After seven months (feels longer) of writing nothing on typewriting.org, I should probably preface this by announcing my intention to pick up writing again. Since I last wrote here, I bought a house, got a new job, and a new (to me) car. The car didn’t change much, but the house feels like a very adult responsibility and the job feels like something I’ll do for a while. Life all seems very settled now, no longer the tumult of youth. Suddenly I’m old.
Several of my university friends were philosophy majors. I was not, and know very little about schools of thought on big issues, so I’m sure much of what I have to say has been said more precisely. But I have some ideas on life and whatnot and those that haven't changed much over the past two decades are likely to stick with me through the rest of this, so I thought I should write them down, a sort of ongoing This I Believe.
Trying to begin at what seems relatively like a beginning, my first idea, a principle to guide my other ideas, is that one’s ideas should be internally consistent. We call someone a "hypocrite" if they claim to believe something they really don’t, but I’m not sure we have a word for someone who believes two things that can not possibly both be true.
For example, some people will claim taxes are always bad while secretly valuing government programs paid for by taxes, possibly for political gain. And these people are hypocrites. But other people truly believe taxes are always bad, and truly value government programs paid for by taxes, and just don’t recognize the contradiction.
Some of them just don’t think about it enough to establish the contradiction. We might call them "lazy thinkers" or something to that effect. But what I want to focus on, as the antithesis of where I’m starting, is a whole different class of thinking that believes taxes are always bad, values government programs paid for by taxes, sees the contradiction there, but sees no problem in contradiction.
I don’t know how to engage such thought. I can’t even say inconsistency is "bad," because bad implies some sort of internally-consistent value judgment. "Confounding" is probably the best word I can come up with to describe the antithesis of how I want to approach ideas. Ideas should be consistent, not confounding.
I feel a bit like Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski, when he says
Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude; at least it's an ethos. The thing is, I think Nihilism is still better than confounding. Say what you like about the lack of tenets of Nihilism; at least they’re consistent.
So I’m starting with consistency as a base. I don’t really have any justification for that; I just don’t know how to think without it. If anything after seems inconsistent, I hope someone will point it out.