the empirical evidence of cause and effect to infer that there must be a first, necessary, uncaused cause. Some take this further to a classical God or specific gods. The cosmological is the perfect example because it may as well be a coin flip of whether it is true or not. It is what we would call valid and plausible, meaning that the conclusion follows from the premises, and that there’s a possibility the argument is objectively true and accurate. Yet despite its validity, it is equally possible that the argument is objectively false and inaccurate. Where people really seem to struggle here is that both of these could be true, we really can’t judge the soundness of either side with the knowledge we have now, and it well illustrates the complexity of philosophy and logical argumentation.

Now take and EU individual who accepts/rejects the cosmological. They will argue that there is no other conclusion or that the arguments have already been shown unsound, neither of which is true. An EF individual, on the other hand, will accept either pro, against, or even agnostic on the topic, and understand the complex fact that either solution could prove true, or we may just never even know. They realize that people on all side of the debate could be rational and have useful insight into the topic, and will engage accordingly.

It seems clear to me EF is the way to go, and that there is a serious problem and danger in positions that support EU positions.
AKA: Three Scarabs, 1137

"You look up into the night sky - whether as a child or an adult - and if you open yourself honestly, then it is a gateway to mystery, to the unknown."

pi_ramesses

Re: Epistemological Unfriendliness (EU)
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2017, 06:17:42 pm »
Well said. This is exactly why I pride in taking a Pyrrhonian sceptic stance prior to being a Setian. For me, some of the epistemology and ethics of the former has carried over into the latter. At any given time, I was exercising the Five Modes (or Two Modes depending on how you look at it) and pitting arguments to come up with a synthesis. At some point, it became clear that I also need to introduce probabilism in the mix to elaborate even further.

What really confused other people was that if I was a sceptic, then how is it possible for me to even act. I should be paralyzed by hesitation ALL the time.

To that I responded that sceptics are technically among the first pragmatists, although they aren't called that.

The sceptic lacks belief but will have a proclivity to act as though those things that others believe are true. They are not going to buy wholeheartedly into their formulaic expressions because that would become dogma at some point. The thing that continues to drive the sceptic forward is the Truth and the recognition that they have not come across it so they are always looking into it. This ties in also to insight roles discussed by @King Mob and @Setamorphosis
« Last Edit: October 26, 2017, 06:23:57 pm by pi_ramesses »
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