Gaining knowledge

Postmodern society is deeply shaped by the practice of eclecticism. It means the arbitrary combination of different ideas and principles into a thought system to serve a particular end. Modern society is awash with philosophies, religions, cults and lifestyles following this approach. It means picking and choosing ideas and methods based on arbitrary preference. It is a purely utilitarian approach that remains superficial and fails to understand any of the truths carried by the philosophies it picks from. This way of trying to understand reality is just as bad as dogmatism, the belief in absolute and unquestionable truth.

Our preferred method is dialectical, related to the scientific one. We begin with a thesis that is supported by experience and observation. We know that this thesis is not infallible but a sufficiently meaningful approximation of truth that allows us to draw real-life conclusions. We then look at its weak points, inconsistencies and contradictions, look for alternatives and eventually propose changes (or an anti-thesis). If the results of the new proposals are more meaningful than the old ones the original thesis has to be changed, a synthesis is formed and the cycle begins anew. This method demands that no thesis, or truth, is beyond questioning or changing, but also that no thesis is discarded as long as there is no consistent alternative. This applies to science as well as to philosophy, methodology, and day-to-day operations of the academy.