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I wonder what I meant by that

May 22, 2022

There’s this idea called confirmation bias. Meaning (I think) that we notice more the facts, statements and opinions that tend to confirm what we already know.

Which led to me observing how many philosophers go to great lengths and write huge books to demonstrate the things they believed at the begining.

(Old joke: A mathematics professor comes into the lecture hall and writes a statement in symbolic logic on the board. He turns to the students and says: “Ladies and gentlemen, I think that you will agree with me that this statement is obvious. Therefore…” And there he paused, looked at the board for a moment and asked to be excused. Half an hour later he came back, wild-eyed with a note book covered with scrawls. “Yes, yes! I was right: it is obvious!”)

It’s particularly noticeable in conservative political thinkers who want to prove that they are not only right but have been all this time and will be into the foreseeable future and in theologians who want to show the same for the beliefs they have held since childhood.

It’s astonishing how many people think that their particular tribe is the triumph of all human endeavour and that everyone else ought to become like them as soon as possible.

‘Progressives’, those whose hearts and homelands are in the future are no better. They tend to slip into cliches and ‘things that everybody knows’. Their TTEK are different from the reactionaries but they are no less traditional in their nature.

What I’m coming round to asking my vast acquaintance is: was there ever a philosopher who surprised himself by what he found himself thinking? Examples would be welcome but most philosophers seem to come to what they write and say already knowing what it is they want to show to be true.

Me included, insofar as I am a serious thinker at all.

By the way, I note that my preference for Number Fourteen where not followed. Never mind, I’ll give the new fella a fair trial though I won’t watch the thing he was best known for before, SEX EDUCATION, not because of any smuttiness (I follow Tom Lehrer’s philosophy with regard to that) but because the fact that it Americanised its depiction of British education causes my head to ache and my blood pressure to rise to dangerous levels.

From → Philosophy

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