• Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    What exactly is philosophy, in the sense of your words? What is it that philosophy demands of us? Is there a body of knowledge on philosophical inquiry, or on how philosophy is, or should be, practised? Is it written down anywhere? I've looked on the interweb, and surprised myself: I can't find anything along these lines. So can you, or anyone else, offer a better link than I have been able to find?Pattern-chaser

    I wrote this in another thread, but it occurs to me that it might be a worthwhile topic for discussion here. Are there guidelines - or something similar - that have been discussed and described already? I'm not asking for your opinions here, useful and interesting though I'm sure they are, I'm wondering if there is an equivalent to all the dictionaries that define "philosophy", that describes how philosophical inquiry is, or should be, carried out?

    Or is it, as I suspect, that this has never been written down? Have philosophers just assumed that they and their colleagues instinctively know how to go about philosophical inquiry?
  • Devans99
    1.9k


    There is this excellent site if you have not come across it:

    https://plato.stanford.edu
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    Here's a quote I found on Quora:
    As a philosopher, I don’t believe there something unique called “philosophical inquiry.” There are only different questions that dictate different methods of investigation and they are either good methods or bad methods as defined by science, math, or logic. These standards are applicable to all investigations, not just philosophical ones. — Heidi Savage, PhD Philosophy, University of Maryland
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    Yes, I found the site, and many others like it. Thanks for the link. But I look there (and elsewhere), and I can find nothing written down that describes how we should 'do' philosophy. :chin:
  • Devans99
    1.9k
    There is not on Wikipedia for it. I guess our method is based on:

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-method/
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k

    That seems better! :smile: I'll read it shortly. Thanks. :up:

    There is not on Wikipedia for it. I guess our method is based on:

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-method/
    Devans99

    Scientific method? Would we look in a cookery book to find out how to service a car engine? Would philosophical method not be more appropriate? :chin:
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    A common view among philosophers is that philosophy is distinguished by the ways that philosophers follow in addressing philosophical questions. There is not just one method that philosophers use to answer philosophical questions. — Wikipedia on Philosophical methodology
    [My underlining.]
  • Devans99
    1.9k
    Scientific method? Would we look in a cookery book to find out how to service a car engine? Would philosophical method not be more appropriate? :chin:Pattern-chaser

    From the source above:

    'Among the activities often identified as characteristic of science are systematic observation and experimentation, inductive and deductive reasoning, and the formation and testing of hypotheses and theories'

    In philosophy, we are light on observation and experimentation, but the rest of it sounds like the ticket...
  • RBS
    54
    What I have learned so far is that the only pure knowledge left in this world is Philosophy, this was well in place since the beginning of human race. I believe there is no such thing of how to do philosophy, cannot be brought into a book or order of teaching or educating oneself, but rather to listen, read and understand.
  • NKBJ
    1.1k


    There is no one way to do philosophy, as long as all of those ways include thinking deeply about some aspect of ontology, epistemology, and axiology (which is about all there is).

    That being said, there are more productive ways to do it. The tried and true method of the ancients is dialogue. And that's what we have here!
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    The tried and true method of the ancients is dialogue. And that's what we have here!NKBJ

    :up: :wink:
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    Scientific method? Would we look in a cookery book to find out how to service a car engine? Would philosophical method not be more appropriate? :chin:Pattern-chaser

    From the source above:

    'Among the activities often identified as characteristic of science are systematic observation and experimentation, inductive and deductive reasoning, and the formation and testing of hypotheses and theories'

    In philosophy, we are light on observation and experimentation, but the rest of it sounds like the ticket...
    Devans99

    We're surely "light on observation and experimentation", as science explores the matter-energy universe, while we explore the world of thought and thinking. We have nothing to observe, or to experiment on (if we ignore thought experiments :smile: ).

    So that leaves us with reasoning (inductive and deductive) and testing (of hypotheses and theories).

    Testing is almost as difficult for us as experimentation. We have nothing to do it on! Admittedly, there are circumstances where a particular piece of philosophy could be tested, but there are many more where testing isn't possible. So testing is of limited application to philosophy.

    Inductive reasoning is not clearly accepted within science, never mind outside of it. Generalising from the particular is dodgy, if not downright wrong.

    From all the items in the list you offer, it seems that only deductive reasoning might apply. And even that supposition is based only on there being no obvious reasons why we shouldn't apply deductive reasoning to philosophy. :chin:

    In philosophy, we are light on observation and experimentation, but the rest of it sounds like the ticket...Devans99

    On the contrary, the fit seems poor, at best. :confused:
  • Devans99
    1.9k
    Inductive reasoning is not clearly accepted within science, never mind outside of it. Generalising from the particular is dodgy, if not downright wrongPattern-chaser

    Science is inherently inductive. Both the theory of gravity and evolution are inductive knowledge. Most of the stuff we know is known inductively. So philosophy can't be without induction.

    On the contrary, the fit seems poor, at best.Pattern-chaser

    I think the problem is the general public have belief in the scientific method; if any philosophy does not follow the scientific method then it is regarded (by the general public) as unsound.

    Remember that science was once (and still is) called natural philosophy.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    ↪Pattern-chaser
    OK, how about:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_methodology — Devans99


    That seems better! :smile: I'll read it shortly. Thanks. :up:
    Pattern-chaser

    Having read it, I found it to be a vague and very general examination of how philosophers do philosophy, with none of the details you might expect or hope for. Nowhere is there a list of guidelines, or anything like that. Only a general discussion of the sort of things that philosophical method might employ. Better than nothing (IMO), but not much.
  • S
    10.2k
    I wrote this in another thread, but it occurs to me that it might be a worthwhile topic for discussion here. Are there guidelines - or something similar - that have been discussed and described already? I'm not asking for your opinions here, useful and interesting though I'm sure they are, I'm wondering if there is an equivalent to all the dictionaries that define "philosophy", that describes how philosophical inquiry is, or should be, carried out?

    Or is it, as I suspect, that this has never been written down? Have philosophers just assumed that they and their colleagues instinctively know how to go about philosophical inquiry?
    Pattern-chaser

    Much has been said on this by philosophers themselves. Hume with his "consign it to the flames". Wittgenstein with his "whereof we cannot speak".
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    I think the problem is the general public have belief in the scientific method; if any philosophy does not follow the scientific method then it is regarded (by the general public) as unsound.Devans99

    So you recommend that philosophy should (must?) adopt the scientific method because public confidence in philosophy might otherwise wane? More generally, I might observe that the general public know little of the scientific method, and care even less. Science is held up as a universal yardstick of reliability and trustworthiness, but only for as long as such claims are not carefully scrutinised, as any conscientious scientist or philosopher might do. :wink:

    I don't see a credible argument for adopting scientific practices within philosophy. Science may have begun as a tool sprouting from certain schools of philosophy, but it left home long ago, and has been making its own way ever since. Science and philosophy are no longer the same (if they ever where), and standards which apply to one do not necessarily apply to the other.

    If philosophy was tied to the scientific method, it would not be able to investigate any aspect of human culture, for a start. Although our everyday lives are lived literally in the space-time universe, they appear to us to be lived completely immersed in human culture(s). Philosophy could not, for example, consider the morality of Islamophobia or anti-semitism if it operated by the scientific method.
  • Devans99
    1.9k
    Science and philosophy are no longer the same (if they ever where), and standards which apply to one do not necessarily apply to the other.Pattern-chaser

    They both share logic (deductive, inductive, abductive reasoning) as a foundation.

    If you look at how the two disciplines evolved, it is correct to say that science is a branch of philosophy (natural philosophy).

    I don't see a credible argument for adopting scientific practices within philosophy.Pattern-chaser

    We can have an abstract philosophical argument, say space is discrete, but that argument will not find general acceptance unless there is empirical evidence to back it up. This is the heart of the scientific method and philosophy must abide by it where possible in order to still be relevant.

    Philosophy could not, for example, consider the morality of Islamophobia or anti-semitism if it operated by the scientific method.Pattern-chaser

    I believe morality can be accounted for logically but that is another discussion. IMO everything is susceptible to logical and thus scientific/philosophical investigation.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    We can have an abstract philosophical argument, say space is discrete, but that argument will not find general acceptance unless there is empirical evidence to back it up. This is the heart of the scientific method and philosophy must abide by it where possible in order to still be relevant.Devans99

    [My highlighting.]

    But, as I think you have already pointed out, when the subject matter is thought and thinking, empirical evidence is thin on the ground. So your "where possible" seems to mean "never", or something close to it. :chin:
  • Devans99
    1.9k
    Questions like 'is there a God?', 'is space infinite?' we can collect empirical evidence for. Not all philosophical questions granted, thats why I say 'where possible'.

    So I think what I'm suggesting is that philosophy should employ as much of the scientific method as possible for a particular problem:

    - Systematic observation and experimentation - philosophers observe nature and comment on it. They may perform experimentation too.
    - Inductive and deductive reasoning - philosophers do this as a matter of course.
    - The formation and testing of hypotheses and theories - philosophers should do this if possible.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    I believe morality can be accounted for logically but that another discussion. IMO everything is susceptible to logical and thus scientific/philosophical investigation.Devans99

    Politics?
    Music and art?
    Religion and spirituality?
    Katie Price (as a media phenomenon, not a person)?
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    Questions like 'is there a God?', 'is space infinite?' we can collect empirical evidence for.Devans99

    You know of empirical evidence for (or against) the existence of God? I thought the main problem with that particular question is that there's no (empirical or other) evidence at all. :chin:
  • Devans99
    1.9k
    PoliticsPattern-chaser

    Its all a simple equality of short term < long term.

    Music and art?Pattern-chaser

    Music and art are mathematical. See for example the Golden Ratio.

    Religion and spirituality?Pattern-chaser

    Is basically a quest to answer the question 'what happens when we die?'. Possibly investigable empirically via 'Near Death Experiences'.

    Katie Price (as a media phenomenon, not a person)?Pattern-chaser

    Possibly collecting data on her via a survey?

    You know of empirical evidence for (or against) the existence of God?Pattern-chaser

    The Big Bang is evidence for a first cause, which is sometimes taken as God. I believe there was a first cause for other reasons too though (https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/5577/was-there-a-first-cause-reviewing-the-five-ways/p1)
  • 0 thru 9
    820
    I nominate the Tao Te Ching as both top-notch philosophy, and therefore an excellent model for one’s writing. The strength and leaness of the writing make even the great and concise Hemingway sound like a chatterbox. Apples to oranges, but anything that improves the ratio of ideas to words is welcome. Some philosophers write as though they were getting paid according to the weight of their books... ideas drowning in a sea of sentences.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    Thanks. :up: So how do you see the Tao te ching being used to help us do - or show us how we (should?) do - philosophy?
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    "Music and art?" — Pattern-chaser

    Music and art are mathematical. See for example the Golden Ratio.
    Devans99

    You see, this is part of the problem. A scientific view of art and music fails to see the things that make them relevant and desirable to humans. The emotional appreciation (if I might call it that) of art/music is wholly invisible to science. It's as if you have proposed to investigate Monet's oil paintings by analysing the composition of his paints. Such an investigation would miss so much (of what is relevant to humans) about Monet's art that it's useless and pointless. The same applies if we think mathematics can describe or explain music in any meaningful or useful way.
  • Devans99
    1.9k
    The emotional appreciation (if I might call it that) of art/music is wholly invisible to sciencePattern-chaser

    But emotions are due to glands and chemicals in our brain/bodies. These things are investigable with science. We could correlate the patterns of music to the biological changes that take place.

    It's as if you have proposed to investigate Monet's oil paintings by analysing the composition of his paintsPattern-chaser

    His paintings are about nature I think. So it would be a question of seeing what it is about nature that we find so fascinating. Nature is about patterns and patterns tend to be mathematical or subjectable to mathematical analysis.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    Religion and spirituality? — Pattern-chaser


    Is basically a quest to answer the question 'what happens when we die?'. Possibly investigable empirically via 'Near Death Experiences'.
    Devans99

    For me, religion/spirituality tells me much more about how I might conduct my life, than what will happen later. I don't think science can investigate that. And if you think an investigation of near-death experience (which isn't actually death, as we all know) offers any useful understanding of religion, ... I don't know how to respond, except maybe "Really??? :chin:".
  • Devans99
    1.9k
    OK point taken, there is a moral aspect to religion that I missed. But morality can be defined mathematically quite simply (https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/4395/defining-good-and-evil/p1).

    I am after the truth. These religions claim life after death. So life after death experiences do offer a way to assess the claims of conventional religion.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    But emotions are due to glands and chemicals in our brain/bodies. These things are investigable with science. We could correlate the patterns of music to the biological changes that take place.Devans99

    Yes, but the problem stays the same as for your other suggestions. If you were a Vulcan or a Romulan, an alien seeking to learn more about humanity, your suggestions are about as well as they could do. An external understanding of human behaviour, with no hint as to why humans behave in these ways. You are a human. I am a human. A scientific investigation into things such as I have listed would tell a human much less than they already knew about these things before they saw your conclusions.

    And if you have any idea how knowledge of our glands and biochemicals could inform our knowledge of emotions, there are many people who would be very interested to speak with you, maybe even offer you money for your insights. It's as easy ( :wink: ) as understanding how Microsoft Word can help and support authors who use it, from an analysis of the raw bytes of WinWord.exe.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    These religions claim life after death. So life after death experiences do offer a way to assess the claims of conventional religion.Devans99

    Christianity does. I think Islam and Judaism do too. But what about Taoism, Buddhism, or any of the other Eastern religions? "Religion" includes all religions, while you seem to be assuming, as many do, that religion = (American fundamentalist?) Christianity. Religions offer much more than life after death. And science cannot see any of it, never mind comment upon it usefully. Horses for courses. Science is a remarkable and useful tool, that has given us much. But it has its area of applicability, as any such tool does, and human culture, in all its madness, is not part of that area.
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