Using Experimental Philosophy to Shift Perspective, with Jonathon Keats
Jonathon Keats introduces his workshop on experimental philosophy by listing the rules and lessons he's developed over the years.
Jonathon Keats is a San Francisco-based experimental philosopher who has, over the years, sold real estate in the extra dimensions of space-time proposed by string theory (he sold a hundred and seventy-two extra-dimensional lots in the Bay Area in a single day); made an attempt to genetically engineer God (God turns out to be related to the cyanobacterium); and copyrighted his own mind (in order to get a seventy-year post-life extension.
Keats's bold experiments raise serious questions and put into practice his conviction that the world needs more "curious amateurs," willing to explore publicly whatever intrigues them, in defiance of a culture that increasingly forecloses on wonder and siloes knowledge into narrowly defined areas of expertise.
My name is Jonathon Keats and I am an experimental philosopher. What that means is that I do things like open a restaurant for plants. I sell real estate in the extra dimensions of space. I choreograph ballets for honeybees. I build systems by which you can become married by a law of nature using quantum mechanics as the foundation rather than a legal or religious authority. I even attempt to genetically engineered God.
All of these are rather absurd on the surface and may not seem especially practical in your everyday life. However I think that there are some basic lessons that can be extracted from them that, at least for me, are highly useful even when I am not pursuing experimental philosophy. Even when I am simply trying to get by in the world, basic ways in which an experimental philosopher looks at the world that can be divided perhaps into five lessons.
And I'm going to go over these with you by way of example looking at some of the projects that I have undertaken with the take away that you might be able to apply these rules either to undertake your own experiments in philosophy or simply that you can use these in your creative problem-solving at work or at home. The lessons can be very briefly summarized as follows.
Ask naïve questions, invert perceptions, combine incompatible ideas, remix metaphors and pursue paradox. By no means are these comprehensive and they're rather glib yet I think that if you take these as a point of departure, as I sometimes do, you'll find that you get outside of yourself in terms of your routines, your education and your common sense. And you start to look at the world in different ways that may lead you to ideas that you never knew that you had.
Jonathon Keats introduces his workshop by listing the following five rules for looking at the world like an experimental philosopher:
1. Ask naive questions,
2. invert perceptions,
3. combine incompatible ideas,
4. remix metaphors,
5. and pursue paradox.
- Bad outcomes get criticized as evidence of bad decisions, but that's not necessarily so.
- Here, poker pro Annie Duke desribes a simple thought experiment that separates decisions from outcomes.
- It is quite possible to make a very good decision that, due to external factors, results in a bad outcome.
Decide to Play Great Poker: A Strategy Guide to No-Limit Texas Hold '’Em
Lauren Miranda sent a nude selfie to a boyfriend years ago. Somehow one of her students discovered it.
- Math teacher Lauren Miranda was fired from her Long Island school when a topless selfie surfaced.
- Miranda had only shared the photo with her ex-boyfriend, who is also a teacher in the school district.
- She's suing the school for $3 million as well as getting her job back, citing gender discrimination.
If you're lacking confidence and feel like you could benefit from an ego boost, try writing your life story.
In truth, so much of what happens to us in life is random – we are pawns at the mercy of Lady Luck. To take ownership of our experiences and exert a feeling of control over our future, we tell stories about ourselves that weave meaning and continuity into our personal identity.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.