A Nebulous Way-of-Knowing

Motivated by a recent debate, I decided to try to sketch what I value in my mental life.    All four colored circles in my model represent important mental skills which I highly value:

  • Epistemological Humility (EH): Deep doubting of even the most treasured beliefs
  • Pragmatic Engagement (PE): Commitment to outcome even without sufficient evidence. Survival-driven realism.
  • Scientific Rigour (SR) : Careful hypothesis testing, and fearless, careful weighing of evidence
  • Artistic Playfulness (AP): Rule-breaking, humorous, stretching, emotion-focused, freedom-loving and pleasure driven.

You will notice that EH and PE pull in opposite directions as do SR and AP. Many people may be tempted, at times, to take a firm stance in any one of these apparently opposing stances as best fits their temperament and/or circumstances. Yet a more integrative (whole) view holds all these apparent-opposites inside of a nebulous, fuzzy area with less defined borders.

Each of the four mental skills also have “Near Enemies” (a Buddhist term).  “Near Enemies” are views that are perversions of the mental skill when taken in exclusion to other positions. These “Near Enemies” are located outside the red circle.

Readers will notice that triangulating between these positions ( or “ways -of-knowing”) is the predominant theme of my blog.  I hope to use this diagram to aid me in other discussions. It is not final, just as none of my posts or ideas are final. So if you have suggestions, doubts or corrections, please fire away.

Credits: I must give a very deep hat tip to the influence of David Chapman’s model of Nebulosity for my model. In no way am I trying to interpret, restate or summarize his view — this is my view this year.  🙂


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

7 responses to “A Nebulous Way-of-Knowing

  1. Cool! The ‘near enemies’ concept especially. (I have been in many debates where a certain approach was disqualified by the opponent by putting one of those labels on it that you call the ‘near enemy’ of that approach. So this concept may prove useful not only when looking at our own standpoints, but also when labelling the other’s view too quickly.)

  2. Wow, thanx for the compliment Roni. I am really pleased that:
    (1) Someone understands the model
    (2) & get’s why I think the model is useful
    (3) & could actually imagine usefully applying it in conversations

  3. Bart

    That Venn diagram is so beautiful, and true, im tempted to get it tattooed. Great article.

  4. @Bart
    Thank you kindly — glad it made sense.

  5. *drool

    I marvel at your graphic make’n genius. great post and expertly communicated.

  6. @ Ghost: Glad you enjoyed — thanx for the compliment.

  7. Understanding the picture comforts my loneliness.

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