quiz: the sublime philosophical crap test

Truly, no surprises in this quiz; and, given that, kudos in the extreme to the quiz creative genius, Saint Gasoline. Guy knows his sublime philosopical crap. This may just be the most accurate quiz I’ve taken. The only sad bit is that this hasn’t changed since I was studying Philosophy at school…uh, more than ten years ago now.

Your Score: N-A-O

You scored 66% Non-Reductionism, 77% Epistemological Absolutism, and 100% Moral Objectivism!

You are an N-A-O: a metaphysical Non-Reductionist, an epistemological Absolutist, and a moral Objectivist. If you are simply dying inside to figure out what all this mumbo-jumbo means, then simply continue reading.

Metaphysics: Non-Reductionism (Idealism or Realism) In metaphysics, my test measures your tendency towards Reductionism or Non-Reductionism. As a Non-Reductionist, you recognize that reality is not necessarily simple or unified, and you thus tend to produce a robust ontology instead of carelessly shaving away hypothetical entities that reflect our philosophical experiences. My test recognizes two types of Non-Reductionists: Idealists and Realists.

1. Idealists believe that reality is fundamentally unknowable. All we can ever know is the world of sense experience, thought, and other phenomena which are only distorted reflections of an ultimate (or noumenal) reality. Kant, one of the most significant philosophers in history, theorized that human beings perceive reality in such a way that they impose their own mental frameworks and categories upon reality, fully distorting it. Reality for Kant is unconceptualized and not subject to any of the categories our minds apply to it. Idealists are non-reductionists because they recognize that the distinction between phenomenal reality and ultimate reality cannot be so easily discarded or unified into a single reality. They are separate and distinct, and there is no reason to suppose the one mirrors the other. Major philosophical idealists include Kant and Fichte.

If your views are different from the above, then you may be a Realist. 2. Realists deny the validity of sloppy metaphysical reductions, because they feel that there is no reason to suspect that reality reflects principles of parsimony or simplicity. Realism is the most common-sensical of the metaphysical views. It doesn’t see reality as a unity or as reducible to matter or mind, nor does it see reality as divided into a phenomenal world of experience and an unknowable noumenal world of things-in-themselves. Realist metaphysics emphasizes that reality is for the most part composed of the things we observe and think. On the question of the existence of universals, for instance, a realist will assert that while universals do not physically exist, the relations they describe in particulars are as real as the particular things themselves, giving universals a type of reality. Thus, no reduction is made. On the mind-body problem, realists tend to believe that minds and bodies both exist, and the philosophical problems involved in reducing mind to matter or matter to mind are too great to warrant such a reduction. Finally, realists deny that reality is ultimately a Unity or Absolute, though they recognize that reality can be viewed as a Unity when we consider the real relations between the parts as constituting this unity–but it doesn’t mean that the world isn’t also made up of particular things. Aristotle and Popper are famous realists.

*****

Epistemology: Absolutism (Rationalism or Pragmatism) My test measures one’s tendency towards Absolutism or Skepticism in regards to epistemology. As an Absolutist, you believe that objective knowledge is possible given the right approach, and you deny the claims of skeptical philosophers who insist that we can never have knowledge of ultimate reality. The two types of Absolutists recognized by my test are Rationalists and Pragmatists.

1. Rationalists believe that the use of reason ultimately provides the best route to truth. A rationalist usually defines truth as a correspondence between propositions and reality, taking the common-sense route. Also, rationalists tend to believe that knowledge of reality is made possible through certain foundational beliefs. This stance is known as foundationalism. A foundationalist believes that, because we cannot justify the truth of every statement in an infinite regress, we ultimately reach a foundation of knowledge. This foundation is composed of a priori truths, like mathematics and logic, as well as undoubtable truths like one’s belief in his or her own existence. The belief that experiences and memories are veridical is also part of the foundation. Thus, for a rationalist knowledge of reality is made possible through our foundational beliefs, which we do not need to justify because we find them to be undoubtable and self-evident. In regards to science, a rationalist will tend to emphasize the foundational assumptions of scientific inquiry as prior to and more important than scientific inquiry itself. If science does lead to truth, it is only because it is based upon the assumption of certain rational principles such as “Every event is caused” and “The future will resemble the past”. Philosophy has a wide representation of philosophical rationalists–Descartes, Spinoza, Liebniz, and many others.

If that didn’t sound like your own views, then you are most likely the other type of Absolutist: the Pragmatist. 2. Epistemological Pragmatists are fundamentally identified by their definition of truth. Truth is, on this view, merely a measure of a proposition’s success in inquiry. This view is a strictly scientific notion of truth. A proposition can be called true if it leads to successful predictions or coheres best with the observed facts about the world. Thus, for the pragmatist, knowledge of reality is possible through scientific reasoning. A pragmatist emphasizes man’s fallibility, and hence takes baby-steps towards knowledge through scientific methodology. Any truth claim for a pragmatist is open to revision and subject to change–if empirical observations lead us to call even logical rules into question (like quantum physics has done for the law of the excluded middle), then we can and should abandon even these supposed a priori and “absolutely certain” logical rules if they do not accord with our testing and refuting of our various propositions. As a consequence of this, a pragmatist doesn’t feel that scientific knowledge is based upon unfounded assumptions that are taken to be true without any sort of justification–rather, they believe that the successes of scientific inquiry have proved that its assumptions are well-founded. For instance, the assumption of science that the future will be like the past is adequately shown by the amazing success of scientific theories in predicting future events–how else could this be possible unless the assumption were true? Pragmatism borrows elements from realism and yet attempts to account for the critiques made by skeptics and relativists. It is essentially a type of philosophical opportunism–it borrows the best stances from a large number of philosophical systems and attempts to discard the problems of these systems by combining them with others. Famous pragmatists of this type are Peirce and Dewey.

*****

Ethics: Objectivism (Deontology or Logical Positivism) In Ethics, my test measures your tendency towards moral Objectivism or moral Relativism. As a moral Objectivist, you are opposed to Subjectivist moral theories and believe that morality applies to people universally and actually describes objects and situations out in the world as opposed to just subjects themselves. The two types of moral Objectivists my test recognizes are Kantian Deontologists and Utilitarians.

1. Kantian Deontologists believe that the one intrinsic good is a good will. As rational beings capable of making decisions, the moral worth of our decisions is ultimately derived from the intentions behind our actions, not their consequences. A moral being does the right thing not out of recognition of any consequences, but out of a sense of moral duty. For Kant, a good will is the ultimate good because to deny the will is to deny the one thing that makes us rational, moral beings. If an act will accord with or further our status as free, rational beings, and it is possible to will the universalization of such a moral principle without infringing upon our good wills, then an act is good. Kant’s categorical imperative provides an objective standard to judge moral worth–it is not hypothetical in the sense of other imperatives, which hide a latent if-clause. For instance, “Eating razors is good” is good ONLY if you tack on an if-clause that says something like: “If you wish to destroy your gums.” Thus, the categorical imperative is good, not just IF something is the case, but in ALL cases. It requires people to treat others as ends, and not means to ends, for to treat everyone as a means to an ends would be to deny them their ability to function as rational, free beings–which is what makes morality possible in the first place. The major propnent of this view in the history of philosophy is, quite obviously, Kant.

If that didn’t sound like your position, then you are probably the other variety of moral Objectivist–the Utilitarian. 2. Utilitarians define “happiness” or “pleasure” as the sole intrinsic good, and the principle “The greatest pleasure for the greatest number” best reflects a Utilitarian view of ethics. Utilitarianism is a consequentialist moral theory, meaning the consequences of an action–not the intentions behind it–determine the act’s moral worth. Even if you intended to do great evil with a certain act, if the act produces a net gain of pleasure and happiness for the greatest number, then it was indeed a good act because your intentions weren’t realized. What matters in this scenario, obviously, is the consequences of the act. Utilitarianism, of course, can also be reduced to Hedonism. If you do not feel that the greatest happiness of the greatest number matters, but only pay heed to the greatest happiness of individuals, then you are more adequately classified as a Hedonist. But both Utilitarians and Hedonists define “pleasure” as an intrinsic good and determine the moral worth of an act through its consequences. The only difference is whether we measure the collective pleasure of a group or only an individual’s pleasure. Prominent Utilitarians include Bentham and Mill.

*****

As you can see, when your philosophical position is narrowed down there are so many potential categories that an OKCupid test cannot account for them all. But, taken as very broad categories or philosophical styles, you are best characterized as an N-A-O. Your exact philosophical opposite would be an R-S-R.

About the Author

Saint_gasoline is a crazed madman who spends all of his time writing OKCupid tests and ranting about philosophy and science. If you are interested in reading more of his insane ramblings, or seeing his deliciously trite webcomic, go to SaintGasoline.com.

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

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You scored higher than 48% on Metaphysics
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You scored higher than 85% on Epistemology
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You scored higher than 99% on Ethics

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11 thoughts on “quiz: the sublime philosophical crap test

  1. Pingback: Get your daily dose of philosophy . . . « Frontier Former Editor

  2. so as not to repeat the N part . . .
    Epistemology: Skepticism (Idealism or Subjectivism) In regards to epistemology, my test measures your tendency towards Absolutism or Skepticism. As an epistemological Skeptic, you believe that ultimate reality cannot be known in any objective way. The two categories of Skeptics that my test recognizes are Idealists and Subjectivists.

    1. Epistemological Idealists believe that knowledge of ultimate reality is impossible. All we can ever have knowledge about is the world of phenomenal human experience, but there is no reason to suspect that reality mirrors our perceptions and thoughts, according to Idealists. Idealists, then, tend to see truth not as a correspondence between propositions and reality–reality is, after all, fundamentally unknowable–but as a coherence between a whole system of propositions taken to be true. We cannot escape from language or our conceptualized world of phenomena, so we are unable to reference propositions to facts and must instead determine their truth by comparing them to other propositions we hold to be true. As a result of such an idealism, knowledge of any ultimate reality is taken to be impossible, hence the Skeptical tendency of idealism. All our pursuits of knowledge, science included, can only reflect a phenomenal reality that is of our own making. Famous idealists include Kant and Fichte.

    If the above did not sound skeptical or idealistic enough to reflect your own views, then you are most likely a Subjectivist. 2. Epistemological Subjectivists, like idealists, believe that all our knowledge is ultimately of our own making because it is filtered through our subjective perceptions. Unlike an idealist, though, a subjectivist doesn’t believe in any universal categories of “truth” that apply to the phenomenal world, because each individual can create his own truth. Either that, or he will hold that society or custom creates its own forms of truth. A subjectivist will tend to regard scientific inquiry as a game of sorts–science does not reveal truths about reality, but only gives scientists pseudo-solutions to pseudo-problems of the scientific community’s own devising. It is a type of puzzle-solving, but the puzzle isn’t of reality. The definition of truth to a subjectivist may be one that recognizes a proposition’s usefulness to an individual. William James is one such subjectivist, who believes that we can “will to believe” certain propositions so long as we would find them useful. The example he gives is being found in a situation where you must leap over a chasm in order to survive. The true belief, in such a situation, is that the leap will be successful–this truth is certainly more useful to us, and in believing the truth we become more willing to commit to the jump and make it successful. So, in essence, knowledge of reality is possible for a subjectivist because they never make reference to any objective reality existing outside of our own perceptions and beliefs–we can have knowledge of reality through having knowledge of ourselves, and that is all that we should ask for. Famous subjectivists include Kuhn, Feyarabend, and James. Another famed critic of Absolutism is Hume.

    *****

    Ethics: Relativism (Subjectivism or Emotivism) My test measures one’s tendency towards moral Objectivism or moral Relativism in regards to ethics. As a moral Relativist, you tend to see moral choices as describing a subject’s reaction to a moral object or situation, and not as a property of the moral object itself. You may also feel that moral words are meaningless because they do not address any empirical fact about the world. My test recognizes two types of moral relativists–Subjectivists and Emotivists.

    1. Subjectivists see individual or collective desires as defining a situation’s or object’s moral worth. Thus, the subject, not the object itself, determines the value. Subjectivists recognize that social rules, customs, and morality have been wide-ranging and quite varied throughout history among various cultures. As a result, Subjectivism doesn’t attempt to issue hard and fast rules for judging the moral worth of things. Instead, it recognizes that what we consider “good” and “right” is not bound by any discernable rule. There is no one trait that makes an act good or right, because so many different kinds of things have been called good and right. In regards to the definition of “good” or “right”, a Subjectivist will tend to define it as whatever a particular person or group of people desire. They do not define it merely as “happiness” or “pleasure”, for instance, because sometimes we desire to do things that do not produce pleasure, and because we don’t consider all pleasurable things good. Furthermore, Subjectivists recognize the validity of consequentialism in that sometimes we refer to consequences as good and bad–but they also recognize that our intentions behind an action, or the means to the end, can also determine an act’s moral worth. Again, there is no one rule to determine these things. Hence the relativism of moral Subjectivism. The most well-known of the subjectivists is Nietzsche.

    If that didn’t sound like your position, then you are probably the other variety of moral Relativist–the Emotivist. Emotivists are moral Relativists only in a very slanted sense, because they actually deny that words about morality have any meaning at all. An Emotivist would probably accept Hume’s argument that it is impossible to derive an “ought” from an “is”–no factual state of affairs can logically entail any sort of moral action. Furthermore, a emotivist’s emphasis on scientific (and hence empirical) verification and testing quickly leads to the conclusion that concepts such as “good” and “right” don’t really describe any real qualities or relations. Science is never concerned with whether a particular state of affairs is moral or right or good–and an emotivist feels much the same way. Morality is thus neither objective or subjective for the emotivist–it is without any meaning at all, a sort of vague ontological fiction that is merely a symbol for our emotional responses to certain events. Famous emotivists include Ayer and other positivists associated with the Vienna Circle.

    *****

    As you can see, when your philosophical position is narrowed down there are so many potential categories that an OKCupid test cannot account for them all. But, taken as very broad categories or philosophical styles, you are best characterized as an N-S-R. Your exact philosophical opposite would be an R-A-O.

  3. Pingback: the sublime philosophical crap test « casa az

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