This page will be to explain the purpose of this site and present a scheme of organization for it. While the other pages on the site will be strictly for talking about their subjects alone, without talking about themselves, I do believe it is necessary to discuss why I am doing things the way I am, and this page seems the most appropriate for it, philosophy as it does comprising absolutely everything.

I intend to discuss my opinions on everything, the kind of thing one might think about while sitting on a bus. There is only one truth and reality, and one's beliefs about different fields are views of a fragment of that reality, and must be made as consistent with each other as possible.


I intend to ground all knowledge in a description of the conscious agent acting within the physical universe.

Here is a system which works for most purposes. Once I've described it I will describe some problems with it.

There is individual conscious experience. There is also physical reality, which are mathematical constructs which imply what all or most of conscious experience is.

Conscious experience includes being part of physical three-dimensional space and having a body. The bodies of other people are experienced too, at a distance. There are similarities between the body that is the centre of consciousness (one's self) and other bodies, and they too can be assumed to have consciousness.

We could suggest that there is more to physical reality than just implying conscious experience, and say that when someone is hallucinating or confused that their conscious experience contradicts reality. There are two ways of resolving this point, which are equivalent. One is to adopt this view, that consciousness can be an incorrect image of reality. The other is to say that we need to improve our physical theories to predict hallucinations. These two solutions are equivalent because they use a different definition of 'physical reality.' In the latter view, physical reality as we normally think about it is a simpler theory which doesn't take into account all the vagaries of neurobiology and human consciousness.

Social dynamics are viewed as being emergent from the actions of individuals.

This system could be called a 'psychological method,' as it is rooted in the individual. The following fields are, in a way, philosophy done properly and scientifically.

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Neuroscience
  • Psychology

One problem that is likely to be raised is that the system needs an explanation from outside itself, as to why this is the way the universe works rather than another way. While this may be the case, I hope to describe human behaviour well enough to explain both how I came to posit this system, and how this objection came to be raised. I call this the 'a fortiori principle.' This is a major argument for my method: if we describe how the brain conceptualizes theories, then in a way we've subsumed all possible theories of reality.

If we seek knowledge of reality, and it is attainable, then that knowledge will have to be represented in the brain. We would like to develop a complete description of how the brain stores knowledge and beliefs. Then we would know that our knowledge was limited by the different forms that a system following those rules could take. Any knowledge, or mental state, would be a composition with the different atoms of thought that we had identified. Knowledge of our cognitive processes may even be the closest to absolute truth that we can get.

I find that the statement the last paragraph is important. It is a consistently useful argument. However, we should always demand specifics and useful applications.

What is meant by ‘creativity,’ or ‘novelty’? The best we can do may be to describe them as what happens when the brain is in a creative state, or has novel experiences.

Scheme of organization

I also have several pages which fall somewhat outside the above, and they are listed in the index.


See also: logic

This section is to explain how to argue about questions. Beliefs we hold occur in the direct consciousness and in latent perception and long-term memory. It is worth knowing something about how this part of the mind works first, which I will describe at actor.

I need to talk about the idea of a 'system', and how they are actually quite rare. What is more common is a state of memory that has developed for practical purposes. What is observed in the development of a system is what we mean by 'dynamics'.

  • Walking around a forest, one may know what it looks like from certain positions and angles, but not from any position and angle that he could come to. This is the difference between a ‘practical framework’ and ‘a system.’
    • For example, ‘the broken window fallacy’ is a result of only considering some chains of causation and ignoring others, taking a partial rather than a systemic view.
  • It's worth considering how to describe a complex system with many interacting parts

List of propositional classes

We can take similar statements and put them together in classes. Someone could do foolish acts, liking eating too many pies and becoming fat, and justify it by saying that perhaps everything is an illusion, and that you can't really know for sure if they will indeed become fat as a result. The same person, however, would be unlikely to stab themselves in their eye with a similar justification. 'Gluttony leads to obesity' and 'Stabbing yourself in the eye leads to blindness and maybe death' are seen to be similar kinds of propositions, and drawing attention to the similarity has shed light on how we should view the first one.

  • About physical states
    • ‘That cow is brown’
  • About mental states

multiplied by

  • About the past
    • ‘The Big Bang was 13.7bn years ago’
  • About the present and near present
    • ‘I feel hungry’
  • About the future
  • About hypothetical situations
    • ‘If I tie my shoelaces, I shall be less likely to trip over’

as well as

  • Mathematical propositions


Our aim is the consideration of all knowledge, the relation of various fields of enquiry into a holistic and eclectic edifice, or in other words, a grand synthesis. Our methodology is phenomenological in that there is nothing we talk about that is not related to conscious experience. We shall consider the well-known ranking of scientific fields in order of how fundamental they are - physics, chemistry, biology, brain science, sociology, history. This is the ‘theory’ side, which is neuroscience (which is not wholly a ‘science’) taken in the broadest sense. We wish to describe consciousness, and how the mental relates to the physical, viewing the whole physical universe as a giant brain. We shall consider the questions, ‘To what extent are mental states determined by physical states? How predictable is the progression of physical states in time?’ We attempt to describe conscious experience in the article on ‘perception.’

We have started with conscious experience, and assumed it to be linear and unbranching, and to exist in time like a length exists in space. This may be incorrect, but it is a starting point. This kind of doubt is inherent to the process of any being trying to understand itself, as a system that aims to describe ‘reality’ must, a fortiori, describe the process of coming to believe in that theory. I may revise this starting point after I have learned more about quantum mechanics theory and general relativity theory.

We don’t just describe, we also prescribe. If neuroscience is the queen of theory, then engineering is the king of practice, and we discuss what it means to stretch the definition of this latter field to a broader interpretation in the article on ‘ethics.’

We need to describe here the different articles, and what their purpose is, how they relate to one another. We need to discuss the difference between an article seeking to describe something (such as 'society') and more essay-like articles like this one.

We need to talk about the fact that we've assumed threads of consciousness are linear in describing mental states and corresponding propositions, the reflexive nature of philosophical systems (e.g. it is part of our conscious experience to believe that conscious experience is linear) , and what we can or should do about it.

‘Questions’ are starting points. They don't have clear-cut answers. What you could do is take note of questions that you have, and return to them — a point of seeming contradiction, or of similarity between different ideas which could be explored and formalized. This could be something that would be good to do, when a question comes to mind, instead of thinking it through, to take a note of it so that the concept can be brought back to mind later on. It would not necessarily be something that you could immediately write down to express what your question is, but a collection of feelings and ideas associated with the concept of the question. When one is thinking about a lot at once, sometimes it pays to be irrational and to make shortcuts, and to hold in the back of your mind uncertainties about what you are doing. These uncertainties are questions for further investigation.

Points of methodological interest

  • When thinking about thinking, try your best to not think about the fact you are thinking about thinking. The fact that this confuses you and gets you nowhere eventually persuades you not to do it, and the general principles that are found can of course be applied to the thinking about thinking too, if we ever get that far - but our present aim is just to make some progress, not cover every possibility.
  • I'm constantly having little thoughts occur to me. Sometimes I wonder at the time if I'll remember these little thoughts or if they'll go straight out my mind leaving no trace. One feels the germ of a thought, and then it manifests itself in words. The imagination relates concepts together, but those concepts themselves don't have to make complete sense. A thought is just one view on the system that contains the objects referred to by the concepts in the thought, and if these concepts don't contradict each other when one tries to complete them, it should be possible to generate all thoughts on the matter by methodically considering how each part of the system relates to each other part. If this is true, then I shouldn't worry about the passing of these thoughts, because the fact that they have used certain concepts strengthens the presence of these in my mind. What I have just said makes perfect sense to me, even though concepts such as 'concept,' 'thought' and 'system' are not very well-defined. We are right to worry about general concepts like these, and should do what we can to make them more precise.
    • There are general concepts and specific concepts. Examples of general concepts are phonemes, chemical elements, musical notes as in middle C, and types of surface (wood, metal, etc.) Specific concepts are events of words being spoken, individual atoms, notes being played as part of a musical piece being played, and surfaces of real objects. Emanationism (Neoplatonism and so on) identifies this hierarchy of descriptive ideas with reality itself. I don't care that much about such things, but this a way of viewing the occult doctrine considered by, among others, the Traditionalism of Guénon et al (and everything said to express this doctrine, the identity of Brahmam and Atman, moksha, the Supreme Identity, 'that thou art,' the interlocking of the upwards and downwards pointing triangles in the Star of David of Judaism.) (I personally think that religion is much ado about nothing and not worth our time. If something can be said at all it can be said clearly.)
  • I want the central theory, the important stuff. Ultimately, what would one want to be passed on to future generations?
  • Once you get really familiar with some idea, you may forget about it because it's become completely omnipresent and implicit in your thinking. That's no good if you want to write it down. Again, there really is a limit to the amount of arbitrary knowledge you can hold in your head in the medium-term. You may end up forgetting to mention something important because your mind is clogged up with other lines of thought.

Worthless avenues

We might ask, if philosophy is a a search for truth, then what is ‘truth’? I suggest that we should not concern ourselves too much with concepts like ‘truth’ or ‘falsity.’ Once we have postulated these abstractions, we open the road to manipulating these symbols and ignoring where they came from. When you say the word ‘true,’ nothing in particular comes to mind, but you have a feel for how it should be used in various circumstances. You are happy saying sentences like, ‘This statement is true,’ and ‘That statement is false,’ but what you mean in each case depends on the statement in question. We should consider various classes of proposition - propositions about the future, about the past, about the present, about the physical world, about one’s own feelings, and so on. Any statement in natural language, spoken or written, that seems to us to be meaningful, could be considered as belonging to such a class.

I propose that whatever doubt exists we incorporate into our definition of that which is doubted. We may doubt existence of physical objects, or the continuity of subjective experience. We should first state what we think we mean when we state the concept. This definition is a mixture of feelings and mental constructions. Then we should analyse what can be known about the concept, and the extent that doubt about the truth of the concept is inherent to its nature. This doubt should then be incorporated into the definition.

For example, when we say a physical object 'exists,' we have the feeling of what it is to believe that an object exists. We also have theoretical knowledge of laws of physics that govern the object and its relation to the world. When we think further and wonder about all kinds of doubts about whether the object exists, we conclude that the object can only be known through perception, and that therefore we should amend our idea of 'physical object' to be a property of the perception that occurs.

We also have doubts about the continuity of perception. We know what it feels like to believe in the existence of the self, and one's own personal subjective experience. We also have abstract, formal knowledge - we may view our subjective experience as a series of moments of consciousness, and we may do what we can to explain what these moments of consciousness consist of. But we may come up with all kinds of doubts - maybe one second I'm one person, the next second I'm another person. Maybe time doesn't exist and I'm just stuck in the same moment forever. Perhaps these kinds of doubts could be resolved in a similar way - we take a whole edifice of doubt and use it to modify the original definition. (I should point out that I'm aware that this process of improving definitions is subject to the same questions about the world that it itself investigates, and similar things. We should never forget about reflexivity.)

It may be that the foregoing strategy would prevent one from going down worthless avenues of inquiry. I have come across warnings against making certain errors, and been confused because I did not understand how anyone could have made those errors, and started to waste my time trying to make sense of something that was explicitly stated not to make sense. I am sure others will have had the same experience, and it may be wiser not to go down these worthless avenues. Nonetheless, I feel that some of them are so compelling and will be revisited many times, and that it is worth at least briefly mentioning a few of them; and how they should be viewed in light of the strategy I advocate here, which may help to illustrate it.

Future contingents

This asks whether future events are ‘true’ now. The problem comes from taking the word ‘true’ which can be applied in several different circumstances, and using it to ask reasonable-sounding questions. We know what it feels like to believe that something happened, what it feels like to believe that some state of affairs of the world is true now, and what it feels like to consider the possibilities of future events. These are three different types of feeling, and three classes of proposition, but the same word ‘true’ is being used for all three. ‘Truth’ is here being viewed as a property of a proposition, the same way that an object is seen to have properties. The proposition ‘the sea-battle will be lost tomorrow’ is viewed as an object, and is dropped into a sentence structure that is inappropriate for it. A question such as ‘Is London [object] the capital of the United Kingdom [property] today,’ makes sense; whereas ‘Is the proposition “the sea-battle will be lost tomorrow” [supposed object] “true” [supposed property] today’ does not.

Truth may be static (the 'block universe' or 'eternalist' view) or something which changes and grows with time. Can we say it is meaningful for something to have or to not have happened in the past, if there is absolutely no way of knowing which it is? If what is true changes over time, does that make the present time special out of all times? Is the meaningfulness of statements about the past different from the meaningfulness about the future? I don't know which it is or if the distinction makes sense.

On the one hand, you could argue that events in the future haven't happened yet, and therefore a statement about the future is neither true nor false, but undetermined. On the other hand, you could reject this argument by arguing that truth is timeless. If a proposition is true it doesn't become false at a later date, and if our definition of 'truth' allows this to happen, we postulate a 'meta-truth', propositions of which being expressed like 'Proposition X was true, but now it's now false,' and then call the eternal meta-truth 'truth' instead.

However, that's not convincing, because it's just not possible for us to jump out of the flow of time and view the past, present and future as fixed, in either time or meta-time, but are confined to the present, with a known past and unknown future. A fixed meta-truth is consistent, but how can we know if it's a true or worthwhile belief?

Belief in the block universe may stem from thinking about time spatially. One has different concepts, feelings and ideas, each of which may be true or meaningful. Perhaps time isn't like space, and the perception of time shouldn't be described in spatial terms, but taken on its own as something different.

The excluded middle

This states that every (meaningful) proposition is in exactly one of the two states ‘true’ and ‘false.’ You are, again, wrong to think of truth-values as properties. Instead of worrying whether this principle is applicable in all circumstances, you should look instead to the actual propositions or classes thereof. You would never worry about whether both of ‘Joe Bloggs is taller than 6 feet,’ and ‘Joe Bloggs is shorter than 6 feet’ are true at the same time, whereas you could easily worry about whether proposition P could have both of the properties ‘true’ and ‘false,’ because it seems similar to a situation where, for example, a physical object has two properties: a cup could be ‘red’ and ‘filled with water’ at the same time.

Mind and matter, idealism versus physicalism

‘If a tree falls in a forest and no-one hears it, did it really fall?’

The statements 'The cup is on the table' and 'The universe is thirteen billion years old' shall be in the class of 'physical facts.' The statements 'I feel tired,' 'I am happy,' 'The grass looks green to me' shall be in the class of 'subjective experiences.' These could be interpreted in more than one way: for example, 'I feel tired' could be a statement of physical fact about a biochemical brain state, but I am referring to the 'internal' point of view.

Once we've seen what types of statements there we can then try to see how these types relate to one another, and perhaps explain one in terms of the other. In this case I reduce 'physical facts' to 'subjective experiences.' I view it as a matter of faith that subjective experience is of fundamental importance, and physical facts are of derivative importance. I feel that my experience of a second ago of touching two fingers together is real, and it is definitely either true or false that I experienced this. This is true of all frames of subjective experience by all conscious beings.

What then? We may take all such frames together, call it the 'sphere of experience' and describe physical facts in terms of the experience of conscious beings. For example, 'the cup is on the table' viewed as a physical fact is interpreted to mean 'Everyone who ever looked in that direction saw a cup on the table' viewed as a statement about subjective experience. The concept of 'time' describes how conscious frames deform continuously into each other. In a time before consciousness (e.g. what happened at the big bang) there is no truth, only aesthetics.

This philosophy now described, I shall give a few problems that I might have with it.

'Time' describes patterns that occur in the Exp-sphere. The Exp-sphere itself is outside time. I also hold that knowledge of this Exp-sphere is possible. The Exp-sphere cannot have any justification as to why it is the way that it is. Therefore it cannot be arbitrary, therefore it must contain all possible conscious states. Everything that ever could be thought of happening, happens 'some place, some where.' Everyone 'will' burn in hell, wearing a variety of different coloured hats. Another objection is that the idea of a 'frame' of experience is doubtful.

Continuity of consciousness

If you view your conscious experience as a linear sequence of conscious phenomena, you may ask whether you are only part of a short thread of consciousness, or whether there is any continuity to it. One may return to being an unconscious robot in ten seconds' time as one was ten seconds ago. However, when we discuss consciousness, there is no way of telling whether that's true or not, so let's not bother worrying about it.

Other people's consciousness

It often asserted that you can't tell whether other people are really alive, or whether they are like robots, with no internal consciousness.

Determinism and free will

Persons' actions in given situations are largely predictable. If every action is predictable, then the agent has no freedom to act otherwise. To consider this may lead to feeling trapped within a chain of events and actions.

Any feelings of dread or hopelessness here are due to a faulty analogy with descriptions of the unfolding of affairs that a person cannot stop being true. If you are sentenced to life in jail, you will feel dread, and that you will stay in jail is as far as you can tell an immutable fact. That whatever happens happens is also an immutable fact - but one that is vacuously true.

Such fallacies are a peril of philosophy.


I am not so much saying here what I think the ‘absolute truth’ is, as I am making present-day practical suggestions, expressed in language assuming ‘common sense,’ the same way one may talk about other mundane subjects.1 What I have written reflects my opinion on my own philosophical ponderings and on what I have seen written by others, and is, up to a point, a product of historical contingencies.

Hopefully, what is talked about on this page will not consume too much of our attention, and its worth should consist in pointing to more substantial and productive avenues of intellectual inquiry.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 License