Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The First Questions of Existence

What is true? But more fundamentally: Why would I ask what is true? Even more fundamentally: Why would I have this classification of “true” which may apply to a statement?

As I review the work of other philosophical explorers I notice them starting from elevated stances, from stances which build upon unstated assumptions. When a physicist for example asks ‘What is the basic stuff of the universe?’ we start out with a person asking a question for some reason. But shouldn’t we first understand the origin of the question, asking ‘What is a person, what is a reason?’

These overlooked questions get respectable answers when we think within the model of life expounded in this blog. In this model, the Resource-Patterns Model of Life (RPM), we shine light upon freshly unearthed questions because we have started to dig in a new spot.

We start from a few observations which I outline briefly here:
  1. Living Things (LTs) exist in this Universe.
  2. Living Things must eat to survive. That is they must continually exploit resources found in the universe outside their bodies. (This follows from the second law of thermodynamics.)
  3. Resources needed by LTs can be found in the Universe — but only in particular locations, and some resources although close at hand cannot be extracted without special knowledge.
  4. Living Things have senses, memory, calculating capacities (induction and deduction), and abilities to act. That is LTs have capabilities which may enable them to survive — if they can just manage to make the right choices about how to behave moment-by-moment in varying circumstances.
  5. Groups of Living Things can cooperate in some circumstances to exploit resources which they could not have exploited if they were acting alone without cooperation.
Starting from such observations, we see that life can continue only if LTs make good-enough decisions. We attain a model in which it may be important for one of our LTs to judge if a certain notion is true. Fancier LTs which grow in the model may come to ask other basic philosophical questions. So we have a platform in which we may model the origin of basic philosophical questions. This is why, as I said above, other philosophical explorers start from an elevated platform. They haven’t yet shown (with my model) why a LT would care about “truth”.

But I allow that each of us has to start somewhere, and I do not believe that all legitimate work must start where I start. I claim nonetheless that the starting point of the Resource-Patterns Model of Life has been overlooked and that this model can, when exercised, shine new light on our experiences as social animals.