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[P]
Western Philosophy in a Nutshell, Part I

By SocratesGhost in Culture
Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 11:50:23 AM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)
/etc

The immediate purpose of this guide is to provide a layman's framework for talking about subjects philosophically. The longterm purpose of this guide is to answer the question, "Why bother?". Although this touches on many complex subjects, some liberty is taken with terms to present them in less jargon-heavy language. For example, instead of referring to "analytic statements", I have called them "necessarily true facts".

This is the first of three parts. Part I discusses some recurring themes in philosophy. Part II addresses some of the major landmarks in philosophy with an emphasis on the 20th Century (yes, it was very active). Part III meditates on the current state of philosophy and its future.


"What is your aim in philosophy?--To shew the fly the way out of the fly-bottle." -Wittgenstein

First things first

Almost as confusing as the definition of art, the definition of philosophy is obscure. It's not enough to resort to its literal Greek translation "love of wisdom", although this is a very interesting word. One who loves wisdom doesn't necessarily need to study it nor even possess it. Nevertheless, philosophy is considered a type of pursuit like any scientific endeavor. Philosophers take it for granted that it is the study of everything, central to all endeavors. If we imagine the sciences to be a large wheel where one study fades into the next to create a great circular chain of studies, philosophy would be that wheel's hub, comprised of principles that would be true across all areas, whether that area be of numbers, facts, music, or society. We can think of philosophy being the search for first principles.

First recurrent theme: how do you like your philosophy?

I tend to think of philosophy in comparison to science although it is not a science in the way we normally mean "science". Here we discover the first common theme of philosophy: the quest for form. For any question, the answer must be derived in a way that the questioner believes is acceptable. In mathematics, a well-formed answer will be derived from a proof or a computation. The result is the content of the answer, the computation itself is how the answer was formed. I'd like to dwell on this a moment because there's a subtle distinction here. We cannot cook up an answer using a recipe in this way: one part form; one part content; heat at 350º for 15 minutes. When we say "form", we are speaking of the action of constructing or declaring this or that type of thing. Content would be the things themselves. Form is procedural. Unsurprisingly, if you change the form of a philosophy, the results may change dramatically.

The sciences resist change to its formal processes, preferring to create a new avenue of the science. Euclidean geometry has five postulates. Change the fifth postulate, and you have non-Euclidean geometry. A scientist who defies Newton long enough may stumble into quantum physics. Alchemy fades as chemistry rises, astrology gives way to astronomy, and even here the earth-based Ptolemaic system of the cosmos was eclipsed by the Copernican. Acceptable principles are relatively uncontroversial; when controversies arise, either one theory wins out or a new science emerges.

Philosophers, more than scientists, have an endless fascination in form. The Socratic Method is exactly this kind of a formal system, where truth is derived from question and response. Hegel further refined this system into what he called the Dialectic, a process where two competing theories are observed as two incomplete ways of understanding a single larger theory. Theorists of Logical Positivism (such as Rudolf Carnap) used the Verification Theory which holds that a statement is true if it is verifiable, while Pragmatists (such as W.V.O. Quine--who convinces me most of the time) may hold that there is no distinction between necessarily true facts (such as "2+2=4") and accidentally true facts ("My dog has three legs").

The common thread behind all of this is that the form of a philosophy has a very large influence on the types of principles that the philosophy derives. Since philosophy is about principles, the principles that guide philosophy must also conform to itself. A quick analogy will make this clear: philosophy is like a debate about debating; the outcome of the debate must necessarily conform with the debate itself. Some philosophies can be challenged just on this basis. How do we verify the Verification Theory?

Second recurrent theme: to think or not to think

Already, we can see how this may descend into pedantry. "What is truth?" "What is existence?" "How do I know that you even exist?" A contentious debate can quickly give rise to these questions and more often than not when these questions appear, people tend to roll their eyes and agree to disagree with the questioner. However, it is around these waters that philosophy must necessarily cast its net. When dealing with first principles, these obviously become issues, and it must seem surprising that philosophy can make any progress at all if it cannot even answer these questions!

It has been said that all of philosophy is just footnotes to Plato, since he wrote about almost everything. We can extend this metaphor, if we wish, to imagine the Big Book of Philosophy: Chapter 1, "Euthyphro", and the footnotes would include such notes as Rene Descartes' "Meditations of First Philosophy". For me, though, this has always been an inadequate way of demonstrating how active and vital is the history of philosophy, especially when trying to answer The Big Questions®. In a not-so-flattering metaphor that portrays philosophers exactly as the cantankerous grouches that the public sometimes perceives, philosophy is a war between Plato and Aristotle, between the philosopher of rationality and the philosopher of experience, between the mind and the eye. We could even seem biblical: "Plato begat Augustine, who in turn begat Descartes who was brother to Spinoza and Leibniz..." Problems of loyalty arise when we meet Immanuel Kant, but since his name rhymes with "detente", I consider him a ceasefire between the two camps. Either way, this is the indicative of the second recurrent theme in philosophy: the tension between knowing and using.

We may think of this as the student's dilemma. Suppose a student is assigned a paper on any topic, let's assume George Washington. The student begins to study. The studies raise questions that takes the student in several directions(say, presidential power). Competing theories emerge and the student enlarges the topic to account for the opposing theories (washingtonian vs. jeffersonian administrations). Other topics arise that drastically change the tone of the topic(the cherry tree). Is this a useful avenue or a dead end (should Arbor Day be mentioned?), only more study will confirm it. Eventually, though, the student says, "what I have is good enough", the books are put away, the paper is written and the assignment is done. How then, does the student know that the paper has been adequately exhaustive? Would one more reference have made a difference?

It's difficult to believe that philosophy would encourage such a trade-off, and yet such a trade off seems manifest. 20th Century philosophy was almost solely devoted to two sides working at cross purposes with each other. The first camp contains the Continental Philosophers (so-called because of their greater tendency to arise in continental Europe) such as Jacques Derrida, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, and general Post-Modernism. On the other side were the Analytic Philosophers such as Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Carnap, and Thomas Kuhn. The Analytic Philosophers constantly struggled with problems that make philosophy usable. Wittgenstein saw philosophy as a process for understanding which, once used, should be discarded. Kuhn is famous for his work on scientific revolutions and he even coined that maligned phrase of the dot-com era: paradigm shift. Philosophers of the mind have made great contributions to the areas of cognitive science and psychology (see Paul and Patricia Churchland, Daniel Dennett, or David Chalmers). The emphasis here appears focused on useful results. For those that believe philosophers never do anything, the Analytic philosophers should put that concern to rest.

Often however, there is something unsettlingly dissatisfying in the Analytic tradition. In particular, they tend to skid right past The Big Questions®. Who can blame them? Yet the questions remain. Continental philosophers do not have the aversion for approaching these fundamental concerns. These problems are so far reaching that history is littered with the detritus of such philosophies: phenomenology, existentialism, hermeneutics. For better or worse, a characteristic of continental philosophy is that they are fashionable. It's much cooler to think in terms of Derrida's Deconstructionism than of Paul Churchland's Eliminative Materialism. With Sartre, you seem deep and intellectual, but quoting C.S. Peirce is seen as a good cure for insomnia. Perhaps it's the jealousy I feel when the Continental Philosophers with black turtlenecks hang out at the coffee house making points with the opposite sex while I struggle away with Tarski, but continental philosophers seem to be having a lot of fun. They continually concern themselves with the pursuit of philosophy's deepest problems, have cool hair and a stylish life, and there's no hurry for them to produce results that can be immediately applied to the world. There's something behind the phrase, "The grass is always greener on the other side."

Third recurrent theme: breaking things apart and putting them together again

The problem then is how are we to reconcile these sides that are debating past each other. This is a third theme of philosophy: problems of digestion. Most work in philosophy is a struggle with one small aspect of it and occasionally (or rarely) the issues involved are encountered across the slate. The scientist in all of us wants to break the problem down into manageable parts and indeed, philosophy is already constituted this way: epistemology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, politics, of the mind, of science, of history, of law. This is a useful way to approach the problem and even makes it more interesting to the philosopher since they can dwell in an area of greatest fascination. Ronald Dworkin is active in areas around the philosophy of law, but we do not hear much from him outside of these concerns. In the domain of first principles, though, some fundamental issues are fundamental across all sectors of the study.

In philosophy, we see this time and again, where a narrow focused pursuit becomes suddenly more generalized and abstract. Aristotle writes of poetics, biology and physics, but in order to lead up to physics, he writes the Meta-physics, the principles behind the principles. Descartes has nagging doubts, but there's one thing he cannot doubt: that he exists and he tells us "Cogito, ergo sum" ("I think, therefore I am"). Quine digs deeply into logic and linguistics, and then proceeds to happily wipe out Empiricism. Also, in this way, theorists outside of philosophical study can make huge contributions by uncovering a first principle in the natural course of their own work. Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem speaks to philosophers just as much as to mathematicians. In almost no other enterprise can anyone, anywhere, at any time, be able to make an earth shattering contribution.

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most hilarious philosophy
o all 12%
o Husserl 2%
o Berkeley 11%
o Leibniz (c'mon, he believed in monads. Monads!) 15%
o Derrida 10%
o Nietszche 28%
o Socrates 12%
o Wittgenstein (actually, he's just insane) 5%

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Western Philosophy in a Nutshell, Part I | 173 comments (162 topical, 11 editorial, 1 hidden)
conclusions (4.66 / 3) (#2)
by tebrow on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 11:00:36 PM EST

In almost no other enterprise can anyone, anywhere, at any time, be able to make an earth shattering contribution.

Are you claiming that one can in the enterprise of philiosophy?

Earth shattering (none / 0) (#44)
by jabber on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:24:21 PM EST

I think that only Astronomy fits the bill. Like, whoever spots the really big rock, gets to name it before we all die.

Alternately, though not quite Earth "shattering" would be anything dealing with nuclear fission, or lots and lots of explosives.

All others are just suffering delusions of grandeur.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Hugh Everett III (3.00 / 1) (#3)
by chemista on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 11:10:06 PM EST

Is Everett considered to be a philosopher also? I would think the fairly radical nature of the Many-Worlds view of quantum mechanics would have profound implications on many of the "Big Questions" (e.g., free will -- you do every possible action, but those which correlate with your prior behavior are much more probable).
Stop reminding people about the overvalued stock market! I'm depending on that overvalued stock market to retire some day! - porkchop_d_clown
Physics is not PHilosophy (4.00 / 1) (#13)
by x3nophil3 on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 11:51:25 PM EST

If you ever want to be a little less impressed by your favorite physicist, read some of his philosophical musings. They're usually shaky, at time laughable.

(Heisenberg is a wonderful source)

~x

[ Parent ]

Yes, but.. (none / 0) (#30)
by Wah on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 10:40:54 AM EST

..the many worlds interpretation leads to some interesting thoughts.  Not the least of which includes the conclusion that the world is yours alone to control, although you must still play by its rules.  It is by one's observation alone that anything is possible, or even exists.  Your death would be the end of the universe and all in it is there to teach you (although "teach" is probably the wrong word here, as it includes other unexplained axioms).  This interpretation would build on the idea that "You cannot prove to me that the universe will continue to exist beyond my death."

In other words, only one person really exists in each universe.  You.  There is some interaction with other's worlds, but they are still fully mediated by oneself.  

The conclusions about how one ought to act in such a universe is left as an exerecise for the reader. (although I'm sure it would/has make/made an interesting read at some point)
--
You didn't know we had cameras in your room, Parent ]

Physics can be philosophy (none / 0) (#43)
by Humuhumunukunukuapuaa on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:09:43 PM EST

For example there was a time when the fact that space was a Euclidean space was deemed a necessary fact and thus the nature of space was considered philosophy. However along came Einstein (and others before him) suggesting that this was merely an empirical fact: the shape of spacetime is in fact determined by the Einstein field equations. So what was once discussed as philosophy is now considered physics.
--
(&()*&^#@!!&_($&)!&$(*#$(!$&_(!$*&&!$@
[ Parent ]
Many-worlds... (none / 0) (#73)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 08:44:37 PM EST

... was the punch line to a good many jokes in the Philosophy of Physics seminar I took. It really is, at worst, rather absurd nonsense and, at best, a sorely ill-defined nonstarter. Here is a good starter question down that road: instead of the easy 50, 50 cases for the probabilities of various outcomes, consider the cases where the odds are something like 1/4, 1/3, 5/12, how many universes split off from each other in that case? What about when the numerator or denominator is irrational?



[ Parent ]

discrete math (none / 0) (#83)
by speek on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 11:04:20 PM EST

I'm not sure it's possible to have irrational numbers in probabilities - after all, probabilities are all about the number of times X will happen out of Y occurences - X and Y are necessarily integers.

I'm sure some fancy-pants mathematician will come out of the woodwork to explain why I'm either wrong or right. And please do :-)

--
Perhaps the State of Hawaii could countersue the woman that gave birth to and raised a
[
Parent ]

Probabilities are not irrational! (5.00 / 2) (#125)
by phliar on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 08:12:29 PM EST

I'm not sure it's possible to have irrational numbers in probabilities - after all, probabilities are all about the number of times X will happen out of Y occurences - X and Y are necessarily integers.
Sorry, no. I'm not a "fancy-pants" mathematician -- I'm wearing jeans. However, probability is a real number between 0 and 1. That's it. Can an event have a probability of π/4? Absolutely! Take a square and inscribe a circle in it. (Inscribe means if the square has a side of 1 inch, make the circle have a diameter of 1 inch. Now if you select a point at random, what is the probability it's inside the circle? (Like throwing darts at a dartboard in a square.) It's π/4 which is irrational.

The "number of times X will happen out of Y chances" does not define probability; it is just an approximate measure of probability. If you repeat the experiment, you will get a different result -- but we'd really like our notion of probability to be an intrinsic property of the system, one that does not change values on a whim. In fact from a philosophical standpoint it is extremely tedious to formulate a definition of probability. Mathematicians usually get away by defining it something like the limit of the X/Y number as Y tends to infinity.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Thank you... (none / 0) (#133)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 02:56:30 AM EST

... for saving me the trouble of saying some stuff like what you said which probably wouldn't have been as clear anyway.



[ Parent ]

thanks (nt) (none / 0) (#136)
by speek on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 10:06:38 AM EST


--
Perhaps the State of Hawaii could countersue the woman that gave birth to and raised a
[
Parent ]

The number of worlds (none / 0) (#95)
by chemista on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 08:36:35 AM EST

Actually, if there are two possibilities, there are precisely two worlds, irrespective of the probabilities involved. viz. |Univ> --> (p(A))^(1/2)|Univ,A>|A> ("World 1")+ (1-p(A))^(1/2)|Univ,not-A>|not-A> ("World 2"), where p(A) is the probability of A occurring and |Univ> is the universe ket before the A event occurs (I know there's complication wrt the term "before" when you add in relativity). I don't see where any problem comes in whatever the probabilities happen to be.
Stop reminding people about the overvalued stock market! I'm depending on that overvalued stock market to retire some day! - porkchop_d_clown
[ Parent ]
Then what the hell does MW help with... (none / 0) (#134)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 03:07:19 AM EST

... if it doesn't give us a reason for seeing superpositions that collapse to normal positions according to a pattern that can be accounted for by all those probability mechanics? I thought that was the freaking point! Why do we see the electron in the well as near the center? MW: "cause when you measure the universe splits and more of the resulting universes happen to have the electron in the middle, thus it is more likely that you are going to be in one of them."

If it doesn't even reproduce the numbers that the probability talk can give us, what good is it? Hell, Bohm gives us the numbers we see there and makes sense to a mechanistic mindset. If we need an interpretation that we can use as a crutch in this weird universe, why not use Bohm instead of something that you claim can't measure up (I say "you" b/c I know that at least some MW advocates have to think it can give the numbers somehow, someway)?



[ Parent ]

The ket collapse (none / 0) (#168)
by chemista on Mon Sep 16, 2002 at 12:33:00 PM EST

The collapse of the ket only occurs after enough heat loss (about kT) occurs for the separation to be thermodynamically irreversible. The universe kets are not orthogonal until this takes place. Thus the collapse takes place when heat is lost due to ion conduction in the optic nerve (or absorption loss of the photon in a rod/cone) in a human eye or i2R loss in an electron multiplier reaches kT.
Stop reminding people about the overvalued stock market! I'm depending on that overvalued stock market to retire some day! - porkchop_d_clown
[ Parent ]
western philosophy in a nutshell, EXPOSED (1.28 / 28) (#5)
by turmeric on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 11:13:49 PM EST

step 1. steal a bunch of ideas from brown people

step 2. act like you invented them

step 3. blather endlessly about them meanwhile ignoring anything having to do with reality

step 4. figure out elaborate ways to justify invading other countries and murdering people

step 5. rape boys

from a careful study of socrates, plato, aristotle, etc, that is what i gleaned their chief goals in life were. pretty fucking stupid if you ask me.

What did you read written by socrates? (NT) (5.00 / 2) (#8)
by Caton on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 11:23:19 PM EST



---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
according to the Phaedo (none / 0) (#9)
by SocratesGhost on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 11:28:38 PM EST

while he was in jail awaiting his sentence to be carried out, Soc said he was writing down Aesop's fables in verse form. Now, wouldn't that be cool to get your hands on!

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Well... (none / 0) (#12)
by Caton on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 11:41:59 PM EST

...if I had access to a time-travel machine and could go back in time to recover lost works, that wouldn't be the first one, for me. I think I'd first head to Leipzig on Good Friday, 1731... and get the St. Mark Passion by Bach.

I would eventually go back to Socrates, though.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]

Ya know... (none / 0) (#15)
by cr8dle2grave on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:15:30 AM EST

...something in this vein might make for an interesting variation on the old "my top ten list" story.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
i know. (none / 0) (#17)
by SocratesGhost on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:20:39 AM EST

I'm also thinking of Aristotle's "Comedy", raiding the Library of Alexandria, and Sun Tzu's original Art of War before all of the commentators got to it. If we could cross dimension's, too, I'd also jump into that Abbey from "Name Of The Rose"...

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
If... (5.00 / 1) (#18)
by cr8dle2grave on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:24:27 AM EST

...we can do a dimensional leap, than Borges' many libraries would be definite must.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Hmm... (none / 0) (#52)
by thither on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 03:29:07 PM EST

...actually, if we're going to Borges's libraries, we'd also better build a device into our time-travelling machine that can find the right book out of many (I'm thinking of "The Library of Babel" here).

Personally I'd be too tempted to use the literary time-travel machine to alter history—eg, stop the author of, say, Forrest Gump from publishing that novel, or getting Wallace Stevens to alter the final line of "The Man on the Dump." ("Where was it one first heard of the truth? The the.") This would, of course, cause a paradox as I would then have no reason to go back in time in the first place.



[ Parent ]
There are many other interesting times to visit (5.00 / 1) (#19)
by Caton on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:25:42 AM EST

Going to visit each of the seven marvels... Meeting Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, David, Archimedes... Having a look at the Parthenon before it's blown up... I'm not sure I can restrict my list to 10.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
What I would do. (none / 0) (#75)
by jesushatesyou on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 08:48:24 PM EST

Go back in time with a whole bunch of text books and pawn off all the great ideas and knowledge humanity has ever produced as my own.

Just think, you would be forever remembered as the greatest philosopher and scientist of all time...not bad for one's self esteem...

And it always makes me wonder if a small team of modern experts was sent back, say, 2000 years, who knew latin, could they speed up progress by a thousand or even 2000 years? How long would it take pre-industrial society to industrialize? etc.

[ Parent ]

That would change history (none / 0) (#76)
by Caton on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 08:59:10 PM EST

And you'd have the Time Patrol going after you.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
....Foiled by the Time Patrol. Yet again. (nt) (none / 0) (#81)
by jesushatesyou on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 10:30:25 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Better yet... (none / 0) (#90)
by wedman on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 01:05:45 AM EST

Go back in time with a BFG and nail a hairy little monkey named 'Adam'.

~
DELETE FROM comments WHERE uid=9524;
[ Parent ]
turmeric in a nutshell, EXPOSED (4.40 / 5) (#20)
by SocratesGhost on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 03:34:31 AM EST

step 1. take a marginally controversial topic and blow it out of proportion

step 2. act like you are the first to realize this

step 3. post comments to unsuccessfully inflame others

step 4. figure out uncreative ways to draw attention to yourself

step 5. rape boys

from a careful study of turmeric's original expose and my own, i gleaned that there's no difference between turmeric and an ancient greek philosopher. pretty fucking stupid if you ask me.


btw, turmeric, I kid because I care.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
ut oh (none / 0) (#46)
by turmeric on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:46:44 PM EST

that is sort of accurate i should stop

[ Parent ]
except for (none / 0) (#47)
by turmeric on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:47:10 PM EST

the 'boy raping' part. jesus man. talk aabout not funny

[ Parent ]
Pierce as bridge? (none / 0) (#11)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 11:39:40 PM EST

Concerning the gap between the Analytic and the Continental, I think in a certain way Pierce might be seen as a bridge over that seemingly vast divide. His treatment of ordinary language and the basic framework of semiotics has exerted significant influence -- directly or by a chain-of-influence -- on significant figures usually understood a having a place in the broader Continental category: Umberto Eco, of course; Barthes by way of Jacobson; Lacan (God forgive), and through him the teeming throngs of franco-babblists; Derrida; ...etc.

Actually, I might go so far as to say that wherever Analytics have attended to the problems of 'natural language' there exists the possibility for a common ground (Austin, Quine, Langer, the later Wittgenstein...), once the obvious differences in terminology are dealt with. After all, while it is the acerbic tone of the great Derrida/Searle debate that is usually remembered, Derrida did begin by noting that he was mostly in agreement with Austin; it was only the "parasitic" distinction he took issue with.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


Continental philosophy and women (none / 0) (#21)
by iwnbap on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 03:59:28 AM EST


I'm really curious about is that there seems to be a sex divide between the two camps of continental and analytic philosophy.  For whatever reason there seem to be a lot more female students of the continental types, however for the humble student of logic such as myself the prospects of chatting up pretty women seem very dim.

Why is this? Are logicians just not sexy?


If you have to ask... [n/t] (4.00 / 1) (#22)
by cr8dle2grave on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 04:20:59 AM EST


---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Logicians? (none / 0) (#38)
by Ceebs on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:00:11 PM EST

I don't know the answer to that, but a better question would be are logicians any less sexy thanother philosophers?

From personal experience. I can say that being a Philosopher hasn't ever effected my love life in a negative way. In fact Women tend to ascribe the occasional attack when my toungue seemed to fill my entire mouth to the fact that I was thinking about what they were saying so If anything it helped me.

[ Parent ]
If all you do is talk, you can say anything. (none / 0) (#71)
by mingofmongo on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 08:11:57 PM EST

The people who have made it their purpose to actually have an effect on reality are constrained in their claims.

So, the analytical philosophers must say stuff that hangs together with reality, but the 'continental' philosophers can say any old thing that comes to mind. The analyitics must build upon a logical framework, and the continentals just have to sound good.

So who do you think is going to have the groupies?

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

Metaphysics (3.50 / 2) (#23)
by Kamui on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 07:27:22 AM EST

It has been argued that the word "Metaphysics" derives simply from the fact that the book came after the book of Physics, and that there is not as necessary a semantic connection as generally believed.

[-1] Good however I have problems with this. (3.00 / 2) (#24)
by dmt on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 08:36:27 AM EST

I feel you've forgotten Martin Luther therefore Lutheran influences, Epicurus' influence on Western thinking and others.  If Lutheran philiosphy isn't a re-occuring theme may the sky fall down on my head.

But the person that really should be included is William Whewell the man who changed the term 'natural philosopher' into scientist and definined what we think of as science today.  If his philosophy isn't a recurring theme see last line of last paragraph, second half.

they are in there (5.00 / 1) (#29)
by SocratesGhost on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 10:37:05 AM EST

what i was aiming to do in this piece was not to trace the thread of any single philosopher's thought throughout history. That will actually appear in Part II and is part of my definition of what makes a philosophical moment as being landmark, ie, it may recur in time.

Abstractedly, the aim of this piece was to step back from philosophy and to discern trends about philosophy, not trends within philosophy. Luther, I would say, was a thinker in the camp of those who aspire to have philosophy be usable, as was Epicurus.

Necessarily, in a piece like this, there are bound to be omissions of one's favorite philosophers. In that case, I would encourage comments such as this. I think of myself as a philosophical evangelist, and additional comments that broaden the range may help others with little exposure to the field to see more about what is going.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
OK(ish) (none / 0) (#48)
by dmt on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:47:51 PM EST

Necessarily, in a piece like this, there are bound to be omissions of one's favorite philosophers. In that case, I would encourage comments such as this. I think of myself as a philosophical evangelist, and additional comments that broaden the range may help others with little exposure to the field to see more about what is going.

I think maybe you should make this clear from the outset of the piece (I  realise that this would be a very un-Kuro5hin thing to do) because I feel it would be a shame to allow people to beleive that any philosophical reporting is definitive.

What you've explained makes perfect sense to me; however this wasn't clear from your article.

[ Parent ]

No Aquinas? (none / 0) (#26)
by graal on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 09:57:24 AM EST

P'shaw.

--
For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)

Then I re-read the title... (none / 0) (#27)
by graal on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 09:59:46 AM EST

D'oh!

"Part I".

Maybe he shows up in part 2?

--
For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)
[ Parent ]

hehe (none / 0) (#31)
by SocratesGhost on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 10:53:54 AM EST

I hadn't planned on including him, although he's one of my favorites(then again, 90% of them are my favorites). You can imagine that even Part II is running long as well, so I'm going to have to take care in who makes it into the final draft. I'm still compiling my list for landmark moments, though, so if you want to make the case of how Aquinas is more or equal of a landmark to, say, the Anslem's Ontological Proof for God, I'd be happy to hear your case.

Incidentally, my current list is as follows:
  1. Thales (very briefly)
  2. Plato's Myth of the Cave
  3. Anselm (explicate on the Proof)
  4. Descartes' Meditations
  5. Mills' On Liberty (with mentions of Locke & Rousseau)
  6. Nietzsche's legacy
  7. from Principia Mathematica to Godel
  8. Heidegger
  9. Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism
If you thought Part I was big...

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Holy moly. (none / 0) (#33)
by graal on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 11:14:10 AM EST

You, sir, have your work cut out for you.

The only plug I'll put in for the Angelic Doctor is that the Summa established the theological foundations of the Catholic Church, no small influence in the history of Western thought.

Within the confines of a history of western philosophy, I'll defer to those who are better-read on the subject. I have no problems confessing that I don't know enough about the subject to make a truly meaningful contribution to the discussion.

+1FP. I look forward to reading the next installment(s).

graal (amateur Thomist)

--
For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)
[ Parent ]

I'll second that. (none / 0) (#35)
by cr8dle2grave on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 11:25:18 AM EST

The Scholastics merit at least some mention.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Legacy? (none / 0) (#36)
by cr8dle2grave on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 11:43:17 AM EST

Nietzsche's legacy? Care to give us a clue where you intend to go with this?

Also, I'd suggest making some mention of Hume waking Kant from his dogmatic slumber. I'd say that qualifies as landmark moment.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
alright.. great subject (4.00 / 1) (#39)
by shrubbery on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:00:53 PM EST

Good looking list you have there for part 2!

I would humbly suggest also: Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, and Sartre. Maybe a brief mention of Locke, Leibniz, and Wittenstein?

[ Parent ]

Goedel and Russell (none / 0) (#128)
by phliar on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 08:49:06 PM EST

Incidentally, my current list is as follows:
...
  7. from Principia Mathematica to Godel
Hmm... what are your intentions? I've had far too many philosophers (maybe they were just wannabes) horribly misquote and twist the work of these two. I now get very nervous when someone mentions either of those two names together with someone like Wittgenstein or Kant or Sartre... especially Gödel.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

That's what my girlfriend said. (none / 0) (#143)
by wells on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 01:23:10 PM EST

That thing is huge. Your list, that is.

I'm not against having go at explaining the arguments; heck, the more people who know about these things, the better.

But there is the ongoing problem of interpretation. It really is hard to figure out how you can cover all of that work without inviting mis-interpretation (from readers, un-intentional errors, etc.) For example, Quine did not 'wipe out' empiricism; and any claim that he did is a serious mis-interpretation.

I would suggest trying out the landmarks and their arguments in smaller chunks -- you really do not want to risk incoherence. Maybe try furthering your enterprise with just 20th century analytic philosophy...?

[ Parent ]
it's a good recommendation (none / 0) (#152)
by SocratesGhost on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 06:44:18 PM EST

My goal in all of this isn't to present the history of western philosophy, so I'm not going into detail in everything. What I'm trying to present is more of a philosophy on how philosophy has been done. The point of all of this is really Part 3. In Part 2, I'll be taking some parts leisurely, and other parts at a brisk pace as they demonstrate the recurring themes (I'll also support my admittedly controversial Quine thesis during Part 2, the shreds of which you can find in some of my various comments in this thread; this more fully states my position, but I'd be happy to hear a correction.) In Part 3, I'll again take up an analytic mantle and review the recurrent themes in light of some of the evidence in Part 2. I'll also evaluate the success/failure of this historical progression in philosophy, as well as some of the problems inherent in my interpretation. A taste of this is here and I'd be grateful for your constructive peer review.

Perhaps I'm setting up a strawman, though. This is my greatest concern, more so than any other type of argument here. I think, however, that the way people have done philosophy has some significant consequences that inhibit forward progress. It's not a flaw in philosophical reasoning, but a misjudgment in how it is learned/taught/studied/used.

Incidentally, thank you for reading this.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Quine qua Kant (none / 0) (#159)
by wells on Sat Sep 14, 2002 at 02:38:19 PM EST

Well, I see what you're getting at with Quine, but such a reading may not go far enough with his thesis.

Here's an example from Quine (1980, p.41): "The factual component must, if we are empiricists, boil down to a range of confirmatory experiences". Quine's pragmatism was radically empiricist -- insofar as he did not countenance anything life a belief, a propositional attitude, etc. it goes that, by his lights, all we have is said 'range of confirmatory experiences'.

The thesis of _Two Dogmas_ is that no one experience confirms the truth of any one sentence, but that they all stand and fall together. This is often read as a sort of holism about both semantics and epistemology.

You're right, he does reject analycity; but it isn't replace with anything else that is similarly 'cognitive'. Taken with his behaviorism and a rejection of the Given through his holism, the rejection of the mental makes him seem like quite an empiricist indeed.

A consequence of his position (I'm really blazing through this, my apologies) is the so called Indeterminacy of Translation, which, of course, runs that you can never be perfectly sure of the meaning of another's speakers utterances since all you have to go on is the empirical. This seems to be his pragmatism too.

But the empirical content of an utterance is probably not enough to give an analysis of language, or truth, or meaning, etc, etc...Kant's reply to Hume followed something like 'but relations between ideas isn't enough to generate the a notion of truth that is adequately robust'. A similar, very intentionally Kantian, reply to Quine can be found in McDowell's _Mind and World_. Moreover, computationalism, like Fodor's, is an attempt to stay empirical, but assuage the need to stay rational about meaning.

For a hyper-empirical reading of Quine, you might check out Millikan's _Biosemantics_.

All that said, I look forward to the next installment. Good job!

[ Parent ]
So I had to go and find out what a 'monad' is. (4.66 / 3) (#37)
by graal on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 11:51:38 AM EST

I read the definition. Things are much clearer now.

[...]

Since Leibniz' time the term monad has been used by various philosophers to designate indivisible centres of force, but as a general rule these units are not understood to possess the power of representation or perception, which is the distinguishing characteristic of the Leibnizian monad. Exception should, however, be made in the case of Renouvier, who, in his "Nouvelle monadologie", teaches that the monad has not only internal activity but also the power of perception.
Cribbed from here.

--
For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)

Hmmmm (4.00 / 1) (#85)
by PullNoPunches on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 12:03:44 AM EST

And here I thought it was a guy with one testicle removed.

------------------------

Although generally safe, turmeric in large doses may cause gastrointestinal problems or even ulcers. -- Reader's Digest (UK)
[ Parent ]

completely wrong field (none / 0) (#135)
by kraft on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 09:04:08 AM EST

That was Einstein, dude.

--
a signature has the format "dash-dash-newline-text". dammit.
[ Parent ]
Monads (none / 0) (#127)
by phliar on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 08:27:31 PM EST

No, no! Monads are from Haskell, the only decent programming language. (The true test of a Haskell programmer is how comfortable they are with monads!) The specification for the language says, "The term monad comes from a branch of mathematics known as category theory."


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Links, lotsa links (none / 0) (#40)
by whojgalt on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:02:17 PM EST

I hope that Part II has a lot of links to specific web information. I just started reading a massive three volume set on the Hitory of Philosophy, in an attempt to get my arms around the whole idea of the historical trends in philosopy - things like what the broad trends are, how different philosophies relate to each other, who developed who's ideas, and who opposed and refuted or recast the ideas of who.... Lots of links to more detailed information that supplements your necessarily brief write-up would be very helpful in part two.

I also have an odd question, but you might be the person to answer it. Is there somewhere I can find some sort of graph or chart showing the history and trends in western philosopy? Maybe a kind of timeline chart, or an idea-line chart? That would be very helpful to me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you can't see it from the car, it's not really scenery.
Any code more than six months old was written by an idiot.

timeline (none / 0) (#104)
by SocratesGhost on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 01:21:07 PM EST

My old resources when I was in school are now all dead links sadly. There was a really good one that had exactly what you wanted, but it only went up to about 1900.

I did find this, and it took me a second to realize that there is organization here, albeit I scratch my head at times. Within a given 50 year span, similar minded-philosophers are lumped together. The far left column tends to be mathematicians and scientists but around 1600 they begin to include Empiricists and later on they include Analytic philosophers. By 1900, it's all crazy on that side and I can't figure out what they were trying to do. For example, they lump Quine and Richard Feynman together which is really odd. Still, it paints a good enough picture to start with, and I guess it doesn't do too much violence to lump analytic philosophers with the scientists that they envy.

There's some notable omissions like Fodor, but overall it's not horrible as long as you don't take it as gospel.

Also, personal note, we're gearing up for Lord Of The Rings in December. Would you be interested?

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
ssssssshhhhhh (none / 0) (#119)
by whojgalt on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 06:13:15 PM EST

Lord of the Rings Somebody might hear you.... I doubt it, my girlfriend is bugging me to go back east for Xmas, though I don't think I can afford it. Thanks for asking, and I'll let you know if things change. What about Matrtix II?

Anyway, I have that timeline page linked too, and I can't make anything out of it. I assumed that as I learned more, I'd figure it out. What I am really looking for is a timeline of what rather than who, a timeline of ideas. I'd love to find one of those twelve-foot wall banners like that history timeline you can buy... um... somewhere.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you can't see it from the car, it's not really scenery.
Any code more than six months old was written by an idiot.
[ Parent ]

that's part of the problem (none / 0) (#132)
by SocratesGhost on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 01:58:06 AM EST

I'm actually going to talk about the problem you're facing more in Part III. It's always been my opinion that philosophy maintains a cult or personality. It's interesting that no one has called me on this, but none of my options in the poll are philosophies, they're people. But we've become so accustomed to using a person's name as an information short cut for a great many things. By adopting a CofP, philosophy loses the objectivity that is inherent in the sciences, and it makes for mistaken values. A great example is Immanuel Kant who's Critique of Pure Reason is phenomenal and brilliant (it doesn't pursuade easily, you have to fight the text often enough), but then he also writes about ethics and his theory is one of the more easily rejected moral theories. Still, this ethical theory (the Categorical Imperative) has a fame beyond it's actual merit because of two reasons: 1) it's a reasonably clever piece of thinking, flawed though it is, and 2) we wouldn't have paid it nearly as much attention if it wasn't written by the author of the Critique.

So, when you look for a flow of ideas, that's hard to find. Each philosopher draws upon the entire body of work before him. People call Quine an empiricist, but in order to drive a stake into the heart of empiricism he primarily uses the language of Leibniz (a Rationalist) and Kant. The result is more or less a loose coalition of philosophers that are alike enough, but disagree in significant ways.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
This is terrible! (4.00 / 2) (#41)
by Spork on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:06:42 PM EST

Oh, how I wish that K5 could let people who know philosophy be the ones moderating articles on philosophy. This is not only total rubbish; every substantial statement in this article is either a distortion or an outright falsehood. One of the many howlers: "Quine digs deeply into logic and linguistics, and then proceeds to happily wipe out Empiricism." I'm sorry, but I don't think the 20th century had a more radical empiricist than Quine.

Please wipe this atrocity from memory, and never, ever conflate analytic statements and "necessarily true facts" if you want better than a D in a philosophy class.

satisfaction brought the cat back (4.50 / 2) (#53)
by eudas on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 03:29:33 PM EST

well at least the article could make some people like me curious enough to decide to go read some of the stuff written by people mentioned in this article (quine, etc).

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

But... (none / 0) (#112)
by darkskyes on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 02:58:58 PM EST

Oh, how I wish that K5 could let people who know philosophy be the ones moderating articles on philosophy.

if they did it wouldn't be k5...

-"Your disadvantage is that you will always, always be outnumbered, and ...your enemy will learn more about you, how to fight you, and those changes will be put into effect instantly." -Mazer Rackham
[ Parent ]

Hey! (4.50 / 4) (#42)
by spcmanspiff on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:08:38 PM EST

Where's Ayn Rand? Huh?

Ow! Ow! Stop hitting me! it was a joke!


No (none / 0) (#60)
by Nyarly on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 05:26:42 PM EST

I will not stop hitting you until you realize it wasn't funny.

"The believer is happy. The doubter is wise" --Hungarian Proverb
[ Parent ]

You're right (5.00 / 2) (#89)
by whojgalt on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 12:19:06 AM EST

It's not funny. Taking the name of the greatest philsopher ever in vain and joking about her omission from an obviously inferior study of philosophy, when we all know that any valid study of philosophy would be about her and only about her, is an abomination. I shouldn't even be participating in this forum, it only lends my implict sanction to the anti-intellectual evasion that is rampant on this degenerate website. I bet most of you don't even smoke!

See, now that's funny.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you can't see it from the car, it's not really scenery.
Any code more than six months old was written by an idiot.
[ Parent ]

If she had stuck to either philosophy or fiction, (none / 0) (#77)
by mingofmongo on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 09:10:28 PM EST

she might have been good at one or the other. The world needs more philosophers talking about individual responsibility. The fact that she was bat-shit crazy doesn't for one minute disqualify her either as a novelist or as a philosopher.

What does disqualify her, is that her novels are 1000 page sermons, and that 'A is A' doesn't really mean anything no matter how many times you repeat it. Still, I think Objectivism could have been a force to be reckoned with, if it had the slightest bit of objectivity about its founder and organization.

Also, it doesn't help if the founder is butt-ugly.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

Ugly is ugly (none / 0) (#87)
by whojgalt on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 12:13:28 AM EST

I generally agree with you, especially about the bat-shit part. But....

'A is A' is a postulate. It's a starting point, not meant to be any great shakes on its own. It just means that something can't be what it is and something else at the same time. It performes the same function as, say, a geometric postulate such as "parallel lines don't intersect".

Rabid bat shit Randians use it impropely as self-contained proof of some conclusion, such as "Socialism is Bad. Why? Well, because A is A of course!"

Talk about ugly philosopehers! Look at Socarates. I saw him in that movie, and he looked just like Peter Ustinov. Yecchhh. That's almost as bad as looking like Ernest Borgnine.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you can't see it from the car, it's not really scenery.
Any code more than six months old was written by an idiot.
[ Parent ]

Who is John Galt? (none / 0) (#110)
by darkskyes on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 02:54:11 PM EST


-"Your disadvantage is that you will always, always be outnumbered, and ...your enemy will learn more about you, how to fight you, and those changes will be put into effect instantly." -Mazer Rackham
[ Parent ]

Ayn Rand is a hack (none / 0) (#107)
by ph317 on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 02:14:03 PM EST


In a vain attempt to ward of the massive flamage in this article's posts, I'll state ahead of time here that I Am Not A Philosopher.  I'm quite likely wrong about lots of things in this field, and I havne't studied it extensively.

That all being said, I think Ayn Rand is a hack.  My girlfreind stumbled upon her and starting getting into it, reading her books and whatnot.  When she started telling me about her new philosophy she was getting from these books, I read them myself with a critical eye, because I didn't like where things were going with this philosophy.

My overall take is that Ayn Rand, willfully or not, attempts to brainwash her readers.  She uses some effective tactics to essentially define the problem of philosophy, define the only methods/tools one can possibly use to reach an answer, and then answer it the only way that seems likely when working with those tools.  In one fell swoop, she attempts to convince that there is no possible path but the one she advocates.

On top of that Objectivism is just too harsh for me to accept.  Also, I don't think you can say that everyone operates selfishly unless you consider a sense of intter hapiness or peace to be a selfish goal.  That in itself is a big philisophical question, which she brushes aside as answered.

[ Parent ]

All philosophy... (none / 0) (#113)
by number33 on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 03:15:42 PM EST

is an attempt to brainwash the reader. :)

I don't think Rand seriously had any sinister motives in promoting her ideology.  For all it's worth, I felt reading Rand was a good thing, as it not only introduced me to philosophy but convinced me to get up off my ass and study for a change.

There is one salient point about Rand's ideology that, while not original, is still difficult to argue against, which is that no government or faction is justified in coercing an individual for some greater good.  Not that I'm saying I'm in complete agreement with it, but it still rings true for many, and the lack of any convincing ethical theory neither helps nor hurts it.

[ Parent ]

hacking and brainwashing (none / 0) (#118)
by whojgalt on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 05:47:13 PM EST

Philsophy is a subject almost uniquely prone to brainwashing. The subject of philosophy is, in one sense, the question of how to think. It is difficult to address that subject without appearing to be brainwashing to some extent. If you are referring to some of the specific techiniques of brainwashing, yes, there is a tiny kernel of truth to the accusation regarding Rand when she was alive.

Where you really find brainwashing at a level that is harder to dismiss as unintentional is in the cult that has arisen since her death. You find there allegiance to an infallible leader and isolation from family and friends, at the least.

By designating an 'intellectual heir', she created the perfect set up for a charismatic leader to make claims almost indistinguishable in any meaningful way from the claims of channelers, granting that 'heir' unquestioned loyalty and status as not only carrying on her philospophy, but actually, literally, speaking for her - as in having direct knowledge of her thoughts and "what she would have thought" if she was still alive.

As to "inner happiness and peace", there is quite a bit of material written by Rand claiming that that is in fact a selfish goal (though she didn't use the same terms), and on how it can be acheived. She did not believe that it can be acheived through 'helping others' or any such, so maybe you mean something different by it than I do.

But acheiving some mental state is not really what is meant by selfishness. This issue is unfortunately obscured by Rand's deliberate attempt to conflate "rational self interest" (her 'real' term for it) with "selfishness" merely for the shock value. She meant self interest as pursuing needs and wants that are one's own, not the needs and wants of others. Emotional feelings such as peace and happiness are side-effects of acheiving one's values, not goals in themselves.

I would argue that nobody ever acts for anything but their own interests. It is not a cynical position (I don't believe it's a bad thing), but rather the belief that it is not possible to act any other way. The weaker, but far more supportable claim is that while it might be possible to do occasionally, it is not possible to do so consistently.

She did not brush this issue aside, she wrote and said quite a bit on this subject. As it was the most controversial aspect of her philosophy, even more so than her politics, she had to defend this point repeatedly. It is also covered extensively by other objectivist writers.

Did your evaluation of "too harsh" really come after your suspicion of brainwashing? Or did it come first, and perhaps promt the suspicion of brainwashing? It seems that such an accusation is a very handy way of discrediting something without actually addressing it on the merits, even though you're not entirely wrong in the accusation.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you can't see it from the car, it's not really scenery.
Any code more than six months old was written by an idiot.
[ Parent ]

Rand (none / 0) (#139)
by ph317 on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 12:14:31 PM EST

My evaluation of "too harsh", and my thing about inner happiness both refer to what I've read of her Objectivism.  As I understand it, she is making the claim that nobody does anything except out of self-interest, that we are all essentially selfish, and that we're best off acknowledging this fact and being conscious of our selfishness and that of others.

I find it more harsh a reality than I'd like to believe in that every human action is essentially driven by greed at some level.  Of course most selfless acts do result in a tangible reward - at the very least respect and admiration of others, which can be leveraged into power.  When I come up with any truly good example of a selfless, anonymous act by a human being, the Objectivist answer seems to be that the person did it for the gain of some sort of inner reward in their head.

In my opinion that's just going a bit far.  If you rule even that as a selfish act, then of course Objectivism is right - but I don't think it's "correct" to think of some inner satisfaction or peace as a selfish reward for one's actions.

[ Parent ]

slightly different (none / 0) (#142)
by SocratesGhost on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 01:09:23 PM EST

what you've described is Psychological Egoism. In PE, every act is for a self-interested reason. A person gives to a charity, for example, because they think society (and therefore themselves) are better off as a result. This theory is one of looking at the world and then finding the self-interested justification. A teen suicide can be justified as the least harmful path.

Rand argues something slightly different that is a radical form of Ethical Egoism. She believes that people do sometimes act against their own interest and that they are foolish for doing so. It holds that a person needs to recognize that their own self is of the greatest value and they need to act accordingly. Rand rejects that selflessness in-and-of-itself is a good thing, for example, and that teen suicide is a wreckless and foolish action.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Write in votes for most humourous philosophy (5.00 / 4) (#45)
by IHCOYC on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:29:35 PM EST

My favourite ancient philosopher is Heracleitos, whose revelations were based on one simple revelation.  And it's a big one:

     Everything is made out of fire.

His opinion was sharply contradicted by another ancient Greek philosopher, Thales, who announced to a visibly excited world:

     Everything is made out of water.

It would have been interesting to get these two in the same room together and watch the sparks and steam fly.

GraySkull is home to the anima, the all-knowing woman who gives power to the otherwise ineffectual man. -- Jeff Coleman

Everything *is* made out of fire (5.00 / 4) (#66)
by bill_mcgonigle on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 06:43:27 PM EST

If you accept 'fire' as the ancient understanding of energy, and the theory that everything is made out of little vibrating strings of energy.


[ Parent ]
Those physicists are only partially right (5.00 / 1) (#98)
by IHCOYC on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 11:43:34 AM EST

In addition to subatomic vibrating string, the fundamental building blocks of the Universe also include subatomic vibrating paperclips, subatomic vibrating cellophane, and subatomic vibrating old chewing gum.

GraySkull is home to the anima, the all-knowing woman who gives power to the otherwise ineffectual man. -- Jeff Coleman
[ Parent ]

GUToDT (5.00 / 1) (#109)
by darkskyes on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 02:46:45 PM EST

you forgot the theory that holds all those together:

The Grand Unified Theory of Duct Tape.

-"Your disadvantage is that you will always, always be outnumbered, and ...your enemy will learn more about you, how to fight you, and those changes will be put into effect instantly." -Mazer Rackham
[ Parent ]

So, the big bang happened... (none / 0) (#120)
by whojgalt on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 06:21:49 PM EST

when God decided to go see a movie, and was polite enough (he is God, afterall) to set his Universe to vibrate so its ringing would not disturb others?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you can't see it from the car, it's not really scenery.
Any code more than six months old was written by an idiot.
[ Parent ]

Please don't make serious replies to joke posts (1.50 / 2) (#141)
by bigsexyjoe on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 12:55:28 PM EST

It's annoying. Besides people go into the thread for more humor. "Everythin is made out of fire" might be true in a sense but that's not what the ancient Greek guy was talking about.

[ Parent ]
Ack (3.80 / 5) (#49)
by trhurler on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 01:33:35 PM EST

You know not of which you speak. Aristotle's great achievements(primarily in insisting that logic is useful for something besides purely academic purposes,) aren't even mentioned here, you get Quine completely wrong, the incompleteness theorem is generally abused and misunderstood by anyone BUT mathematicians, most people can't contribute anything to philosophy because they don't understand it in the first place, "cognitive science" is a pathetic joke that rests on absolutely nothing except abuses and misunderstandings of the science it claims as support(said science is so raw that even its own people get it wrong regularly, so this isn't surprising,) real philosophers do not take "postmodernism" seriously(it quickly became a fixture in the art world, but almost as quickly became a joke in the world of serious philosophy,) and I've only just begun.

By the way, turtleneck wearing continental philosophers, while influential among teenagers and drug addicts, are a dying breed - because uselessness eventually has a price. Confronting questions you hardly understand with answers that don't make sense is not real philosophy.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

response (none / 0) (#50)
by SocratesGhost on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 02:27:21 PM EST

First of all, I just want to say that I really do value your feedback on this. You've been vocal in your opinions on these matters generally and I've come to respect them.

That said, I'd like to make my case on Quine since I think what I've written has a glaring omission that in retrospect I would like to correct. Quine's writings take Empiricism to its logical conclusion. The disruption of the analytic/synthetic distinction retakes the grounds ceded to Rationalism that ought never have been given up. The consequence of this, though, is not Empiricism. It's Pragmatism. Perhaps we can think of his actions as having made Empiricism more Pragmatic, but I think this does violence to the underlying framework between the two schools. Empiricism makes allowances that Quine destroys. We can think of it then in one of two ways: 1) pre- and post-Quinian Empiricism, or 2) the end of Empiricism and the start of something new. I think we gain little by 1) but much by 2), we can re-approach matters uncluttered with the burdens of analyticity. This is too great of a break to merely categorize it as another member of that classical school of thought. We cannot return to old-school Empiricism anymore.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Feh (none / 0) (#55)
by trhurler on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 04:14:48 PM EST

Quine considered himself an empiricist. Odds are he understood his position better than you do. Regardless, while he certainly was an old school pragmatist after a fashion, he has virtually nothing to do with modern "pragmatism," which really is nothing more than a semantic shell game anyway.

In the end, there is nothing to "gain" by arguing over which term to apply to the man; either you know what he said, or you do not, and that is what matters. What he said certainly did not contain any "demolition" of empiricism.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
fair enough (none / 0) (#58)
by SocratesGhost on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 04:55:59 PM EST

but he did say that the natural consequences of his reasoning was pragmatism. I agree, to use capital "P" Pragmatism doesn't accurately describe him, but to quote him from Two Dogmas, "In repudiating such a boundary I espouse a more thorough pragmatism".

How shall we take this? Do we fit him into a house of cards that he has already toppled? Black letter Humian writing requires significant re-interpretation. It's prejudicial to think that Hume and his predecessors didn't really like retaining "relations between ideas" as something other than "matters of fact". Blending two fundamental positions together implies a break from the Empirical agenda. Quine is like Kant in this regard: they both dismantled a treasured principle of Empiricism, the consequence of which is to reveal new grounds to pursue (and old grounds we can more accurately re-map).

It's funny, he makes analyticity disappear into syntheticity and we still think of him as an Analytic Philosopher. I think this is no small consideration, especially among a group that prizes precision so highly. Overall, though, I'm revealing my Quinian bias. I think he rescued/co-opted the idea of Empiricism, but it's a different project altogether now as a result.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
one point (5.00 / 1) (#51)
by speek on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 02:32:13 PM EST

"Real" philosophers do take postmodernism seriously - you just would prefer not to acknowledge this. Other than that, you are generally right that this article presents nothing of interest.

--
what would be cool, is if there was like a bat signal for tombuck - [ Parent ]

Hah... (none / 0) (#56)
by trhurler on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 04:34:09 PM EST

The original premise of postmodernism was essentially a variation on Kant's epistemology. Kant said knowledge is uncertain and circumstantial. Postmodernism said truth is uncertain and circumstantial. Lots of people may call themselves postmodernists, but find me one who actually consistently claims both that he is a philosopher and that truth is uncertain and circumstantial. Do remember that "knowledge" and "truth" are not the same when you make your selection. Eliminate the Kantian pretenders to the name "postmodernism," and nothing is left. After all, who would employ a philosopher who claimed that he was useless?

Yes, there are a lot of hypocrites out there, making claims of certainty and universality of various statements and yet claiming to be postmodernists. That is essentially uninteresting; it would be like me claiming that free market capitalism is the ultimate goal while calling myself a socialist. And yes, you might find some Kant derivative who claims that substituting "truth" for "knowledge" here and there makes him feel better, but you won't find any serious argument as to why it ought to be that way. (In fact, you can't find any such argument, because if Kant was right at all - ie, if the analytic/synthetic dichotomy really describes human knowledge properly - then we cannot possibly discern truth as such, so how could we decide on its nature?)

Incidentally, as far as I can tell there was never any basis for the claims of postmodernism beyond cynical "what next" thinking on the part of bored disciples of Kant's dogma of hopelessness. Like many intellectual trends, it seems to me to have brought into existence primarily to serve as cocktail party conversation. A way to one-up the one-uppers.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
I think... (none / 0) (#65)
by cr8dle2grave on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 06:35:12 PM EST

...you've got a straw man firmly in your sights, but perhaps you'd care to let on as to the identity of these self-professed "postmodernists".

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
you really should stick to computers (5.00 / 1) (#67)
by speek on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 06:50:17 PM EST

Whenever you talk about philosophy, it always gives the strongest impression that you've read, and perhaps understood, up to a point and then stopped rather abruptly, and thereafter, you assume and make up what you believe to be true. Saying it's all variations on Kant epistemology is as uninteresting as saying western philosophy is all footnotes to plato and aristotle.

To get back to your original claim (that there are no "real" philosophers who take postmodernism seriously), I offer up Habermas - as modernist a philosopher as you could want in the 20th century, who takes the postmodernists very seriously - seriously enough to try to retool modernism to take into account the arguments of postmodernists like foucault and derrida, among others.

But good try - your attempt to change the nature of your claim was almost subtle.

--
what would be cool, is if there was like a bat signal for tombuck - [ Parent ]

By whose definition... (none / 0) (#106)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 02:09:58 PM EST

...of postmodern, do Derrida and Foucault qualify?

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
I'm sorry (none / 0) (#115)
by speek on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 04:35:59 PM EST

I'm really very stupid, so you'll have to come right and say whatever it is you're trying to say.

--
Perhaps the State of Hawaii could countersue the woman that gave birth to and raised a
[
Parent ]

I doubt that very much (none / 0) (#117)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 05:29:59 PM EST

I'm just wary of the moniker "postmodern". As some people use the term it covers everything from the butt of Derrida's pen to the points of Madonna's bustiere, while others use it in a narrower sense roughly coextensive with Continental Philosophy -- not that "Continental" is all that useful a term either. I know that neither Derrida nor Foucault ever referred to themselves as postmodernists -- Derrida has even explicitly rejected the term on numerous occasions.

I think the term should have remained exclusive to architecture where still has some specific meaning.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Ok (5.00 / 1) (#124)
by speek on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 08:08:43 PM EST

I'm betting Derrida and Foucault both qualify as "postmodernists" who aren't "real philosophers" in trhurler's mind. I was trying to make clear that there are serious philosophers who haven't given up on the ideals of the Enlightenment (where trhurler's philosophical development seems arrested) who take such thinkers seriously, thus refuting not just the letter of his claim, but also the spirit.

For my own self, I think of postmodernism as the rejection of Descartes endeavor to find first principles and the rejection of a static and universal definition of self. I don't, however, dwell in the overturning of modernist philosophical thought, but prefer rather to get on with things, Rorty-style.

--
Perhaps the State of Hawaii could countersue the woman that gave birth to and raised a
[
Parent ]

Another point (3.33 / 3) (#54)
by medham on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 03:32:13 PM EST

Unlike you, I've met several continental philosophers, and none of them wear turtlenecks.

Bonus: whereof one cannot speak (one=you, whereof=cognitive science, philosophy, etc.), one must remain silent.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Ah, yes... (5.00 / 1) (#57)
by trhurler on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 04:39:23 PM EST

Everyone's favorite poser. How many papers on cog sci have you read? Books(written by actual cog sci people, not popularization cheerleaders with prejudicial axes to grind such as Dennett?) Ah, yes. That's right. None.

On the other hand, I've looked now and then. The stuff is truly in its infancy. Trying to build a philosophy on it now is like trying to use iron to gold formulae from the middle ages as a foundation for material monism.

Finally, it seems you do not know what the words "cannot speak" mean. This is unfortunate, as it may explain your own continued blatherings:(

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Hey now (none / 0) (#62)
by Wah on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 05:55:19 PM EST

Trying to build a philosophy on it now is like trying to use iron to gold formulae from the middle ages as a foundation for material monism.

And what was the state of the science that Plato used to build his philosophy on?  

(and I liked your textad, but I don't believe it without pictures)
--
You didn't know we had cameras in your room, Parent ]

Two things (none / 0) (#63)
by trhurler on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 06:13:38 PM EST

First, which text ad?

Second, Plato was wrong about more or less everything, and his much vaunted Republic is nothing more than an ego trip of rationalizations for putting himself and those like him in as the new ruling class. You need a better argument:)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
God damn, trhurler! (4.66 / 3) (#72)
by spcmanspiff on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 08:39:03 PM EST

Look at your comment history:

Um, Eh, Hmm, Well:  7 comments.
Yeah, Yes, No, Nope: 6 comments.
Hah, HAHAHA: 4 comments.
Bah or Feh: 3 comments.
"N" Things: 2 comments.
Misc snippets of three words or less, usually a slight variant on one of the above: 8.

Going back further, it's more of the same. Much, much more of the same. Which brings me to the question:

Is trhurler real, or just a bad markov chain implementation?

 

[ Parent ]

hmm (none / 0) (#80)
by spacejack on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 10:05:27 PM EST

Sometimes I review my own comment history before choosing a title for a post... but it's a pretty vain thing to do.

Unless he is intentionally choosing goofy looking titles to create a goofy-looking comment history, in the attempt to prove that his posts are all substance, no style. I guess we'll never know.

Still, it is interesting to encounter a weblog personality that completely refutes my "aesthetics is 50% of everything" motto.

[ Parent ]
The same two things (none / 0) (#78)
by Wah on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 09:56:38 PM EST

First, the Ad (and it's your only active one) :
--
trhurler  

Smarter, cooler, and better looking than you. Also happier, more successful, and more fun at parties. Face it: You suck.  
--
Like I said, gimme some pictures of you having "more fun" at parties.  No, seriously.

Second, it's rather hard to talk about Philosophy without mentioning the guy.  Yea, sure he was an uppity layabout rationalizing slavery, but was able to make some interesting observations with very little (by today's standards) scientific knowledge.  Upon which others would later build (after doing some razing).  You can't wait for perfect scientific knowledge before making philosophical observations.  Having some dots is all you need.  That's what makes philosophy fun, it's a giant game of connect the dots.   And if you're wrong, who cares, you'll probably be dead by the time anyone finds out. (sorry, cynical humor comes naturally to me)
--
You didn't know we had cameras in your room, Parent ]

Ah (none / 0) (#100)
by trhurler on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 12:17:48 PM EST

Nobody would ever bring a camera to these parties, and I would pity anyone who ever did. If your parties have cameras, then they're not as much fun:)

As for philosophy with limited knowledge, obviously it is both possible and necessary, but you then have to accept the fact that the results are likely to be wrong in some way or other. Plato is a fine example of the ancient history of philosophy, but if you were to take his positions today, you would be regarded as ridiculous, and that was my point.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Empirical evidence (none / 0) (#101)
by Wah on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 12:36:40 PM EST

that disagrees with your proposition (not the Plato one, I'm cool with that).
--
You didn't know we had cameras in your room, Parent ]
Uh... (none / 0) (#103)
by trhurler on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 12:49:35 PM EST

Those aren't parties. Those are celebrity media events. Sure, they disallow "the media," and yet the pictures get out... why do you suppose that is?

Besides, look at those people. Where's the debauchery? Where's the craziness? They look like they're at a high school dance - not a party!

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Now you're being silly (none / 0) (#108)
by Wah on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 02:23:35 PM EST

Sure, they disallow "the media," and yet the pictures get out... why do you suppose that is?

Those pictures aren't in "the media", they are part of an engraved invitation to the next party.  I'd give you a refresher in reading comprehension, but somehow I don't think it would work.  A high school dance with No Doubt in attendance would probably be construed as a pretty dang good party by an objective observer.

I am hereby concluding that you are neither better looking, cooler, smarter, happier, or more fun at parties than your average two-headed President of the Universe.  It was a good ad, but it's all a lie. *sob*
--
You didn't know we had cameras in your room, Parent ]

No. (none / 0) (#79)
by qpt on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 09:56:48 PM EST

Everyone who pays attention to the Republic knows that it is not intended to be read prescriptively, but you strike me as the sort who has trouble paying attention to much besides your own truly brilliant criticism of positions no one has ever held.

Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.
[ Parent ]

Yes, yes... (1.00 / 1) (#99)
by trhurler on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 12:11:38 PM EST

It was all just a big story with some hidden meanings, which is why Plato himself spent huge chunks of his life in search of ways to create it in the real world...

(Ever actually read about the man instead of just his works?:)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Ah, tr (3.40 / 5) (#69)
by medham on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 07:25:46 PM EST

I'm everyone's favorite 'poster.'

A lot. The last one was by Jackendoff. Does he count for you? How about Fodor? His Psychoceramics really would set you straight.

Don't just waste your time telling me your troubles. All the people working in field are having an existential crisis worrying about what a code-monkey in the barren Midlands thinks about the state of their project.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

doesn't stop you (5.00 / 1) (#59)
by SocratesGhost on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 05:12:50 PM EST

kidding. I kid.

as an aside since you've mentioned him before, I met Derrida back in the 80's when he gave a seminar at UC Irvine. I was still a high schooler at the time, but it seemed like all the students were pretty uniform in their wearing black turtlenecks (well, maybe 5 did, but it stood out in my mind).

Derrida didn't, but I've never been able to shake that image.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
A few remarks (3.00 / 2) (#68)
by medham on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 07:23:11 PM EST

Your ethos is destroyed by quoting Val Kilmer in your sig. It's not funny, it's not cool, and it's not going to earn you any friends among the intellectual elite who sparsely populate k5.

And I'm sure you sparkled during your imaginary seminar, probably even tripping up the grand old man with your quick remarks about the supplement.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

As the Black Adder once said, (none / 0) (#70)
by mingofmongo on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 07:59:01 PM EST

"There's nothing artistic about running around Rome in a big shirt trying to get laid."

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

Wittgenstein (5.00 / 1) (#61)
by arthurpsmith on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 05:43:52 PM EST

I haven't read a lot of philosophy - though I did spend most of my recent vacation reading John Locke... but anyway, on Wittgenstein, I get the feeling that a lot of people (Bertrand Russell in particular) misunderstood what he was getting at with his Tractatus - read through the whole thing, and you get to the end, and he basically seems to be saying this whole thing is pointless, except as an exercise in what precision in language can get you. I.e., at the end of the day, logical argument gets you no closer to understanding The Big Questions(R) and those are the ones that are really important. Of course Wittgenstein was from Vienna, so perhaps that made him really Continental after all - though he obviously had a very analytical mind.

Anyway I wish philosophers would spend a bit more of their time looking into current science (things like quantum mechanics and the many-worlds interpretation for example, and the issue of what is "time" anyway) because I think they may really have something to contribute that could lead to some fundamentally new and interesting ideas in physics. Well, it's possible anyway :-)

Energy - our most critical problem; the solution may be in space.


Logical -ness (3.66 / 3) (#114)
by darkskyes on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 03:35:12 PM EST

Logic is inherently flawed because it absolutely depends upon the truth of it's initial assumptions. It is a tool, a highly versatile and useful tool, but it isn't the ultimate answer to life the universe and everything.

-"Your disadvantage is that you will always, always be outnumbered, and ...your enemy will learn more about you, how to fight you, and those changes will be put into effect instantly." -Mazer Rackham
[ Parent ]

Wow (5.00 / 1) (#121)
by number33 on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 07:33:56 PM EST

References to Adam Douglas and Ender's Game.  Oh, and your comment is true.

[ Parent ]
re: Wittgenstein (none / 0) (#116)
by SocratesGhost on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 04:48:38 PM EST

He's one of those guys that is hard to classify, but his agenda is squarely in the Analytic camp. He hated philosophy, but strictly on philosophic terms and he felt that science had little to offer philosophy. He was bothered that philosophers wanted to be more like scientists. The result is that he never really committed to the programs of continental philosophy (such as phenomenology, existentialism, etc.); he was mostly concerned with getting the philosophers (mostly analytic philosophers) on the right track.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Somebody had to post it (3.62 / 8) (#64)
by epepke on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 06:15:46 PM EST

Immanuel Kant was a real piss ant who was very rarely stable
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar who could think you under the table
David Hume could out-consume Wilhelm Freidrich Hegel1
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine who was just as sloshed as Schlegel

There's nothing Nietzsche couldn't teach ya' 'bout the raising of the wrist.
Socrates himself was permanently pissed

John Stuart Mill of his own free will on half a pint of shandy2 was particularly ill
Plato3 they say could stick it away a half crate of whiskey every day
Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle
Hobbes was fond of his dram
And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart:
"I drink, therefore I am."

Yes, Socrates himself is particularly missed
A lovely little thinker but a bugger when he's pissed

-Monty Python

1"Shopenhauer and Hegel" in some versions.

2Beer mixed with "lemonade," a light carbonated citrus drink not entirely unlike Sprite.

3"Lehte" in some versions, or at least it sounds a bit like that.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


On one level, philosophy is the most important (4.40 / 5) (#74)
by mingofmongo on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 08:45:09 PM EST

of all persuits. On another, it is just a big pseudo-intelectual wank-fest.

Imagine a big beautiful nightclub, like the kind that only happen in movies. Great music, wonderfull lighting, Go-go dancers, Magnificent bar... Now imagine it with no door man. The whole effect is killed because ANYONE can get in. There's a few people who have cool points dripping from every pore, but they are outnumbered by the unwashed masses that are there cause they hear it's cool, thus ending the cool.

This is philosophy. It deals with everything. It is the coolest thing a motivated person can do with his brain, and the dumbest thing a dilletante can do with his mouth. There is no door man, and no bouncer, and the bartender never cuts off anyone. Any bastard can call himself a philosopher, and there's little objective evidence to judge him by. Of course, you won't see many of these wannabes following the North and Russle... They will pick the path that looks easy.

And that is why I have to wonder how Umberto Eco feels. He sits in the part of the club where you don't need to know much math, yet he is obviously brilliant. He works in an area that is ripe for every poseur who ever got croisant crumbs in his beard. Any idiot can blather on about symbols. So what is it like to actually know your shit an see all the crap around you.

I'll tell you. It is like being a programmer with experience in machine language, C, lisp and others, knowing plenty of theory of software engineering, intimately knowing the workings of compilers, and the machines themselves. Its like having all that, and listening to some VB scripter expound on his knowlege. Its like having no lifeguard at the pool, and 200 children pissing in it.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion

Pursuits. Intellectual. Wonderful. Croissant. And. (none / 0) (#93)
by axxeman on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 07:11:19 AM EST

NT

Being or not being married isn't going to stop bestiality or incest. --- FlightTest
[ Parent ]

so true (none / 0) (#126)
by Defiant One on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 08:26:03 PM EST

I really do not wish to start a flame war, just thank mingofongo for making a dead-on accurate characterization of doing Philosophy in the face of trolls. It is partly what has kept me from posting anywhere for a year. In fact, reading through much of the commentary here, even from the famed trhurler, mingofongo's programmer/script kiddie analogy is a fairly kind one. It is really more like being that master programmer, and having to listen to endless come-lately's denounce programming and computers in general, only because they can't seem to get the Javascript errors out of their FrontPage sites...

All of you, I am sure, are probably expert at something, but a scant few of you are even approaching competence in Philosophical reasoning. Why is it we would only trust a Ph.D in Economics to put the appropriate spin on predicting the future of markets, for example, but when it comes to Philosophy, any moron's opinion suddenly becomes a deductive stronghold??

"What can I say, I believe in total, honest democracy. I also believe this American system can work."
- Woody Allen, Stardust Memories


[ Parent ]
Humility (none / 0) (#158)
by kholmes on Sat Sep 14, 2002 at 06:01:24 AM EST

"...when it comes to Philosophy, any moron's opinion suddenly becomes a deductive stronghold??"

Because philosophy is everyone's business. Everyone has a stake in it.

Humility is a prerequisite in any philisophical discussion. At least that is what Socrates taught me. He ended his life claiming to know nothing. And died because of it.

Sure, the *real* philosophers are probably stringing arguments together in a study somewhere. And they can probably tell real philosophers from the duds anyway.

The rest of us just discuss philosophy as if we know what we are talking about. But most of us know that it takes humility to avoid becoming dogmatic. We have to have Socrates over our shoulders telling us we know nothing in the end, to avoid being tempted into thinking we know everything. And thats how philosophical discussion seems to progress. We keep discussing until we find that someone thinks he knows too much.

But lets say your fear becomes true. Like someone like Kant joins a philosophy forum. To the rest of us, he seems to know everything. But this becomes our true test of humility. The realization that what we thought was dogma was a real philosophy. This will become apparent as Kant refutes our arguments without talking over us. And our not completely understanding his arguments.

In my view, humility is even more important than reason in philosophy. Flaws in logic can be pointed out. But a lack of humility can never be corrected

If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.
[ Parent ]

as if (none / 0) (#161)
by Defiant One on Sun Sep 15, 2002 at 09:18:59 PM EST

Because philosophy is everyone's business. Everyone has a stake in it.
And in Economics we do not??

Humility is a prerequisite in any philisophical discussion ... The rest of us just discuss philosophy as if we know what we are talking about ... And thats how philosophical discussion seems to progress. We keep discussing until we find that someone thinks he knows too much.
Despite the non-sequitur on humility, I'll bite. Why is it okay for morons to discuss Philosophy "as if", while at the same time we wouldn't listen to those who lack expertise in other fields??

"What can I say, I believe in total, honest democracy. I also believe this American system can work."
- Woody Allen, Stardust Memories


[ Parent ]
Are you intentionally missing my point? (none / 0) (#164)
by kholmes on Mon Sep 16, 2002 at 01:27:27 AM EST

"And in Economics we do not?"

Good point. I can only respond that people do discuss economics when it effects them.

"Why is it okay for morons to discuss Philosophy 'as if', while at the same time we wouldn't listen to those who lack expertise in other fields?"

I'm not sure when it isn't okay for people to discuss anything. Discussion only enhances people's ability to reason.

Philosophy also has another use. It allows people to think they are wise. Is it when morons think they are wise that offends you? If so, then I probably agree with you.

If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.
[ Parent ]

Clip the title (none / 0) (#165)
by kholmes on Mon Sep 16, 2002 at 01:28:36 AM EST

Sorry, that title was from another post.

If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.
[ Parent ]
About footnotes (4.80 / 5) (#82)
by Pac on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 10:53:59 PM EST

It has been said that all of philosophy is just footnotes to Plato

In an article like that, one want to be really precise about this footnote business.

Actually, German philosophy is a footnote to Plato. French philosophy is a footnote to a bad translation of German philosophy. English philosophy is a footnote rebuttal to a bad translation of French philosophy. American philosophy...as a matter of fact, American philosophy is a footnote to the Wall Street Journal as undertood by the Reader's Digest.

Evolution doesn't take prisoners


Good start. (4.00 / 2) (#88)
by losang on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 12:15:11 AM EST

First off, criticism is fine. But one needs to decide is a criticism is honest or just banter before putting time into a reply. I think this is a good article and if there are objections to the authors views express them in a way that you appear interested in a serious discussion.

Unfortunately, western philosophy is really too big to clump into a K5 article. Consider the size of Russell's work.

What I would like to suggest is you pick a particular field or a particular philosopher and focus on that. This would, I think, make for a more beneficial article.

This comment is NOT self-referential... (none / 0) (#97)
by jforan on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 11:23:04 AM EST

and defiantly so.

Jeff

I hops to be barley workin'.

Most hilarious (none / 0) (#102)
by bob6 on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 12:39:41 PM EST

Why, Auguste Comte, of course. I find interesting that while nobody took seriously his "religion", positivism is still very influential.

Cheers.
Basic Truths ? (3.66 / 3) (#123)
by bugmaster on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 07:56:10 PM EST

As far as I understand, Philosophy claims to quest for the basic truths of our existence (such as, "what is truth ?"). However, in practice, it seems to me that philosophers usually execute the following algorithm:
  1. Choose a set of postulates; define them as true
  2. Build a beautiful chain of logic on top of them that leads to some earth-shattering conclusion
  3. Argue with all the other philosophers, who chose a different subset of postulates for step 1 and thus came to a different conclusion in step 2
The problem here is that one's choice of basic assumptions is fairly arbitrary, as far as pure philosophy is concerned. As the result, philosophical arguments often devolve into the "does not ! does too ! does not ! does too !" pattern, as people argue about definitions of words (truth/being/consciousness/what have you).

This is why I prefer to deal with a bit more hardcore disciplines, such as Science. As far as I can see, Science "extends" Philosophy (in the OOP sense), but adds a few important tweaks:

  1. A special language, which is common to all scientists, and is free of ambiguities (i.e., math)
  2. A method for verifying assumptions and conclusions with a reasonable degree of certainty (i.e., experimentation and the scientific method)
  3. A relaxed requirement for correctness. Scientific theories do not need to be 100% true beyound the shadow of a doubt; they only need to be good enough
Taken together, these tweaks make a powerful combo. Tweak #1 ensures that questions like "what is truth ? How can you answer this question without knowing what truth is ?" never come up. Tweak #2 ensures that endless arguments about whose assumptions are better never occur -- there is a way to verify the answers. And tweak #3 makes it possible for scientists to proceed regardless of the fact that tweaks #1 and #2 make it impossible to prove anything beyound the shadow of a doubt.

I believe this is why Science (and its bastard child, Technology) has achieved so many tangible results over the years, while Philosophy as achieved few (note that science used to be called "natural philosophy" in the Olden Days (tm)). Now, this does not mean that Philosophy is utterly useless. It is hypothetically possible that, one day, someone will discover what truth is, define beauty, or prove that god(s) exist. However, this does not seem likely to happen in the foreseeable future.
>|<*:=

Experience vs. Argument (none / 0) (#129)
by Persistence of Penguins on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 09:13:12 PM EST

The problem here is that one's choice of basic assumptions is fairly arbitrary...

In my experience, these are based on experience. In spite of the irony of that statement, most people - whether they know it or not - determine their basic assumptions by what they have experienced. The two most common sources of such experiences are upbringing and experimentation.

Most people are unwilling to challenge the former in favour of engaging in the latter, mostly because it's comfortable to not change. I think also that challenging the fundamental truths to a person's life has two outcomes, at least one of which is anathema to most people.

The first is that these assumptions turn out to be true. Sometimes this can be good but in the case that someone's assumptions are quite pessimistic, this can lead to a complete loss of purpose.

The second is that the assumptions are false. This forces people to admit that not only are they wrong, but that everyone they ever trusted to tell them about the universe is also wrong. That can really ruin a person's day. I don't think we like being wrong, much less admitting it.

It is hypothetically possible that, one day, someone will discover what truth is, define beauty, or prove that god(s) exist. However, this does not seem likely to happen in the foreseeable future.

Someone once said to me (and I think he was quoting someone else too) that the one with the experience is never at the mercy of the one with the argument. Deductive reasoning - by whatever means - will probably never prove the existence of anything outside the material world, and yet in the face of that, those who have had experiences which fall outside that which is quantifiable are almost never convinced to deny their experience.

This trait is true in both martyrs who have faith in something despite lack of analytical evidence (recall the last words of Polycarp) and scientists who have faith only in that which can be documented.

In the end, what you said about the devolution of arguments is true. Allowing it to fall into the "does not ! does too ! does not ! does too !" pattern is a sign of immaturity for those unwilling to challenge themselves but to a lesser extent is nothing less than arguing experiences. Some thing are simply not yet quantifiable and I dare say that they may never be so.

Is there an answer to conflicting experiences? Any answer is frustrated all the more by hermeneutics. Two may have the same experience but argue about what the experience means, or even argue that the experiences are different simply because their choice of language makes it appear different.

I'm going to stop there because any more writing will descend into argument around an irresolvable question.



"Serve hot... with lashings of butter."
[ Parent ]

Re: Experience vs. Argument (none / 0) (#149)
by bugmaster on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 06:21:02 PM EST

It seems to me that what you are saying is,
Stodgy old close-minded people, such as scientists, are afraid to open up their minds to new experiences, and will thus never achieve anything truly meaningful
Sorry if I misrepresented your views, but I will proceed in hope that the above summary is correct.

My response would be a quote I saw on The Other Site (tm) one day:

My mind is not so open that anything could crawl right in it
Experiences are the bread and butter of science (experiences, experiments, whatever). However, experiences by themselves are not enough -- one also needs some way of drawing conclusions from experiences, and for discarding experiences which may be less than useful. For example, even if I dream that Elvis is going to come back to Earth in a UFO and bring me a huge box of money, I am not going to spend all day waiting for him. The dream is an experience, but not a very useful one.

Another cool thing about science (and technology, and any other empirical discipline) is that there is indeed an "answer to conflicting experiences". Science only recognizes experiences that are objective -- that is, experiences that can be potentially reproduced by everyone, not merely a handful of sages or visionaries. Thus, conflicts can be resolved additional experimentation -- and resolved in a way that leaves the conflicting parties very little wiggle room.

I was surprised to hear you say that "scientists ... have faith only in that which can be documented". I guess I did not make this clear enough in my previous post -- but scientists have faith in very few things (professionally, I mean -- some scientists may be religious, for example, but religion is not part of their science). By its very nature, Science can never make a statement that is 100% true (which is what is required for faith). There is always a small chance that any established law -- such as Newton's laws of motion, or the law of gravity, or Maxwell's equations -- is faulty or incomplete. In fact, Newton's laws were shown to be faulty and incomplete by Einstein & co. Notice that, today, no one accepts Newton's laws as the complete picture of the Universe. If scientists had "faith" in Newton's laws, this could not happen.

Once again, I believe that this is why Science has managed to achieve so many results (you are presumably using one of them right now, to read this text), while Philosophy has managed to achieve relatively few.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]

I believe you misunderstand... (none / 0) (#150)
by cr8dle2grave on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 06:34:31 PM EST

...the point of philosophy. Science is a predictive enterprise, whereas philosophy is a descriptive one.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Re: I believe you misunderstand... (none / 0) (#151)
by bugmaster on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 06:42:55 PM EST

Science is a predictive enterprise, whereas philosophy is a descriptive one.
Sorry, can you maybe clarify that a bit ? I am not sure what the statement means at all. Sorry if I am slow on the uptake.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]
My understanding or misunderstanding of that.. (none / 0) (#160)
by FreshFunk510 on Sun Sep 15, 2002 at 02:53:36 AM EST

.. would be that the primary goal/result of science is that it can be used to predict future experiments. (i.e. Now that we know that bowling ball and marble fall at the same rate, we may be able to say that a sperm whale and a penny may also fall at the same rate).

Whereas philosophy's primary goal is to describe things/life/people/thoughts. Why is it that we search for a mate that resembles our parents? Why do we have addictive behaviors? Why are some of us dimented and others not?

And so maybe he's proposing that you're comparing apples and oranges. Sure Science may be "better" but, assuming they are different, that's a subjective answer.

Personally I don't know if I agree along this line of thought. I would agree that science is a predictive enterprise but not exclusively so. Science is also a "descriptive one". The same may be said for philosophy. (i.e. Science serves to describe the different races of people. Philosophy serves to predict why Jane will try to commit suicide based on the fact that she's done hardcore drugs and has no main goal in life.)

[ Parent ]
Stand By (none / 0) (#173)
by bugmaster on Mon Sep 23, 2002 at 07:33:04 AM EST

Ok, I find myself making the same comments over and over on different threads; therefore, I will Real Soon Now (tm) submit an article on the topic. This way, I could just reference all my arguments with a single URL. Of course, this assumes that my article will pass the queue... heh
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]
Re: Experience vs. Argument (none / 0) (#169)
by Persistence of Penguins on Mon Sep 16, 2002 at 11:20:31 PM EST

"It seems to me that what you are saying is,

Stodgy old close-minded people, such as scientists, are afraid to open up their minds to new experiences, and will thus never achieve anything truly meaningful

Sorry if I misrepresented your views, but I will proceed in hope that the above summary is correct."

Actually, that's not really what I meant at all. In fact, my background is in engineering and theology, so I walk both sides of the line of that which is quantifiable.

Another way of putting this point is that people - all people - are quite comfortable with their own fundamental truths to the point that they will no longer open themselves to challenge for fear that they will either be forced to admit either that
1. They're wrong
2. That despite evidence to the contrary, what they hoped existed, doesn't exist.

We tend to laud humanity's efforts to obtain freedom to think and yet so few of us exercise that freedom when we get it. That's my observation, at least.



"Serve hot... with lashings of butter."
[ Parent ]

bait n' switch (none / 0) (#138)
by Defiant One on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 11:13:45 AM EST

You seem to be ignorant of the fact that Scientific and Mathematical reasoning is based upon the same algorithm you lodge against Philosophy. There is no special weight afforded to a deduction merely because the subject matter might be of quarks or chemicals or numbers, as opposed to ontologies.

Logic, upon which all depend, is incapable of providing an indubitable axiom, beyond empiricism, on which to build a theorem. This means your precious Science is just as empiricial and arbitrary, perhaps more so, than Philosophy.

"What can I say, I believe in total, honest democracy. I also believe this American system can work."
- Woody Allen, Stardust Memories


[ Parent ]
Not Quite (none / 0) (#148)
by bugmaster on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 06:02:22 PM EST

This means your precious Science is just as empiricial and arbitrary, perhaps more so, than Philosophy.
I am surprised by your usage of "empirical" and "arbitrary" as synonyms -- even though these words are direct opposites.

It is true that Science uses deduction (and induction) just like Philosophy, or Mathematics, or any other analytical discipline. However, unlike Philosophy, Science does not limit itself to the domain of pure thought. Instead, scientists actively seek out evidence, which they then use to verify or tear down their assumptions.

For example (NB: this is a purely fictional, exaggerated example, yada yada), consider two philosophers who happen to ask themselves the question: do heavier things fall faster than lighter things ? One of them might say "yes", since the invisible underworld goblins that strive to pull everything into their sunless lands will have an easier time grabbing the heavier object. The other one might say "no", since none of the objects are real anyway, and this entire world is a dream. They could keep arguing like this for a long time, and their arguments will be perfectly valid.

A scientist, however, would go to the top of a tower (the leaning tower of Pisa would do nicely), and begin throwing stuff from it, measuring the approximate time it takes for his junk to fall to the ground. Thus, he will soon get a "yes" or "no" answer that, while it may not be perfectly 100% rock-solid, will be good enough for most cases.

Of course, the assumption that "evidence can be used to predict future results" is in itself fairly arbitrary. However, induction seems to suggest that this assumption works reasonably well -- it has not failed us so far, and not for lack of trying. Thus, while Science does of course rest on a few basic assumptions, just like every other discipline, the assumptions are few and far between. Also (as I mentioned in my previous post), these assumptions are universally agreed upon, which is more than I can say for Philosophy.

The bottom line is, sitting around thinking about things is a lot less productive than going outside and verifying your hypotheses.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]

somewhat agree (5.00 / 1) (#154)
by SocratesGhost on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 06:52:48 PM EST

two things I'd like to point out, though. 1) Science relies on correction through falsification, not on assertion. They can never prove that a theory will always be true. A theory can hold true all the way until the first exception. Technically, gravity itself could reverse itself no matter how unlikely we may imagine this. At that point, we're back to our drawing boards. Until then, however, we have near perfect certainty that this is true.

2) Any scientist can create a hypothesis and they are capable of testing it out. They stand more immediately at the tribunal of truth. A philosophical hypothesis is never so easily tested, though.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Thanks (none / 0) (#157)
by bugmaster on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 11:23:00 PM EST

Thanks, your points #1 and #2 are exactly what I was trying to say, but you said it better and more concisely. Bravo !
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]
subtle, but... (none / 0) (#162)
by Defiant One on Sun Sep 15, 2002 at 09:34:37 PM EST

...you still do not get around the fact that the distinction is forced as a binary and easily dismissed.

Many times in the history of Philosophy, corrections took place which match perfectly your description of the scientific process of falsification. Off the top of my head, I could think of many Ancient thinkers whose ontological notions did not pan out, Medieval theories of Truth which didn't last, or even Modern epistemological frameworks which have been debunked. To propose that Philosophy, the discipline which gave us all the other departments in the Sciences and Humanities, is to be held to a lower standard of Truth and reasoning than those it subsidized, doesn't hold.

Truth and Logic are structured the same, no matter what the subject is to be found under dispute. It is sophomoric to propose that Science uses a higher or tighter standard of Truth than Philosophy, or that it is in any way easier to refute a Philosophical theorem than a Mathematical one. The standards are one in the same...

"What can I say, I believe in total, honest democracy. I also believe this American system can work."
- Woody Allen, Stardust Memories


[ Parent ]
i think we're saying the same thing. (none / 0) (#166)
by SocratesGhost on Mon Sep 16, 2002 at 02:47:45 AM EST

science tends to work with physical objects while philosophy tends to work in an almost purely theoretical manner. Both have to answer to the universe in being deemed true or false, however, in science, if the anticipated result was a ball falling down, and it fell up, we have evidence that our science needs to account. Philosophy doesn't really have any objective standard by which it may be judged true or false (How could we tell if Plato is right or wrong, really?). They're both "theory laden" (to adopt the terminology of my old mentor Paul Churchland), but science stands in closer proximity to the methods in which we can prove them true of false. They don't stand closer to reality, it's just the methods of falsification are more accessible.

That's all I meant by science's standing at the tribunal of truth. The answers are more immediately obtained.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
no, we are not (none / 0) (#167)
by Defiant One on Mon Sep 16, 2002 at 10:53:06 AM EST

You highlighted a distinction made by bugmaster, but took the trouble to make it more subtle. I disagreed with the distinction on principle, and you've responded with another distinction to explain the first one.

Let me be clear: I am objecting to there being any theoretical or operational difference between Science and Philosophy. To distinguish between them on anything other than mere subject matter is to misunderstand them. But, you say:

Philosophy doesn't really have any objective standard by which it may be judged true or false (How could we tell if Plato is right or wrong, really?). They're both "theory laden" (to adopt the terminology of my old mentor Paul Churchland), but science stands in closer proximity to the methods in which we can prove them true of false.
Philosophers created those methods. I don't know what kind of Philosophy you are talking about which doesn't have objective standards. You're not thinking of Religion are you? Epistemology has Neuroscience as an objective standard. Aesthetics has Cognitive Science as an objective standard. Ethics has both. Metaphysics and Ontology have Physics and Astronomy. All of these disciplines share Logic as a theoretical standard.

Philosophy is Science, for many, and Science is the objective standard to which Philosophy appeals. In fact, in ages past, there was no difference in anybody's mind that they were different. Aristotle considered himself a Scientist; Galileo was very much a Philosopher; and so on. To propose separate activities, one with absent standards of objective Truth, is again, to make the sophomore's argument, not to mention admitting ignorance of a not so little field called the Philosophy of Science, or one of its major subsets, Quantum Theory.

In fact, it would be fallacious to propose that since a Philosopher might deal with ontologies, while a scientist might deal with objects, they do not share the same theoretical and objective standards, and to therefore insist Philosophy and Science are fundamentally different. The standards themselves, to which each appeal, indicate otherwise.

"What can I say, I believe in total, honest democracy. I also believe this American system can work."
- Woody Allen, Stardust Memories


[ Parent ]
you overstate your case (none / 0) (#170)
by SocratesGhost on Tue Sep 17, 2002 at 03:09:52 AM EST

I've been trying to give this the benefit of the doubt but I see a lot of problems in this doctrine.

Superficially, to say "Kantian Epistemology" would be nonsensical under your thesis, since the practice of Neuroscience wasn't even an idea (moreover, no, he did not rely on a supernatural explanation). Gone would be Heideggerian Aesthetics, and Humian Metaphysics, since neither of these thinkers employed the objective standards that you proposed. (I'm not fully clear even what you mean by objective standard. Were those comparisons, or are you saying those aspects reduce to their respective standard? Either way, you'll have to sell me further on that which is kind of the point that I'm getting to.)

But, you also say to separate a philosophical topic from it's objective scientific study is sophomoric, so you should feel comfortable in saying these were clever but flawed classifications, if I understand you right.

You propose that philosophy and science have no distinction in their methods or standards. But to that, I have to say I disagree. There is no experiment you may propose to test the Ontological argument of Anselm. Science does not defeat it. Reason does. And by Reason, I mean something much closer to a completely different subject matter: Rhetoric. A philosophic claim such as you have proposed does not have any standard that you can point to in order to validate its assertions. We must agree on it, one of us must convince the other, or we shall walk our separate ways in disagreement. You can point to Logic as a tool, but we both must agree to its usage first (I do, and a reasonable person does). Even assuming we both agree to use Logic, we must also agree to the facts as they are introduced.

In all of this, you can claim that this is all equally applicable to science. But, there's a difference. Dr. Samuel Johnson. Berkeley said the world is only ideas and Johnson came along said "I refute Berkeley thus" and he kicked a stone. While he had a theory that his foot would be sore if he kicked, there was no denying it after the event. Objects tend to assert themselves no matter our conception of it. So, although we can debate about whether a rock will hurt me, you have a veto over my ability to be unreasonable: throw it at me. This veto power does not exist in philosophy.

Where is the stone that you can throw in saying Kantian Epistemology is a nonsensical phrase? There is none. You have to build a case. You have to sell me on the idea. That's philosophy. It's also the reason why intro to Logic courses study fallacies, because these are common rhetorical devices to trick people into agreement. The fallacy of your claim is that even when you try to erase the distinction between a philosophic question and a scientific one, the philosophic claims are purely theoretical, while the scientific ones have aspects about which we have no apparent control.

Also, such excessive naturalism is highly presumptive of itself. A completed neuroscience to explain "consciousness" offers no guarantees to explaining consciousness. In fact, it is likely that it cannot. Science does not offer intensional explanations. "Feelings of love are the release of endorphines in a combination of XYZ." That is an extensional explanation, though, and not an intensional one. This is the best that any science has offered us. I sincerely doubt that any science is capable of delivering useful extensive data in such a way as to serve an intensive purpose. "The author of Waverly" and "Sir Walter Scott" point to the same collection of atoms but serve two completely different functions; I am incapable of imagining any epistemological science being able to distinguish between these two in a meaningful way.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
stop grandstanding (none / 0) (#171)
by Defiant One on Tue Sep 17, 2002 at 07:17:13 AM EST

Indeed I think you've used up all the good anecdotes from your intro book. In fact, you sound more like a troll than a thinker.

Please try to keep in mind, when someone makes a tight case for a point, you do yourself no good by continuing to ignore it and continuing to pouring on more of the same bad distinctions already refuted. Simply saying you do not agree and throwing in historical misquotes will not serve for a valid argument. In attempting to appear erudite, you seem to lack comprehension.

So, I've made my point quite clearly in the previous post. Let's see if you can reflect on it for a longer time than it takes to hit 'Reply to This' and find more names to drop...

"What can I say, I believe in total, honest democracy. I also believe this American system can work."
- Woody Allen, Stardust Memories


[ Parent ]
non-sequiturs, too (none / 0) (#155)
by Defiant One on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 07:08:12 PM EST

Sorry to be provocative, but you seem to fit into my comments in another thread, titled "so true", and you're not the 'Master'. You are still baiting and switching, but adding non-sequiturs as evidence to your argument.

Basically, your distinctions are moot. If you had any appreciation for the subtlety of the Philosophy of Science, it would surely shine through in your posts.

"What can I say, I believe in total, honest democracy. I also believe this American system can work."
- Woody Allen, Stardust Memories


[ Parent ]
Ok, you win (none / 0) (#156)
by bugmaster on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 11:21:50 PM EST

Basically, your distinctions are moot. If you had any appreciation for the subtlety of the Philosophy of Science, it would surely shine through in your posts.
How can I possibly disprove a devastating argument such as this ? Obviously, I am wrong, because you have defined me as being wrong. I can see it so clearly now... I tip my hat to you, sir.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]
A personal response offering nothing enlightening (none / 0) (#145)
by FreshFunk510 on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 02:42:35 PM EST

Either this is paradoxical or befitting but, Stas, this explains why any philosophical arguments between us never go anywhere. But, seeing that you recognize this, one would think you'd be a bit more flexible when you debate. :]

[ Parent ]
Funky (none / 0) (#147)
by bugmaster on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 05:46:59 PM EST

Hmmm, so the funk is fresh now ? No more foot fungus ? Anyway, see my responses to the other 2 people for more info.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]
Since when... (none / 0) (#130)
by unharmed on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 10:09:03 PM EST

Does "Kant" rhyme with "detente"?

since the 18th century (none / 0) (#137)
by Defiant One on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 11:05:05 AM EST

Kant's Prussian name, rather than being pronounced like the English "Can't", is actually pronounced "Kahhnt", which rhymes with the French pronunciation of Detente.

"What can I say, I believe in total, honest democracy. I also believe this American system can work."
- Woody Allen, Stardust Memories


[ Parent ]
Hmmm... (none / 0) (#163)
by unharmed on Sun Sep 15, 2002 at 09:37:17 PM EST

I am aware of the pronunciation of Kant's surname however, I am fairly certain that French people pronounce 'detente' as 'day-tont' with a very soft plosive on the end, in fact almost 'day-ton'.
I believe you will find that a pronunciation of 'day-tahnt' as you suggest, is an artifact of an American accent.

[ Parent ]
Nietszche (none / 0) (#131)
by ebatsky on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 10:20:33 PM EST

Nietszche's philosophy isn't hilarious, it actually makes the most sense out of almost all other philosphies, unless you're a religious zealot, of course. Maybe some of you should read what it's about sometime. So, in conclusion, there is no reason to vote Nietszche on the poll.

Nietzsche (none / 0) (#146)
by epepke on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 04:34:05 PM EST

I love Nietzsche, but I've always thought of him as more of an anthropologist than a philosopher. Nietzsche was the MAD Magazine of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Quintessentially irreverant and true.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Yes, but what is a recurrent theme? (none / 0) (#144)
by bigsexyjoe on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 01:24:45 PM EST

Okay so a philosopher decides that he has to figure out the meaning of life. So, he locks himself in his closet until he has an answer.
Ten years later he emerges. He takes a walk and sees one his philosopher friends.
He says, "I haven't seen you in ten years. What happened?"
"I locked myself in my closet until I figured out the meaning of life."
"Really? What did you come up with?"
"Well, I think it could best be said that life is like a bridge."
"Hmmm... A bridge. Can you be more specific? Why is life like a bridge."
"Hmmm... Perhaps you're right. Life is not like a bridge."

Thank you, I'm here all week. Remember the 10:00 show is different from the 12:00 show.

Western Philosophy in a Nutshell, Part I | 173 comments (162 topical, 11 editorial, 1 hidden)
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