Theoretical work gets more done in the world than practical; once the realm of ideas is revolutionized, actuality cannot resist. (Hegel) (Hiess, Hegel, Kierk, Marx, p 78:)
The elemental theory advocated herein and in the book, The Roots of Sound Rational Thinking, aims to be affirmative, normal, mainstay, nonpartisan and such. For a name, it is plusroot theory or other terms that begin with plus. Plusroot theory promotes traditional affirmative guidelines of sound rational thinking. It theorizes and concludes that we can improve society by boosting root verities and correcting root errors. [From Introduction]
Plus Essay
It is no secret that Western civilization spawned vices as well as virtues. This is especially true in the fields of logic, rational theory and dialectics.
Classically inclined thinkers (I include myself) deplore the vices of the past but also see virtues among the rational requirements of days gone by. We view the affirmative logical discoveries of western civilization as values worth preserving and the negative aspects as mistakes to be corrected. That is to say, classical critics desire to retain and develop well formed rational values while overcoming negative intrusions that have been drawbacks. Plusroot theory refers to this point of view as the classical or evenhanded sorting mentality. [See Affirm Essay for eight general requirements of affirmative thinking.]
Opposing the the classical view, radical counter root critics proceed as if traditional rational theory is inherently flawed. Some purport to replace the old with a higher consciousness. Many pin their hopes on a new logic, a new reason and a new way of thinking. Those who favor counter root dialectics have succeeded in making traditional logic appear unattractive, even abhorrent.
The result of the conflict between affirmative classical rationality negative oppostional dialectic is a strange dichotomy. Classical affirmative reasoners (group one) operate in one realm of reality. Those who encourage a counter root point of view operate in another realm of reality group two).
Group One: Classical Refinement, Affirmative Development, Cultivated Commonsense
Group one, which includes me, intentionally wishes to refine and use established values of traditional logic. Group one is in the affirmative mode of reasoning because this point of view affirms the basic requirements of sound rational thinking and use the rules of right reason to help sort and select values. Affirmative rational thinking is intellectual, experimental and speculative. It is refutable and vulnerable. It is not totalitarian. Instead it is a developmental, sorting mentality that operates best in a win/win atmosphere.[See LaxTaut Essay]
Group Two: The Counter Root Movement
Group two challenges classical sorting mentality. They various ways they scorn the rational values implied in western civilization. They reject requirements of affirmative logic and, instead, favor dialectical formulas of antithetical finesse and other types of rational divergence. This approach inverts ideals of affirmative thinking and measures progress by winning power and defeating of ones enemies. Its adherents promote themes that veer away from requirements of sound rational thinking. Their ideology tends to be radical and oppositional. Its antagonisms go deep and wide. Counter root dialecticians seek positions of authority by playing one thesis against another and riding the high waves of success.
Counter root ideology, in modern form, exudes a sophisticated interpretation of evolution and law in which quantity changes into quality, ideas become their opposite and unity evolves out of contradiction. Those with a counter root disposition tend to be fashionable, preemptive, irreverent, partisan, and operate from a win/loose point of view. Their commitment to counter root themes often reaches militant proportions.
People who adopt counter root ideologies often feel invulnerable and radiate enviable confidence. They dominate by force of personality and emotional stimulation rather than through the persuasions of right reason. They often use all or none thinking in cases where more or less suits the case. They are negative insofar as they deviate from the requirements of sound rational thinking.
These two mentalities occupy different worlds. They work at cross purposes. People committed to these different points of view can not engage in constructive dialogue because they do not follow the same rules of reason. They don't speak the same language.
Group Three, The Vast Majority
There is a third group which makes up the vast majority of people. This group does not see the root problems involved and consequently doesn't care. The people of this mind set are unaware of the raging dialectical conflict between affirmative refinement and radical ideology. Group three, by way of their commonsense, hold a natural affinity with group one but, by way of sentiment, are easily seduced by group two.
Those of us (the affirmative group) who wish to develop and use the basic values of traditional affirmative logic have a complex task. The problems are numerous.
(1) Sort: We must engage in a continual back and forth sorting of the past as to what we consider to be virtue or vice. If we are to preserve genuine values of classical rationality and correct mistakes. To do this, we must be able to distinguish which is which. Sorting through past rational theories is tedious work.
(2) Improvement: Keeping up to date means merging well established values of traditional logic with authentic modern discoveries and showing how they blend and improve each other. Discovery and creativity are aspects of affirmative traditional logic. Well formed affirmative rationality is based on development, discovery and growth. Applying the basic requirements of sound rational thinking advances the civility of discourse.
(3) Refutation: Adherents of the rational affirmative point of view need to develop better ways to refute and diffuse the powerful forces of modern counter root ideology that have gained footholds in our academic and political worlds. The more success we have in accomplishing tasks, the more progress we can make.
(4) Hidden: Most people (group three) don't see the crucial dialectical controversy operating in current affairs. If you think it is impossible for people to be blind to urgent matters, read or reread Berlin Diary by William Shirer. It is stunning to realize how many people missed the obvious as World War II developed. We humans often overlook the most pressing demands of the moment.
To consciously solve problems that intimately involve society, the issues should be in the open. Unfortunately people of stature who have the needed background to handle the problem are already overwhelmed with other pressing business.
(5) Language: Because urgent problems involving logic are often hidden, we have not developed the terminology we need to discuss issues in a mature manner. Stylish oppositional trends have loaded pejorative connotations on most ideas basic to classical defense. If we care to discuss the problem, some method must be found to provide affirmative terms so we can talk from an affirmative point of view. The only method I know that works is to stipulate definitions. [See Definition Essay]
(6) Defensive: Being constantly on the defensive makes classically oriented thinkers look divisive, when it is really the other way around. Insults are difficult to refute without being insulting. Pointing out lies is viewed as a divisive tactic so it is difficult to undo the damage lies and cunning innuendo. People trying to be affirmative are continuously put to the test by malicious assaults. Sometimes those who pretend to be friends of affirmative ways are its worst enemies.
(7) Difficult Situation: Those of us who wish to defend the basic values of western civilization find ourselves in a difficult situation. The huge number of misrepresentations that need correcting create complex knots that are tedious to untangle. The language needed to defend classical ideals has been expropriated for other purposes. Being on the defensive, classically oriented analysts appear negative when it is really the other way around. Most people do not see the problem so they let things slide.
That which slides, tends to go down hill.
If we are to sort desirable values of the past from the undesirable and preserve that which needs keeping, we ust first believe it is an important task. But to see the importance of problems involved we have to talk about them. Ordinarily we will not talk about problems until we have a common language. To our misfortune, creating a language and learning to see the challenge requires work. Normal people will not do the work until they see the danger. However, in order to see the danger, first we must to do the work.
Plusroot theory is a theory developed to address the above dilemma. The plus approach is an articulated version of affirmative elemental philosophy that aims to isolate problems as best possible and, then, work on solutions step by step. At the same time, plusroot theory holds in mind that root problems are interconnected. Each root helps feed all aspects of philosophy.
Because root problems are intertwined it is difficult to address them one at a time but it can be done if people do not approach logic with a totalitarian mentality. Affirmative sorting mentality is different from totalitarian ways of thinking. An affirmative approach seeks modest answers that fit the occasion. Divergent mentalities tend to require all or none answers. Those who adopt a hardcore stance measure progress by how well their tactics overcome their adversary.
The difference between affirmative logic and counter root ideology will become more clear in later pages.
To help develop a language so we can discuss root problems, plusroot theory stipulates definitions. The symbol =+df indicates a plusroot definition stipulated for the occasion.
Affirmative Elemental Philosophy
For convenience the plus system refers to those aspects of traditional logic that are adequately authentic (root verities) as guidelines of affirmative traditional logic and those aspects which are troublesome mistakes (root errors) as blunders of divergent traditions.
Through history people have slowly developed classical affirmative logic into what is now modern affirmative logic. Development of affirmative logic led to modern science and to constitutional republics where people are at liberty to choose their own religion and support their favorite political candidates. The founders of the USA were dominantly committed to classical affirmative rational development. [Note: Kant did not publish his antithetical ideas until after the US Constitution was ratified.Hegel did not publish his Logic until 1818.]
Rational Affirmative and Rational Divergence: Logical affirmation (commitment to the guidelines of sound rational thinking) and rational divergence (especially radical ideology and antithetical dialectic) are important terms in plus discourse.
The term 'affirmative' refers to any approach that sufficiently uses the requirements of sound rational thinking. Commitment to affirmative themes increases the scope of civil discourse and advances our abilities to progress in peace. Most affirmative commitment is unarticulated. [See Affirmative]. [See Silence]
Divergent (or negative) designates procedures that in some manner oppose affirmative development. Divergent and negative are counter affirmative insofar as they negate the requirements of sound rational thinking. Radical refers to rational divergence that inverts core values of affirmative thinking.
There are many ways of being negative. Most of the rational divergence we encounter is polarizing in some manner. Polar, antithetical, factional, antagonistic, oppositional, as used herein, refers to orientations that regard opposition as the measuring rod of reality. Polar inclined antagonists treat opposition as if it were moving force of the universe. From a tactical point of view, they rely on opposition for gaining and keeping the upper hand. Polar ploys, in one way or another, hinder the development of sound rational thinking. [See Negative Essay]
There are many ways of being affirmative and even more ways of diverging from affirmative norms.
Elemental and Root: 'Elemental' refers to structures and thoughts that underlie first intensional and first impositional thinking. Logic, epistemology, semantics, etc. are elemental subjects. [See Elemental Essay] Root is a metaphor referring to elemental.
Philosophy: Philosophy is the way we put our thoughts together and the priorities we develop. From this point of view, we are all philosophers. [See Philosophy Essay]
Affirmative elemental philosophy refers to critical studies that adequately support sound rational thinking. History is replete with philosophers who have contributed to the development of affirmative elemental philosophy. There are many ways of talking about this vast subject. There are -- and should be – many versions. Each well formed version helps explain other versions.
Plusroot Theory
Plusroot Theory =+df an articulated version of affirmative elemental philosophy. Plusroot theory and other terms that begin with plus are the version of affirmative elemental philosophy introduced at length in the study, The Roots of Sound Rational Thinking, and on the plusroot web page which opened Jan 2000. Plusroot theory uses terms as defined in the plus glossary.
Plusroot theory aims to be a well formed version of affirmative elemental philosophy. It is designed to help meet present needs. It puts more emphasis on definitions than most other interpretations.
In recent history, emphasis on definitions was not as important as it is today. People of a former age could rely on assumptions that now are no longer in vogue.
Philosophically, plusroot theory is an extended effort to address basic problems created by conflicting points of view between (1) civil discourse based on well developed affirmative logic and (2) antithetical dialectics based on radical ideology.
The plus approach aims to help create an appropriate language by stipulating suitable definitions. These are called plus definitions. [See Definition Essay]
One of the big puzzles of human endeavor is the great discrepancy that can exist between cultivated commonsense people use in their everyday business and the absurd things they say about their epistemological and other elemental assumptions. Often people don’t think these things through. In root matters it is common to find a massive gap between what people say and what they do.
Plusroot theory aims to address this discrepancy. We can improve our abilities to solve problems constructively and live together pleasantly if we clarify epistemological and other elemental assumptions and if we increase commitment to sound rational thinking.
The Roots of Sound Rational Thinking is a study concerning requirements of sound rational thinking that introduces plusroot theory. Requirements of sound rational thinking are the elements of sound rational thinking. Roots is a metaphor suggesting that which underlies first intensional and first impositional thinking.
Plusroot theory is essentially what most people surmise in every day reasoning even though they might not use the same terms. It is basic commonsense.
The plus system puts major energy into analyzing ideas according to their value. The emphasis is on evaluating theories rather than judging people. Plusroot theory avoids sorting individuals into good guys and bad guys. Instead, the plus approach seeks to address problems issue by issue. Rather than pitting one philosopher against another, plusroot theory measures the value of affirmative ideas versus the dangers of negative antithetical allegations. [See Motive Essay & Mix Essay]
Actual people are virtually always a mixture of plus and minus. The plus system supports an affirmative sorting mentality where affirmative ideas come more and more into dominance. The plus system aims to avoid totalitarian absolutes.
Plusroot theory is not new. Most of the requirements presented herein have been expressed by philosophers and have been common by way of implication in rational theory for ages.
Some of the updating in plus theory has fresh aspects, especially in emphasis. However, even that which sounds new is not dramatically new. Sometimes it articulates assumptions people made but did not express or emphasize.
Although plusroot theory uses stipulated definitions, for the most part people can read and understand without checking definitions. There are a few exceptions. The terms ‘elemental’ and ‘affirmative’ in plus discourse have specified meanings that require special attention to be appreciated. The reason for this singular treatment will become clear as plusroot theory develops. [See Elemental and Affirmative]
Plusroot theory to date (February 2001) is divided into seven parts: See Thesis for a short summary.
Fine Points
This section on Fine Points is for people interested in repetition, definitions and more elaboration.
Plusroot Theory =+df an articulated version of affirmative elemental philosophy. Plusroot theory and affirmative elemental philosophy are introduced at length in the study, The Roots of Sound Rational Thinking, and on the plusroot web page which opened Jan 2000. Plusroot theory uses terms as defined in the plus glossary.
Plusroot theory and other terms that begin with plus are names for the elemental philosophy defended as affirmative in this study. Plusroot theory is well founded and updated but does not claim to be perfect.
In plusroot theory the terms ‘affirmative’, ‘elemental’ and ‘philosophy’ have specified meanings that require special attention if a person is to appreciate the plus approach.
Affirmative: Affirmative, herein, refers to that which adequately affirms the requirements of sound rational thinking. [See Affirmative Essay]
Elemental: Elemental refers to assumptions and theories underneath regular study, policy and discourse. Elemental is a short cut way of saying epistemology, logic, ideology, semantics, etc. [See Elemental Essay]
Philosophy: Philosophy refers to a thoughtful examination of reality, especially problems involving ideals, truth, reason, discourse, and duty, accompanied by an attempt to put first things first and expose illusion. Plus theory distinguishes several kinds of philosophy: Intuitional, Common, Critical and Elemental. [See Philosophy Essay]
Plusroot theory is speculative, not declarative. [See Speculate]
Plusroot theory is a version of elemental affirmative philosophy.
Plusroot theory and other terms that begin with plus are names for the elemental philosophy defended in this study as affirmative. Plusroot theory is well founded and updated but does not claim to be perfect.
Posted: As of February 2001, parts A & B, an introductory study of 24 Chapters (122,000 words), are on line. Parts C to G are not yet posted. [See Thesis Essay]
Similar & Different: Plusroot theory examines elemental values from an expanded but simple view that is both different from and similar to other approaches.
Values: Plusroot theory is a value theory. Value theories discuss what we should do rather than merely describing what we do do. [see Value]
New & Old: Plusroot theory aims to takes full advantage of both modern discoveries and proven traditional values.
Prologue: Plusroot theory is a prologue to a more extensive development of affirmative elemental philosophy.
Limitation: Plusroot theory does not allege to be fully authentic but rather claims to be an affirmative interpretation with enough authentic value to be worth serious consideration.
Goal: The goal of plusroot theory is to advance our abilities to progress in peace by promoting the basic guidelines of sound rational thinking.
Improvement: Plusroot Theory advocates an affirmative sorting mentality. An affirmative sorting mentality uses a well formed interpretation of the rules of right reason with honest effort to make practical improvements bit by bit. An improvement or sorting mentality is the opposite of a totalitarian mentality which sets power first and demands absolute solutions now -- or else. [See Development]
Redundancy and Paradox: Plusroot Theory uses the rules of right reason to promote improvement of our use of the rules of right reason. This involves a redundancy that cannot be overcome. It is inherent in the nature of any epistemology, logic, etc. that one must begin with some sort of a theory in order to defend any theory. [See Redundancy and Paradox]
Propositional: Plusroot theory holds that: rational improvement is most feasibly attained by upgrading elemental theory tenet by tenet. [See Proposition]
Principles: Plusroot theory aims to clarify principles that support the development of right reason and seeks to correct errors that interfere with our abilities to progress in peace. [See Principles]
New and Old: Plusroot theory is a modernized version of traditional affirmative elemental theories. It integrates modern scientific discoveries with older affirmative discoveries. From one point of view, plusroot theory is old because much of it has been around for centuries. From another point of view, some aspects are new. Plusroot theory is an updated, extended and revised version of older affirmative oriented elemental theories.
Non Totalitarian: Plusroot theory is firm and vigorous but not totalitarian. It honors impartial truth and human possibilities while at the same time recognizing the limits of human knowledge. All affirmative philosophies enjoin a speculative stance and are fundamentally non totalitarian. Affirmative thinkers maintain a provisional quality that recognizes human limitations. Affirmative methods aim to clarify understanding, seek impartial truth, use right reason, play fair, uphold civil discourse, gain wisdom and make improvements. Plusroot theory emphatically favors an improvement mentality and vigorously opposes a totalitarian mentality. All affirmative elemental philosophies oppose totalitarianism but many of the older theories did not explicitly stress the issue. [See Affirmative & Totalitarian]
Modification: Plusroot theory is structured in such a way that internal mistakes can be corrected without destroying the whole system. [See Affirmative Development]
Complex: Plusroot theory aims to be as simple as possible but it is dealing with an intricate network of problems that in some manner touch all intellectual thinking we do. Complexity is inherent in the subject. To deny the vast interconnections involved in epistemology and other elemental studies or pretend one has a one line, final solution is unrealistic. [See Complex]
Affirmative Root Themes: Plusroot theory maintains that: the more affirmative root themes we incorporate in the rational style of our society, the easier it becomes to engage in productive conversation. A philosophy in which affirmative root themes have been elevated to dominating positions is an affirmative philosophy. A dialectical system based on well absorbed affirmative root themes is an affirmative dialectic. Affirmative dialectic adequately employs authentic root theory but does not claim to be perfect. Whether a dialectic is affirmative or antithetical is a matter of degrees.
New Style Criticism: New style criticism refers to sophisticated artistic evaluation that entices people away from affirmative commitment by subtly incorporating invert themes in material that presents an appearance of rational respectability. Sometimes new style criticism is inadvertently negative and sometimes it's negative on purpose. Usually there is no way to tell whether divergent inserts are deliberate or not. [See NewStyle Essay]
Plus Tenets
Tenets =+df articulated propositions that operate as guideline values. Tenets, being articulated, are explicit. Tenets can be plus, minus or null.
Root Tenets =+df articulated propositions that operate as guideline values concerning elemental matters. Root tenets can be plus, minus or null.
Plus Tenets =+df articulated guideline propositions presented in plusroot theory as affirmative values. Affirmative values includes first intensional appraisals and root verities.
Plus tenets are well-formed elemental propositions that, from a plus point of view, support sound rational theory. They are roots because they are underneath. They sustain and feed sound rational thinking. They are tenets because they are expressed in well-formed propositions presented to the reader in the opinion of the writer as adequately authentic for the occasion. They are plus tenets because they express the plus version of what constitutes the basic requirements of sound rational thinking. Plus tenets employ plus definitions.
The plusroot version of elemental theory is value oriented. Each plus tenet is a value because it tells us what we should do if we wish to reason well. Plus tenets are not descriptions of what we do do but rather are values indicating what we should do. While not perfect, they claim to be adequately verifiable and good enough for the occasion.
Personal Note:
When I first began the project now called plusroot theory my plan was to help defend the traditional logic of western civilization. Because of college studies I had some back ground in classical philosophy and could appreciate the danger of negative remarks popular in politics and literature.
After a period of time it became clear that what I considered traditional was radically different from the view of numerous prominent critics. We used the same words, but the meanings stood against each other in stark contrast. My studies of term 'dialectic' convinced me we need a specialized approach to counteract the power of upscale negatively divergent theories that came into play in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. [See Dialectic Essay. Note Jan. 25, 2001. I hope to publish the first part of this essay soon.]
I, as well as many others with a classical background, saw traditional logic in terms of discoveries and improvements that have been made over the centuries. New style critics saw 'traditional logic' in terms of mistakes and blunders of the past.
The view of traditional logic I admired genuinely existed in the past but, unfortunately, it was rarely dominant. Instead, despotism, tyranny and superstition more often held sway.
In working on plusroot theory, I soon discovered that it holds a consistency and identity independent of me that goes beyond my own ability to grasp in my comprehension. Although I put it together, it is not ‘my’ theory. The only things that are really mine are the mistakes, which I continue to discover as I study my own writing. Most of the mistakes I discover stem from inconsistencies in definitions.
I appreciate your comments.
A major objective of plusroot theory is to probe the connection between sound rational thinking and our abilities to progress in peace. If we are to advance our abilities to progress in peace we must be able to successfully negotiate conflict of interest problems. To successfully negotiate, we should at least meet the minimum standards of sound rational thinking. This means sufficiently promoting root verities and adequately avoiding root errors. [From Chapter Two, Negotiation (modified)]