Saturday, 10 March 2012

Beyond the Zero

I've decided to play around with a blog of my own, in which I intend to ramble and pontificate about philosophical and political issues that interest me, and also discuss comic books, video games and other perfectly nerdy things.

First, some explanation is in order. My girlfriend has been encouraging me to start a blog for some time now, and after quite a bit of hemming and hawing, as they say, I thought to myself, "Who's going to care about the half-baked ideas of a pedantic, twenty-something philosophy student who spends far too much time thinking and reading about things he really isn't qualified to talk about?" Well, I suppose if it's self-consciously half-baked and more or less aware of its own shortcomings, this blog could be a bit of fun, and won't take itself too seriously.

Secondly, an outright confession is warranted. I am, for all intents and purposes, a nihilist. Not the pissy, brooding, "Ve vant ze money, Lebowski!" sort of nihilist, but rather one who has come to happily but tentatively accept uncertainty, ignorance and impermanence after a great deal of serious, well-intentioned (and ongoing) inquiry. The way I see it, there is probably no personal God, no objective morality, no free will, no epistemic certainty (outside of pure tautologies,) no afterlife, and no real purpose or meaning to existence. But, in my view, this is not "bad news." It's nothing to be gloomy about. On the contrary, the rejection of these foundational concepts can be experienced as liberating, and can expand the scope of love, happiness, and (above all) humor. My philosophical project, if anything, is to show that we can make admirable sense of our existence without the traditional concepts that have been relied on to give it meaning. As Camus observed, "Accepting the absurdity of everything around us is one step, a necessary experience: it should not become a dead end. It arouses a revolt that can become fruitful." Nihilism (or, as I like to call it in polite company, "provisional moral and ontological agnosticism") is a starting point, not a destination.

Major philosophical influences in this area include Hume, Spinoza, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Wittgenstein. To round out a "top ten," in no particular order, I'd probably also include Russell, Rorty, Heraclitus, Quine, and William James. I have an inclination towards, and interest in, pragmatism, naturalism, anti-foundationalism, perspectivism, and fallibilism. I'm also a big fan of Hellenistic philosophy, and feel that the ancient Stoics, Epicureans and Pyrrhonian Skeptics had something worth saying about how to live. Ideas of which I am highly critical include moral realism, moral rationalism, libertarianism (both political and metaphysical,) theism, and conservatism. But I'm always willing to listen, and if a good case can be made for any of these, I'll be the first to consider it.

Hopefully, this gives you some general idea of where this blog is going. Stick around. Let's have fun!

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