Reply to W M. Briggs Concerning Moldbug’s Epistemology. (And Get your Website Fixed Mate!)

The following was written as a comment for this post by W M. Briggs who is an author and a professor and is clearly intelligent when it comes to mathematical reasoning. We read most of his posts, though the more mathematical ones are beyond us and we just skip them.

However, our comment could not get through, so we reproduce it below.


To W M Briggs.

Good post. One that is fair and gives a good overview of Moldbug’s thought.

Your thoughts on Bayes are interesting as they are surprising. Wonder what you think about using Bayes in criminal courts……

There are also some points in which Moldbug’s view could be clearer (regarding “common sense” for instance)

Some critical points:

You write:

My disagreement begins at the beginning. Reason is not irreducible, nor is any system of epistemology relying solely on reason reasonable (Dear Internet: this last is a joke). Reason is no more than a tool—a necessary tool—to work with ideas.

But Moldbug said that reason is irreducible and untranscendable. 

What this means is probably best captured by Thomas Nagel:

“Reason is universal because no attempted challenge to its results can avoid appealing to reason in the end–by claiming, for example, that what was presented as an argument is really a rationalization. This can undermine our confidence in the original method or practice only by giving us reasons to believe something else, so that finally we have to think about the arguments to make up our minds.” (p.213) (Other Minds).

In short, you cannot defeat reason using reason and any attempt to displace reason (using psychology or political ideology say) on grounds other than reason will also fail because either they will, implicitly, use reason or will have to answer to reason (is this psychological debunking claim really true?).

Thomas Nagel is a rationalist (in the sense that Descartes, Kant and Mises) and Moldbug is a rationalist as well.

Moldbug, who is heavily influenced by Hoppe and Mises, can have a much stronger defence and justification of reason than an empiricist (because he is using praxeology).

Your write:

Axioms are incapable of proof by strict reason. Yet everybody believes them (or most of them), because, of course, they are obviously true. Faith (in intuition, in the unproved axioms’ truth) is just as necessary as reason.

Not so for praxeology (which Moldbug endorses elsewhere. See his replies to Razib Khan on Khan’s piece on praxeology on Unz Review).

The “action axiom” is “proved” using the method of “proof by contradiction”.

Finally, as for the issue of inspiration and reason, there is no contradiction or problem here.

In conclusion, reason can only answer to reason. Reason is an absolute sovereign, so to speak.

We say more about Moldbug’s epistemology and praxeology in the following posts:




2 thoughts on “Reply to W M. Briggs Concerning Moldbug’s Epistemology. (And Get your Website Fixed Mate!)

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