At the very beginning of this blog, I laid out a set of eight axioms with which I was to derive my philosophy. Since they were spread out across several posts, I will collect them here for convenience:
Axiom 1: Axioms are valid starting points.
Axiom 2: The fewer axioms you need, the better.
Axiom 3: There is some underlying consistent reality that is made up of things.
Axiom 4: I (or the thing that I think of as “me”) exist in some form in that reality.
Axiom 5: Things in reality interact, forming temporal and causal relationships.
Axiom 6: My senses provide me with information that is functionally determined by the underlying reality.
Axiom 7: My memory is usually a reliable and valid guide to my past experiences.
Axiom 8: Logic is a valid form of reasoning.
Although I would probably word them differently now, and there are certainly quibbles to be had, I still think the general intent of these eight form a solid foundation for truth-seeking and philosophy.
However, they are incomplete in terms of actually determining how to live your life. I sort of already came to this conclusion in my previous post based on the Charles Taylor essay, but I want to draw some more explicit conclusions from that:
- My core eight axioms provide sufficient grounding for determining reality and truth, but not for values or decisions.
- I currently live my life by a so-far-unexpressed set of values which includes truth, consistency, and something akin to secular-humanist values (though that needs much more elaboration).
- Arguing one set of value axioms over another is impossible as long as they are all reasonably simple and compatible with the core eight.
- Adhering rigidly to any single declarable value seems to be a recipe for disaster.
With all that said, I present my ninth axiom:
Axiom 9: I value truth and beauty, not necessarily in that order.
The wonderful thing about “beauty” is that it is deliberately vague. Music can be beautiful and I value that. Human life is beautiful, and I do value that. There is beauty in some efficiencies, and I value that. Truth, though sometimes harsh, is always beautiful. The right lie may also be considered beautiful.
The beauty of beauty is its pragmatism. Plus, who can resist the implicit quark-naming joke?
edit: several years later and this axiom has effectively evolved from “truth and beauty” to “truth, beauty, and service”