Philosophy is Bunk!

Discuss philosophical concepts and moral issues.
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ruby sparks
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Post by ruby sparks » Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:14 pm

[quote=""DrZoidberg""]

Or the stuff in your storage that you might one day have a use for, but aren't sure how. History is full of philosophical concepts that floated around for quite a while before being made into a coherent system. Atheism is a good example.

The Greek Diagoras came up with the idea 2500 years ago. Didn't really catch on. But the idea still kept alive in pure philosophy. Weirdly enough, by Christian monks. It wasn't until the 18'th century people started figuring out how an atheistic world can work.

Science is another example. The Egyptian doctor and philosopher Imhotep started the whole learning-through-experimentation. It wasn't until 5500 years later when David Hume came up with the bright idea that perhaps we don't learn the most by trying to prove our hypotheses. Perhaps, instead we should try to disprove them?

So don't look down your nose at leftovers. Who knows what might become useful? And most importantly, let the experts... philosophers... worry about it. Non-experts are non-experts. Perhaps we should just keep our ignorant mouths shut? [/quote]

I broadly agree with all of that. And I'm not merely looking down my nose at philosophy. As an activity and an endeavour, it's one of my favourites, and my daughter, possibly due to some of my enthusiasm (during her lifetime) rubbing off, or possibly not, is studying it at university. It's usually the first forum I come to when I go to an online discussion forum.

That doesn't mean I don't have some strong reservations and issues, about some (perhaps even a lot) of philosophy, some of which reservations the OP might articulate, but just don't peg me as anti-philosophy. :)


[quote=""DrZoidberg""]Philosophy is the only academic discipline that defines itself. So to check philosophy you still need philosophy. To check science we use "philosophy of science" which is philosophy.

I think it's helpful to think of academia as a hierarchy. Philosophy is right at the top, and which defines the subjects further down the tree. Just like a taxonomy of animals, the taxonomy of academic subjects works the same. It's basically evolution of human thought. [/quote]

Again, I don't think we entirely disagree. That said, I'm not sure the way you're arranging your taxonomy is the way I would. For example, we could equally say that philosophy is at the bottom were we to imagine something akin to an evolutionary tree shape. Either way, I don't disagree that philosophy is 'in there', in the DNA of systemised thinking as it were, it's just that I think it has lost a lot of its ability to come up with the money in terms of increasing our wisdom. It has lost its cutting edge. Its descendants are doing almost all of that. I wish it were otherwise. I'd love it to be otherwise in fact.

There's also Continental Philosophy, which doesn't tend to get as much of a look-in on these sorts of forums.




[quote=""DrZoidberg""]

Philosophy isn't just thinking. Philosophy is about systematising thinking. [/quote]

I would go along with that.

As for answering questions.........I'm not sure. Philosophy (the unapplied sort) is good at asking questions. I'm not sure about its answering capacities.



[quote=""DrZoidberg""]I think you are wrong. Karl Marx thought he was doing science. He wasn't. He was doing philosophy. He changed the world. Same deal with every famous philosopher. The Christian Kirkegaard switched it around completely regarding what kind of Christian faith is desirable. He changed the world. Nietzsche laid bare how empty Christian faith is. Changed the world. Lacan made us understand how we can't avoid thinking in dichotomies. Heidegger, phenomenology. Deleuze, you can't know who you are without other people to react from. It's such a long list of great philosophical insights by fairly recent philosophers. There's more happening in the field of philosophy than it has for a long time. Right now philosophy is super interesting.

Religion is being deconstructed by atheistic philosophers. That's a big thing. Metamodernism, is a new thing. Inserting biology into philosophy is a new big thing. Arguably evolutionary psychology... but in reality philosophy. Janet Radcliffe Richards is kick-ass. Meme theory, by Blackmore is philosophy. [/quote]

Hm. I think here you might be using 'philosophy' as a catch-all term with too wide a catch.

And as for something like meme theory...well...who coined that? Too often nowadays, unfortunately, philosophy is chasing the coattails of ideas that came from outside philosophy, and often acting as not much more than commentary to it.

As to philosophy's role in science...hm...I once saw an Oxford Professor of Biology ask what input philosophy had had for over 200 years, and he didn't get an especially convincing answer. I think the idea that science needs its grandfather, philosophy, to check it is over-egged. Grampa is pining for the good old days, perhaps.
Last edited by ruby sparks on Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:28 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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Post by Hermit » Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:34 pm

[quote=""DrZoidberg""]
ruby sparks;679438 wrote:
DrZoidberg;678068 wrote:Another way to look at philosophy is a collection of all those sort-of academic subjects that don't really fit anywhere. Philosophy is the storage for the odd bits and bobs we don't quite know what to do with, but which might one day be useful.
Sort of like the leftovers then.
Or the stuff in your storage that you might one day have a use for, but aren't sure how. History is full of philosophical concepts that floated around for quite a while before being made into a coherent system. Atheism is a good example.

The Greek Diagoras came up with the idea 2500 years ago. Didn't really catch on. But the idea still kept alive in pure philosophy. Weirdly enough, by Christian monks. It wasn't until the 18'th century people started figuring out how an atheistic world can work.

Science is another example. The Egyptian doctor and philosopher Imhotep started the whole learning-through-experimentation. It wasn't until 5500 years later when David Hume came up with the bright idea that perhaps we don't learn the most by trying to prove our hypotheses. Perhaps, instead we should try to disprove them?

So don't look down your nose at leftovers. Who knows what might become useful? And most importantly, let the experts... philosophers... worry about it. Non-experts are non-experts. Perhaps we should just keep our ignorant mouths shut?
[quote=""ruby sparks""]Yes, applied. Or tested, as in checked.[/quote]
Philosophy is the only academic discipline that defines itself. So to check philosophy you still need philosophy. To check science we use "philosophy of science" which is philosophy.

I think it's helpful to think of academia as a hierarchy. Philosophy is right at the top, and which defines the subjects further down the tree. Just like a taxonomy of animals, the taxonomy of academic subjects works the same. It's basically evolution of human thought.
[quote=""ruby sparks""]
DrZoidberg;678068 wrote:But all academic subjects all started as blue sky philosophy at some point.
Yes. And perhaps all philosophy started out as thinking. So it would indeed be wrong to say that philosophy is bunk, just as it would be wrong to say that thinking is bunk. I think though what the OP is saying is not that philosophy is bunk in principle, but that it's not delivering anything much by way of its aims, to for example increase our understanding of the world. Its offshoots are doing almost all of that.[/QUOTE]
Philosophy isn't just thinking. Philosophy is about systematising thinking. I think Alfred Whitehead said it best.

"Philosophy is asking questions like a child, and answering them like a lawyer".

I think you are wrong. Karl Marx thought he was doing science. He wasn't. He was doing philosophy. He changed the world. Same deal with every famous philosopher. The Christian Kirkegaard switched it around completely regarding what kind of Christian faith is desirable. He changed the world. Nietzsche laid bare how empty Christian faith is. Changed the world. Lacan made us understand how we can't avoid thinking in dichotomies. Heidegger, phenomenology. Deleuze, you can't know who you are without other people to react from. It's such a long list of great philosophical insights by fairly recent philosophers. There's more happening in the field of philosophy than it has for a long time. Right now philosophy is super interesting.

Religion is being deconstructed by atheistic philosophers. That's a big thing. Metamodernism, is a new thing. Inserting biology into philosophy is a new big thing. Arguably evolutionary psychology... but in reality philosophy. Janet Radcliffe Richards is kick-ass. Meme theory, by Blackmore is philosophy.

It's just so much right now, it's impossible to list it all. Just because you're not well read on a subject doesn't mean it's worthless.[/QUOTE]
Very well put.

Let me just add this: Philosophy is unavoidable. Nobody can live without it. Even people who rant against it do so from a philosophical foundation.

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Post by ruby sparks » Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:36 pm

To add to my post...

Morality is still a good 'go-to' area for those wishing to espouse the importance of philosophy. Although science is encroaching, it's hard to see it taking over as more than an advisory role.

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Post by DrZoidberg » Tue Nov 07, 2017 1:47 pm

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
DrZoidberg;679484 wrote:
Or the stuff in your storage that you might one day have a use for, but aren't sure how. History is full of philosophical concepts that floated around for quite a while before being made into a coherent system. Atheism is a good example.

The Greek Diagoras came up with the idea 2500 years ago. Didn't really catch on. But the idea still kept alive in pure philosophy. Weirdly enough, by Christian monks. It wasn't until the 18'th century people started figuring out how an atheistic world can work.

Science is another example. The Egyptian doctor and philosopher Imhotep started the whole learning-through-experimentation. It wasn't until 5500 years later when David Hume came up with the bright idea that perhaps we don't learn the most by trying to prove our hypotheses. Perhaps, instead we should try to disprove them?

So don't look down your nose at leftovers. Who knows what might become useful? And most importantly, let the experts... philosophers... worry about it. Non-experts are non-experts. Perhaps we should just keep our ignorant mouths shut?
I broadly agree with all of that. And I'm not merely looking down my nose at philosophy. As an activity and an endeavour, it's one of my favourites, and my daughter, possibly due to some of my enthusiasm (during her lifetime) rubbing off, or possibly not, is studying it at university. It's usually the first forum I come to when I go to an online discussion forum.

That doesn't mean I don't have some strong reservations and issues, about some (perhaps even a lot) of philosophy, some of which reservations the OP might articulate, but just don't peg me as anti-philosophy. :)
[/quote]

Reservations is always good to have. Or to put it another way... to be critical. Which is the only way to truly know something.

Most science is a complete waste of time. Every breakthrough scientific idea is based on someone deciding to reject what everybody else thinks is obviously true and go down that rabbit hole. The flip side of that is that a lot of science is researching stuff that most other scientist thinks is ludicrous.


[quote=""DrZoidberg""]Philosophy is the only academic discipline that defines itself. So to check philosophy you still need philosophy. To check science we use "philosophy of science" which is philosophy.

I think it's helpful to think of academia as a hierarchy. Philosophy is right at the top, and which defines the subjects further down the tree. Just like a taxonomy of animals, the taxonomy of academic subjects works the same. It's basically evolution of human thought. [/quote]

Again, I don't think we entirely disagree. That said, I'm not sure the way you're arranging your taxonomy is the way I would. For example, we could equally say that philosophy is at the bottom were we to imagine something akin to an evolutionary tree shape. Either way, I don't disagree that philosophy is 'in there', in the DNA of systemised thinking as it were, it's just that I think it has lost a lot of its ability to come up with the money in terms of increasing our wisdom. It has lost its cutting edge. Its descendants are doing almost all of that. I wish it were otherwise. I'd love it to be otherwise in fact.

There's also Continental Philosophy, which doesn't tend to get as much of a look-in on these sorts of forums.
[/quote]

I think you're just thinking of postmodernism. I don't like the term "continental philosophy" for that reason. It groups postmodernists together with philosophers who aren't. I think postmodernism was a philosophical dead-end. It was a great tool for literary critique. But that's where it should have ended. Instead it came in and took over academic philosophy completely, and became the dominant school of thought.

Well.. if truth is subjective then how the hell do you manage to make a coherent conclusion in your paper? The answer is that you don't.

Postmodernism was the natural reaction to modernism (or perhaps scientific positivism). But it was only a useful tool as long as modernism was the dominant school of thought. As soon as postmodernism took over nearly everything produced in the philosophy department became garbage.

But now, luckily, philosophy has moved on. Postmodernism was a fifty year stretch of darkness in philosophy, that we've now emerged from. And now things are happening again.

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
DrZoidberg;678068 wrote:
Philosophy isn't just thinking. Philosophy is about systematising thinking.
I would go along with that.

As for answering questions.........I'm not sure. Philosophy (the unapplied sort) is good at asking questions. I'm not sure about its answering capacities.
[/quote]

I don't think philosophy is about answering questions at all. It's about giving us tools to think of the world in new ways. Ie to answer new questions. It's extremely difficult to move beyond being stuck in patterns of thinking. Helping us to move beyond it is IMHO what philosophy is for.

BTW, art is applied philosophy. Artists read a hell of a lot of philosophy. They absorb it and make films out of it. Virtually every film that is successful, is so partly because the guy writing the script has read philosophy.


[quote=""ruby sparks""]
DrZoidberg;678068 wrote:I think you are wrong. Karl Marx thought he was doing science. He wasn't. He was doing philosophy. He changed the world. Same deal with every famous philosopher. The Christian Kirkegaard switched it around completely regarding what kind of Christian faith is desirable. He changed the world. Nietzsche laid bare how empty Christian faith is. Changed the world. Lacan made us understand how we can't avoid thinking in dichotomies. Heidegger, phenomenology. Deleuze, you can't know who you are without other people to react from. It's such a long list of great philosophical insights by fairly recent philosophers. There's more happening in the field of philosophy than it has for a long time. Right now philosophy is super interesting.

Religion is being deconstructed by atheistic philosophers. That's a big thing. Metamodernism, is a new thing. Inserting biology into philosophy is a new big thing. Arguably evolutionary psychology... but in reality philosophy. Janet Radcliffe Richards is kick-ass. Meme theory, by Blackmore is philosophy.
Hm. I think here you might be using 'philosophy' as a catch-all term with too wide a catch.

And as for something like meme theory...well...who coined that?
[/quote]

Richard Dawkins. In the Selfish Gene. It was just a throwaway line in the book. Susan Blackmore picked it up and ran with it. She popularised it and made it into the concept it is today.

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
Too often nowadays, unfortunately, philosophy is chasing the coattails of ideas that came from outside philosophy, and often acting as not much more than commentary to it.
[/quote]

Hmm... But that IS philosophy. The idea of the philosopher as a lone genius having an eureka moment in the bath is not a helpful one. Who cares where the ideas come from? It's formulating the idea that counts. BTW, Richard Dawkins came up with meme theory (philosophy because it's not falsifiable) in spite of being a shit philosopher. For all his virtues the God Delusion is pretty weak philosophically. He only goes after idiotic religion. He completely ignores any theological ideas that are interesting.

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
As to philosophy's role in science...hm...I once saw an Oxford Professor of Biology ask what input philosophy had had for over 200 years, and he didn't get an especially convincing answer. I think the idea that science needs its grandfather, philosophy, to check it is over-egged. Grampa is pining for the good old days, perhaps.[/quote]

Mmm... yeah well.. they said that before Thomas Kuhn came along and wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Who's to say that can't happen again? How about leaving this door open?

But largely I agree. The scientific method is a much better tool to figure out what is true. Yeah, I know. Science is not a method for finding out the truth. It's only a method to find out what ISN'T true. What ever is left over is considered true, even though it isn't in any objective sense. Which is a subtle, but critical, difference.

But there is still loads of questions that science can't answer. What is the meaning of life? It's not a scientific question. Any question that isn't falsifiable can still be worth answering even though science can't be employed to prove it. Science can't answer why gravity works the way it works. All science can do is say that it does. But fundamentally... no. There's loads of these. Philosophy is as good as it gets for these.
"Sorry, you must have been boring"
/Dr Zoidberg

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Post by ruby sparks » Tue Nov 07, 2017 10:43 pm

[quote=""Hermit""]Very well put.

Let me just add this: Philosophy is unavoidable. Nobody can live without it. Even people who rant against it do so from a philosophical foundation.[/quote]

Yes but that only works, as a counter, if someone says all philosophy is bunk. It'd be akin to saying words are bunk given that they are involved in all spoken or written languages.

So, Grendel has over-egged his OP title.

Whether the specific criticisms about metaphysics in the article are valid or not is a separate issue.
Last edited by ruby sparks on Tue Nov 07, 2017 11:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by ruby sparks » Tue Nov 07, 2017 11:05 pm

[quote=""DrZoidberg""]Most science is a complete waste of time. [/quote]

That's a bit controversial. Arguably plain wrong if one includes (as one should imo) medical science alone.

[quote=""DrZoidberg""]I think you're just thinking of postmodernism. [/quote]

What I think of when I say Continental is anything that is not Analytic, which I see as closely related to things being either correct or incorrect rather than open to interpretation. As such, I think of Analytic philosophy as being closely related to science and Continental as closer to literature and art. I think the terms are vague of course, so I'm open to being challenged and yes, I take the point that CP has often been associated with postmodernism.

[quote=""DrZoidberg""]And now things are happening again.[/quote]
So you keep saying and believe me I'd be pleased if you were right.

Are you including memetics in that? :)

[quote=""DrZoidberg""]I don't think philosophy is about answering questions at all. It's about giving us tools to think of the world in new ways. Ie to answer new questions.[/quote]
It's not about answering questions at all but it's about giving us tools to answer new questions. Perhaps not a contradiction, but...hey....if it gave us more tools to answer questions and more questions got answered, I'd be all for it. I'm just not sure how much it happens as a result of what goes on during philosophy.

Also, for thinking of the world in new ways, see: memes. :)

[quote=""DrZoidberg""] It's extremely difficult to move beyond being stuck in patterns of thinking. Helping us to move beyond it is IMHO what philosophy is for. [/quote]

I agree that it often aims for this and that this is what's on the front and back cover sales blurb, but not that it actually achieves it any more than, or even as much as, other disciplines.

See: memes.

[quote=""DrZoidberg""]BTW, art is applied philosophy. Artists read a hell of a lot of philosophy. They absorb it and make films out of it. Virtually every film that is successful, is so partly because the guy writing the script has read philosophy.[/quote]

Hm. Possibly. I reckon there might be a lot of people who are artists who know dang all about the underlying philosophy. That said, I agree that art can be a result of philosophy.

[quote=""DrZoidberg""]Richard Dawkins. In the Selfish Gene. It was just a throwaway line in the book.[/quote]

Er....nope. It was a chapter. That Susan Blackmore was one of a number of people from a variety of disciplines who followed up on it does not support the suggestion that philosophy is where new ideas and ways of looking at stuff comes from. See also: memes.

[quote=""DrZoidberg""]The idea of the philosopher as a lone genius having an eureka moment in the bath is not a helpful one.[/quote]

I wouldn't suggest that was what philosophy was.

My reservatons have to do with what philosophy consists of, for example what's in the courses and the books and journals. Sure, you can say that it's important and exciting and relevant and increases our knowledge and wisdom.......but...I think you'd be over-egging it. Sadly, it doesn't do that very often these days. Philosophy, of itself, in the unapplied sense, has become somewhat impotent and redundant. Bar the very occasional exception.


[quote=""DrZoidberg""]Mmm... yeah well.. they said that before Thomas Kuhn came along and wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.[/quote]

I'm not sure that's a counter to the suggestion made, that philosophy has contributed dang all to the biological sciences in the last couple of centuries, during which time they have managed to come a heck of a long way, pretty much without it.

[quote=""DrZoidberg""] Who's to say that can't happen again? How about leaving this door open?[/quote]

Not me saying that. The door is always open. I'm just saying philosophy doesn't seem to come through it very often these days.


[quote=""DrZoidberg""]Science can't answer why gravity works the way it works. All science can do is say that it does. But fundamentally... no. There's loads of these. Philosophy is as good as it gets for these.[/quote]

Do you feel sure there's a 'why' when it comes to gravity, and not just a series of hows? :)
Last edited by ruby sparks on Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:54 am, edited 9 times in total.

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Post by BWE » Wed Nov 08, 2017 2:59 am

Anyone who is enough of a realist to miss the point of memes isn't contributing much that is useful to science or philosophy.

The world is not made up of things. Our models are.

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Post by Hermit » Wed Nov 08, 2017 7:16 am

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
Hermit;679489 wrote:Very well put.

Let me just add this: Philosophy is unavoidable. Nobody can live without it. Even people who rant against it do so from a philosophical foundation.
Yes but that only works, as a counter, if someone says all philosophy is bunk. It'd be akin to saying words are bunk given that they are involved in all spoken or written languages.

So, Grendel has over-egged his OP title.

Whether the specific criticisms about metaphysics in the article are valid or not is a separate issue.[/QUOTE]Grendel is referring to all philosophy, and not just in the thread's title."Philosophy and Metaphysics separated from Science... ...Metaphysics and philosophy are simply illusions that are plausible to the self-aware intelligence... ...I'm not alone any longer in dismissing all philosophy, all metaphysics..."

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Post by ruby sparks » Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:44 am

[quote=""Hermit""]
ruby sparks;679542 wrote:
Hermit;679489 wrote:Very well put.

Let me just add this: Philosophy is unavoidable. Nobody can live without it. Even people who rant against it do so from a philosophical foundation.
Yes but that only works, as a counter, if someone says all philosophy is bunk. It'd be akin to saying words are bunk given that they are involved in all spoken or written languages.

So, Grendel has over-egged his OP title.

Whether the specific criticisms about metaphysics in the article are valid or not is a separate issue.
Grendel is referring to all philosophy, and not just in the thread's title."Philosophy and Metaphysics separated from Science... ...Metaphysics and philosophy are simply illusions that are plausible to the self-aware intelligence... ...I'm not alone any longer in dismissing all philosophy, all metaphysics..."[/QUOTE]

Well in that case he's wrong then, imo. :)

As you say, philosophy in the general sense of systemised thinking and in particular asking the important and underlying questions about stuff, is entwined, at least informally, in just about every intellectual human endeavour, including science, technology, politics, art, literature, Law, history, religion, mathematics and morality, and probably others that I can't think of right now. And most if not all of those endeavours owe a lot, historically, to philosophy.

Plus, philosophy is interesting and rewarding of itself, especially to those who enjoy it. It's great for honing and improving one's thinking generally, because of its rigour, which imo is one of its strongest features, possibly even its one remaining ace in the hole. You could almost make a case for saying that philosophy, in that sense at least, of being about methodologies for thinking generally (as opposed to, say, being about what long dead philosophers once thought) should be a core, compulsory subject in schools from a very early level, precisely because of what you and I agree about it, that it's in the DNA of almost all human intellectual endeavours that follow. I think that might go some way to making it more relevant again, because it might give all those entering the various specialised endeavours (which, let's face it, almost all of them will, and even those who don't still have to 'get through the predicament of life') a better grounding.

I don't know about where you live, but my kids went to one of the top, and one of the larger schools in our (admittedly very small) country, and philosophy wasn't even an option. Unlike Religious Studies, which was more or less compulsory up to age 15. I'd vote for a straight swop there for starters, especially if the philosophy was mainly of the sort I just mentioned and perhaps less of a historical study of famous dead guys. I'm not saying some of the dead guys (and gals) didn't say anything worthwhile. Not at all. I'm really just agreeing with what DrZoidberg said about philosophy being about giving us tools to think of the world in new/better ways. Toolkit Philosophy, in other words. Something to enable or encourage you to take a step back from any problem and look at it in the round, or from a new perspective, or to question your assumptions about it, or at least understand what the assumptions are.

I suppose fans of philosophy will say philosophy is already doing this. I'm not sure it actually is having anywhere near as much success as it might.
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Post by DrZoidberg » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:52 am

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
DrZoidberg;679493 wrote:Most science is a complete waste of time.
That's a bit controversial. Arguably plain wrong if one includes (as one should imo) medical science alone.
[/quote]

One could argue that there's a value in establishing that a hypothesis is wrong. But most science is good ideas that turn out not to be. All the studies into phrenology. A complete waste of time. Or all those studies in neurology about what the various regions of the brain was for. Good solid science, until we learned that the brain was plastic. So that research was mostly a waste. Here's a concrete example. All those brain imaging studies on ADHD. So this region lights up if somebody has ADHD. Awesome. What does that mean? 15 years of study later... we have still no clue. All those studies a complete waste. Turned out they all asked the wrong questions. So we can scrap all that and start over.

There's also loads of science that is duplicates of something already studied, but forgotten. There's also loads of studies made by people who are just too lazy to get a job. Yes, those exist. I used to do research, and those guys were easy to spot. All those guys do is study something preposterously specific that will never be useful.

But I don't want to give an impression that most science is frivolous. I don't. Science is horrendously underfunded, and we should put more money into science. It's just that science is hard. And most often scientists are wrong. That's fine. Doing the research is better than not doing so. Once in a blue moon a study turns out to be actually useful. And then all that wasted research was worth it.

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
DrZoidberg;679484 wrote:I think you're just thinking of postmodernism.
What I think of when I say Continental is anything that is not Analytic, which I see as closely related to things being either correct or incorrect rather than open to interpretation. As such, I think of Analytic philosophy as being closely related to science and Continental as closer to literature and art. I think the terms are vague of course, so I'm open to being challenged and yes, I take the point that CP has often been associated with postmodernism.
[/quote]

I think you are going about this all wrong. Philosophical models of human thinking will always be wrong. They're models of what is going on. To create a useful model you remove information. You make the fuzziness more clear. What makes a philosophical model good is if it is useful. Does using it make human interaction better or worse? That's the best we can do.

If we use proper Socratic logic to evaluate philosophy... they're all wrong.

I agree that analytic philosophers are often the most useful. Because they allow us to negate a lot. But they are positivist. That means they will sometimes make statements that are too strong.

Postmodern literary analysis is sometimes more useful than analytic philosophy. I'm saying that as a guy who has a degree in logic. The analytics is my team. But I don't think it's always the best school of thought.

Different schools of philosophic thought are good at solving different problems. I think they're all right and useful, within their domain.

The problem with postmodernism isn't the method they use. But that they went a bit crazy and started to apply them outside of their domain. Then it just became silly.

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
DrZoidberg;679484 wrote:And now things are happening again.
So you keep saying and believe me I'd be pleased if you were right.

Are you including memetics in that? :)


It's not about answering questions at all but it's about giving us tools to answer new questions. Perhaps not a contradiction, but...hey....if it gave us more tools to answer questions and more questions got answered, I'd be all for it. I'm just not sure how much it happens as a result of what goes on during philosophy.

Also, for thinking of the world in new ways, see: memes. :)
[/quote]

Memetics is unfalsifiable. So it's clearly not science. So it has to be philosophy. Still a worthwhile and useful concept IMHO. Just because something isn't science, doesn't make it worthless.

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
Hm. Possibly. I reckon there might be a lot of people who are artists who know dang all about the underlying philosophy. That said, I agree that art can be a result of philosophy.
[/quote]

Good artists are sensitive little flowers who pick up on the zeitgeist and it ends up in their work. Some have more depth than others. The deep thinking artists will be sharp as knives, and it's pretty damn obvious. Just walk around any modern art museum and look at the date a painting was created, and then google what famous philosophical works came out around that time.

BTW, I think artists and philosophers are doing similar work. They're both sensitive flowers who pick up on what is happening. It's not that philosophers are the geniuses, and this then spreads from them, as if from a prophet. Famous philosophers hang out with the best minds of their day. Any of their friends could have been the famous name.

It's the same with good art. Any famous painting. Just look at the art their friends did in the same period. Basically the same painting. Profound thinking and great art is not done in a vacuum. Any great work is always a group effort.

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
My reservatons have to do with what philosophy consists of, for example what's in the courses and the books and journals. Sure, you can say that it's important and exciting and relevant and increases our knowledge and wisdom.......but...I think you'd be over-egging it. Sadly, it doesn't do that very often these days. Philosophy, of itself, in the unapplied sense, has become somewhat impotent and redundant. Bar the very occasional exception.
[/quote]

Could you give an example of applied philosophy? Isn't it always kind of useless? Philosophy is, and should be, IMHO, only about the joy of pure thinking. It shouldn't be applied. Once it is, we call it something else... like science.

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
DrZoidberg;679484 wrote:Mmm... yeah well.. they said that before Thomas Kuhn came along and wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
I'm not sure that's a counter to the suggestion made, that philosophy has contributed dang all to the biological sciences in the last couple of centuries, during which time they have managed to come a heck of a long way, pretty much without it.
[/quote]

Thomas Kuhn introduced the term paradigm shift. One of the biggest debates in the 19'th century was the germ theory of disease. The big debate was whether you could catch germs and viruses from another person, or if disease was only something that arose spontaneously.

Kuhn pointed out that if scientists were purely rational it should have been an open and shut case after Ignaz Semmelweis came with his famous 1848 study. It wasn't. Instead Semmelweis was laughed at and made fun of, and died a bitter, disgraced and lonely man.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germ_theory_of_disease

Germ theory finally managed to win the day. But it took almost 50 years. In that time millions died from preventable diseases.

My favorite anecdote from this period is when Lister experimented with Carbolic acid in an operation, and created a thick foggy mist of the stuff in the operating theater. They could barely see what they were doing. They got great results. It took them years to figure out that they didn't need to use that mist. They could just as well just use it on their tools and in the wound directly. That made the whole thing a hell of a lot simpler to do.

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
DrZoidberg;679484 wrote: Who's to say that can't happen again? How about leaving this door open?
Not me saying that. The door is always open. I'm just saying philosophy doesn't seem to come through it very often these days.
[/quote]

But that's always been the case. It's usually more than a hundred years between any two unique ideas. There's a lot of wasted effort. We need to get away from today's demand on instant gratification. It's not helpful. It's ok if it'll take another hundred years to come up with something useful. That doesn't make it worthless. Money is not a good way to evaluate how valuable something is.

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
DrZoidberg;679484 wrote:Science can't answer why gravity works the way it works. All science can do is say that it does. But fundamentally... no. There's loads of these. Philosophy is as good as it gets for these.
Do you feel sure there's a 'why' when it comes to gravity, and not just a series of hows? :) [/QUOTE]

Yes. There's got to be something. I'm less convinced that answer is God. Pretty sure it's not God. But it has to be something. Based on current research in physics, the answer is likely to be something mind blowingly weird that nobody sober would ever have considered. There's also the possibility that we can never know. Like what there was before the Big Bang. The Big Bang destroyed the evidence. So we most likely can never know.

But there still has to be something.
"Sorry, you must have been boring"
/Dr Zoidberg

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Post by ruby sparks » Wed Nov 08, 2017 1:42 pm

[quote=""DrZoidberg""]One could argue that there's a value in establishing that a hypothesis is wrong. But most science is good ideas that turn out not to be. All the studies into phrenology. A complete waste of time. Or all those studies in neurology about what the various regions of the brain was for. Good solid science, until we learned that the brain was plastic. So that research was mostly a waste. Here's a concrete example. All those brain imaging studies on ADHD. So this region lights up if somebody has ADHD. Awesome. What does that mean? 15 years of study later... we have still no clue. All those studies a complete waste. Turned out they all asked the wrong questions. So we can scrap all that and start over. [/quote]

Ok, I take your point, but equally, it could be said that that's what so great about science, that getting it wrong is a valuable lesson and that it constantly makes progress (with the caveat that the word progress might need to be unpacked and defined of course).

Philosophy, it seems to me, isn't able to do that so well, because it doesn't do the testing so much.

[quote=""DrZoidberg""]There's also loads of science that is duplicates of something already studied, but forgotten. There's also loads of studies made by people who are just too lazy to get a job. Yes, those exist. I used to do research, and those guys were easy to spot. All those guys do is study something preposterously specific that will never be useful. [/quote]

Sure.

[quote=""DrZoidberg""]But I don't want to give an impression that most science is frivolous. I don't. Science is horrendously underfunded, and we should put more money into science. It's just that science is hard. And most often scientists are wrong. That's fine. Doing the research is better than not doing so. Once in a blue moon a study turns out to be actually useful. And then all that wasted research was worth it. [/quote]

I don't know what areas of study you are thinking of but once again, even if we just cited medical science......

I take your point about some of the shortfalls in science, but, in a nutshell, you would have to work pretty hard if you are trying to get me to agree that as much science is, eventually, a 'waste of time' as is the case for philosophy. :)

[quote=""DrZoidberg""]I think you are going about this all wrong. Philosophical models of human thinking will always be wrong. They're models of what is going on. To create a useful model you remove information. You make the fuzziness more clear. What makes a philosophical model good is if it is useful. Does using it make human interaction better or worse? That's the best we can do.

If we use proper Socratic logic to evaluate philosophy... they're all wrong.

I agree that analytic philosophers are often the most useful. Because they allow us to negate a lot. But they are positivist. That means they will sometimes make statements that are too strong.

Postmodern literary analysis is sometimes more useful than analytic philosophy. I'm saying that as a guy who has a degree in logic. The analytics is my team. But I don't think it's always the best school of thought.

Different schools of philosophic thought are good at solving different problems. I think they're all right and useful, within their domain.

The problem with postmodernism isn't the method they use. But that they went a bit crazy and started to apply them outside of their domain. Then it just became silly. [/quote]

A conversation on postmodernism would be interesting. It's not something I know about in depth. To me, it's something to enjoy as an intellectual exercise, to hear interesting ideas, and deconstructing stuff is fun, but I tend to have a pinch of salt nearby because what I've read of it seems to stray into polemic, opinion and/or politics (with a small p). Which is good. I mean, I like reading Feminist stuff for this reason. But there's more subjectivity and less justification.

As to whether philosophy is good at solving domain-specific problems, that seems to need almost as much clarification as your saying that exciting things are happening in philosophy currently. I thought we'd more or less agreed that philosophy was good at asking questions and (ideally) giving us tools to answer questions, rather than answering questions. You're presenting a sort of all-singing, all-dancing philosophy sales brochure in which I'm having a bit of difficulty recognising the product itself. :)


[quote=""DrZoidberg""]Memetics is unfalsifiable. So it's clearly not science. So it has to be philosophy. Still a worthwhile and useful concept IMHO. Just because something isn't science, doesn't make it worthless. [/quote]

Something not being science does not, surely, automatically make it philosophy either? Isn't that a false dichotomy?

Also, I think the idea that falsifiability defines the domain of science is open to question.


[quote=""DrZoidberg""]Good artists are sensitive little flowers who pick up on the zeitgeist and it ends up in their work. Some have more depth than others. The deep thinking artists will be sharp as knives, and it's pretty damn obvious. Just walk around any modern art museum and look at the date a painting was created, and then google what famous philosophical works came out around that time.

BTW, I think artists and philosophers are doing similar work. They're both sensitive flowers who pick up on what is happening. It's not that philosophers are the geniuses, and this then spreads from them, as if from a prophet. Famous philosophers hang out with the best minds of their day. Any of their friends could have been the famous name.

It's the same with good art. Any famous painting. Just look at the art their friends did in the same period. Basically the same painting. Profound thinking and great art is not done in a vacuum. Any great work is always a group effort. [/quote]

I'd broadly go along with that, with the caveat that you are, of course, defining 'philosophy' in a very broad sense.


[quote=""DrZoidberg""]Could you give an example of applied philosophy? Isn't it always kind of useless? Philosophy is, and should be, IMHO, only about the joy of pure thinking. It shouldn't be applied. Once it is, we call it something else... like science. [/quote]

By and large, my opinion is that pretty much all science is applied philosophy, for example.

As to philosophers who, imo, are making good/useful contributions without becoming themselves purely scientific, I'd cite Daniel Dennett and David Chalmers. I think the cognitive science area is one where applied and unapplied philosophy can get together, sometimes as a hybrid.


[quote=""DrZoidberg""]Thomas Kuhn introduced the term paradigm shift. One of the biggest debates in the 19'th century was the germ theory of disease. The big debate was whether you could catch germs and viruses from another person, or if disease was only something that arose spontaneously.

Kuhn pointed out that if scientists were purely rational it should have been an open and shut case after Ignaz Semmelweis came with his famous 1848 study. It wasn't. Instead Semmelweis was laughed at and made fun of, and died a bitter, disgraced and lonely man.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germ_theory_of_disease

Germ theory finally managed to win the day. But it took almost 50 years. In that time millions died from preventable diseases.

My favorite anecdote from this period is when Lister experimented with Carbolic acid in an operation, and created a thick foggy mist of the stuff in the operating theater. They could barely see what they were doing. They got great results. It took them years to figure out that they didn't need to use that mist. They could just as well just use it on their tools and in the wound directly. That made the whole thing a hell of a lot simpler to do.[/quote]

You're probably not going to like me saying this, but as great as The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was, it was basically history and commentary. As a contributor to science, I think it's over-rated by philosophers. Ditto Popper I'm afraid. I would go back to the Biology professor I previously cited in regard to making the point that science doesn't seem to need philosophy half as much as philosophers tend to think.



[quote=""DrZoidberg""]But that's always been the case. It's usually more than a hundred years between any two unique ideas. There's a lot of wasted effort. We need to get away from today's demand on instant gratification. It's not helpful. It's ok if it'll take another hundred years to come up with something useful. That doesn't make it worthless. Money is not a good way to evaluate how valuable something is.[/quote]

Sure. I'm not for shutting down Philosophy Departments.

What I might be gearing up towards saying though, following on from my post where I suggested that Toolkit Philosophy might be a great candidate for being a compulsory school subject (even at primary school, in some form, I mean the sooner the better) is that I think a case could be made that philosophy could do with reinventing itself for the modern era and the future (without, I must add, losing any of its historical strengths) and being a bit less backward-looking in terms of ancient or just historical sources (aka dead guys), because I think it's in danger of falling further and further into obscurity. Which is a great pity, because in principle, it could have pride of place as the queen/king of human intellectual endeavour.

In a way, this goes straight to the OP, because it's arguably what the writers (of the book being reviewed in the linked article) were trying to suggest, at least in a specific sense related to metaphysics (what a lovely, semi-redundant term that is). :)

I can't say for sure what I think of their specific ideas for 'reforming metaphysics' because I've only read the linked review and the first chapter of the book (which is where the critique ends and the proposals emerge) but it seems to me it's essentially a transformational/rehabilitating sort of enterprise. With a bit of luck, it'd be more than fodder for internal consumption by other philosophers but I suspect that might be a limitation of it because I'm not sure who else is listening. As such, Modern Philosophy could also do with a new 'Big Gun' too, perhaps, its Richard Attenborough or its Carl Sagan, dare I say. And/or maybe even the services of a whiz PR Company. :)

Alain de Botton is doing his best, but he's not really cutting the mustard and arguably needs assistance. Plus, he's not as much of a babe magnet as Dr Brian Cox. :)

I'm not being entirely whimsical. There's an 'ivory tower' feel about a lot of philosophy that sometimes has a dusty whiff of emperor's new old clothes about it.


[quote=""DrZoidberg""]Yes. There's got to be something. I'm less convinced that answer is God. Pretty sure it's not God. But it has to be something. Based on current research in physics, the answer is likely to be something mind blowingly weird that nobody sober would ever have considered. There's also the possibility that we can never know. Like what there was before the Big Bang. The Big Bang destroyed the evidence. So we most likely can never know.

But there still has to be something.[/quote]

Ok well your outlook and mine on that particular issue would diverge there because I ain't looking for or expecting to find 'something more' in the form of whys. I eschew teleology too, as far as possible. I think the two are often linked. You know, purpose and all that.
Last edited by ruby sparks on Wed Nov 08, 2017 2:42 pm, edited 23 times in total.

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Post by ruby sparks » Wed Nov 08, 2017 3:51 pm

[quote=""DrZoidberg""]Philosophy is, and should be, IMHO, only about the joy of pure thinking.[/quote]

Sorry, missed this bit.

Hey, if that's the case, I'll back you all the way.

I'm not sure how it fits with saying that philosophy answers questions......but maybe you are not looking to philosophy for especially conclusive ones. Maybe you like the smorgasbord of arguments mostly for the intellectual fun of tossing them around and disagreeing about them. I can buy that too. There's many many worse ways to pass the time and few of them, apart perhaps from doing crosswords, are as good for keeping the ol' grey matter churning over.

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Post by subsymbolic » Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:52 pm

I still think that her 'sceptical feminist' is one of the finest bit of post Rawlsian philosophy in action I know, but her husband is even better.

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Post by Hermit » Thu Nov 09, 2017 1:58 am

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
DrZoidberg;679587 wrote:Philosophy is, and should be, IMHO, only about the joy of pure thinking.
Hey, if that's the case, I'll back you all the way.[/QUOTE]That would totally contradict the notion that we can express any meaningful assertions that do not ultimately involve philosophical considerations. Of course in the context of this discusssion "Hot today, innit? Much hotter thanyesterday", "Best pizza ever." and suchlike are not meaningful assertions.

Also, have you considered the practical implications of, say, the problem of induction? If we took the consequences flowing from it it would make us a lot less dogmatic and cocksure about what we know.

There are other philosophic issues that have a real impact on us, but I'm feeling too lazy at the moment to present them. Subsymbolic could perhaps add a few. I am surprised he has not already.

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Post by DrZoidberg » Thu Nov 09, 2017 8:47 am

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
Philosophy, it seems to me, isn't able to do that so well, because it doesn't do the testing so much.
[/quote]

We can test philosophical ideas. When philosophers make arguments they create systems of though, that work a bit like evolutionary taxonomy trees. And just like ToE, if any of those conclusions or causalities don't work, the whole system has to be wrong. That's where predicate logic comes in.

Non-philosophers often undervalue the amount of work philosophers put into it. Philosophy isn't just deep thought. It's systematic thought. And systematizing thought is a bit like being an auditor. Just gruelling long hours of work.

With predicate logic, we can make a proof whether or not a philosophical system is possible or not.

But, of course, the fundamental problem with a philosophical system is that something just being logical, isn't good enough. I can easily create a philosophical system that is logical, yet nobody can relate to. And people need to be able to relate to it directly. Throw in all the perception biases, and you can get into trouble quickly. And that's where philosophy turns into an art, rather than science.

So I'd argue that philosophy can be tested. But just because it can be tested doesn't mean it's correct. Only possible.

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
I take your point about some of the shortfalls in science, but, in a nutshell, you would have to work pretty hard if you are trying to get me to agree that as much science is, eventually, a 'waste of time' as is the case for philosophy. :)
[/quote]

I'm sorry if I've given this impression. I didn't say that, and I haven't implied it. This thread is about whether or not philosophy is bunk. All I'm arguing for is that philosophy is better than worthless. Science is a much better thing to invest, both your time and money into. For every philosophy book I read, I read about a fifty science books.

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
As to whether philosophy is good at solving domain-specific problems, that seems to need almost as much clarification as your saying that exciting things are happening in philosophy currently. I thought we'd more or less agreed that philosophy was good at asking questions and (ideally) giving us tools to answer questions, rather than answering questions. You're presenting a sort of all-singing, all-dancing philosophy sales brochure in which I'm having a bit of difficulty recognising the product itself. :)
[/quote]

It might be more clear if we look at the history of postmodernism. Modernist philosophers believed that things are objectively true, and that we can work it out. So they made a bunch of claims that they argued where beyond question. It created a pretty unhelpful atmosphere. This is the era we got Nazism, Fascism, Soviet Communism, totalitarianism, Evangelical "fundamentalist" Christianity and so on. People had a lot of faith in the extent the human mind could work stuff out.

This is when Bertrand Russel said this:

"The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt."

After world war two a lot of people felt that something was wrong about Nazism, and the system of thought that produced it, but had trouble figuring out what it was. Enter postmodernism.

Postmodernism doesn't reject that there is an objective truth. They just reject that we'll ever be able to have access to it. The closest we can come is via proxy. So that's measuring things scientifically. But even if we measure a distance with a ruler, we still don't know the distance, we just know what marking on the ruler lines up with the length of the distance. Which is nice, but still not objective truth.

Here's a great interview with Richard Rorty (not a postmodernist). He explains the problem of objective truth.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzynRPP9XkY

But the trap that so many postmodernist philosophers fall into is that all beliefs and all truths are equally valuable/useful. At that point philosophy becomes a complete waste of time. A huge problem in philosophy ca 1970 - 2010. So much nonsense produced in this period.

It got so bad that in 1996 an Australian programmer studying philosophy created a postmodern essay generator, that generates papers indistinguishable from works by serious philosophers.

http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
Something not being science does not, surely, automatically make it philosophy either? Isn't that a false dichotomy?
[/quote]

I think technically all academic subjects, including science is philosophy. Just a specialized version of philosophy.

There's been a debate now for a hundred years whether psychology is a science or philosophy. I don't think anybody can answer your question.

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
Also, I think the idea that falsifiability defines the domain of science is open to question.
[/quote]

When I studied philosophy of science (required course at university before being allowed to do research) it wasn't open. I think it's part of the rules now. The scientific method is just a set of rules that researchers need to follow or they'll get made fun of by their peers. It's primarily shame that keeps scientists in line.

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
As to philosophers who, imo, are making good/useful contributions without becoming themselves purely scientific, I'd cite Daniel Dennett and David Chalmers. I think the cognitive science area is one where applied and unapplied philosophy can get together, sometimes as a hybrid.
[/quote]

Mm... well.. Agree to disagree. I just don't find the consciousness research particularly interesting. I've read most of Dennett's books. (Not Chalmers) I think it can only matter to people who live in a predominantly Christian society, and have values that are predominantly Christian.

I mean... who cares if we have free will or not? Why does it matter? Their starting point is that it matters. I think they should start by explaining that first. I understand that it matters to a Christian, because for a Christian the world is a totalitarian police state where the "government" can read your mind. So intention matters. But I'm not a Christian.

A good start would be to explain what consciousness is for. We still haven't nailed that baby yet.

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
What I might be gearing up towards saying though, following on from my post where I suggested that Toolkit Philosophy might be a great candidate for being a compulsory school subject (even at primary school, in some form, I mean the sooner the better) is that I think a case could be made that philosophy could do with reinventing itself for the modern era and the future (without, I must add, losing any of its historical strengths) and being a bit less backward-looking in terms of ancient or just historical sources (aka dead guys), because I think it's in danger of falling further and further into obscurity. Which is a great pity, because in principle, it could have pride of place as the queen/king of human intellectual endeavour.

In a way, this goes straight to the OP, because it's arguably what the writers (of the book being reviewed in the linked article) were trying to suggest, at least in a specific sense related to metaphysics (what a lovely, semi-redundant term that is). :)

I can't say for sure what I think of their specific ideas for 'reforming metaphysics' because I've only read the linked review and the first chapter of the book (which is where the critique ends and the proposals emerge) but it seems to me it's essentially a transformational/rehabilitating sort of enterprise. With a bit of luck, it'd be more than fodder for internal consumption by other philosophers but I suspect that might be a limitation of it because I'm not sure who else is listening. As such, Modern Philosophy could also do with a new 'Big Gun' too, perhaps, its Richard Attenborough or its Carl Sagan, dare I say. And/or maybe even the services of a whiz PR Company. :)

Alain de Botton is doing his best, but he's not really cutting the mustard and arguably needs assistance. Plus, he's not as much of a babe magnet as Dr Brian Cox. :)
[/quote]

Well.. studying philosophy has helped me. It's made me make better arguments, and be more self critical of what I write. And picking up a philosophy book, is a great way to give my brain a little jolt, and look at my life from a different perspective. I'd be very sad if it disappeared.

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
I'm not being entirely whimsical. There's an 'ivory tower' feel about a lot of philosophy that sometimes has a dusty whiff of emperor's new old clothes about it.
[/quote]

I think that's the fault of the postmoderns again. The worst offenders is Lacan, Focault and Deleuze IMHO. Three philosophers I like. I think they saw it as a sport to make their texts as impenetrable as possible. Just to make sure only the already initiated had a clue what they were talking about. I think it's simply down to them being shit writers.

Nietzsche is one of the greatest philosophers who have ever lived. His books is extremely accessible. Very easy to read. Easier to read than understand... but I hope you understand what I mean.
"Sorry, you must have been boring"
/Dr Zoidberg

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Post by DrZoidberg » Thu Nov 09, 2017 8:48 am

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
DrZoidberg;679587 wrote:Philosophy is, and should be, IMHO, only about the joy of pure thinking.
Sorry, missed this bit.

Hey, if that's the case, I'll back you all the way.

I'm not sure how it fits with saying that philosophy answers questions......but maybe you are not looking to philosophy for especially conclusive ones. Maybe you like the smorgasbord of arguments mostly for the intellectual fun of tossing them around and disagreeing about them. I can buy that too. There's many many worse ways to pass the time and few of them, apart perhaps from doing crosswords, are as good for keeping the ol' grey matter churning over.[/QUOTE]

I can be more specific. I enjoy it because it helps me shift perspective. It jolts me out of my little box, and forces me to look at myself with other eyes. I enjoy that.
"Sorry, you must have been boring"
/Dr Zoidberg

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Post by ruby sparks » Thu Nov 09, 2017 9:48 am

[quote=""Hermit""]
ruby sparks;679621 wrote:
DrZoidberg;679587 wrote:Philosophy is, and should be, IMHO, only about the joy of pure thinking.
Hey, if that's the case, I'll back you all the way.
That would totally contradict the notion that we can express any meaningful assertions that do not ultimately involve philosophical considerations. Of course in the context of this discusssion "Hot today, innit? Much hotter thanyesterday", "Best pizza ever." and suchlike are not meaningful assertions.

Also, have you considered the practical implications of, say, the problem of induction? If we took the consequences flowing from it it would make us a lot less dogmatic and cocksure about what we know.

There are other philosophic issues that have a real impact on us, but I'm feeling too lazy at the moment to present them. Subsymbolic could perhaps add a few. I am surprised he has not already.[/QUOTE]

Without wanting to be rude, I haven't a clue what you're on about there. :)

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Post by ruby sparks » Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:08 am

[quote=""DrZoidberg""]So I'd argue that philosophy can be tested. But just because it can be tested doesn't mean it's correct. Only possible. [/quote]

Sure. It can be tested using the toolkit we previously referred to. I guess I was talking about testing in the real world, outside of the mind, as it were.

[quote=""DrZoidberg""]I'm sorry if I've given this impression. I didn't say that, and I haven't implied it. This thread is about whether or not philosophy is bunk. All I'm arguing for is that philosophy is better than worthless. Science is a much better thing to invest, both your time and money into. For every philosophy book I read, I read about a fifty science books. [/quote]

No prob. I think I just picked you up wrong. As much my fault as yours.


[quote=""DrZoidberg""]I think technically all academic subjects, including science is philosophy. Just a specialized version of philosophy.[/quote]

Indeed.

My impression is that the further back you go, the less specialisation there was and being a philosopher involved being a sort of jack of all trades, or at least several or at the very least more than one. Nowadays, with all the the hyper-specialisation, where even one limb of one particular science wouldn't claim to know enough about the adjacent specialist limb, philosophy seems to have fallen through the gaps (that is to say philosophy of the general sort that's not already incorporated into the processes of the speciality).

If we look at other spheres of activity, the person who is jack of all trades but master of none is not necessarily redundant or a mere commentator from the sidelines. On the contrary, his or her role has often developed into arguably the most important, central and valuable role of all, the project manager. :)

I might be foolish to be floating these ideas around about how philosophy could become more relevant and vital and sit on the throne (or at least be chairperson) of human endeavour. Maybe it's silly. Maybe a lot of philosophers and those interested in it might not even want that (being niche and obscure and perhaps a little bit elitist is cool, who needs a high profile and putting your neck on the chopping block?) but I'm enjoying stirring the idea around in my head, and in my time I've come across many fans of philosophy on forums like this who appear to essentially make the claim. I think you've as much as done it yourself when you said something about philosophy being right at the top of the hierarchy (can't recall your exact words) and in a way, I'm agreeing with you, and setting my many reservations and perhaps some of my cynicism aside for a while, and wondering where the idea might go. Think of it as a radical and possibly controversial pro-philosophy, 'on the front foot' counterclaim to the OP.

And if you are not comfortable with it or find it overblown, which you might, given that your claims extend to not much more than the very modest 'better than worthless' (which seems to me somewhat at odds with the 'top of the hierarchy' thing but maybe I'm misinterpreting what you meant by that and by what others who appear to hold philosophy in high esteem mean when they say similar things) then..........perhaps....allow your perspective to shift, even if only for a while and for the sake of an interesting or fun discussion. :)
Last edited by ruby sparks on Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:50 am, edited 17 times in total.

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Post by Hermit » Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:51 am

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
Hermit;679720 wrote:
ruby sparks;679621 wrote:
DrZoidberg;679587 wrote:Philosophy is, and should be, IMHO, only about the joy of pure thinking.
Hey, if that's the case, I'll back you all the way.
That would totally contradict the notion that we can express any meaningful assertions that do not ultimately involve philosophical considerations. Of course in the context of this discusssion "Hot today, innit? Much hotter thanyesterday", "Best pizza ever." and suchlike are not meaningful assertions.

Also, have you considered the practical implications of, say, the problem of induction? If we took the consequences flowing from it it would make us a lot less dogmatic and cocksure about what we know.

There are other philosophic issues that have a real impact on us, but I'm feeling too lazy at the moment to present them. Subsymbolic could perhaps add a few. I am surprised he has not already.
Without wanting to be rude, I haven't a clue what you're on about there. :) [/QUOTE]
No offence taken. That was a mongrel of a post, even by my own low standards. Let me try again.

Two reasons why philosophy is not only about the joy of pure thinking:

1.) Philosophy is not about the joy of pure thinking. It is at the bottom of every meaningful assertion ever uttered.

2.) Philosophy can and does have practical consequences, which means it does go beyond mere joy of pure thinking. I offered the problem of induction as an example and opined "If we took the consequences flowing from it it would make us a lot less dogmatic and cocksure about what we know."

Is that any clearer?
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Post by ruby sparks » Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:01 am

[quote=""Hermit""]
No offence taken. That was a mongrel of a post, even by my own low standards. Let me try again.

1.) Philosophy is not about the joy of pure thinking. It is at the bottom of every meaningful assertion ever uttered.

2.) Philosophy can and does have practical consequences, which means it does go beyond mere joy of pure thinking. I offered the problem of induction as an example and opined "If we took the consequences flowing from it it would make us a lot less dogmatic and cocksure about what we know."

Is that any clearer?[/quote]

I think so, yes.

So, I agree that Philosophy is more than just the joy of thinking, and I'm guessing that DrZ thinks this too (he must, given several of the other things he's also said). Perhaps he was just articulating what felt like his main, bottom-line reason, one that persists even when philosophy appears to be of little practical use otherwise. And I'd go along with that. So I wasn't necessarily taking his 'only' literally.

And I think your example (induction) is a good one. It's something I'd put on my hypothetical syllabus. Can you think of an example, to put in a tutorial, that would persuade kids to get from it what you're suggesting (less dogma and unwarranted sureness)?

Saying that tomorrow the sky might theoretically and hypothetically turn green and the grass blue is not going to be convincing, for example. Can you think of one that they could relate to and make them go, 'oh yeah, I see'?

How about the Christmas Turkey one? It'd be a seasonal topic at this end of the term.
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Post by Hermit » Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:22 am

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
Hermit;679742 wrote: No offence taken. That was a mongrel of a post, even by my own low standards. Let me try again.

1.) Philosophy is not about the joy of pure thinking. It is at the bottom of every meaningful assertion ever uttered.

2.) Philosophy can and does have practical consequences, which means it does go beyond mere joy of pure thinking. I offered the problem of induction as an example and opined "If we took the consequences flowing from it it would make us a lot less dogmatic and cocksure about what we know."

Is that any clearer?
I think so, yes.

So, I agree that Philosophy is more than just the joy of thinking, and I'm guessing that DrZ thinks this too (he must, given several of the other things he's also said). Perhaps he was just articulating what felt like his main, bottom-line reason, one that persists even when philosophy appears to be of little practical use otherwise. And I'd go along with that. So I wasn't necessarily taking his 'only' literally.

And I think your example (induction) is a good one. It's something I'd put on my hypothetical syllabus. Can you think of an example, to put in a tutorial, that would persuade kids to get from it what you're suggesting (less dogma and unwarranted sureness)?

Saying that tomorrow the sky might theoretically and hypothetically turn green and the grass blue is not going to be convincing, for example. Can you think of one that they could relate to and make them go, 'oh yeah, I see'?

How about the Christmas Turkey one? It'd be a seasonal topic at this end of the term.[/QUOTE]
Yes. Russell's inductivist turkey might come in handy. The takeaway from that is that we cannot tell when we are dealing with mere correlation rather than causation even if we accept the existence of causality.

Fake ETA: Note to Grendel: Assuming the existence of causality is a metaphysical proposition.

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Post by ruby sparks » Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:30 am

[quote=""Hermit""]
Yes. Russell's inductivist turkey might come in handy. The takeaway from that is that we cannot tell when we are dealing with mere correlation rather than causation....[/quote]

I think so too. And what's more, I think it would inform the kids in a useful way (and could lead into a discussion on confirmation bias too). How often do we see correlation conflated with causation when statistics and other information are presented on tv or the internet? Every bloody day, is my guess. We're talking making philosophy relevant here.

I'd love to be able to say that I can think of a particularly good example offhand, but I'm struggling a bit. There's the apparent fact that an increase in murders is correlated to an increase in ice cream sales, but I doubt if the kids would fall into the trap of thinking that one caused the other...but that one has ice cream in it so kids might be interested....lol.

Can you think of a better one, which might surprise the kids (or anyone)?
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Post by ruby sparks » Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:39 am

How about this one? Eating organic food 'causes' autism...a bit 'grown up' for schoolkids of a certain age perhaps. I can't think of one that primary kids might be able to learn from.

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Post by Rheanne » Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:49 am

Grendel's opening line wrote:Philosophy and Metaphysics separated from Science not long after Science separated from Alchemy.
So.... Philosophy is to science as science is to alchemy. :evil:

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Post by ruby sparks » Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:53 am

Just before I get back to work, here's a cracker from Fox News. Basically, it suggests that National Healthcare Systems cause (help to promote and increase) terrorism.

Crap? Almost certainly. And in this post-truth information age, it might be great if we could teach more people, perhaps starting when they're kids, how not to fall so easily for this kind of insidious and pervasive content.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2c-JEx-Kfvc
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