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My New Philosophy* (See Note)

* (Note) By “My”, the author makes no actual proprietary claims to this line of thinking. By “New” the author does not mean to suggest measurable originality in this line of thinking. By “Philosophy”, the author is not implying any kind of scholarly import to this line of thinking. Title was simply chosen because “One Particular Operating Set of Thoughts” did not have quite the same ring to it.

It had been a while since I last posted anything. But since I am a bit sadistic, I thought I would torture the world with a few more flurries of blog posts. I had about five or six topics percolating over the preceding few weeks… but I just couldn’t seem to “break the post” for any of them. I couldn’t get to the point… the “why” behind what I was writing.

But then, I had a bit of an “Ah-Ha!” moment. I realized that there was actually a unifying thread through each of the posts I was trying to write – an animating principle that I was working towards in each instance. The individual posts were so incredibly different from each other…and yet, I found myself heading towards the same point in each of them…

“ {shrug} Maybe it’s a little of both (?)”

And so, it came to pass, I had found the throughline for not one…but each of my stagnating posts. As I began to decide which one to write first, it struck me that writing 4 or 5 posts that basically came to the same conclusion (even if the topics were different) might not be as interesting to read as it would be to write. Lest my two or three readers began to get the impression that, “Hey, this guy is just writing the same thing over and over”, I decided to cut them off at the pass. As a pre-emptive strike, I will first focus and elaborate on the operating framework I was about to employ.

First a brief dissection of the phrase itself –

The ‘shrug’ is important as it serves as a tacit admission of the limits of human knowledge. It is therefore actually part of the ‘philosophy’ as a whole. Going further, suggesting that “maybe, it’s a little of both” speaks to the recurrence of the theme of balance throughout most of life’s quandaries. The (?) is mainly a Haberkornian feature that gives me enough wiggle room to be as non-committal towards a thought as possible.

But, in the interest of boldness, please allow me to formally state my new philosophical theorem:

When faced with two seemingly diametric options, the best answer to: almost all political, many philosophical, and even some theological questions/problems is – {shrug} Maybe it’s a little of both (?)

This, essentially, can replace your Magic 8-Ball. Whenever you find yourself wondering about the answer to a problem, just shrug and suggest that it might be a little of both.

Without getting into the details of the 4 or 5 posts I was working on, here are the central conceits of each and the answer I was aiming towards:

(*EDIT* 8-9-13. I re-worded and slightly expanded some of the ‘questions’ below since in their original form, they were unclear to the point of detracting from my overall meaning)

Christie v. Paul, neo-conservative v. non-interventionist, etc. What is more important for the U.S. Federal Government to ensure, Individual Liberty or Security from foreign threats?

(shrug) Maybe it’s a little of both (?)

Proper role of a Christian in civil society. Should a Christian be wary of the natural direction of society and consecrate themselves through a ‘compassionate separation’ from the way of the world or should they jump into the Lion’s Den and try to use the World’s systems for good?

(shrug) Maybe it’s a little of both (?)

Is the direction of our lives pre-ordained Destiny, or the result of our own choices through Free Will?

(shrug) Maybe it’s a little of both (?)

Is the Republican’s best electoral bet in 2016 to woo hardcore libertarians or disaffected, working class Democrats who are more politically moderate?

(shrug) Maybe it’s a little of both (?)

Hopefully, you get the idea.

I think the beauty of this way of thinking is that it still allows for absolutes, so it doesn’t stray into relativism. It simply illustrates the fact of life that one extreme is not necessarily better than the other extreme – that the best solutions are usually somewhere in between.

Now, since I am addicted to disclaimers, I must add a few qualifiers. In the political realm, common sense should of course be used. It is foolish to hold up “Compromise” as some sort of ideal in and of itself, if the only thing it means is that the “solution” is unsatisfying to either or both parties. For philosophical questions, this way of thinking should not lead you to be stuck in a self-defeating, infinite “loop of logic”. And In theological matters, there still exist absolutes that there are no middle ground on.

Bearing these things in mind, it is pretty amazing how much more things in life make sense when viewed though the “little of both lens”. Try it. It not only gives you insight, but also carries with it a strange kind of peace.

What do you think?

Is this way of thinking helpful or just naïve? Or… {shrug} maybe it’s a little bit of both (?)

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4 thoughts on “My New Philosophy (*see Note)

  1. What is more important for the Federal Government to ensure, Liberty or Safety?

    Liberty. What is safety? When is something known to be safe? The government is there to ensure that enumerated freedoms are protected and in exchange we agree to abide by laws set that govern what is right and just for all people. Granted the net of “what is right” has gotten much larger in recent years but I think when the government starts to abandon the social contract and begin to decree, we have lost the fight to have either.

    Should a Christian be willing to use the political system to effect good, or should they rely solely on prayer for the miraculous?

    Neither. Christians need to get out from behind their pews and out of their homes and start talking to people that are not them. We are too closed down and cut off to expect to see any change in other people’s opinions if we only discuss our faith behind closed doors.

    Is the direction of our lives pre-ordained Destiny, or the result of our own choices through Free Will?

    {shrug} Maybe it’s a little of both (?) Agreed.

    Is the Republican’s best bet to woo libertarians or disaffected, working class Democrats who are more politically moderate?

    I think two parties is the killer of democracy. Representative government only works when representatives truly can represent the many faceted views of their constituents. I will go on my Libertarian way, hoping against hope that we can have more than 2 people in a presidential debate, so that the electoral process stops being sound bytes and starts being about ideas, principles, and not what one promises to do but what one stands for.

    I’ll go back to watching The Newsroom now.

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    • Thanks for the feedback! I reworded some of the ‘questions’ to make them more precise and closer to what I was getting at.

      As for Newsroom, I will grant you 2 very important things before I say anything about it: 1) I have never watched an episode and 2) Sorkin has a knack for drawing you in with good characters.

      That being said, given what I have heard of the show (and the few clips I have seen), my conclusion is that the Will McAvoy character is the single biggest concern troll ever created. 😉

      Like

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