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Rational philosophies

2 Post author: katydee 12 February 2012 06:19AM

Hello all,

I'm working on a top-level post about how Stoicism is an instrumentally useful philosophy to adopt, and figured I should give other philosophies a fair shake as well. Does anyone know of any other philosophies out there that seem to be practically useful or otherwise provide strategies and thought patterns that have practical value? A solid grounding in experimental research is of course desirable.

Comments (67)

Comment author: buybuydandavis 13 February 2012 04:31:17AM 4 points [-]

Korzybski, Orwell, Stirner, Hayek, William James. Some new thought patterns, some destruction of semantic confusion.

Comment author: lavalamp 12 February 2012 02:41:54PM 14 points [-]

I'm working on a top-level post about how Stoicism is an instrumentally useful philosophy to adopt, and figured I should give other philosophies a fair shake as well

Error: bottom line may have been written first!

Comment author: katydee 13 February 2012 12:48:51AM 6 points [-]

Oh, I'm not saying "Stoicism is the one true philosophy and all others are inferior--" more like "I've found Stoicism to make a surprising number of practically useful and empirically justified claims/suggestions and I'm curious as to whether other philosophies contain the same." If Epicureanism or Cynicism or postmodernism or whatever have claims of equal validity to those of Stoicism, I'd definitely include those too.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 13 February 2012 09:45:27AM 4 points [-]

Maybe it would be more fair to write a list of good (empirically tested) suggestions, and then some overview how they map into concepts in various philosophies. It would help you to be more fair towards different philosophies when thinking about the concept. Then, the final text could be written in a different order, for example philosophies first (with useful concepts emphasised) and then the useful concepts explained individually. It would be probably fair to write the philosophies chronologically.

If X is a good idea, then "X is a good idea" is an important fact, while "X is part of philosophy P" is just a historical coincidence. The coincidence may be interesting, especially for people already interested in P; it may give them better emotional connection. Nonetheless, the usefulness of X is that "X is good", not that "X belongs to P". The fact that "X is a part of P" gives some bonus points to P, not to X; the quality of X depends only on the quality of X.

Comment author: hvass 12 February 2012 04:34:07PM 5 points [-]

Stoicism is very applicable, I recently skimmed/read The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT): Stoic Philosophy as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy and I recommend it for those curious whether it is practically viable.

Some blog posts for those curious before katydee writes her post:

1) Stoicism 101 by Ryan Holiday

2) How I became a Stoic over at Boing Boing

3) On the Shortness of Life: An Introduction to Seneca

Comment author: katydee 13 February 2012 12:49:24AM 1 point [-]

I'm a 'he,' but those are indeed some pretty good introductions.

Comment author: James_Evans 13 February 2012 12:07:59AM 2 points [-]

Partially referenced elsewhere in the thread already, but I would caution one from necessarily starting with a philosophy then working backwards to see how it matches reality.

I would recommend one instead train themselves to read scientific research papers, especially in one's field of interest, then later compare those results to existing philosophies.

I would say it's a mistake to view a philosophy/philosophies as a periodic table with unfilled spaces, where one can infer what they should contain easily. I would liken it more to a bible where the anything-du-jour was used to fill up space.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 13 February 2012 01:00:32AM 1 point [-]

I would recommend one instead train themselves to read scientific research papers, especially in one's field of interest, then later compare those results to existing philosophies.

This strikes me as biasing your choice based on what one's field of interest is.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 12 February 2012 12:44:55PM 7 points [-]

Let's rather just take the strategies of practical value and throw out the philosophy.

Comment author: Jack 14 February 2012 02:59:58AM 4 points [-]

I thought it was pretty clear the post idea was "I've learned some good strategies from Stoicism and wondered if there were practical strategies in other philosophies". This looks like philosophy-bashing for its own sake.

Comment author: Alex_Altair 12 February 2012 08:26:46PM 4 points [-]

You're supposed to have a philosophy because you actually believe in it. The practical strategies come from the fact that the philosophy is true. Just like you wouldn't say, "Let's just take the technology of practical value and throw out the scientific principles."

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 12 February 2012 08:30:57PM 5 points [-]

The question of accepting solutions offered by a theory is distinct from the question of accepting the theory, even though finding something of value might well argue in favor of the theory.

Comment author: Alex_Altair 12 February 2012 08:40:36PM 0 points [-]

Certainly true in some instances. Your post makes it sound like we should throw out all philosophy.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 12 February 2012 08:45:16PM 4 points [-]

Your post makes it sound like we should throw out all philosophy.

Most philosophy being wrong and toxic, this seems like a good heuristic.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 12 February 2012 10:17:04PM 4 points [-]

Most truth claims are also both wrong and toxic, that doesn't mean we should give up on the concept of truth.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 12 February 2012 10:28:11PM *  1 point [-]

It does mean that we should give up on most claims though.

(I wouldn't call most claims toxic, in the sense of promoting anti-epistemic habits, which is something more characteristic of philosophy specifically.)

Comment author: Jack 14 February 2012 03:00:43AM 2 points [-]

promoting anti-epistemic habits, which is something more characteristic of philosophy specifically

How is that?

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 12 February 2012 10:52:01PM 1 point [-]

It does mean that we should give up on most claims though.

Only if we determine them to be false.

(I wouldn't call most claims toxic, in the sense of promoting anti-epistemic habits, which is something more characteristic of philosophy specifically.)

I meant toxic in the sense of promoting destructive behavior.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 12 February 2012 11:01:17PM *  0 points [-]

As I said, a heuristic, which assumes inaccuracy and possibility of detecting exceptions by other means. For the "most claims" variant, the relevant heuristic would be associated with Occam's razor.

Comment author: atucker 12 February 2012 09:41:47PM *  2 points [-]

Late forms of Stoicism were pretty light on claims, relative to the strategies.

The main claims that I can remember are that determinism is true, and that the highest form of excellence for humans is to be rational.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 12 February 2012 09:51:27PM *  0 points [-]

Modulo "determinism" and "rationality" in that statement possibly referring to something wrong, your claim seems to be equivalent to there being nothing to accept (and correspondingly regret having thrown out) to begin with.

Comment author: atucker 13 February 2012 05:22:43PM -1 points [-]

I'm still not sure if they meant the same thing by rational as we do (they're closer to the time when rational meant understanding ratios), but I do mean that they have very little to throw out.

There are some claims, but very little seems to hinge on them.

Comment author: Oligopsony 12 February 2012 02:20:48PM 5 points [-]

I'm not so sure about this. We all know the downsides of identity, but it seems to have its upsides as well - generalizing from one example, I know that I have a much better track record trying to change my behavior through "x is what a good {boyfriend|student|Green Team fan|Star-Bellied Sneetch|...} would do" than "x is a wise thing to do." (Although perhaps someone who self-conceptualized as wise would have an easier time.) My guess is that people who say (accurately, as far as I know) that Stoic philosophy has helped them benefited not so much from exposure to the advice that one shouldn't make one's happiness dependent on external circumstances (surely everyone has been so exposed) but from actually motivating themselves to do it by leveraging their identity as an adherent of Stoicism. Mutatis mutandis "rationalist," and so on.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 13 February 2012 09:48:26AM 8 points [-]

Upsides of identity: It makes good ideas associated with it stick better.

Downsides of identity: It makes bad ideas associated with it stick better.

Comment author: shminux 13 February 2012 03:30:34AM 3 points [-]

If you change the focus of your post to "practical applications of certain Stoic ideas", as opposed to adopting the philosophy as a whole, you will probably be a bit less wrong.

Comment author: asr 12 February 2012 08:38:56AM 3 points [-]

I am in favor of this concept. I think the Stoics were really interesting, and had caught some important truths.

The traditional alternative to Stoicism was Epicureanism. You might explain whether "seek comfort and try to stay out of trouble" is also a useful world view. My guess is that it is.

Comment author: Jayson_Virissimo 12 February 2012 07:04:45AM *  1 point [-]

As a wannabe Stoic and long time member of this community, I'm somewhat ashamed that I haven't done this myself. I think the "instrumental rationalism" of the future will look very much like a synthesis of Stoicism, the heuristics and biases program, and CBT.

Comment author: paper-machine 13 February 2012 05:43:26AM 2 points [-]

You mean instrumental rationality, right?

Comment author: Jayson_Virissimo 13 February 2012 06:04:12AM 0 points [-]

I mean the particular kind of instrumental rationality espoused on Less Wrong.

Comment author: paper-machine 13 February 2012 12:40:28PM *  1 point [-]

Compare this with this; the category you're thinking of is almost surely the latter, regardless if whether or not there is a meaningful distinction between instrumental rationality everywhere else and "the particular kind of instrumental rationality espoused on Less Wrong."

Comment author: Jayson_Virissimo 13 February 2012 03:54:30PM *  0 points [-]

Compare this with this; the category you're thinking of is almost surely the latter, regardless if whether or not there is a meaningful distinction between instrumental rationality everywhere else and "the particular kind of instrumental rationality espoused on Less Wrong."

I am not referring to instrumental rationality in general (as there are many kinds that are incompatible with the ideology common to those of this community). It is as if I was speculating on the future of the "Chevy Camaro" and you asked me if I meant "automobile".

Yes, I realise the term I used is problematic; that's why I put it in scare quotes. I simply don't know of a better name for what I am referring to. Grognor reminded me of this and this, but while those argue against using "rationalism" in the way that is common around these parts (and is correct in doing so) it doesn't supply a viable alternative. Should I really say "Less Wrongism"?

Comment author: paper-machine 13 February 2012 04:15:55PM *  0 points [-]

I am not referring to instrumental rationality in general (as there are many kinds that are incompatible with the ideology common to those of this community).

Let's say I work in the field of screw theory; unfortunately, the field is mostly barren, and so few people would understand if I were to claim to be a screw theorist. Rather, I'd claim to study kinematics, even though my "ideology" of kinematics were very different from "traditional kinematics". Your alternative seems to be akin to calling the screw theorist a natural philosopher.

Yes, I realise the term I used is problematic; that's why I put it in scare quotes. I simply don't know of a better name for what I am referring to. [snip] ...but while those argue against using "rationalism" in the way that is common around these parts

It isn't "common around these parts." The last article in main to be tagged "rationalism" is from three years ago. For me, a google of "site:lesswrong.com rationalism" gets less than a thousand hits; rationality gets about 42,000.

Should I really say "Less Wrongism"?

No. You should say instrumental rationality. It should be clear from the context that you mean the LW-style.

Comment author: Jayson_Virissimo 13 February 2012 05:21:45PM *  -1 points [-]

Yeah, you're right. The term I chose to use is suboptimal. On the other hand, "instrumental rationality" is not the name of our shared ideology (and that is what I was referring to). It is the name of a category that a large part of our shared ideology fits into. I'm still unsure of what to refer to it as, but the name I used wasn't a good one.

Nitpick: Just last month, there was a article in main with "rationalism" in the title used in the way I was referring to. I have updated away from believing it is common usage in this community, but it still doesn't seem very uncommon "around these parts".

Note: I myself have criticised this usage of "rationalism" before for similar reasons.

Comment author: katydee 12 February 2012 10:46:36AM 0 points [-]

I generally agree, though I think that psychology will likely have some useful insights beyond the heuristics and biases program and CBT (which is itself largely repackaged Stoicism).

Comment author: fortyeridania 12 February 2012 12:39:06PM 0 points [-]

which is itself largely repackaged Stoicism

This applies only to Stoic psychology. There were other aspects to (Greek) Stoicism, namely, "physics" (very rudimentary cosmology and metaphysics) and "logic" (which was quite prescient, anticipating Carnap and Frege in several respects).

Comment author: katydee 12 February 2012 05:11:34PM 1 point [-]

I'm aware but less concerned with those elements, since both have easily been supplanted by modern developments.

Comment author: Thomas 12 February 2012 11:30:45AM *  0 points [-]

Very much or mostly rational, by my book, are:

  • positivism, logic school of Carnap, Wittgenstein and others (Saul Kripke today)

  • utilitarianism of John Stuart Mill and on

  • physicalism

  • finitism, mathematical "intuitionism" of David Hilbert

  • mechanism

  • objectivism of Ayn Rand

  • pragmatism, US school of John Dewey and earlier

  • old Greek materialism

  • evolutionism

Not in that order and not necessarily everywhere compatible and not always mutually exclusive, of course. Maybe also something else would deserve to be mentioned, but I can't recall it now. Everything else seems quite mystical to me.

The philosophies on this site are mixes of everything above and some new (good) aspects as well. With a flavor of some mysticism now and then.

Disclaimer: That's my personal view.

Comment author: Alejandro1 12 February 2012 06:47:42PM 7 points [-]

I agree that most of these philosophies were more rational, in a broad sense, that their chief rivals in their historical context. I would add to the list the empiricism of Locke and Hume, and the Enlightenment rationalism of Voltaire and others. On the other hand, there are a couple of mistakes in your list:

positivism, logic school of Carnap, Wittgenstein and others (Saul Kripke today)

Wittgenstein was never a positivist, and though his Tractatus did influence the Vienna Circle, he disavowed them as disciples. And I wouldn't say Kripke is a positivist in any sense. He believes in non-empirical "metaphysical necessities" and is a mind-body dualist (in fact, a lot of the current discussion on zombie arguments originates in his writings).

finitism, mathematical "intuitionism" of David Hilbert

Hilbert was a formalist, not a finitst-intuitionist, and both philosophies are generally viewed as polar opposites in their conception of mathematics. For example, Hilbert embraced Cantor's transfinite sets, while intuitionists rejected them.

Comment author: Thomas 12 February 2012 09:06:00PM 0 points [-]

I'll rewrite it after some re-checking.

Comment author: komponisto 13 February 2012 07:19:33AM 2 points [-]

positivism, logic school of Carnap, Wittgenstein and others (Saul Kripke today)

Kripke? Hardly. Unless you just mean "analytic philosophy in general", and Kripke was the first/most famous name who came to mind. But there are better names to pick when one wants to identify successors to positivism specifically.

finitism, mathematical "intuitionism" of David Hilbert

This, I'm afraid, is an outright howler. Hilbert was vehemently opposed to finitism ("No one shall expel us from this paradise that Cantor has created for us" is among his most famous quotes) and intuitionism (he was the founder and leading champion of the rival school of formalism).

Comment author: Thomas 13 February 2012 07:50:23AM 0 points [-]

Yes, yes, as I said, I should repair my list.

Comment author: Zetetic 13 February 2012 02:35:09AM 1 point [-]

The utilitarian case is interesting because both Mill and Bentham seemed to espouse a multidimensional utility vector rather than a uni-dimensional metric. There is an interesting paper I've been considering summarizing that takes a look at this position in the context of neuroeconomics and the neuroscience of desire.

Of interest from the paper: They argue that "pleasure" (liking), though it comes from diverse sources, is evaluated/consolidated at the neurological level as a single sort of thing (allowing a uni-dimensional representation as is common in economics), but show that when it comes to anticipation of pleasure (and the heuristics for evaluating the future rewards an action might yield) we can be quite inaccurate. So effectively, the Bentham/Mill model of utilitarianism is predicated on the perfect or near perfect coherence of "wanting" and "liking" (which does not really exist) and incorrectly prescribes a multidimensional utility measure because of this.

However, Bentham does appear to be unusually rational for his day. Look at his highly unpopular progressive stances and this becomes obvious - they are typically stances that we would consider sane and moral today, but which were highly taboo at the time.

Personally, when it comes to clarity of thought, I've never found anyone who tops C.S. Peirce. He was unbelievably rational in his view of the world and of science and mathematics - he was scary. This is someone who recognized the fundamentally statistical nature of the sciences in the 1800's. He was able to see the broad philosophical implications of evolution in nearly as much clarity as many of your so-called "evolutionist" thinkers (can provide citation if requested).

C.S. Peirce is by far my greatest inspiration as an epistemic rationalist. Just look at what he did. The clarity and breadth of his thought and philosophy is incredible to me.

Comment author: endoself 13 February 2012 05:59:35AM *  1 point [-]

Personally, when it comes to clarity of thought, I've never found anyone who tops C.S. Peirce. He was unbelievably rational in his view of the world and of science and mathematics - he was scary. This is someone who recognized the fundamentally statistical nature of the sciences in the 1800's. He was able to see the broad philosophical implications of evolution in nearly as much clarity as many of your so-called "evolutionist" thinkers (can provide citation if requested).

A lot of people really admire Pierce, and I have trouble understanding why. It's very possible that hindsight bias makes me underestimate his ability, though. His Tychism seems confused and, AFAICT, he justifies it with a mind projection fallacy: "I can't predict this so it's fundamentally random". Also, he classified everything into groups of three so many of his good ideas were obsured by that weird numeralogical framework. Thirdly (heh), his theory of abduction seems to combine the generation and the assessment of hypotheses. Those processes are often done together and, indeed, it is usually most efficient to do them at the same time, but combining the two into a single process does not produce any deep insight into either.

Anyway, most of his other work seems good, I'm just probably having trouble understanding it in its historical context. His work on logic seems about on par with Frege, who I admire greatly for logic alone, so that's rather impressive, but Frege isn't praised the way Pierce is. You seem to be very familiar with Pierce though, so hopefully you can explain this to me.

Comment author: Zetetic 15 February 2012 01:01:21AM *  1 point [-]

Well I can relay my impressions on Peirce and why people seem to be interested in him (and why I am):

I think that the respect for Peirce comes largely from his "Illustrations in the Logic of Science" series for Scientific American. Particularly "The Fixation of Belief" and "How to Make Our Ideas Clear".

When it comes to Tychism, it's kind of silly to take it in a vacuum, especially given that the notion of statistics being fundamental to science was new, and Newtonian determinism was the de facto philosophical stance of his day. He was standing in direct conflict to the then popular (but false) view of Newtonian determinism. Observe the following excerpt from the beginning of one of his papers on the subject:

"I propose here to examine the common belief that every single fact in the universe is precisely determined by law. "

Going further

"The proposition in question is that the state of things existing at any time, together with certain immutable laws, completely determine the state of things at every other time (for a limitation to future time is indefensible). Thus, given the state of the universe in the original nebula, and given the laws of mechanics, a sufficiently powerful mind could deduce from these data the precise form of every curlicue of every letter I am now writing."

Given the context, although he might have been guilty of the mind projection fallacy (he was a realist when it comes to probabilities), and was pretty much a frequentist, I don't think it's reasonable to criticize him very harshly for either position - he was a very early pioneer in statistics (just look over the second paragraph). His embrace of statistical inference was, as far as I can tell, somewhat unusual for the day, and he made several contributions to the use of statistics in psychology and psycho physics (including the use of double blind studies to re-examine previous findings). This is in addition to his contributions to logic, mathematics and geology - so if his logic is on par with Frege (just look at his contributions to mathematics and logic).

His semiotics is interesting as well as it seems to yield an early attempt to look at science as a process of improving statistical models. Pierce's semiotic reflects this, and he uses it in his phenomenological characterizations of the scientific method. I think that this allowed him to view human scientists as statistical learners. When I read some of this it certainly invoked a more machine learning/information theoretic picture of scientific discovery than any other (non-modern) philosophers of science had managed to touch on.

As far as the "weird numerology" - Peirce's fixation on the number three seems to be mainly a side effect of Hegel's influence - Hegel focused on a tertiary relationship between ideas - thesis, antithesis, synthesis. We have an idea, a conflict is presented, and we synthesize the two into something less wrong. I think that a number of odd ideas held by Peirce were influenced by Hegel (such as his view of continuity which seems borderline incoherent to me). I've found that sometimes this tertiary form yields something nice, but it often seems to result in something strained. I'm not sure why this became so pervasive in Peirce's writings.

That's what I can think of off the top of my head, but if something else occurs to me I'll add it.

Comment author: endoself 16 February 2012 02:05:16AM 1 point [-]

Given the context, although he might have been guilty of the mind projection fallacy (he was a realist when it comes to probabilities), and was pretty much a frequentist, I don't think it's reasonable to criticize him very harshly for either position - he was a very early pioneer in statistics (just look over the second paragraph). His embrace of statistical inference was, as far as I can tell, somewhat unusual for the day, and he made several contributions to the use of statistics in psychology and psycho physics (including the use of double blind studies to re-examine previous findings).

I think his Tychism might have been justified. Statistics could make predictions assuming Tychism but it wasn't obvious that the same results were predicted by determinism. That's Bayesian evidence in favour of Tychism. His more useful statistical work is also impressive.

This is in addition to his contributions to logic, mathematics and geology - so if his logic is on par with Frege (just look at his contributions to mathematics and logic).

That's definitely a lot of math and logic.

His semiotics is interesting as well as it seems to yield an early attempt to look at science as a process of improving statistical models. Pierce's semiotic reflects this, and he uses it in his phenomenological characterizations of the scientific method. I think that this allowed him to view human scientists as statistical learners. When I read some of this it certainly invoked a more machine learning/information theoretic picture of scientific discovery than any other (non-modern) philosophers of science had managed to touch on.

That would be very impressive, but I don't see that in any of the stuff on his semiotics on Wikipedia. The passage you linked to seems to just be saying that with sufficient study it is possible to understand things. I don't see anything that anticipates information theory or knowledge as statistical modelling.

Peirce's fixation on the number three seems to be mainly a side effect of Hegel's influence

Oh, he seems to have disobeyed endoself's first law of philosophy: "Have as little to do with Hegel as possible."

Comment author: Zetetic 17 February 2012 01:06:37AM *  0 points [-]

That would be very impressive, but I don't see that in any of the stuff on his semiotics on Wikipedia.

A caveat: I'm not at all sure how much I'm projecting on Peirce as far as this point goes. I personally think that his writings clarified my views on the scientific method (at the time I originally read them, which was a good while back) and I was concurrently thinking about machine learning - so I might just be having a case of cached apophenia.

However; if you want a condensed version of his semiotic look over this. You might actually need to read some of the rest of that article (which, I admit, is a bit long) to put it in more context. Also, this wikipedia page looks pretty comprehensive. I'm pretty confident that they're leaving a bit out that might be clearer if you read Peirce, but I'm not sure of how much instrumental value that would be to you. The issue with reading Peirce is that he was a crazy hermit with thousands of unpublished notes who continuously updated his views in significant ways (another point for him, he continued to reconsider/shift his views in a systematic way until he died), so lots of what you read about/by Peirce is compiled from a vast repository of his notes collected from his workspace after his death.

Also, something neat I found: Peirce's three valued logic predating Post. That was among his tens of thousands of unpublished pages of notes. Going further in this direction, I found an interesting article on Peirce's logic. There is some interesting discussion there about his influence on modern logic.

Points for coolness - Simon Newcomb was quite possibly his evil arch-nemesis.

Anyway - I think what attracts me to Peirce the most is his seemingly endless ability to carve reality at the joints in novel (at the time at least) ways, coupled with his nearly superhuman productivity levels - I mean he was highly influential in the realm of statistical theory, his influence on experimental design was impressive, he invented an axiomatization for arithmetic before Peano, he invented a modern characterization of first-order logic on par with Frege's (but arguably with a more algebraic/model theoretic than syntactic approach), he was a skilled expositor and clear writer, he invented pragmaticism, he had a lifetime of smaller results in logic, earth sciences and mathematics that anyone would be proud of - what more could you want from a single person before you can understand why people admire them?

Oh, he seems to have disobeyed endoself's first law of philosophy: "Have as little to do with Hegel as possible."

I think it's significantly more forgivable for a contemporary of Hegel's to be influenced by him than someone today being influenced by him. Further, when I say "influenced" - he scavenged a set of ideas that he seems to have reinterpreted in terms of his own philosophy because he saw that they could round out his ideas in a variety of ways - he was still pretty critical of Hegel of some major points. I think just browsing through these excerpts reveals the lines of influence a bit.

Comment author: endoself 03 March 2012 11:46:19PM 0 points [-]

A caveat: I'm not at all sure how much I'm projecting on Peirce as far as this point goes.

Well I saw some interesting ideas about science in Piaget, which is at least as tenuous.

if you want a condensed version of his semiotic look over this. You might actually need to read some of the rest of that article (which, I admit, is a bit long) to put it in more context. Also, this wikipedia page looks pretty comprehensive. I'm pretty confident that they're leaving a bit out that might be clearer if you read Peirce, but I'm not sure of how much instrumental value that would be to you.

Okay, I read most of this, but not in too much detail. I'm guessing that the things like

A rheme (also called sumisign and seme) is a sign that represents its object in respect of quality and so, in its signified interpretant, is represented as a character or mark, though it actually may be icon, index, or symbol. The rheme (seme) stands as its object for some purpose. A proposition with the subject places left blank is a rheme; but subject terms by themselves are also rhemes. A proposition, said Peirce, can be considered a zero-place rheme, a zero-place predicate.

are not the crucial parts.

I'm seeing the idea that one has a partially correct theory explaining one's observations and that it is continuously refined. Is that the main idea or am I missing something? It's valid, but I don't know how it compares to other ideas at the time. Also, the emphasis seems to be on refining one's ideas by continuing to contemplate the same evidence, which isn't very empirical, but I could be misunderstanding.

Peirce's three valued logic predating Post.

That's interesting. There are a lot of people using three valued logic today as if it is a huge insight that we can have a system that classifies statements as known to be true, known to be false, and unknown, or with three other, slightly different, categories, but in Pierce's day it was an important insight (well, there were similar ideas before, but they weren't formalized).

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 12 February 2012 03:34:13PM 1 point [-]

Upvoted with the disclaimer that I don't know what exactly is meant by "evolutionism." Being aware of the history of evolution doesn't sound like a philosophy. Is there some body of insights from evopsych that goes by that name, or is it something different?

Comment author: Thomas 12 February 2012 03:52:37PM *  -2 points [-]

Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Andre Linde and Lee Smollin are of those, who see everything as a product of the evolution (what it is). The same on cosmic scale also, as Linde or Smollin (what might be the case).

They may not have their school of thought formally established as such, but they are on a good way to make it.

So I decided to mention them, especially as I simpatize with them.

Comment author: paper-machine 13 February 2012 01:20:19AM *  1 point [-]

Regarding an empirical look at stoicism, you might find this article interesting; it's not openly about such a thing, but if you read closely enough between the lines...

Comment author: FiftyTwo 17 February 2012 06:29:22PM 0 points [-]

I'm not sure what it is you mean by "philosophies" in this context. Things like stoicism, epicureanism, etc. seem closer to "lifestyles" than philosophy as it is used in a modern context. Under that use many self help or psychological theories could apply. But if you're talking about Philosophy as it is generally meant then rational philosophies could include: materialism, epistemology, logic, and a lot of other things.

Comment author: siodine 12 February 2012 02:55:36PM 0 points [-]

Zen Buddhism is supposed to be similar to Stoicism. Epicureans prescribed a life surrounded by friends and, if I'm not mistaken, that strategy is supported by research into life satisfaction. However, I wonder about their avoidance of romantic love and sex.

You might want to look into military philosophies. There's something to be said for the deindividualization and resocialization strategies they employ; they seem to be effective at long-term personality modification.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 19 February 2012 05:28:19AM 0 points [-]

The "model agnosticism" of Robert Anton Wilson seems to be a significant memetic influence on some folks in the LW cluster. Wilson had the unusual position of sounding like a mystic to skeptics, and sounding like a skeptic to mystics — he managed to be conversant both with non-Aristotelian reasoning (of the Korzybski school) and psychedelic New Agery (of the Tim Leary and Ram Dass school).