06 May 2012

Interacting with the World, and Ciceronianus

This weekend, Ciceronianus, author of a wonderful neo-Stoic blog, posted on epistemology. He wrote: "I'm bemused from time to time by the view that the world (as in "reality" or the universe) is, in part at least, our creation, or perhaps is created by each of us for himself/herself."

He named first Kant and later Wilfred Sellars as examples of the sort of epistemologist he has in mind. Let us use the broad term "constructivism" for the broad PoV that Kant and Sellars share, and that bemuses our Stoic.

Ciceronianus, if I understand him, then proceeds to the assertion that such constructivism is either pointlessly obvious or wildly wrong. The obvious and uninteresting point is that "we are human beings, and as such interact with the world as human beings do." Yet those who are most serious about urging that "they shape the world" seem to want to go much further than this, and that furtherness is what bothers Ciceronianus.

I contributed a thought of my own to his comment section.
There is a tee shirt that bears upon some of the issues you raise. It shows somewhat anthropomorphized versions of the Greek letter pi (Π) and of the expression √-1.

Pi is saying to √-1, “Get real.” And√-1is replying, “Be rational!”

I’ll pause now while you slap your knees.

The joke, of course, is that pi is an example of an “irrational” but real number, while √-1 is the definition of i, the foundation of the imaginary numbers.

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