Monday, March 12, 2012


An important lesson about philosophizing can be taught through discussing solipsism. Solipsism is the thesis that only one’s mind truly exists with all other entities that you might ever think of, existing only as a part of one’s own mind or experience. This thesis should not be treated with disrespect. The proponents of this thesis think of it as a healthy philosophical point of view immune from lots of difficulties facing other more existentially inclusive ontological theses.

But can one adopt a solipsist ontology to start philosophizing? I have argued in the last article, I have written, that one must hold an ontological thesis prior to any attempt to philosophize. So, is solipsism a good candidate for such ontology? It is the main aim of this article to answer that particular question.

A solipsist can hold on all the assumptions I argued to be basic for any ontology suitable to entitle one to start philosophizing. He certainly holds on the assumption of his own existence. He is likely to hold on the assumption of the existence of thinking process, beliefs acting as the elements of thinking, and of motives. However since he is committed to the claim that only his own mind really exists, he can explain the existence of all those other entities I mentioned as only parts or components of his own mind, or his own mind’s experience.

How a solipsist thinks can further be clarified. If I were a solipsist, I would claim that I am now encountering the experience of sitting down at my desk writing on my laptop. I would further claim that it is only my mind which really exists. My desk and my laptop don’t really exist; they are just fragments of an experience which my mind, the only really existing entity, is having at the moment. It would be true, from a solipsist point of view, to further claim that my own body doesn’t really exist as well. My body is nothing but a collection of experiences I perceive acting in regular accordance with my motives and my beliefs. In short, a solipsist thinks that only his mind really exists and that anything else just exists as a component a highly advanced 3D movie this mind is watching all alone.

The significance of solipsism can be clarified by comparing it with the ontologically neutral position I discussed in the previous article. While neutrality leads into questioning any sort of assumption you might be inclined to hold, leaving you incapable of making any intellectual progress, solipsism allows you to hold on a wide variety of assumptions that can get you started. A solipsist can hold many different beliefs about his own experience. Based on his belief of the existence of his own mind, he can hold a belief in the existence of his own experience as a part of his mind. It is enough for a solipsist to experience perceptions, memories, thoughts, or motives to hold an assumption of their existence, at least as a part of his own mind.

However, a solipsist is likely to face significant challenges. One of the most significant motives that a solipsist can’t deny to experience is the motive to survive. He can’t further deny that a significant instrument for survival is knowledge of how to survive. Certainly, knowledge of how one can survive doesn’t have to be made explicit in terms of propositions or statements. A cat, a dog, or lots of other animals incapable to use language know a lot about survival. However, propositional knowledge, or knowledge explicitly expressed by the use of language, plays a significant more sophisticated role in survival of human beings when compared with mere instinct survival knowledge we share with other animals. Knowledge of importance of healthy food, playing sports, and avoidance of stress enhance our survival in a clear way. Avoidance of different sorts of dangerous entities whether viral, bacterial, electrical and so on is another example for the role of our propositional knowledge in our survival. It is highly unlikely for a solipsist to deny such facts. However, recognizing the significance of knowledge would have to push a solipsist a little bit away from his own comfort zone.

A solipsist might only be committed to the literal truth of one belief which is his own exclusive existence but recognizing the significance of propositional knowledge at least when it comes to satisfying his own motive of survival will lead him into expanding his conception of truth. A solipsist can’t deny, if he is really keen on satisfying his motive to survive, that the proposition “avoidance of high cholesterol diet is important to avoid heart diseases” is true while the proposition “eating healthy food is insignificant for your health” is false. What makes the first statement true while the second one false? A solipsist can’t answer this question by arguing that this is a fact about the real world since he doesn’t believe in the existence of a real world.

However, a solipsist can escape this problem by arguing that his own experiences are arranged in some sort to yield what can be called an illusion of an external world. He can further argue that his own experience is arranged in some way to signify his own survival dependence on regularities in this illusory external world. He, in addition, has to admit that his own experience signify the importance of organizing this illusory external world by use of proposition to enhance his own survival. In short, a solipsist can argue that holding on the assumption of the exclusive existence of his own mind and experiences occurring as a component of it, doesn’t necessarily contradict the further assumption that these experiences are complex and involve complex interactions with his motive and thinking process.

Anyway questioning the solipsist ontology is not over at this stage. First of all a solipsist might be asked to explain why experience is so organized in this complex way. It would have been easier for a solipsist to explain this experiential complexity by appeal to the existence of a real world organized in this complex way. However, explaining one’s preferred ontology all the way down is a difficult task no matter what ontology is considered. With the adoption of any ontology, one has to admit that explanation has to stop somewhere. Someone who adopts a naturalistic ontology will not be able to explain why physical laws of the world are so determined. Someone who adopts a religious ontology, on the other hand, can’t explain why God made the world in the way that it is or how God came into being without being circular in explanation. So, in order to be fair to a solipsist, we would have to ignore the question of explanation when it comes to the basic beliefs of his ontology.

A more significant reason to reject solipsism is related to the solipsist’s use of language. I have argued that a solipsist is unlikely to deny the significance of use of language to yield important beliefs related to his own survival among other things. But how can a solipsist acquire such a language? Such a language can’t come to existence independent from his own mind. This language might seem to him like being shared with others but certainly this is just an illusion. In reality, according to a solipsist ontology, language is only private to the mind of a solipsist which is the only entity that really exists. A solipsist, therefore can’t but claim that this language is his own creation. A simple explanation of how he creates such a language goes like the following. A solipsist when encounters a green object can decide to call it “green”. Later, when he encounters another green object, he would have to review his memories to remember that this object matches in color the other object he first called green to decide calling this new object “green” as well. This way, a solipsist can escape what is commonly called by philosophers “the acquisition challenge of language mastery”. However, there is another closely related challenge which is commonly called “the manifestation challenge of language mastery”. How can a solipsist be justified in taking himself to be using his own private language intelligibly? The problem is that the only way available for a solipsist to fix his use of language terms is made possible through making an appeal to memory. One can never be certain of his own memories. It is a common observation, that a solipsist can’t deny, that memory sometimes yields false beliefs. One’s memorial image of a green object is much less vivid when compared with a perceptual image of a green object. Those two images are totally experientially different from each other that resemblance can’t be guaranteed. When a solipsist decided to call a new object that he encounters “green” he does so by appeal to an unjustified belief of its resemblance to an insufficiently vivid image of a past object he called “green”. Therefore, a solipsist can never be justified in taking his terms to be fixed while he is using them. Without being certain about whether the terms of our language have a fixed meaning or not, one’s understanding of his own language is severely challenged. In short, a solipsist can never justify to himself that he understands what he is talking about whenever he uses the terms of his own private language. A solipsist can only escape this challenge by assuming the existence of other entities which will provide a fixture for the meaning of the terms he uses linguistically. However, expanding one’s ontological commitments in this way will make one not a solipsist after all. Therefore, we would have to consider another more suitable ontology to adopt.

Friday, March 9, 2012

What is it to Philosophize??

Why? Why do I have to raise questions? Why do I have to seek answers? Why do I have to think about anything what so ever? Why???

You can never have a totally neutral starting point when it comes to doing anything. You can never start from a point at which you have no belief what so ever. Lacking any sort of belief to start with will leave you incapable of gaining any. You will stay where you are enclosed in silence incapable of stating anything or moving in any direction.

One might think that to start philosophizing about something, one has to start from a position at which he stands neutral to all possible beliefs. Neutrality to all possible beliefs might seem as an essential requirement for a fair process of thinking. But this doesn’t work as a starting point in philosophizing. Neutrality in such case is itself a belief. Being neutral to it would lead one into questioning it as well. This assumption of importance of neutrality leads to one of the most vicious circularities you can ever think of. It will leave where you are, incapable of moving any forward. Neutrality to all possible beliefs is itself a self negating belief. One can’t hold on it if he is to be really neutral at heart.

Therefore, we should drop this requirement. The right place to start in philosophizing or to do anything, to state any claim, or to move in any direction is to have a set of beliefs which you take at least initially to be basic and unquestionable at least for the moment. This line of argument that I have offered so far bears a clear resemblance to the school of skeptic thought intiated by Descartes centuries ago. Descartes too thought that the right point to start philosophizing is take a skeptic stance, questioning all sorts of beliefs and in effect standing neutral to all of them. He attempted to break free from this vicious circle of neutrality by arguing that this process of thinking, going on in his mind while being skeptic to all sorts of beliefs, is itself an evidence for a belief that one has no option but to accept, namely one’s own existence as a thinking entity. He therefore, raised his most famous claim “Cogito ergo sum”; “I think therefore, I am”. But, it is obvious that concluding the Cogito can’t be reached unless one takes lots of beliefs to be basic and acceptable prior to the Cogito itself. One has to hold on beliefs about the rationality of our thinking, how something can stand as evidence for something else, and that what we are involved in while being skeptic or neutral to all possible beliefs is itself a form of thinking. Why shouldn’t we be skeptic about those beliefs just as well if we are really committed to Descartes’ skeptic program? Descartes’’ methodology in philosophy is infected with vicious circularity just in the same way as insistence on neutrality is. Following his school of thought will leave us exactly as we are, having nothing to start with.

Again, we can’t move in any direction unless we take some beliefs to be basic at least for a while. But what those beliefs might be? I think a set of beliefs which can mark a starting point for philosophizing or for merely moving in any direction can be minimally summed into the following:

· One’s own existence

· One’s ownership of the faculty of thinking

· Existence of beliefs, at least this initial set, as a starting block for the process of thinking

· One’s ownership of a variety of motives including the motive to move or to act at least intellectually.

But are those beliefs really enough? Those beliefs will be void of content if they can’t be explained by another set of beliefs. It is not enough to hold on those beliefs. One must have in addition, beliefs about what existence is, what thinking is, what beliefs really are, and what it is to be motivated to do anything. This set of additional beliefs must as well be accepted at least initially to make us capable of moving forward. Beliefs specifying the content of the other basic set of beliefs one must hold on to start moving forward, will make up an ontology in which you can have your starting point. Throughout human history, different ontologies have been created. Some persisted and some perished. Anyway, one must have a particular ontology formed of a set of beliefs taken for granted, again at least initially, to be capable of moving, of doing, and of living.

Holding on ontological commitments is the starting point for philosophizing, for thinking, for acting, and for anything that makes you who you are.

Among, those various ontolgies available for us to adopt, one is particularly interesting. Even though religious and naturalistic ontologies seem to be the most interesting but it is the solipsist ontology which is really peculiar. This ontology seems to be the most minimal of any ontologies we can ever think of. This ontology is based on the view that nothing exists but one’s own mind and what is going on in it. If ontologies can be stated explicitly in a finite set of basic beliefs, solipsism will provide us with the most limited one. But can solipsism be a successful ontology as a starting point? I will argue not but I will leave this to a later time.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

From 11/9/2001 to 11/2/2011: The Mentality of a New Egyptian Generation

I consider my self lucky to be witnessing those life changing events in Egypt. Egypt has changed forever and even thought there are still lots of challenges lying ahead, Egypt future seems brighter than ever. Egyptians state of mind has matured. We have realized our real power. No matter what might ever happen, the last series of events has carved in our minds the realization that people are the real source of power and that their will can never be oppressed by any dictatorship.

The Egyptian revolution has inspired me in many different ways and on so many different levels. One of the things I became sure of through this revolution is how humans everywhere across the globe affect each other and how humans from different cultures are affected by each other. What is even more amazing is how humans by nature have an overwhelming determination to turn catastrophic events into enhancing sparks to positively evolve and grow.

The Egyptian revolution has been moved by young men ranging in age between 20 and 35 years old. Being a young Egyptian man myself, I think I can trace back the real source of this kind of motivation to turn everything around. In this post I will try to explain the state of mind of this new young generation at least from my own point of view.

Lots of factors might have interplayed together to form the Egyptian revolution. Among those factors, are certainly the oppression and corruption of the previous governing regime. However, oppression and corruption of the governing Egyptian regime is not a recent thing, it extends for so many years back in time. On the other hand, such oppression might have resulted into other kinds of revolutions than the one we are witnessing now. An Egyptian revolution might have had an Islamic tendency or it might have been directed mainly to solve the problems of the poor. However, the Egyptian revolution proved not to be moved by religious or economic reasons. It is directed mainly to achieve liberty and democracy. The question still remains why did this revolution took this form even though it might have seemed more probable to take different directions. The answer to this question lies within understanding the mentality of the young generation that started this revolution. This young generation through the internet and media became more aware of the world surrounding them. Attempting to understand the world and the possible role we might play in it is the main factor that shaped the mentality of those young men who moved this revolution.

In my opinion, the mentality of the Egyptian young generation has been attracted to the world surrounding them in a day that shocked the entire world. It wasn't the day at which Bin Aly escaped Tunisia like lots might think. The day at which young Egyptians thought it is essential to understand the world in a more profound way, is dated ten years earlier. It was the day at which the world trade center in New York got attacked by Islamic terrorists. While Americans and Europeans focused, this day, on the effect it had on their own lives, they forgot that it had an even stronger impact on the youth of the Islamic world who were thought of as the prime suspects beyond this tragic event. Islamic terroristic tendencies were signified this day not only as a problem facing the west, but as a problem facing young Muslims in the Middle East as well. Young Egyptians who widely adopt the Islamic faith found themselves that day facing a significant contradiction. They were torn apart between the rejection of such a terroristic act that resulted in the loss of lives of so many innocents and the sense of some kind of responsibility beyond it. After all, a young Egyptian man participated in those attacks. It was realized by so many young Egyptians that their culture can at least bring about such conventions that might support this form of terrorism.

That was the day at which young Egyptians realized that whether they liked it or not have some kind of responsibility toward the entire world. In a state at which the channels of acting responsibly toward others are so limited like Egypt, young Egyptians found their only solitude through the internet. I remember how lots of young Egyptians have tried through the internet to communicate with as much Americans and Europeans as they can to explain their own point of view about what happened. We have tried to explain our rejection to what happened in 9/11. We have tried desperately to explain why it might have happened by appeal to the frustration stemming from the Palestinian Israeli conflict. Blaming the Palestinian Israeli conflict might have been an attempt to explain 9/11 more to ourselves than to others. Accordingly, those attempts were more illuminating to us than to others. As we got deeper in understanding the Palestinian Israeli conflict, we have just realized that we are ourselves a part of the problem. We have learned that the creation of a just peaceful international world system capable of solving such a conflict can't be achieved unless we had a state that can act responsibly and effectively to bring about such a kind of world order.

As the attention of young Egyptians moved to the internal affairs of their state, it became apparent that the underlying Egyptian culture needed revision. Islam represented the pillar of this culture. Therefore, Islam was brought into the focus of revision. In the last ten years, a wide reformation movement of Islamic faith was begun by so many young Egyptians. The last ten years whitened the rise of so many Islamic reformists in Egypt than ever before. Names like Amr Khaled, El Habib El jifry, and so many others captured the attention of so many young Egyptians to a notable degree. The major financial success of those new religious thinkers , the wide spread of a new fashionable form of veils worn by young Egyptian ladies, and the rise of a stronger yet more permissive form of commitment to Islamic traditions were all among the signs of this rise of the new form of Islam among young Egyptians. However, driven by the fear of conflict with the governing regime, neo Islamists focused on shaping new Islamic values down to the individualistic level. They argued young people to focus on developing themselves rather than attempting to change the entire society. This individualistic line of thought was soon mixed with the growing interest all over the world with new self development psychological trends. NLP and self development programs were adopted by so many popular new Islamic figures and accordingly by so many young people in Egypt.

Any way, those new individualistic and positive values held by the growing young Egyptians had to collide sooner or later with the frustrating rule of the governing regime. Young Egyptians today hold the values of peace, responsibility, and positive urge to act. Those values together with growing understanding of the world surrounding them shaped the mentality of those young people. Today, they seek democracy and liberty to participate in shaping a new Egypt that can contribute responsibly to the evolution of human civilization. Young Egyptian people might still have lots of things to learn but what is certain is that the Egyptian revolution is one step toward a better Egypt and a better world.

I would like to end my post with one more thing. What is amazing about humanity is that we are strongly inclined to explain unfortunate events as happing for a reason. Lots of innocents lost their lives on the hand of terrorists. Those who died in 9/11 and the victims of other terroristic acts world wide didn't loose their lives for nothing. Their blood together with the blood of young Egyptian revolutionists is leading to a stronger and more peaceful world.

Friday, January 21, 2011

It's Me Against the World, or isn't it??

Some philosophers thought of what they called a pre-social human or the man of nature in ancient Greek terms. There is no evidence in history that such a human being has ever existed. Humans are essentially social animals. Any human being born in this world needs to be taken care of for a relatively long time. An infant born in this world without parental support will certainly not survive. However, in addition to the relatively long period of time required for any human being to be capable to survive on his own, the social nature of human beings extends beyond the need for parental support. We share with some other animals this tendency to live among large groups. This tendency to bond with others is a natural product of biological evolution shared by so many species including humans. The concept of pres-social animal defies empirical evidence. However, it might be useful after all to think of how the life of such a human being, isolated from any social relations, would be like.

In addition, to the empirical evidence suggesting that human beings need to bond to others in a manner equal to their need for food, sex and shelter, philosophical reflections upon human life revealed that human beings living in isolation would lack lots of what makes us humans. Such a pres-social human would not desire any thing other than his biological needs satisfied. Such a human being conception of happiness would be entirely different from ours. It can further be argued that such a human being might not be conscious of life as well. Consciousness has been explained as our ability to reflect upon our perceptual experiences. Such reflection requires an ability to form beliefs. Those beliefs can be thought of as linguistic representations of our perpetual and introspective experiences. A pre-social animal lacks language. After all, language is a social practice. It might be hard to think of a human being who is not conscious of his surroundings. However, this might be better understood by reflection upon the first two years of your life. As a two years old infant, you lacked language. In this early stage of life, you were certainly able to perceive your surroundings, hold memories, and be aware of your feelings of hunger, or pain. However, even though your experiences were to a large extent similar to your current experiences as an adult, it can be claimed that you were not conscious back then. Lacking language, you were not able to reflect upon those experiences and therefore you were not conscious of them.

So, a pre-social human has a motivational background so limited compared to us. In addition, his experience of the world lacks consciousness. This would certainly make such a pre-social human different from how we think of human beings to a large extent.

What is important about attempting to think of such a human being is that it reveals a lot about what makes us humans. Living among a society certainly has a great effect on making us what we take ourselves to be.

Others make us humans through two main ways interacting together, namely through language and actions. As we learn language, we don't only get to learn the name of things or the rules of grammar but in addition we learn the rules of rationality and the ultimate goals of life. Any language has inherent within it rules of what makes its own statements true or false. Those rules constitute the basis of rationality. In addition, language is used by others to guide our behavior. Guiding our behavior through language allows us to conceive the goals toward which our actions should be directed. So, as we grow up and our linguistic communication with other expands, we get to acquire rationality and we get to theorize of what is most significant and valuable in life. Linguistic communication with others provides us with reason and in addition it reformulates our desire so that it would extend to a much wider extent than being limited to the satisfaction of our mere biological needs. This claim can be better understood if we returned back to our pre-social human. Certainly this man of nature, even though might have mental and physical abilities similar to you, would lack reason and values. This is not only because he lacks a language through which reason and values can be explained to him but because he is not living in a society in which reason and values are crucial for his own survival.

Living among others doesn't only allow our desires and reason to evolve but in addition it shapes our will. Desiring something is one things and wanting to follow your desire or not is a totally different thing. Whether you want to follow your desires or not is governed by your own will. Will is shaped to a large extent by your habits. Others affect your habits either directly or indirectly. You get used to do things in a particular way either through imitation of others as you grow up or by finding your own way. Even, when you start doing things your own way, you are affected by the social system you live in, and therefore, others would still affect how you get used to do things even when you are not imitating them any more. This developing habitual pattern of yours shapes your will.

The effects of others upon you, whether of shaping your reason, desire, or will, are not objects of obvious awareness to most of us. Most of us at best have mere intuitions about what they generally desire, will to do, or figure out as reasonable. Cognitive psychologists have found out that most of our learning process goes unconsciously in our frontal lobes. Christof Koch in "The Quest for Consciousness" argued, based on empirical evidence, that consciousness lies at the prefrontal cortex rather than within the frontal cortex itself. Learning and thinking take place within the frontal lobes. The results of those processes are presented to our consciousness in the prefrontal cortex as mere intuitions.

However, as we reflect more upon our intuitions and as we brake down the components of what resides in our frontal lobes and bring them to the consciousness of the prefrontal cortex, we get to find out that reason, desire, and will might pull us in different directions. The wisdom transmitted to each one of us by others through language and actions is not yet prefect. That's why each individual human being still has an unfinished job. Each one of us through his life, needs to realize his own desires without violation of reason and through reshaping his own will. As you figure out new ways to solve this conflict and as you become more successful in achieving this piece of mind, you will affect others in return. This interaction between each individual of us and with the sum of wisdom created by others through centuries of cultural evolution might help us one day to know what is most significant to us and how to act in the right way.

When each one of us understand the role played by others in shaping the human being one is, we would understand the scope of our individuality better and we would get to learn to have a mutual respect between society and the individual. How you should respect others and how should others respect your individuality is something that I will write about later.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Knowing Knowledge

There are lots of concepts which we take ourselves to understand clearly. However, philosophical reflection upon those concepts reveals that our initial grasp of them is infected with lots of inconsistencies. Philosophy has a bad reputation of unnecessarily making simple things more complex. However, philosophy through attempting to explain those apparently simple concepts don't only allow us to understand them better, but it also explains a lot about our own nature and the nature of the world we live in.

Attempting to define those concepts is not an easy job. Those attempts extend back to the time of Socrates and it might even extend for more ancient times. The failure of various accounts offered by so many distinguished philosophers to explain such concepts made lots of thinkers conclude that such attempts are destined to fail. Some argued that we should conceive it as a matter of fact that the human thought process lacks a concrete foundation. However, other philosophers, driven by their passion to understand, insisted on providing an explanation of those concepts. Their efforts didn't only prove worthy but in addition to explaining those concepts, they explained what went wrong with previous failed attempts. The persistence of contemporary philosophers like McIntyre, Putnam, Grayling and so many others allowed us to finally comprehend the foundation of the human thought process. At last, it seems more possible than ever that we can reach a solid ground upon which we can resolve our conflicts, to reach a better understanding of this world and to share a unified vision of what is most significant to us.

What is most fascinating about the most recent attempts to explain such basic concepts like knowledge, truth, reality, justice, love and so on is that the social nature of human beings was found to be so much significant in comprehending them. The efforts of various philosophers can be puzzled together to reveal that human conceptualization of those concepts was based on shared forms of social activities. Shared forms of social activities make up the foundation of the human thought process.

One of those concepts that I am so much fascinated with is the concept of knowledge. In this post, I will use this concept as an example to reveal what I have considered as the primacy of the social nature of human beings. I will not go into the details of the philosophical debate that went literally for centuries to explain the concept of knowledge. Instead, I will try to offer the most recent account explaining knowledge which was shaped by both philosophers and cognitive psychologists.

Human beings are characterized by some unique abilities. We are born in this world with an innate ability to distinguish objects present in our environment. Psychologists have realized that by the age of two, an infant gains the capacity not only to manipulate objects but to comprehend relationships of size and how such objects can fit together. In addition, infants at an even younger age can distinguish faces, facial expressions, and gestures such as pointing toward something. Certainly, our ability to distinguish various objects constituting this world is attained before our ability of linguistic conceptions of them. The cooperation among our various sense together with the basic construction of our brain allow us to acquire such an ability to distinguish and manipulate objects even if there is no language to aid in the formation of concrete conceptualization of them. This finding constitutes an evidence against the claim that perceiving is believing. A two year old child who can recognize his care takers from strangers and who can manipulate objects with an adequate level of dexterity is certainly perceiving those persons and those objects even though he is not capable of conceiving them or forming beliefs about them. He is not able to conceive them or to form believes about them because he still lacks a langue to constitute such beliefs.

Anyway, a child gains language skills by the age of four. This is a relatively very young age to acquire such a highly organized form of behavior. This remarkable ability to acquire language seems to have been allowed by long centuries of evolution. Through evolution, our left brain hemisphere has been shaped to develop Broca's area. The wiring among the neurons of Broca's area is taken to be what allow such a rapid process of language acquisition. The growth of a human being is taken to be generally similar to the process of evolution that created humans in the first place. However, the growth of language skill in today's world humans might not represent the process of evolution of language properly. There are evidences which suggest that it must have taken our ancestors so many years to develop a language that is much more simple compared to the complexity of any natural language existing today. The evolution of language must have progressed synchronously with the evolution of Broca's area in our left brain hemisphere to allow the rapid language acquisition seen in today's humans.

The evolution of language was allowed by our unique abilities to produce a wide variety of sounds together with our ability to imitate, to associate various stimuli together and to memorize. Primitive language consisted of simple names of objects. Our more primitive ability to distinguish objects and persons, together with our ability to respond to gestures allowed the creation of this primitive form of language. Even in its primitive form communication through language enhanced the survival of our ancestors to a great extent. It allowed them to avoid threats and to gain goods in a much more efficient way than before. Conformity to the rule of naming objects became crucial for the survival of any human being. It is important here to emphasize the importance of following rules. Any individual human being with the previous abilities I have just mentioned could have named any object with any name he might have came up with. However, such names in this case would be useless, since it deprives him from comprehending others and thus gaining the benefits of language. Any form of private language that is not shared by others is useless. Sharing rules of language plays, as I will explain later, a crucial part in explaining the primacy of the social nature of human beings, even when it comes to concepts such as knowledge.

Anyway, primitive languages continued to evolve. It extended beyond naming objects to explaining relations among those objects. Then, it continued to evolve to capture the rules of behavior of such objects. Here, there is an important point to mentions before explaining this next stage of language development. A pre-linguistic human don't only have the ability to distinguish and separate objects in the surrounding world, but in addition any individual human being has the ability to distinguish and separate himself from the rest of the world, even before acquisition of language. Psychologists have realized that an infant develops what they called the theory of mind before learning to use language. A pre-linguistic child, by the age of three, acts in a way that reflects his awareness that his own mental experience of the world doesn't necessarily coincide with the reality of this world. As a matter of fact, it is now argued that autistic children lack the capacity to develop this theory of mind. It is taken that is the reason why autistic children lack adequate communication skills. Having an ability to distinguish oneself from the rest of the world is again a mere capacity and not a conception in itself. A human can't conceptualize anything or become conscious of anything unless he becomes able to acquire beliefs about such a thing. Constitution of beliefs requires language. Therefore, before language acquisition, no conception of ones individuality can be achieved. However, the ability to distinguish one self from the rest of the world was crucial for the next stage of language evolution. Realizing that the world and I are two distinct things means realizing that the world extends beyond my initial scope of perception both in space and in time. Humans thus had the ability to recognize the extension of the world in both space and time even before being able to conceptualize space and time themselves. Names of objects together with the recognition that objects are related to each other and can be manipulated in different ways, in different spaces, and in different times allowed humans to develop a language that can describe events. This more complex form of language allowed further enhancement of survival chances. This more advanced form of language, again, had to follow rules so that it can be useful in communication.

The development of a complex form of language that can name objects or constituents of perceptual experience, and in addition can describe events, allowed humans to conceptualize objects and actions. With the concepts of objects and actions now available to human beings, they became able to construct an even more complex form of language. They have developed a language that can describe the basic form of behavior of the world and of other human beings. This form of language is not just an instrument anymore but it became what can be called a common folk scientific and psychological theory. It is important here to notice the importance of realizing that language can be thought of as some kind of a theory.

This unfamiliar claim can be clarified through the following example. A human being with a primitive form of language can name seasons such as summer and winter. With more complex forms of language, he can state that winter follows summer and that summer follows winter. However, in a language that constitutes a folk scientific theory, man can claim that there is such thing as a year in which one summer and one winter comes following each other. A year is not an object or a state of affair that can be experienced. Instead it is a linguistic concept that aids in describing the behavior of this world. As I have mentioned repeatedly, a language must have rules to allow communication. A language describing the behavior of the world or the behavior of others must have rules as well. Those rules must be recognized by all those who speak the same language so that they can gain the benefits of this language. Certainly, a language describing the repetitive expected behavior of the world and of others was of tremendous effect in enhancing our survival.

Many different languages have evolved in different parts of the globe. However, it is still one world that we share. That's why when it came to languages describing the behavior of the world; the rules of those different languages were more or less similar to each other. Encounters among different societies allowed further approximation of those rules. The folk scientific theories shared by early human societies were more or less alike. The rules used in this theory or in this more complex form of language made up the basis of human rationality.

It might be best to describe language in the way Quine did. He argued that language can be thought of as a spherical web of terms and statements. On the periphery of this sphere, there are the terms used to name objects and constituents of our perceptual experience. As we move inward, we first meet statements describing relationships among those object, constituents of perceptual experiences, time and space. Then we find statements describing events. More inward, we find statements describing the behavior of the world in a more abstract way. In the center of the sphere we find statements describing the rules of logic. How those statements are linked to each other is governed by the rules which the users of this language have agreed upon. It is those rules, which when conceptualized in abstract from any observational content, that constitute the logic in the center of the sphere of our language. It is this logic which represents our rationality in its purest possible sense.

This conception of language reveals that contrary to the common thought, human rationality is not something distinct from humans. It doesn't consist of laws which are enforced upon humans and which they might fail or succeed in realizing. Instead, rationality is formed of rules which were formed by humans themselves through centuries of mutual cooperation. Rationality evolved synchronously with the evolution of our language. It evolved as a requirement of having language as a useful instrument to enhance the survival of human beings. Rationality might have been developed as a requirement for having a language we can communicate with. However, this doesn't reduce the value of rationality. It is still required more than ever today. Without the rules of rationality or the rules of language use, knowledge can never be achieved.

Within the sphere of our language, we can construct various theories. We can link so many different statements together to construct many different theories. We can construct theories of science, religions, astrology, fiction and so much more. As the statements of this theory don't break any rule of language use and thus doesn't violate consistency, the theory can be considered as coherent. However, only one, among those many different theories we can construct, can amount to be considered knowledge. This is the theory which upon strict examination of the links between its constituent statements would not reveal any inconsistency. It is the theory which can include either any statement or its negation without any threat to consistency. It is the theory which can't be but accepted by any one of the language users who applies the rules of this language or the rules of the rationality. Finally, it is the theory which allows the achievement of the main goals for which language has been developed in the first place, namely survival and what ever else that we needed language for. A theory which can satisfy all those criteria is the theory that all of its statements can be called true and it is the theory which constitutes knowledge.

Up till now, no single theory has ever managed to satisfy all of those criteria. However, there is only one which seems more promising than others. It is the theory of science.

What is so revealing about conceptualizing knowledge in this way is to realize that knowledge is a shared social activity. What distinguish knowledge from fiction are rules inherent in our language which has been formed by our ancestors through very long time. Whenever, you attempt to acquire knowledge you have no choice but appealing to those rules.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Game Life: Nothing Less Than Gods

Today, Game Life manual will be completed. The final stage will be revealed. Up till now no player has ever managed to reach this stage. However, with determination, hope and with the continuous cooperation among players it might be reached one day even if in the so distant future. Some might argue that reaching this stage is impossible and in fact it might be. However, the goal of Game Life or Eudaimonia can never be fully actualized unless this final stage is attained. In the final stage of Game Life, the impossible itself is what you are required to conquer. It is the stage at which the real nature of us is revealed with out any further fear or shame.

Humans, the most amazing species of creatures, have managed to survive through many long centuries. We were driven, by our basic desire to bond to each other, to cooperate together to start our very own process of cultural evolution. In this process, our amazing abilities of communication, conceptualization, imagination and adaptation allowed us to get into existence our very own creations. We created values, vice and virtue, wrong and right, good and evil. We created the concept of happiness. We conceptualized happiness as the attainment of the wonderful values of friendship, knowledge, accomplishment, practical reasoning and pleasure. The conceptualization of those values became the essence of our own nature and our own will. We suffered a lot in attempting to achieve those values. We faced lots of challenges. We tried to give up on them sometimes, but we can't escape our own selves. We can't escape the destiny we draw for our own selves. We can't escape the ultimate goal of Game Life.

As the challenges imposed upon us while attempting to actualize our core values became so strong, we had no choice but to use our strongest faculty, the faculty of imagination. We imagined gods. We assigned various gods with various values. We indulged ourselves in conceptualizing those gods as the realizations of those values. Gods represented those values triumphed over all possible challenges. Soon, gods were reduced to one god. We worshiped this god. After all, he was the essence of what ever we thought of as good. God resided in all of us, not as an entity distinct from us but as a symbol of our own essence. God is the realization of our own values, and our own happiness. God is the realization of the ultimate goal of Game Life. He is the realization of Eudaimonia. However, even though it might seem so daring to state it, God can't remain forever in our heads; we are destined to bring him into existence. Our nature as humans will never be completely revealed unless we become gods. This is the final stage of Game Life; Nothing Less Than Gods.

Final Stage: Nothing Less Than Gods

As more and more players reach the "Living it to the Maximum" stage, their contributions to the actualization of Eudaimonia will allow other players in the future to cooperate together more effectively to face the challenges imposed by the world we live in. hopefully, one day we will acquire complete knowledge of this world. Later, we will realize how to control it and power over universe will be attained. Such an absolute knowledge and absolute power guided with our other values will make us what we have longed for, for so long time. It will make us gods.

The task of any player who reaches this stage is to fully realize Eudaimonia despite all the challenges. Once this task is accomplished, Eudaimonia will be realized. With the realization of the ultimate goal of Game Life, game will not be over. The goal of Game Life is its own reward. Once Eudaimonia is achieved, its constituent values will be transformed to the absolute. Knowledge will become omniscience, accomplishment will become absolute power, friendship will become benevolence, practical reason will become wisdom, and pleasure will become total and absolute joy. Eternity will be accomplished and in this eternity you will get to enjoy those values to the point of infinity. Your limitless imagination and creativity will go on fueling your aspirations for knowledge, pleasure, accomplishment, benevolence and wisdom.

Such a goal might reside for ever in dream world. It might never escape this imaginary line of thought I called Game Life. However, what we can't deny is that this is our real dream. It is what we want. It is what makes up our will. We want to be nothing less than gods. Again whether you liked it or not, whether challenges you face managed to get you down or not, you have no choice but to seek this ultimate goal. You have no choice but to follow your own well, to listen to your real nature, and to seek your own dream. You have no choice but to play Game Life.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Game Life: Living it to the Maximum

I wish you are not bored yet guys. It seems like I am trying to answer a very big question in a very limited space. However, I still want to go on considering this fascinating game. It is at least insightful for me to attempt to conceive life in this manner. I think I should reintroduce my whole vision in a clearer manner. I will certainly do this in the future. However for now, I want to finish what I have started. Today, I will present another portion of the manual of Game Life.

After completion of the first stage of Game life, you will move to the next stage. "Just a human being" was the first stage of Game Life. The second stage is "living it to the maximum". By completion of the first stage you should have realized what is most important for you. You should know by now your most important value whether it is knowledge, practical reasoning, friendship, accomplishment or pleasure. You should have done considerable deal of work to attain this value. Now you are ready for the next harder stage of Game Life.

Second Stage: Living it to the maximum

In the "just a human being stage", your initial PTE was enough. In the "living it to the maximum" stage you are expected to realize nothing less than the general PTE. Your main task in this stage is to realize that Eudaimonia or happiness can't be attained unless you have actualized the various values of friendship, accomplishment, knowledge, practical reasoning and pleasure. You should have realized this from reflection upon your own life and the lives of other players. It is not only that other players in Game Life hold different values that all can be reduced to one of the five values mentioned repeatedly in the manual, but you yourself hold those values to be important even though you might have not recognized this initially.

Realizing the general PTE is an easy task compared to the second task in this stage. After realizing the general PTE, you are supposed to construct a corresponding PACT. This task is so difficult. Up till now no player has ever managed to achieve it. The problem is that since you have understood that the core values of the general PTE are shared by all other players, your theory of how to achieve those values, or your PACT in simpler terms, should not only allow you to achieve those values in your life but it should be suitable for any one as well to allow him to achieve the same values in his life. You are now participating in the construction of a general PACT that has not yet been adequately constructed. You are participating in the construction of morality itself.

So, your tasks in the stage can be explained further through the following points;

· Realize that happiness or eudaimonia can only be achieved through the actualization of the values of friendship, pleasure, knowledge, accomplishment, and practical reasoning.

· You should get involved in practices that allow you to achieve those values in your own life. In addition, you should commit to those practices so that your belief in the importance of those values becomes authentic and goes all the way down in your own personality.

· You should realize the real nature of those values. You should realize that in today's state of Game Life they are shared by all players even if they don't recognize it. You should also realize that those values can only be achieved through social interaction and can never be achieved in isolation.

· You are driven by the value of practical reasoning to construct a PACT or a theory of action that allows you to actualize your core values. However, since you now hold the value of knowledge as well, you are driven by this value to make your PACT accepted by all other rational beings. That's why your PACT can't be limited to your own situation but it should be suitable for all other players in Game Life.

· Construction of a successful universal PACT is difficult since most of the players in Game Life are still in the "just a human being stage" and accordingly don't recognize the importance of all of the values constituting the general PTE. Variations among those players in their starting points and the challenges they face make them vary even more considerably in their individual PACTS. In addition, the world you all players share place significant fluctuating challenges upon you that make it so difficult to construct a universal successful PACT corresponding to the general PTE.

· Since the construction of such a PACT is so difficult, all that's required from you in the "living it to the maximum stage" is to realize the five core values in your own life and to make what is considered by a significant portion of other players as a significant contribution to the construction of a universal successful PACT.

· Your contribution to the construction of a universal PACT should be transmitted by you to other generations of players in Game Life to allow them not to waste so much time in "just a human being" stage. Developing a successful universal PACT essentially requires solving lots of problems imposed upon you and upon other players by the world you share and by limitations of your abilities. Managing those problems successfully has never been achieved up till now. It will take the life time of so many players in Game Life. however, with the contribution of various players in "living it to the maximum"stage would allow one day other players to reach the final stage of Game Life, which is not only a stage of a game but the reward of Game Life itself.