# What if we abandon all assumptions?

By the title I mean that "What would happen if we didn't assume anything as true?" My first thought was that nothing could be stated (since there isn't logic/reason to hold any argument/statement)

But then I thought: "If there isn't anything that could be stated wouldn't it be that everything could be stated? (because I came to the reasoning that "nothing could be stated" using reason/logic, but if I didn't hold any assumptions I couldn't have thought that, but if I didn't hold any assumptions I could have thought that)

Then again I gave up that reasoning considering that if one didn't hold any assumptions maybe there wouldn't be a reason to reason and maybe there would be all reasons to reason and maybe something beyond reason and maybe all at once reasons to reason and not reason... or maybe _ ("_" being everything, nothing, nothing and everything, neither nothing or everything, "chair"...)

What would be the consequences of abandoning all assumptions, if any, in your view?

Edit: change of the word "dogma" to "assumptions" for clarification of the question

• Look in to Nonduality. Commented Nov 15, 2023 at 1:04
• I would have thought that the first question here is whether your abandonment of all dogmas is dogmatic? Either it is dogmatic, in which case you haven't abandoned all dogmas, or it is not dogmatic, in which case you haven't abandoned all dogmas. Or does that miss the point? I suspect it does, in which case, your point needs to be re-formulated before it can be answered. Much depends on what you mean by "dogma". Commented Nov 15, 2023 at 10:48
• @ScottRowe In the secret vedas (agamas) Shiva is instructing his wife. His penultimate instruction is Give up all supports. Sounds quite close to the (direction of the) OP Commented Nov 15, 2023 at 11:16
• @LudwigV I haven't thought that way. But, as proposed, couldn't it be that "The abandonment of all dogmas is dogmatic?" is neither "dogmatic" nor "not dogmatic", or both, or just one or ...? Commented Nov 15, 2023 at 12:12
• @MikhailKatz Could you explain what were you trying to say? Why would we "end up in the Stone Age"? As I said (and I am not trying to be repetitive), maybe in abandon all assumptions we do not abandon all assumptions... One might say that without any assumptions we would not be questioning or living, but another could say that without any assumptions there isn't a reason "to not question/live" or "to question/live" or ... Commented Nov 15, 2023 at 12:26

## 3 Answers

I take issue with the use of the word "dogma". If I set out to reason, I start with what I know, not what I assume. So, I know that I exist and can reason. I cannot doubt what is immediately apparent. Leaving aside solipsism, I can reasonably infer the existence of other minds and external reality. This forms a basis for thought. I might suggest that external reality is in fact a simulation. It appears that the simulation is completely convincing and indistinguishable from reality. Using Leibniz's Principle of Indistinguishables, reality and the simulation are identical. The distinction does not exist, and this is an irrelevant caveat. I might suggest that my consciousness is in fact an illusion. Using the same principle, the caveat is irrelevant. So using the philosophy of Aristotle, Descartes, and Leibniz, we have a basis for reason in a real world. Kant proposed in Critique of Pure Reason that the nature of things in themselves is unknowable to us. We experience phenomena. but cannot know noumena, their underlying nature, the things in themselves. This transcendental idealism has been challenged by the argument of Hegel for panpsychism. This seeks synthesis between materialism and dualism. Most recently the argument for panpsychism was set out by David Chalmers. This opens up the possibility that the stuff of the universe is matter-consciousness, and that consciousness is inextricably linked with material reality. This returns me to my foundation of reason being that I know that I am a conscious being that can reason. Leaving aside my objection to the use of "dogma", this renders the question irrelevant.

• And, when assumptions are unavoidable, it is fine to state them clearly, as assumptions so that the whole argument can be understood. They are not to be shunned, because we can't get anywhere without them. Yes? Commented Nov 15, 2023 at 11:39
• That was one of my points. One my ask "Why is the question irrelevant?" (and you have shown a way of answering it), as well as "Why is the question not irrelevant?" or "Why is the question irrelevant and not irrelevant?" or "Why is X?" or "_"... I would like to set clear that by making this question I am not searching an absolute answer, but what could be the answerS of this seemingly irrelevant/meaningless question Commented Nov 15, 2023 at 12:09
• Thank you for your question. My answer attempts to bypass your question about assumptions by making the case that reason can originate without assuming anything. So relying only on our own consciousness as a starting point, we progress in reasoning. I admit that I distinguish between assumption and reasonable inference. If we do not take these two steps, then we get stuck in solipsism or destructive scepticism. So I admit that there might be one fundamental assumption. Commented Nov 15, 2023 at 12:17

Trying to abandon all assumptions or assertions of truth is self-defeating, and simply so: we sometimes call this "retorsion" (for problematic examples of which, see this PhilosophySE question). To wit:

• Attempt to abandon all assumptions. Then what do we say? Does not, "I have abandoned all assumptions," become, "I assume that I have abandoned all assumptions"?K What is gained by such an assertion?

However, there is a less retorsion-vulnerable proposal known as alethic nihilism (note that the linked-to article is not by a resolute proponent of the thesis!), which is consistent with continuing to assert things, so long as we don't tack on the phrase "is true" to any of our that-clauses. So to say: we would only say, "This is so," and never, "It is true that this is so." Or, perhaps better said: if we ever used locutions such as, "It is true that..." we would in a deflationary sense, as a sort of "prosentence" along the lines of pronouns (thus "is true" is like "it" relative to "the x is it," i.e. "is true" inherits its significance from something else, a previously stated sentence).

What is the motivation for alethic nihilism? A stock example is the liar paradox: suppose we take this paradox as showing that the practice of tacking on "is true" and "is false" to various claims, is at its core a contradiction-generating practice. If this practice is abandoned, then the liar sentence is abandoned, and with it the paradox in question. Now, perhaps we would then have to eschew meta-truth statements like, "I am being honest," or, "I am lying," then, as well; or even, "Things are as I have said they are," the eschewal of which winds up sounding self-defeating in the limit, too, though (if things are never as I have said that they are, then what am I ever trying to say?).

KOr if we suppose that assuming and knowing are disparate, do we then say, "No, I know that I have abandoned all assumptions"? Very well: but is a supposition equivalent to an assumption? Or do we assume that supposing is equivalent to assuming, or do we suppose that we are supposing anything? And then do we assume that knowing and assuming are significantly distinctive? Or do we know this? If we know something, what becomes of our fear of making assumptions?

Or imagine trying to speak only in conditionals, in if-then statements. But can we not reframe all of these along the lines of, "I assume that if A, then B," and so on? Again, the practice of making assumptions/assertions, or of supposing or imagining things, seems difficult if not impossible to forego, then. The Pyrrhonian skeptic might not be self-contradictory in passively having their standpoint, but what happens when they actively adopt the same?

• I can’t see why in the alethic nihilist view it would be necessary to change the way one say/state something. As you have pointed out, this “abandoning of all assumptions” seems to be self-refuting, but, if I could argue, I would say that if one really took this argument, it would be unpredictable or predictable or something else or nothing … its consequences. Imagine this person asking: “Why would this assumption be self-refuting?”, “Why would this assumption not be self-refuting?”, “Why should I do anything?”, “Why should I not do anything?”… Commented Nov 15, 2023 at 14:48
• @PageSteiner maybe it would be helpful to interpret adogmatism/skepticism as a game? So to say, for every assertion the dogmatist makes, the skeptic plays a question: "How do you know that?" The "winning move" available to the dogmatist, though, is such as to corner the skeptic into playing an assertion: the dogmatist plays a different question: "What do you mean by, 'How do you know?'?" In which case, either the skeptic means nothing by their question and the game is up, or they do mean something, they say so, and the game is again up. QED indeed... Commented Nov 15, 2023 at 15:08
• Maybe “abandoning all assumptions” isn’t the same as skepticism. I mean, the person who doesn’t have assumptions could say that “All that the dogmatic says is true”, because to say/state/affirm could mean nothing or even could mean something, but how could someone else believe that anything that the “person that abandon assumptions” is true? The result of such seems to have no consequences, no? I mean also, does a person who behaves, talks… as someone with assumptions implies in someone with assumptions? Commented Nov 15, 2023 at 15:38

Some did ... Buddhism and Zen.

Zen does not seek to answer subjective questions because these are not important issues for Zen. What really matters is the here and now :

Zen is a Mahayana Buddhist tradition that emphasizes simplicity, present-moment awareness, nonduality, nonconceptual understanding, and zazen (“just sitting”) meditation—the tradition's most important practice.

• Suffering exists sounds like dogma to me. If you say ok but it's more reasonable than God made the world. And at end he rested saying Its good! that's also ok. But it looks like different strokes for different folks Commented Nov 15, 2023 at 11:21
• Note Schopenhauers profound insight that atheist vs theist is a superficial divide positive vs negative religions is much deeper Commented Nov 15, 2023 at 11:23
• @Rushi perhaps "suffering exists" is more like a statement that most people have already experienced, so it's the reference point for communication. It isn't dogma if you know it already? Commented Nov 15, 2023 at 11:24
• Perhaps I didn't make it clear @ScottRowe: the emphasis is not on God made the world (in 6 days + rest). But on Its good! vs Its suffering The advaita master Ramana like Judeo Christianity chose the good. Buddha chose the suffering. Theres no way to choose empirically. Its an a priority choice. The advaita pov which Ramana upholds basically says You cannot define suffering except as a deviance from the norm. Hence the good is the primary. The suffering is the incidental misapprehension Commented Nov 15, 2023 at 11:39
• This is not an answer. Commented Nov 15, 2023 at 11:52