Friday, August 8, 2008

A Discourse on Method

With apologies to Descartes for stealing his title, I think I'll briefly address method before getting underway. The term method doesn't mean much in the absence of a goal statement. "A method to accomplish what exactly?" is the obvious question. For Descartes it was to reach certitude. I'm a good deal more humble than that since I harbor existential doubts about pretty much everything. A human being saying they are "certain" of something is really another way of saying that they don't have to think about it anymore. The subject is decided. Not only that, but everyone else is wrong. Since that seems to me at least to claim far more than human beings have a right to claim, I don't think certitude can be my goal. So what is?
I think the goal should be Illumination which is the state of seeing something in the clearest light possible. Achieving clarity of vision is important. We can envision that as the light cast upon a cluttered room. You can't clean up what you can't see.
So the question of method when the goal is clarity comes down to the answers to some questions:
  1. How do I cast light on the subject?
  2. How do I know when I've reached as clear a view as possible?

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