Tuesday, September 4, 2012

From Possibility to Necessity?

A few weeks ago, I self-published a book called through PediaPress, a website where anyone can go and self-publish a book by selecting a number of articles from WikiPedia, arranging those articles into chapters and sections, naming those chapters and sections, and then, if desired, writing a Preface, Introduction, or Forward to the book. The book is called Philosophy: A Brief Introduction. There is only one copy of this book, and that copy is in my possession.

Just for fun, here are some scans of the Table of Contents.

So why am I telling you this? I'm not advertising for PediaPress, and I'm certainly not trying to talk myself up for having done something that anyone else could have done. I'm writing because on page ii of the book, there appears an important statement that I neither wrote nor selected, but a statement that enacts what I believe many books on philosophy ought to include in the first place. The statement also exemplifies the purpose of this blog. Here is what it says:
The content within this book was generated collaboratively by volunteers. Please be advised that nothing found here has necessarily been reviewed by people with the expertise required to provide you with complete, accurate[,] or reliable information. Some information in this book may be misleading or simply wrong. PediaPress does not guarantee the validity of the information found here. If you need specific advice (for example, medical, legal, financial, or risk management) please seek a professional who is licensed or knowledgeable in that area. (Slater, Philosophy ii) 
How many books have you read with something like that at the very beginning? I'll be honest: this is the first one. But I think it is awesome how the book asserts its own unreliability. What's awesome about that? Well, philosophy as we usually think about it (which tends to not be the love of wisdom, as I have discussed elsewhere) really is unreliable! Take almost any philosopher. You'll see that he or she gets some things right and some things wrong. (I say "almost any philosopher" because I am assuming that there are some philosophers that get everything right! But more on that in a future post!) Or, take any system of philosophy. Empiricism. Or idealism. It doesn't matter which one. What matters is that, while there is much within most systems of philosophy, there is also a lot of junk. Stuff that just isn't useful. In other words, as quoted above, much of philosophy really is "simply wrong" (Slater ii).

It's subject to revision. And what that means is we need someone or a group of people that are qualified to revise it. But what? What high calliber of human beings are qualified to not only revise philosophy, but to create a system of philosophy that is--dare I say it?--infallible? Is that even possible? Sure, I'm being idealistic here. But I'm also assuming that it is possible. And if possible, then why not necessary?

Of course, the person or people couldn't be a man or a woman, since men and women are human beings, and human beings make mistakes. Either the person or people are not human, or they would have to be something more than human. Unless there's some other way. Like if a human being were to receive divine revelation from God, and then have God Himself testify of the truthfulness of what was revealed.

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