One of the great but largely unsung benefits of the empirical method is that it removes the temptation for people to disappear up their own fundaments. Philosophy came into being merely because scientific empiricism didn’t exist back then. Today, it’s largely a dead-end affair, full of false assumptions and inadequate starting-points.

The whole ontological discussion vanishes the moment we consider evolution. If our sense organs hadn’t evolved to provide an adequate description of a real external environment, we wouldn’t be here. Furthermore, if our brains hadn’t evolved to provide adequate heuristics for interpreting our sensory inputs (where “adequate” means “adequate for the purposes of living in the environments pertaining to 98% of our evolutionary history”) we wouldn’t be here.

There is thus no need whatsoever for abstract musings on “the nature of reality.” Basic evolutionary understanding substitutes a coherent intellectual framework based on empirical knowledge in place of abstract baroque meanderings around largely undefined non-problems. By way of example, Wittgenstein could have saved himself, and generations of philosophy students, a great deal of wasted time if only he’d bothered to read On the Origin of Species.

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