forum 3: week of 23 Jan - Lewis II
I still dislike the rule of attention for the reason I gave in the last discussion, that depending on context you are forced to entertain obsurd possibilities. That being said it may have some value depending on just why something has garnered attention. It may be fair to say that in general if someone is considering possibilities they will unconciously limit the range of things they consider to those that they think are plausable. In so far as that is the case the rule of attention seems acceptable because the truly absurd possibilities are never (using Lewis' meaning) actually considered. Contrarily there are some perverse individuals who take certain delight in considering ridiculous possibilities that cannot be eliminated by evidence available, this rule poses a problem for having conversations with them.
Isn't Lewis really cautioning against overthinking,at least in the context and course of everyday life? He talks about compartmentalizing,not confusing the world of epistemology with the world of the "bushwalk" as a way to avoid the multiplier effect of ever proliferating alternative possibilities which create a field so rich in what-ifs that a state of paralysis,the"destruction of knowledge" as he calls it, is achieved. As he points out, in the bushwalk reference,we actually know quite a lot. His enjoinder to "do some epistemology" it seems, is really a call to second guess error "temporarily,"and in its proper compartment, meaning a sort of presuppositional vaccination against the threat of annihilation implied by skepticism.
I love that last sentence. I am not sure how much work I think compartmentalizing can do in the cases I am thinking of. In the bushwalk example I feel as though the epistemologists are being tounge-in-cheek, I think that in some way they don't actually believe that they know nothing. The cases I was thinking of involve people who completely hold a belief and have no reservations about it.
So I was picturing people who, for example, truly believe with all their being that starwars is an accurate depiction of events that actualy occurd in THIS world. Now, if I am having a conversation wih these people (maybe three who all share the belief) I can attend the possibility and compartmentalize that conversation from the rest of the things I think I know or think are possible. However, what if I didn't have any preexisting beliefs about the fictional nature of starwars? I would then not have any reason to compartmentalize off the possibility that starwars is real. This may be more a complaint about how context, lack of experience AND the rule of actuality lead to entertaining ridiculous beliefs.... But I still find the rule off-putting.