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I’m interested in world philosophy and have tried to make sense of what I have read thus far on my own, mainly as regards secure foundation, or central axis, upon which to gradually build some kind of understanding.

So I would like to state what I view as my natural, “firm beliefs” on some subjects and some impressions I have formed from what I have unsystematically read thus far.

What I ask is some guidance on what I should systematically study in order to further explore my “firm beliefs” in the writings of like-minded thinkers or possibly alter them for good reason. For I believe that everyone belongs to some great school of philosophy, but I am at a loss as to which one is mine! So some of the following points are also the reasons why I throw myself out of the ways of philosophy every time I re-try to get in:

  1. Our human minds have an in-born way to perceive time, space, natural numbers and basic shapes like straight & curved lines. These perceptions are the same for all humans, and not based on experience; we did nothing to build them. Euclidean geometry and Newtonian mechanics are examples of human agreement on objective grounds. I find them possessing a natural, and for geometry a-priori, beauty.

  2. Our minds also have a wealth of like-dislike tendencies that differ from each other’s.
    Which of these are in-born and which not, is a basic question.

  3. Empiricism is awfully outward-centered.
    Rationalism is awfully inward-centered.
    The mere fact that we can perceive ourselves as existing is mind-boggling, to say the least.

  4. By an in-born preference, I believe that the universe has a creator, an intelligence that has guided and still guides the movements & groupings of matter and all other parts of it. I can understand that others may disagree. At times, I think that it would be nice to believe that “the world was made by random variations in the moves of particles” and leave it there, but then comes the issue that a situation where moving particles present themselves, moreover being capable of varying their movements, requires an explanation. This I prefer to wrap-up and name “creator’s power and intelligence” without bothering for further explanation, exactly as I take natural numbers for granted without feeling an urge to construct them from something simpler as Frege did.

  5. I do not feel an urge to explicitly pray to the creator and ask him for help, but his mysterious existence is always around. Otherwise the world would not be an orderly place. Despite all evil, the universe is a single being constantly at work, aiming at harmonizing itself into further, new, untried clusters of beauty. Whether these views are based on some inborn weaknesses of my type of mind, is an interesting question.

  6. Between the intelligent creator and creation itself, there is a mysterious gap. Many thinkers have tried to bridge it by elaborating on various facets and presumed qualities of it, invoking “undifferentiated one-ness”, “unmoved mover”, “hierarchies of sub-creators”, or some fanciful quantum-like zero-infiniteness of absolute non-existence! But what has been offered is, at best, high-quality literary fiction, admittedly capable of moving one to tears, as in Plato’s case; and at times passionately defended as if it were the outcome of sharp & heightened perception; but it is only an in-born aesthetic preoccupation of an individual, its “objectivity” easily demolished by anyone who happens not to be fascinated by it.
    But further still, whether a high-quality imaginary construction has the power to affect objective reality, is an old, interesting, and occult-like question.

  7. How can we discern whether what I have named “aesthetic preoccupation” happens to be an individual’s genuine, objective immersion in the object of enquiry, a peak experience wherefrom he later communicates only some faint remains? This procedure could be very delicate and with innumerable nuances.

  8. We are still at the beginnings of philosophy. If our enquiry is non-numerical, no rigorous conclusion can be reached, only a variety of mental experiences. Still, it is a worthy effort.

Given the above beliefs, which writers do endorse them or fight against them or address them in some other coherent way? Maybe I should embark on a serious study of the history of world philosophy, but in the face of such a complex task, I would be grateful for any time-saving, focused suggestions from like-minded and more experienced workers on the ways of philosophy.

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    Try panentheism and perennialism.
    – Conifold
    Apr 2, 2020 at 20:49
  • Your point 4 is rather unclear. As it’s, it sounds like a misunderstanding of (popsci) things such as superposition and Brownian movement. But it also reminded me of Leibniz’s ontology (monads harmoniously guided by god).
    – user31740
    Apr 2, 2020 at 21:01
  • Do you have a strong inclination towards philosophical systems in which the creator made the creation in a free-willed or at least contingent way, or are you also interested in systems where the relation between creator and creation may be a necessary consequence of qualities of the creator, perhaps similar to the way many theist philosophers think the "laws" of math and geometry are grounded in the mind of God? If the latter you might also want to look into emanationist ideas like neoplatonism, or the Spinozist view of nature as an aspect of God.
    – Hypnosifl
    Apr 2, 2020 at 21:41
  • @ Hypnosifl I have difficulty in making any stable statement about the creator of the world, except that I believe that he exists and he has created things extremely beautiful & mysterious. Numbers and geometry are good examples. If I manage to focus on them, their intrinsic interest absorbs me more than the details of where exactly they lie.
    – exp8j
    Apr 2, 2020 at 22:37
  • @ William By "random variations in the moves of particles" I'm referring to all materialistic theories of creation, like the mutations of darwinian evolution, or the epicurean swerve, the deviation from straight line.
    – exp8j
    Apr 2, 2020 at 22:48

2 Answers 2

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Your 8 points don't make for a single coherent philosophy, but many of them are compatible with a family of open minded pragmatic empiricists.

Karl Popper is a leading figure in what I recommend. He offers an excellent grounding in how to do empiricism, and that empiricism is radically open as to what it reveals about our world. He also inferred, empirically that there are three worlds to our universe -- matter, experience, and ideas. This provides the non-materialist ontological framework that can support your mathematical reality, and possibly where a creator may exist. A summary of his 3 world thinking is found in his Tanner Lecture: https://tannerlectures.utah.edu/_resources/documents/a-to-z/p/popper80.pdf

Popper also provides the grounding for trusting your intuition of the divine, and of the reality of Beauty. His empiricism is a FIRST PERSON empiricism -- all of science is done by intersubjective consensus between first person empiricism activities. One can investigate the world of ideas, or the plane of experiences, using first person empiricism, as one can investigate the physical world.

Popper was an atheist. There are several other thinkers who take his empirical thinking further in a platonic direction. Thomas Nagel is also an atheist, but has postulated some telelogic aspects to our universe, to explain the very sorts of things that you are moved by. His most recent work is Mind and Cosmos, with a review here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1HQMF6OJKRDCC/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0199919755

The physicist Roger Penrose also accepts Popper's 3 world ontology, and seeks for ways to use that ontology to integrate consciousness with science, in the Emperor's New Mind.

Perhaps of greater interest, Paul Davies is also a physicist, but one who holds by a Deist worldview. He has written more than a half dozen books on the interface of science, cosmology, evolution, abiogenesis, and consciousness, all of which are interesting and thought-provoking: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=paul+davies+books&crid=2RXQNLRG7PPTC&sprefix=paul+davies+%2Caps%2C158&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-doa-p_1_12

And here are three science books by a collection of authors who hold by the Perennial Philosophy of pan-psychism. Irreducible Mind, Beyond Physicalism, and consciousness Unbound. I review beyond physicalism here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RZY1A4EL2JOZ4/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=153812596X.

Your fascination with Beauty can best be understood in a Virtue Ethics perspective, where rather than the collection of virtues that classical thinkers pursued (honor, duty, etc), one instead focusses on embracing one of the three macro virtues of Love, Truth, or Beauty. Virtue ethic is recently becoming a fad in philosophy, so there is a lot of current literature. The best articulation of embracing a macro Virtue I have found is actually in Jesus' advocacy for embracing and internalizing Love. Nietzsche arguably did the same with a "creative agency" virtue.

These thinkers break the current dominant paradigm of materialism and take their thinking in ways that you may find interesting.

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Here is J.N. Findlay. He may be overall closer to your position than anyone I can think of right off. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Niemeyer_Findlay

In external links at Wikipedia see his Gifford lectures. So you are dealing with Findlay late in his life. His Plato work. But also it is key that he was a good, well known Hegel scholar. So you are not getting someone devoid of Hegel.

You are probably not going to be able to get rid of your mathematical, ideal, side. The “orderly place” as you say.

So you are probably never going to be a “History and nothing but history” person.

Still you can balance that with T.I. Oizerman’s excellent book “The Main Trends in Philosophy” which I think is at Internet Archive. This man is under- appreciated and he can help you organize your thoughts. It is very possible to get a lot from this book (insights, connections, etc.) even if you have no interest in Marx at all. [The first part of the text is full of mistakes due to the format but the book gets much better as you go along.]

Finally, I think you may see some of yourself in Mounier’s book “Personalism” at Internet Archive. Because he keys in, in a more modern way, your interest in the absolute.

The problem with Findlay’s later work is I don’t think there is much secondary literature on it. But I have never really done a thorough search either. https://web.archive.org/web/20180826204637/http://www.jnfindlay.com/

Gifford lectures/books in blue: https://www.giffordlectures.org/lecturers/john-niemeyer-findlay

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  • Thank you for your valuable suggestions. "History and nothing but history" is an interesting issue. History is the sure way for building solid foundation, but I need a focus in my reading; so the 8 points above serve this need. Another type of focus is to roughly classify thinkers as "mathematical" or not, which I plan to do and see what comes out.
    – exp8j
    Apr 6, 2020 at 15:06

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