• Tom Storm
    1.3k
    Society debates philosophy now more than ever, and people think philosophically now more than ever. It's just that philosophy as a standalone subject, especially as in reading books written in difficult to read language, is so woefully outclassed as a product by alternative means to discuss "philosophy". Aren't you just asking why centuries-old books are being outclassed as products by podcasts, videos, television, news media, politics, economics, movies, music and any other field which discuss with varying degrees of complexity and depth philosophical subjects? Have I misinterpreted OP or is this a valid response?Judaka

    I know this is to Jack, but I wanted to make a comment too. I agree largely with this. But for me the issue is more about the rigorous understanding of some philosophy, as opposed to simply promiscuous consumption of videos, etc, that lead no where in particular. The result may be more sophisticated small talk, but not much else. People know a smattering about a lot, but not a lot about anything.

    I sometime think that consuming ideas is a bit like the way people approach travel. They go see the famous places - to take a picture and have something to brag about, 'been thereism'. But the experience is swift, shallow and involves looking without really seeing. In the same way with thinkers people can name some philosophers and a produce quote or two, but is this substantive? It seems to be more like namedropping.
  • 180 Proof
    4k
    Tourists never leave home, they just drag it around in bigger and bigger circles like a full diaper. Like sophists & vidiots: "Been there, namedropped that."
  • Judaka
    1.3k

    Information is a product, rigorously studying a single topic doesn't sell as well as a neat, interesting presentation. In-depth philosophy and what you're talking about likely appeal to different demographics, hard to imagine that these products are in competition with each other. I agree that a podcast or video will never outdo a book in terms of complexity or how rigorously it approaches a topic. A book has more words, which are more carefully arranged, it is the product of potentially years of work. I think your characterisations are broad and unfair, perhaps we need to manage our expectations for the average lay person's interest in philosophy. Their involvement has never and will never resemble that of a dedicated academic.
  • Tom Storm
    1.3k
    Information is a product, rigorously studying a single topic doesn't sell as well as a neat, interesting presentationJudaka

    I've been involved in marketing so that's a given. But I think everyone already knows this.

    I agree that a podcast or video will never outdo a book in terms of complexity or how rigorously it approaches a topic. A book has more words, which are more carefully arranged, it is the product of potentially years of work.Judaka

    A no brainer, surely. How books work is pretty well known. :smile:

    think your characterisations are broad and unfair, perhaps we need to manage our expectations for the average lay person's interest in philosophy. Their involvement has never and will never resemble that of a dedicated academic.Judaka

    There was a time when lay people read quite closely the primary texts of philosophy. My own mother, who did not attend university, read Spinoza and Erasmus and read much of the good commentary too. People I knew used to read primary texts and study them quite deeply outside of academia. I'm sure people like this still exist.

    I think the videos, etc, are more about having a tourist romp around the topics, rather than settling in, that's all. I think there used to be more people who did the latter precisely because the former, the fast food philosophy on YouTube wasn't available.

    And don't get me wrong, I like a good video myself and I have not priviledged deep reading of philosophy in my own life. I also think there are issues in reading book after book and not getting to adequately know a thinker too. I'm not saying it is wrong, it just seems unlikely to profit the promiscuous reader. And our subsequent discussions of philosophy are often displays of Dunning-Kruger despite and perhaps because of an increased awareness of terms and names.
  • Judaka
    1.3k

    I'm sure you know these things, but I bring them up as premises in my argument and to help you to understand my process. It's not the case that I think everything I write is news to you.

    I'm just not sure that this new demographic of people who are only really interested in these new formats for discussing and learning about philosophy are taking consumers away from traditional philosophy. I imagine that it's the opposite, people are introduced to traditional philosophy through these new mediums. I don't deny that some people are only getting their feet wet, I'm just saying that the majority of these consumers are probably not a realistic demographic for more serious and complex forms of philosophy. Philosophy can be stimulating and enjoyable, a recreational activity that doesn't have to result in great wisdom or expertise. Expertise, wisdom or whatever in philosophy, if it were measurable, will resemble a pyramid, with the bottom being filled with people who dabble. That's how it is with most things, I don't disagree with your comment I'm just... I'm just saying that this is the way of things, for every subject, politics, economics, geography, sport - everything. 100-200 years ago, the bottom rungs of the pyramid consisted of 99.9% of the population, they were substantially less advanced in comparison to today. So if OP is asking, how is the trend of philosophy looking? Are we reaching a doom and gloom scenario? Then I would say that it's the opposite. I say that philosophy is adapting and has somehow left the term "philosophy" behind.

    I struggle to characterise the spirit of what you say, do you think my optimism is misplaced? Or did you perhaps just want to gripe about a practice, somewhat relevant to my comment, that you disapprove of?
  • praxis
    3.6k
    Philosophy is like painting: there has been no progress since the cave painting of prehistory {as Picasso I think said}.unenlightened

    He only said that because he couldn't paint like Sargent.

    singer-sargent-1000_498.jpg
  • Tom Storm
    1.3k
    I struggle to characterise the spirit of what you say, do you think my optimism is misplaced? Or did you perhaps just want to gripe about a practice, somewhat relevant to my comment, that you disapprove of?Judaka

    I almost forgot what my point was - it was simply a response to your notion about how more people are interested in philosophy today than in the past. My response was perhaps but at what level of quality? We simply differ on this.
  • Judaka
    1.3k

    Well, even if we forget about the laypeople, different areas of philosophy are discussed in relation to how the government or businesses should handle various legal, economic, ethical, cultural issues. Perhaps "philosophy" has become a study of history for many and we shouldn't forget that the same kinds of problems are still being discussed today even if it's being categorised differently. Every area of life and thought has been developing at breakneck speed and much is changed. Has our understanding of what philosophy is failed to keep up with the changes in society?
  • Jack Cummins
    2.9k

    I think that you are correct to bring in the role of government as this with the whole underlying power structures are likely to affect the course of philosophy and ideas in general. We have moved into the information age, but I think that it is hard to predict the future of humanity. We don't want where science and economics will lead us and to what extent religions will play a part. It is, however, most certain that political factors will play a large role as throughout history knowledge and politics are interconnected in such a deep and complex way.
  • Manuel
    983
    But, I do think that many people, in general, see philosophy as a rather abstract and futile activity, but it would be interesting if someone were able to provide evidence of such opinion and I am not able to do so at present.Jack Cummins

    Excellent topic.

    It's a bit hard to answer. I mean besides saying "love of wisdom", defining what philosophy is, can be quite difficult. I think we ought to be mindful that during Classical Greece, there really wasn't much distinction between philosophy and anything else.

    The difference between science and philosophy only got articulated in the mid-19th century, so the word we are using now, is rather new given its history. I mean existentialism is very different from empiricism as exemplified by Locke and Hume, for example.

    Bearing all this is mind, when I use the word "philosophy" in a broad sense, outside the forum or outside technical discussions, I talk about "deep questions" on "important topics" which do not need, necessarily, much by the way of technical knowledge. Given this "constraint", then novels, movies, music and everything else can contain very good philosophy. And on this view, philosophy is more important then ever, whatever else the person whom you're talking with may say about it.

    Not that technical questions in philosophy as often discussed here aren't important, I think they are, but the satisfaction gained from them is from the mere pleasure of contemplating and discussing these ideas than they are about "practicality". On this later term, much can be said. But if taken to the extreme then all that matters is money and work.

    That's not a life at all.

    At least that's how I view this.
  • CountVictorClimacusIII
    61


    Personally, I see philosophy and science as going hand in hand. It's the very questions of metaphysical and epistemological importance that then drive us to search for quantifiable or understandable answers through science right? In which case, philosophy will always be relevant.

    In our culture though, I suppose it depends on which culture you speak of. If it is the current, modern Western cultural climate, it can easily be perceived that science and philosophy have taken a backseat. Right now it seems that the West is in some sort of depraved political cultural war of ideas. Many feel lost. Many feel anger and resentment. Some are too jaded to care. This cultural war is not driven by science and philosophy, but rather by anger, resentment, and in many ways, a nihilism. In my opinion at least.

    Thought, this doesn't mean we are without hope. As Nietzsche stated:

    There is something like decay in everything modern, but alongside the prevailing sickness there are signs of an inner strength yet to be tested. The very things that diminish us the most drive the stronger and more exceptional to greatness. As a matter of fact, great growth is always accompanied by tremendous fragmentation and destruction; suffering and the symptoms of decline are a part of every period of tremendous progress. Every fruitful and powerful development of humankind has at the same time helped to create a corresponding nihilistic development. It might be a sign of the most essential and decisive growth, of the transition to new conditions of existence, where the most extreme form of pessimism, genuine nihilism, to come into the world.

    We are in the salad phase my friend. All of the deviations and crossroads have yet to converge.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.9k

    Your interpretation of my thread question is interesting. Going back to the time of Nietzsche and Sartre we were looking at two philosophers who depicted angst and despair about the human condition. This was in the context of the collapse of Christianity, and, of course, Nietzsche was a romantic.

    A couple of weeks ago, I was in a discussion of Nietzsche's ideas in the context of the idea of my idea of stepping into philosophical danger, which was then called 'the red zone of philosophy' by
    @TheMadFool. This led into a discussion of the nature of nihilism and whether it was a red zone of being a dangerous territory within philosophy.

    In itself, the philosophy of Nietzsche is part of romanticism and some philosophy of despair can be seen in that context, but also with a view to being a part of potential nihilism. I wrote this particular thread based on my own thoughts about where we are going in philosophy. Part of my own thinking was about a potential end to philosophy in the context as philosophy becomes more reductive and many people see the answers to philosophy as having been solved. Some of the responses I have received do suggest that philosophy is possibly opening up to new horizons beyond science.

    My words deadend and wasteland were based on ideas of potential cultural collapse, and the term 'wasteland' was based on T S Eliot's poem. Also, recently I wrote a thread based on Gaugin's idea in his painting title, 'Where are we from? What are we? Where are we going ?', which he in a state of suicidal despair, painted. The whole question of where we are going can open up feelings of despair individually, and I think that this can also open up a cultural sense of despair. In some ways, this despair may be evident as much in entertainment which has no inherent meaning, just as much as in that which is outrightly expressing nihilism. We have had postmodernism and even post truth, so what is next?

    There is also the idea of the end of history. Also, there are fears of the future of humanity too, and whether human beings will destroy themselves. Many feared the end of the world at the end of the twentieth century. While this did not happen, we still have the big environmental issues unsolved and the question of whether humanity will be able to draw upon science in a positive way.
  • Tom Storm
    1.3k
    The whole question of where we are going can open up feelings of despair individually, and I think that this can also open up a cultural sense of despair. In some ways, this despair may be evident as much in entertainment which has no inherent meaning, just as much as in that which is outrightly expressing nihilism. We have had postmodernism and even post truth, so what is next.Jack Cummins

    I don't think there is any particular peak in despair or loss of meaning - but it's something the media like to create and whip up anxiety about. It helps sell things. Jordan Peterson has certainly found a good earn in pandering to and massaging this dystopic view and offering a conservative restoration or perhaps even a kind of counter reformation lubricated by cartoon Jungianism. The reality is there is no 'post truth' and postmodern has almost no influence on anything important. There are just events and politics.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.9k

    But, I do wonder if you are looking at it more from the perspective of events and politics. Where does mental illness fit into this framework? Based on my experience of working in the mental health care system, so much of depression is bound up with feelings of despair, and apart from those who come into direct contact with the mental health system, so many more are being prescribed antidepressants and related drugs. In addition, even the experience of psychosis arises in the context of cultural breakdown of meaning.
  • Tom Storm
    1.3k
    But, I do wonder if you are looking at it more from the perspective of events and politics. Where does mental illness fit into this framework?Jack Cummins

    People have always found reasons to despair even in alleged times of cultural meaning (not that there ever was such an era). Mental illness is a separate matter.

    As I said, the various platforms of media have been selling us conspiracies and stories of woe for a long time now - of course it has impact on some people.
  • god must be atheist
    3.2k


    I am replying to your original topic.

    I think you have just right now invented a new area or branch of philosophy, "the philosophy of interest in philosophy".

    I don't think philosophy will go extinct. Even with the knowledge attained.

    There will always be differences in opinion, even if not in the philosophical questions we struggle with. There might be a debate whether Mary used too much red in her painting of the sunset, or else Peter put too much green in the grass. These differences are not philosophical, but to decide what the answer is, you need to use tools of philosophy, that is, argumentation.

    I think philosophy branched out of religion. Man suspected there has to be a rational explanation to everything. If the explanation was not biting him in the leg, that is, if it wasn't in his face, he invented explanations without much evidence. Thunder? God's angry reindeer thumping wiht their hoofs. Lightning? God's wrath, express'd.

    Religion was first and foremost a survival tool: to explain the unexplained, and to use its predictive value. Rain dance, blessing of the troops, prayers, sacrifices. When those did not work out, it was easy to explain that the gods were not sufficiently pleased.

    Then came the famous Greek guy, whose name I forgot, and he gave explanations to those things, that had been neglected by religion. He said the wind is created by the leaves' trembling on trees; and he made a whole bunch of other EXPLANATIONS that today make laughably no sense, but the damage was done: this guy picked up the slack left by religion.

    Then there was not stop to this. Superstitions, sciences, religions, theories, social theories, and legal theories were starting to be based on philosophy. The Christian church declared Plato's writing had the seed of Christian wisdom in the mysticism; scientists questioned the religious teachings; people had a surer way of satisfying their greed with the help of science destroying philosophical empirical truths, that's one of the impeti that empowered Columbus to sail west to find the east.

    Karl Marx said that human beings need an ideology to perform a sweeping change in social structure or in other endeavours of society. In personal affairs it's called "rationalizing the cognitive discord (or cognitive dissonance)". In social movements, the rationalization is replaced by ideology, and the cognitive discord or dissonance is replaced by facing the changing of societally accepted values. Marx recognized this event, and that this is a social law. We need to defend Christianity, was the motto for the Crusades, which aimed to gain an access route to India's wealth of spices and gold and jewels. We need to fight for freedom, for liberty, and for justice, was the slavekeepers' motto for ridding themselves of the king's rule in America, and the proletariat-oppressing, internationally expanding imperialism of the bourgeoise in France. We must bind up the broken, the ill, the lonely, the poor, we must eradicate slavery, was the Christian motto for establishing a hegemony of absolute power in Europe in the middle ages.

    Once social stability is achieved, we won't need ideology, either.

    In all, philosophy was an excellent tool to pave the way to secular thinking, which paved the way of man detaching himself from the rigors of the unbending dogma of faith. It was also an excellent outlet for man's curious nature, and for his obsession to find solutions to problems, theoretical or practical, same difference.

    But like you pointed out, Jack Cummings, will philosophy survive if it loses its survival value?

    As a study of something that has historical value, no. It won't lose its stance. But as a tool of secular detachment from religion, it will use its usefulness. Things that are no longer useful get sidetracked, and their only way to survive is through their value of novelty, curiosity. The "strange and curious" survive no matter what. And as such things go, philosophy is sure one of them.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.9k

    Your post highlights the way in which knowledge exists in the form of ideologies, as argued by Marx. In the past, philosophy and religion often were interlinked through the ideas of the Greeks being brought forward into the ideas of the church fathers, Kant and many others. Gradually, as science became more predominant philosophy lead the way in the understanding of secular ideas.

    As it is now, scientists have made so much progress, but the arts and humanities have not been thrown aside. There are so many obvious divisions such as science vs art, religion vs secular, academic vs popular ideas. My own view is that philosophy needs to lead the way in sorting out all these dichotomies, rather than become as you say dumped into the 'strange and the curious", although, they will probably 'survive no matter what'. I think that neither you or I believe that philosophy will because extinct as such, but it is about on what level it will survive in the information age.

    But, I do believe that it is also interrelated to the way history goes, and I think that we need the philosophers right now more than ever before...
  • Jack Cummins
    2.9k

    I do think that for some people 'all that matters is money and work'. However, the future is so bound up with ideas. The book which I have begun reading today is 'Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow', by Yuval Noah Harari (2016). I am at an early stage in the book but it does seem interesting so far in thinking about knowledge for the future. I will just throw in one quote for you and others, for thinking about the future of ideas:
    'Modern science and modern culture has an entirely different take on life and death. They don't think of death as a metaphysical mystery, and they certainly don't view death as a the source of life's meaning. Rather, for modern people death is a technical problem we can and should solve.'

    The author's use of 'They' is a bit ambiguous but I think he means both science and people from our culture. However, what I see as being important here is the whole way in which the interpretation and understanding of ideas is important. This leads me to believe that philosophy is central to culture and interpretation of human experience. The author of the book was writing before the time of the pandemic, in which the emphasis in global thinking has been about fighting to solve death as a 'technical problem.'

    I hope that my comment makes sense in relation to your comment, but what I am trying to argue is that the 'deep questions' are truly with as ever, and that philosophy can have a vital role, rather than being seen as obscure.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.9k

    I am wondering about the conspiracy of woe and how that relates to the idea of the posturing of the Nietzschean nihilist. Meanings have been broken down, and often we stand alone, with no gods to turn to, but simply our own selves, and the reflection of self in human relationships.

    Our own worldviews and philosophies are based in that context. We, as individuals are looking back on the history of ideas, with a view to moving forwards, breaking down, assimilating and looking towards future possibilities.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.9k

    So, do you see painting as being part of the process of formulating philosophies? I most certainly do, because it seems to be such a complex mixture of looking beyond the objective to the subjective. We may have reached a crossroads in the history, but I am not at all certain that the spectrum beyond the objective and subjective has been met, even the intersubjective, especially in the realm of the arts.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.9k

    I am a little disappointed that you did not answer my reply because I thought that we may have so much to discuss. Instead, you have started a thread, which appears to be based on my own questions. Have you done this because you think my own thinking is inadequate, or are you coming from a different angle entirely?From your initial reply, I thought that we had some common ground to discuss.

    As for myself, I am interested in the future of philosophy, and see this as being interconnected with the question of where humanity and culture are going, but I do understand if your own interest is very different from mine. I believe that we are at a crossroads, for better or worse, and I am trying to think about this, and how ideas will lead us through..
  • CountVictorClimacusIII
    61


    Sorry Jack. I will reply, I always do! I'm just in between shifts at the moment and I work a rotating roster. I've been replying to lots of comments (more than I expected, which is a pleasant surprise) when I can.

    I think we would be examining the same or a similar topic from different perspectives. I trust we will have lots to discuss.
  • Manuel
    983


    :up:

    Sure and it's probably impossible to get out of the intellectual context in which one lives and see things "objectively", standing atop the highest clearest mountain if you will.

    As for that specific Harari quote, it's not too clear in the sense that I've never really understood what people mean when they say "science says", as if "science" could be separated from the scientists who engage in these projects. It's an obvious comment but there are all kinds of scientists who believe in all kinds of things. Granted one can see a tendency in them to be, say, non-religious or "hard nosed" but this is a tendency.

    Philosophy is important in that it can help us make sense of the world. I want be as inclusive as I can be when I use the term - which is why I insist on the philosophic aspects of art.

    But yes, the problem of culture and ideas is fascinating.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.9k

    Yes, I think we are, but your thread is going in a different direction possibly, so it will be interesting to see what happens. You wrote your reply in the night when I was sleeping, and, then you created your own thread. I believe that you started your own thread and you may well come with a whole fresh perspective, which I cannot offer at all.

    I have a certain amount of philosophy reading, ranging from existentialism, postmodernism, as well as questions of philosophies of our times. My own interest is more in the direction of the arts. But, I am concerned about the direction humanity is going, and how this is interconnected.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.9k

    I may start a thread based on my own reading of Harari's ideas, but I am certainly not in the position of thinking that scientists have the ultimate word on truth. I think that we are an extremely critical juncture in history. We have so much information available to us, coming from the sciences and the arts.

    On the other hand, we are at a time in which there are so many aspects of history which are uncertain. We have the pandemic, climate change, and it is so hard to predict what is going to happen next. This presents a challenge for individuals and for humanity, if the collective term still applies too.

    My own thread was formed in trying to look at philosophy and the way in which this can be reconciled and put together in an individual way and in terms of knowledge. Philosophy has been through postmodernism and the deconstruction of meaning. However, we can ask what will happen next. I am asking about the future of philosophy, but do see this as being interconnected with developments in history, culture and politics.
  • CountVictorClimacusIII
    61


    Ok. So. Firstly, I think we are still in the collapse of Christianity as the prevailing worldview (at least from a Western perspective). Essentially, it takes time, and effort, to kill God. In saying that, Nietszche I think predicted accurately, the nihilistic wake that is left by the death of God, in the absense of another, similarly rapturous worldview to keep us all in awe. I think it was Rollo May who made a similar inference, that we are now in an age of the transient, where we have nowhere to anchor our ships so to speak, and have lost our connection with ourselves and others, or our "love", with violence now manifesting itself as the most desperate attempt for connection with others in the wake of this sense of loss, apathy, and hopelessness.

    I'd like for you to expand on your idea of nihilism being a philosophical danger / red zone?

    I think most if not all schools of thought have some merit and are worth investigating. Of course, with a critical eye and the insight to recognise extreme views for what they are to avoid them haunting you.

    I also think that the questions that you ask, through your references to art and poetry are questions that have no easy answers. And whilst science can definitely lead us to more probable causes, outcomes and "answers", these can just as easily be replaced again with stronger science in future. Where old theories are disproven and new ones emerge to take their place. As such, I think philosophy will always have its place. As some of these questions have no easy answers, and given the limitations of our humanity, I don't think they ever will be answered with absolute certainty.

    This, however, does not mean we should stop asking and searching. That's the essense of both science and philosophy I think, and in this they are aligned.
  • Tom Storm
    1.3k
    I am wondering about the conspiracy of woe and how that relates to the idea of the posturing of the Nietzschean nihilist. Meanings have been broken down, and often we stand alone, with no gods to turn to, but simply our own selves, and the reflection of self in human relationships.Jack Cummins

    Nah. Conspiracies and tales of woe often ran side by side with Christianity through the ages. In fact, even today you will see that there are many Christians involved in some of the nuttier conspiracies. The idea that there is something empty which needs filling is poetry. The primary difference today is that crazy ideas are better organised and more readily available thanks to the internet.
  • Tom Storm
    1.3k
    I think it was Rollo May who made a similar inference, that we are now in an age of the transient, where we have nowhere to anchor our ships so to speak, and have lost our connection with ourselves and others, or our "love", with violence now manifesting itself as the most desperate attempt for connection with others in the wake of this sense of loss, apathy, and hopelessness.CountVictorClimacusIII

    I don't think this is accurate. When Christianity was a prevailing myth there were anti-Semitic conspiracies, witch trials, shunning, torture, religious wars, pogroms, brutal sectarian divisions, any manner of persecutions and apocalyptic cults, women were second class citizens and the average person had a stunted future.The idea that Christianity provided a stable meaningful society is one of those poetic half-truths.

    Some would argue (Steven Pinker, a primary example) that the world is safer, healthier and happier today than ever before in history. There has been minimal collapse of meaning.You can even see in America that some of the angriest and most unhappy folk are those with a strong faith. Shared meaning does not bring with it contentment, despite what some commentators believe. What we have seen for the past decades is the common good, education and jobs undermined by corporatism and a very unhelpful media. For my money, a lot of social problems in the West stem just from this.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.9k

    I am sure that the answers offered by the arts may be seen as inadequate in some ways, but we could argue that poesis is a way of a certain expression of truth. But, of course, this works for some, and is only one way of expressing. I believe that the arts are important, but that is about individual expression and the cultural aspect of human existence. I do believe that in some ways we have reached a deadline or impasse, but it is probably a situation from which we can find our own way out.

    As much as I believe that philosophy is important, it may be that philosophy has its limitations. I t may be that the best artists will leave the visions of many philosophers as extremely lacking and that philosophy will really become an abstract worldview, left behind in the aftermath of science, but with nowhere left to go.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.9k

    It is so easy to subscribe to crazy, shallow ideas, on the internet, whether it is conspiracy or otherwise. Right now, I am aware that I am competing with other threads, with topics of a similar nature. I probably write answers which are almost essays at times. It is likely that no.one wishes to read such answersm

    Often, I feel like giving up in the expression of ideas. It is likely that my thread will fizzle and die, especially as a thread has been raised which is so similar to my own, and my own may be seen as inferior. Sometimes, I feel that I have reached a deadend myself. I think that the concept of the deadend and the wasteland are ones which are relevant for thinking about the personal life, as well as on the cultural level and the ongoing development of philosophical ideas.
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