moralobjectivity.net concept pages: copyright Robert Ellis 2011
Middle Way philosophy
Middle Way philosophy is the term I use for the type of philosophy promoted on this website. In principle it can be applied to the work of anyone else working in a similar way, not just my own work on this site. However, in practice there seem to be few, if any, other thinkers working in a similar way at present (perhaps the nearest I have found is David Chapman's work on meaningness.com).
Middle Way philosophy is based on the Middle Way as a universally-applicable principle. Middle Way philosophy is distinguishable from other major types of philosophy in the following ways:
- It is distinguishable from Buddhist philosophy, or the Buddhist philosophy of the Middle Way, because it does not make any appeal to the authority of the Buddhist tradition, and can be applied in any context regardless of the presence or absence of Buddhism. Middle Way philosophy is nevertheless indebted to Buddhist philosophy for some of its insights.
- It is distinguished from analytic philosophy because it does not accept the fact-value distinction widely assumed in analytic philosophy. Nor does it assume that mere analysis of conventional assumptions will yield helpful or informative results. Middle Way philosophy is more genuinely philosophical than analytic philosophy, because it takes the challenge of scepticism seriously and applies critical enquiry to dualistic assumptions. Nevertheless, much can be learned from those who try to stretch or develop the tradition of analytic philosophy. See thesis section 4d and 'A palace built on sand' for more details.
- It is distinguished from continental philosophy because of its rejection of the value either of positive or negative metaphysics. Negative metaphysics has dominated the continental philosophy discussion of the past century or so, whether this is Heideggerian, existentialist, phenomenological or postmodernist. These approaches are clearly rejected in Middle Way philosophy (see thesis section 4h).
- Middle Way philosophy is distinguishable from (though compatible with) the empirical enquiries of science, because it focuses, not on the specific data of empirical experience, but on the ways in which our objectivity in interpreting experience is adversely affected by dualistic assumptions.
It is essential for Middle Way philosophy to remain equidistant between other types of philosophy, criticising their dualistic metaphysical assumptions whilst accepting and encouraging the elements which remain compatible with experience.
Some of the key principles of Middle Way philosophy are metaphysical agnosticism, non-dualism, incrementality, linguistic realism, provisionality and the promotion of integration.
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