Making an A** Out of U and Me

Jul 13 | Posted by: Fighter #1 | Tags: Crackpot Theories to save the world

I got into an argument about religion this week (a terrible habit, I know). As usually happens with these conversations, I find myself considering our philosophical assumptions. I like to think that any reasonable person, given the same set of axioms could arrive at the same set of beliefs.*

Interestingly, I’ve found this itself to be a hard topic to explain to people. When I ask them what assumptions lead them to a conclusion, most people that I’ve queried tend to answer a very minimalistic set of assumptions applicable to the specific argument, or they say they don’t have any assumptions at all.

I find that prospect absurd! Of course you have assumptions. You’re just brimming with assumptions about the nature of reality and how things work. You’re so steeped with assumptions that it’s difficult to step back and even know what your assumptions are! From what I understand (based on one undergrad philosophy course... and that was about ethics and computing) the only thing that has been proven based purely on logic starting with no axioms is Decartes “I think, therefore I am.” And the wikipedia for that still has debate!

Of course, hypocrite that I am, I’ve never properly enumerated my own axioms. (The unexamined life is a lot less work in some ways, Socrates aside.**)

So here we go, I’m going to try to list all of the assumptions that I have going into philosophical debates. I’ll certainly miss many of them, but at least I’m making the effort. And that makes me better than you. QED

  1. I exist at this moment. (See Descartes from before)
  2. I have historically existed and will continue to exist for some time barring sudden changes to the nature of reality and/or unexpected onset of my own mortality.
  3. Matter as it can be observed exists for all intents and purposes. Whether or not this universe actually exists or is a dream/simulation/whatever, for practical reasons I assume it’s as real as it needs to be.
  4. Time exists in a basically linear fashion. Things have happened in the past and can be observed through memory though not actually altered. Things will happen in the future and cannot be actually observed but can be altered.
  5. Free will exists. I have control over my own thoughts and actions.
  6. I am not the only free-willed agent in the universe.
    1. Other people are metaphysically similar to me. They also have free-will, etc.
    2. I am metaphysically and physically similar to other people. e.g. They are mortal, thus I am mortal****
    3. Unless proven or assumed otherwise this applies to all aspects of humanity.
  7. The universe is much bigger than man is capable of fully comprehending. We can grasp parts of it, but there is just too much to truly understand.
  8. The scope of reality probably extends beyond our observable, naturalistic world.
  9. There may be other free-willed agents besides humans. Whether these alien minds are [Gg]od+, extra-terrestrials, time-travelling computers, or whatever can be determined later.
  10. Good and evil are objective concepts distinct from humanity’s (either individually or corporately) observance or definition of them.


I’m sure there’s a ton more that I could come up with, but you’re probably bored of reading them, and I’m tired of writing them.

Hey, I have an idea! If you have epistemological assumptions that you make about nature of reality, or assumptions you think others make, or assumptions you think I specifically make, post them in the comments!

Arguing about religion may be a terrible habit, but on the Internet, it’s probably OK, right?

* This is, of course, completely false.
** Bear in mind that I’m just name-dropping philosophers to sound smart at this point. I’m pausing to Google*** these things.
*** DuckDuckGo, Google kind of sucks these days.
**** I feel like this needs to be an axiom since my own mortality is thus far unobserved by me. I only “know” I’m mortal by comparing myself to dead folks.

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