wtorek, 20 marca 2012

Home sweet home

Robert Nozick napisał w "Philosophical Explanations":

My concern is not only intense but directed. I want (to be able) to conclude that we are worthwhile and precious. But this bias does not mean I refuse to follow philosophical reason where it leads. Fortunately, two factors help me avoid conclusions of valuelessness. No philosophical argument forces us to accept its (unpleasant) conclusions; instead, we always can pursue the philosophical task of uncovering the argument’s defects. This is the way Berkeley’s arguments, and skeptical arguments generally, have been treated. The second factor is an optional stop rule. I do not stop the philosophical reasoning until it leads me where I want to go; then I stop.


When a philosopher sees that premisses he accepts logically imply a conclusion he has rejected until now, he faces a choice: he may accept this conclusion, or reject one of the previously accepted premisses, or even postpone the decision about which to do. His choice will depend upon which is greater, the degree of his commitment to the various premisses or the degree of his commitment to denying the conclusion. It is implausible that these are independent of how strongly he wants certain things to be true. The various means of control over conclusions explain why so few philosophers publish ones that (continue to) upset them. I do not recall any philosopher reporting in distress that on some fundamental question he is forced to conclude that the truth is awful, worse even than the third best way he would want it.


The terminology of philosophical art is coercive: arguments are powerful and best when they are knockdown, arguments force you to a conclusion¸ if you believe the premises you have to or must believe the conclusion, some arguments do not carry much punch, and so forth. A philosophical argument is an attempt to get someone to believe something, whether he wants to believe it or not. A successful philosophical argument, a strong argument, forces someone to a belief. Though philosophy is carried on as a coercive activity, the penalty philosophers wield is, after all, rather weak. If the other person is willing to bear the label of “irrational” or “having the worse arguments,” he can skip away happily maintaining his previous belief. He will be trailed, of course, by the philosopher furiously hurling philosophical imprecations: “What do you mean, you’re willing to be irrational? You shouldn’t be irrational because…” And although the philosopher is embarrassed by his inability to complete this sentence in a noncircular fashion–he can only produce reasons for accepting reasons–still, he is unwilling to let his adversary go.

Wouldn’t it be better if philosophical arguments left the person no possible answer at all, reducing him to impotent silence? Even then, he might sit there silently, smiling, Buddhalike. Perhaps philosophers need arguments so powerful they set up reverberations in the brain: if the person refuses to accept the conclusion, he dies. How’s that for a powerful argument? Yet, as with other physical threats (“your money or your life”), he can choose defiance"*.

Nozick trafił w samo sedno. Właśnie to robimy, gdy uprawiamy filozofię. Wędrujemy ścieżkami, którymi chcemy wędrować (i tylko takimi), do miejsc, w których chcemy się znaleźć (i tylko do takich). Oczywiście, nie wszyscy tak postępują. Jasne. Nie wszyscy. Zatem to, co napisałem, jest fałszem, prawda? Jest. Jak najbardziej. Małym, tłuściutkim fałszem. Ten fakt nie zmienia jednak innego - że Nozick, mimo mojej entuzjastycznej nadinterpretacji, trafił w samo sedno. Właśnie to robimy, gdy uprawiamy filozofię...

* Robert Nozick, Philosophical Explanations, Harvard University Press 1981, s. 2-4.

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