• Pfhorrest
    I'm surprised that I can't find a thread like this here already. Also not sure if this belongs in general or the lounge, mods feel free to move as necessary.
    1. How much philosophical education do you have? (51 votes)
        None at all
        Only autodicactic / self-taught
        Some pre-college classes
        Some incidental college classes
        Currently studying it at college
        Associate's degree in it
        Bachelor's degree in it
        Master's degree in it
        Doctoral degree in it
        Professor of it
  • god must be atheist
    My teachers only opened my eyes... I do all the thinking. To me philosophy is a way of exercising my freedom to develop my thinking. It is a similar experience for me in my life to writing fiction. And both pay about the same.
  • Artemis

    That was your teachers' goal! :wink:
  • Artemis
    I wanna know who here claims to have a PhD in philosophy. :brow:
  • 180 Proof
    Enough education to know that I don't know enough and never will.


    I don't count my formal education / training; pace Nicholas of Cusa - in philosophy (as opposed to "Philosophy") only unlearned ignorance matters.
  • god must be atheist
    That was your teachers' goal! :wink:Artemis

    Silly me... I thought he and she and he and he (have taken two electives in my pursuing a degree in math, and after that, many years later, I audited two courses (audit means listen to the lectures, but not work toward a credit, not needing to give account of my progress via tests etc.)) did it for the money.
  • god must be atheist
    I wanna know who (here) claims to have a PhD in philosophy. :brow:Artemis

    I am sure it's @3017amen. The rest of us are pretty stupid so we act reasonably. That's what I'd say.
  • Janus
    It's not at all clear what the point of this poll is.
  • Pfhorrest
    Just curiosity about the demographics here.
  • god must be atheist
    It's not at all clear what the point of this poll is.Janus
    Same as life's.
  • Artemis

    FWIW, I think it's interesting to see the percentage of people here with formal training versus self-taught.

    I mean, I always had my suspicions, but it's still interesting.
  • Swan
    I took some classes in it but ultimately didn't like how it was being taught by one of my profs.. I felt she was attempting to instill her own political ideologies into the text while attempting to teach it .. and I didn't like that; it felt distracting and irrelevant to the course. In other words, it felt like she was teaching an ideology in the form of an agenda - she was also somewhat restrictive - in a way that iffy.... There was just something off. But I don't have any degrees in it or anything like that.

    Anything else is just on my own or with others.
  • alcontali
    How much philosophical education do you have?Pfhorrest

    I had some philosophy classes at university but back then they rather struck me as "unimportant".

    The issue got propelled to the forefront because of the ontological and epistemological questions that arose while being involved in software engineering projects: Is there nothing more serious than the snake-oil bullshit en provenance from commercial software vendors?

    With free and open-source software (FOSS) going mainstream, that particular problem got smaller. Still, FOSS tends to create its own trouble. It is still possible to start hyping nonsense and push millions of people in the wrong direction.

    What I learned from the issues in that microcosmos, is: If millions of people believe in nonsense, this is always the result of a small cartel having a vested interest, and spending a lot of money, in getting these people to believe that nonsense. The converse is also true: If powerful interests spend a lot of money on stamping out a particular, popular belief, then this belief is most likely truthful. In that sense, the beliefs propagated by the ruling elite is almost a perfect "How not to do it" manual.

    Therefore, the challenge is to learn how to reconstruct the truth from their lies.
  • 180 Proof
    If millions of people believe in nonsense, this is always the result of a small cartel having a vested interest, and spending a lot of money, in getting these people to believe that nonsense. The converse is also true: If powerful interests spend a lot of money on stamping out a particular, popular belief, then this belief is most likely truthful.alcontali

    A gloriously cynical half-truth. Perfect p0m0 ur-conspiracy fodder. Amen. :pray:
  • alcontali
    A gloriously cynical half-truth. Perfect p0m0 ur-conspiracy fodder. Amen.180 Proof

    Well, knee-jerk distrust of the ruling elite -- an otherwise standard libertarian view -- has worked out really nicely for me. It has allowed me to dodge quite a few bullets, the most important of which is that you cannot, under no circumstances, organize your private life on the jurisdictional territory of a so-called western democracy. That is a gigantic bullet dodged.

    Jurisdiction decoupling -and shopping is simply a necessity.

    For example, do you buy the house in which you live?

    No. Never.

    Buy a house in another jurisdiction, rent it out, and with the proceeds, pay the rent of the house in which you live. You will still own a house -- if that is what you want -- but it will be several orders of magnitude more difficult to confiscate it from you.

    I totally distrust the ruling elite, and that view is not negotiable. Furthermore, I still need to run into the first person who will defeat me in stubbornly nay saying.
  • 180 Proof
    Agreed - not inconsistent, however, with my previous comment. Btw, same here with property-rental jurisdiction 'shopping'. Left-Libertarian though. "Ruling elites" aren't the problem; the people themselves are their own self-inflicted problem ... to the degree they exchange (surrender) liberty & equality for (elite-creditor) security.
  • alcontali
    Agreed - not inconsistent with my previous comment. Btw, same here with property-rental juridiction 'shopping'. Left-Libertarian though.180 Proof

    The power of the ruling elite ultimately rests on the fact that you trust them, even though you have no reason to do so.

    Their power is generally exercised by broadcasting deceptive and manipulative messages that usually include some kind of fake morality, such as e.g. :

    "Pay lots of taxes to us because that is the right thing to do!"

    Yeah, why exactly?

    The fact that the ruling elite brandish their weapons and wholesale threaten violence is way less of a source of power than generally believed. It is the ability to fabricate morality, which the masses will then believe, that gives them their power.

    It is obvious why the ruling elite may not like religion. It is clear that religion can act as an impediment to fabricating new moralities. It could also assist in doing that, but that depends on the religion. Hence, the religions that the ruling elite dislikes, are always the good ones. There can only be some truth in them.

    So, you need to investigate every arrangement in which you enter and dig up the underlying, implicit assumptions of unwarranted trust that you would extend to the ruling elite. For example, do you trust your savings to the fiat bankstering system? Halt there, because doing that, is wrong. You should never trust the ruling bankstering elite.

    A ruling elite should always be treated with utter distrust, and all their messages should always be investigated thoroughly, in order to find new reasons to totally disbelieve them.
  • 180 Proof
    It is obvious why the ruling elite may not like religion. It is clear that religion can act as an impediment to fabricating new moralities. It could also assist in doing that, but that depends on the religion. Hence, the religions that the ruling elite dislikes, are always the good ones. There can only be some truth in them.alcontali


    < Sample quotes on 'elites & religion' >

    "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful."
    ~Lucius Annaeus Seneca

    "Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet. Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."
    ~Napoleon Bonaparte

    "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

    The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions."

    ~Karl Marx
  • I like sushi
    I am curious what people class as ‘self taught’. If it means they’ve read a couple of philosophical works then I’d call that ‘Not at all’.

    Even if you’re self-taught that means - to me at least - that you’ve actively written about various works and have reasonable grasp of logic, or that you’ve seriously studied philosophical works rather than merely perusing them.
  • csalisbury

    There is no better way to pacify a righteous rage at real injustice than to give it a fake but clear decoy and let it feel falsely empowered through continuously destroying it (cf. ritual, compulsion, the need for a scapegoat to contain rage) - Cynicus of Alexandria

    Cynicus, fake as he is, was only scratching the surface. I think, if he was real, he'd have something to add about religions based around sacrifice and the tonal quality - straight prophets- of those who get drawn to the performative rejection of those religions. As Joanna Newsom says 'what's redacted will repeat.'

  • alcontali
    "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful."
    ~Lucius Annaeus Seneca
    180 Proof

    Seneca was talking about the Roman imperial cult, which was an umbrella of numerous pagan theories, including the Greek pantheon, but of which the truly active element was to believe that the adoptive son of the previous emperor was the son of a god.

    It is a well-known consideration that you should not believe your own lies. That will obviously go wrong.

    Therefore, the youngsters of the ruling elite ("the (future) rulers") were be trained by Greek philosophers ("the wise") to disbelieve that lie, but never to express their disbelief in any way in front of commoners ("the common people"), who were supposed to, and nudged to, believe in the divinity of the emperor.

    Two religions were hated by the Roman imperial elite: Judaism and Christianity. These beliefs were throwing a spanner in the works.

    Judaism was staunchly monotheist and did not allow for any other divinity that the single one they worshipped. Hence, it was subjected to violent reprisals by the Roman elite, who even destroyed their temple. Still, the Romans acquiesced and compromised. They tolerated Judaism, on the condition that the Jews paid a heavy tax, the Fiscus Iudaicus, and that they henceforth refrained -- on a mos maiorum basis -- from converting anybody else to their religion.

    Christianity was possibly even worse. Christians said that the alleged criminal hanging from a cross was the true son of a god, and not that Roman emperor, who was clearly just an impostor. So, they worshipped the man hanging from a cross while refusing to pay tribute to the Roman emperor. In fact, this was the only firmly-enforced rule in early Christianity. The early Christians did not particularly care what else you did, as long as you did not pay tribute to the Roman emperor.

    Lapsi. After the 250 AD Decian Persecution, Cyprian of Carthage held a council sometime after Easter 251 AD, in which Lapsi were classified into five categories:

    • Sacrificati: Those who had actually offered a sacrifice to the idols. Christians that made sacrifices, especially to Roman gods, were only offered absolution on their deathbeds.
    • Thurificati: Those who had burnt incense on the altar before the statues of the gods. From Latin thurificare – "burn incense"
    • Libellatici: Those who had drawn up attestation (libellus), or had, by bribing the authorities, caused such certificates to be drawn up for them, representing them as having offered sacrifice, without, however, having actually done so. A two-year sanction was imposed as penance. From Latin libellus – "little book; letter; certificate"
    • Acta facientes: Those that made false statements or other acts to save their lives. From Latin – "those doing the acts"
    • Traditores: Those who gave up sacred scriptures, artifacts and/or revealed names of fellow Christians. From Latin tradere - "hand over; deliver; betray" (source of the English "traitor”).

    Early Christianity was anti-Statism on steroids.

    Unfortunately, its doctrines were sufficiently malleable for the ruling elite to shoehorn its imperialist principles into it. The very first principle issued under supervision of Constantine the Great was a complicated statement meant to disavow strict monotheism: the Nicaean trinity. Just like the Holy Ghost, the Roman emperor became an aspect of God, instead of a god in his own right. Christianity was simply re-purposed to allow the Roman empire to organize religious persecutions at a level never seen before.

    But then again, at that point, there was no place any longer for a conspiracy between "the wise" and "the rulers" on an atheist basis. There are modern attempts at resuscitating that practice by using atheist scientists to disparage contemporary religion to the youngsters of the ruling elite, but it certainly does not work as well as in antiquity.
  • Pfhorrest
    That is a good point. I was imagining those who would answer “not at all” as being those who feel no confidence in their own philosophical studies while those who answer “self-taught” would be those who had done enough independent reading to feel confidently educated, but Dunning-Kruger would suggest that both states of (un)confidence are probably dubious, and perhaps some of those who would answer “none at all” deserve the title of “self-taught” better than many who would answer “self-taught”.
  • I like sushi
    I put ‘self-taught’. Only because I’ve read in a number of different areas and practiced articulating various ideas in essay form.

    It’s impossible to read everything. I’m not really up on any current philosophers - one or two sparsely, that’s all.

    I never approach ‘philosophy’ with affection.
  • Echarmion

    The issue is that "autodidactic" is not an answer to the question of "how much" education you have. Reading a single book on your own is autodidactic education.

    The structure of the poll also suggests that autodidact is less than "some college classes". Perhaps there should be different categories for "some eclectic reading" and "thorough studies"
  • I like sushi
    I would be interested to see how many works of philosophy people have actually read cover to cover with care whilst taking notes - I don’t include ‘guides’ in this.

    As for myself, not a huge amount ... Plato x3, Aristotle x1, Heidegger x1, Kant x1, Husserl x1, Nietzsche x3, John Stuart Mill x1, Rousseau x1 and a few others I hesitate to call works of philosophy including Camus x1, Schiller x1 and Foucault x1.

    So that makes the total count of books read from cover to cover 12. I actually thought it was less than that and I’m probably forgetting one or two thinner volumes.

    There are about another dozen I have not read from cover to cover; either I got distracted halfway through and/or I bought them more to skim through (and reference) than to sit down and read front to back. Of note, for good and bad, would be Wittgenstein (have read it in fits and starts), various works of Aristotle, Kierkegaard, Descartes, Derrida, Hume and Russell. Most of those I’ve only read the odd essay or chapter of.

    I think that falls into the category of ‘self-taught’. I did attend a class - wasn’t at all interesting to me at the time - on existentialism when I was 17 or 18. I naively expected the class to involve lively discussion and people to express their ideas and views. It was incredibly stale and I’d probably feel fairly similar about the class today if I attended it due to the manner it was advertised.

    Anyway, I read these things because I thought it would be stimulating. In some cases it has been. Kant was a turning point for me as was Heidegger. With Kant I couldn’t believe something could hold such a complex investigation in their head let alone express such a complex question with such precision - toughest read of my life by far (I remember picking up Dickens after finishing CoPR and it felt like I was reading a comic book!). Heidegger’s Being and Time struck me because I was shocked that anyone could regard such obvious sophistry as ‘philosophy’ and it quickly made me realise that what I had been thinking, and considering writing, was hardly obtuse compared to imprecision and evasion Heidegger uses - not that I didn’t find any it worthwhile: I certainly did.

    Of all I would say Nietzsche and Husserl are the most valuable to me - maybe because they are modern? I’ve looked ag some contemporary stuff from time to time but find it either superficial or obscure (I’m not going to pretend I‘ve looked that hard at contemporary works though!)

    Given what I’ve laid out above - and to add I’m interested in aesthetics, ethics, psychology, neuroscience and anthropology - could anyone suggest a contemporary philosopher I might find of interest across these areas? May as well ask after that little biographical account! :D
  • I like sushi
    Anyone can read words in a book. I wouldn’t call all reading ‘education’. If you want proof ask someone if they’ve read an article recently and then ask them what it was about - many people take in gist meanings rather than analysing what they are reading with any kind of rigor (of course interest makes a big difference, but even then some will read a chapter then ask themselves wtf did I just read? I know I’ve done this. The difference is being willing to go back and reread chapters rather than pushing forward - good luck to anyone trying to tackle Kant without almost constantly referring back to previous chapters/pages!
  • uncanni
    Been reading philosophy since my teens, got a PhD in humanities with a minor in Critical & Cultural Theory, most of which I read on my own, not in classes.
  • god must be atheist
    Anyone can read words in a bookI like sushi

    Not quite. I can't.

    I can read a 10 page article, if.

    Most books are padded to the max, and i have no patience of waddling through the chaff to get to the pearl.

    I found Plato's Republic refreshingly modern, readable, and lively, and yet that was too much, too long, for me as well. I guess for most students of philosophy in first year classes that is the norm. But the book, listen to the prof, not read the book, and write a C- essay for a term paper. Except mine were A+. (At the risk of sounding boastful.)
  • alcontali
    I would be interested to see how many works of philosophy people have actually read cover to cover with care whilst taking notes - I don’t include ‘guides’ in this.I like sushi

    I have found Nassim Nicholas Taleb's Incerto series of books a really good read: "Black swan", "Antifragile", "Fooled by randomness", "Skin in the game", ... I have also read many of his blog posts. His focus is on epistemology, i.e. the question, "What is knowledge?", always centred around, and starting from the question of how we deal with randomness.
  • iolo
    I found the list of possibilities given didn't fit me at all. As I think I said before, my English teacher quoted Aristotle (I think he said) to the effect that philosophy was a study for old men, and all I read suggested it was a fairly tedious study in linguistics. As part of my degree I had to take a paper called 'English Moralists', and I had a deep dislike of both groups, though, in fairness, the persons studied tended to be neither. I hold a Degree as a Doctor of \Philosophy, however, which has always seemed to me bizarre!
  • deletedmemberMD
    The Masters is actually in Ethics but it’s still a branch of philosophy so totally counts.
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