Friday, 8 April 2016

My Epistemology

I'm pretentious and arrogant, and I like Big Words. My flatmate has a special face he does after listening to me - he conveys his dismay at yet another unnecessary use of 'ontology'. 

(Actually, he's very patient, and if anyone is looking for a dramaturg, his name is Elliot Roberts.)

I think it is because I have worked as a reviewer that I want Big Words to have  clear meaning. In particular, this week, I want epistemology to have a clear meaning. I listened to this lecture about epistemology, right, and I felt dissatisfied. I prefer rough definitions that can be used over meandering academic ones. Like: epistemology means 'theory of knowledge.' 

I reckon anyone who thinks has an epistemology. And there are loads of them: most of the arguments on the Internetz come about because different epistemologies have conflicting ideas about what to do with information, or what makes up an accurate depiction of  reality. For example, YouTube Feminism has a different way of considering truth to YouTube Men's Rights Activism (although they share the belief that long monologues are an effective way to express ideas).

Of course, if any group of people can get to the nitty-gritty, it's theatre reviewers. I guess that each writer has their own theory of knowledge. 

I also believe that a bunch of random questions would give one of those rough working definitions that I love.

(That is part of my epistemological approach. See. It's easy.)

So, I am inviting my fellow reviewers to answer these questions, and let's see what happens. I'll go first.

What is truth?
I have no idea... I think there are lots of versions of it. There's what post-hippy philosopher Robert Anton Wilson calls ETIC and EMIC realities - the unmediated truth, and then that truth as filtered through language and the human senses. I believe truth exists, but I have no way of making a final decision on what it is.

What Methods of Investigation do you use?
Oh, aces. I have my own methodology, and I call it Radical Subjectivity. It's a mash-up of techniques, but it starts from the assumption that my emotional experience is the starting point for any discussion. Then I use an idea to question another idea until one of the ideas breaks. 

Who inspires you?
I like Jesuits the most. Actually, Radical Subjectivity is probably just my attempt to apply Ignatian Spirituality to aesthetics. This week it's all Aristotle and Plato, though. Big shout to Diderot

How do you present your findings?
I loiter outside the CCA and rant at smokers. I use Big Words because I think it impresses people. I have a blog, which means I love a good ramble in the written word.

If we pretend the world is a court-room, what job do you have?
I am an eyewitness. I'd like to be a lawyer, but I lack the ethical integrity.

Since these are just the first questions off my head, what questions would you ask to discover someone's theory of knowledge?
Okay, that's got a bit too meta for me. But if I was actually being sensible, probably stuff about how language and experience interferes with the possibility of ever having an answer... relationship to other people's beliefs... 

And finally, can you suggest a YouTube video that helps explain theories of knowledge?
Right! I'd go for Sargon of Akkad, not because I like him, but it's a good example of how one epistemology creates a reality tunnel with a loud echo chamber. If I wanted to learn, School of Life, Crash Courses... am I allowed academic videos? Can I do a playlist, please?

Actually, it's got to be Red Bastard. No, some Jesuits. Hang on...


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