Welcome to Only a Game, the philosophy blog of game designer and author Chris Bateman. Originally dealing with videogames as well as philosophy, most games-related material now appears at ihobo.com (but is also cross-linked here). All sincere – and preferably polite – comments on posts both new and old are welcome, and will elicit a reply as promptly as I am able. What's this blog about? Read on!
Why philosophy? I started out among academic scientists, but my interests and writing these days lie to a greater extent among the discussions of philosophers. I sometimes characterise my rambling nonsense as an attempt to popularise philosophy, which is to say, to bring the resources of philosophical thinkers such as Wittgenstein or Kant a little bit closer to any quirky intellectual nerd who stumbles upon this site.
What do I philosophise about? My main interests in philosophy concern how we perceive the world (and in particular metaphysics, our untestable beliefs that undergird these perceptions), and how we behave in our world (our ethical beliefs). I strive to aid communication between people with wildly different beliefs, and suspect a philosophy that labours in isolation to uncover the sole truth suffers severe limitations. Wisdom lies scattered amidst the world it might inform: even when uncovered by a lone investigator, wise thoughts lack value until they are brought back to a shared space.
What are metaphysics? Untestable beliefs, foundations upon which different thoughts and ideas attain authority. Everyone has to believe something to get by in life, whether a notion of self, a cultural identity, an abstract (Science, God etc.) or some combination therein, but the eclecticism of our modern beliefs can be bewildering, as Charles Taylor has discussed at length. By talking about metaphysics I hope to share some of the charms of our many different ways of looking at our shared world, and dissipate some of the prejudices.
What's the point of ethics? Our ideals for life are as different as our metaphysics, so in ethics my project takes its spirit from Kant's “Realm of Ends” (what I term communal autonomy): since we must all live together, I seek methods that permit this possibility. My early attempt in this regard was relative ethics, an acceptance of ethical diversity set against a denial of strict relativism (which risks reducing morality to meaningless subjectivity).
What's your religious agenda? Its impossible to explore metaphysics and ethics without intersecting with religion, but my principal agenda in this regard is freedom of belief, the foundation of all our freedoms. I hope that by discussing religion I can offer a more balanced perspective on traditional beliefs than the usual caricatures – any endeavour will seem dreadful if it is judged solely by its worst excesses.
What about science? Scientific research continues to fascinate me, but attempts to portray modern research programmes as successors to religion are misguided – the alleged war of
What is this Game you mention? I jokingly call the discussions here at this blog a non-fiction role-playing game, and this is “the Game” I refer to. Furthermore, at this point in my philosophical endeavours all the themes I'm exploring are connected to some extent by the image of a game, which is perhaps unsurprising since I am also a professional game designer.
What does this have to do with you? Join in if you're interested! My philosophical thinking thus far – or my nonsense, as I oft term it – is right here at this site. Simply pick a topic from the sidebar (or a link in this post) that spurs your interest and join me for a while in contemplation of questions that I hope will, at the very least, provide an entertaining diversion.
Welcome to the Game!
This piece, written in March 2010, replaces an older foreword to the site written in June 2006, which had begun to feel dated. The links within this new foreword are intended to offer points of ingress into my nonsense for the intrepid explorer of ideas.