A while ago I wrote about my personal axioms. Since then I’ve added a few more.
- The universe exists.
- I exist.
- I can derive accurate information about the universe from my senses.
- Other things being equal, living is better than dying, and being happy is better than being miserable.
Note that (3) says “I can“, not “I do“. There’s a wealth of evidence that one’s senses don’t begin to tell the whole truth about reality, not even the part of it that’s in their range. But I believe that in general, what I see/hear/feel/etc bears some consistent relationship to some external world that is not in any reasonable sense a part of me.
- Other people exist, and I haven’t just imagined them.
- I accept the validity of deduction and induction until proven otherwise.
And some other observations:
- The map is not the territory. Words and symbols that we use to describe reality of necessity ignore some things, abstract others, and generally don’t ever tell the whole story.
- The map can tell a story consistent with the territory.
- When your map diverges from the territory, Bad Things Happen.
Why does any of this matter (even to me)? Several reasons.
I read a lot of atheist blogs. The question of “proof” comes up a lot in such places, or the related question of “why do you think that?” or “why do you believe that?” A common question to atheists is “where do you get your morals from, if not from God?”
I had a discussion online with a guy by the name of “Rhology”, and it left me wondering about the basis of morality.
Sam Harris wrote a book about morality that discusses similar stuff (… and eventually I’ll read it :).
I had a conversation with my friend Tom long ago, wherein I said “we are all free to do whatever we want to do, and this is demonstrably true”. And he said “ah, but what should we do?” And we agreed that that was a very important question.
I have this poorly defined metaphor in my head comparing morals to gravity, and I wanted to lay some groundwork.
I enjoyed the speech (rant?) in Starship Troopers (the book), which discussed a moral system based on unchanging fundamentals of human thought and behavior. I’ve always thought that was a cool idea.
So we’ll see how this turns out.