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In defense of empiricism

In which it is argued that 2 of the 3 legs of the Münchhausen Trilemma are, well, idiotic.

I really have very little to add to this other than to excerpt a couple of key points, without further comment other than to state that I find myself very much aligned with the first sentiment quoted immediately below (emphasis mine)…

I find that the older I get, the more of an empiricist I become. While I have broad personal experience in but a minute part of the whole world, I base my pyramids of trust on people whose primary premises match up to my own personal experience. Those who have very little first hand experience in anything must have very little data on which to base their pyramids of trust.

I aver that there are four kinds of questions: Those answerable by logic, those where experiment yields what is essentially certainty, those that yield answers that can never be better than “today’s best guess,” and those that cannot be answered by empiricism at all.

The author notes (note: link added) that “Human beings are rational animals.” This is daffy on its face. Most humans may be capable of reasoning, but it’s self-evident that few spend any time at all in this part of their mind.

These are the premises on which I base my objection to axiom and empiricism being lumped in with circular reasoning and “turtles all the way down.” Reality exists. The notion that people see different things when observing the same thing is baloney. If I drop a golf ball and simultaneously launch one horizontally, they will always hit the floor at the same time, no matter who insists with great fervor that the dropped one lands first. If, upon observing them bounce simultaneously, an observer still insists that they hit at different times, it’s not a case of competing epistemologies.

Two of the trilemma’s legs are folly, the third is the only means of attempting to align with reality in order to decide and act. Among today’s great follies is insistence on baseless conjecture as fact. Our society is structured under Taylorist notions, that there’s one best way to live, and the dogma that populates this conflicts openly with observed reality.

As they say, you really ought to read the whole thing.

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