Metaphysics from a clean slate

  • This page is part of a group of pages looking at answers to the ‘big questions’. ‘What is the purpose of life?’ and ‘How should I live?’ are probably the biggest. For more on my motivations and approach, see Journey to a Path if you haven’t already read it. As I said there, I looked first at the foundations of logical reasoning, science and philosophy – ‘Metaphysics’, here – and then at the major ‘Established Religions’ to see what might be useful.


For a long time the purest, most rigorous application of logic was in mathematics and especially in Euclid’s geometry. Formal geometry depends explicitly upon axioms – statements that have been accepted as true without ever having been proved and have been declared foundational. Axioms are, by definition, unprovable (if they were provable, it would show that they rely on something even more fundamental). They are given the status of facts, incontrovertible knowledge, although different geometries (e.g. spherical vs planar) have different axioms, and mathematicians draw freely on them for work on any problem.

Philosophical writing uses a similar scheme of logical argument but the beliefs underpinning it (1) vary from one writer to another and (2) are rarely stated explicitly. Often, I think, it is because the writer is unaware of the fact that they may not be true, or even that they exist. It seems to me that any philosophy needs to identify and justify its starting points before it can proceed safely. If it doesn’t, it is building on sand. I think the underlying assumptions or beliefs should be stated as axioms.    Continue reading “Metaphysics from a clean slate”

Journey towards a path

  • I wrote this in 2007-2008 primarily for my own benefit but then decided to put it on my website in case anyone else might find it useful. Nearly fifteen years later (2022) I find that I still agree with most of it so I’m moving it across to my new site rather than simply deleting it as I close down my old site.

I seem to have set out on a journey, and to have surprised my family and friends more than myself by doing so.

It is actually more accurate to say I have found time to recommence a journey that began when I was teenager but has mostly been on hold for the last twenty years. (That alone is probably enough to explain why my family and friends were more surprised than I was.) My journey re-started when it did (2006-07), rather than years earlier or later, for a mixture of personal reasons: events just combined to urge me to redefine my relationship with the world.

The journey is a quest for answers to the big questions that most of us ask from time to time and usually set aside. ‘What is the purpose of life?’ and ‘How should I live?’ are the biggest, but they lead to questions about society’s relationship with our increasingly fragile environment.

Continue reading “Journey towards a path”