Herewith is introduced a new philosophy. It is called the comprehensive philosophy, for several reasons: it characterizes philosophy as the thoughtful activity that strives to comprehend everything; it treats all philosophical matters as thoroughly interconnected, in contrast to those approaches -- most commonly termed analytic philosophy -- that deal with philosophical issues as separate concerns; and, it will represent the development of a philosophy as something that unfolds as a whole. I believe this approach is more difficult to understand, and to express, than most of what is to be found in contemporary philosophy. I also believe the value of this approach is commensurately greater.
Its full development will be in seven books, six of which have been completed, the last forthcoming.
The books, except for one, come in four parts: the first presenting the book's theme in the overall, the second elaborating the theme towards how it may be applied, the third applying the theme to a traditional concern drawn from the history of Philosophy, the fourth setting the theme within the perspective of the whole philosophy, while also, and thereby, suggesting the next book. – This is roughly the general course of each book, though also including some sidetracks, meanderings, and afterthoughts.
The first book, entitled The Philosophic Tendency, characterizes philosophical thinking as distinct from every other way of thinking, while offering some criticisms and rebukes on the main currents in contemporary philosophy. Wittgenstein's conception of Philosophy is examined, with the focus being on his disparagement of philosophical thinking to produce any positive results. Although Wittgenstein's work is treated sympathetically, and is acknowledged as the most worthwhile of the twentieth century, his disparaging treatment of Philosophy is overturned. The final part outlines how best to develop the philosophic tendency into a comprehensive philosophy, and introduces how the concept of infinity will be used in this philosophy. (About 164,000 words.) (An extract from this work, the third part, entitled “The Comprehension of Wittgenstein”, was submitted as my thesis for the PhD degree to Cambridge University. The examiners were Professor Jane Heal, Cambridge, and Professor A.W. Moore, Oxford. I have included here brief selections of their written reviews, as theirs are the only comments on my work by recognizable names in academic philosophy.)
The second book, Beginning Philosophy, explores the development of a metaphysical perspective, starting with the ideal moment at which philosophical thinking begins, and continuing through the logical hazards with which such thinking is fraught. The historical concern reviewed here may be considered the first problem of metaphysics: monism, and the reaction to it, pluralism. The central concept of infinity is re-introduced, and recurringly discussed. The conclusion of the work is the need for logical intercession during any metaphysical development, which leads directly to the next book. (About 37,000 words.) (This volume is the shortest, least prosaic, and is cast in three parts rather than four. It also contains two appendices, one a short, somewhat whimsical, glossary, the other a fictional dialogue with an old friend.)
The third book, entitled Logic, exhibits most clearly the radical departure taken by this philosophy. The first part shows how vague metaphysical thoughts may unfold into system, if tempered by sound logical considerations. The second part centers all logical considerations round the distinction like/unlike, while also integrating the presupposition of a thoroughgoing infinity into the development of this logic. The third part treats of the historical doctrine of Universals as first espoused by Aristotle, and continued into the present time as realism, passing them through relativistic measures. The fourth part resumes the discussion of infinity, especially emphasizing the concept of 'creative infinity'. There are three appendices, mostly concerning Wittgenstein's relation to Logic, including a discussion of his handling of AI, and his lifelong feud with Russellian thinking. Finally, there is a representation of the whole work, delivered in a Tractarian style, that also serves to show the new logic's direct application to philosophical thinking. (About 89,000 words.)
The fourth book, Truth, continues the application of logic to metaphysics, with the introduction of the doctrine of metaphysical openendedness, which despite its awkward ring, is a central part of the whole undertaking. The second part concerns the grounds for decidability, and develops a new understanding of the idea 'coherence' by giving it a fully comprehensive framework. The third part is a consideration of the thesis of causal determinism, with the aim of answering in what sense the thesis can be judged to be true, or false. The fourth part answers the question largely by distinguishing between static and dynamic ways of thinking. Finally there are two appendices, one on time-tavel, the other on theories of truth, directed mainly to helping those philosophers who get stuck in thinking Philosophy must deliver theories, vainly following the model of scientific inquiry. (About 58,000 words.)
The fifth book, God, is about how metaphysics reaches by extrapolation to create ideals in effort to comprehend the World. The first part explores the logical drawbacks of engaging in ontological rationalization, including a discussion of the philosophical prejudice of espousing thought in disregard to feeling. The second part explores the motivation for metaphysical overreaching, especially with regard to creating ideals. The third part is about the idea of God, its evolution, definition, and the tensions inherent in the subjective and objective understandings of it. The fourth part discusses the viability of maintaining metaphysical ideals, both generally, and specifically in believing in God. The work finishes with four appendices, “A Private Conversation with God”, “The Leap to Faith”, “Can God Be Actually Infinite?”, and “The Paradox of Existence” . (About 63,000 words.)
The sixth book, entitled Reckoning, takes the development into the realm of ethical thinking. It will show how philosophical thinking is essential to any critical examination of ethical judgments and beliefs. Throughout the work will predominate an investigation into the objectivity of value-judgments, in ethics, morality, and aesthetics. The third, and most important, part is an examination of the conception of the good life. The work will conclude with a meditation on the importance of setting our thought within the context of the history of philosophical thinking specifically, and our intellectual/artistic development generally, which will lead on to the next. There are three appendices, titled "Some Remarks on Prof. Anscombe's article, 'Modern Moral Philosophy'", "A Defense of Slavery", and "Dialogue with an Old Friend: 'So Now You Want To Tell Us How To Live'". (About 120,000 words.)
The concluding work will be entitled Epic, and will present the succession of ideas, and ideals, in our Western Culture as a story, one with a shadowy beginning, that unfolds into ever more definite and progressive movements. The historical concern will be a discussion of Spengler's Decline of the West, examining his pessimistic view of the idea of progress, as well as the viability of such an extravagantly ambitious enterprise as he initiated. This work will probably conclude with some over bold forecasts about our future, while also presaging the next, as yet unforeseen, work.
These works were written in isolation from any academic influence. In both style and content they are unlike other philosophical writings. However, they should be intelligible to academic philosophers, and to any other intelligent readers. The problem of how to introduce a new philosophical perspective to an audience used to something different has perplexed me. Obviously just insisting the work is quite sane and should be taken seriously, does nothing. Asking that the work be read sympathetically, without offering good reason to do so, seems to me to invite what I expect may be the most common response: brush it aside, and continue with business as usual. Therefore, I offer the following reason for giving this philosophy a look: within it is presented a fresh approach to all the traditional, entangled problems of Philosophy, and one that, while resolving those problems, develops a style of philosophical thinking that can comprehensively develop a way to handle all of the most important questions arising from philosophical perplexity. This work uncovers philosophical tensions, and shows how they may be resolved.
Following are a few comments on a selection from the first book, entitled “The Comprehension of Wittgenstein” (80,000 words) that was submitted as my thesis to Cambridge for the PhD degree.
Prof. Jane Heal, Cambridge, wrote: "There are many positive things one can say about this thesis. Rol presents a convincing account of Wittgenstein’s personality and style of thought. He writes well, in that there are many vivid images and good turns of phrase. (The thesis includes at one point a short story – about a driven and puritanical young man lost on a walk who calls on a gossipy old lady, while taking the cup of tea she offers, finds himself irritated by her collection of knick knacks which he sees as so much pointless junk. The story is a good read. It enables us to visualize the old lady and the young man and to appreciate their feelings and impulses.) In short, the work is lively, literate and humane. "On the argumentative and philosophical front it is clear that Rol has much knowledge of and intelligent appreciation of Wittgenstein’s writing. The outline of the later Wittgenstein’s view of language, as growing and multifarious, is insightful. Rol discusses sensibly the great variety of uses of the terms ‘sense’ and ‘nonsense’ and has many very good things to say and good examples of things we might say to be sense or nonsense and the various things we might mean. And a strong point in its favour is that the thesis presents a good question – ‘Why can’t Wittgenstein admit that philosophical discussion is one valuable language game among the multiplicity?’ And it goes a fair way towards suggesting that Wittgenstein’s own later framework of thought should not rule out ‘philosophy’, in some sense, as a positive and not merely therapeutic possibility." __________________
Prof. A. W. Moore, Oxford, wrote: "Mr. Rol makes clear throughout the thesis that he is very sympathetic towards much of what he finds in Wittgenstein, including much of the debunking that he finds there: he is convinced that we have to take Wittgenstein’s onslaught against traditional philosophy very seriously. Nevertheless, his aim ultimately is to show how, by turning Wittgenstein against himself, we can keep our distance from the more dogmatic elements in that onslaught, and can thereby rescue what he (Mr. Rol) calls ‘the philosophic tendency’. "The thesis is written in a somewhat unorthodox but clear and engaging way. There is an occasional lapse into pretentiousness, exhibited right at the very beginning, but this is not a serious defect, and the inauspicious start proved unrepresentative of what was to come. I am in no doubt that Mr. Rol has made a significant and novel contribution to our understanding of the various issues about the impulse to philosophise with which he is concerned. There is certainly material here that merits publication." ________________
The commentaries by Professors Heal and Moore also offered some sound criticisms, to appreciate which requires reading the thesis. And, I think that the thesis is best read in conjunction with the rest of the philosophy of which it is a part.
The finished books are being prepared for publication, though in what form I don't know. They may become available in hardcover editions sometime soon; but meanwhile PDFs can be made available to qualified applicants. For now, there are some excerpts on this site. Check it out. Thanks,
Marco Rol, Longhouse, Greenwood, Virginia, August, 2021 I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org