“Certainty, generally, is an illusion, and repose is not the destiny of man.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
Last time after rejecting absolute certainty as both counterproductive as an aim and perilous when assumed, I suggested we consider a quasi-foundational approach to knowledge tailored to the five levels of reality. Briefly we end up with a matrix:
Level of Reality Informed by:
Internal Reality Subjectivity
Proximate Reality Subjectivity and science
Societal Reality Multiple authoritative sources
Cosmic Reality Science
Ultimate Reality Subjectivity and science
However principles justifying our greatest confidence seem to be more practically separated into four types: (1) metaphysical, (2) ethical, (3) empirical, and (4) ultimate. Metaphysical principles derive mostly from internal reality and subjectivity; ethical principles from a mix of internal and proximate reality and thus subjectivity and some science; empirical principles from understandings of cosmic reality and science; and ultimate reality and principles from subjectivity mixed with an element of science. The hope for any degree of certainty in societal reality is quite limited, a fact which reverberates as the peril of all forms of political dogmatism.
We also reviewed some useful tools for this scope of work including:
Santayana Reason (meaning and unity) and human ideals
Adler Common sense and intelligibility
Scruton Truth value and trust in language
Baggini Sincerity, accuracy, and objectivity
So now I hope to take these tools to task in creating a list of important principles within each group stratified on the degree of certainty of each. We begin with metaphysical principles next time.