Philosophile – Episode 0, Purpose

The following is my script to the pilot episode of my podcast. My hope is that I will be able to offer this blog as a place for the hearing impared to enjoy my podcast, as I edit the script notes to eventually be a full transcript for anyone to read.

Purpose

Welcome to Philosophile with Steve the Philosophist

Hi, I’m Steve The Philosophist and today, as a slant on how this is my pilot episode, I will be talking about purpose. Both the purpose of this show and the purpose of existence all together.

A lack of having a defined “labeled” purpose is most of what has held me back from making a podcast until now. Which is ironic, because I wanted to make my own talk show just to have a chance of expressing my original (or at least seemingly original) ideas.

By the nature of origional ideas, my collective thoughts here don’t conform to any label that I know of,  but part of me still wishes that I had one just to make it easy to explain what my idea for a show is about.

Because let’s face it, we can’t talk about something if we don’t have words to define what it is that we want to talk about. And, I want to talk about MEEE! MY Genius! MY Vision!

Which brings me to the title of the show. As most people know, Philosophy means “A love of wisdom.” Those who pursue an education in philosophy are not the only individuals who love wisdom, or let’s say love to know things, but the human pursuit of knowing all true things that are possible to know is taken on by the study and organization established in the subject of Philosophy.

So this show is essentially about connecting people who are honest lovers of wisdom and who are often told or given the impression by others that they “think too much.” The trouble with saying that the show is just about loving philosophy is that Philosophers can often seem to never agree, about ANYTHING. I do not have a degree in philosophy despite my interest in it. I’m also still learning and always willing to have my mind changed. I expect that from feedback, I’ll get listeners who will have some very challenging ideas for me to consider. Some might even seem confusing and perhaps impossible for me to decipher. IOW, I might accuse someone else of thinking too much or giving me a headache.

With that, I would like to emphasize two major goals which will be a part of this project. Integrity and Simplification. When I was in the USAF,  I was told that integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking.  As I took issue with how my supervisors were handling things, I told them at one point that they were lacking in integrity on a specific issue.

Their response was, “how dare you” I’ve been serving in the AF for x number of years.” They actually equated the word to coincide with the value of their rank and time served. I asked just to be sure if they knew what integrity actually was and they parroted back what I was taught in my earlier training, “doing what’s right when no one is looking.” But it occured to me then that integrity is more than doing the right thing when no one is looking. Integrity is also doing what’s right when everyone is looking. In the face of our audience, we are often compelled to do what is expected regardless of how reasonable or morally responsible such actions would be. If the right thing to do is not what you think your audience believes to be the right thing to do, then your integrity would be pressing to do the right thing, in the face of disagreeable eyes.

Before I had joined, I had learned of the other use of the the word “integrity.” It refers to the structural support of a building or construction of any sort and it’s ability to not collapse on itself.

If you can’t follow what I’m getting at so far in describing what integrity is, or you feel that I’m not detailed enough in my analysis, this show might not be for you. Where most people often seem to think only 2 or 3 steps ahead in any given situation I find in comparison that I tend to think somewhere between 4 & 7.

I don’t have abosolute or even scientific proof to establish those numbers. I only use them as an expression of how I feel. I don’t expect that anyone should agree outright with that sentiment, because I don’t have evidence to support it. Expressing how I honestly feel, despite anywhere where I might lack knowledge, is still a valuable part of the conversation.

I can be and have been wrong. What gives me integrity is that I try really hard not to be. I question myself. I revise my position as well as my delivery in each way that I can imagine. I genuinely try to adapt my strategies to the dynamic reality that I observe around me.

Simplicity, will ironically require some an in depth explanation. Have you ever felt challenged by the 140 character limit on twitter? While you can’t explain just any ole thought within 140 characters it’s still a good challenge for practice in the art of teaching. If you expect to convince anyone of a particular argument you’re going to need a skill which allows for the presentation of your arguments to be easily understood.

This is not to say that your argument itself should be simple, because plenty of true and valid arguments are very complicated. Even so, both through having patience with the audience I wish to convince, as well as by being flexible in the ways in which I am willing to help them understand, I intend to improve the simplicity of my argumentation.

If a philosopher were to be compared to a scientist who researches the fundamental nature of things, then my definition of philosophile would be compared to an engineer who is looking for nuanced ways to apply the established truths of philosophy to new applications of it’s use. I enjoy knowing and learning about as many true things as I can as a hobby. When people tell me that I’m giving them a headache for making them think too much, the irony is that I am simultaneously feeling a thinking high. Especially when I’m contemplating an original or uncommon thought about where these conepts could lead us, such as in science fiction. You should expect some ideas from transfumanism and the singularity along with other topics in fururist science fiction to come up often in the show. Hey, and let us not forget the many ideas which have been established and are not my own in that genre thanks to great minds such as Isaac Asimov, William Gibson, and Joss Wheaton

I should also explain why I call myself The Philosophist. After I independently came up with it as a handle a few years back, I googled it to see what I could find. A loosely held definition which had a temporary slang use seemed to be “A pretender of knowledge.” Not the least unlike everyone’s favorite fact machine, Cliff from the old sitcom Cheers.

[Clip of Cliff Claven]

As far as that definition holds, I figured that I might as well proudly own it, in a sort of Socratic way. If I am a pretender of knowledge, then at least I seem to be one of the few, like Socrates who can admit that I, let’s say, practically and comparatively to all the knowledge I would like to have, know nothing. Of course, I wouldn’t think myself a liar, but I’m never compeltely safe from exaggeration or misinformation. Knowledge is a very difficult thing to achieve, at least in the purest sense.

What I really wanted to mean when I came up with the term is to view Philosophy as a complex ideology, an -ism so to speak, as in Philosophism, thus making me a Philosophist as a practitioner of it. As it is though, I still have no clear idea what I think Philosophism should be defined as as a useful term.

I could say, Philosophism is about true integrity, but what ideology would ever claim not to support integrity? Sometimes it feels like Reason is the newest genre of entertainment. I can attach skepticism, critical thinking, secular humanism, and the courage to face our own cognitive dissonance, but still not solve a thing in regards to the contention that just about every ideology would claim to support the same things.

I’m sure that while it has yet to be collected into a single label, there are many established positions in philosophy which would define exactly what I mean and that it is my lack of education in philosophy to date which keeps me from being able to express them clearly. Anyone can feel free to write me and correct me, and if I feel that a good point is made, then there’s a good chance I’ll share it on the show.

Still, I’m sure that philosophiles out there know what I’m talking about when I point to these ideas and try to unite us by their virtues. You want to have a conversation. You want to hear something new that you’ve never considered before. You want someone to BOTH understand AND approve of your ideas so that you can validate them and confirm that you’re not completely off base. Where others get mad at the sight of disagreement, you are simply faced with the further pondering of why they weren’t convinced.

A like minded Philosophile also recognises the limits of the english language. Until we develop a technological means of telepathy, focusing our group thoughts into a collective hive mind, we will never be able to say enough to convey our true meaning and intent.

Ok, with that in mind, let’s move on.

People are not born with purpose. I don’t mean that I presupose that there is no divine thing that helped to create each life with a purpose, I just mean that no one has their purpose decided by them at birth. Many of you critical thinkers out there are gonna wander into thinking about consciousness and free will as I talk about this, but determining the answers to those questions is unnecessary for this discussion. Let’s move forward for now, assuming free will and consciousness are just as they seem on the surface, because a discussion on purpose has no meaning without those ideas being at least substantially real and/or true.

People eventually find purpose for themselves.  Purpose can be family, community, religion, even humanism, among other things. I need to only slightly dip my toe into the discussion on free will and consciousness just to point out the known psychological nature of the human mind. In many situations we are known to significantly determine our emotions first and then find reasons to fit those emotions afterward.

Those emotions can be effected by our calculated decisions as well, but it suffices to say that our own emotional delusions fool us into thinking that the self or the logical part of the brain determines who we are while also ignoring how much who we are is determined by the time and place where we happen to feel various things.

Hense, many of us, if not all of us are under the misunderstanding that the purpose or purposes that we’ve chosen for ourselves were actually decided by our-“selves” in a significant way. So as to mean, even say in the extreme event that I happen to not have what most people would consider to be free will, I still have the ability to continue to think more about who I am and determine that my purpose for myself was well thought out rather than just, meh, yeah I like how this makes me feel and I like how that makes me feel…. I’m angry when I’m around you, so you must be a bad person, let’s fight!

Such behavior is really the antithesis of what a philosophile is like. We leave no stone unturned in trying to continuously discover a more meaningful purpose in life than the one we currently have.

That can leave us believing in a lot of different and ultimately incompatible beliefs. Those listening and connecting with me on these points might have also formed their sense of purpose around an invisible deity. There are also people out there with a functional form of psychopathy, where their purpose in life is themselves. They would see others as merely pretending that those fake smiles which are treated as evidence for feeling a sense of purpose towards their loved ones is really just their own form of living for their own complicated form of hedonism.

On another side of the fence are people who find a lawful sense of purpose, which I mention because I just find it really interesting. I’m talking about D&D, nerds. For those who don’t know Dungeons & Dragons as well as other games following it’s example,  uses a grid to help with character creation.  One axis shows Good vs Evil, with a possibility of neutral. The other axis is Lawful vs Chaotic, also wwith a neutral option. This is to show that a personality, at least as a thought experiment can be Legalistic in their thinking, yet wish for harm and darkness or destruction on others, while another contrasted personality can be someone who doesn’t care for rules or order, yet still wishes prosperity and good health for all.

A great example of a Lawful character I would give is the police investigator Javert in Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Spoiler warning: Jevert is a character who believes so much in what he has formed as the laws of his beliefs that he is willing to die in service to them. Few of us here would disagree that this Lawful thinking is a delusion when the closely held to beliefs are of false things.

For example, let’s say that I believe lawfully in the truth of math. It’s cearly beneficial and easily verifiable. Some even admire me for having the skill to understand it. When someone tells me that 7^2 = 45, I defy them. No wait! That’s incorrect! I got this…. 7^2 = 49 and I can prove it with a grid!…. Wait. Crap, are you using the decimal system? Quick, what comes after 9? 10! Oh thank god! I dodged a bullet right there.

But if I held lawfully to the belief that I have the power to predict coin tosses, and in the face of testing this claim, I find a way to rationalize that all of my misses were actually hits… Here, let me show you

[do the biased coin experiment]

People would determine that I’m only fooling myself because I don’t want to admit that my belief turned out to be false, even in the face of hard evidence.

A foundational trait (pehaps a Lawfully held trait?) to critical thinking is to allow for one’s own beliefs to change.  This disagrees with the strong Lawful personality who, in rare instances gives themselves a valid out in the case that they discover that their lawfully held beliefs are false.

Eliezer Yudkowsky, an artificial intelligence theorist and author of some amazing material which I wish to cover in detail on future episodes, wrote about a sort of allegory on his community blog, LessWrong, that also comes to mind. It’s titled, “A Fable of Science and Politics.”  In it he describes a postapocolyptic underground society which eventually forgets what color the sky was.

It’s really a great read, I highly recommend checking it out. In short, many of them eventually argue whether or not the sky is Blue or Green. When an opportunity to see the surface for themselves comes around, that’s where Yudkowsky branches into considering different scenarios. The example I want to take from it is the idea of a line to be drawn for someone who lawfully believed that the sky was green and is the first to see that it’s blue for themselves. Does the lawful green thinker, change their mind? If so, do they suddenly become nihilistic or suicidal because their purpose in life turned out to be based on a false premise? Or would they go into a state of utter delusion and forget they ever saw it, continuing to convey that they were correct all along?

This is the paradox of the lawfully minded person. Granted, most of this is just my own conjecture from a fun character building device and not taken from actual studies of human behavior. Still, I think there’s a connection to why such characters can facinate audiences. Even say, someone who is lawfully minded themselves but with a different set of lawful beliefs than the characters they are watching on tv and are still yet facinated by. Like if a devoted born again Christian happened to love the show Falling Skies, whith all sorts of war with aliens. I would venture to say that any Christian fundamentalist or strong believer worth muster would be disgusted by any show about extraterrestrials which didn’t include at least some of those ET’s beliving in Jesus. If any listener genuinely feels that way, I’d love to hear from you.

Are we driven to look and listen because we want to learn how to second guess and deal with others who are wrong? Or perhaps are we, even the most subborn among us, looking at other beliefs because a part of us is questioning our own? Surely the answer in verying degrees, at least for me, is all of the above.

Lawful stubborn stances on beliefs are also somewhat confusing and forgivible when they are consistant. If someone forms a lawful purpose for themselves based on something which cant be proven or disproven, it’s tough to blame them for believing it. Such individuals can still be intelligent philosophiles, but where there is disagreement, beware. They can also still be crazy or delusioned and you just can’t put a finger on how to debunk them. They can also make good competition for any philosophile who wishes to put their own beliefs and reasoning to the test in a debate.

For the last part of this episode I’ll explaining my own sense of purpose. Throughout my life, I’ve had many drives to define who I am and what I want to be about. Metaphysically, I was born an atheist, then was made a christian, an antitheist, and then became a christian again, then an agnostic, a self-hating christian, and then a christian yet again, and then I was finally able to be a college student and actually learned something useful.

Now my position can be described as Atheist Agnostic and Defacto Atheist as well as a Level 7 wizard class Halfling. I do not know that a deity does not exist, but I do now have enough verifiable evidence to show that Christianity and every religion like it is a series of delusions, lies, and an overall fucking joke.

Wait… did I lose you there? Offend someone? If so, I ask you to please keep 2 simple points in mind. 1. We will be talking about my support for that claim in at least one future episode. 2. Your offense is far less important than the truth. Moving on.

In my studies I’ve learned about the process of natural selection. All existence of life can be explained by this process which brings things into existence based on their ability to continue to exist.

A great anaolgy for how it works is looking at how rocks are smoothed over time in the tides of the ocean. any jagged rock which finds it’s way tothe beachfront ocean floor os constantly pulled by it’s environment against other rocks of similar hardness. One by one, it’s jagged edges are cut away, or “naturally selected” off of the main bulk of the stone until eventually it becomes completely smooth. The rock will continue to have collisions and perhaps completely turn to sand, given enough time, but the edges are the first to go because the environment itself had a functional means of eliminating them.

With that in mind, I can see that I was allowed to exist just because I could. How many nerds out there have wanted to do something just because we can? How about artists for that matter? Without the need for a preexisting consciousness, natural selection is a mechanism for something which lacks consciousness to eventually become conscious, just because it can. Why not simply exist? Hamlet asked, “to be or not to be?” and in response, I ask, “why not be?”

My emotions bring me to fear death and to enjoy the prospect of continued life. If I were to have everything I want through the advancement of technology, I believe I will find myself wondering some day if I really need an internal instinct to motivate myself in order to want to be motivated. I might not like the answer.  Narcissism is a very destructive thing by itself, yet, it seems necessary on some level to maintain any sense of self value at all.

I want to say that I have calculated a reason to wish to live forever, but I haven’t. It’s a choice I’ve made based on my desire to live. Sam Harris might say that this marionette laments over it’s strings. But as I understand that my meager existence stems from a natural means of existing for the sake of existing, that is the basis, the Law, of my own purpose in life. I am not altruistic nor antisocial, both of those seem stupid, regardless of one’s purpose.

I also see morality as a means of establishing a strategy to continue the existence of that strategy. I’ll expand on that developing thesis in a future episode on morality. For now, it’s suffices to say that I try to apply myself to what strategies for continued existence most reasonably work.

If you have a response or feedback to the show, you can email me at philosophilepodcast@gmail.com.  I will also take requests for topics and would love to learn more about any significant topic mentioned in the show. Please educate me more on things I thought I knew but clearly didn’t. And if you find yourself rambling at random, do consider if you’ve taken all of your prescribed medication for schizophrenia (I’m talking to you Ted God of Youtube).

hmm hmm, Gotta insert the closing line now… Yes, I feel you. “Insert closing line here” would be fitting, but still way too dull… uuuuuummm. How about we connect the purpose of the show with my purpose of existence. Not that you have to agree, but just for shits and giggles… We can consider it a dummy version.

Whenever possible, always try to think just a little more… because you can.