Paradoxes 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.

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.

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?

 

The Habit of Positive Thinking

Glass Mirror © by Lel4nd

Make positive thinking a habit. I think that having a positive attitude is important to lead a happy and successful life. Often I meet people that have a profound negative attitude toward everything. They all have the same problems: They are unhappy and unsuccessful. People that are always negative also seem to be sicker than people that have a positive attitude.

On the other hand if you talk to very happy and successful people you will soon realise that they are incapable of seeing anything negative. Every time you present a problem to a profound positive person he will immediately turn the problem into an opportunity and he will most likely be very excited about it.

There is evidence that a positive attitude will strengthen your immune function. If you are into scientific reading you can look up “Positive Affect and Immune Function” by Anna L. Marsland, Sarah Pressman and Sheldon Cohen.

How to choose a positive attitude

I don’t see any reason to choose a negative attitude. Most people want to be both happy and successful – I know I do. Basically it is all about how you perceive the world; it is about how you look at the world and translate the information you get.

Imagine that you have to pairs of glasses in front of you. One of them is carrying a label saying “Negative” and the other one has a label saying “Positive”. If you put on the glasses with the “negative” label you will only be able to see the negative things in the world. If you put on the glasses with the “positive” label you will only be able to see positive things in the world.

It is your choice which pair of glasses you put on! If you put on the positive pair of glasses you will be able to see all the positive things and you can pick and choose among them, as you like. If you choose to join positive activities and to be with positive people you can construct your own success.

There are many ways you can see the world and the reality. It all depends on the glasses you put on. I chose the positive glasses and this worldview is supported by the theory of social constructions by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann. You can read about their work on Wikipedia.

Think about your language; do you use negative words or phrasings? Try to rephrase what you want to say and minimise your use of negative loaded words. Seek positive events and positive people.