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A Taxonomy of All Possible Worlds
by Ian C. Dengler*

There are many approaches to the problem of odd, miraculous or merely psychotic beliefs. Skeptics, for the entire written record, have tried to debunk, or at least "doubt" various kinds of argument. Very little changes this way.
Suppose, on the other hand, that we could show how all possible arguments fit into a complete "taxonomy" of cognitive choices, and that, moreover, there is a natural progression from merely 50/50 probabilities, to every less probable proposition.
That is, between the ordinary discourse of rhetorical (and unprovable) belief, and the obviously abnormal, or pathological belief, there exist easily identifiable types of thought which are the source of all the bad ideas skeptics fight against.
Such a "taxonomy" would, additionally, unify all of philosophy in such a way that the goal of skepticism would become the goal of logic itself.
Of course, I am suggesting that such a taxonomy exists, perhaps in a rudimentary form today, but, once conceived, it must inevitably become as precise as the intuitive sense we all have of the nature of good, indifferent, and quite awful myths.
Here is how I do it:

  • Let necessity be 1.0 as its own (proto)axiom, with a probability, therefore, of 1.

  • All other results have degrees of degrees of lesser probability.

  • .5 has offsetting, 50/50 probability.

  • Less than 50/50 is improbability theory, as it includes the multitude of imaginary worlds we tend to construct.

  • .0 is the minimal degree of possiblism we can construct: it is, perhaps, the only true paradox in logic, since we assert (positively) nothing, while denying our own statement.

Subsets can, of course, be equal or impair. I am using a convergent series here, because the largest number of arguments in logic come as variations in self-referential claims, as in a daily newspaper. The ends, of course, are utterly minimal.

1st Order 1.00 [apodeictics: rules and material physics]
2nd Order .99 [cataleptics: Bacteria, Archaea and their human equivalents]
3rd Order .97 [eikasics: Euryarchaeota, to lobster analytics]
4th Order .94 [proegmenics: middle order Eukarya]
5th Order .90 [prohairetics: choice systems to vertebrate transitions]
6th Order .85 [kathekontics: synthetic adaptations as in pets: birds and lizards]
7th Order .79 [phronesics: social model of the Cape Buffalo]
8th Order .72 [pithanotics: probable behavior in primates]
9th Order .64 [spoudaics: the Ideal State in humanism]
10th Order .55 [epideictics: assertions]
11th Order .45 [eristics: the Center Right]
12th Order .36 [sciolistics: flim-flam, nostrums and alternative medicine]
13th Order .28 [philosophastics: alternative physics of vampires and UFOs]
14th Order .21 [thaumaturgics: unrestricted alternative physics of miracles]
15th Order .15 [anagogics: antinomian trance states]
16th Order .10 [paralogics: drug overdose]
17th Order .06 [paleophrenics: syndromes to psychotics]
18th Order .03 [acataleptics: true legal insanity to terminal states of life]
19th Order .01 [anapodeictics: anarchy or "ciao universe and rules as well"]

The above model is a suggestion. However, in its subdivisions, it comes very close to all our empirical knowlege of things in the common world. It accounts for every possible, imaginary argument, and allows for complete, comparative, commonsense praxis by any and all. The DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders) is really just the 16th-17th-18th Orders of Logic, and perfectly obvious when seen relative to all other common judgments.
Perhaps most usefully, we can immediately classify and understand all humor, since a joke, like a naked virus, is little more than an axiom and a cover. Arguments about "Left" and "Right," or about schools and individuals have a specific distribution. We need no longer wonder about how our intuition can understand, but our metalanguage cannot formulate.

Copyright The Anomalist 1998
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