Anything Goes

Every discourse or methodology – and perhaps even knowledge as an autonomous and delineated entity – has its set of philosophical underpinnings. Arguably, there are two philosophical schools or outlooks which transcend cultural or national boundaries. For one, there is the “Perennial” or “Traditional” school of philosophy, the core tenets of which are contemplation, intuition, unity of argument and thought based on unified metaphysical principles, as well as a basic mantra: “God is real, the world is illusory, the individual soul is not different from the essence of God.” Among the original perennial or traditional philosophers of the West who in turn got their spark from the Eastern world are Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle.

And on the other hand, there is the “Modern” school of philosophy, the basic characteristics of which are division, fragmentation, multiplicity, superfluous details stacked one on top of the other which in turn are detached from any metaphysical principles, as well as the tendency to drag communities and societies onto a path towards ruin and destruction.

The guide or ‘Godfather’ of present-day ‘perennialist’ or traditionalist thinkers and writers is the 20th century philosopher and writer René Guénon. Anyone who has exhausted their tolerance for the hollowness and shallowness of anti-traditional and modern thinking and are looking for something different and thoughtful, one’s starting point as far as the modern-day manifestation and iteration of perennial and traditional thought is concerned is René Guénon.

Methodology of research also has to address the issue of epistemology, which is concerned with the validity and verification of knowledge as well as the boundaries of knowledge. I mentioned “Epistemological Anarchism” in a previous post. “Epistemological Anarchism” is a concept and a term coined by the 20th century Austrian-American philosopher named Paul Feyerabend. The rationale behind “Epistemological Anarchism” versus epistemological rigidity is as follows: “All methodologies have their limitations, and the only ‘rule’ which preserves the value is: ‘anything goes.’”

Why “anything goes” from an epistemological standpoint is because there is no one single method or way towards the truth. Moreover, no one single person or group is more qualified or worthy than the others in determining the rules for what is admissible and what is not admissible from an epistemological standpoint. In general, admissibility of facts and information into the academic or public discourse hinges on whether the facts and information conform with “reality.” But then again, who gets to determine what constitutes “reality”? In essence, no one can play God and force their methodological rules or notions of what is “rational” or “irrational” upon such a broad and complex social world.

Plus, as proponents of “Epistemological Anarchism” would contend:

“Can we exclude the possibility that the presently known science, or ‘search for truth’ in the style of traditional philosophy, will turn man into a monster? Is it possible to exclude the possibility that it will be waning man turned into a miserable, moody, arrogant mechanism, devoid of charm and sense of humor?”

Also, given that knowledge is a priori to the human mind and intellect from a ‘perennialist’ and traditionalist standpoint, it follows that at least in the social sciences, “the research is the writing.” In other words: “The human science researcher is not just a writer, someone who writes up the research report. Rather, the researcher is an author who writes from the midst of life experience where meanings resonate and reverberate with reflective being.” Thus, knowledge is a body or a force which acts and lives through the contemplation and basic being of the writer. And as one writer put it: “It is like what we imagine knowledge to be: dark, salt, clear, moving, utterly free.”

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