Metaphysics: Reductionism (Monism or Positivism) In metaphysics, my test measures your tendency towards Reductionism or Non-Reductionism. As a Reductionist, you like to cut away the metaphysical fat as opposed to multiplying concepts and entities like so many baby rabbits. The two broad categories of Reductionists that my test recognizes are Monists and Positivists.
1. Monists do not cut away the metaphysical fat so much as they just put the meat into a grinder and synthesize the fat into the meat. They tend to condense particular things and ideas into a Unity or Absolute, in other words. If you believe that reality is ultimately a unity and that mind and matter both exist but are simply two different ways of looking at the same substance, then you are a neutral monist in the sense of Spinoza. If you believe that reality is ultimately an Absolute because a whole is more than just the sum of its parts, proven by the fact that we can never have knowledge of a particular thing unless we also grasp its relations to the ultimate Absolute or whole of reality with which it is bound up, and if you feel that this Absolute is characterized by Spirit or Mind, and not matter, then you share the same views as Hegel and even Plato to a degree. A monist--because he or she believes that reality is a Unity or Absolute--tends to synthesize all particulars into universals, deny the reality of matter (Hegel) or mind (Spinoza, sort of), and so on. These concepts are all cast into the meat grinder and come out as a unified whole. Famous monists include philosophers such as Hegel, Spinoza, and Parmenides.
If none of the above sounded like you, then you are most definitely the other type of Reductionist. 2. Positivists, unlike monists, do not synthesize two apparently competing views into one--instead, they do away with one of the views, that being the one that cannot be empirically verified. A positivist, then, cuts away the metaphysical fat as meaningless conjecture about nothing in particular. He relies primarily on a tool called Ockham's Razor to shave away these ideas. Ockham's Razor states that we should do away with any hypotheses that needlessly multiply explanatory entities. For instance, in regards to the dispute about the existence of universals, a positivist tends to adopt the position of nominalism--which is the belief that only particulars are real. A universal is only a linguistic construction we use to put particulars into groups--meaning we can reduce all universals to the sum of their parts, that being particulars. After all, we can never have empirical experience of "whiteness", only particular things that are white--nor have we ever observed the universal "mankind", though we can observe individual men. On the mind-body problem, a positivist will be likely to do away with the concept of "mind", reducing it to a material product of our brain functioning. This position is often referred to as the Identity-Theory, because it equates mental states to states of the brain. Clearly, a positivist tends towards a materialistic outlook. Positivism will also revile any idealist conception of reality, which maintains that the world of experience and perception is merely a phenomenal world, whereas the "real" world lies underneath experience and is fundamentally unknowable. A positivist will tend to do away with the idealist hypothesis as needless and unverifiable. Well-known positivists include Carnap, Ayer, and Wittgenstein.
Epistemology: Skepticism (Idealism or Subjectivism) In regards to epistemology, my test measures your tendency towards Absolutism or Skepticism. As an epistemological Skeptic, you believe that ultimate reality cannot be known in any objective way. The two categories of Skeptics that my test recognizes are Idealists and Subjectivists.
1. Epistemological Idealists believe that knowledge of ultimate reality is impossible. All we can ever have knowledge about is the world of phenomenal human experience, but there is no reason to suspect that reality mirrors our perceptions and thoughts, according to Idealists. Idealists, then, tend to see truth not as a correspondence between propositions and reality--reality is, after all, fundamentally unknowable--but as a coherence between a whole system of propositions taken to be true. We cannot escape from language or our conceptualized world of phenomena, so we are unable to reference propositions to facts and must instead determine their truth by comparing them to other propositions we hold to be true. As a result of such an idealism, knowledge of any ultimate reality is taken to be impossible, hence the Skeptical tendency of idealism. All our pursuits of knowledge, science included, can only reflect a phenomenal reality that is of our own making. Famous idealists include Kant and Fichte.
If the above did not sound skeptical or idealistic enough to reflect your own views, then you are most likely a Subjectivist. 2. Epistemological Subjectivists, like idealists, believe that all our knowledge is ultimately of our own making because it is filtered through our subjective perceptions. Unlike an idealist, though, a subjectivist doesn't believe in any universal categories of "truth" that apply to the phenomenal world, because each individual can create his own truth. Either that, or he will hold that society or custom creates its own forms of truth. A subjectivist will tend to regard scientific inquiry as a game of sorts--science does not reveal truths about reality, but only gives scientists pseudo-solutions to pseudo-problems of the scientific community's own devising. It is a type of puzzle-solving, but the puzzle isn't of reality. The definition of truth to a subjectivist may be one that recognizes a proposition's usefulness to an individual. William James is one such subjectivist, who believes that we can "will to believe" certain propositions so long as we would find them useful. The example he gives is being found in a situation where you must leap over a chasm in order to survive. The true belief, in such a situation, is that the leap will be successful--this truth is certainly more useful to us, and in believing the truth we become more willing to commit to the jump and make it successful. So, in essence, knowledge of reality is possible for a subjectivist because they never make reference to any objective reality existing outside of our own perceptions and beliefs--we can have knowledge of reality through having knowledge of ourselves, and that is all that we should ask for. Famous subjectivists include Kuhn, Feyarabend, and James. Another famed critic of Absolutism is Hume.
Ethics: Objectivism (Deontology or Logical Positivism) In Ethics, my test measures your tendency towards moral Objectivism or moral Relativism. As a moral Objectivist, you are opposed to Subjectivist moral theories and believe that morality applies to people universally and actually describes objects and situations out in the world as opposed to just subjects themselves. The two types of moral Objectivists my test recognizes are Kantian Deontologists and Utilitarians.
1. Kantian Deontologists believe that the one intrinsic good is a good will. As rational beings capable of making decisions, the moral worth of our decisions is ultimately derived from the intentions behind our actions, not their consequences. A moral being does the right thing not out of recognition of any consequences, but out of a sense of moral duty. For Kant, a good will is the ultimate good because to deny the will is to deny the one thing that makes us rational, moral beings. If an act will accord with or further our status as free, rational beings, and it is possible to will the universalization of such a moral principle without infringing upon our good wills, then an act is good. Kant's categorical imperative provides an objective standard to judge moral worth--it is not hypothetical in the sense of other imperatives, which hide a latent if-clause. For instance, "Eating razors is good" is good ONLY if you tack on an if-clause that says something like: "If you wish to destroy your gums." Thus, the categorical imperative is good, not just IF something is the case, but in ALL cases. It requires people to treat others as ends, and not means to ends, for to treat everyone as a means to an ends would be to deny them their ability to function as rational, free beings--which is what makes morality possible in the first place. The major propnent of this view in the history of philosophy is, quite obviously, Kant.
If that didn't sound like your position, then you are probably the other variety of moral Objectivist--the Utilitarian. 2. Utilitarians define "happiness" or "pleasure" as the sole intrinsic good, and the principle "The greatest pleasure for the greatest number" best reflects a Utilitarian view of ethics. Utilitarianism is a consequentialist moral theory, meaning the consequences of an action--not the intentions behind it--determine the act's moral worth. Even if you intended to do great evil with a certain act, if the act produces a net gain of pleasure and happiness for the greatest number, then it was indeed a good act because your intentions weren't realized. What matters in this scenario, obviously, is the consequences of the act. Utilitarianism, of course, can also be reduced to Hedonism. If you do not feel that the greatest happiness of the greatest number matters, but only pay heed to the greatest happiness of individuals, then you are more adequately classified as a Hedonist. But both Utilitarians and Hedonists define "pleasure" as an intrinsic good and determine the moral worth of an act through its consequences. The only difference is whether we measure the collective pleasure of a group or only an individual's pleasure. Prominent Utilitarians include Bentham and Mill.
As you can see, when your philosophical position is narrowed down there are so many potential categories that an OKCupid test cannot account for them all. But, taken as very broad categories or philosophical styles, you are best characterized as an R-S-O. Your exact philosophical opposite would be an N-A-R.
About the Author
Saint_gasoline is a crazed madman who spends all of his time writing OKCupid tests and ranting about philosophy and science. If you are interested in reading more of his insane ramblings, or seeing his deliciously trite webcomic, go to SaintGasoline.com.
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