• Pfhorrest
    395
    I thought a fun discussion-starter, especially for people new to philosophy who haven’t yet seen the full range of questions that it investigates, would be to pose the series of questions that my philosophy book, which is intended to address all of philosophy, attempts to answer, and so to see what other people’s complete philosophical systems look like. Alternatively, if you like, give the answers you think your favorite philosophical figure would give.


    EDIT TO CLARIFY: I don’t mean so much for us all to go through the questions one by one together and try to agree on a philosophical system. I’m just interested in hearing what other individual people’s complete philosophical systems are, phrased as answers to the same set of questions for comparison.

    But I’m not so much asking for people to each put together a coherent systematic philosophy, as I am just wondering what people’s present answers (however un-thought-out they may be) to this range of questions are. I’m just looking for a brief summary answer on each question, though feel free to write more, and feel free to just take a short blind stab at any answer too.

    For all of these questions, if I’m asking “what is...” whatever and you think there is no whatever, “nothing” is an acceptable answer. Otherwise I’d have to double the questions by first asking “is there any...” and then “what is...”.

    This is both just out of curiosity to see how answers to one question relate to answers to others, and as kind of a learning exercise or guided meditation opportunity (so to speak) for those who maybe haven’t considered all of these questions, a chance for them to think about how answers to one question should relate to answers to others.


    The questions:


    Metaphilosophy

    The Meaning of Philosophy
    What defines philosophy and demarcates it from other fields?

    The Objects of Philosophy
    What is philosophy aiming for, by what criteria would we judge success or at least progress in philosophical endeavors?

    The Method of Philosophy
    How is philosophy to be done?

    The Subjects of Philosophy
    What are the faculties that enable someone to do philosophy, to be a philosopher?

    The Institutes of Philosophy
    Who is to do philosophy and how should they relate to each other and others, socially speaking?

    The Importance of Philosophy
    Why do philosophy in the first place, what does it matter?


    Philosophy of Knowledge and Reality

    The Meaning of Reality
    What do descriptive claims, that attempt to say what is real, even mean?

    Bonus question:
    What do mathematical claims, about numbers and geometric shapes and such, mean, and how do they relate to descriptive claims about reaity?

    The Objects of Reality
    What are the criteria by which to judge descriptive claims, or what is it that makes something real?

    The Methods of Knowledge
    How are we to apply those criteria and decide on what to believe, what descriptive claims to agree with?

    The Subjects of Reality
    What is the nature of the mind, inasmuch as that means the capacity for believing and making such judgements about what to believe?

    The Institutes of Knowledge
    What is the proper educational system, or who should be making those descriptive judgements and how should they relate to each other and others, socially speaking?

    Bonus question: How do we get people to care about education and knowledge and reality to begin with?

    The Importance of Knowledge
    Why does is matter what is real or not, true or false, in the first place?


    Philosophy of Justice and Morality

    The Meaning of Morality
    What do prescriptive claims, that attempt to say what is moral, even mean?

    Bonus question: What do aesthetic claims, about beauty and comedy and tragedy and such, mean, and how do they relate to prescriptive claims about morality?

    The Objects of Morality
    What are the criteria by which to judge prescriptive claims, or what makes something moral?

    The Methods of Justice
    How are we to apply those criteria and decide on what to intend, what prescriptive claims to agree with?

    The Subjects of Morality
    What is the nature of the will, inasmuch as that means the capacity for intending and making such judgements about what to intend?

    The Institutes of Justice
    What is the proper governmental system, or who should be making those prescriptive judgements and how should they relate to each other and others, socially speaking?

    Bonus question: How do we get people to care about governance and justice and morality to begin with?

    The Importance of Justice
    Why does is matter what is moral or not, good or bad, in the first place?


    Bonus question:
    What is the meaning of life?
  • 180 Proof
    369
    :yikes: LOL
  • Wallows
    9.2k
    Have you read Wittgenstein by any chance, Forrest? He really expunged the futility in trying to create a methodology in philosophy.
  • Pfhorrest
    395
    Would you like to do a summary of Wittgenstein’s answers to these questions for everyone’s edification? I’m not sure I’ve actually read much of him; I feel like there must have been some excerpts at least somewhere in some class but I can’t really place anything particular and I don’t feel like I have more than a passing familiarity with him.
  • Wallows
    9.2k


    I wish I could do that for you and for the field of philosophy. Give his Philosophical Investigations a try.
  • Wallows
    9.2k
    We actually have a reading group here of his Tractatus and Investigations. Underappreciated content on this website.
  • I like sushi
    1.6k
    Great to see our ideas set out like that. I imagine there’s a library of footnotes in your head too!

    I’ll be looking it over more closely when I get a chance. I think we can possibly assist each other with something that may be of common interest. :D
  • praxis
    1.7k


    I’m from Ojai, California

    That says it all. :razz: just kidding, I live in the same county.
  • Artemis
    1.5k


    This is an intriguing list, Pfhorrest, but holy cow, man. Each one of those questions deserves a book-long (at least) answer!


    expunged the futility in trying to create a methodology in philosophy.Wallows

    I don't understand this sentence.
  • Wallows
    9.2k
    I don't understand this sentence.Artemis

    Wittgenstein showed that philosophy, yes in it's entirety, consists in language on being on holiday. And that's it really. It supposedly ends in quietism.
  • Artemis
    1.5k


    Okay, I get it now. I think you either don't mean expunge or futility in that case.

    Anywho, Wittgenstein had some okay ideas, but I think some of it comes down to word-play and an almost religiously-faith-based adherence to him and only him.
  • Pfhorrest
    395
    I’m sure books could be and have been written on each, but I’m just looking for a brief summary answer on each, not even whole essays like I’m working on.

    Your comments only reinforce the superficial impression I already had of Wittgenstein that he’s one of those “shut up and just run with my unspoken assumptions as the natural default instead of making up a bunch of different stuff I don’t agree with” types. Like capitalists are regarding property rights. Mostly that impression comes from a quote about the proper method of philosophy being to speak only the propositions of the natural sciences... but Witty, what makes something a natural science or not, what do their propositions mean, how can we judge them, etc... also you’re telling me to do something, pretty sure imperatives are not propositions of natural sciences, how do I decide whether to obey such commands or not, etc... You can be a hardcore physicalist (as I am) and not tell everyone to shut up about all philosophy.
  • Wallows
    9.2k


    No, it's his life that amazes me more than his philosophy...
  • Wallows
    9.2k
    He makes Faust look like a peon.
  • Wallows
    9.2k
    Anywho, Wittgenstein had some okay ideas, but I think some of it comes down to word-play and an almost religiously-faith-based adherence to him and only him.Artemis

    I don't know. It's something that deeply connected with me. I was going through a mental breakdown and was pulling on the carpet I was standing on. I felt so lost, and it's like Wittgenstein found me. I don't know how to compare it to, maybe something like winning the lottery or something like that?
  • Wallows
    9.2k
    Here's John Maynard Keynes, whom as a pseudo-economist I almost entirely adhere to:

    God has arrived. I met him on the 5.15 train. — Keynes

    It was that kind of effect he had on people.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    The Importance of Philosophy
    Why do philosophy in the first place, what does it matter?
    Pfhorrest

    The philosophy that is most important is the effort we make to situate ourselves in the world, and judge whether where we are is good or not. some people do not think about these questions, because their questions have been answered by their other-worldly or their temporal ruler, or because they prefer not to think about such matters. Somebody has to get out and till the corn so that there will be food on the table. Be grateful that the corn was hoed.

    Somebody has been thinking about these questions beginning perhaps 300,000 years ago. There is no accumulation of insight, because each person in each generation who asks these questions must find his or her own answers.

    Now in the 21st Century, we are still asking these kinds of questions. Perhaps we are able to use more sophisticated language (or not) but the need to situate ourselves in our time and place is no less or more important. The answer does not usually come to us swiftly. We can spend decades rolling the question around in our heads without much result.
  • A Seagull
    68

    First off congratulations on putting together a comprehensive yet concise philosophy in your Codex Q. It is no easy task to achieve that and no doubt took a lot of time, energy and commitment.

    So I am happy to discuss philosophy with you, and there is no better place to start than metaphilosophy.

    Any and every philosophy is a paradigm. A well functioning philosophy will consist of a collection of self-consistent ideas and perhaps methods that attempt and perhaps succeed in describing the world. But there are more ways than one of putting a philosophy together. A philosophy cannot be constructed without making assumptions and every assumption defines a paradigm.

    Do you agree?
  • Banno
    6.4k
    Wittgenstein had some okay ideas, but I think some of it comes down to word-playArtemis

    Exactly wrong. That's what he throws out.
  • Yanni
    5
    every assumption defines a paradigm

    Interesting, just seeking elaboration on this?
    In what manner does the assumption define a paradigm?
    Do you mean that the process of justifying an assumption in particular defines it as a paradigm?
  • Pfhorrest
    395
    I think perhaps he just means that a paradigm is defined by its unspoken assumptions, which is the way Kuhn coined the term. In which case yeah I pretty much agree with that definition of a paradigm.

    To clarify my intent with this thread though, I didn’t mean so much for us all to go through the questions one by one together and try to agree on a philosophical system. I’m just interested in hearing what other individual people’s complete philosophical systems are, phrased as answers to the same set of questions for comparison.
  • Moliere
    1.7k
    I have no such system.

    Also, I'm not so sure that I'm even trying to build one.

    There are a handful of questions I enjoy exploring. I especially enjoy going through ideas and thoughts with others insofar that I feel I can progress the dialogue.

    Somewhere along the way philosophy seemed unfinished and boundless.

    The attraction to systems diminished with that impression -- which is not to eschew systematic thinking, per se, but to be less concerned with the coherent end-product of a system of propositions.
  • A Seagull
    68

    What I mean is that:

    Philosophy requires assumptions, otherwise it goes nowhere.

    An assumption does not need justification, indeed justification itself requires assumptions.

    An assumption is like an axiom, it is true within the system for which it is an axiom/assumption. hence each assumption creates a different system or paradigm. Though this is not to say that one system cannot have many assumptions or axioms.
    One can then explore that system to see what implications it has and whether they tally with one's experience of the world.

    Too much of what passes for philosophy makes implicit, as opposed to explicit, assumptions. It then proceeds to explore that system in the mistaken belief that that system is objectively 'true' rather than merely a paradigm that is founded on assumptions.
  • Wayfarer
    8.7k
    really excellent post, and you ought to be teaching the subject.

    Me, I'm sixties person. Philosophy started for me with the Summer of Love and Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band. I would have been 15 when that came out. I became fascinated by the idea of enlightenment. At the time, if you'd asked me, I wouldn't have understood anything about either philosophy or religion, but I felt this reality as a burning fact, as the most important thing anyone could understand. I was baffled that so few people seemed to get that.

    So to me, the paradigmatic philosopher in my early formation was 'the Sage', who generally tended to be Hindu, later Buddhist. The point about The Sage, was to awaken you to the true nature of your being, which was something beyond all age, care, stress, anxiety, death or change. Really, the sage said, it wasn't difficult: just had to ask the question 'Who am I?'and the rest would follow.

    But in my case, that question 'Who am I?' seem to have a different answer to the Sage. I took the question to heart, but I had to somehow make a living, be someone, and the rest. Plus deal with a lot of untidy and probably unwholesome habits and tendencies as a middle-class person. Nevertheless, something about what The Sage said rang true, in fact I retained the view that it was an ultimate truth. But I learned quickly that the cost of failing to make it as a sage amounts to drudgery.

    So when I did enrol in university, having failed to become or a sage (or a guitar hero which would have been just as good) in my own right, I set out to follow the footprints of enlightenment through any of the disciplines in which they might be found. Philosophy was one (along with anthropology, history and psychology) but ultimately I found more of a home in comparative religion (emphatically NOT "divinity".)

    That might have been the end of the story, but in mid-life I had a minor epiphany which revolved around the reality of number (epiphanies are always instantaneous and transient, by the way - like the glimpse of a distant vista in lightning.) The basic intuition was that numbers are real, but they are neither transient nor compound; they're not made from parts (later I realised this was only true of primes) and they don't come into or go out of existence. Ergo, they're real on a different level to things/particulars/material phenomena. That was my realisation of one of the fundamental truths of Platonism, and led me to understand that there are indeed levels or modes of being, which is precisely what, I maintain, modern philosophy had rubbed out, so as to arrive at the 'one-dimensional man' or 'flatland' of scientific materialism, with its abundance of fact and absolute absence of meaning.

    So those are the fertile plains which I have since been tilling.
  • Artemis
    1.5k
    Exactly wrong. That's what he throws out.Banno

    That's what he claims to throw out. Irony at its best.
  • Marchesk
    2.9k
    Wittgenstein showed that philosophy, yes in it's entirety, consists in language on being on holiday. And that's it really. It supposedly ends in quietism.Wallows

    He argued for that. But to what he extent he "showed" that to be true is another matter. There isn't consensus among philosophers that he was correct. Some agree and others have not. I don't believe what he argued rises to the level of proof. So it comes down to whether Witty's arguments make one's metaphysical itch go away.
  • Wallows
    9.2k
    That might have been the end of the story, but in mid-life I had a minor epiphany which revolved around the reality of number (epiphanies are always instantaneous and transient, by the way - like the glimpse of a distant vista in lightning.) The basic intuition was that numbers are real, but they are neither transient nor compound; they're not made from parts (later I realised this was only true of primes) and they don't come into or go out of existence. Ergo, they're real on a different level to things/particulars/material phenomena. That was my realisation of one of the fundamental truths of Platonism, and led me to understand that there are indeed levels or modes of being, which is precisely what, I maintain, modern philosophy had rubbed out, so as to arrive at the 'one-dimensional man' or 'flatland' of scientific materialism, with its abundance of fact and absolute absence of meaning.Wayfarer

    One of the critiques of Platonic idealism that I haven't seen is what is sustaining these entities in some dimension? Is it their function or are they exempt from thermodynamical laws? Or in even other words, is there any intersectionality between the higher realms, and their abstractions, and the lower realms, a la Max Tegmark?

    EDIT: Sorry to hijack a thread, but I don't think this deserves a new thread, or I may be wrong?
  • Wallows
    9.2k
    He argued for that. But to what he extent he "showed" that to be true is another matter. There isn't consensus among philosophers that he was correct. Some agree and others have not. I don't believe what he argued rises to the level of proof. So it comes down to whether Witty's arguments make one's metaphysical itch go away.Marchesk

    In regards to the underlined. Well, we can't really say there is a consensus on an issue that would leave nothing more to consent over?
  • praxis
    1.7k
    modern philosophy had rubbed out, so as to arrive at the 'one-dimensional man' or 'flatland' of scientific materialism, with its abundance of fact and absolute absence of meaning.Wayfarer

    We are all utterly saturated in meaning. Some just can't see it.
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