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: Absolutism (Rationalism or Pragmatism) My test measures one's tendency towards Absolutism or Skepticism in regards to epistemology. As an Absolutist, you believe that objective knowledge is possible given the right approach, and you deny the claims of skeptical philosophers who insist that we can never have knowledge of ultimate reality. The two types of Absolutists recognized by my test are Rationalists and Pragmatists.
1. Rationalists believe that the use of reason ultimately provides the best route to truth. A rationalist usually defines truth as a correspondence between propositions and reality, taking the common-sense route. Also, rationalists tend to believe that knowledge of reality is made possible through certain foundational beliefs. This stance is known as foundationalism. A foundationalist believes that, because we cannot justify the truth of every statement in an infinite regress, we ultimately reach a foundation of knowledge. This foundation is composed of a priori truths, like mathematics and logic, as well as undoubtable truths like one's belief in his or her own existence. The belief that experiences and memories are veridical is also part of the foundation. Thus, for a rationalist knowledge of reality is made possible through our foundational beliefs, which we do not need to justify because we find them to be undoubtable and self-evident. In regards to science, a rationalist will tend to emphasize the foundational assumptions of scientific inquiry as prior to and more important than scientific inquiry itself. If science does lead to truth, it is only because it is based upon the assumption of certain rational principles such as "Every event is caused" and "The future will resemble the past". Philosophy has a wide representation of philosophical rationalists--Descartes, Spinoza, Liebniz, and many others.
If that didn't sound like your own views, then you are most likely the other type of Absolutist: the Pragmatist. 2. Epistemological Pragmatists are fundamentally identified by their definition of truth. Truth is, on this view, merely a measure of a proposition's success in inquiry. This view is a strictly scientific notion of truth. A proposition can be called true if it leads to successful predictions or coheres best with the observed facts about the world. Thus, for the pragmatist, knowledge of reality is possible through scientific reasoning. A pragmatist emphasizes man's fallibility, and hence takes baby-steps towards knowledge through scientific methodology. Any truth claim for a pragmatist is open to revision and subject to change--if empirical observations lead us to call even logical rules into question (like quantum physics has done for the law of the excluded middle), then we can and should abandon even these supposed a priori and "absolutely certain" logical rules if they do not accord with our testing and refuting of our various propositions. As a consequence of this, a pragmatist doesn't feel that scientific knowledge is based upon unfounded assumptions that are taken to be true without any sort of justification--rather, they believe that the successes of scientific inquiry have proved that its assumptions are well-founded. For instance, the assumption of science that the future will be like the past is adequately shown by the amazing success of scientific theories in predicting future events--how else could this be possible unless the assumption were true? Pragmatism borrows elements from realism and yet attempts to account for the critiques made by skeptics and relativists. It is essentially a type of philosophical opportunism--it borrows the best stances from a large number of philosophical systems and attempts to discard the problems of these systems by combining them with others. Famous pragmatists of this type are Peirce and Dewey.
Ethics: Relativism (Subjectivism or Emotivism) My test measures one's tendency towards moral Objectivism or moral Relativism in regards to ethics. As a moral Relativist, you tend to see moral choices as describing a subject's reaction to a moral object or situation, and not as a property of the moral object itself. You may also feel that moral words are meaningless because they do not address any empirical fact about the world. My test recognizes two types of moral relativists--Subjectivists and Emotivists.
1. Subjectivists see individual or collective desires as defining a situation's or object's moral worth. Thus, the subject, not the object itself, determines the value. Subjectivists recognize that social rules, customs, and morality have been wide-ranging and quite varied throughout history among various cultures. As a result, Subjectivism doesn't attempt to issue hard and fast rules for judging the moral worth of things. Instead, it recognizes that what we consider "good" and "right" is not bound by any discernable rule. There is no one trait that makes an act good or right, because so many different kinds of things have been called good and right. In regards to the definition of "good" or "right", a Subjectivist will tend to define it as whatever a particular person or group of people desire. They do not define it merely as "happiness" or "pleasure", for instance, because sometimes we desire to do things that do not produce pleasure, and because we don't consider all pleasurable things good. Furthermore, Subjectivists recognize the validity of consequentialism in that sometimes we refer to consequences as good and bad--but they also recognize that our intentions behind an action, or the means to the end, can also determine an act's moral worth. Again, there is no one rule to determine these things. Hence the relativism of moral Subjectivism. The most well-known of the subjectivists is Nietzsche.
If that didn't sound like your position, then you are probably the other variety of moral Relativist--the Emotivist. Emotivists are moral Relativists only in a very slanted sense, because they actually deny that words about morality have any meaning at all. An Emotivist would probably accept Hume's argument that it is impossible to derive an "ought" from an "is"--no factual state of affairs can logically entail any sort of moral action. Furthermore, a emotivist's emphasis on scientific (and hence empirical) verification and testing quickly leads to the conclusion that concepts such as "good" and "right" don't really describe any real qualities or relations. Science is never concerned with whether a particular state of affairs is moral or right or good--and an emotivist feels much the same way. Morality is thus neither objective or subjective for the emotivist--it is without any meaning at all, a sort of vague ontological fiction that is merely a symbol for our emotional responses to certain events. Famous emotivists include Ayer and other positivists associated with the Vienna Circle.
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-A-R. Your exact philosophical opposite would be an N-S-O.
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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