I’ve been interested in what happens when you don’t posit uniform order as the prime directive of the universe for a fair while now.

Almost all philosophies after Plato have been obsessed with imposing an order on reality, and seeing that as a guarantor of truth. This even affects the idea that a good scientific academic article presents a clear and coherent single argument, usually with a single causal factor/process. However, I am skeptical of the proposition that what we call order is inherent to the universe, is equivalent to truth, is unchanging, and that what we call disorder is negligible. This proposition seems contradicted by evolution to begin with. The world seems to be in constant flux and change, but I’m not dogmatic about this. I’m equally skeptical of the proposition that the universe is entirely random. Skepticism of one does not have to lead to the other.

I often find that people cannot understand what I’m getting at, which is interesting as its all rather simple.

  • There seems to be no perfect order in the world which is not disrupted or which does not self-disrupt.
  • Prediction always seems to have limits. The further ‘away in time’ the prediction refers to, the more likely it will turn out to have been incorrect. This is clearly demonstrated by most science fiction, and by economics.
  • Perfect order could be the same as death, as mess and unpredictability is associated with life.
  • To explain most events we may need multiple perspectives. Sometimes we may even need a single minded perspective.
  • Most, if not all, human understanding seems to involve degrees of uncertainty. Probably even mathematics, as attempts to find an impersonal non-subjective basis for mathematics, seem to have failed; but again my understanding is not certain.
  • Uncertainty should be recognised if at all possible. There may be specifiable or non-specifiable probabilities to the likelihood of accuracy.
  • We should not just be skeptical about things we already don’t believe, or don’t want to believe. I have noticed that many self-called skeptics are not skeptical at all about some political dogmas. “Directed skepticism” is not skepticism, it seems to function as another way of trying to impose order on the world.

‘Pre-platonic’ philosophy attracts me, because I don’t think it is as obsessed as post-Platonism with order as ‘truth’ or ‘life’. Take Heraclitus who asserts eternal flux and struggle (apart from the Logos, the meaning of which is unclear), or Sophism which asserts the importance of rhetoric to understanding. I was intrigued to find sophism seemed far more sophisticated than Plato claimed it was – that his philosophy seemed based on a lie, which made me even more skeptical of Platonism.

My interest in Skepticism came about because it often is a skepticism about order and its importance. I began with David Hume, who is extremely hard to classify, and then went back again to its apparently underlying ‘base’ of Pyrrhonism. Looking at Pyrrhonism I have learnt many other things such as how the desire for theoretical order can produce misery and suffering – skepticism and uncertainty as a practical philosophy of life – which transformed my views of the possibility of skepticism. I also like the crossing between East and West because of Pyrrhonism’s apparent connection to Buddhism. Taoism is skeptical about humanly imposed orders and stability. Chavarka or Lokāyata is an Indian philosophy seemingly skeptical of spiritual order.

Order and chaos may need to be balanced as the Western Philosopher Michael Moorcock seems to be arguing, but perhaps without making them forces as such….