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A Brief Introduction to My Philosophy

$45 haircut.croppedWelcome 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 “Science” versus “Religion” is an ideological construct. Science is one of mankind's greatest tools, but we run into severe problems if we deify it. Philosophy can unweave the mythology of science, allowing for a better understanding of the relationships between ourselves, our knowledge, and the world we live in.

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.


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I love your blog, it really amazes me! I started my philosophical blog not to long ago. I do not have much yet, but it is expanding. I am looking forward to reading all your posts.

Composer01: Thanks for the kind words, and good luck with your own philosophy (or is it theology...?) blog!

I would venture to guess that I hold philosophy as high in my mind as you do. Although I am influenced by a much different train of thought, namely Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Jung, I feel that the diversity of philosophical nuances is very important. As a huge gaming nerd who is obsessed with philosophy, I'm very glad I stumbled upon this site (which was through an article you wrote about Heretic Kingdoms: Reluctant Hero).

Anyway, just wanted to say that!


SRS: thanks for introducing yourself here! Nietzsche is an important part of my influences, as is Kierkegaard. I greatly admire the nineteenth century existentialists for their work, although I am mindful how dependent they were on Hegel's work.

Schopenhauer interests me but I haven't tackled him yet, and Jung I have links to via my psychology studies (Temperament Theory and Myers-Briggs both descend from him), plus Joseph Campbell draws heavily against Jung's work. So perhaps our trains of thought are not on so wildly different tracks after all. :)

Welcome to the game!

Dear Chris,
I am a philosophy student who just came across your site. I think it's great - I am impressed with the range of topics you cover, and how much you seem to know your stuff.

If I may ask, how have you accrued all this background in philosophy, given that it's not your primary profession?

thanks and good luck!

Suzanne: Glad you're enjoying the content here at Only a Game, and thanks for asking about how I got into philosophy.

At university, I was close friends with a philosophy student who first got me interested in the subject, but I didn't start reading philosophy works in earnest until starting the blog. I began to run "campaigns" here on specific themes, which required me to expand my reading - for instance, during the Ethics campaign, I read a lot of classic texts on moral philosophy.

At the moment, philosophy reading has overtaken all other kinds for me - this year alone I have read about 9 pounds (4 kg) of philosophy books, and filled an extra shelf with them! I'm trying to take a short break from philosophy reading right now, but there's still so much I want to read! :)

At the moment, I am in the process of trying to get some books of my own philosophy published, and this has spurred me into the heavy reading. I hope to be able to announce a first title early next year, fingers crossed.

Hope you will hang around and join in the discussions here!

Thank you for your site. I stumbled upon it, when googling for Hannah Arend´s philosophy.

I also like your take on militant or fundamentalist atheism.
I´ve met (mostly online) a few people who in my opinion quite easily fall in this category.
Now, while I agree with atheists, that atheism is not a religion (since it lacks the ritual aspects of religion,) to me it surely seems to be an often rigid and doctrinal belief system which fights opposing systems (in words and sometimes in violent actions) and the adherents to this belief system often seek fervently converts to their beliefs.

About my views:
Most of my life I had no use for philosophy, thought it to be more or less a waste of time.
My attitude has changed radically in the last few years (starting with my questions on the events of 9/11).
I now believe that most of what is being done in the political arena is based on the belief systems (philosophies) of the political actors, both the public actors and the more hidden and far more powerful ones behind the scenes (acting through their economic power and through intelligence agencies).

Not only on the stage of big politics but on every level of human society our life is far more influenced by our beliefs, by how we perceive the world and ourselves in it, than by the actual physical reality around us.
As human beings we have the ability to change our physical surroundings far more than any other species on earth to suite our needs. However, what we perceive to be our needs, depends in large parts on how we see ourselves as individuals as communities and as a species.
And there is where philosophy and ethics comes in and religion.
The way I see it, philosophical and religious thought burns basically down to two different views on human beings. Either you believe that every human being is of equal value and has an equal right to the protection of his or her life and dignity, a sacred right that transcends all other considerations, or you don´t.

Practically all fascists, social-darwinists, malthusians and nietzscheans and most neoliberals, esoterics, marxists and radical environmentalists fall in the category of "don´t".
The "don´t" people also promote the view that "the ends justify the means" with all it´s man-murdering consequences.

In my opinion if those belief-systems govern the political system of western society, it will become unsustainable in the long run - and eventually it will collapse.

For me personally I have come to the conclusion that in spite of all her occasional human failings the general philosophy of the Catholic church is the most ethical and sustainable in it´s view of God, men,society and the physical world.
Basically I do believe in all of Catholic doctrine, however, I also believe that God allows different religions and beliefs for some good purposes.

One purpose might be to teach us to accept and live with differences in tolerance and respect for one each other.
Another purpose might be that diversity in itself is a good thing, for it spurns thought. It also might help humanity to find positive solutions to serious problems, if the problems are looked upon from diverse angles.

Notsylvia: welcome to the Game! With your curious blend of cultural influences I suspect you will fit right in. :)

Regarding dividing the world of humans on the question of equal value, this is perhaps not as simple as you suggest. I certainly agree that certain philosophies lead to a consequentialist attitude in which the value of individuals is lost - and that this can be a source of great evils in our world (I discussed this previously in Future Ethics, although this was very rough-cut).

At the moment, I'm working towards a book of moral philosophy, although it is the third in a queue of books I'm working on, and won't see print until 2013 (roughly). This book will pick up and expand many of the points I have already discussed here, but in the process of working towards the book I have had a chance to revisit, clarify and expand my views.

The danger of dividing people on this equality axis is that one can then easily label those who do not attest to equality as the enemy, and end up violating the goal of equality. In short: equality is a difficult value to uphold, and the attempt to pursue it as an ideal inevitably leads to conflicts.

Hope you enjoy your time in the Game!

Hello! I have to say I like what I see. Your writing is admirably well-reasoned, and reasonable - I find that that's surprisingly rare, even (especially?) among professional philosophers.


Thanks for the kind words, Nigel! I'd much rather be called 'well-reasoned and reasonable' than 'rational'. ;)

Do you have bad experiences with professional philosophers? Personally, of all the geek professions I can think of the philosophers have been, for the most part, the least dogmatic, although there are always exceptions!

Hope you enjoy the Game!

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