• Pfhorrest
    1.6k
    I'd be surprised if you didn't support the censorship or banning of various 'thought criminals' (you know, racists or homophobes or ..)jjAmEs

    I don't support that, at least not in public spaces. I support individuals' rights to not engage with such people, and private venues' rights to exclude them. On pseudo-public but technically private places like internet forums, I prefer technological solutions that empower individuals to not engage with them, rather than outright exclusion of them.

    And I don't see how one manages unanswerable questions without some systematic filter that calls most questions nonsense (like some positivist).jjAmEs

    Yeah? I straight up do that in my philosophy, grounding the meaning of questions in what an answer to them would look like (which for descriptive questions basically is positivism, not quite, though descriptive questions are not the only questions). Questions that can't have answers are thereby meaningless.

    I'll agree that we are both in the same big tent known as philosophy. But I'll drag in Beckett and Shakespeare and Dostoevsky. And politics and theology...Where we draw line is a matter of context and particular purpose.jjAmEs

    All of those authors and fields can say philosophical things, and philosophy can say things relevant to them, but that doesn't make everything they do philosophical, or philosophy so broad as to encompass all that they do. It sounds like you've read something of my Codex since you know the catchphrase, but in case I just posted it somewhere around here, I go into more detail on where and why I would draw the lines at the start of my essay on metaphilosophy, explicitly distinguishing it from (among other things) religion/theology and art/literature.
  • jjAmEs
    165
    On pseudo-public but technically private places like internet forums, I prefer technological solutions that empower individuals to not engage with them, rather than outright exclusion of them.Pfhorrest

    I like that, but I should have been clearer. I'm suggesting that being civilized or sane means that lots of issues are and must be 'dead' for us. They are 'irrationally' foreclosed. We inherit certain norms of decency and intelligibility that make discussing norms possible in the first place. In simpler terms I'm suggesting that open-minded-ness has its limits. To be sane is to be deaf and blind in a good way.

    Yeah? I straight up do that in my philosophy, grounding the meaning of questions in what an answer to them would look like (which for descriptive questions basically is positivism, not quite, though descriptive questions are not the only questions). Questions that can't have answers are thereby meaningless.Pfhorrest

    OK, fair enough. But surely you see how convenient that is. Why is there something rather than nothing? Why is all of this...here? What I have in mind is (for instance) presented in Sartre's Nausea. If the big questions are excluded as meaningless, isn't that a little fishy?

    That's the big objection. But the little objection would be questions that seem answerable in principle for which we don't have answers. How can humans achieve immortality? What social order maximizes happiness? I relate to pragmatism. I think we trust technology that works reliably, and all the romance of science depends on this: if it's gear, it's here. But calling the rest meaningless seems problematic. The rest (like philosophy) is gear that may or may not work. The user dies before he's quite sure.

    All of those authors and fields can say philosophical things, and philosophy can say things relevant to them, but that doesn't make everything they do philosophical, or philosophy so broad as to encompass all that they do. It sounds like you've read something of my Codex since you know the catchphrase, but in case I just posted it somewhere around here, I go into more detail on where and why I would draw the lines at the start of my essay on metaphilosophy, explicitly distinguishing it from (among other things) religion/theology and art/literature.Pfhorrest

    To be clear, I never said that everything they do is philosophical. I'm just saying that I don't think there's a sharp boundary. You can draw one as others have, of course, but I'm in a different camp. There was a time when I wanted to write my own work of philosophy, but I realized that (to me) it was more natural to gossip on the margins. All of 'my' better ideas are already out there. I guess it would still be nice to have the discipline to type up a system, but it's hard enough to find people who care about the famous books that already do that, let alone my necessarily repetitive contribution. I now think the way to go is a screenplay. I say embed philosophy within a narrative. Steppenwolf, Nausea, Immortality. For me it's somewhat about avoiding the pseudo-scientific pose and embracing what I see as the truth: that our philosophies are idealized / crystallized versions of our own glorious selves. It takes guts to market your thoughts non-anonymously. What keeps me from doing it is a more general feeling about shaping one message for an abstract public. Don't you feel forced to compromise or self-censor?Isn't one constrained to keep it all a little dry and vague in that situation? (I say that, and yet I know that people have fiery political debates on Facebook, under their own names, which I'd hate for the same reason I don't have tattoos.)
  • Pussycat
    288
    I think that what snakes is saying is something like this:

    Philosophy, since its infancy, attempts to meddle in everything and in everyone's affairs. It does this by a method of appropriation/assimilation: on one hand, it appropriates and assimilates everything that it likes, that it finds worthy, and on the other, it outrightly rejects and discards as aphilosophical/unworthy everything that it doesn't like. An example of this, is so-called "natural philosophy" and the sciences, which philosophy made it appear to be its child. And so in this way, everything of value is philosophical, and vice-versa, everything philosophical is of value, a win-win situation for philosophy in any case. Any attempts to criticize or chastise philosophy for its wrong-doings, if any, sooner or later are appropriated and assimilated into philosophical thinking. This is what happened to analytic anti-philosophy, some time after the tractarian Wittgenstein posited to have solved all philosophical problems by saying that they were mere nonsense, a product of bad understanding and usage of language: it became part of the philosophical tradition, changing to analytic philosophy instead.
  • Pussycat
    288
    And so snakes' view paints philosophy as a power-mongering activity or enterprise, wishing to devour everything in its path, just like the game 'snake', in order to grow.

    snake.png

    or even a snake eating its own tail.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.6k
    I'm suggesting that being civilized or sane means that lots of issues are and must be 'dead' for us. They are 'irrationally' foreclosed. We inherit certain norms of decency and intelligibility that make discussing norms possible in the first place. In simpler terms I'm suggesting that open-minded-ness has its limits. To be sane is to be deaf and blind in a good way.jjAmEs

    I disagree. I do think that to make productive headway in conversation, some topics need to be closed off, but those topics that need to be closed off should be closed off for good reasons, not irrationally; the reasons to close off those topics should be readily apparent the more "indecent" or "insane" such topics of conversation are; and the "insanity" or "indecency" of people who insist on trying to force the conversation there anyway lies in their inability to understand the obvious good reasons not to go there as readily as other people do.

    Really, much of my whole philosophical project consists of giving the reasons to foreclose certain large swaths of clearly unworkable ways to investigate things, showing how a bunch of different ways of trying to investigate things boil down to those two clearly unworkable ways and so should be foreclosed along with them, showing how a bunch of proposed answers to various philosophical questions are tantamount those those ways of trying to investigate things, showing what's still left after all of that has been foreclosed, and then letting the sciences take it from there, using those not-insane-or-indecent approaches still left to do the actual hard work of figuring things out.

    But surely you see how convenient that is. Why is there something rather than nothing? Why is all of this...here? What I have in mind is (for instance) presented in Sartre's Nausea. If the big questions are excluded as meaningless, isn't that a little fishy?jjAmEs

    I think some of those kinds of questions have answers, though the answers are usually as trivial as the questions themselves. It reminds me of a joke I modified decades ago. "What is the answer to this question?" someone asked me, and supposedly their 'correct' answer was that "What" is the answer to that question; but I say instead, "This is the answer to that question." The moral of the story is: Ask an empty question, get an empty answer.

    That's the big objection. But the little objection would be questions that seem answerable in principle for which we don't have answers. How can humans achieve immortality? What social order maximizes happiness?jjAmEs

    I say that the role of philosophy in those kinds of questions is to show the means to answering them, not to answer them itself. Those are contingent questions that must be answered with a posteriori investigation. Philosophy's only job there is to clarify how to conduct such an investigation.

    I guess it would still be nice to have the discipline to type up a system, but it's hard enough to find people who care about the famous books that already do that, let alone my necessarily repetitive contributionjjAmEs

    I know that feeling. I'm still not completely sure why I bothered writing a philosophy book. Mostly, it seems, because there wasn't already such a book out there. I studied philosophy and jumped from one school of thought to another trying to figure out what to call myself, but none of them fit completely; like pants that are either long enough but not wide enough, or wide enough but too short, or where somehow one leg fits right but not the other or vice versa.

    So I guess I thought, "I'm going to make some philoso-pants that fit people like me". Sure, it's just pants that are the same length in both legs as this pair are in one leg, and the same width in both legs as that other pair are in the opposite leg, so I'm just stitching together aspects of pairs of pants that already exist, but on the whole I've not found any pair that fits right in every way, so I thought I should make some.

    But now that I have, it seems, most people like their skinny jeans or their high-waters or their weird lopsided pants that are too tight on one side and too short on the other or vice-versa, and nobody wants my pants... or I don't know how to let the people who would want them know that they exist now.

    I say embed philosophy within a narrativejjAmEs

    I liked that idea so much it was the original plan for my philosophy book. You can still read the old, incomplete work-in-progress version of that if you want. It had five characters, two representing the skinny jeans and high-waters, two representing the lop-sided pants, and each of them a kind of contemporary social archetype (the religious preppy, the gothpunk nihilist, the hippie "social justice warrior", the nerdy "silicon valley libertarian"), except the fifth who was to be my author-avatar. It's a story about us going to see a fictional movie-within-the-story that prompts a philosophical dialogue as we dine and walk around the neighborhood surrounding the theater nearest my old university.

    But I realized after a decade of writer's block and then a year of trying to write fiction (that turned into just a 60,000-word outline) that I absolutely suck at writing dialogue, and would make more progress if I just described my views and those I'm against in my own natural voice.

    I have vague dreams of maybe meeting someone, or several someones, who agree with the overall aim of my project, who might like to collaboratively work on turning it into a narrative again, someday. But I have no idea how to go about that.

    Don't you feel forced to compromise or self-censor?Isn't one constrained to keep it all a little dry and vague in that situation?jjAmEs

    Not at all, really. I was having passionate arguments on the internet in the days before pseudonymity was a widespread norm, so it was all under my real name, and back when I was a teenage no less. UseNet archives and what remains of old mid-90s early web forums are full of records of my views from the time, and it's never hurt me. I think that some of it is because the controversial views are so nuanced and buried so deep among other nuanced views that they're not smacking anybody in the face; I'm an anarcho-socialist for example, and argue for that in my book, but nobody who stumbled across my website is going to come away with that as their first impression, and probably nobody is going to read over 60 thousand words deep into the work to get the the chapter where I talk about that.
  • jjAmEs
    165
    the reasons to close off those topics should be readily apparent the more "indecent" or "insane" such topics of conversation are; and the "insanity" or "indecency" of people who insist on trying to force the conversation there anyway lies in their inability to understand the obvious good reasons not to go there as readily as other people do.Pfhorrest

    I guess I'm saying that those 'obvious good reasons' are not explicit reasons. You seem to suggest that arguments have been made, and they need only be remembered. I'm suggesting that we are trained into a culture like animals, and that conscious deliberation is the tip of an iceberg. This is the old idea that we are creatures of our time, and that our most dominant ideas are assumptions we don't even notice. They are the water the fish swim in, invisible to the well-adjusted fish.

    Really, much of my whole philosophical project consists of giving the reasons to foreclose certain large swaths of clearly unworkable ways to investigate things, showing how a bunch of different ways of trying to investigate things boil down to those two clearly unworkable ways and so should be foreclosed along with them, showing how a bunch of proposed answers to various philosophical questions are tantamount those those ways of trying to investigate things, showing what's still left after all of that has been foreclosed, and then letting the sciences take it from there, using those not-insane-or-indecent approaches still left to do the actual hard work of figuring things out.Pfhorrest

    I mostly relate to this. I'm guessing that I'm a little more cynical about metaphysical systems and maybe irrationally attached to a more informal/literary style. I see us as myth-making myth-structured engineers. That's why the 'wheel of life' and other religious notions are philosophical to me. The idea of some purified separate discipline (pure philosophy) looks like one more myth to me. This is examined in 'The White Mythology' (Derrida).

    It reminds me of a joke I modified decades ago. "What is the answer to this question?" someone asked me, and supposedly their 'correct' answer was that "What" is the answer to that question; but I say instead, "This is the answer to that question." The moral of the story is: Ask an empty question, get an empty answer.Pfhorrest

    I like that. But 'why is there a here here' is not empty in some simple way. What does it all mean? That's a vague request IMV for something like an orienting myth or metaphor. For some, the world is created as a test. Many secular thinkers rely on a notion of progress. There is a here here so that we have a world to improve for our grandchildren. Or perhaps the world is a stage on which we learn to let it all go. We learn how to die on a road to transcendence.

    But I do see the nullity of the question (as in W's TLP). It's as if we are just clever animals who really just want to push the right button. And religious and metaphysical phrases can go in the ear and transform pain into pleasure, confusion into a calm sense of being oriented (we have an arrow to follow toward the horizon, a clear image of the hero to emulate.)
  • jjAmEs
    165
    Philosophy's only job there is to clarify how to conduct such an investigation.Pfhorrest

    So you exclude the quasi-religious function from philosophy? I take a more holist view. To me a person's philosophy is tied up with their self-image and self-esteem. The philosopher is religious in a new self-critical way. 'Reason' or rationality becomes a sort of holy ghost. That myths must subject themselves to criticism becomes a dominant myth. If philosophy is only practical meta-engineering, that's a cool idea but leaves out all the juicy stuff that people die for.

    So I guess I thought, "I'm going to make some philoso-pants that fit people like me". Sure, it's just pants that are the same length in both legs as this pair are in one leg, and the same width in both legs as that other pair are in the opposite leg, so I'm just stitching together aspects of pairs of pants that already exist, but on the whole I've not found any pair that fits right in every way, so I thought I should make some.

    But now that I have, it seems, most people like their skinny jeans or their high-waters or their weird lopsided pants that are too tight on one side and too short on the other or vice-versa, and nobody wants my pants... or I don't know how to let the people who would want them know that they exist now.
    Pfhorrest

    I like this description. I relate. I agree with Schopenhauer that philosophers are especially irritable. No one out there gets it just right. But I have this sense of the pugnaciousness of strong minds. We take pleasure in locating the error, aesthetic or logical, in all other claims to the throne --which are just fashion choices to the worldly cynic who looks at bank accounts, fame, armies.

    I think I prefer the improvised clash of personalities to writing a book because it shows the philosopher in an embattled social context. We see their manners, who they find to insane to talk to, how they respond to unforeseen objections. So I appreciate you meeting my initially challenging tone with sincere and eloquent responses.

    But I realized after a decade of writer's block and then a year of trying to write fiction (that turned into just a 60,000-word outline) that I absolutely suck at writing dialogue, and would make more progress if I just described my views and those I'm against in my own natural voice.Pfhorrest

    I relate to this too. I'd like to write fiction. I believe that I should write fiction. But spouting conversational (post-)philosophy is what comes natural. Yet with my wife I improvise voices and characters all the time. But it's all un-self-conscious play. If only I'd somehow be offered money ahead of time, then I'd have the motivation. Or if I were young and single. I was a musician once, and I loved the music but it was also tied up with some kind of sexual display. Seduction/intimidation.

    I have vague dreams of maybe meeting someone, or several someones, who agree with the overall aim of my project, who might like to collaboratively work on turning it into a narrative again, someday. But I have no idea how to go about that.Pfhorrest

    I relate to this, in terms of both art and philosophy. But I find myself becoming more isolated somehow from that possibility and more at peace with the isolation. I was in bands with close friends for about a decade, and it's deeply satisfying to share the sense of making something great with true friends. And we were so immersed in it that we just ignored the fact that we were poor and irresponsible. Some became addicts and others became parents. I became neither and went to grad school (in STEM and not philosophy, trying to be worldly and respectable and out of a genuine interest and because they paid me to just learn things at first.)

    But I am nostalgic at times for an era that can't be repeated. Some of those nights were so grand. The friendship, the music, the drugs. Dionysian mysteries, the 'truth' in rock'n'roll lyrics.

    Not at all, really. I was having passionate arguments on the internet in the days before pseudonymity was a widespread norm, so it was all under my real name, and back when I was a teenage no less. UseNet archives and what remains of old mid-90s early web forums are full of records of my views from the time, and it's never hurt me..Pfhorrest

    I'm glad it's never come back on you. I don't like having a proper legal name stamped on me like a penned animal. It's a toe tag. I think Derrida felt something like this, given his writing on the signature. Limited Inc is one of my favorite texts. It has a certain embarrassing nudity. It's not unlike one of the better clashes on this forum. 'Sarl' is the enemy or status quo dragon, intellectual complacence incarnate. 'Sec' is the impish knight trying to force a rich and unruly consciousness on Dad who has it all figured out in his sleepy deafness and blindness. As others have written, there's something like a (admittedly vague) 'experience of language' beneath it all. Phenomenology is dangerously close to mysticism in some ways, but perhaps anything that isn't a publicly useful/reliable machine is suspect.
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