• Apollodorus
    531
    The Greeks were practical people. To be wise (sophos) meant to be clever or skillful in practical things. But the gods were acknowledged to be wiser or more skillful than men, hence the ideal became to be wise like the gods or like God.

    As Socrates put it, God alone deserves to be called “wise”. Humans could only aspire to be wise like God as far as humanly possible. In this sense, philosophy is the effort humans make in becoming as “wise as God” as possible, especially in spiritual, religious, and ethical matters but also in other fields such a mathematics, astronomy, etc. which formed an important part of Greek philosophy. As can be seen from Plato's writings and other sources, this could even include politics.
  • James Riley
    765
    If the intention of a questioner is simply to find agreement there is doubt about the whole point of the enterprise.Amity

    The intention of one who loves wisdom would not be to simply find agreement. It would be to elicit a reasoned response, to help the asker to understand.

    Questions are not always easy to form. Even well thought out questions with a view to reasoned discussion can lead down surprising avenues to explore, including others' reactions.Amity

    This is true. That is why the question is so important. If you are looking for another's reactions, as opposed to his reasons, then I think philosophy is not the enterprise. Maybe politics, or boxing, or psychology.

    We aren't ideal, we have to deal with the unideal. And we ask unideal questions for all kinds of reasons.Amity

    No truer words were ever spoken. The question about the purpose of philosophy would go to those reasons. If one's reason is not to find reason, then again, philosophy doesn't seem to be the enterprise.

    Compared to the classroom experience, the 'new' part of learning in TPF environment is perhaps less about people showing or witnessing character but more about processing our own thoughts, feelings and attitudes.Amity

    I would hope so. It is an aid to processing our own thoughts, feelings and attitudes when any character, other than the love of wisdom, takes a seat. Granted, no one is perfect, and the proof of that, in oneself, is in trying to carry another, especially when that other is looking for reactions instead of reason.

    Reason tends to fly out the window when we feel under attack. Initial sensations of dislike or discomfort can limit our ability to stand back and think 'straight'.Amity

    Bingo. So, if philosophy is about sending reason flying out the window, I guess I've been misunderstanding it.

    I don't mind being 'pissed off' or people being 'pissed off' with me.Amity

    You are a better man than me.

    It shows passion and action.
    It is better than complete apathy or indifference.
    Amity

    I don't believe it is an either/or proposition. The vetting described is the demonstration of passion and action. I'm seeing it in you, now.

    A little bit of aggravation is good for the soul. Now is that 'wise' or not ? :chin:

    I find a distinction between that which is wise, and the love of the pursuit of it for wisdoms sake. The former is simply being, and the latter is seeking the reason for it.

    Socrates may deny being a wise man, but lets say we perceive him to be such. If he presented himself to an open forum, I would ask him questions to understand why he is or is not as I perceive him to be. If he wanted me to piss him off in the pursuit, I guess I could try to humor him. But he would have to tell me that, or I'd have to ask him: "Hey Socrates, how best can I get you to explain to me why I think you are wise? Should I piss you off, so you can show me I am wrong about you? Or should I just ask well-thought-out, probing questions?" But if he just wants to go be wise somewhere, I'll leave him alone.
    Amity
  • Fooloso4
    1.5k
    Philosophy is, literally, the love of wisdom.James Riley

    If you were to visit most university philosophy departments the faculty would regard this claim as quaint.
  • James Riley
    765
    If you were to visit most university philosophy departments the faculty would regard this claim as quaint.Fooloso4

    I suspect you are right. Drilling down on the word "love" might cause some discomfort.
  • Fooloso4
    1.5k
    I suspect you are right. Drilling down on the word "love" might cause some discomfort.James Riley

    It may be the word "wisdom" that they have a problem with.
  • Fooloso4
    1.5k


    Do you conclude from this that all those professors getting paid to teach and write are not doing philosophy?
  • James Riley
    765
    Do you conclude from this that all those professors getting paid to teach and write are not doing philosophy?Fooloso4

    No. I merely stipulate to the notion they might find my understanding of it to be quaint. Regardless of what I think, I hope they love what they do.
  • Fooloso4
    1.5k


    This shows the problem with the question about the purpose of philosophy. People are engaged in different activities, and the only thing they all have in common is that they are called philosophy.
  • James Riley
    765
    his shows the problem with the question about the purpose of philosophy. People are engaged in different activities, and the only thing they all have in common is that they are called philosophy.Fooloso4

    Yeah, I wish they all had in common of love of wisdom, but that's too quaint, I guess.
  • Gnomon
    1.4k
    Do you know what the purpose of philosophy is?Daniel Banyai
    For me, the purpose of Philosophy (quest for wisdom) is to figure out what's wrong-with-the-world, in order to do something about it. Mis-using Nature is one of those "wrongs". And "self-immiserating" is another. Also, frustrated Desires is just one more of the many ways that our natural & cultural world fails to be a perfect home for thinking & feeling creatures. Unfortunately, most creatures don't have the means (Reason + hands) to actually change the world, and the self, for the better. Science (applied philosophy) is how we learn to make the natural world better. And Philosophy (introspection) is how we learn to make the Self better. :smile:
  • Amity
    1.5k
    It is an aid to processing our own thoughts, feelings and attitudes when any character, other than the love of wisdom, takes a seat. Granted, no one is perfect, and the proof of that, in oneself, is in trying to carry another, especially when that other is looking for reactions instead of reason.James Riley

    For the ancients, I think that the 'love of wisdom' was not about reason alone but concerned knowledge of the self and of the whole. For the examined life, the psychological 'character' is included.
    Feelings and attitudes do 'take a seat' - they have their place but not necessarily centre stage.

    I don't know what you mean by 'carrying' another. I agree it is difficult, and perhaps a waste of time, to carry on a conversation with someone who is only looking for an emotional reaction.
    However, others might want to poke you and your thoughts with a pointy stick.

    You are a better man than me.James Riley
    Nope.

    I don't believe it is an either/or proposition. The vetting described is the demonstration of passion and action. I'm seeing it in you, now.James Riley

    Neither do I. I see the same passion and action in you. Of course, I am due to have an operation on my left eye so my vision might be impaired. However, it does sound like you are fairly emotionally involved in your defence of reason and 'love of wisdom'.

    [Socrates]...If he presented himself to an open forum, I would ask him questions to understand why he is or is not as I perceive him to be. If he wanted me to piss him off in the pursuit, I guess I could try to humor him. But he would have to tell me that, or I'd have to ask him: "Hey Socrates, how best can I get you to explain to me why I think you are wise? Should I piss you off, so you can show me I am wrong about you? Or should I just ask well-thought-out, probing questions?"Amity
    [ Note: this and the original quote is that of @James Riley - not mine.
    Don't know how to fix that ? Here:
    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/530955 ]

    Well. I think it is more likely that it would be the other way around. If S. were to appear in a public meeting place, it would be him asking the pesky questions. He was aka 'The Gadfly' and seen as a pest who could and did 'piss people off'.
    However, his aim was to encourage people to examine their lives and the status quo of the day. He was seen as a major threat by the authorities. You know the rest...

    He was 'tried' in more ways than one in everyday life.
    Apparently, he married a shrewish woman who would, I guess, provide a challenge to his presence of mind...as well as an income.
    If S. were to appear here - as a strange and penniless pain in the arse, I hope we would make him welcome. Who knows - perhaps he is here in spirit :scream:
  • Amity
    1.5k
    This shows the problem with the question about the purpose of philosophyFooloso4

    Yes :100:

    People are engaged in different activities, and the only thing they all have in common is that they are called philosophy.Fooloso4

    Well, not all activities on here are called 'philosophy' are they ?
  • emancipate
    275
    Philosophy is the ultimate wild goose chase.
  • Benj96
    398
    The true purpose of philosophy is to maintain nature's course---to make sure humans don't depart too much from it. That's it.Daniel Banyai

    This presupposes humans are somehow outside the realm of nature; despite the facts that would suggest otherwise: chemistry in our body operates the same as external chemistry if the universe. We share our biological mechanisms with many other species and fundamentally we are made of cells like every other truly living thing.
    Our bodies also have to abide by physics and we evolved through natural selection like all other kingdoms.

    Why do we persist in a belief that humans are outside of nature. Even the things we make which we call “artificial” is a false separation from nature - the natural materials and elements available and the biological human that repurposes them. There is no such thing as “not in nature’s course” it’s only nature fooling itself into believing it is something else.
  • 180 Proof
    3.4k
    This is close to my own practice and to how philosophy was practiced in the Socratic schools, but, as I am sure you know, this does not describe the practice of philosophy for much of the history of western philosophy or what is most commonly taught in academia.Fooloso4
    Ah yeah, the age-old difference between living philosophically and making a living from philosophy (or philosophers and sophists). No doubt many academics have made contributions to philosophy worthy of much more than being ridiculed as sophistical pedants, but clearly not most. And almost none of the great philosophers were paid academics.

    Anyway, I don't endeavor to address such questions as presented in the OP with comprehensive anthropological / sociological answers because, primarily, philosophy for me is – apparently, you as well, Fooloso4 – experienced as an contemplative practice and, therefore, is better understood intersubjectively (i.e. mutually recognizable, shared experiences of fellow (dialectical) autodidacts) than objectively (i.e. a reductive, subject/pov/language–invariant, algorithm).
  • Amity
    1.5k
    primarily, philosophy for me is – apparently, you as well, Fooloso4 – experienced as an contemplative practice and, therefore, is better understood intersubjectively (i.e. mutually recognizable, shared experiences of fellow (dialectical) autodidacts) than objectively (i.e. a reductive, subject/pov/language–invariant, algorithm).180 Proof

    Well. That I like. Intersubjectivity. Sounds wholesome. The holistic view of life. :cool:
    But wait, am I too quick to agree?

    Intersubjectivity is a term coined by social scientists as a short-hand description for a variety of human interactions. For example, social psychologists Alex Gillespie and Flora Cornish listed at least seven definitions of intersubjectivity (and other disciplines have additional definitions):

    people's agreement on the shared definition of an object;
    people's mutual awareness of agreement or disagreement, or of understanding or misunderstanding each other;
    people's attribution of intentionality, feelings, and beliefs to each other;
    people's implicit or automatic behavioral orientations towards other people;
    people's interactive performance within a situation;
    people's shared and taken-for-granted background assumptions, whether consensual or contested; and
    "the variety of possible relations between people's perspectives".[1]
    wiki

    How many definitions ?!
    Recognising, Contemplating and Discussing shared experiences - is that all there is...to the purpose of philosophy ? But no, you said 'Primarily'...
  • 180 Proof
    3.4k
    I'll stick with my stipulative definition (wiki is a reliable prompt, can't let it become a crutch). "What's the purpose of philosophy?" I answer only as broadly as I needed to in order to convey my experience of studying, practicing & discussing philosophy which some may recognize as similiar to their own experience.
  • Amity
    1.5k
    I answer only as broadly as I needed to in order to convey my experience of studying, practicing & discussing philosophy which some may recognize as similiar to their own experience.180 Proof

    That is wise. And I do recognise it as similar to my own. Although, my own experience is not as deep or knowledgeable.

    wiki is a reliable prompt, can't let it become a crutch180 Proof

    Well, it's not always that reliable but serves its purpose as a provider of basic information which you can choose to take or leave. Or even amend, should the desire take you...
    I have other helpers and support when necessary.

    Enjoying the connection with you and @Fooloso4 and others, of course...even some disconnection issues in some areas...
  • Fooloso4
    1.5k
    Well, not all activities on here are called 'philosophy' are they ?Amity

    So as not to give offense to the illustrious philosophers on this forum I will leave this question unanswered.
  • Fooloso4
    1.5k
    Ah yeah, the age-old difference between living philosophically and making a living from philosophy (or philosophers and sophists).180 Proof

    Thoreau talks about this in Walden:

    There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers.
  • James Riley
    765
    I don't know what you mean by 'carrying' another.Amity

    If I am to be what I perceive as strong and/or wise, then I cannot complain about what I perceive as weak and/or stupid without becoming that which I would complain about. My alternative is to carry it. The extreme example would be to love my enemy. Anyway, that's another thread.

    However, others might want to poke you and your thoughts with a pointy stick.Amity

    I understand the concept of "teasing an idea out of someone". That is done with probing, maybe even uncomfortable questions. But a pointy stick gets a turned back at the least, a similar retort along the way, or a bullet at the worst. Insults, passive-aggressive comments, commenting on ones lack of mental prowess, are pointy sticks. Trying to find out how a man reacts to insult makes the victim a lab rat, and not the potential vessel from which to drink.

    Regarding the ancients, I think philosophy, at all times, has been a child of leisure, like the arts. As to S, did anyone harry him with questions? That’s what I would *try* to do. Anyway, my synthesis, arrived at in part with your non-triggering help:

    Philosophy is the love of wisdom. Wisdom is the asking of honest questions in search of honest answers. Honest questions are those based in sincere intellectual curiosity. Honest answers are those based in sincere reason. The love of this process is a love of the process itself. I think it was yGasset who said “I do not hunt to kill. I kill to have hunted.” Answers are nice, but ancillary to the process, the struggle, the honing of one’s edge upon hard stone, the being a hard stone upon which others might hone their edge. Hard does not mean being an asshole. There are other venues where that may be a good thing. But being an asshole buries the process, the hunt, within another process, obscuring the first, and obscuring the process which the lover of wisdom loves.

    All the best with your eye surgery.
  • Amity
    1.5k
    Thoreau talks about this in Walden:
    There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers.
    Fooloso4

    I wonder about the context. What made him say this ? A disenchantment with a type of philosophy as taught in academia ? Mainstream. Fair enough. But not all professors of philosophy are limited to the confines and theories of the teaching environment - they are well read and open to other aspects of life. Not everyone can take time out in the woods. He must have known this...so why the comment ?

    Thoreau himself was a philosopher - among many. He is to be admired. He understood philosophy as a way of life. As such, he not only lived in contemplation in nature but was also involved in political action.

    He was an activist involved in the abolitionist movement on many fronts: he participated in the Underground Railroad, protested against the Fugitive Slave Law, and gave support to John Brown and his party. Most importantly perhaps, he provides a justification for principled revolt and a method of nonviolent resistance, both of which would have a considerable influence on revolutionary movements in the twentieth century.SEP article: Thoreau by R. Furtak

    I like that he connects facts and values as holistic and natural.

    Thoreau urges his reader not to “underrate the value of a fact,” since each concrete detail of the world may contain a meaningful truth (“Natural History of Massachusetts”). Note the phrase: the value of a fact. Thoreau does not introduce an artificial distinction between facts and values, or between primary and secondary qualities, since he understands the universe as an organic whole in which mind and matter are inseparable. When we perceive sights, sounds, and textures, we are not standing as disembodied consciousness apart from a world of inanimate mechanisms; rather, we are sentient beings immersed in the sensory world, learning the “essential facts of life” only through “the perpetual instilling and drenching of the reality that surrounds us” (Walden, II)...

    Contemporary philosophers are increasingly discovering how much Thoreau has to teach—especially, in the areas of knowledge and perception, and in ethical debates about the value of land and life. His affinities with the pragmatic and phenomenological traditions, and the enormous resources he offers for environmental philosophy, have also started to receive more attention—and Walden itself continues to be encountered by readers as a remarkable provocation to philosophical thought.
    SEP article: Thoreau by R. Furtak
  • Amity
    1.5k
    The love of this process is a love of the process itself. I think it was yGasset who said “I do not hunt to kill. I kill to have hunted.” Answers are nice, but ancillary to the process, the struggle, the honing of one’s edge upon hard stone, the being a hard stone upon which others might hone their edge. Hard does not mean being an asshole. There are other venues where that may be a good thing. But being an asshole buries the process, the hunt, within another process, obscuring the first, and obscuring the process which the lover of wisdom loves.James Riley

    Thank you for taking the time to respond in such a careful and thoughtful manner. I agree with all of this.

    All the best with your eye surgeryJames Riley

    Appreciate the best wishes.
    It's on Thursday, so I should be giving my eyeballs a rest.
    *sigh* - not the wisest of birds, huh ? :roll:
  • god must be atheist
    2.9k
    Socrates talks about the desire for wisdom, a passionate pursuit for something you do not possess.Fooloso4

    "You" as the general "you"?

    I think wisdom is a set of accumulated insights a man or a woman or a child or a hermaphrodite on non-binary spectrum garners in his / her / its/ / their life, and applies to the advantage of himself / herself / itself / theirself/ singly or collectively.

    This ain't macrophysics. Anyone can have insights.
  • Fooloso4
    1.5k
    "You" as the general "you"?god must be atheist

    You as in those with a passionate desire for wisdom who know that they are not wise.

    I think wisdom is a set of accumulated insights ...god must be atheist

    If I was wise I would know what it is, but I ain't. This in not modesty. I don't think anyone else is wise either.
  • god must be atheist
    2.9k
    If I was wise I would know what it is, but I ain't. (...) I don't think anyone else is wise either.Fooloso4

    My response to your claim is very dry reading, but it's perfectly logical, as follows:

    So the language has a word with no meaning and no application. Maybe the word has a meaning, or a conceptual meaning, but no application. It is an adjective that you don't know what it is or what it means, and you categorically deny that anyone possesses this quality.

    You don't know what wise is. So you may be wise, except not knowing what "wise" means, you may be already possessing that quality, except you don't know it.** Not for the lack of what being wise imbues you with, but for the lack of a definition. If you had a definition for "wise", you would have some knowledge what it is. But since you don't know what it is, you don't have a definition... ergo, you can't know whether you are in possession of wisdom, or else if you are wise, or not.

    Saying you don't know what "wise" is, but you'd know if/when you were wise, is not logical. Inasmuch as it could be true, or not be true, but is not necessarily true. Since you don't know what "wise" is; since you don't know what being wise is like, you consequently can't know what it does to you. Only empirical evidence would show whether it would make you know what wisdom is, and the empirical evidence, so you claim, is missing to date.

    ** since you deny any knowledge by anyone to know what being wise is, you can or anyone else could, be wise, and nobody would recognize he or she is, because there is no knowledge what it is, therefore there is no way of recognizing it when encountering it as someone's quality in real life.
  • Fooloso4
    1.5k
    So the language has a word with no meaning and no application.god must be atheist

    That is not the case. The word means different things to different people.

    quote="god must be atheist;531529"]Maybe the word has a meaning, or a conceptual meaning, but no application.[/quote]

    Some people call someone who knows some fact or how to do something or made a choice that turned out well or is shrewd is wise. Some apply the term to those who give what they consider good council. At least one says that it is accumulated insights.

    ... you categorically deny that anyone possesses this quality.god must be atheist

    What I have in mind is knowledge of the whole. But it may be unwise for me to think this.[

    quote="god must be atheist;531529"]You don't know what wise is. So you may be wise,[/quote]

    But if I was wise I would think I would know both what wisdom is and that I was wise.

    ergo, you can't know whether you are in possession of wisdom, or else if you are wise, or not.god must be atheist

    Doesn't my confusion suggest that I am not wise?

    Saying you don't know what "wise" is, but you'd know if/when you were wise, is not logical. Inasmuch as it could be true, or not be true, but is not necessarily true.god must be atheist

    Yes, I assume that if I was wise I would know I was wise since I think it would include self-knowledge. But what do I know?

    since you deny any knowledge by anyone to know what being wise is, you can or anyone else could, be wise, and nobody would recognize he or she is, because there is no knowledge what it is, therefore there is no way of recognizing it when encountering it as someone's quality in real life.god must be atheist

    I agree. It some ways it is like Dostoevsky's The Idiot.
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