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A meta-axiom is an axiom about an axiom, of course. It is like an axiom of set theory where set theory is the basis for arithmetic, or geometry, or the sorting of fruit.

However, this is not (as I keep pointing out) a work on mathematics or even logic per se, it is a work on the axiomatic basis of philosophical knowledge to help us dig our way out of the Pit of Existential Despair that we find ourselves in as we realize that we know nothing certainly, beyond all doubt.

Nothing, that is, but the instantaneous fact of our awareness.

However, Hume himself (as the Father of this sort of empirical skepticism) was the first one to admit that nobody can live in a state of perpetual doubt. Being a solipsist may be logically unassaible but that doesn't mean that it isn't stupid all the same, as has been demonstrated both in Eastern Koan and by Johnson's fist thumping on the table14.1.

So do not expect to find in this chapter anything like an argument that the meta-axioms presented below are inevitable truth. They are not. They are merely wisdom. Wisdom is itself a possibly loaded term, so let me be specific. Wisdom in the sense that if you think about it, anything that you choose to believe is chosen on some sort of grounds. What are those grounds? They are basically a kind of intuition, one that is (accepting things at face value, seeing the world just as it is, accepting without question the flow of space and time that our watcher within sees through the differential process of sensory input and memory) doubtless linked in all sorts of ways to the way we evolved (as creatures that don't accept this without question tend not to survive for very long), to the very experience of self-awareness in what appears to be a body that needs to be fed, and cared for, and that can experience great pleasure or horrible pain.

Wisdom, not knowledge, is what at least some of the Eastern religious philosophies are all about, specifically Zen. Only in a state of great personal clarity and self-awareness is it possible to use your intuition to judge axiom sets fairly and see if they ``work'' for the world that you see (at that time) most clearly.

The following are a partial list of the meta-axioms I would suggest that you use in your daily lives to guide your choice of prime axioms and your judgement of the axioms of others. None of them are really knowledge, few of them involve anything like logic. Some of them are almost as anti-logical as they can get! However, for all of that, maybe there is just a hint of self-evident truth about them. Or, if you prefer, self-consistency. I'm hoping that they merely state to you in clear terms that which, when you think about it, you already ``know'' without knowing or caring how or why you know it.

I urge you to give these meta-axioms a try; start to use them as the basis of questioning your own personal beliefs and axioms. This process may prove so uncomfortable you blind your inner eye and return to a state of absolute adherence to one of the old sets (likely the one you were raised with). Or you may find it exhilarating and liberating - for the first time you may find yourself actually understanding your own beliefs; why you believe what you believe, what the consequences of your beliefs are.

You may find, for the very first time ever, that consistency of your belief set becomes important to you, rather than practicing the sort of spiritual schizophrenia experienced by many Christians, Moslems, and Jews, for example, when trying to reconcile ``irrefutable'' scientific evidence that the Universe is 13 billion years old or thereabouts and that we all evolved on this planet over roughly a billion years with, say, Genesis as supposely unquestionable truth.

Let us therefore begin with perhaps the most important meta-axiom - one this whole article has been working towards:

next up previous contents
Next: The Axiom of Open-Mindedness Up: Axioms Previous: Axioms   Contents
Robert G. Brown 2007-12-17