TK Coleman (philosopher, life student, inspiration, teacher, et al) recently posted a blog post that I found pretty interesting. In the post he offered six questions that we can ask to keep ourselves intellectually honest. In the post he explains why each question can help keep you intellectually honest. I don’t think he meant this as some sort of challenge for people to publicly do but I decided to do that anyway. I do strive to be intellectually honest, but like all pursuits it is really impossible to reach the goal, it is an ideal that we strive for knowing that it is unattainable. What follows are some brief answers, I’m sure that if I sat down and meditated on the questions or researched more I could answer more thoroughly.
Question 1: Can you name one person, dead or alive, who you regard as a brilliant thinker responsible for having contributed important and insightful work to the pool of human knowledge?
This one is kind of easy for me. Partly, I think, because I am one of those people who tends to defer to others instead of speaking my own mind. I have a lot of ideas but I often feel like I don’t have permission to be an idea creator and that my views on things aren’t really original or valuable. I am aware that this is kind of bullshit. Anyway, a short list of brilliant thinkers who have impacted me:
- Frederic Bastiat
- Robert Nozick
- Milton Friedman
- Joseph Campbell
- Bill Hicks
- Carl Jung
- Dan Savage
- Stephen King
- Tim Ferriss
- Sam Harris
- The Ancient Stoic Philosophers
- Margaret Atwood
- Robert Heinlein
Question 2: Can you name one person, dead or alive, that you disagree with whose philosophy is right and respectable in at least one way?
Hmm, I don’t know everything about other people’s philosophy but sure. I think some of my modern intellectual influences in sex and relationships (ie Dan Savage) are correct when it comes to human relations, that everything is allowed as long as you don’t harm someone else, but his political philosophy is wrong. I am sure I could find some more but it would involve researching more deeply the philosophical beliefs of the people who have influenced me.
Question 3: Can you name a few important questions that you don’t believe you have discovered the answers to yet?
Haha, hell yes. Tons of them
- Does free will exist?
- When does personhood begin?
- How much should ethics play a part in what type of political system we support?
- Is pleasure intrinsically good?
- Is labor intrinsically good?
- What inside of me is stopping me from pursuing my dreams?
- Do animals have rights? If no, why not? If yes, why?
- Will technology free us from mortality?
Question 4: Can you name 1-2 issues, topic, or areas of study that you feel you still need to learn about?
I can’t name 1-2 issues, topics, or areas of study that I don’t feel like I need to learn about. I guess the top 2 that interest me right now are human sexuality and stoic philosophy.
Question 5: If you had to guess, could you name 1-2 issues, topics, or areas of study where you’re most likely to hold a false assumption or uninformed belief?
Hmm, sure. I think I may have some false assumptions about the practical feasibility of anarchy. Also, the possible existence of an afterlife (whether that is a spiritual afterlife or a “game over” afterlife).
Question 6: Can I name at least one specific instance in which I openly admitted to another person that I was wrong about something?
Sure, happens all the time. The one that first comes to mind is when I was discussing anarchy and such with an Australian colleague. I took the rather extreme position that if you work for the government in any capacity, even something like a janitor at city hall, you were knowingly profiting off the theft of other people. As such, you are a knowing accomplice in theft and violence is justified against you to prevent you from participating in the theft. He convinced me that even if all that is true, violence against the person is a disproportionate response. Punishment should fit the crime and property crimes do not justify violence. It is unjust to end someone’s life or assault someone simply for trespassing or theft, violence should only be used as a response to violence.