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The Book Timeline: 30 Philosophers, New Looks

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By Chapter or Topic: All > Anchors > PeopleDocs > Touchstones > New Looks > HistoryPre-Sumer

NEW LOOKS Edition: People come up with new ideas all the time, often crafting what seem like fresh insights daily. It’s challenging to determine if these ideas hold any real value. In my book, 30 Philosophers: A New Look at Timeless Ideas, I offer what I believe are innovative perspectives on age-old ideas, as well as some ideas that might truly be original. It’s difficult to say if these “new looks” are just new to me or new to all of us—and if so, how new? After all, no idea is born from a void. The following is a list of the ideas in the book that I think are novel. Be gentle—I’m just a thinker exploring existence and writing about what I call natural philosophy. For more of my new looks, check out New Ideas by Mike Prestwood.

30 Philosophers Timeline: New Looks

Knowledge Framework
Knowledge Framework
A network of ideas.
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 2 Touchstone 5: Knowledge Framework.

In philosophy, the study of knowledge is called epistemology. It’s important because knowledge describes reality, and understanding how we craft knowledge brings philosophical clarity. Each of us maintains a personal knowledge framework that arranges the knowledge we accumulate. You can think of it as a personalized dictionary. But unlike a dictionary, the definitions are far from sterile. Each entry is imbued with your unique perspective including a tapestry of direct and indirect experiences, retained memories and emotions.

New Look: The Flood Stories
New Look: The Flood Stories
600 BCE
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 1: The Great Flood Myths.
An examination of the Great Flood myths, comparing the flood stories in the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Bible. Discovered in 1853, the Epic of Gilgamesh’s flood story was lost for millennia and it predates the earliest written version of the biblical story by at least 400 years and likely by more than a millennium. They both tell the same story with different character names, minor differences, and a change from multiple gods to a single god. Noah’s Ark, set before 600 BCE, is a retelling of a Sumerian story dating back to about 2550 BCE featuring the character Ziusudra.

Normalcy, Normal, and Abnormal
Normalcy, Normal, and Abnormal
Normal is our current experiences.
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 5, Confucius, Touchstone 13: Normalcy.

Normalcy refers to the standards or patterns established through repeated experiences and societal norms, serving as a baseline for judging deviations. Our concept of “normal” influences how we label and react to the world, shaping our perceptions of what is good, bad, or different. These norms are formed from personal and collective experiences, and they can evolve as we challenge ingrained prejudices and expand our acceptance of diversity. Understanding normalcy helps us recognize how our labels impact our interactions and views of the world.

This view of normal overlaps with existing ideas, including David Hume’s Bundle Theory as well as with behavioral philosophy which considers normalcy as a normative foundation, focusing on individual perceptions and experiences within a broader behavioral context.

Plato and Aristotle’s Relationship
Plato and Aristotle’s Relationship
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 9: Contrary to the traditional view that casts Plato and Aristotle as proponents of differing philosophies, this fresh perspective suggests they were actually quite close.

Epicurean Happiness Toolkit: A 4-Step Structure
Epicurean Happiness Toolkit: A 4-Step Structure
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 11: The new look at the Epicurean Happiness Toolkit refines Epicurean tools into a clear 1-2-3-4 structure: one goal (pleasure), two types of pleasures, three categories of desires, and the Four-part Remedy (Tetrapharmakos). This presentation emphasizes pleasure as the ultimate aim, specifically ataraxia (peace of mind) and aponia (absence of pain), while replacing the term “hedonism” with “pleasure” to align more closely with Epicurus’s nuanced understanding of happiness.

Marcus Aurelius: An Explorative Agnostic
Marcus Aurelius: An Explorative Agnostic
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 13: The new look in chapter 13 places Marcus Aurelius as having curiosity without the commitment. This allowed him to entertain different viewpoints. 

Stoic Virtue Framework: A 4-Step Structure
Stoic Virtue Framework: A 4-Step Structure
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 13: The Stoic Virtue Framework is a new look at ancient tools presented in a 1-2-3-4 structure. One goal, virtue, the Dichotomy of Control, the three disciplines, and the four cardinal virtues.

The “Dark” Middle Ages
The “Dark” Middle Ages
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 14: At the start of part 2 titled “The Rise of Belief Systems,” we take a new look at the old debate of whether it was a “dark” time or not. The position we take is that the Middle Ages were “intellectually dark” due to the adoption of a single story. Philosophically and politically, the adopting of a single story for the unknown is dangerous and the dark Middle Ages stands as warning. 

Holistic Eudaimonia
Holistic Eudaimonia
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 14: The newly coined Holistic Eudaimonia is a new look that extends Aristotle’s thoughts on eudaimonia and living a virtuous life to legacy and ripples into the future. This more holistic approach includes the effects of actions on you, others, and the future. In the “good intent-good results” debate, it not only focuses on “good results,” it cultivates them.

Eternity
Eternity
Block Theory of the Universe
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 15, Saint Augustine, Touchstone 39: Eternity.
Eternity is the idea of an endless timeline. Visualize a river that flows in both directions as far as the eyes can see. But for Augustine, eternity is “all time at once,” and his idea positions it as a precursor to the modern block universe theory.

The Floating Man Thought Experiment
The Floating Man Thought Experiment
New Look

Our five part new look at his thought experiment explores non-dualism and dualism including self-awareness and consciousness as inherent to the self. Some use this experiment as proof you have a soul, but that’s not necessarily what Avicenna intended. For those that use it that way, they usually have a predetermined conclusion that we do have souls. This version of the thought experiment allows you to delve into the complexities of consciousness and identity, as well as self and non-self.

The Five Senses of Humans
Olfaction or Sense of Smell Study.
Circa 1020
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 17, Alhazen, Touchstone 42: Senses.
How we perceive an external world starts to become clear about 1020 CE. Since Alhazen and his pioneering work around 1020 CE, we have made significant advancements in understanding our senses. Our direct impressions of the world. Prior to Alhazen, most people on Earth believed in strange things like magical light-emitting-flashlight eyes. This new look integrates modern science, genetic variations, and future possibilities, offering a holistic and forward-looking perspective on human sensory experiences.

Time Trail Game: Mindful Time Travel
Time Trail Game: Mindful Time Travel
Mike's Spacetime Game
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 17: The Time Trail game is a way to engage in spacetime reflection of your life. Time Trail is a new look at chronoception. It explores spacetime, your inner voice, and prelinguistic thoughts and challenges your intellect, senses, perception, and the very nature of reality. There are two versions: one that focuses on the passing of time and embraces the limitations of your inner voice, and another that explores prelinguistic thoughts. 

Object-Oriented Nature
Object-Oriented Nature
Abstraction brings understanding and illusion
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 18, Peter Abelard, Touchstone 45: Object-Oriented Nature.

Our minds naturally categorize the world into objects, properties, and their interactions. We mentally reduce the complexities of reality into objects. For instance, when we interact with a battery, we use its interface, the positive and negative terminals unconcerned about the details. In this somewhat new look we add conceptual blending and object-oriented programming to the mix.

The Problem of Universals
The Problem of Universals
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 18: In this new look at universals and the problem of universals, we use the traditional framing of realism, nominalism and Abelard’s middle ground of conceptualism. The role is science is used to update this exploration and introduce the idea that things like color don’t actually exist at all.

The Idea of Ideas
The Idea of Ideas
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 18, Peter Abelard, Touchstone 47: The Idea of Ideas.

The Idea of Ideas is a new look at epistemology. It asserts empirical, rational, and irrational entities exist in the Material World, independent of the minds of beings who can discover, label, and use them as ideas. When this theory refers to “beings,” it’s referring to any entity with advanced cognitive abilities or with the capacity for abstract thinking, whether here on Earth or not, as well as certain advanced AI systems. In this framework, the terms “ideas” and “mental constructs” are interchangeable. Both serve as the cognitive tools that beings use to make sense of the Material World. Both are mental models used to build representations and understanding whether empirical, rational, or speculative.

It implies many metaphysical things that help bridge science, philosophy, and fiction. Ideas represent entities like physical matter and energy, things on Earth like dirt, the color red, gravity, and even things we detect with tools like radio waves. Ideas can be rational like logic, justice, and beauty, or irrational like Valhalla, or a fictional realm like the Forbidden Forest in Harry Potter. The best part is that this framework allows you to easily determine if something is empirically true, rationally true, or irrational. More about the Idea of Ideas

Grand Rational Framework
Grand Rational Framework
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 18: The Grand Rational Framework is a continually evolving type of common knowledge. While common knowledge represents any commonly known bit if information in a region, the Grand Rational Framework represents all knowledge. It corresponds to the material world and includes both rational and speculative frameworks, but only rational ones contribute to its evolution.

Idea Modeling
Idea Modeling
How new ideas become.
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 22, Descartes, Touchstone 54: Idea Modeling.

Idea Modeling is a new look at the process of creating new ideas. It is the dynamic interplay of various cognitive functions, but especially pattern recognition and conceptual blending. For this discussion let’s add in curiosity, gap-filling, and information bias. The whole thing is guided by apathetic agnosticism, our defense against bad ideas. It is in line with modern neurobiology, but to be clear, it’s just a general philosophical lens, another view of how ideas are forged.

 

Pragmatism
Pragmatism
3 Types: Empirical, Rational, & Irrational
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 22, Descartes, Touchstone 55: Pragmatism.

Pragmatism values practical application over intellectual accuracy. For my work and for a new look at it, there are only three types: Empirical, Rational, and Irrational. Empirical Pragmatism aligns closely with some traditional definitions of Logical Pragmatism. Both are in conflict with traditional pragmatism’s goal of resolving belief in the irrational. An Empirical Pragmatist embraces what I call the “Grand Rational Framework,” applying pragmatic techniques to evaluate the worth and effectiveness of ideas. A Rational Pragmatist embraces the Grand Rational Framework, but accommodates specific, faith-based beliefs, often in support of their religion. Beyond that, they might hold other faith-based beliefs but are generally cautious about adopting new ones. An Irrational Pragmatist fundamentally does not believe in a core set of common truths, the Grand Rational Framework. They reject the notion that empirical and rational truths form the basis for understanding. Unlike most people, who still value empirical evidence, the Irrational Pragmatist adopts a relativistic perspective. Phrases like “truth isn’t truth” or “everyone has their own truth” often punctuate their dialogue.

Absolute Truth
Absolute Truth
The Idea of the Unknowable Dao
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 20, Francis Bacon, Touchstone 49: Absolute Truth.

An absolute truth is a description that is universally consistent with objective reality. Objective reality refers to the material world as it is—reality that exists independently of human thoughts, beliefs, and emotions. This is the “split” discussed in the Idea of Ideas, between the Material World and our ideas. The belief in objective reality is the key to science, law, and journalism. And the kicker is that every empirical test performed adds to its validation.

To be clear, absolute truths are not the same as Empirical Ideas. Both objective reality and absolute truths are on the other side of the “split” from our empirical ideas about them. Meaning, absolute truths about objective reality do exist, and our ideas concerning them represent our best descriptions, yet these ideas are still subject to fallibility.

Analysis: This view of absolute truth is extremely similar to Kant’s distinction between phenomena and noumena. Both perspectives recognize an underlying reality beyond human perception. However, while Kant maintains that the noumenal world is ultimately unknowable and only serves as a limiting concept to our understanding, this view asserts that absolute truth exists as the foundation of reality, with our ideas about it being descriptive and subject to continuous refinement.

Truth Hammers
Truth Hammers
Processes that uncover truth.
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 20, Francis Bacon, Touchstone 50: Truth Hammers.

A truth hammer is a process that aims to uncover specific truths using empirical data, logic, reason, facts, and peer review. There are three truth hammers: science, law, and journalism.

Idea Theory Framework
Idea Theory Framework
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 18: Part of the Idea of Ideas, the Idea Theory Framework allows you to follow an idea, a thought, from speculative through the scientific process all the way to established theory with the formulas and their associated logically true statements automatically being elevated to scientific law. While it’s unlikely this new look at the  promotion of ideas will become a universal standard, it is still very useful for you to use when evaluating scientific conclusions.

Descartes Thought Experiment
Descartes Thought Experiment
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 22: In this new look at Descartes thought experiment, we first take a look at his hyperbolic doubt, and then run his thought experiment a second time using rational doubt transforming his thought experiment from the irrational to the rational.

Material-Spiritual Framework
Material-Spiritual Framework
Spirituality is exploration.
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 25, Spinoza, Touchstone 66: Material-Spiritual Framework.

The Material-Spiritual Framework explores the interplay between the material world and spiritual beliefs. It allows for an open-minded exploration of spirituality and religion, incorporating a personal journey that integrates the empirical, rational, and irrational to form a cohesive worldview.

The Material World is the only realm we know firsthand. Spirituality represents anything larger than the material world and ourselves. It encompasses the currently unknown, the unknowable, and non-physical aspects like consciousness and soul. The Material-Spiritual Framework divides spirituality into agnostic, nontheistic, and theistic. Agnostic Spirituality asserts that nature is purely natural without spiritual guidance. Nontheistic Spirituality asserts the universe has a spiritual essence without supernatural beings. Finally, Theistic Spirituality asserts one or more supernatural beings exist, with more than one realm possible.

Open Viewpoint Method (OVM)
Open Viewpoint Method (OVM)
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 25: Building on the ideas of interconnectedness, OVM serves as a bridge between disparate worldviews with a focus on viewpoint prevention, spirituality, and presentation.

Hume’s Fork
Hume’s Fork
Life is definitions & observations.
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 27, Hume, Touchstone 71: Hume’s Fork.

Hume’s Fork is a philosophical tool that categorizes meaningful statements into two distinct types: relations of ideas and matters of fact. It offers a clear demarcation between different kinds of truths. Relations of ideas are statements that are necessarily true, such as “all bachelors are unmarried.” Matters of fact, in contrast, are statements based on empirical experience, such as “the sun rose in the East this morning.” The problem of Hume’s Fork is that, when taken strictly, statements that fall outside these two categories are dismissed as logically false and meaningless.

Fear-Based Ethics
Fear-Based Ethics
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 27: Categorized within Consequentialism, fear-based ethics focuses on “good results” and are measured with a big stick–acts are not primarily measured by merit. Karma and Divine Command Theory are two examples of this faulty ethical system. With Karma, you fear a negative rebirth, and with Divine Command Theory, you fear God’s wrath. With both you lose sight of right and wrong. The solution to the faulty ethical system is simple, teach the intrinsic value of moral acts, not fear.

Ethical Roadmap
Ethical Roadmap
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 27: From Aristotle’s virtue to Mill’s greatest happiness, ethical systems have explored both sides of the “good intent-good results” approach to morality. In modern philosophy, most have decided there is no single rule to ethics. For many, a holistic approach is the key. The basic idea is to understand and avoid fear-based ethical systems while embracing the two-tong approach of good intent and good results. For example, your actions should come from a place of good intent, but you should also evaluate your motivations and measure your results to alter and guide future acts.

Leap of Faith
Leap of Faith
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 31: In this new look at Kierkegaard’s notion of the “leap of faith” I transform it from a religious leap to a secular leap. While his leap is about belief in God, and more broadly a commitment to a set of values, with an OVM new look, I define a generic “leap of faith,” representing the decisions we make out of angst. The ones that lack certainty. Kierkegaard taught that certainty often lies beyond the reach of rational inquiry and evidence, and thus, requires a personal, non-rational leap of faith.

Nihilism
Nihilism
1862: Ivan Turgenev novel "Fathers and Sons"
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 30, Nietzsche, Touchstone 75: Nihilism.

Shake off societal pressures: Nihilism is a tool to examine and potentially overcome the problem of illusion in reality. You use the idea that life lacks objective meaning, purpose, and intrinsic value to break free of the illusions of life like social constructs and pressures. This updated new look at Nihilism adds modern physics to the telling of how life is meaningless.

Authentic Recipe: Nietzsche’s Five-step Approach
Authentic Recipe: Nietzsche’s Five-step Approach
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 30: In this telling of Nietzsche ideas, we take a new look at it and forge it into a five-step authentic recipe. Step one is the Übermensch. It is often translated as the “Overman” or “Superman.” It is a call to individual empowerment and liberation from societal norms and traditional values. Step two in building your authentic self is the breaking of deeply held beliefs, which can cause an existential crisis. Step three is to use the vacuum of the abyss, the void, to add meaning to your life. The goal is not to dwell in Nihilism, but to approach the abyss as close as needed. Step four is about purging the bad and keeping the good. It is the most potent tool Nietzsche offers for the purpose of self-examination. The Eternal Recurrence. Step five, the final step, is about striving towards a life led authentically, a life worthy of infinite repetition. Once the illusions have been dismantled, the final stage involves constructing your authentic self. 

Consciousness
Consciousness
The experience of living.
New Look

30 Phil, Chapter 31, Sartre, Touchstone 79: Consciousness.

Consciousness is a continuous, self-aware state of existence, an incessant ebb and flow of perceptions, ideas, and emotions. Consciousness is part of your worldview with two basic states: awake and asleep. It’s a complex spectrum of levels while awake, and stages while asleep.

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