An Old Foundation

My favorite blogger, Vox Day, recently published an outline for a new philosophy to rebuild the west upon.

The Tree of Woe contemplates the West’s need for new philosophical foundations in the aftermath of the complete failure of the Enlightenment and classical liberalism.

We need to do better than our great ancestors did.

To defend the good, the beautiful, and the true we must be able to know what is actually good, beautiful, and true — and then we must be able to persuasively demonstrate that to others.

For the good, beautiful, and true to be actual, they must in some way be real. Thus, to defend their actuality, we must be able to defend their reality; and that requires defending a theory of moral realism, a theory of aesthetic realism, and a correspondence theory of truth against those who would say they the good, beautiful, and true do not really exist.

But to defend these theories of realism, we must be able to defend the objective and knowable existence of the real itself against those who would say that reality as a whole is subjective or unknowable.

And to be able to defend the knowable existence of reality, we must be able to defend the evidence of our senses and the conclusions of our reason from skepticism.

To be able to defend the evidence of our senses, we must be able to defend direct realism, or something like it; to be able to defend the conclusions of our reason, we must be able to defend the laws of thought.

So we must do more than just identify the natural order, we must identify how we have identified it, and then defend both the method and the outcome.

The Enlightenment failed to do this. It failed to defend the evidence of the senses, it failed to defend the laws of thought, it failed to defend moral realism, it failed to defend aesthetic realism, and it failed to defend the correspondence theory of truth. It failed on every front and was routed from the field.

We must do better than the Enlightenment. We cannot return to classical liberalism. There is no retreat; the bridges are burned; the way is blocked. We must advance.

If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
Psalm 11:3

I could not agree more, having thought similar thoughts in recent years. In fact, I’d even begun laying out some of my own contemplations in this regard a few months ago, so this seems like a reasonable time to share a few of them here. For the time being, I’m referring to this proto-philosophy as “veriphysics”.

The Principles of Veriphysics

The truth is that which exists independent of any human perception, sense, or analysis.
The truth must be always be the foundation of any correct idea, concept, ideal, objective, policy, or principle.
The fullness of the truth cannot be conclusively and comprehensively established from any human perspective or by any human method.
Every partial truth is perceived on a gradiant that depends upon both the perspective and the method utilized to determine it.
The not-truth can be conclusively established by a wide variety of methods, including logic, observation, statistical analysis, mathematics, and experiment.
The practical objective of veriphysical analysis is to construct reliable predictive models that provide a sound basis for pragmatic decisions which produce observable results that correspond with the predictions derived from the models.

The rhetorical version of which is as follows:

Truth is reality.
Truth is the basis for correct thought or action.
All truths are partial.
The parts of the truth perceived depend upon the who and the how.
The not-truth is easier to establish than the truth.
Veriphysics is a practical philosophy.
The primary forms of existence are: ontological, experiential, testimonial, experimental, spiritual

That which can be imagined.
That which can be experienced by the senses.
That which can be testified to by others.
That which can be repeatedly and consistently observed.
That which can be perceived indirectly through its effects on the material world.

I believe Vox and the Tree of Woe are onto something. But I don’t believe we need to reinvent the wheel. In Vox’s Veriphysics I see the philosophy of the schoolmen, primarily St. Thomas Aquinas. I’m new to Thomas, having only spent a few years with him. But it is my understanding that Thomas teaches us that:

1. There is an objective truth.
2. Truth is the basis of all making. Making is any act of creation, whether we create concepts, ideals, policies, etc.
3. Truth is transcendent.
4. Man obtains truth and beatific vision in glimpses and but darkly at times. He is hindered by his human-ness.
5. Refuting falsehood can be done conclusively.
6. The scholastic/Thomist method allows one to make PROPER decisions by bringing the thinker in harmony with reality and God.

We don’t need a new philosophy, we need a return to the older, proper philosophy that was a perfect synthesis of Christianity and Aristotelian rationality. Let’s do so. Start by reading Aristotle’s “Metaphysics.” Next, read Aquinas’ “Summa Contra Gentiles.”

Lastly, Vox, who admits he doesn’t read theology or Thomas, has arrived at the same sort of conclusions Thomas did.

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