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Journey 14: Philosophy's function.
Journey 14: Philosophy's function.

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Published by: Christopher C. Humphrey, Ph. D. on Dec 01, 2006
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Journey 14 - THE FUNCTION OF PHILOSOPHYThe function of philosophy is the founding of sciences. This is a fairly common view, not originalwith me. The last philosopher of a subject ceases to be "philosopher", and becomes known as thefounder of that discipline. We thus forget that they were philosophers. This forgetfulness leads toan odd distortion in the training of future philosophers, since only failures such as Hume and Kantare included in the philosopher’s syllabus. The last philosopher of mathematics was Euclid, building on earlier work by Plato, Zeno,Pythagoras, Thales and the Babylonians. The Elements of Geometry was such an extraordinarilyclear and persuasive example of the deductive method of mathematics that all mathematiciansfollowed this example from that time forward. The last philosopher of physics was Newton, whosaid he stood on the shoulders of giants. He didn't name them, but we can imagine it would beKepler, Galileo, Copernicus, Ptolemy, Hipparcos, Aristarcos and Thales. Newton, Galileo andKepler all referred to themselves and one another as philosophers.I am myself a philosopher, and the new sciences I have changed are Utopian Analysis, EmpiricalMetaphysics, Ufology, Psi research and perhaps the science of history. I did not invent any of thesesciences. In Utopian Analysis, I built on the "moral sciences" of Hobbes and Locke, who livedover 300 years ago. William James and C. G. Jung are the fathers of empirical metaphysics.Arnold Toynbee was the inventor of the science of history. All I did for history was to apply hismethods to the perennial question of the fall of the Roman Empire. What I have contributed toUfology and Psi research is a testable theory of how UFOs and Psi work.Science requires theory. Without it, we won’t even know if we are collecting relevant andsignificant data. Sometimes it is best to leave a term undefined, or at least, it is best not to engage in debate over the"proper" definition of a term, such as "utopia." For me, any effort to improve society and take thecorrect community action is utopian, and this does not mean "hopelessly idealistic," nor does itmean "perfection." The US is a utopia, created by the Founding Fathers in 1789. The UK is autopia, created by the "glorious revolution" of 1688 that established the supremacy of Commonsover Royals, Lords, and Justices. Communism turned out to be a dystopia, based on false ideals,such as socialism and authoritarianism. We know both to be false because of their failure whenever tried. The idea of utopia incorporates the use of correct and well-established ideals.The term "ethics" is woefully inadequate for such issues as abortion, world peace, beautiful cities,traffic jams, and so forth. The solution to such problems requires a utopian (i.e., deliberate) changein traditions and institutions, and that is why I prefer to use "utopia" instead of "ethics." What thenshall we do with such things as "medical ethics," which pretends to know whether stem cells shall be created in a Petri dish? What grounds the arbitrary opinions of medical ethicists? Utopiananalysis may be able to do so. I shall leave that to those who follow, as a nice little problem thatmay give the true utopian much pleasure to think about. The science of civilization is concerned only with community values and community actions,including those that create obligations and rights. "De Gustibus Est Non Disputandum" when it1
comes to personal values. There is no accounting for tastes, and that is one reason why liberty is better than "big brother" because no one else can decide what is best for you. Utopian analysis isnot a version of Mills-Bentham utilitarianism. Happiness does not enter into utopia at all, becausehappiness is an entirely personal and subjective matter. There were both happy and unhappy people in the Dark Ages, and during the Black Death, as well as in the peaks of civilization. Mostof us know a mixture of both through the course of our lives, or during any particular period of life.One cannot base a science on that.Happiness is not the only possible goal in life, and has been over-rated. I would put “intense andvivid experiences” above happiness, and finding the divine purpose in one’s own life above that.I call the new science of civilization "utopian analysis," because it always analyzes a controversy or a social problem into underlying ideals. I began wondering if normative theories could beempirically tested when I was 19, and a sophomore in college. My professors told me it wasimpossible. I went to graduate school and majored in philosophy anyway. However, they wouldn'tlet me work on my problem. For 9 years, I was an academic philosopher, and even published a few papers. However, none of my colleagues thought a science of civilization was possible. I was inno hurry. I knew there was no competition. Either I solved it, or it might remain unsolved for thousands of years. I finally did figure it out, at age 49. However, as of this writing, I have beenunable to interest any academics in the new science of civilization.Apparently, no one realizes we need a science of civilization. Everyone thinks they already knowwhich way of life is best. The French think theirs is best, and the Americans think theirs is best. If that is so, why has neither country produced a great civilization since the dawn of the industrialrevolution? When I wanted a symbol to put on the cover of my little book A Science of Civilization, available from http://www.booksurge.com/author.php3?accountID=IMPR01514, Iknew there was no image from any city built recently that would serve. I picked the sacred white bison of Native America, since civilization can be about restoring ecological systems and thespiritual traditions of the First Nations, overrun by Westward expansion. It isn't necessarily aboutcities, especially the brutally ugly and violent cities of the past Century.I created a science of civilization because I grew weary of arguing about capital punishment or abortion. Ideological warfare is what that is, and it generates much heat but little light. I wanted to be able to put such issues to the test of experiment, as they do in the other sciences. I am not acritic of science; I am only a critic of the unconscious assumptions of science. I once began to explain my ideas in a seminar, but I had done no more than combine the words“values” and “science” when a “philosopher” named Ragavan Iyer jumped in and I never could getanother word in. He ranted on and on about the impossibility of a science of values before listeningto what I had to say. There is no fool like an educated fool.The naturalistic fallacy is the logicalinference of value from fact. It is a logical fallacy, but an easy one to avoid. The logic of scientificmethod is that of ruling out the known alternatives in terms of normative particulars. There is nofact to value inference."Failure" is a normative term. It is a matter of history that the Soviet Empire collapsed, a normative particular that it failed. I shall not analyze a normative particular more than this, although others2
may do so if they wish. We learn things from political experiments, both matters of value andmatters of fact. I leave it at that. You don't have to.The failure of socialism does not imply the truth of the ideal of reciprocity and its corollary, theideal of free enterprise. Free enterprise remains as the only surviving alternative. That is always theway of it in science. When there is only one alternative that survives testing, we call it well established. That is the rulein physics, and it is the rule in utopian analysis and all other empirical sciences, known andunknown. In the creation of utopian analysis, the avoidance of the naturalistic fallacy was the leastof my problems.The question is why were my professors and colleagues so adamant that it was unavoidable? It is because academic philosophers after the time of Newton and Locke do not understand the newepistemology of scientific method. They are stuck in the old epistemology of mathematical method,which is fine for math but not for empirical questions. Beware of people spouting “epistemology.”The first philosopher after Locke still studied today is David Hume. The 18th Century Hume was part of the Scotch Enlightenment. He was a friend of James Hutton and Adam Smith, twosuccessful philosophers, founders of geology and economics, respectively. Yet Hume creatednothing of lasting importance. I pick on him because he is the author of the pernicious dictum that“extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” This is completely wrong. If it had been therule in the 17th Century, science would have died unborn. Yet it is the favorite methodological principle of the Psi-cops. Hume has been immensely influential. All academic philosophy sincehis time has accepted the basic assumptions of Hume.Perhaps Hume went wrong because science is "paradigmatic," as T. S. Kuhn pointed out in hisfamous book THE STRUCTURE OF SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS. Galileo and Newton never stated the essence of scientific method in abstract terms, and neither has any scientist since.Scientists learn their craft by example, master to pupil, Nobel Prize winner to postdoc. Perhaps the form of Newton’s PRINCIPIA fooled Hume. The RINCIPIA is in the form of aEuclidean proof from three axioms and one force function. This makes it virtually unreadabletoday. That may be why the philosophers never made the turn, and remain in the Euclideanframework. So what are all these thousands of people who teach philosophy in the universities? Some of themwe must classify as logicians, of formal logic, or of ordinary language. As for the others, I shallmake the same complaint about them that Socrates (a stonecutter) made about the professionalteachers of philosophy in his day, who called themselves "sophists." "Sophist" actually means"professional philosopher."Our sophists (like those Socrates attacked) are only interested in "raising questions."When is a question not a question? It is when one has neither the ability nor the desire to attempt asolution. The sophists transform real problems into abstract "puzzles," incapable of solution whentaken out of the rich loam of human experience. The sophists don't want to solve them. That ends3

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