Naïve Philosophy
Overview
Naïve philosophy is a collection of attitudes which underpin philosophy at RBJones.com, wwhich is naive, unscholarly, sceptical, anarchistic and utopian. It is presented in three perspectives, Taoist, Anarchist, and Sceptical.
Philosophy at this level borders on the inexpressible or the paradoxical. To help express the ideas I gather together a variety of perspectives.
This sceptical philosophy is naive in a manner similar to that of primitive art. The sceptic seeks wisdom but is acutely aware of the difficulties in its attainment. He is aware of his own limited ability to comprehend the world and his place in it, and naturally sceptical about received wisdom and accepted methods of attaining it, including academic institutions and the standards they impose.
Our scepticism is open not closed, positive rather than negative and active rather than passive. It is open, pragmatic, creative, and even, utopian.
Open scepticism is a kind of theoretical scepticism, an anti-dogmatic philosophy in respect of knowledge, which enjoins suspension of judgement in all matters, accepting only that things appear to be as they do.
pragmatic scepticism is a variant of practical scepticism, an anti-dogmatic philosophy in relation to what should be done. It is a personally liberating philosophical position, liberating through the denial that logic (or anything else) provides conclusive grounds for any particular course of action.
Pragmatic scepticism sees uncertainty as liberating rather than paralysing, and hence is sympathetic rather than antagonistic to creative and utopian thinking, at least so far as these are openly rather than dogmatically speculative. Sceptical nescience is no barrier to the synthesis of an open-minded weltanshauung, or to the expression of that creative synthesis in some work of philosophy, of art, of life.
Introduction
Philosophy at this level borders on the inexpressible or the paradoxical. To help express the ideas I gather together a variety of perspectives.

The first perspective begins with a parallel with naïve art.

An important perspective comes as a bundle of aspects of scepticism. These are presented in four principle aspects: theoretical, practical, creative and utopian.

Another perspective comes through the opposition of rationalistic and anarchistic philosophies.

A fourth through selective misconception of "The Tao".

A fifth comes from the writings of Montaigne.

Philosophical Naivety
This sceptical philosophy is naive in a manner similar to that of primitive art. The sceptic seeks wisdom but is acutely aware of the difficulties in its attainment. He is aware of his own limited ability to comprehend the world and his place in it, and naturally sceptical about received wisdom and accepted methods of attaining it, including academic institutions and the standards they impose.
Introduction

Naive or primitive art (see wikipedia) is a term applied to art produced by artists who lack formal training in art, and also to the art of children or infants. The art of children posesses a kind of unsophisticated and unrestrained expressiveness which may be valued.

Naive philosophy may be thought of by analogy with naive art. It is philosophy conducted with a naive disregard for or innocence of what others may expect. A connotation of innocence in some respect in which institutions may be thought corrupting is also intended. The further connotation of sheer incompetence is not to be glossed over.

The naive philosopher has a child-like curiousity about the great and difficult issues in life (and possibly also about some small and insignificant puzzles). She wonders about these problems, and explores them in whatever ways seem likely to cast light. Over long periods of time the naive philosopher may have a sense of continually learning more and coming to deeper understanding, but may nevertheless feel a finer appreciation of just how much there is still to be understood. This simultaneous sense of moving towards but feeling further away, is one of the characteristic elements which reveals the scepticism inherent in naive philosophy.

Expressive Naivety

The tendency to address intractible problems, makes conventional modes of philosophical expression problematic. Sceptical nescience mitigates against the completion of definite statements of results.

The naive philosopher may therefore seek a means of expressing his incomplete understanding, and the dynamics of its evolution, which is closer to the commission of a work of art than it is to the completion of a dogmatic tract.

Methodological Naivety

Delving into the most difficult problems demands methodological innovation. A naive philosopher begins and ends with inadequate methods. She continually improves her methods, and continually becomes more aware of their defects.

It is a commonplace that there is now too much knowledge for anyone to encompass it all. In approaching problems which are not confined to some narrow speciality (and these are the life blood of naive philosophy) very selective knowledge of the relevant specialist domains must suffice. Naive philosophy is the thinking man's philosophy, in which problems are addressed which might yield to deep and extended thought rather than extensive specialist knowledge and technical expertise.

Practical Naivety

At its root, like pyrrhonism, naive philosophy is practical rather than theoretical, Unlike pyrrhonism the end objective is not peace of mind, an aim best suited perhaps to those who are troubled and pessimistic.

The aim of naive philosophy is for the individual practitioner to determine, or to discover gradually as his life unfolds.

However, we might suggest that it could be summed up in general not as peace but as fulfillment a richer and more personal aim, which might possibly result in peace, but might equally yield dynamism and strife in pursuit of unattainable ideals.

In this we suggest that naive philosophy is not wholly a matter for philosophers, but a philosophy of life which may have something to say even to those of less meditative temperament.

Aspects of Scepticism
Our scepticism is open not closed, positive rather than negative and active rather than passive. It is open, pragmatic, creative, and even, utopian.
Pragmatic Motivation

Pyrrhonean scepticism is "practical" rather than theoretical in its origin. This means that rather than being concerned primarily with knowledge, it was concerned with how to live. Its aim is thought to have been to secure "peace of mind", among a class of people, one infers, whose peace of mind was disturbed primarily by the difficulty of deciding which of the conflicting theories of the Greek philosophers was correct.

Peace was to be secured essentially by giving up, suspending judgement as a matter of policy. This however, like the negative attitude towards philosophy sometimes attributed to the later Wittgenstein, leaves the philosopher with nothing to do, and so seemed to be adapted to allow these philosophers to devote themselves to demonstrating conclusively that the dogmas of other philosophers were as unlikely to be true as false.

Its practical effect was therefore rather negative, though perhaps it did secure peace of mind, and I therefore adapt some of the core ideas here to more positive effect.

Open Mind

First we step back closer to the etymological roots of scepticism, which word comes from a greek work meaning "enquire", It is supposed to have been used to refer to those who seek knowledge but fail to find it.

Now if you truly seek knowledge, then you will avoid dogma. A dogma terminates the search for knowledge (in its sphere), so scepticism involves the avoidance of dogma. Avoiding the dogmatic trap (also conspicuous in Greek scepticism) of regarding any belief however tenuous as a dogma, and translating this into positive terms, we get the idea that scepticism (when not vitiated by itself slipping into dogma) is essentially about keeping an open mind, in a more or less ordinary sense of that phrase.

An open mind leaves all options open, it gives freedom. This is the practical benefit of our scepticism and a motive for our "pragmatic" scepticism.

Aknowledging Appearances

A Greek sceptic might aknowledge no more than that appearances are what they seem to be. In our case this broadens to the idea that a non-dogmatic search for knowledge, while yielding no absolute certainty does yield as good an account of how things appear to be.

Thus a scientist, rather than chosing what he thinks the best of the available theories and asserting its truth, should simply give a good account of the evidence for and against each of the theories. Such accounts could of course be given at various levels of detail and aimed at different groups of readers.

Open Scepticism
Open scepticism is a kind of theoretical scepticism, an anti-dogmatic philosophy in respect of knowledge, which enjoins suspension of judgement in all matters, accepting only that things appear to be as they do.
Scepticism has a long history.
Some Kinds of Scepticism and Speculation
An analysis tailored to explication of our preferred varieties.
Elements of Open Scepticism
Open scepticism is extreme in its avoidance of dogma, but prefers the ongoing search for (tentative) knowledge rather than collapsing into an exercise in refutation of dogma. It rejects the demonstration of equipollence as itself dogmatic and emphasises the usefulness of refined elaborations of appearances. The combined effect of these features is to make open scepticism appear moderate, perhaps even vacuous.
An introduction to dogma, the distinction between positive and negative dogma, and some examples of each.
Benefits of Scepticism and Dogmatism
Provocation to Doubt
Doubt occurs at many levels and in many domains. The most fundamental and general doubt flows from the argument from regress of justification, which suggests that absolutely certain knowledge is not to be had. The doubt thus established is general but academic, and of little practical significance. Doubts of greater practical impact are obtained by more special arguments at higher levels.
Pragmatic Scepticism
pragmatic scepticism is a variant of practical scepticism, an anti-dogmatic philosophy in relation to what should be done. It is a personally liberating philosophical position, liberating through the denial that logic (or anything else) provides conclusive grounds for any particular course of action.
Practical Roots of Pyrrhonean Scepticism
Pyrrhonean scepticism was in its beginnings as much a practical as a theoretical enterprise.
Elements of Pragmatic Scepticism
Pragmatic scepticism is optimistic, constructive and liberating, rather than resignedly pessimistic.
Bacon on Sources of Error
Here I outline what I consider the most important sources of confusion, error and irrelevance, and mention some possible remedies.
Scepticism, Creativity and Utopian Thought
Pragmatic scepticism sees uncertainty as liberating rather than paralysing, and hence is sympathetic rather than antagonistic to creative and utopian thinking, at least so far as these are openly rather than dogmatically speculative. Sceptical nescience is no barrier to the synthesis of an open-minded weltanshauung, or to the expression of that creative synthesis in some work of philosophy, of art, of life.
Scepticism and Open Speculation
One may naturally expect scepticism to be contrary to speculation, but these are two sides of the same coin. To deny certainty is to affirm possibility, and therefore speculation about possibilities is a part of scepticism about the contrary certainties.

The denial of expressive freedom is a kind of dogmatism, and its affirmation may therefore be consistent with a thoroughgoing open scepticism.

To deny the possibility of an anarchist society (for example) is dogmatic, to doubt its impossibility is sceptical.

Scepticism and Creativity
Scepticism may be seen as liberating the individual from dogmatic constraints on his personal creativity.
Scepticism and Utopianism
Possibly the single greatest impediment to social progress is the dogmatic belief that undesirable features of our society are unavoidable. Scepticism about such dogmas paves the way for open debate about the future of society. Utopianism can itself be dogmatic, but is not so of necessity.

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