What is the ground you build your arguments on? By this I mean something that would be the ultimate base for your reasoning, something irreducible, a (self) evident and therefore unprovable fact, an axiom on which you derive everything else (for example Descartes "I think therefore I exist")

Or is this a chimeric and self-contradictory concept?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Not_Here, Geoffrey Thomas Dec 19 '18 at 8:50

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    "Philosophy" is thus showed to be one of two things: 1) a structure of knowledge built by philosophers in order to support action, or 2) an arena in which philosophers fight. The philosophy of Aquinas, for example, is the former while the philosophy (I would say) of Derrida is the latter. – elliot svensson Dec 17 '18 at 20:49
  • @elliotsvensson Perhaps the latter would be Philosophy supporting non-action or Philosophy aimed at annihilating those certainties which allow agents to act in — arguably undesirable — ways. Recognizing where we aren't competent to act is just as important as recognizing where we are. – Ethan NOPE Dec 17 '18 at 20:55
  • 1
    Descartes cogito ergo sum seems risible the first time you hear it. But Descartes was a bone fide, grade A genius. What he did was solve a 3000 year old Philosophical problem.. and compress the answer into a 3 word statement. He was grandstanding. He followed that with some of the greatest mathematical work in history. All you need is Cogito Ergo Sum. Reason it out from there. Understand what he said. – Richard Dec 17 '18 at 21:26
  • 1
    Hi, welcome to Philosophy SE. Please visit our Help Center to see what questions we answer and how to ask. In general, this is known as the problem of foundation. You can read how different philosophers approached it in Wikipedia's Foundationalism. If you are asking for personal grounds of our users that would be off-topic. – Conifold Dec 17 '18 at 21:58

This is a misleading concept. The deconstruction of Logical Positivism made the point that truth as we think of it on a more normal basis and the consequences of a set of clear facts and related axioms cannot really coincide. One form this takes is Godel's theorem -- any axiomatic system strong enough to do arithmetic is either inconsistent or incomplete.

More basically, Pyrrho just wasn't wrong. Informal arguments are ultimately emotionally based or derive from biased facts and more formal ones fall prey to the Munchausen trilemma.

This has led a lot of folks to the postmodern approach: We know that the basis of our truth has to be circular in some way, and we can only get leverage by working out from the middle. But the middle shifts every time we use it for leverage. So ultimately, to evaluate whether or not to use a source of truth you have to follow down the evolution of a narrative, where it gets its power, and who it serves.

(That does not have to lead us into an intractable morass of nonsense, or a densely analyzed world where everyone walks on eggshells. We can still take approaches based upon what we observe. We really have no choice but to do so, and worrying too much about it is not going to prevent that. The reputation that this approach has for being obscurantist or excessively politicized depends on it being combined with other obsessive nonsense derived from the broader tradition of authoritarianism and counter-authority that is not really related.

It remains possible to adopt a shared base that gets negotiated over time, and to rely upon things like mathematics and psychology of a certain depth that appear to be broadly shared, or to simply accept that our reasoning is limited in application to within a given cultural boundary. We are always subject to being shown that our choices are not honest, or not fair. But that does not mean we should be immobilized by obsessive fear of instability, or a morbid terror of giving offense. Nor should we go about praising and coddling their exact opposites.)

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.