I would be interested in people's take on my differentiation between Wonderism vs. post-modernism. Any critique or comment is welcome. Here's an excerpt:

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3) "Wondering is just a fancy word for navel-gazing. All you are doing is making up words that are speculative and ungrounded in reality. It is fantasy, pie-in-the-sky mumbo jumbo. Just like post-modernism. Unless you can point to a scientific paper defending wonderism, then the philosophy is worthless."

It is true that wonderism is a general, intuitive philosophy, and not a science per se. There are no experiments that prove the basic concepts of wonderism, nor any solid evidence to support them. There are no peer-reviewed scientific papers defending wonderism, and there probably won't be.

It is true that wonderism relies upon speculation and intuition, which are notoriously unreliable, and in many cases systematically flawed.

But wonderism is not intended as a replacement for science. That's what we have science for!

Wonderism, as I conceive it, is deeply allied with science. Science is by far our best, most reliable, and most trustworthy tool and method for learning real truths about the universe. I take the findings of science -- specifically the stable, consensus view, not the volatile, cutting-edge views -- as factual givens upon which to adapt and mold wonderism. If science finds that wonderism is wrong, we must conform to science, or reject wonderism outright (if it cannot conform).

Wonderism learns from science. It grows as science grows. It becomes more true as science corrects it.

There will probably never be a scientific paper defending wonderism as I presently conceive of wonderism. But that's only because my current conception is probably incomplete and/or flawed! My conception of wonderism will change as I learn science that challenges my assertions and intuitions and hidden assumptions. And so, there may eventually be scientific papers defending the core concepts that wonderism is founded on in the future, if wonderism can keep up with advancing science and adjust its core concepts to reflect science (which I think it can).

Does this mean wonderism is worthless? Isn't it just a laggard, always playing catch-up with real science? No. Again, wonderism is not here to take the place of science. It has another very important role, such that even scientists who are at the top of their fields can find value in wonderism.

As I conceive it, one of the key roles of wonderism is to popularize good science, good philosophy, good reasoning, good critical thinking skills, and good education (among other things, as well). One way of thinking about this is that wonderism attempts to provide: A reasoned defense of intuition, and an intuitive defense of reason.

I don't want to get into a deep discussion of intuition here, so I'll just give a simple definition for it. Intuition is our brains' natural ability to make pretty-good guesses (not perfect, but pretty-good, nonetheless). Stephen Colbert calls the intuitive 'feeling of truth' as 'truthiness'.

One of the big problems today is that there is a massive disconnect between the intellectual leaders and the general public. You could characterize this as two fictional populations: Those who rely mostly on reason, and those who rely mostly on intuition. The big problem is that most actual truth these days is completely counter-intuitive. Science's biggest accomplishments are to discover where intuition has gone wrong, and where reason and evidence point to deeper truths than our 'common sense'.

As a result of this disconnect, the public goes on about its intuitive business, and becomes more and more estranged from science, even developing distrust and outright hostility to science.

But some people -- and Carl Sagan was a master at this -- are able to convey the deeper, counter-intuitive truths of science in an easily understandable, intuitive way. They are able to make the counter-intuitive into the intuitive, so the general public can learn from and appreciate science, without needing a PhD. This is the job that wonderism is very well suited for.

As a sketch of an argument, here is how wonderism fulfills the role of defending both intuition and reason, with respect to each other:

Intuition is defended by reason with a pragmatic argument. Intuition is useful. It is not perfect, surely, and can even be systematically flawed (e.g. intuitive fallacies such as argument from authority). However, even given all its flaws and imperfections, intuition remains useful. Everybody uses their brain's natural in-born ability to make pretty-good guess every single day, and not just once or twice, but pretty much all the time, constantly. There is even a good argument to be made that intuition is the foundation of reason. Without intuition, we never would have developed reason. Which leads to...

Reason is defended by intuition with a wonderist argument. The vast and deep truths we discover with reason are more wonderful than the tiny and shallow truths we are stuck with if we rely solely on our basic intuitions. Have you ever had a gut-feeling or a hunch and it turned out wrong? Yep. That sucked, didn't it? Yep. Didn't feel so good. Well, guess what? There are tools we can use to correct our faulty hunches, and train our gut-feelings so that they turn out correct more often. These are the tools of reason. We know which tools of reason are better than others by which ones work better to make better guesses (or predictions) about the future. With these tools, we can discover more amazing things than we could without them.

These sketch arguments are just the beginning. In the big picture, wonderism inspires us to educate our fellow humans the way people like Carl Sagan aspired to do. Bring them the incredible and fascinating truths of the universe, while simultaneously tickling their truthiness feelings. Reason and intuition combined to actually reach through defensive barriers and help correct ignorance and dogma, with a more skeptical, reasoned, and scientific way of thinking.

Post-modernism, on the other hand, actively denigrates and rejects science, truth, and knowledge. It wallows in ignorance. It tries to drag everyone down to its intellectually bankrupt level. "Well, I may not know anything, but YOU don't either! So there!" Its invented words obfuscate, rather than clarify. Its speculations are detached from reality and reflect more the philosophical and political biases of post-modernists than anything illuminated by science.

The intuitions and speculations and conceptualizations of wonderism, being based on true knowledge borrowed from science, are actually useful, and not simply navel-gazing.

So, I hope this helps to show that wonderism is quite different from post-modernism, even if, at first glance, there may be some apparent superficial similarities.

Tags: criticism, knowledge, peer, philosophy, post-modernism, pragmatism, review, science, skepticism, truth, More…wonderism

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