Analogy – “Mercator” distortion in Philosophical “Maps”

500 years ago Gerardus Mercator, a Flemish cartographer created the cylindrical projection commonly used in maps of the earth. But it causes great distortions. Africa appears smaller than Greenland, when it is 14 times larger. But one can create local 2 dimensional maps of small areas of earth, that are accurate. But creating a 2 dimensional map of all of a 3 dimensional earth that is accurate in all respects is impossible.

I contend that there is an analogous problem in philosophy. Our knowledge in any sphere is imperfect. If we project that knowledge too far away from its domain of origin, we can obtain inaccurate results. We need to judge the area of validity of knowledge. That is part of wisdom. Philosophy is “love of wisdom” – not “love of knowledge.”  

Even in such a hard science as physics, there is not a complete consistency of results. There is no known way of combining general relativity (Einstein) with quantum mechanics (Schrodinger and Heisenberg). This does not prove that there is no universal theory combining them. But we cannot insist that because two theories disagree, that either is not basically correct in its own sphere. I believe classical physics (especially Newtonian) still has a detrimental effect on much philosophical thought.

I am going to examine historical philosophers, trying to determine where their philosophical maps are accurate, and where they are inaccurate. These are only my judgments,  but I will try to give reasons.

First, I, for convenience, made links to Wikipedia articles.

Next, I am going to collect quotations, that I either agree or disagree with, but which I view as important.

I will try to give reasons for my agreement or disagreement.

One of my heroes:

oil of Bertrand Russell
Watercolor of Bertrand Russell by Clinton Van Inman

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