TODO: Editing, editig, and more editing.
TODO: gentrify

This is, presently, incomplete, so read at your own risk and judge not.
h2. Motives
Cornel West said that William James’s philosophy was designed not to bring about social change (a la Dewey) but to “heal essential rifts in the self”-i.e, it was a method of care for self or selves, arising from personal dissatisfactions and tending toward personal satisfactions. In this I am certainly a Jamesian. Philosophizing for me is partly a matter of temperament-I like to peel away layers and go beneath assumptions, which doesn’t get us to truth (see Nietzsche’s allegory of the shovel), necessarily, but I think it gets us to the realm of philosophy. But because I had this temperament long before I was exposed to modern professional or historical classical philosophy (and, indeed, I’m still not very well-read on these topics compared to, say, a philosophy major), I tend to be highly idiosyncratic and occasionally something of a screwball.
My first-ever real problem (and all interesting thinking arises from problems-I’m probably stealing that from Foucault; also, not to say that my thinking on this problem actually was interesting) was trying to integrate religious views. I was brought up with the New Age syncretic viewpoint that all religions are valid and that, moreover, all religions when correctly interpreted (oy Jesus!) pointed towards a single truth (held to be in this case something like Advaita Vedanta). This is, of course, patently false from any standpoint that reflects the singularity of faiths and is democratically interested in respecting the intellectual rights of individuals-particularly the “right of belief.” (What James desired to re-title his “Will to”, just as Dewey desired to re-title Experience and Nature Experience and Culture. So, the combination of my syncretic upbringing and my intuitive democraticness left me with the problem of wanting to find a way to justify multiple conflicting views on subjects. Mere relativism isn’t satisfying, however, as I’m not a value-nihilist. The only reasonable solution is some form of pragmatism, and thus when I at last found my way to James and Dewey, it was like a homecoming.
Actually, the textual path was kind of silly. Browsing Walden Pond one day back in junior high school times, I came across a book called “Religion and Radical Empiricism,” which was interesting because I’d only recently learned the meaning of the word “empirical,” (i.e., experimental, as pertaining to science anyway), and wasn’t clear on what the hell that had to do with religion. So I bought the book, which was basically an overview of empiricists who embraced something like a Jamesian view of religious knowledge. This constituted my first introduction to James’s Varieties of Religious Experience, though I didn’t really get deep into it until much later (Roth’s Great Mystical traditions). What actually ended up happening, though, is that my first real encounter with any kind of pragmatism was a quote in “Religion and Radical Empiricism” from Quine’s “Two Dogmas of Empiricism,” the nice bit where he sums up his ontological relativism and compares physical objects to Greek gods. This is, of course, one of the boldest and most idiosyncratic expressions of pragmatism, and rather than taking it as an incitement to learn more, I just sort of thought, “Oh, that’s neat,” and went back to my own private worldview, never to reemerge until freshman year at Brown, where I encountered Dewey (whom I knew already secondhand via Ted Sizer’s books) in Garcia-Coll’s History and Theories of Child Development, and Weil in Gordon’s Religious Existentialism.
h2. Beliefs
h3. Overview
I tend towards a religious Pragmatism or Mystico-Pragmatism, not so much because I have religious beliefs (I don’t, really) as because I regard secular pragmatism as being flawed in certain essential ways, and because I’m unwilling to disallow religious modes of philosophy. I’m extremely fond of, though not necessarily a participant in, Religious Existentialism, especially of the Christian sort (i.e., Kierkegaard, Simone Weil).
  • I agree most with: James.
  • I most respect Weil.
    h3. Metaphysics
    I don’t really have a metaphysics of my own; I tend more readily to embrace a Buddhist metaphysical position (i.e., no enduring or absolutely real entities; all is change) and the metaphysical critiques of Nagarjuna in particular; Chuang-tzu also has my love on this point. I regard James as being relatively compatible with the insights of these thinkers, Dewey less so, and of course, Weil not at all. I also embrace Quine’s principle of ontological relativity, though this isn’t really so much a metaphysical as an epistemological point.
  • Pragmatism
  • Jamesian vs. Deweyan Pragmatism
  • Problem of Tragedy
  • Philosophy of Language
  • Linguistic value
  • Morality
  • Good vs. Right, etc.
  • Understanding
  • A basic framework
    Philosophizing begins from problems (more specifically, problems not amenable to easy, immediate solutions) usually w/in either the self or society-as opposed to engineering problems, say. Human problems) to which people respond by pursuing solutions of three kinds-truth, right, good.
    h3. Good
    I do not know what the good is, but I am, in my heart, certain that I know some people and things that are good. In people, goodness is a limit to thought and action, a form of disability-for the good person, certain things, specifically certain ways of treating and viewing other people, are unimaginable. It is not a question of “nice”ness or “kind”ness per se, but a way of seeing other people as essentially real (cf. Weil). This reality of the other is the basis of treu compassion, for example-because one believes in the reality of the other, one believes in their suffering, while another does not really thus believe—or, rather, knows it only intellectually without also feeling it.
    h3. Right
    I am, however, at least somewhat aware of right (and wrong)—of acts which imply beneficial and harmful consequences toward others. Right and wrong as I mean them here are strictly intellectual evaluations of actions and their consequences. I am capable of right to a much greater extent than I am capable of good, though that is not to say I actually succeed at righteousness. The right encompasses any attempt to make any community of things (including people and ideas) coexist harmoniously by means of a carefully and rigorously delineated set of relationships.
    Note: As I have conceived them, the right and good can enter into conflict, and often do. Antigone is a good example of this.
    h3. Truth
    As to truth, I know what it is least of all, and what I know of it is confusing. I definitely do not mean either traditional coherence or correspondence, and I would reject any definition that emphasizes logic or reason-since these are primarily functions of the right. And I would also include the motivations of people like Nietzsche and Foucault, who were engaged in debunking “truth”-but they did so in a paradoxically self-righteous, “J’accuse” kind of way that I think proves they were still interested in attaining something along the lines of truth—a “more accurate set of descriptions of what happens” kind of truth.
    As far as identifying my version of the “will to truth”, that is much easier—it consists in wrestling with angels…
    Next, let us integrate Weil’s concept of “self” and “reality”: it is this: there is method (i.e., the attempt to get at the problem) and there is what is outside method, which method cannot determine by a mere act of decision or will, and which is the source of resistence and surprise. This is what Weil calls “reality”—an “obstacle which allows us to act in an ordered way…{and} which infinitely transcends us.” (This is the basic existential condition of any theorist, and by varying the reaction to this transcendant obstacle, we can derive tragedy, religious notions of truth including pantheism, monism, and idealism…)
    The next stage is to integrate other people into this model…
    category:nick theory

    See also: Axiom of Perfect Method