Back when I was 19 and just getting into serious philosophy, I took the architectural approach to understanding reality. I tried to define words in the manner than Socrates suggested: “the beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms”. However, I wanted to understand reality by finding the basic things in common with all things – a kind of first principle. To do that, I thought it was necessary to be very specific in my language – that is, a word could only mean ONE THING. However, reality is quite elusive, and as I thought about how to define something, I took the approach of making the criteria increasingly abstract. This lead to a few inevitable problems. First, it became impossible to relate these specific definitions to anything “real”. Second, even the “specific” definitions themselves became meaningless. After all, they had been invented and weren’t related to anything real anymore. Consequently, there was no such thing as an abstract reality that related all things in reality. Reality is simply not abstract.
To be more precise, the reality that does relate all things cannot, itself, be described by words or other realities that arise from that one reality. After all, if it could be, then it wouldn’t be the “prime reality”, so to speak. Other philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas stumbled on this fact as well.
My first problem was attempting to relate words to reality. Words are the association of symbols and/or sounds with some vague memories, not some specific mental “definition” as I was hoping. In fact, the ideas associated with a word can change over time due to a variety of factors including memory loss, outside influences using the word differently, or simply personal whim. The reality that I experienced and believed to be outside of my mind laid the basis for those words and thus could not be described by its own derivatives. In fact, “words” themselves speak of the “new” (or reconstructed) reality inside the mind. Ideas, however, are only recordings of reality or constructions from those recordings, nothing more.
Before I had discovered all this, I had hoped to speak about reality by defining each individual word. Once I had discovered the futility of my approach (which was fairly early on), I still persisted in attempted to write philosophy in a topical manner, writing about the definitions of words or conclusions.
It was a backwards approach: I was giving the answer – the results of my long hours of thought – and then trying to contrive some way of proving it rather than taking the forward approach and trying to explain to people how I actually discovered what I did and using the natural thought process.
Admittedly, not everyone can understand my thought process. I tend to think on a manner that takes into account all of the principles and abstractions I’ve discovered and possibilities I’ve considered rather than simply finding concrete examples from “real life experiences”. Thus, the invention of proofs seemed inevitable.
In any case, the attempt to define words subconsciously plagued me for years, and I lost hope of ever writing a comprehensive book on philosophy, which is why I started this blog instead. Now that I’ve been able to reorient myself, my hopes are up again.
With that said, it should be evident that this blog is officially closed. I may reference back to it from time to time, but it promotes bad writing practice for philosophy.
As I said in a previous post, I will be publishing in my new blog, “Trails of Reason“.
Thanks for reading!