Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Most Important Teachings of Philosophy

I will list here some of the most important teachings of philosophy that I hope all people (or at least my students) to learn. They are not in a particular order.
  • It is most important to learn to cope with epistemic (and other) uncertainty, acknowledging this uncertainty. The feeling of certainty is only psychological and it is an epistemic error. The absolute truth cannot be attained, or even if it can, it is methodologically better to assume that it cannot.
  • In addition to known alternatives there are other possible choices. You can also invent new options yourself.
  • Aspire to remember all your sources (what have you adopted and from where). That means not only books and movies, but also other people, from whom you have adopted opinions.
  • It is important to learn the difference between yourself and the beliefs and opinions you hold (for now). You should not identify with any belief, belief system, or even a way of thinking. Identities are separate from your self, and exchangeable. The Self is a matter of definition. Identities are rarely rationally chosen.
  • Critical thinking does not mean being critical of others or of their works. It means being rational, and so also giving critical praise when it is due.
  • Criticism is best to be formulated as a question. That will teach also (epistemic) humility. Criticism is very probably erroneous as well, which is worth remebering.
  • The Principle of Benevolent Interpretation: Interpret others as if they were ethically, intellectually, and epistemically excellent.
I hope to continue this list later.

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