• anonymous66
    Some of you saw my posts on Philosophy as a Way of Life (Hadot wrote a book by that name) on the old forum. Does what you read, and your interest in philosophy in general carry over to your "everyday life"?

    For example, I find myself wanting to be more like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle in their desire to look at all sides of an issue to such an extent that people still wonder what they really believed.

    So, I'm making an effort to examine my beliefs... and also to look at opposing arguments.

    I'm getting better at accepting the fact that many conversations end in confusion for both parties.
  • Hanover
    I find that I waste a lot of time on this Forum that I should be spending doing work. So, yeah, it affects my life.
  • anonymous66
    LOL. Yeah, I hear that. But, to tell the truth, this isn't my only time-waster.

    Can philosophy help us to make more efficient use of time? I have been encouraged to think about the fact that I will die. Awareness of the little time I have left does make me think about what is most important in life.

    I've also been encouraged to be thankful for each new day (and sometimes each new hour), since death is a reality.
  • TSBU
    I'm interested in philosophy for my life... that's right. I expect to find useful answers when I think in epistemology, ethics, etc.
  • anonymous66
    I wonder if Chrysippus was anything like this?
  • Thorongil
    Of course. I take a certain philosophy to be true and so try to act in accordance with it. To do otherwise would be completely irrational.
  • anonymous66
    Any radical changes? I've decided to give up angry outbursts. Well, anger in general.
  • Thorongil
    I grew up as a lukewarm mainline Protestant and then starting in high school had a brief flirtation with Christian fundamentalism. Then I followed Kierkegaard and subsequently Spinoza as my theism gradually became more attenuated. Finally, one day not long after finishing high school I realized I had ceased being a Christian, and perhaps never really was one. A little while later I discovered Kant and Schopenhauer, who have ever since then had a profound effect on me. I would still call myself a Schopenhauerian, as no other system of philosophy than Schopenhauer's most closely resembles to such a startling degree my experience of the world. And yet, the implications of his philosophy have recently led me to reconsider religion. Most of all Christianity, and in particular its mystical tradition, as well as Buddhism and Hinduism are highly attractive to me. Formal conversion is at least in the realm of possibility, but for now skepticism holds me back. That, and I have yet to complete my book collection of philosophical and religious texts, which will better inform me.
  • anonymous66
    I grew up in a radical young earth creationist, Calvinist church in which there were no musical instruments, women wore headcoverings and were silent (at least during services). It was interesting in that there were some exceptions to the no musical instruments and no women in leadership roles... there were some progressive elements even in that church, but those experiments didn't last long, and they reverted back to their ultra- conservative ways after a short period of time.

    Our church was very anti-evolution, and I took the time to research the topic for myself when I was in my 20's. I decided that no matter what one believes about God, the evidence was clearly in favor of evolution being the case. I naively thought that our church was radical in it's rejection of evolution, but the reality is, I discovered that most people who consider themselves to be mainstream Christians (not fundamentalists) also reject evolution. I do admire Christians like Ken Miller and Francis Collins who are taking the time to explain to other Christians just what evolution is, and what the evidence is.

    Anyway, I tried various denominations until about 3 years ago, at which time I started calling myself an atheist, and started looking for other atheists to hang out with. The ones I met were just too anti-religion for my taste. I'm also not impressed with the way that the atheists I've met approach morality- which looks to me very much like "religions invented morality, we don't like religions, and we won't be moral- so take that religious people!". I've since decided that the atheists who hang out in groups with "atheist" in the title of said group, aren't the type of people I want to spend much time with. (that's been my experience with the few groups I've spent time with... your mileage may vary).

    So then I just happened to take a Philosophy of Ethics class (my 2nd philosophy class). And I loved the rational approach to morality. I decided to learn as much about philosophy as I could. I started meeting with a local philosophy professor, and he did teach me a thing or two, before we parted ways (I do email him from time to time) after a few months.

    Since then I accidentally stumbled on Stoicism (I like the Rationally Speaking Podcast, and Massimo mentioned it), and the philosophy is very attractive to me.

    After looking into Stoicism for a while, and with Hadot's influence, certain forms of Christianity look to be attractive- specifically those with a strong emphasis on personal spiritual practices, vs judgmental attitudes towards others (and a rejection of the reality of evolution isn't very appealing). I tried attending a few UU churches, but something just doesn't fit. I think I may no longer be a church-goer.

    Now I spend my free time reading philosophy and have started meeting with others to discuss philosophy. And I've been making a point of living in the moment, practicing negative visualization, thinking about my own death, and meditating. I also find myself thinking about what is and what is not in my control.
  • anonymous66
    But, I think even more basic than all the above, is that (after being influenced by Greg Sadler) I think philosophy can give us an idea about why and how we're messing up our lives, and what to do about it.

    And I have a strong desire to be authentic.
  • Thorongil
    You have an interesting story that is not dissimilar to mine in some ways, as well as some keen observations. Of the forms of Christianity that I am drawn to, I am most drawn to Roman Catholicism. It doesn't seem to have a problem with evolution. Perhaps it doesn't "officially" accept it to the degree that some non-believers would like, but it also doesn't reject it either. That's a wise position to take, in my judgment. The hard sciences are constantly amending their theories, such that to definitively declare for one will look bad if and once it's replaced in the future. Evolution was a factor in my turning away from fundamentalism, but science on the whole bores me now. I am interested in existential questions more than anything and am utterly unpersuaded by the kind of materialistic reductionism and scientism that otherwise would make science and evolution more interesting to me.

    There is a part of me, a very large part, that doesn't like joining groups or being in a crowd. To this extent, this means I don't care a whit about what my fellow atheists are doing or thinking (though I prefer the term ignostic for myself at the moment), but it also militates against my returning to religion.
  • S
    How can it not have had an effect on my life? Yes, it most certainly has; although how significant an effect it has had is in part dependent on context and perspective.

    It has played a key role in my life for years, and was practically an obsession of mine at one point, although less so now.

    It has in general made me consider things more deeply and more frequently than I likely otherwise would have done, including many things we take for granted. It has also made me more critical, including even of philosophy itself, or at least of some common philosophical approaches or tendencies.

    I have long since become averse to the sort of sceptical approach or outlook which requires one to discard what one knows and what is common sense. And I find obscurity, verbosity and jargon intolerable at times.

    I have moved away from philosophy and towards politics. I owe more to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in terms of influencing my recent thought and my political persuasion than any philosopher.
  • Mayor of Simpleton

    ... you know me, so some of this is well... boring.

    I apply quite a bit of philosophy in my approach to training athletes. More than just a couple of motivational quotes. I'd say the application of logic (rules of inference) play a major role in my ability to analyse training data, as well as commentary from my athletes.

    As for personal "world view"...

    ... believe it or not when I was in college I sort was on my way to attempt to become... hold onto your hats... a Christian apologist.

    I participated in debates where I (more of less) was the frontline in defense of Christian theology, as well as various other beliefs associated with Chistian theology.

    During a debate against a few new newcomers to the debate scene, who were to take up a counter position to mine, I did something rather odd (to say the least). My "opponents" in this educational debate were not very well prepared, as well as not being well versed in deabte. I made the suggestion to "help out", as I was under the impression that there was an educational aspect to what we were doing and not just a forum to "beat up the other guys".

    Long story short, I began to present counter arguments to my own. It wasn't too difficult as I had heard them very often in the past.

    The result was one of the single most schizophrenic debates ever sponsored by our philosophy department, as I simply took over and argued with and critically questioned myself for the next 45 minutes. Needless to say, this provided a lot of humor (something new), but more important was that I not only heard the counter positions, but actually considered them in the process. One can say in those 45 minutes I literally "talked myself" into a new worldview without a single bit of existential crisis.

    Since then this worldview has been subject to a lot of revision and is still a work in progress, but indeed this experience has been the framework and catalyst for nearly every perspective I hold.

    Another odd thing brought by philosophy is that I seem to have a rather detached sense of relativitiy of ethics allows me to be the "cool head" in the face of moral conflicts (or so I'M often told and thus asked to moderate stuff now and then). It does piss people off a lot that I simply don't just go with the "emotional flow", but can indeed "chill" in the face of ad populum moral passion plays... especially as presented in the media.

    Philosophy has shaped my humor and what few things I have written in the comedy scene. The best joke being the comedians who use jokes written by me... the "dyslexic guy".

    Philosophy has been a pain in the ass as well... it has happened on a number of occasions that I will hold tight to a principle at my own cost. I believe that the only test of principles are not when they work in you favor, but when you know you are going to crash and burn, but still hold to them. Well... recent example of this "self-destructive behaviour" for the sake of a principle was PF. MY invite to the "safety boat" resulted in my being placed "under review"... actually worse than being banned. I won't bother with the details, but I knew I was throwing away something that had been very important to me for over 6 years. Indeed it had to be done and as much as I did not want to do what I was doing, I knew I had to do it. (OK... PF is looking, well... no one knows, but this place ain't too bad, eh? This risk paid off.)

    It was certainly not my first or even close to the most dramatic. Sometimes it has resulted in my quiting or rejecting a lucrative job or opportunity, losing the contact with family members and firends or funny things like, in spite of being financially busted, taking the opportunity to buy my ex-girlfriend, who was working in the same place as I was making my life hell, a one way ticket to fly off and move to another city some 2000+ miles away, knowing she'll either get a job there and stay or have to get a crap job there to afford to come back again... either/or I'd be rid of her and knew in an instance it was worth having to live off rice and tuna fish for a month.

    There are a lot of small applications, but somehow important things that have occured... like using logic to talk two groups of people in NYC after the Rodney King verdict into NOT rioting or provoking a riot. Also, I was once detained by a madman in his apartment... seriously... who threatened to kill me. I did talk him down using absurdism... thank you Camus and Kafka!!!

    For those who know my medical history and my brain exploding (literally)... without my absurdist tendencies, I really have no idea how I would have come back... again and again and again and oh... I have another operation in about 6 weeks. Elbow... a strange thing that needs to be removed. Will I pitch baseball again... who knows, but carry on regardless. Oh right... and I play to keep playing in spite of my most recent discovery that I have arthritis in my fingers.Shit happens! So use it as fertilizer and see what you can grow.

    Believe me I can drone on about this topic, so I'll let this go for now.


  • _db
    Yes, philosophy has had a major impact in my life. It has changed it radically and filled a gap that I had previously sensed was missing and could not be filled by science or irrational religious practices. It has made me appreciate how little I know, and even more so how much I depend on the actions of others before me.

    Unfortunately many times I end up becoming obsessed with one specific topic and it's difficult to sense when I've stopped doing philosophy and have started an obsessive-compulsive cycle.
  • BC
    The one question in philosophy that has engaged me deeply is whether God exists, or not. I was raised in a devout Methodist home, and for the first 40 years or so did not really question religious principles. They were OK or I just didn't think about them. When I did start to question them, I found I couldn't muster up support of the core belief: that God exists as creator, redeemer, and sustainer of the cosmos.

    I am not hostile or hateful toward religion or religious people (except for predatory sex-hating fundamentalists) and I don't find most atheists to be very good company, even in the short run. But resolving disbelief turned out to be a long and arduous process of arguing and rearguing the case against God's existence. Intellectually, it's settled. Sorry God, you don't exist. Emotionally, the god-shaped hole is very magnetic.

    Now about to pass "3 score years and 10", I feel settled and contented, which is more a matter of fortunate chemistry than powerful ideas. Unfortunate chemistry, not bad ideas, kept me fairly miserable for a couple of decades. I don't look to philosophy for much, but there are many unsettled questions, like how rapidly will global warming and its negative sequelae accelerate? Will the global economy crash badly within the next 20 years, and what will that mean? (Hopefully I won't be alive longer than 20 more years. Even 10 more years might be too long--I want to get out before the party is over.) I do look forward to hearing about the results of brain research, and research into the human biome. I have a long list of books to read, but I'm scratching some of them off the list. The life that remains is just too short to plow through too many leisurely and hefty novels of the Victorian era.
  • S
    I can't honestly say that I can relate to those of you for whom the topic of theism or God has played a significant role. I've practically always been an atheist, perhaps with the exception of a few whimsical moments when I was a young child with my own wildly speculative and fanciful ideas.

    I've always seen through all the religious mumbo jumbo. I was fortunate enough not to be brought up, manipulated, encouraged, or indoctrinated into any religion. And I have been fortunate enough to live in a culture which doesn't exactly ram it down your throut or expect you to conform.

    Since I started getting involved in discussions and debates about God and religion, I'd say that my views on the topic have become a little less aggressive and a little less certain. Although only within reason - there are certain contexts in which aggression and certainty are called for.
  • anonymous66
    Unfortunately many times I end up becoming obsessed with one specific topic and it's difficult to sense when I've stopped doing philosophy and have started an obsessive-compulsive cycledarthbarracuda

    I do that myself, lol. I blame it on my fundy background. If any of y'all see me go OCD on your butt, just holler "knock it off, fundy!" 8-)
  • anonymous66
    I do like imagining what the best possible God would be like. I sometimes wonder if that isn't what good theologians are actually doing and if it isn't important work.
  • S
    I do like imagining what the best possible God would be like.anonymous66

    The best possible God would be just like me. In fact, it is me.
  • anonymous66
    I was never a hard core defender of my faith, but because of the way I lived my life (I was a non-swearing, non-drinking construction worker for 10 years), people put me in positions where I felt it necessary to defend Christianity. but other than trying to get a few of my friends "saved" when I was in grade school, I could never put my heart into defending Christianity. I was too aware of the flaws.

    I currently do enjoy being able to comprehend the other side to such an extent that I can argue both sides of many issues.
  • mcdoodle
    Like Sapientia, ideas about gods don't form any part of what interests me about philosophy, although I have found myself arguing strongly - as an atheist - for an appreciation of religious experience. It's clear that what many religious people sometimes experience through religion is profound. If one is to try and understand the nature of understanding and insight, then 'The cloud of unknowing' or 'Pilgrim's progress' or Spinoza or 'Honest to God' or the poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins are all big contributors to my insights, even if I lack their authors' underlying supernatural beliefs.

    As to philosophy in general, I find the exercise very calming. I am approaching old age and want to understand more about the nature of processes and things. I am a pluralist, I am out of sympathy with all the arguments that eventually arrive at 'Everything is...', even various forms of holism. We have multiple ways of understanding ourselves - art, music, science, religion, political commentary, philosophy - and so while I'm taking a largely analytic approach to philosophising, I doubt that such analysis is in the end going to make me feel any closer to the heart of things than Shostakovich, Sam Beckett, Barbara Hepworth or Adrienne Rich. The disinterest of philosophy in the arts is a disappointment to me, and the analytic approach via 'aesthetics' is unappealing, so I find I am most interested in epistemology, and in the philosophy of language, which is refreshingly muddled and plural.
  • Hoo

    I like philosophy that is grounded in practice, relationships, and the body.

    I think science is so respected because it delivers the goods (technology). While life-philosophy is usefully viewed as Technology 101, it seems pretty clear to me that in a pluralistic society there is no reason to expect convergence. Why not many, differing always-in-progress "belief-habit systems"? The "post-philosophical" sense of humor about Truth is, from a certain perspective, just a "realism" about human disagreement and the limits of persuasion.

    Of course not all philosophy is "life philosophy." While some of this is entertaining, it's often delivered as if were a science higher than science. But unless it connects to practice (is tested in our desire and danger drenched lives), it can (at its worst) look like weightless word-math, like word-smiths battling not over what is to be done but simply how to uniquely name the overlapping system of practices that make the name-debate intelligible in the first place.

    I think one can love philosophy or rather wisdom without thinking that philosophers proper (paid for it or just identified with the role) are any closer to it than others. I love the last volume of Bukowski's letters, for instance. I would hate to have never been exposed to Ham On Rye and Women. So much can be done with the words closest at hand. Exceptions to every rule, etc., but I think it's wise to stay close to the language of the street, at least with "life philosophy." If we figure out something useful, we can "win friends and influence people" in terms of style and accessibility. We also run less risk of sounding like we are high on our own logorrhea. So, yeah, I'm voting that style matters. Hell, style is central. But I think the stoics and cynics were carving themselves into statues.

    Anyway, exposure to pragmatism in particular encouraged me to embrace the daily detail, learn about nutrition, put more effort into relationships, career, style. To trot out an old horse, there's something to be said about being a man first and philosopher second. (And yeah the man can have a uterus. I'm talking about an image of human completeness and connection to the world.)
  • Wayfarer
    My orientation was very much 'seeker' - convinced there was a 'higher state' which certain very special and rare individuals had realised. Very 60's. I had some vivid moments of awakening as a child, but they're always instantaneous - coming from nowhere - and impossible to convey to others. I discovered the popular Eastern spiritual books, like Autobiography of a Yogi, Krishnamurti, Alan Watts and D T Suzuki. Plus I had some vivid trips, during which time I discovered that sense of the amazing beauty of natural objects (that kind of thing). At the time I thought this had nothing to do with religion, in fact was completely dismissive of 'churchianity', but since then my attitude has changed a little, although I also am not a church-going type and still don't much like 'established religion'.

    But one thing which I'm really aware of, is how much anti-religion underlies modern cultural attitudes:

    I'm also not impressed with the way that the atheists I've met approach morality- which looks to me very much like "religions invented morality, we don't like religions, and we won't be moral - so take that religious people! — Anonymous66

    That attitude is very pervasive in modern culture. It's more than, or different to, scepticism - it's shaped by the rejection (often unconscious) of religion. Nagel sums it up in his passage on 'the fear of religion'. So entire modern philosophical movements coalesce around 'not God' - they are like the mirror-image or shadow of theistic belief systems. Anything like 'belief' becomes literally taboo; which leads to the kind of compulsory materialism of Anglo-American university culture.

    That said, I never wanted to be 'a believer'. As far as I was concerned, the goal of religion was not pie in the sky but an amazing, electrifying state called 'God Realisation'. That was where it was at! But, not surprisingly, life went on - there were bills to be paid, livelihoods to be made, and not much evidence of whether there really was such a state. So that's why I turned towards the very low-key kind of spirituality of Sōtō Zen. And that has had a great influence on my life and way-of-being. But it's not a magic bullet or deliverance from all worldly woes; more the ability to see through my own self importance, and to realise that everyone has burdens to bear. And that, strangely, rings a bell......
  • S
    I'm also not impressed with the way that the atheists I've met approach morality - which looks to me very much like "religions invented morality, we don't like religions, and we won't be moral - so take that religious people!".anonymous66

    That attitude is very pervasive in modern culture.Wayfarer

    No. No it isn't. That is the attitude of a small minority. Most atheists are more sensible than that. I don't think that The New Atheists, for example, or those under their influence, would actually make that claim. They would likely dispute the claim that religions invented morality, and rightly so. And I can't see most people within that sort of group having an attitude reflected in the exclamation "we won't be moral - so take that religious people!". More like, "we reject your presumption of moral authority!".
  • Thorongil
    More like, "we reject your presumption of moral authority!".Sapientia

    Which often results in moral relativism or nihilism....

    How many atheists are unabashed moral realists? I honestly doubt there's that many.
  • shmik

    If you take seriously the Chalmers survey results:

    Meta-ethics: moral realism 56.4%; moral anti-realism 27.7%; other 15.9%.
    God: atheism 72.8%; theism 14.6%; other 12.6%.

  • shmik
    Personally philosophy has effected my views of ethics and some of the views I have towards dealing with others. If I don't include the time I spend thinking about philosophy or reading it then the overall effect on my life is very minor.

    For the most part I don't read philosophy with the intention of it effecting my life. For example, I couldn't tell you what would even be a possible effect of reading Frege's The Foundations of Arithmetic aside from finding it enjoyable or satisfying.

    I'm currently interested in how views on modal logic have changed over time. This will definitely not effect my life at all and outside of the forum I wouldn't even mention it to people.
  • Jamal
    Chalmers survey resultsshmik

    You beat me to it.

    On the other hand, most atheists are not philosophers, and we might get a better picture of things by looking at the wider secular culture. MacIntyre says we have a "culture of emotivism", in which moral claims often in effect either express mere personal preference or are used to manipulate others. In other words, emotivism, though wrong as a general theory of the meaning of moral language, is correct as a theory of contemporary use. There's surely no question that this only became possible in disenchanted modernity.
  • Jamal
    His philosophical method is historical and owes a lot to Marx and Kuhn. He says that there are no transhistorical standards to appeal to in assessing moral claims, yet he is not a relativist: the world is always there to test against.

    If you mean to ask exactly what facts and assessments lead him to the conclusion, have a look at After Virtue.
  • Jamal
    As for the effect of philosophy on my life, it's definitely changed the way I approach anomalous monism and transcendental phenomenology.
  • Jamal
    I owe more to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in terms of influencing my recent thought and my political persuasion than any philosopher.Sapientia

    I think I'd class them as philosophers too, though they didn't pursue it thoroughly and decided to change the world instead. There's a fantastic book about Marx specifically as a philosopher: Karl Marx by Allen W. Wood. It's very clear, and it's critical but broadly sympathetic. It's sort of like Eagleton's Why Marx was Right with philosophical meat on the bones (I seem to recall you saying you read that).

    Marx is a writer who is constantly struggling with facts and theories of all kinds – Nietzscheans should admire him for the way he seeks out enemies. To read him in a dogmatic spirit, as if his writings were some sort of holy writ, is to miss what is best about him: the terrifying openness of mind represented by his own way of thinking and by the intellectual position into which he forces his readers – especially those who remain unconverted by his theories. This is why Marx should be loved by everyone with a philosophical mind. — Wood
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