Zoasophy: Re-Engineering The PreFuture of PhilosophyPosted: October 21, 2011
From Dr. Ernie:
I am “done” with philosophy.
I’ve moved on to something I call “zoasophy”. Zoasophy is related to Philosophy the way Engineering is related to Science — the goal is to actually build systems that work, not just think about them.
The word “zoasophy” means “liver of wisdom”, in contrast to philosophy which means “lover of wisdom.” It comes from the greek word “Zoa” meaning life, as in zoology and Zoe Girl. Not “liver” as in the bodily organ — that would be hepatosophy.
The foundational principle of Zoasophy is:
The Truth is What Works
What Works is not the Truth
That is, the ultimate test of truth is whether it actually works. At the same time, just because something works does not mean it is true. Truth emerges from repeated examination of results and competing hypotheses, as encapsulated in my Radical Centrist Manifesto.
As such, zoasophy shares much in common with pragmatism, in that we care about the “cash value” of ideas. But where pragmatism is traditionally analytic — trying to uncover truth — zoasophy is primarily synthetic, trying to construct useful (if imperfect) truths. It is similar to what little I understand of Frank Ramsay‘s approach to truth. [Update: and, as pointed out by several people, the activism of philosophers John Stuart Mill and John Dewey, whom I need to learn more about].
Zoasophy is closed related to “prefuturism”, another neologism I toss around. The pre-future is — obviously! — what comes after the post-modern.
More specifically, a prefuturist believes we are continually creating a future with a deeper understanding of truth and reality, but we aren’t there yet — and never will be. Everything we make is flawed and imperfect, and usually in some ways worse than what went before, but overall we can move things incrementally forward.
Thus, zoasophers believe in the improvability but not perfectibility of human constructs — including perhaps our selves. In particular, we believe that rational arguments can approximate but not quite capture the real world. That is, our mathematical and conceptual models can become extremely good at capturing many aspects of the real world, but are only partial approximations, and must continually be tested against reality — especially in new contexts.
Ultimately, the real test of a zoasopher is not what they say, but how they live. Or rather, their ability to actually live as they say they will, and achieve the results they claim for the reasons they provide.
Which is why, as a good zoasopher, I should probably stop talking about it and go back to practicing it…