Tuesday, November 29, 2005

My Starting Point

As a philosophy major, my position on any particular issue tend to derive from the broader principles I adhere to.
One of these is my belief in the necesity of community in arriving at truth. Here I am influenced largely by the later writings of Wittgenstein and by Popper (I'll elaborate on this in another post).
Another is my belief in human freedom as the only certain and universal prerequisite (other than food, shelter, etc) of happiness, and thus the only principle the state should defend. Thus I usually describe myself as libertarian, though I would much prefer the term 'liberal' were it not for the distortion of the latter term in the U.S.
Although I've been attracted to various forms of mysticism, I am deeply sceptical of most religious belief, as I am of any form of irrationalism (post-modernity, etc.). I find many people reluctant to criticize religious communities for fear of appearing intolerant, and I find this tendency troubling. Respect, a term very loosely and lazily used by many, must mean, I think, not only not inflicting harm or refraining from imposing your beliefs on another, but also actively and fully engaging a person, from which thoughtful criticism is inseperable.
I am a firm believer in the scientific method, and believe that its core principles ought to be applied to many other areas of inquiry. The most important of these principles is operating within a theoretical framework that explicity presents the posibility of error, and what error entails. In other words, you have to able to wrong before you can be right.
It is these beliefs which currently inform much of my thinking, though that does not mean there are fixed. I try to remain open-minded without being merely shallow or passive. I certainly hope any readers will feel free to challenge me every step of the way.


While contemplating starting a political blog, the question naturally arose of why we need yet another lehman's commentary on politics, especially one with little formal education in the subject nor on the ground experience. This question made me hesitate for quite a while.
The reason that finally made me do it is entirely selfish: blogging may be the best way to improve my writing and force me to refine my thinking. If anyone else finds what I write in any way useful, I'll be pleasently suprised. I will, however, write as if addressing others who will not automatically agree with me.
I consider intelectual honesty to be a cardinal virtue, and a prerequisite of a truly open society. In that spirit, I will strive not to assert the 'correct' position, but to observe and comment thoughtfully and carefully. I suspect I'll be ambivalent or ignorant in most matters I'll address.
Everyone brings their own assumptions and intelectual background to a discussion, and the next post will serve to make mine clear.