Find Out What You Are
This is a personal project that dates back to 2009; I’ve been postponing sharing it because I wasn’t sure it was finished. I still am not sure but I decided it waited too long in my computer and would better develop with comments from other people.
My challenge to myself was to map these different adjectives with yes/no questions that have the pronoun “you” as their subject. First, let me make it absolutely clear that I would easily admit that this whole thing is a gross oversimplification if pressed; I even deliberately went for the fun factor in some questions/answers. Secondly, I salute those who see the seriousness in it, and below the image are some explanations for them.
This chart was done with basic ontology and epistemology in mind – with some weight on modern philosophy of mind; it doesn’t include ethics or political philosophy because the adjectives for these areas of philosophy are not mutually exclusive with the ones that are on the chart: one can be a non-reductive physicalist and a Marxist at the same time. I realize that even some of the ones on the chart are not always mutually exclusive, but they at least deal with the same type of questions and therefore can be said to be “in competition” with each other. Maybe the most troubling in this respect are the nihilist/postmodernist categories: a nihilist can be a biological naturalist, but I expect a true nihilist/postmodernist to answer a question like “Can you be duplicated within a computer?” with “I don’t care” or “It doesn’t matter” or “It’s an invalid question” – they would have a unique indifferent stance towards those questions. That’s why I included them in this chart.
My apologies go to those who take this thing seriously enough to feel bad that they are excluded from it; I will do my best to include other adjectives (related to the concept of the chart) if you point them out to me. I know, for instance, that Hindus are missing, but their beliefs are too diverse for me to understand, generalize and transform into one question-answer. It should be obvious that, even though I did my research for the majority of the adjectives, I went deeper in areas I was most familiar with.
A final note: You don’t really get to be non-reducible just because you believe it and consider yourself a non-reductive physicalist. While the questions on this chart are about what you think you are, the answers in fact reveal what you are – the adjective you get in terms of your theories/beliefs.
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