• Shawn
    11.7k
    In another thread that I posted about philosophy as a way of life, I seem to have arrived at the conclusion that philosophy has perhaps it's greatest concern with existential questions. One member of TPF said something tantamount to becoming your own doctor with regards to ethics, or simply knowing how to guide yourself throughout life without too much strenuous effort on your decision making process. I state this in such a manner because I believe philosophy ought to be useful to a person. It is more often than not that we concern ourselves with philosophy because we feel some pangs of distress or angst in our daily lives, and hence-more often than not-we are attracted to teachers, for a variety of reasons.

    A teacher has experience as a guide in learning a curriculum, I mean they've already been through the process of learning what a student would want to learn. They can direct ones attention towards the important issues that a person would want to learn.

    But, before I go off on a tangent, I want to stipulate what has already been said in a more focused context. As we embark on our journey throughout the philosophers of history, we seek a historical account of something I don't yet know how to define. How would you describe the academic pursuit of philosophy rather than the intellectual or ethical import of learning about how life should be lived? I don't quite understand how to express myself better than to say that the criticism of one past philosopher of his or her predecessor is something that we don't do nowadays. Is this "historicism" or "dialectical materialism"? There's nothing to learn from these philosophers, as Wittgenstein would say!

    I don't want to embark on a discussion about different methodologies of conducting philosophy because I have already aquatinted myself with Wittgenstein's notion of ethical behavior arising through action and behavior, such as everyday deeds and favors we do for another. These acts stand apart from the rote work of the "philistine" in some calculus of satisfying needs or even wants. I don't really care about the calculus or algorithm or economic incentive to behave a certain way. We guide or ought to guide ourselves by what we seem important in relation to our needs. One you got those needs sorted out, I don't really care to elaborate, that's your decision. It's not for philosophy to argue or even criticism with what makes you tick, be it a new home, car, or partner. Wittgenstein gave away his fortune after realizing this!

    So, returning back to the point, when confronted with the important decisions or rather choices of how to live ones life, we resort to guides or teachers. Please keep in mind that these 'teachers' need not only be found in academia. They can he found posting in a blog or on YouTube ... This question about who best to go to for these existential concerns of an individual is the centerpiece of this thread. You won't find them in academia, as Wittgenstein thought!

    I used to be attracted to the notion that psychologists were or still are the right people to listen to for said concerns. Wittgenstein once made a quote about this in regards to saying that even if the questions of philosophy had all been answered there would still be the problem of psychology that philosophy could not address, for the individual at least.

    I find this problematic for two reasons, we are attracted to philosophy out of psychological reasons, which I outlined above. Without further confusions, how ought the individual address these stipulated existential concerns? Whom should one ask, and what to do in regards to them?

    (Edited some typos and loose strands.)
  • Manuel
    1.4k
    It seems to me that our temporality is what guides philosophical endeavors. In a limited time, we have to make sense out of this "booming buzzing confusion" before we return to dust. Given this background urgency we seek to ameliorate very big concerns with people who've thought about said issues considerably.

    Nevertheless I think what you ask is impossible without stipulating the often unique situations that make us attracted to one person over another. Therefore what I say about person X or Y being the correct person to listen to is unique to me. As Z or A is unique to you.

    There are many schools of thought, each of them accentuating one aspect of the world as opposed to another aspect. I suppose that in my case, I've found it liberating to find that there is no such esoteric knowledge which is beyond the reach of a critical kind of common sense.

    I suppose that one general generalization (yep I phrase it like this) is that one should not write more clearly than one thinks about an issue. One should ask those whom you are attracted to.

    Hard question, but good one.
  • Shawn
    11.7k
    Nevertheless I think what you ask is impossible without stipulating the often unique situations that make us attracted to one person over another. Therefore what I say about person X or Y being the correct person to listen to is unique to me. As Z or A is unique to you.Manuel

    Initially, given the OP was becoming incoherent, I want to address this situation myself. I think, in my case, I have spent an inordinate amount of time addressing philosophy dialectically on a forum as perhaps you do.

    I think of the issue axiologically (a personal meditation over ones values) as well as an even more important question of how one ought to reason reflexively about these relations logically . Some people express this, in my astonishment, with attitudes, like cynicism, or optimism, nihilism, or even pessimism, which are rather illogical... Hmm.

    Having thought to myself deeply about the existential logic of one's needs in relation to a world of wants (if one removes needs and wants what else is there??), I aquatinted myself with Stoicism. The recent revival of stoicism has been interesting to read about for many reasons. It encapsulates and gives a practical guide (literally by Epictetus called, the manual "Enchiridion" as to how to perceive our needs and wants). Using Stoic logic one finds a practical use of logic in how to perceive the world of needs and wants to describe ones situation relative to it. Stoics bring up the use of attributes, aversions, and disprefered needs and wants.

    From this stipulation of logic, one (with adequate training and time spent studying it) learns to discern impermanent 'wants' from the more important concerns over what one should devote to controlling, be it dispreferred, non-attributes, like 'status' or 'fame' and so on. After one conducts this method of living in accordance with nature, as per Stoic logic, I would tend to think life becomes more enjoyable and if not happiness, then at least equanimity can be attained.
  • 180 Proof
    5.6k
    "Therapy"?

    Unlearn self-immiserating habits. Study and practice philosophizing like yoga or a martial art – what Pierre Hadot calls a "spiritual exercise" as a "way of life". Reflectively reason towards (i.e. think) better, more probitive, questions and inquiry. "Who do we ask?" Dead thinkers (i.e. history always is, never was); the living are just too distracted by their own biased confusions.

    :death: :flower:
  • Manuel
    1.4k


    I see.

    Ethically, I think I'd be inclined today (for it could change in the future) to a kind of gentle or sympathetic absurdism. That is, treat people reasonably well, given absurdity. Beyond that, I hesitate to attach myself to a school of ethics, I find the stipulations or teachings or conclusions to be too hard to attain. Perhaps it is an excuse for not being the best me that I can be. But I find comfort in absurdity, which is a good step.

    That being said, I've found infinite wisdom in Chomsky and Schopenhauer. More so from the former, but the latter has been fantastic too.

    I suppose that what concerns me are those questions that plague the philosophers specifically since its inception in "the West". What is the nature of the world? What is knowledge? Why existence? Why do things make sense sometime and yet often they don't? And so forth.

    I find stoicism healthy. Better with a dash of humor, or several dashes. But when the focus in philosophy is one within ethics vs. metaphysics/epistemology, I fear that we may be speaking slightly different languages. Aside some specific questions or situations, ethics doesn't stimulate me to much discussion. Problems related to the nature of the world and mind do.

    So, what to do? I hear crickets, and the echoes of eternity.
  • Shawn
    11.7k
    "Therapy"?180 Proof

    Yes, quite so.
    Reflectively reason towards (i.e. think) better, more probitive, questions and inquiry.180 Proof

    This is interesting due to a couple of things I mentioned. In my mind, to 'reflectively reason towards' means a type of comparison of, values or means towards an end. In other words, the need to comparatively think about the need to evaluate or even examine ones relation towards a salience point is quite interesting in my view.

    I mentioned in response to Manuel that this endeavor encourages a pragmatic use of evaluative or even a system of logic proposed (therapeutic) use of logic (like Stoicism).

    "Who do we ask?" Dead thinkers (i.e. history always is, never was); the living are just too distracted by their own biased180 Proof

    Yes, well none of them did it therapietically like Hadot.
  • 180 Proof
    5.6k
    I don't think Hadot proposes "therapy" ...
  • Shawn
    11.7k
    I don't think Hadot proposes "therapy" ...180 Proof

    Then, what is proposed in the realm of thought that Wittgenstein said as, philosophy as therapy?

    From my readings of Hadot, I came to the conclusion that he advocated an active form of life in accordance to virtue...
  • 180 Proof
    5.6k
    I'm very much an admiring student of Witty but I don't philosophize as treatment in order to be rid of "the need" to philosophize. That's what I believe Witty means by "philosophy as therapy". Hadot, with Hellenistic philosophers in mind, begins where Witty et al end, however, and recommends much more by "philosophy as a way of life".
  • Shawn
    11.7k
    'm very much an admiring student of Witty but I don't philosophize as treatment in order to be rid of "the need" to philosophize.180 Proof

    Let's rephrase the question, then. What's so important about philosophy? When all the questions of philosophy are answered, what's left is psychology, no? Maybe another way of me saying this is to ask, what are you trying to rid yourself of by practicing philosophy?

    Why is "unlearning self-immiserating habits" so important?
  • Caldwell
    521
    How would you describe the academic pursuit of philosophyShawn
    You study a discipline using guided thinking. The viewpoint is already prepared for you.
  • Zugzwang
    131
    Why is "unlearning self-immiserating habits" so important?Shawn

    Butting in, but isn't avoiding misery simply a good thing? If there's a discipline or hygiene or system of habits that at least reduces self-caused misery, does it need an excuse?

    Could be that some philosophy is a self-immersating habit, while some of the rest is a cure for the first. Like bad music and good music, bad food and good food.
  • Tom Storm
    2k
    I can see how philosophy might help us by offering more useful models of considering the world and better ways of managing uncertainty and fear. This could count as therapeutic. But I can also see how philosophy might lead to 'analysis paralysis' and greater confusion and a constant churning through ideas in a futile search for truth. Do we regularly see the latter at work on this site? It looks that way to me. I'm not sure about the former. My strong intuition is that people don't always seek out philosophy to rehabilitate their world views but tend to gravitate towards that which confirms and augments their existing assumptions.
  • Tom Storm
    2k
    Could be that some philosophy is a self-immersating habit, while some of the rest is a cure for the first. Like bad music and good music, bad food and good food.Zugzwang

    How do we tell good philosophy from bad philosophy? More philosophy?
  • TheMadFool
    11.9k
    Psychologists study how we think. Philosophers study how we ought to think.

    Psychology is about what turns us on and what turns us off, our fears, our hopes, the way we approach issues and how we react to them with the objective of coming up with some theory that explains the findings of surveys, experiments, analysis, and so on.

    Philosophy concerns itself with what should motivate/demotivate us, whether it's rational to fear, are our hopes realistic, is our approach to whatnot reasonable and what might count as an appropriate response?

    So, yeah, philosophy is therapeutic since it informs a person on how to deal with reality in the most rational way possible; philosophy, despite being speculative in some respects, ensures that we don't lose touch with reality, something the non compos mentis are awkward at.
  • 180 Proof
    5.6k
    How do we tell good philosophy from bad philosophy? More philosophy?Tom Storm
    Not "more". We just refrain from
    Pseudo-questions (i.e. context-free), fallacious arguments, obfuscating rhetoric and rationalizing (apologetics for) pseudo-science ...180 Proof
    ... taking / seeking these paths of least cognitive effort (i.e. sophistry).

    Why is "unlearning self-immiserating habits" so important?Shawn
    Misery (e.g. frustration, harm, illness, deprivation, bereavement, fear-terror, betrayal, injustice, etc) is categorically disvalued. Agency (i.e. an agent's social, physical, cognitive and/or affective capabilities for reducing, or preventing an increase of, self or another's miser(ies)) is usually sub-optimized whenever agents are miserable. And I cannot think of anything more "important", or inescapable, than the sisyphusean task of optimizing agency; 'unlearning habits which more likely than not makes oneself miserable or more likely than not exposes one to potential miseries' seems the most direct, accessible, praxis (i.e. reflective exercise – like a martial art) which serves that purpose. Every human endeavor is enabled-constrained by agency, no?

    Psychologists study how we think. Philosophers study how we ought to think.TheMadFool
    More precisely: philosophers contemplate how we ought not to think.
  • TheMadFool
    11.9k
    More precisely: philosophers contemplate how we ought not to think.180 Proof

    I want to disagree, I tried to disagree, but I can't help but agree! :up:
  • Fooloso4
    2.6k
    When Wittgenstein talks about "philosophy" he is often talking about what was being done by his contemporaries and the problems their thinking gets they into. In Culture and Value that he ought to be no more than a mirror, in which his reader should see all the deformities of his own thinking, so that, helped in this way, he can put it right (p.18e).

    When one has "put it right" where does she go from there? Wittgenstein presents another notion of philosophy:

    Work on philosophy -- like work in architecture in many respects -- is really more work on oneself. On one's own conception. On how one sees things. (And what one expects of them.) (CV, 24)

    Such activity is not simply destructive, it is constructive and self-reflective.

    As we see in the later Wittgenstein as opposed to the earlier, thinking straddles the saying and seeing distinction. Here he came to see the importance of conceptual seeing, "seeing as".

    In this way too, philosophy can be regarded as therapeutic, but the goal is no longer to stop doing philosophy.
  • Zugzwang
    131
    How do we tell good philosophy from bad philosophy? More philosophy?Tom Storm

    Good question. How do we tell good food from bad food? Good art from bad art? It's something like: makes you happier, more effective. But what is 'happy' and 'effective'? Something plays out beyond all the barks and tweets we make.
  • Shawn
    11.7k
    Could be that some philosophy is a self-immersating habit, while some of the rest is a cure for the first. Like bad music and good music, bad food and good food.Zugzwang

    That's kind of a personal preference. How do you evaluate any of that?
  • Shawn
    11.7k
    I can see how philosophy might help us by offering more useful models of considering the world and better ways of managing uncertainty and fear. This could count as therapeutic.Tom Storm

    If wisdom arises from experience over time then are we just concerned with knowledge or at a more fundamental level something akin to satisfaction or even survival? What do you think?
  • Shawn
    11.7k
    So, yeah, philosophy is therapeutic since it informs a person on how to deal with reality in the most rational way possible; philosophy, despite being speculative in some respects, ensures that we don't lose touch with reality, something the non compos mentis are awkward at.TheMadFool

    But what about reality needs so much explanation? Arent these thoughts counterproductive to living or achieving satisfaction? I mean, if happiness is what is commonly assumed as most important then, why do we flounder at it so much? Why can't they teach about this in academia?
  • Shawn
    11.7k
    Every human endeavor is enabled-constrained by agency, no?180 Proof

    Just out of curiosity, what would you say about self-immiseration or optimizing agency in regards to Stoicism?
  • Shawn
    11.7k
    As we see in the later Wittgenstein as opposed to the earlier, thinking straddles the saying and seeing distinction. Here he came to see the importance of conceptual seeing, "seeing as".Fooloso4

    Could you elaborate on this last part of "seeing as"? I haven't really read that much about it.
  • 180 Proof
    5.6k
    :up:

    :smirk:

    Stoicism is a practice for optimizing agency / reducing misery which (very basically) rationally cultivates virtues of "wisdom, justice, courage & temporance" by discerning in order to act on what one can control and otherwise accepting (developing apathy with regard, or indifference, to) what one cannot control. (As a long-time Epicurean-Spinozist, Epictetus & Seneca are also touchstones.) The Stoics propose "a way of life", not just "therapy".
  • Shawn
    11.7k
    The Stoics propose "a way of life", not just "therapy".180 Proof

    But, the founders of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy explicitly attributed ancient Stoicism with their logic to their method of/and therapy.

    This seems fascinating in how Stoic logic became a way of therapizing people, no?
  • 180 Proof
    5.6k
    I didn't say Stoicism isn't therapeutic; it is, however, more than "therapy" – a praxis (Hadot's "spiritual exercise"), or "a way of life".
  • Zugzwang
    131
    That's kind of a personal preference. How do you evaluate any of that?Shawn

    The boring but honest answer is to just try it out. People go through phases and crazes, identifying with this or that heroic term or ism. Sometimes something sticks, and maybe 'it' has no name, doesn't need one, and is some vague fusion of all that's been tried.
  • Tom Storm
    2k
    If wisdom arises from experience over time then are we just concerned with knowledge or at a more fundamental level something akin to satisfaction or even survival? What do you think?Shawn

    I'm thinking satisfaction and consolation, not mere survival, but the former may inform the latter.
  • Fooloso4
    2.6k
    Could you elaborate on this last part of "seeing as"?Shawn

    Seeing as is also called seeing an aspect. The best known example is the duck-rabbit. He does not think we first interpret it and then see it one way or the other, we simply see it as a duck or a rabbit.
    Further, we can see it first one way and then the other.

    Perception is not simple passive reception. There is a connection between perception and conception.

    What is at issue is not some visual peculiarity, but the way we look at things and seeing connections. To see connections is not to make connections.

    This is a topic that has gained a lot of interest.
  • Constance
    466
    Seeing as is also called seeing an aspect. The best known example is the duck-rabbit. He does not think we first interpret it and then see it one way or the other, we simply see it as a duck or a rabbit.
    Further, we can see it first one way and then the other.

    Perception is not simple passive reception. There is a connection between perception and conception.

    What is at issue is not some visual peculiarity, but the way we look at things and seeing connections. To see connections is not to make connections.

    This is a topic that has gained a lot of interest.
    Fooloso4

    What does one do with the elephant in the room, the "that which is seen" actuality? I mean, seeing as can be understood as taking the object before you "as" such that the qualia or, as Dennett put it, the phenomenon (sense impression sans the concept. See his argument about qualia) is not to be acknowledged at all, for all of the understanding's ability is bound up with the way a thing is taken up. In other words, because language is an essential part of an object's construction, what do we do with the obvious (I say) ability one has to, in the language constructed contextualized event, "understand" the what-is-not a concept as such? There is Kierkegaard's objection to Hegel in this, which is that Hegel talks about, spins arguments about, things as if they were inherently logical, but clearly, the actual is qualitatively different from the language: This pain in my knee is not language, even though language is what brings this pain to "light".
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