Filter #4

Welcome, person of epistemic substance !

But I'm not done trying to alienate you.

On the left end of the epistemological spectrum are the incorrigible agnostics.  On the right end of that spectrum are the dogmatists, claiming to know more than is justified by available evidence.  But to be fair, just because a person is a dogmatist doesn't mean he's not right.  It just means he can't prove it.  Technically, any unproven statement is dogmatic.  I would encourage young truth seekers to converse with dogmatists - as many of them as possible - every worldview salesman you meet.  In fact, it is no disgrace to a truth seeker to join the ranks of a dogmatic group - not as a phoney, but quite sincerely, if it appears to be correct.  That's often the most efficient way to discover their errors.  Join one group after another in series, and stay with them as long as they're worth your time.

All established worldviews have copouts - rational, moral, or both.  But until you know the flaws of each, you, as a truth seeker, owe them the benefit of the doubt.  After a while, you will be able to categorize them.  This will save you time.  You don't have to try all of them, if you can identify each one as being in a category of which you already know its flaws.  Just remember that you are there to learn, not to commit your life, much less your soul for all eternity.  NEVER let them make a liar of you.  We're better than that.

Seek, and you will find - if not what you're seeking, then at least more than you would have found if you hadn't sought.  You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free to be just as dogmatic as everyone else, yet still feel superior as hell for understanding which dogmatics are necessary.  All your sincere efforts to get beyond the games have only made you a master game player, looking around for a worthy opponent, in a world full of people who have better things to do.


Where were we? ... Oh yes.  We left off at #21.

22.  No truth is so obvious that it can't be ignored by one whose worldview is threatened by it.
23.  No truth is so clear that it can't be obscured by one whose worldview is threatened by it.
24.  Emotional attachment to the truth or falsity of any statement hinders one's judgment of the truth or falsity of that statement.
25.  The fact that your worldview gives you a knowledge-claiming license does not imply that you actually know what your worldview allows you to claim to know.
If you don't agree with 22 through 25, you have the wrong worldview.

26.  The same arguments that help a truth seeker often antagonize a worldview defender.
If you don't agree with 26, you're also antagonized by it.

27.  It is possible to prove that no contradiction exists in any book.  All you have to do is define contradiction as "two statements that can't possibly both be true."  Consider these two statements:
A equals B.     A doesn't equal B.
Obvious contradiction?  No.  You can always assert that the statements mean A in different senses, or B in different senses, or even equals in different senses.  No contradiction exists when contradiction is defined out of existence.
If you don't agree with 27, you care more about apologetics than truth.

28.  No book should be a standard for judging truth.
Books that claim to be truthful should be judged by the same criteria as any other truth claim is judged.
If you don't agree with 28, you may seek truth within dogmatic boundaries, but your basic premises are uncorrectable.

29.  If you act in accordance with what you believe, you will find out if what you believe is true.  If you don't act in accordance with what you believe, you may go through your entire life believing lies and never know it.
If you don't agree with 29, you apparently believe your beliefs shouldn't be tested.

30.  A declarative statement is called a proposition.
If you don't agree with 30, read a logic book.

31.  The more faith you have in the truth of a proposition, the less effort you will make to find out if that proposition is true.
32.  Faith in any particular thing should be a theory to be tested, not a lifetime commitment to be clung to regardless of its consequences.
33.  Faith should be measured by the amount invested in it, not by the stupidity of the belief.
If you don't agree with 31 through 33, you apparently have a screwy definition of faith.

34.  Truth seekers are not faith seekers.
If you don't agree with 34, you're a faith seeker, and you seek only that truth which is allowed by the bounds of your faith.

35.  Truth seekers don't object to faith where truth can't be known, and faith offers pragmatic benefits.
If you don't agree with 35, you may be a truth seeker, but you're too ego-fragile to admit what you do when you can't find truth.

36.  When the truth or falsity of any given proposition is discernible by personal experience, the contradictory testimony of other people, no matter how great their number or credentials, is irrelevant.
If you don't agree with 36, you either don't have much personal experience, or you fail to apply critical thinking to it.

37.  Logical deduction is reliable for determining the consistency between two propositions.
38.  Any proposition which is illogical is necessarily either false or nonsensical.
39.  If premises are true, then any conclusion logically deduced from them is true.
If you don't agree with 37 through 39, you have no justification for using logical deduction as proof of anything.

40.  That which is logical is not necessarily true.
If you don't agree with 40, you fail to distinguish between valid and sound arguments.

41.  That which is illogical is necessarily false.
If you don't agree with 41, you fail to distinguish between a conclusion and the argument in which it resides.

42.  The truth of some propositions can be known prior to understanding formal logic.  e.g.  "I exist."
If you don't agree with 42, you deny that you knew you existed before you understood formal logic.

43.  Among propositions that require proof, the following is true:
a.  A proposition is uncertain unless it is proven true.
b.  A proposition which is neither proven true nor false might (with sufficient supporting evidence) be assigned some level of probability.
c.  A proposition must be considered possible unless it is proven false.
If you don't agree with 43, you don't understand probability.  (This has nothing to do with fuzzy logic, which pertains to degrees of truth, not probability.)

44.  A rational proposition has a literal meaning and an intended meaning.
45.  If a proposition is literally incorrect, it is not made correct by the intent of its author.
46.  What a person means by a proposition may be perfectly true, even if the statement is literally false.
47.  The truth or falsity of any given proposition is totally independent of the purpose for which it is said.
48.  An author may not mean what he says.  But he damn well says what he says.  And what he says means something, whether the author meant it or not.
If you don't agree with 44 through 48, you don't understand the difference between literal and intended meaning.

49.  A truth seeker's best friend is his most competent opponent.
Well... technically 49 may not be literally true, but you know what I mean.

50.  The truth or falsity of any given proposition is unaffected by the consequences of saying it, no matter how good or evil those consequences may be.
If you don't agree with 50, you're confusing epistemology with values.

51.  The truth or falsity of any given proposition is irrelevant to those whose decisions would remain the same either way.
If you don't agree with 51, figure out why you care about truth.

52.  Intelligent company may not make you more intelligent, but rational company will make you more rational.  Conversely, irrational company will make you more irrational.
If you don't agree with 52 you either haven't had much company, or you haven't been paying attention to their affect on you.

53.  When a particular truth cannot be known, nor statistical probability ascertained, a truth seeker will choose common sense, and a religionist will choose to err on the side of perceived safety.
54.  If you'd rather be safe than right, you're neither.
If you don't agree with 53 and 54, you're a religionist, and you fear an evil God.

55.  Truth is frightening until you see that it is stupid to fear it.  The purpose of fear is to avert death.  Life without truth is worse than death.
If you don't agree with 55, either you're evil, or you fear an evil God.

56.  A truth seeker is always on the edge of nihilism.  All that keeps him from falling over that edge is an assumed connection with an assumed personal Creator who is assumed to be good.
If you don't agree with 56, you're either not a truth seeker, or already a nihilist, or by all means tell me what you've found.

57.  Truth seeking means never having to say you're sorry.
If you don't agree with 57, you may be right, but you can't take a joke.

If you agree with me so far, you are potentially sane.  You may even be among the chosen few - the elite among Earthlings - those on the highest attainable level of spirit and intellect.


probability judgment
    a.  according to apparent odds  (normal probability judgment)
    b.  against apparent odds  (perception distorted by emotion)

Faith can also mean a willful decision to act as though a particular proposition is true, but that meaning is not intended here.



literal meaning:
the normal meaning of words and sentences regardless of the intent of the person saying them
All sensible statements have at least one literal meaning.  Some statements are literally ambiguous.
e.g.  "I saw a tree walking down the street" can mean:
While I was walking down the street, I saw a tree.
While I was walking, I saw a tree down the street.
I saw a tree which was walking down the street.
While I was down the street, I saw a tree walking.


Or to see this definition in context, go here.



intended meaning:
If a sentient being intends to communicate something by a statement, then that statement has an intended meaning.
Unless the sentient being is being deliberately evasive, deceptive, ambiguous, or ironic, he will intend only one meaning.
If there is only one intended meaning, it is usually one of the literal meanings.
But the intended meaning(s) can be logically unrelated to the literal meaning(s).  Sometimes the intended meaning is the exact opposite of the literal meaning.
"I could care less" is usually intended to mean "I could not care less".
"Yeah, right!" is usually intended to mean "No, wrong!".


Or to see this definition in context, go here.


common sense:
probability judgment based on remembered observation of consistent cause-effect relationships interpreted by inductive reasoning

It can also mean "generally agreed on," but that meaning is not intended here.




But you're not there yet.  One final test remains.
Go to the next page and find a flaw in it.