The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Agency of Pseudo-Skepticism & Cultivated Ignorance

The Art of Knowing Nothing

There exists a difference between the number zero, a state of absence and the concepts of nothing and nothingness. It behooves one to know the difference. The nihilist is a person who claims specific revelation knowledge as to that which is comprised by all conditions of Nothing. The ethical skeptic on the other hand is a student of Nothing before he or she can ever claim to bear expertise at anything.

A friend was challenged by his son the other day, with the contention that the number zero (0) was not really a number at all, rather that it represented the concept of nothing – and that therefore, all of our numeric systems needed to be revised in order to reflect this principle of reality. This approach of course presupposes that non-zero numbers, indeed are real in themselves – a predicate contention which the philosopher cannot grant free pass (and of course the mistake which the Romans made with I II III IV, etc.). The numeral ‘zero’ bears a specific function which is mathematics related. As such, and given that maths involves the manipulation of symbols/placeholders/numbers/numeral digits – concepts or symbols thereof which serve as placeholders for series concepts – therefore, zero is indeed a series number and is not akin to ‘nothing’. Without the number 0, the series -2, -1, 0, 1, 2… would have no coherency, and advanced sets of maths/computer science would fail due to the resulting lossy glitch in that logical/computational series.

The numeral ‘1’ for instance is merely the next series symbol for the condition of a single instance of a domain, set, entity or (quality or quantity) state – all concepts which are useful in defining the conditions of Nothing, below. The numeral ‘1’ too is merely symbolic – quad erat demonstrandum the number ‘zero’ bears all the same elements of validity as a number, as does the number ‘1’ or any other numeral.1

What my friend’s son was doing, was to conflate a ‘condition of Nothing’, with the numerics of zero. While the equivocal concepts of both do indeed overlap, this overlap is much less in magnitude than the layman might first assume. It behooves the ethical skeptic to fathom and adeptly ply the difference between zero and nothing.

There is zero, and there is Nothing – wherein the two are not necessarily the same thing at all.

Zero is an issue of series. Nothing is an issue of state. Intent is sticky and robust, more so than either zero or Nothing –
and may persist well beyond the boundary conditions introduced by each of those limited concepts.

The Conditions of Nothing

But fathoming the depths of this tenet of philosophy serves to give pause in the mind of the ethical skeptic: What other concepts of Nothing exist, and how are they defined under a Wittgenstein level of clarity as well? Further then, how does this help us define the term ‘nihilism’? Below I outlay my most recent foray into defining the depths of Nothing. The list begins with the most objective and ends with the most subjective concepts. The Wittgenstein anchor terms used herein are set, entity, (quantity or quality) state, domain, known, unknown, number, transaction, condition, member and series.

Make Sure That You Know Nothing (The Conditions of Nothing)

Series/Maths

  0/Zero/Aught – a number which place-holds for termination of a quantitative series

  Nil/Zilch/Love/Zot – a state of attainment represented by no quantity of a known entity

            aleph_0/Aleph Zero – the termination (cardinality) of the series set of natural numbers

Sets & Domains

  Nought/Naught – any set or entity which produces no associated quantity or quality

  None – a known set or entity which exhibits an absence of quantity or quality

  Blank – a set which is devoid of its associated entities

  Void – a defined domain which contains no set, entity nor quantity or quality

  Nada – a void of known entities or sets inside a known domain

  Non-Existent – the state of a known set or entity in which it is absent in all known domains

  Non-Entity – a putative member of a set which does not actually belong to that set

  ∅/Empty Set – a set of a known entity, quantity or quality which does not exist in a given domain

Nothing States

  Non-Extant – a set or entity, known or unknown, which is absent in all domains

  Oblivion – a condition in which the complete set of an entity is rendered non-extant

  Absent – a set, entity or state which is prohibited detection in a domain

  Emptiness – a domain in which all sets or entities are prohibited detection

  Nihil – a state of inability to exist, regardless of domain

  Nothingness – the domain of all sets or entities which are nihil

Meta-Nothing

  NaN – not a number. A value that is undefinable or unrepresentable

  Idempotent – a transaction which contributes no change in (quantity or quality) state

  Nix/Exterminate – to render a set or entity to one of the various conditions of Nothing

  Annihilate – to render a set or entity to the sate of nihil

  Nihilism – a faith, that all Conditions of Nothing fully describe that which appears absent

As the astute observer may notice herein, nihilism, because of its desperate claim to grasp all that is Nothing, without any evidence of such knowledge, is indeed a personal choice of faith. A hunch, a metaphysical selection, just as believing in God is a metaphysical selection. Which is fine. However, when one enforces that personal choice upon others (by mandating it as an outcome of logic, rationality or science), it also becomes a religion often called Atheism (distinct from agnosticism or ignostic atheism).

So now that you the ethical skeptic have plumbed the depths of Wittgenstein’s Nothing, and have perceived just how impossible it is to know Nothing; therefore stand firm against those who purport to possess short-cut revelation knowledge as to the entirety of Nothing.

That sure would be something.

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September 30, 2019 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | , , , | 4 Comments

Intuitionism: Inference versus Impulse

Ethical Skepticism maintains a healthy respect for Inductive and Deductive epistemological inference methods. However the philosophy itself, upon which these logical inference methods are based, stems from sources which cannot be fully defined as epistemological in the first place – save for the instance wherein we are able to test each derived tenet’s mettle through real world application. An additional species of inference exists inside philosophy: that of Ethical Intuitionism. Unlike Impulse Inference, Ethical Intuitionism derives its based development practices from necessity and skilled instinct, not doctrine nor coerced conviction. It focuses primarily on the goals of value, clarity, risk, and probability as paramount above any particular conclusion alone.
Much of impulse originates through emotional damage and fear. But faith and metaphysical selection may still be ethical forms of inference exercised apart from such vulnerability.

Now we just completed a blog about three types of logical inference. To be clear, these three species of logical inference are all logic based forms of reason (see the left side of the chart to the right). There exist as well several other forms of inference. For instance, in mathematics we have the three disciplines of modeling & simulation, mathematical derivation itself and computation (the basis of Artificial Intelligence). There is however another and much more common (but often decried and denied) genre of inference methods. In order to introduce this form of inference we should take a quick look again at the three common rational forms which were developed in our last blog (see The Three Types of Reason).

Abductive Reason

/Diagnostic Inference/ : a form of precedent based inference which starts with an observation then seeks to find the simplest or most likely explanation. In abductive reasoning, unlike in deductive reasoning, the premises do not guarantee the conclusion. One can understand abductive reasoning as inference to the best known explanation.1

Inductive Reason

/Logical Inference/ : is reasoning in which the premises are viewed as supplying strong evidence for the truth of the conclusion. While the conclusion of a deductive argument is certain, the truth of the conclusion of an inductive argument may be probable, based upon the evidence given combined with its ability to predict outcomes.2

Deductive Reason

/Reductive Inference/ : is the process of reasoning by reduction in complexity, from one or more statements (premises) to reach a final, logically certain conclusion. This includes the instance where the elimination of alternatives (negative premises) forces one to conclude the only remaining answer.3

Derivation

Our fourth form of inference is mathematics itself. However, let’s set that aside for now and focus on the next successive block after Derivation in the chart above, that of Intuitionism. Intuitionism involves a combination of both abductive and inductive pre-mindset, a mathematician’s discipline, combined with a philosopher’s license to base conjecture of principle. I say mindsets, because deeming this form of inference a logical method is not a certainty. This form of inference can sometimes follow a method of logic, but often does not. It involves a set of hunch-based logics known collectively as Intuitionism.

Intuitionism

/Inference by Hunch/ : is the process of reasoning from a set of internally developed ideas – in part or alone without necessary reference to objective and a priori reality, sources, epistemology or belief. Such ideas may originate in part from unconscious or conscious extrapolations from prior training, including scientific, mathematical, social, experiential and religious. There are three general forms of Intuitionism.

Reason Based (Philosophy and Mathematics)

Ethical Intuitionism – a set of ideas that our intuitive awareness of value, or intuitive knowledge of clear evaluative facts and our ability to sense and measure plausibility, risk and probability, form the foundation of our ethical knowledge and knowledge development processes. This form of inference derives its basis from a solid background in inductive and deductive training and experience; however does not demand that every inference be based upon solely sources, epistemology or belief. Since philosophy derives (by necessity) many times from relatively intuition based inferences – it is rightfully thought of as a type of Ethical Intuitionism. It’s quality is proved out through the success of the science which employs methods adhering to its tenets.4 5

Mathematical/Physical Intuitionism – an approach wherein mathematics (or alternately physics as well) is considered to be purely the result of the constructive mental activity of humans rather than inferred through our discovery of fundamental principles claimed to exist in a referenceless, objective and a priori reality. That is, logic and mathematics are not considered analytic activities wherein deep properties of objective reality are revealed; rather, are instead considered the application of internally consistent methods used to realize more complex mental constructs, regardless of their possible independent existence in an objective reality.6 7

Impulse (pathos)

Intuitionism (Metaphysical Selection) – the philosophical theory that basic truths can be derived or are always known intuitively. The opposite of empirical and epistemological inference methods, often involving some degree of teleology. The philosophical basis of the idea that existence, cause, effect, purpose, being, origination of existence, theology or lack thereof, can all be derived through the foundationalism about moral knowledge: the view that some moral truths or views about god, existence, cause and purpose can be known non-inferentially (i.e., known without one needing to infer them from other sources, epistemology or beliefs). It revolves around three principles:

1.  Objective moral truths do exist (and for some, objective moral and causal Agents do exist)

2.  Fundamental moral truths (and moral and causal agents) have no precedent, nor can they be broken down into simpler or predicate components (this is parallel to the position of Philosophy – however extends to conclusions, rather than simply practices and disciplines)

3.  The belief that human beings are granted, can freely derive or have a past innate memory of such moral truths (and moral or causal agents).8

This is a form of metaphysical selection (a belief) – rather than a derivation which is achieved at the end of a process of logical/mathematical calculus or philosophical development of practice standards. A danger resides in conflating the pathos based intuitionism of belief, with the reason based intuitionism of mathematics and ethics.

Faith

When one elects to undertake a pathway involving ontological or impulse intuitionism, one should be honest and understand that this process of metaphysical selection (belief) – stands distinct from any form of mathematical derivation or intuitionism, ethical intuitionism, philosophy, abduction, induction or deduction. When exercised sincerely, and in this circumspect light of understanding – the practitioner is executing a principle called faith.  Faith is the condition wherein no pretense is offered by the claimant as to proof, evidence, logic, science, epistemology, right, wrong, authority, etc. The claimant simply and transparently makes it clear that they have exercised a metaphysical selection. It fits their gut. This is why faith is considered a more virtuous form of pathos and ontological intuition.

The telltale earmarks which serve to distinguish Religious Doctrine from Faith are the urgency, one way communication and coercion typically involved.

Impulse Inference (Religious Doctrine and Dogma)

This is a twisted and sick-minded form of metaphysical selection or faith. The only practice set which operates under a masquerade in this set of inference species and genres, is the practice of religious assumption, doctrine and dogma. This of course includes the habits of those who practice social skepticism. These religions will attempt to pass their doctrines as species of logical inference – through a process known as apologetics. This is a type of pathology wherein the participant very desperately wants to seek validation for a taught or personally adopted set of metaphysical conclusions. This is not truly an actual form of inference, however because of its peer status as an exception to the other genres and forms, it is depicted on the chart alongside all the forms of legitimate inference (including metaphysical selection and faith) which it pretends to be. The key clarifying aspect of this species of inference, is that it is in at least part based upon forms of coercion, fear and duty.

Of the three forms of Intuitionism above however – only Ethical Intuitionism provides for the distinct possibility to inductively or deductively test each assumption as to how it performs ‘in real life’. Mathematics intuition claims can be independently derived in proof, but such pathways inevitably progress into realms where definition uncertainty begins to provide for shaky ground in terms of final certainty (not to mention utility); for instance, in the case of the dispute over infinity as an existential or only practical incremental concept.9

Ethical Intuitionism, because of its philosophical basis – and focus on clarity, value, risk and probability over any specific conclusions, is often mistaken for sophistry by those unfamiliar with skepticism or who are highly committed to an abductive or impulse intuition based set of answers. 

The willingness to tolerate an unknown – the staunch defense of the methods of science against the twisted logic of the agenda laden poser – these standards serve to aggravate and inflame the religious impulse minded. The religious rarely ever ‘get’ Ethical Intuitionism. After all, its very core philosophy is anathema to religion – not necessarily metaphysical selection or faith – but religion. However, pointing this out rarely does any good.

As an ethical skeptic, one should just chuckle at such ignorance and move on; hoping that some day the accuser will see the light of their own bullheadedness.

epoché vanguards gnosis

July 8, 2017 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ethical Skeptic Statement of Faith

Epoché vanguards gnosis. I assume nothing and expect to be amazed. This is my faith.

There exist two extremes of personal cosmology which I reject.

     Abrahamism/Monotheism
Ethical Skeptic Faith

When enforced on me as a child, was a destructive lie which took years to shed through education, integrity, rational thinking, fellowship, a global deep life experience and a smarter circumspect view about man and our elegant universe. This model of god has failed, because the behavior which is rewarded as part of the innate ethical fabric and design (per hoc aditum) of this realm include:

Surreptitious Greed
Licensed Violence
Systemic Exploitation
Machiavellian Attainment
Skilled Selfishness
Concealed Dishonesty
Veiled Hatred

Overarching Goal: Suffering on Unimaginable Scale

One is not rewarded in this realm through simply being a bad person; rather by being exceptionally skilled at one single talent, or most commonly, being highly skilled at being a surreptitiously bad person. In my life, I have abjectly refused to participate in such activity, and it has cost me dearly – to the point of understanding that ethical natures are to be punished in this realm. Postured virtue, a veneer concealing the thoroughly corrupt soul is the means to success in this realm. The greedy suit. Pro athletes, actors and musicians are foisted as models of ‘if your really put your mind to it, you can…’ – but such characters are few and far between in reality and are appointed as celebrity example by the Machiavelli Elite as a form of deception and wishful thinking as to how they falsely view their own evil natures.

The above list of more common dark realities are woven into this universe’s very fabric and DNA. Such an archaic monotheistic God would not simply ‘allow bad things to happen to good people’, He would be wallowing in the dark aura of abject suffering – accelerating and celebrating it as the core goal of His entire creation. Drunk on the blood of innocent who suffered from the very inception of this realm. Were this a ‘design’, then the designer could not possibly posses the ethical characteristics assumed/taught by monotheists at all. An ethical mind of higher acumen eventually will grow insane from the hypocrisy of being forced to comply with this model of God. Eventually the ethical mind must stand up and say ‘I don’t care how many people think this is God, they are wrong.’

One eventually finds that this dark ethic of this universe, it purposeful hell-state, stands deductively incompatible with the imposed model of a monotheistic, all powerful, benevolent, all knowing, all caring creator. This is falsification in its level of inferential merit. But it takes an adult mind in order to grasp this, not a child mind. And no, man did not cause this to happen in a Fall event – this is the way the charter of this realm and our DNA were crafted from day one.

     Metaphysical Naturalism

The temptation exists therefore, when faced with this irreconcilable view of god versus our abject reality, to jump from one extreme to the other. Things be bad, therefore nihilist-atheism. This is simply a coward’s way out, a religion of negative reactance on the part of the shallow, fearful and cowardly closed mind.

When metaphysical naturalism is offered to me as the only alternative to Abrahamism, this becomes a bifurcation fallacy;

When I am told there exists enough epistemological evidence upon which to select it, this becomes a false dilemma;

When it starts instructing me as to a whole list of things which do not exist; and this is enforced on society, government, in my career, in the media, and in my academic progression, it becomes Nihilism;

When it is bolstered by pep rallies, negative reactance to one’s old religion, and through surrounding one’s self with angry like-minded fellows, it becomes every bit an abusive religion as is Abrahamism;

When it is promoted as “atheism” or “skepticism” or “free thinking” or as supporting a single set of political views

…it becomes a lie.

My research, and my review of the research of others, has led me to conclude that both Abrahamism and Metaphysical Naturalism are false. At a certain point, the integrity of philosophy will dictate that it must yield to evidence. Those who pretend the evidence does not exist, remain lost in their own weakened minds. However, I await more true research before choosing to conclude anything further. I object when either group seeks to control the evidence, means, access, method, funding, attention, work, conclusions and visibility of all research which allows me to improve my understanding of our realm. This knowledge is neither the property nor propriety of any government or group. I object when my peers seek to enforce either religion on me, society, careers, media, social discourse, or government. When this happens, I will speak up.

It is very possible that this realm is violent, selfish and laden with suffering – because it was supposed to be that way to begin with. Fairy tale monotheism and hide-your-head-in-the-sand nihilist atheism are both responses of fear, incompetence and insanity. However, because of the imperious insistence of Monotheism and Nihilism therefore, I have established boundary parameters which guide me and help me understand the potential of our existence and purpose.  It is not an insistence – rather the constraints to an open model – one which holds out hope for the promise. The promise that a talent so grand as to develop this extraordinary realm – just might know what they are doing:

The Ethical Skeptic’s Law of Advanced Intelligence (Ignosticism)

I.  Principle of Indistinguishability (vertical)

/philosophy : science : boundary conditions : limits for claims/ : any sufficiently advanced act of benevolence is indistinguishable from either malevolence or chance.

This may well be a hell of sorts in which we live, but that does not preclude the idea that it is not being done for a reason, nor that it exists for no reason.

II.  Neti’s Razor (horizontal)

/philosophy : existentialism : boundary condition/ : one cannot produce evidence from a finite deterministic domain, sufficient to derive a conclusion that nothing aside from that domain therefore exists.

The principle which serves to cut secular nihilism as a form of belief, distinct from all other forms of atheism as either philosophy or belief. From the Sanskrit idiom, Neti Neti (not this, not that). Therefore, you are wholly unqualified to instruct me that this realm is the only realm which exists, and efforts to do so constitute a religious activity. So, nihilism fails the test of epistemology and consequently falls into a belief domain, as opposed to a scientific one. More precisely, we are restricted in our ability to deduce that there is no such thing as an outside intelligence, nor that our domain is the sole domain which exists, nor that it is influenced by any outside agency. They relate to the structure of theory which comprises: element, model and proof accordingly.

1.  A comprehensively deterministic system, cannot introduce an element solely in and of its inner workings, which is innately nondeterministic. Free Will Intelligence must arrive from the outside of a comprehensively deterministic system.

2.  A comprehensively deterministic system, cannot serve as the substrate solely in and of its inner workings, for a model which completely describes or predicts its function. That is, such a system on its own, is wholly unable to deductively identify the presence of non-deterministic sets or influences.

3.  A terminally or inceptionally truncated and/or finite and comprehensively deterministic system, cannot introduce a proof solely by means in and of its inner workings, which excludes the possibility of all other systems or sets.

III.  I Am that I Am (horizontal)

/philosophy : existentialism : boundary condition/ : that which possesses the unique ability to be able to define itself, renders all other entities disqualified in such expertise. There is no such thing as an expert in god.

The principle which serves to cut theism as a form of belief, distinct from all other forms of belief as either philosophy or religion. From the Torah idiom, I Am (I Am that I Am or in Sanskrit, Aham Bramsmi).  Therefore, if god existed, you are unqualified to tell me about it. So, theism falls into a lack of allow-for domain.

IV.  Non-Existence Definition (vertical)

/philosophy : science : skepticism : elements of attributes/definition/ : six questions form the basis of a definition: What, Where, When, How, Why, Who. The answers to this set of six questions still form an expert definition of attributes, even if the answer to all six is ’empty set’.

Therefore, when one applies the ethics of skepticism – one cannot formulate a definition which is specified as ’empty set’, without due empirical underpinning, a theory possessing a testable mechanism and a consilience of supporting research.  We have none of this, and can make no claims to ‘non-existence’ expertise in god.

We do not yet understand enough, as men, to substantiate these grandiose fatalistic claims as to the nature of our universe and our existence. Epoché vanguards gnosis. I assume nothing and expect to be amazed. This is my faith.

epoché vanguards gnosis

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How to MLA cite this blog post =>

The Ethical Skeptic, “The Ethical Skeptic Statement of Faith” The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 20 Sep 2014; Web, https://wp.me/p17q0e-2KY

September 20, 2014 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | , , | 4 Comments

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