0048 - I know that I know nothing. - 2018.09.03



Once again - can't stress this enough - Pamela Zimmerman is a human with biomods. And again - can't stress this enough - it's Zoa that's an unusual distraction.

I do think Orb's doing a good job at being engaging, despite these distractions. They've certainly got the attention and participation of the class, which is probably why this is a class that you have to take in meatspace.

Objectivity and open-mindedness are the goal of philosophers who fancy themselves Socrates' heirs, but I've come to think of them as illusory. You can't ever not be where you're from. If a topic is actually important to you, you'll already have an opinion on it. No one is a tabula rasa. Prejudices and subconscious biases can never be truly eliminated, only uncovered and compensated for. Scenarios in which people actually have their minds changed by reasoned debate are vanishingly rare.

When I was a younger man, I certainly had fantasies that I could be blank-slate-objective, and go on to logically derive truth from the universe. The more I've had exposure to other philosophies, though - which is to say, exposure to other people - the more I understand that Socrates' statement of knowing nothing is little more than faux-humble posturing and blame-dodging ("You're not disagreeing with me, you're disagreeing with logic!").

Presumably, if there ever were a belief system that is perfectly derived from pure logic, one could simply raise a child (or an AI) in isolation, and they'd all converge on that single universally true belief system. There is a reason this is not done.


0048 - 2167/07/06/10:09 - Rosenthal College, Phi building, classroom 1248
OT: Alright, yes, the proverbial jig is up. I am Orb Twofeather, this is Intro to Western Philosophy.
OT: Philos Sophia, the love of wisdom.
OT: Who can tell me where Western philosophy originated?
PZ: I think therefore I am?
OT: A fair guess, but no. René Descartes wrote that little gem in sixteen thirty-seven, we're going to be going back a liiiittle farther than that. Any other guesses?
EB: I know that I know nothing?
OT: There we go! Socrates, the progenitor of Western thought... more or less. Socrates had the bright idea that they were going to figure out everything using their mind alone, but in order to begin, they had to first abandon everything they thought they knew.
OT: Of course, as we're going to see, Socrates might not have been as empty a vessel as they thought they were. There's always going to be some foundational knowledge, some pre-existing baked-in biases... even in a "mind" that's been made from scratch, like Mezzer Caldavera's friend, here.
Zoa: Y'know, you said you didn't want me to disrupt the class, but you keep drawing everyone's attention to me. I'm getting mixed messages.