Think Forward.

Brad Ovitt

Please take my writing with a grain of salt, I'm not educated on philosophy.


The Limits of Science and Skepticism

Skepticism is generally regarded as the ineffectuality of reason and observation against the givenness of the world, yet for science, reason and observation are taken as primary mechanisms for uncovering truth. ---- Science, or scientism as an ideology, is widely regarded as the ideal mechanisms for uncovering truth of the world. Disregarding any faults of scientific institutions, it is generally believed that good science can uncover previously unknown truths of the world. As for science and epistemology, science assumes much it is unable to demonstrate itself. As an extreme example, science assumes the existence of an external world without addressing whether we may or may not be a brain in a vat. Or, even more damning, that memories themselves are legitimate or not. It may very well be that you, the reader, were spawned into this world moments ago implanted with a lifetime of false memories that are completely ignorant to the facts of reality. It may seem like a silly idea to someone who has placed complete faith in their lived experiences, but by abandoning that lived experience, the odds become 50-50, either that you have real memories, or you don't. For those still unconvinced, let's assume you have lived experience. Do you suppose your memories at all resemble the truth of that lived experience? Surely you have been wrong before, or so you must believe so. You can't much then argue that you're not wrong about all lived experiences. You may elevate some knowledge of the past to some superior ontological status, but in doing so you may be making a critical mistake still. Any statement of fact is hubris and ignorance. Even that one and this one. Many scientists have been aware of these issues or similar. For this reason, a scientific fact is regarded as a theory. The existence of atoms, for example, not so sure. See atomic *theory*. As for philosophy, a philosopher is just one who tries to fool themselves using foolproof reason.

Revival and Revolution of Platonic Mysticism

Mysticism in the Western philosophic canon is considered antifoundational, but here we discuss and interpret mysticism in Platonic thought; we identify Platonic mysticism in relation to the development of Michael Oakeshott's conservative philosophy ---- For a skeptic, human reason is counterassertive to reality's material facts. Plato was in a broad contexts, a skeptic. Plato's Theory of Forms [1] tells us the facts of the material world are of an inferior ontological status to eternal forms; Plato's *degrees of reality* [2] tells us eternal forms are more real than their counterpart. In *platonic dialogue* [3], Forms are considered primary to particulars, which are viewed in the mystic sense, in part, beyond human cognition, i.e., counterassertive to reality's material facts. For Michael Oakeshott, a 20th century skeptic philosopher, "[dialectic] discussion is spent ... when all simultaneously discover that each has been right all the time" (6, B). To Oakeshott, transmission is diluted by the ambiguity of language, and the dialectic is the developing of the subject as susceptible to multiple and contradictory conceptual phenomena. Plato's *degrees of reality*, for Oakeshott, in his book Experience and it's Modes, becomes a modal reality, whereas human experience is comprised of distinct modes, e.g., the scientific, philosophic, historic, etc, each with their own rules and criteria for truth. For Oakeshott, philosophy is a distinct mode of experience, one that critically examines the presuppositions of other modes. Brand Blanshard, in his book Reason and Analysis, published in 1962, wrote "there has been no period in the past two thousand years when [Rationalism has] undergone a bombardment so varied, so competent, so massive and sustained, as in the last half-century" (26, A). In attacks on Rationalism, mysticism got a new heartbeat, retrospectively identified in the work of Plato. In Oakeshott, we see a postmodern skeptic philosophy, where philosophic knowledge is regarded as mystical, in clear relation to platonic philosophy. Indeed, in Michael Oakeshott's Skepticism, by Aryeh Botwinick, he writes "[Oakeshott] did not require more than Plato in order to arrive at what nowadays is usually regarded as an antifoundational position" (6, B). **[1] Plato's Theory of Forms:** The *theory of forms* is the metaphysical theory that true reality consists of abstract and ideal entities. Plato's theory of anamnesis tells us learning is the process of remembering the eternal forms before we were incarnated into the physical world. **[2] Plato's Doctrine of Degrees of Reality:** The *degrees of reality* doctrine set forth by Plato suggests that Forms are, in the proper sense, real, while particulars are between existence and non-existence. **[3] The Platonic Dialectic:** The *platonic dialectic* is the theory of platonic dialogue, for which the impetus is exercised when participants resolve their subject to an eternal form. ---- **[A]** Blanshard, Brand. Reason and analysis. OPEN COURT, 1991. **[B]** Botwinick, Aryeh. Michael Oakeshott's Skepticism. Princeton University Press, 2010.