Example of a Paradox and Postmodernism

Paradox © Erik Back 2012

No matter what kind of worldview you choose there will always be someone trying to prove you are wrong. Postmodernism is controversial and it is a way to approach traditional ideas in an untraditional way.

Most people prefer tradition because tradition is stable. Stability brings a feeling of security and safety. But to create change you have to break tradition.

When you choose to approach ideas and problems in a different way than people would normally do, then you will meet resistance. The most hardcore rationalists will have very good arguments that prove your approach and belief is wrong.

Your approach, your belief and your worldview is not wrong; it is not right either. Your worldview is a choice you make because it works well for you. You choose your worldview because it gives your life meaning.

I like to do things different and I have experienced a lot of discussions that are pointless because the arguments on both sides are strong. You will face the same questions and scepticism as I have faced.

Do not let yourself into these arguments because they will make doubt your choice and they will make you feel defeated. If you like philosophy then argue all you want, but in general it is better to accept that other people have made other choices and their arguments are as good as yours.

You will often experience paradoxes and antinomies.

Example of a Paradox

A paradox is an assertion that disagrees with the general view e.g. a scientific anomaly. In formal science anomalies are ignored and remain unexplained.

Zeno’s Paradox

An example of a paradox is Zeno’s paradoxes that he used to prove that motion is an illusion. I will not attempt to explain them here but instead I will give you a link to YouTube where I found a video that is much better at showing the four paradoxes of Zeno.

The Antinomy of The Liar

Eubulides of Miletus made seven paradoxes of which the antinomy of the liar is the most famous.

Eubulides asked, “A man says: – I lie. Is what he says true or false?”

When choosing a postmodernistic approach you be faced with a paradox from sceptics and hardcore positivists. Postmodernism claims that there is no overarching truth that applies to everybody. That claim would be an overarching truth i.e. a paradox.

When we create personal change we are seeking knowledge. We are seeking knowledge that will guide us on a better path in life that gives life meaning. If we knew the truth about everything then we didn’t have to search for it and we wouldn’t need a postmodernistic approach.

I could choose another approach e.g. positivism (not to be confused with being positive!) Positivism is the belief that the world can be explained by formal science. But then I would choose to ignore anomalies until they fall within the range of normality. Positivism has the advantage that it creates stability, but that’s not what you need to create change – is it?

As you can see, choosing an approach and worldview isn’t that simple. You will never know which is the right approach. You have to decide what feels right for you.

How to Argue for Postmodernism

If you would like to enter an argument then be prepared.

The paradox

“Postmodernism claims that there is no overarching truth that applies to everybody.”

Let’s substitute postmodernism an simplify the sentence:

“I say: – There is no overarching truth (that applies to everybody)”

This is equivalent to the liar-paradox. The argument has to be either true or false. It is a self-reference.

If the argument were true, then it would be false because the sentence is an overarching truth. The argument would have to be false to be true and that makes no sense.

Do not use this argument; it is not valid!

Postmodernists believe that people see the world in different ways and reality depends on the eyes that see; and so does the truth.

The real problem is that we do not have any data that can prove whether there is a reality or not. We cannot logically or by using formal science explain existence. We are facing problems like purpose and infinity.

The problem is of metaphysical nature and you cannot make an argument that is supposed to be either true or false. We have to make basic assumptions for the argument to be either true or false.

If you want to argue for or against postmodernism you have to focus on the basic assumptions.

Let’s say you base your argument on the assumption the Parmenides made: “Nothing but our perception of reality changes.” i.e. there is one reality and one truth. Then you can make an argument based on the perception of reality instead of making claims about whether there is an overarching truth or not.

When all is said and done it is your choice of worldview that is important and not whether you can prove it to be true or false.

Formal science can be questioned as well…

How does math explain infinity?

How would you explain anomalies?

Isn’t formal science based on certain assumptions?

We should focus on using the paradigms and worldviews that seem fit for our purpose. Sometimes it is better to use formal science and at other times postmodernism is optimal.

We Maintain Power by Finding the Answer to Existence

Existence © Erik Back 2012

We all seek the meaning of life and it is becoming more popular to find an answer or at least some kind of explanation to our existence.

Some people prefer the world to be a logical and rational place to be. They don’t like to question whether a certain tree exists or not. They can see the tree and that’s all they need to know.

But my experience is that most people today are curious to know why that tree exists and what makes us believe that it does.

For hundreds of years science has tried to explain every physical thing into details. Science has been zooming in on everything in such details that it sometimes looses the sense of perspective.

Laypersons are increasingly interested in the whole. Society has experienced a boom in literature and television programs about existence.

People are fascinated by the mysterious energies of the universe that we cannot explain. They seem to influence the whole existence of material things and we want to know why.

We seek knowledge in Buddhism, the law of attraction, synchronicity, television programs, spirituality, yoga, meditation, therapists, life coaches, self-development etc.

We want to know what we don’t know.

We hunger for knowledge about existence more than ever.

What consequences will that have to science?

We have advanced to a level of living standards where survival is not our primary concern. It is a natural instinct but we have time and energy to explore the unknown to advance even further in existence.

We know so much about the details that we realise that everything is interconnected and we want to know more about that interconnectedness.

Power is our motive for looking for answers

I think it is because we want control. We want power. We need physical and mental power to secure our own existence and the existence of the world around us that makes us happy i.e. family, friends, job, network etc.

We have advanced from a stage of life where we could maintain power by using our fists or a club. We can all maintain physical power today and it is not a major threat to us. We need something more advanced. We have all the physical power we can possible have and now we search for power in a metaphysical sense.

What do you think?

Do you seek answers to existence?

Do you think it all crap or are you open to the unexplainable?

My Worldview and Science

Metaphysics © Erik Back 2012

My worldview changes all the time. One of my passions is knowledge; consequently my worldview is bound to change.

I am fascinated by the thought that I can change the world by changing my attitude and perception of the world. I believe that it is necessary to acknowledge that reality and the existence of things depend on the person who sees, i.e. my worldview is subjective.

I am also fascinated by science, but I cannot ignore the fact that there are things that cannot be explained by science. Therefore, I believe that science represents a good guess on the truth, but it will almost always be estimation.

Hundreds of years ago science claimed that the earth was flat; that fact was based on experience and belief – not actual knowledge. Though, it remained the truth until science found it more reasonable to believe that the earth is round.

I don’t like to dismiss the fact that unexplainable things do happen. It is difficult for me to ignore that there are events that fall out of statistical probability e.g. Jung’s synchronicity concept.

We have to keep in mind that science does not represent the truth; science is the pursuit of knowledge. Science used to be the same as philosophy but today they are two different things; science has been divided into two branches:

Formal science is based on formal systems and rules like statistics, mathematics etc. Formal science is not based on observations i.e. there is only one perception of reality.

Empirical science is the pursuit of knowledge about how things work and how people think. Empirical science is based on observations and experience i.e. there are many perceptions of reality.

The interesting thing is that the only way that society will accept a field, as being scientific is if it can be explained by formal science. If you cannot account for an event by using formal science, then the event will be dismissed and categorised pseudo science or metaphysics.

My field of study or operation is not formal science; my field is philosophy and metaphysics. Does that make me a metaphysician? I guess it does.

What are you? Can your world be explained by formal science?


How To Survive

To survive you need to make choices; you need to do something; you need to act. I have suggested that you look at life as an unexplored map; a mental map. On your way through life you will meet other people; you will enter crossroads; you will be confronted with difficult choices, but no matter where you are in life you will have to make choices and act on these choices. If you do not act, then your life path will become very difficult or even fatal.

In this post I will try to clarify the mental map concept a bit further. Imagine your mental map with mountains, valleys and roads. Your life is a continuous line through this map and the line is not straight; it twists and turns through the landscape on your mental map. The line only manages to cover a fraction of possible ways it could travel in the landscape. If you want something in life you need to make choices about where to travel and you have to optimise these choices if you want to get the best out of life.

The world is very complex and so is life. From where you stand there is no possible way you can see the whole world and know everything about everything, but you can choose what you would like to concern yourself with. It is like being at a party with a buffet; you cannot eat everything, you have to choose something. There is also the future dimension which none of us can possible know about. We can merely make at good choice that we think will have a good outcome for our future. You will never know if you made the best choice, because that would assume that you know the future outcome of all possible choices.

Even if the choice you make today turns out to be a bad choice, then this choice may have opened for an even better choice in the future. You cannot know what the best choice is and that is why you have to accept the choices you make and focus on the positive aspects that they will bring.

In my next post about mental maps I will present you for fitness landscapes.

Beautiful Mental Maps

The World looks different depending on who sees it. I like to see my life as an unexplored world with endless possibilities and choices. My path in life is an unbroken line through this world. My destiny is not predetermined but it depends on the choices I make in life. My life path is a result of the route I choose to take in my world. I can only travel the same road once, which means I cannot remake a choice of path.

If I choose a certain path I am destined to experience everything that happens on that path, and if I do not like what I experience, I am free to choose another path. That is why I like to see life as a map. For now I just call it a mental map although the term has been used in e.g. cognitive psychology. Until now the concept has been a bit blurred but the term mental map seems to fit what I describe. Maybe I will come up with something better later.

Mental MapTo make it easier to visualise you can draw your own mental map. Everything is possible and you can expand your world endlessly. The map I have shown as an example is a fantasy map I found at fantasymapmaker.

If you meet obstacles on your way in life then try to see them as a mountain you need to climb. If you feel lonely and isolated, then imagine yourself on an island and draw some distant mainland and visualise your options. You can use a pencil or advanced map-making software it is not quality that matters but your ability to visualise your options and the choices you have to get on a good path in life.

Read more about mental maps.