• Mikie
    6.5k


    Depends on what you mean by philosophy, of course.

    Is asking universal questions irrelevant, for example? I don’t think so. I think we need it more than ever.

    How philosophy is thought of today, as one academic subject of many, taught by those with Ph.D.s, who mainly discuss the history of the great thinkers and great books…yeah, this professionalization is basically irrelevant today. May it die out sooner than later.
  • 180 Proof
    14.7k
    Has our civilization evolved to the point where philosophy can be dispensed with?Pantagruel
    No. We haven't yet outgrown religion, politics or science, all of which require critical analyses and reflective interpretations.

    [H]as philosophy moved from being an "outlier" to a superfluous branch of study?
    I suppose it depends on where, what and why one studies.

    Does philosophy still contribute?
    Yes.

    When you are reading it, do you feel you are contributing?
    Yes.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    4.7k


    I think for a lot of people encountering philosophy might be transformative, might spur a sort of reflection they had never engaged in before, but I don't think philosophy has a monopoly on that. It wasn't transformative for me, but more like finding my tribe, where my peculiar bent was more or less normal.

    I think science is most of what philosophy was trying to be for most of its history, so the emergence of modern science is almost like the maturation of philosophy, its fulfillment. In a world with actual physics and cosmology, psychology and neuroscience, sociology and anthropology and linguistics, what philosophy has to offer on the nature of reality or thought or human social life is, shall we say, quaint.

    The bits of philosophy likely really to engage people still, I'd guess, are ethics and political philosophy, but that's because people already love arguing about what's right and wrong, and philosophy just provides opportunities to do that. We have a great body of writing about ethics and politics, but whether there's any knowledge there is hard to say.

    For all that, there is something a bit magical about Plato, something that isn't trying to become science. I don't quite know what it is, and I don't think the history of philosophy since Plato gives much of a clue either, but maybe there was something worthwhile besides embryonic science in there all along.
  • Pantagruel
    3.4k
    Whatever light the philosopher brings to the cave it remains a cave. The transformation brought about by philosophy is self-transformation.Fooloso4

    This was my conclusion too. However the technologization of our culture is in danger of fatally marginalizing philosophical values. If it can even be called a culture anymore.

    The end of 'metaphysics' is argued in certain theses. Well, there they are, to be discussed.Paine

    I think metaphysics needs to continue to inspire scientific exploration, while ethics guides technological implementation.
  • Pantagruel
    3.4k
    No. We haven't outgrown yet religion, politics or science, all of which require critical analyses and reflective interpretations.180 Proof

    Yes, they require it. Will there be disciplined minds there to supply it? I do feel philosophical studies form part of the balanced project of the advancement of human knowledge, but that has to be ratified on an ongoing basis by collective will and consensus. What hope is there in a shattered milieu of alternative facts?
  • Pantagruel
    3.4k
    How philosophy is thought of today, as one academic subject of many, taught by those with Ph.D.s, who mainly discuss the history of the great thinkers and great books…yeah, this professionalization is basically irrelevant today. May it die out sooner than laterMikie

    But isn't this what keeps philosophy alive as an independent discipline? Without that, doesn't it become just a theme?
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    Does this mean we can't really 'know' unless we are engaged in an active process of transformation?Tom Storm

    Yes. As I understand it to know yourself you must become who you are. Nietzsche likens it to the art of the sculpturer, removing all that part of the work within.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    But Nietzsche's "real philosopher" would "set aside the previous labour of all philosophical workers."Leontiskos

    The first part of that statement reads:

    They determine first the Whither and the Why of mankind, and thereby ...

    The question then is whether in determining the whither and why of mankind the philosophers would pull in the same or different directions. As he determines this the pull would be to the ubermensch. This determination is diagnostic.
  • Pantagruel
    3.4k
    The question then is whether in determining the whither and why of mankind the philosophers would pull in the same or different directions.Fooloso4

    But the celebration of pluralism essentially defines universal consensus as an archaic concept. There is no longer any interest in an "overarching truth".
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    Is asking universal questions irrelevant, for example? I don’t think so. I think we need it more than ever.

    How philosophy is thought of today, as one academic subject of many, taught by those with Ph.D.s, who mainly discuss the history of the great thinkers and great books…yeah, this professionalization is basically irrelevant today.
    Mikie

    The history of the great thinkers and great books can be taught in such a way that it is about universal questions. It is in this way relevant today. After all, it is with these great thinkers and great books that these questions arise.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    However the technologization of our culture is in danger of fatally marginalizing philosophical values. If it can even be called a culture anymore.Pantagruel

    Knowledge brings change. This acknowledgement is at the root of our hybrid culture. This hybrid is not the culture of either of its roots. Technology changes culture. In doing so it some of the old culture is destroyed, but I don't think that means the end of culture.
  • Pantagruel
    3.4k
    Knowledge brings change. This acknowledgement is at the root of our hybrid culture. This hybrid is not the culture of either of its roots. Technology changes culture. In doing so it some of the old culture is destroyed, but I don't think that means the end of culture.Fooloso4

    But isn't the essence of culture its values? It used to be called crass materialism. It is no less crass because it wears a shiny technological garb. It's all style, no substance. Lots of studies have looked at the correlation between the rise of technology and the decline of human intelligence, and the dangers that entails.
  • Joshs
    5.4k


    I do feel philosophical studies form part of the balanced project of the advancement of human knowledge, but that has to be ratified on an ongoing basis by collective will and consensus. What hope is there in a shattered milieu of alternative facts?Pantagruel

    What better field than philosophy to deconstruct concepts like collective will and consensus in order to reveal the necessity of a shattered milieu of alternative facts?
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    But the celebration of pluralism essentially defines universal consensus as an archaic concept. There is no longer any interest in an "overarching truth".Pantagruel

    The whither and why of mankind takes pluralism into account. It is in line with Nietzsche's notion of the creation of individuals. The whereto is not oriented to be being but to becoming. This might mean not only divergence but convergence.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    But isn't the essence of culture its values?Pantagruel

    Yes, but value change. Although not the first, the case of Socrates gives us a vivid picture of the dynamics at play. He was guilty as charged. He was a threat to Athenian culture. But we tend to see Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle as the height of Greek culture, even though the gods did not survive.
  • plaque flag
    2.7k
    In a world with actual physics and cosmology, psychology and neuroscience, sociology and anthropology and linguistics, what philosophy has to offer on the nature of reality or thought or human social life is, shall we say, quaint.Srap Tasmaner

    I understand why one might make such a claim, but my concern is that a personality uses just that kind of statement, which I'd call philosophical, to navigate the world. What I'm trying to point out is the idea of a grand narrative for an individual or a culture in which central concepts like science and philosophy are placed in a kind of order.

    More anecdotally, I formally studied math, and at my institution this study was utterly devoid of any 'philosophy' that interpreted what it all meant. I took some physics as well, and it was the same deal. People trust bridges and pollsters without knowing the first thing about real analysis. Right ? I think there's maybe a default tech-worshipping pragmatism where a philosophy 'should' be but never actually was. The philosophy is a bit of a fool at the feet not of the scientist but of the engineer, and the scientist is largely beside him -- or at least I'm not sure that sociology, for instance, isn't just as 'idealistic' and pitiful in a certain sense before this tower we build for 'Moloch.'
  • Srap Tasmaner
    4.7k
    We haven't outgrown yet religion, politics or science, all of which require critical analyses and reflective interpretations.180 Proof

    I think there's maybe a default tech-worshipping pragmatism where a philosophy 'should' be but never actually was.plaque flag

    I thought about this idea of philosophy as critique, but why should practices be incapable of self-critique. After all, that's what we would require of philosophy. I'm not saying it would be the norm. I understand something of institutional dynamics. But I think there's something presumptuous about philosophers, who lack the expertise and knowledge, however flawed and limited, of a field's practitioners, swooping in to pass judgment on their work. Better to cultivate the practice of critique among the producers of knowledge.
  • LuckyR
    443
    I think there's something presumptuous about philosophers, who lack the expertise and knowledge, however flawed and limited, of a field's practitioners, swooping in to pass judgment on their work. Better to cultivate the practice of critique among the producers of knowledge


    As a field practitioner who served on the Ethics Committee for my field, the input of a professional ethicist I found to be valuable. Not essential, but valuable. Though a third person observer may label my comment as an example of the Dunning Kruger effect.
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    The whereto is not oriented to be being but to becoming. This might mean not only divergence but convergence.Fooloso4

    It seems to me that if the becoming has no end then there can be no ultimate convergence.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    4.7k
    the input of a professional ethicist I found to be valuableLuckyR

    This was, relatively speaking, an outsider to your field?

    I'd heard that "ethicist" is a profession now. Was their expertise helpful? Can you describe that for us a little?
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    It seems to me that if the becoming has no end then there can be no ultimate convergence.Leontiskos

    The dyad divergence and convergence is not resolved or reduced to convergence. There will always be points of divergence and points of convergence, points of disagreement and points of agreement with regard to the whereto of mankind.

    Of course not everyone agrees with this. Some envision progress as the movement toward universal agreement.
  • Leontiskos
    2k


    We're talking about the thesis that philosophy has a determinate pull (link). Saying, "There will always be points of divergence and points of convergence [among philosophers]," doesn't seem to help us in addressing that thesis.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    4.7k
    if the becoming has no end then there can be no ultimate convergenceLeontiskos

    How did the word "ultimate" get in there? There are obviously infinite sequences and series that converge without ever reaching what they converge on.

    Some envision progress as the movement toward universal agreement.Fooloso4

    It's hard not to think of Peirce, asymptotic approach to 'truth' and all that, but even if you do conceive a project as aiming for universal agreement, that doesn't mean you expect to get there.

    We're talking about the thesis that philosophy has a determinate pull (link). Saying, "There will always be points of divergence and points of convergence [among philosophers]" doesn't seem to help us in addressing that thesis.Leontiskos

    Sure it does. If the direction is determined statistically, we're just talking about evolution, which may not have a telos but does have at least local directionality.
  • Mikie
    6.5k
    But isn't this what keeps philosophy alive as an independent discipline? Without that, doesn't it become just a theme?Pantagruel

    Yes it is what helps it remain a discipline — a specific profession and subject of study in schools, and so on. So be it. It’s a convenience.

    But was Aristotle a philosopher? Sure. Also a political scientist, botanist, zoologist, etc. I think the professionalization of academia and the economic changes of specialized “jobs” has been internalized by nearly everyone, to the point where general inquiry and thoughtfulness is compartmentalized unnecessarily. It becomes part of an identity, as well. “I’m a philosopher…I’m a biologist…” In university websites, you see publications and “research interests.”

    The most interesting people I’ve encountered pretty much ignore all of that— they’re interested in everything and want to learn. Chomsky, a personal favorite, is usually hard to peg: historian? Certainly — with no degree in history. Linguist…philosopher…political theorist…social critic. Yes. What about Kant? Scientist? Sure.

    The point being: the names are fine for ordinary life and convenience. But we shouldn’t take them too seriously. Nearly everyone has the potential to “do” philosophy. It’s just a particular kind of thinking, in my view. Always relevant.
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    If the direction is determined statistically, we're just talking about evolution...Srap Tasmaner

    We are talking about Nietzsche, not evolution. You are taking these posts out of context.
  • plaque flag
    2.7k
    the professionalization of academia and the economic changes of specialized “jobs” has been internalized by nearly everyone, to the point where general inquiry and thoughtfulness is compartmentalized unnecessarily.Mikie

    :up:

    The point being: the names are fine for ordinary life and convenience. But we shouldn’t take them too seriously. Nearly everyone has the potential to “do” philosophy. It’s just a particular kind of thinkingMikie

    :up:

    You mention Chomsky, a great example. I've recently read some great John Berger essays as well as his Ways of Seeing. Deep stuff, 'philosophical.' His essay on Giacometti is a meditation on mortality. His understanding of art is sociological, existential, and ontological. Kundera and Hesse are two powerful novelists who give philosophy in its existential fullness, as a matter of the entire self, of feeling as much as concept. Then there's Harold Bloom writing about Shakespeare and Hegel, etc.

    Perhaps the key concept here is holism. I don't care what the person's title is. Can they synthesize a coherent vision of things as a whole ? Do they at least strive toward a total harmonious grasp of the fact of existence ?
  • Srap Tasmaner
    4.7k


    Thus passeth away the relevance of philosophy.
  • LuckyR
    443
    This was, relatively speaking, an outsider to your field?

    I'd heard that "ethicist" is a profession now. Was their expertise helpful? Can you describe that for us a little?


    This was in a medical context. The head of the Ethics Committee was trained in medical ethics, but was a practicing MD, though his medical expertise was rarely called upon, whereas his ethical chops served as proxy ethical "training" for the rest of us who were not trained. That is, he corralled our thoughts and kept us from straying off course.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    We're talking about the thesis that philosophy has a determinate pull (link). Saying, "There will always be points of divergence and points of convergence [among philosophers]," doesn't seem to help us in addressing that thesis.Leontiskos

    My first post was in response to your claim that:

    there is an important sense in which philosophy was never relevant.Leontiskos

    In so far as there is divergence it might seem as though the pull would be in opposite directions and where there is convergence the pull would be in the same direction, but this is not an argument I would make or defend.

    It seems clear to me that Plato moved society in a particular direction when his exoteric teachings were appropriated by Christianity, but his salutary public teaching is not the same as his philosophical teachings. Put in simple terms, the former provides the appearance of answers, and the latter problems and questions.

    Nietzsche writes at a time when the accepted answers are no longer acceptable. He recognizes this as a crisis. His solution is in some respects like that of Plato - the creation of new values. Behind this is the problem that values are not ultimate. Philosophy contains what he calls 'deadly truths". How can one be willing to live and die for something that we know from history will in time be rejected?

    In part he appeals to the innocence and forgetfulness of the child and the need for a "sacred yes" (Zarathustra, "The Three Metamorphoses of the Spirit"). To this end he too sees the need for a new religion for the benefit of the people. But the probity of the philosopher demands something else.

    The "real philosophers", the commanders and lawgivers, do not give philosophy to the people. They give the people "noble lies". It is not that:


    ... philosophy produces a cumulative effect on society,
    Leontiskos

    or that

    ...the world moves in that "philosophical" direction.Leontiskos

    but that the philosopher moves society in ways that differ from the ways in which it moves those who are to be philosophers.

    Pantagruel is right when he points to:

    ... the diremption of philosophy and science since Bacon ...Pantagruel

    Bacon wrote:

    Science discovery should be driven not just by the quest for intellectual enlightenment, but also for the relief of man’s estate ...

    The same force of knowledge is behind Descartes "provisional morality":

    My third maxim was to try always to master myself rather than fortune, and to change my desires rather than the order of the world. (Discourse on Method)

    It is provisional because his method will allow man to master fortune. Man will no longer have to accept things the way they are. This power marks a fundamental change from ancient philosophies. The modern philosophers gave themselves a task not entertained by the ancients, to master nature. Philosophy was no longer about the problem of how to live but to solve problems by changing the conditions of life.
  • plaque flag
    2.7k
    The modern philosophers gave themselves a task not entertained by the ancients, to master nature. Philosophy was no longer about the problem of how to live but to solve problems by changing the conditions of life.Fooloso4

    :up:
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