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No offense taken.

BTW I have written quite a bit since 2007(!) on the relationship of rationalism and politics, see here for a starting pont.

Probably make some snarky remark about how people who think they are free of politics are in reality in the grip of one of the more deadly forms of it.


After posting that I felt even more unsure about my assertion about Buddhism and introspection than I had indicated, so did some's some support from an actual Buddhist, though I'm guessing there is a wide variety of opinion on this question.


I exaggerated a bit. The points I was trying to make: we can only weakly introspect; the term "introspection" is misleading (I think "reflection", mentioned by another commenter, is better); we are in a strong sense strangers to ourselves, and our apparent ability to introspect is misleading.

I am only a dabbler in meditation and Buddhism, but I think an actual Buddhist would NOT characterize meditation as introspection. The point of it is not to have a self more aware of itself, but to reveal the illusory nature of the self (I'm sure that is a drastic oversimplification, at best).


I think you miss the point of the linked article, which is not that we are "not very good" at introspection, but that introspection is literally impossible. We don't have any better access to our own brain processes than we do to a random persons. We don't have little instruments hooked up to our internal mental mechanisms telling us what's going on. I fear that people who think they do are somewhat fooling themselves.

That doesn't mean we can't have models of ourselves, or think about how the brain works, or notice patterns of mental behavior and make up better explanations for them, and get better at that. But I think calling it introspection is misleading and begs the question, as it conjures up images of a magic eye that can be turned inward. We don't have those.


Great post, a very lucid account of your experiences, thank you.

As it happens I was just contemplating writing something along the lines of "mysticism for rationalists", but I think you may have it covered.


Well, I deliberately left out the source because I didn't think it would play well in this Peoria of thought -- it's from his book of essays Farewell to Reason. Link to gbooks with some context.


The best education consists in immunizing people against systematic attempts at education.

-- Paul Feyerabend


Right, and I'm asking you what you think that "something else" is.

Hell, how would I know? Let's say "thinking" for the sake of argument.

I'd also re-assert my challenge to you: if philosophy's arguments don't rest on some evidence of some kind, what distinguishes it from nonsense/fiction?

People think it makes sense.

"Definitions may be given in this way of any field where a body of definite knowledge exists. But philosophy cannot be so defined. Any definition is controversial and already embodies a philosophic attitude. The only way to find out what philosophy is, is to do philosophy." -- Bertrand Russell


I'm not at all a fan of Hegel, and Heidegger I don't really understand, but I linked to a paper that describes the interaction of Heideggerian philosophy and AI which might answer your question.

I still think you don't have your categories straight. Philosophy does not make "claims" that are proved or disproved by evidence (although there is a relatively new subfield called "experimental philosophy"). Think of it as providing alternate points of view.

To illustrate: your idea that the only valid utterances are those that are supported by empirical evidence is a philosophy. That philosophy itself can't be supported by empirical evidence; it rests on something else.

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