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Where do good ideas come from?

Reader comment on item: Conservatism's Hidden History
in response to reader comment: Frogpondian deformations of faith and the egophanic frogpondian revolt

Submitted by Michael S (United States), Sep 4, 2018 at 17:48

Hi, Martin

Before we get too far into the clouds of philosophy, let me recall that the main discussion here is between (1) Conservatism, rooted in ages of previously gained wisdom and insight (such as that found in the Bible), and (2) Liberalism, rooted in the notion that human reason alone is sufficient to deal with the issues of life (and the insistence that one's own reason needs to be universally applied).

I am not a philosopher, nor a student of philosophy. A good part of my understanding of Marxism came from reading "The Thought of Chairman Mao Tse Tung". I liked reading that little book, as opposed to the verbose, esoteric treatises of Marx and Lenin, because it was broken down into pithy sayings -- a Communist "Tao Te Ching" or "Book of Proverbs".

One of Mao's sayings concerned where good ideas come from. I will paraphrase from poor memory"

"Where do good ideas come from?
"Do they fall from the sky?
"Do they... (something else)?
"No -- Good ideas come from SOCIAL PRACTICE."

This comes to mind, when you talk about "experiential truth". I do not agree with Chairman Mao, nor do I believe that "experience" is a "truth" one can base philosophy on. "Experiantally", we know that the earth is flat -- provided that one's experience is confined to the use of measuring lines and levels, etc., say, in building a house. Broadening that experience, to viewing ships' masts appearing on the horizon, and we come up with a new "truth": The earth is convex. Also, applying quantum mechanics to our observations leads to one conclusion; but applying relativity to them leads to another. Light, likewise, is a particle when observed one way, but a wave when observed another way. In sum, "experience" does not reveal any universal "truth": it is subject to the limitations of the observer. There IS universal truth, however; and, contrary to the vain thoughts of Chairman Mao, it "drops from heaven", from its source.

Conservatism OUGHT TO, in my estimation, recognize the frailty and limitations of reason; and seek beyond our senses to guidance in life. This is the essence of the revelatory religion expressed in the Bible. As I say, this is only my estimation of how things ought to be. What "conservatism" is in reality, however, is probably quite different.

P.S. If we need any proof that "good ideas" do not come from "social practice", we need to look no further than Mao himself, who learned little or nothing from all the misery his social practices wreaked on the hapless Chinese masses. His successors reversed this suffering somewhat by abandoning Mao's "good ideas" in favor of traditional Western philosophies that "dropped from the sky".

Submitting....

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