• RainyDay
    4
    Philosophy might help you understand why others don't share your concern. Ethics, in particular, and the disagreement over what one ought do. You seem to have a pretty sure idea of what we all should be doing but many of us have learned to live with the metaphorical gun in our mouths in different ways.

    Once you've accepted that life, all life perhaps, could end in an instant, your own life kind of starts anew. That's a shift of perspective I don't think you want but it's one small part of why philosophy is more than a "clever parlor game".
  • Jake
    88
    A homework assignment... :smile:

    As you're going about your daily business, reserve a little attention for observing the structure of civilization all around you.

    See the streets, the traffic signs, the houses and shops, the hospitals and schools. See the grocery stores, reliable food, a miracle! When a police car goes by take a moment to think of everything that goes in to keeping the bad guys at bay so they're not in your face. Consider the number 911, you dial three digits on the phone in your pocket and highly trained people come rushing to assist you.

    Look at all the stuff you have, that almost everybody has. Cars and clothes and computers, too many comforts and conveniences to begin to list. Think of all the millions of scientists working hard every day to make things better for you.

    Just observe all this stuff as you pass through your daily life. Give some thought to how much work has gone in to building this miracle we call modern civilization. And think what your life would be without it.

    If a reader does this homework, over time they too will become ever more amazed at how casual we are about what we have, and how easily it could all be lost.
  • Jake
    88
    Hi RainyDay,

    You're referring to our personal situation. And of course you're right, we're all going to die one way or another. Just lost a family member here yesterday. We all have to make peace with this, agreed.

    We don't have to make peace with many generations to come being denied the opportunity to enjoy what we've enjoyed, because we were too stupid and selfish to protect it for them. What nuclear weapons can teach us is how little we really care about each other, even our own children.

    You've not yet made the case why any methodology which allows us to be calmly bored with the gun in our mouth, and the mouths of billions of people to come, should be considered useful and important.

    Please observe how everyone is ignoring the logic of the opening post. If I literally had a gun in my mouth, and was too bored by the gun to bother discussing it, would you not consider me nuts?

    Now please observe how posters will continue to ignore that specific challenge, or look for some clever way around it. Observe how philosophy is not helping us to be clear minded enough to simply admit that we are all quite literally nuts, almost psychopathic in our lack of concern.
  • unenlightened
    2.5k
    Now please observe how posters will continue to ignore that specific challenge, or look for some clever way around it. Observe how philosophy is not helping us to be clear minded enough to simply admit that we are all quite literally nuts, almost psychopathic in our lack of concern.Jake

    Dude, take the gun out of your mouth, get off your excessively high horse and engage. Yes we are mad, now, moving on, what are we to do? Oh wait, no point asking you, you're as mad as the rest of us.
  • RainyDay
    4
    @Jake

    I wouldn't say "calmly bored" but your experience may differ. As for useful and important, I gave two examples. Understanding others and understanding our own mortality. Or perhaps politics, another rich area of philosophy, could help you persuade the masses to care.

    I expect you won't be satisfied with philosophy though unless it immediately address your concern about nuclear weapons.

    If you literally had a gun in your mouth, I'd be intrigued. I don't necessarily consider suicidal people nuts though and, yeah, I can imagine numerous reasons you wouldn't want to discuss it. After that acceptance of death I spoke about, discussions on how to avoid it etc become extremely dull.
  • Aleksander Kvam
    213
    The problem is that philosophy appears to be inadequate for addressing issues of such great scale. Thus, I'm proposing that philosophy is basically a clever parlor game which some folks are lucky enough to get paid to play.Jake

    oh, if only philosophers would show an interest in nuclear weapons! we wouldnt need to fear nuclear annihilation anymore!
  • Bitter Crank
    6.1k
    If even the most intelligent and educated people can not use philosophy to focus on the survival of human civilization, what good is itJake

    We post WWII baby boomers grew up during the tension of the Cold War and the anxiety about nuclear war. Speaking for myself, I remain worried about nuclear weapons and nuclear waste. Since perestroika and glasnost, the threat of imminent use of nuclear weapons has been decreased -- but not eliminated. I am now less immediately worried about Russian or American missiles. I am more worried about India's and Pakistan's nuclear weapons, or North Korea's and Israel's, or Iran's (future) nuclear bombs. Once used, these smaller arsenals could easily result in a much wider nuclear catastrophe.

    I haven't stopped worrying about nuclear weapons, but since the height of the cold war, a new threat has appeared: Global Climate Change (aka global warming). The difference between nuclear war and climate change is that the latter is happening, and the former has not (so far). Worse, it appears that global warming will continue to worsen into the future--no matter what.

    Giving roughly 7.4 billion people credit, I don't think people are indifferent to either nuclear weapons or global warming. It is the case, however, that no individual, no small group, no large group, no major political party that is not very securely in power can do much about either problem. WHY?

    The reason why even large political parties not very securely in power are unable to act is that the essential technologies of nuclear weapons and (for global warming) energy production and use are under the control of elite groups: either elite military control (for nuclear) or elite economic control (for energy). A rather small group (let's use a generous estimate of 1,000,000 people) control critical infrastructure. These 1 million people are very powerful military and economic players. When less than a dozen people have as much wealth as about 3.2 billion people (according to OXFAM-UK), it should be clear that even large political parties are out-matched.

    The problem is that philosophy appears to be inadequate for addressing issues of such great scale. Thus, I'm proposing that philosophy is basically a clever parlor game which some folks are lucky enough to get paid to play.Jake

    I would say philosophy is capable of "addressing issues of great scale" but is unable to conjure up magical solutions which can overcome mundane realities. If one is sufficiently insulated from harsh realities, anything can be turned into a parlor game.
  • Sapientia
    5.8k
    He's right, as are you, in providing evidence which supports the key claim of my posts in this thread, which is...

    Society wide, including the intellectual elites, philosophy and reason has failed to guide us to prioritize our focus.
    Jake

    No, you're mistaken. Your "key claim" contains evidence of your own misunderstanding. Neither philosophy nor reason can have "failed" to achieve what is not its goal. Neither philosophy nor reason have goals. Nor do they have priorities. That is your category error. In reality, this is your goal. It is your priority. It is you, Jake, who is projecting your own goal, and your own priority, on to philosophy, and on to reason, in a superficial attempt to distract attention away from the personal nature of this issue of yours. You are scapegoating philosophy and reason for the perceived shortcomings of society when viewed through a perspective which mirrors your own, and which carries with it all of the baggage you're clinging on to.

    Your analysis has failed before it has even gotten off the ground. Better luck next time.
  • VagabondSpectre
    1.1k
    If there were no more nukes then nations of all stripes would be bereft of a major incentive to avoid the escalation of open and direct warfare. NATO and all its allies are insulated from invasion because of America's nuclear capabilities (and a few western European nation's capabilities). The same more or less goes for the allies of Russia, and despite hostility between Pakistan and India, they aren't presently engaged in open and armed conflict against one-another.

    Of all the countries which have nukes, nobody wants to use them unless it's absolutely necessary, because any use of nukes runs the risk of provoking counter nukes. Even Iran and North Korea don't want nukes to actually use them, they want them as deterrents.

    So if there were suddenly no nukes, is it possible that the world would then have to go to war to establish new power balances?
  • Aleksander Kvam
    213
    we need nukes because, trust issues :roll:
  • VagabondSpectre
    1.1k


    All rational nations want nukes, if they can afford them, out of healthy fear alone (except maybe nations such as Canada who are comfortably nestled in the sweaty bosom of another nation's blast radius).

    Pretend for a moment you're the leader of North Korea. Without nukes you can deliver far less effective retaliatory strikes against South Korea should they try to blitz you. With nukes, and with long range missiles capable of delivering them, you're even able to shake a credible fist at the world's only superpower, America. It's excellent long-term security. If I was the leader of Iran, I would probably consider getting nukes a priority given Iran's rather precarious relationship with western allies. Israel definitely has nukes, but for some reason they don't formally declare them. Normally it would be Dr. Strangelove grade hubris to have nukes and not declare them, else they wouldn't actually be deterrents, but since everyone already assumes Israel has them it doesn't really matter.

    I'm not saying that more nations should have nukes or that I want Iran to have them (I would rather there be fewer nukes held by fewer people) but I think the fact that nuclear deterrents held by the world's most powerful nations has actually prevented them from escalating direct conflict and starting a third world war.

    In facing a world that has an increased risk of total annihilation because of nukes, we also have a reduced risk of traditional annihilation. Given that nuclear war has not yet occurred, perhaps it has been a good wager overall!

    What better solution for a trust issue can there be than mutually assured destruction?
  • Aleksander Kvam
    213
    I see the irony, but yeah! :) (sorry, I think I ecidently flaged you :worry: )
  • Aleksander Kvam
    213
    mutually assured destructionVagabondSpectre

    haveing nucular bombs curtainly isnt "defensive" in the tradisional way
  • Jake
    88
    If you literally had a gun in your mouth, I'd be intrigued.RainyDay

    I do literally have a gun in my mouth, as do you, as do we all. My hypothetical is a hypothetical only in the sense it referenced a handgun instead of a hydrogen bomb.

    I do literally have a "gun" in my mouth, as do you, as do we all, but you're not actually intrigued. The moment I drop out of this thread the rest of you will as well, and the focus will move back to a thousand other things.

    And that is my point. Philosophy isn't working at making us rational.

    After that acceptance of death I spoke about, discussions on how to avoid it etc become extremely dull.RainyDay

    Ok, so what you're saying is that the prospect that the next many generations of human beings won't get to enjoy modern civilization is an extremely dull topic. Again, you're helping me make my point. You're expressing the group consensus of the society at large generally speaking, including the most highly educated philosophers.
  • Jake
    88
    We post WWII baby boomers grew up during the tension of the Cold War and the anxiety about nuclear war. Speaking for myself, I remain worried about nuclear weapons and nuclear waste.Bitter Crank

    Good point Crank. Perhaps much of what is happening here in the thread is a generation gap problem. I was 10 years old living in Florida during the Cuban Missile Crisis when Walter Cronkite was on the TV saying the bombs could start falling at any moment. That's a different experience than younger members of the forum have been through. For them it's the falling of the Berlin Wall and the notion that the cold war is over and thus the problem of nukes is largely resolved.

    Since perestroika and glasnost, the threat of imminent use of nuclear weapons has been decreased -- but not eliminated.Bitter Crank

    In a sense yes, but the potential for unintended launches continues. See the last post in this thread for an example.

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/3728/the-knowledge-explosion

    The difference between nuclear war and climate change is that the latter is happening, and the former has not (so far).Bitter Crank

    The two issues are related. Climate change threatens to push fragile states over the edge in to chaos, which brings us closer to the conditions in which nukes would be used.

    Even without climate change, there is a long pattern in human history of things going along pretty well for awhile and then chaos emerges for a time. We've always survived the chaos periods in the past because the powers available to us were limited. Nuclear weapons change that equation. The next time chaos emerges is likely to be the last, at least for modern civilization.

    Giving roughly 7.4 billion people credit, I don't think people are indifferent to either nuclear weapons or global warming. It is the case, however, that no individual, no small group, no large group, no major political party that is not very securely in power can do much about either problem.Bitter Crank

    We can't do much about the problem because 1) we insist we can't do much about the problem and 2) we spend almost all our time focused on other much smaller issues.

    I would say philosophy is capable of "addressing issues of great scale"Bitter Crank

    Then why are the vast majority of professional philosophers the vast majority of the time not addressing the subject of nuclear weapons?

    It's not because they're stupid. It's not because they're poorly educated. It's not because they're heartless monsters. It's not because they lack the relevant facts. We can rule all that out.

    And once we do that, we are left with the methodology which they are using, philosophy.

    We could propose that what is really needed to address nuclear weapons is not intellectual intelligence, but emotional intelligence. We know the gun is in our mouth, but we don't really care that much, and so we are easily distracted by almost every other topic.

    Emotional intelligence would involve the ability to open ourselves up to the horror of nuclear war. Philosophy doesn't really open us emotionally, because it instead focuses on detached objectivity. And so we have a lot of facts, and can write clever articles about those facts, but the facts have little impact upon us and our behavior.

    Thus, the process of philosophy, while being beautiful in itself, is proven basically worthless for the issues of largest scale, such as the end of everything everywhere.
  • Jake
    88
    What better solution for a trust issue can there be than mutually assured destruction?VagabondSpectre

    You make good points about how nukes have sobered the great powers. But you're not taking important factors in to account.

    1) Technical errors leading to unintended launches. See the last post in this thread for a real world example.

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/3728/the-knowledge-explosion

    2) Human History. There is a consistent pattern throughout human history that every so often we go bat shit crazy and have fight to the death conflicts using every tool available. There's really little evidence that this longstanding pattern is now completely over.

    3) The Hitler Effect. It was very irrational of Hitler to invade Russia. But rationality had little to do with it. Hitler was a compulsive high stakes gambler who lived for the next role of the dice. Every so often such people come to power and think they are smarter than everyone else and that they can get away with anything.

    So, you're right that it's good that nukes have sobered the great powers in our lifetime, but that's not going to last forever.
  • Jake
    88
    Oh wait, no point asking you, you're as mad as the rest of us.unenlightened

    Good point, that's true, I am as mad as the rest of us. If there is any difference it's only in that I know I'm nuts. And I know most everyone else including the "experts" are nuts too. So I have this awareness of living in an insane asylum. Which as you've seen, tends to make me even more nuts. :smile:
  • ChatteringMonkey
    82


    Hi Jake, as i allready suggested in the other thread, philosophy is not politics nor activism... and it better not be.

    I don't think there are a lot of philosophers who think having nukes arround is a good idea, but it's another thing to actively campaign for it. As soon as philosophers would start going down that road, they would become suspect as philosophers. Activist and politicans care about achieving some goals, and truth typically becomes subordinate to these goals...

    Everybody has a role to play. The role of philosophy is to think clearly and (re)evaluate values... best without some preconcieved ideology or dogma's. Politicians and activist can then use the work philosophers do to inform the goals they want to pursue.

    And philosophy has played its role. Nukes are bad, there i said it! It's just not a topic that is of philosophical interest anymore. It's solved... philosophically :-).
  • Jake
    88
    Hi there Monkey,

    Well, if you had actually understood the other thread...

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/3728/the-knowledge-explosion

    ... you would realize that nukes open the door to a purely philosophical discussion. What is our relationship with knowledge if not a philosophical topic???

    I'm not asking philosophers to be politicians or activists. I'm asking them to address the relationship with knowledge which gave rise to nukes and other products of civilization. I'm asking them to dig below the surface and examine the underlying assumptions which bring all these phenomena in to being. That's philosophy!

    Seriously. I've been trying to have such discussions all over the net for years. The best discussions always happen on open to the public forums such as this one. Attempting to engage scientists, philosophers and other intellectual "elites" in our relationship with knowledge has proven to be largely a waste of time.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    82


    Yeah well, I think i said my part on that topic in the other thread. Not going to repeat the same thing again...
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