• schopenhauer1
    7.5k
    Forums are public, often immediate, and open for any member to criticize any other member's posts. Philosophy scholars get the luxury of ivory towers and months to prepare counter-arguments. They are moving at a snails pace. Forums are much quicker. Many posters are coming at you from all angles, often hoping for an immediate reply and ready rebuttal. This forum in a way is more democratic. I wonder how a Wittgenstein or a Plato or any notable philosopher of history would do on a regular forum like this. Unfortunately, we lose preciseness, structure, and depth in a forum setting. That is just the nature of how it works. However, even though I think notable philosophers would have some brilliant posts, they too would befall prey to the worst parts of participating in such a democratic, often hostile public setting, where their arguments are subject to a multitude of objections and if arguing in good faith, would have to counter all of them, sometimes at once.

    It seems philosophers can build a reputation because their pace is slower- they don't have to necessarily answer rebuttals. If they do, they can build large cases with intricate logic over a period of many months and years. They can compile various citations from past/present philosophers on their topic because they have much more time. I liken this to a game of slow chess at a snails pace. Not only that, but they get to answer each rebuttal (if they so choose) one at a time, and pick out who they might write a response to. They get to build cases debate well-known colleagues that they may be already acquainted with and have studied already.

    However, take them out of that element and into a public sphere where they are getting bombarded from all directions with rebuttals, and it may be that they quickly devolve as well in terms of quality, and perhaps even reputation. They might have brilliant posts. Or perhaps, they would be just a pretty good poster. Maybe they would even devolve into a common troll. In other words, a forum would be liken to fast chess. A slow chess player who is very good at his brand might do miserably at a fast chess environment. In the "fast chess" environment of the internet forum, they must offer defenses with as much precision as possible to many more people than they are used to in a timely, real-time manner. Would philosophers gain such reputation if put in a setting like a forum?
  • NOS4A2
    6.2k


    The benefit of a forum for a philosopher is the immediate criticism. One can gauge from what angles his own ideas can be attacked and work to strengthen those areas of his philosophy and principles, or even abandon them altogether. I suspect that serious philosophers would enjoy such an opportunity no matter the reputation he is given.
  • ssu
    6.3k
    Would philosophers gain such reputation if put in a setting like a forum?schopenhauer1
    Does anybody gain reputation on a forum like this? I mean a reputation in philosophy.

    Perhaps concise and witty responses are favored and also those educational ones that truly help people to understand issues they are asking about, but that reputation here goes just so far. The first issue is of course the anonymity of the site. If we wouldn't be anonymous here and everybody would not only have to write on their own name, but also give their profession and degrees here, that would have an impact on the discussion at least a little bit.

    And the second obvious issue is that there are only a few people here. If the philosopher would only interact with his or her ideas on this Forum, how would the World know of him?

    Now I wouldn't want to overemphasize the social aspect in philosophy, but a Kuhn does make a point in highlighting the role of the consensus in the scientific community, the paradigm. And as humans we cannot avoid the ways how communities behave. Hence what we consider an 'important philosopher' is typically someone who the philosophic-scientific community respects as being a series important thinker in his or her field of study. And those are the one's that get their writings published in peer reviewed publications. That's how it goes. Publish or perish.

    Unfortunately, we lose preciseness, structure, and depth in a forum setting. That is just the nature of how it works. However, even though I think notable philosophers would have some brilliant posts, they too would befall prey to the worst parts of participating in such a democratic, often hostile public setting, where their arguments are subject to a multitude of objections and if arguing in good faith, would have to counter all of them, sometimes at once.schopenhauer1
    They likely fell to similar responses in their time. It's only when the later generations respect the philosopher. I think it's highly coincidental that someone is put on a pedestal and treated as an important philosopher. What isn't so random is that schools of philosophy emerge in an distinct period of time.

    How much would we know about Socrates without Plato? How much would we know about Greek philosophy if the Persians would have destroyed all Greek cities and communities and replaced the people in Greece with some other people and hence utterly annihilated Greek culture? Yet a philosophical school interested in math and logic and creating a basis for proto-science is something that likely would have happened sooner or later even without Socrates et al.
  • Pfhorrest
    4.6k
    When studying philosophy in college, it was emphasized that reading, writing, lecture, and discussion all serve their own distinct purposes for honing one's philosophical skills. The dichotomy you are talking about here sounds like that between writing and discussion, where writing lets you structure and compose your thoughts in slow, methodical detail, but discussion requires you to think on your toes and be quick and concise. The two reinforce each other: having written about something prepares you better to discuss it, and having discussed something prepares you better for writing about it. Ancient philosophers didn't have internet forums, but they had the meatspace equivalent of them in philosophy discussion groups.

    Lecture and reading are likewise complementary. Lecture gives you breadth, and offers immediate if non-comprehensive feedback when you have questions without having to go digging for answers yourself. Reading on the other hand gives you depth on a narrower subject, but without the interactivity of a lecture, making it harder to figure something out if you don't just understand it right away.

    That's why philosophy classes are often structured such that you read some passages from primary sources in advance of a lecture about that topic, then write about the topic in advance of a discussion group about it. Reading, lecture, writing, discussion, 'round and 'round, filling out your breadth and depth of philosophical knowledge and establishing a well-grounded but agile footing for your own philosophical thought.

    (In martial arts there is also a similar emphasis on the complementary practices of slow and fast workouts, practicing the same techniques slowly so that you ingrain all the fine details of the movement better into muscle memory, and then practicing them as fast as possible so that you can actually use them quickly when the time comes that you need to).
  • schopenhauer1
    7.5k
    That's why philosophy classes are often structured such that you read some passages from primary sources in advance of a lecture about that topic, then write about the topic in advance of a discussion group about it. Reading, lecture, writing, discussion, 'round and 'round, filling out your breadth and depth of philosophical knowledge and establishing a well-grounded but agile footing for your own philosophical thought.Pfhorrest

    An interesting thought from this is I guess, how well tested are these philosophers that have famous works? All these criticisms and a lot of times its just other people trying to interpret and defend the originals' ideas. But what of the original writer? They perhaps never put themselves to the scrutiny that all of us in a forum must do when writing in this kind of public platform. How much are they open for defenses? I see more writing and lectures than I do debates. Even if there are debates, it is between one or two others or a small cadre, not an open forum. Again, I think the analogy is apt for "slow chess" and "fast chess" here.
  • schopenhauer1
    7.5k
    They likely fell to similar responses in their time. It's only when the later generations respect the philosopher. I think it's highly coincidental that someone is put on a pedestal and treated as an important philosopher. What isn't so random is that schools of philosophy emerge in an distinct period of time.

    How much would we know about Socrates without Plato? How much would we know about Greek philosophy if the Persians would have destroyed all Greek cities and communities and replaced the people in Greece with some other people and hence utterly annihilated Greek culture? Yet a philosophical school interested in math and logic and creating a basis for proto-science is something that likely would have happened sooner or later even without Socrates et al.
    ssu

    Yes similar point as above.. Doesn't it seem like a lot of times the original writers of these philosophies don't actually have as many opportunities for scrutiny that a public forum would provide? It seems they can write something give some lectures, have a friendly debate amongst colleagues and call it a day. Let the students and the others interpret and debate.. What if a Wittgenstein had to defend his work in a public forum?
  • ssu
    6.3k
    It's the thing we call the 'Ivory Tower'. Too many times science becomes a group of people referring each other and applying for various research money projects. Science as a job makes it quite bureaucratic. And once you get that academic position until retirement...

    But on the other hand today it's very easy if you let's say have a totally new idea to contact people with similar ideas. Assume you have a radical insight or new approach to something in philosophy. Now if there is absolutely nobody touching similar issues at all, then likely you are simply put it, crazy. But otherwise with search engines you will find in no time people who have similar ideas to you. And if you are truly ahead of your time, then likely those others that have similar ideas will be glad to hear from you too.
  • schopenhauer1
    7.5k
    But on the other hand today it's very easy if you let's say have a totally new idea to contact people with similar ideas. Assume you have a radical insight or new approach to something in philosophy. Now if there is absolutely nobody touching similar issues at all, then likely you are simply put it, crazy. But otherwise with search engines you will find in no time people who have similar ideas to you. And if you are truly ahead of your time, then likely those others that have similar ideas will be glad to hear from you too.ssu

    Yes but let's focus on the scrutiny aspect- are the ivory tower academics getting their fair dose of scrutiny? Let us say that in a public philosophy forum on the internet, there are 20% very well-read, intelligent posters, 30% not well-read but are able to pick apart an argument and 50% rabble. Even with those 50% the well-read or adjacent, the scrutiny of the academic gets is always filtered through various levels of publications and/or inter-office emails perhaps from colleagues. Never, is he putting his theories into full scrutiny by all possible types of people. Nor does he have to think on his feet in these scrutinies. Rather he can answer a long essay with another long essay.. But there could be so much ore to scrutinize that he has not even been made aware of.. Meanwhile people on here are scrutinizing the shit out of everyone else's philosophy. It's a whole other ballgame.. Let me ask you, would academic philosophers want to put themselves into this much scrutiny? Instead of writing a book and letting others defend it THEY would have to defend all points themselves from any direction from any angle.
  • Pfhorrest
    4.6k
    Instead of writing a book and letting others defend it THEY would have to defend all points themselves from any direction from any angle.schopenhauer1

    You know that the peer review process of publishing is exactly the author of a paper having to defend it against criticism from other people, right? It is a limited board of highly-educated other people (hence "peers"), not the general public, but still it's not a matter of just writing something and then walking away and letting others defend it for you. You have to defend it yourself, to at least the gatekeepers of the journal you want to publish in, otherwise you don't get published.
  • schopenhauer1
    7.5k

    Not good enough.. I want them getting pelted from intelligent posters from all angles.. just like we do to each other here :D.

    Edit: Also, I am saying I think they may not do a great job of the "fast chess" of this kind of forum. You have to think on your feet if you want to answer timely and not weeks or months at a time.
  • deletedmemberMD
    590
    Thought provoking post I have to say.

    Personally; I have found that this community is where I have done the most growth and that the battleground is able to produce impressive mental feats from all sides. Scholars are scholars. We are more like warrior monks here hahaha all engaged in the noble art of debate, where mental feats and good arguments from all sides contribute to a level of respect amongst us all.

    Almost makes you wonder where the world might be if these philosophical forums were government influencing think tanks with strong anti corruption mechanisms.. Which probably rules me out as a member, as I'm the power hungry fool drooling over the prospect of this right now!
  • deletedmemberMD
    590
    So to stay on OP, I think that past philosophers would struggle in this venue but that it would truly separate the wheat from the Chaffe and some would adapt and each time struck down would rise more powerful than ever; just like Obi Wan Kenobi, wiser each time. Except for the original actor, who hated the franchise. Hes a bawhair.
  • schopenhauer1
    7.5k
    So to stay on OP, I think that past philosophers would struggle in this venue but that it would truly separate the wheat from the Chaffe and some would adapt and each time struck down would rise more powerful than ever; just like Obi Wan Kenobi, wiser each time. Except for the original actor, who hated the franchise. Hes a bawhair.Mark Dennis

    Yeah, I just find it interesting that we get to read philosophers' "great works" but then have no chance to put them through the scrutiny. They get a pass because they wrote a tome and it provided significance for people who read. But you rarely hear about them constantly having to defend rebuttals. Yet the average person on a philosophy forum has to do this all the time.
  • god must be atheist
    4.6k
    The benefit of a forum for a philosopher is the immediate criticism. One can gauge from what angles his own ideas can be attacked and work to strengthen those areas of his philosophy and principles, or even abandon them altogether. I suspect that serious philosophers would enjoy such an opportunity no matter the reputation he is given.NOS4A2

    A lot of my philosophy, or arguments, if not all, are ignored. When people face an argument they can't face, but they are still in love with their pet theories, then they ignore dissent.

    Socrates, Aristotle, Voltarschmagurchakofski, Sartre, and literally every major philosopher we studied, liked or hated, would get completely ignored, and we'd still gather around and ponder such imponderables as the hard problem of morality, the hard problem of existence, the hard problem of determinism, the hard problem of the self, and the hard problem of the hard problem.
  • god must be atheist
    4.6k
    You know that the peer review process of publishing is exactly the author of a paper having to defend it against criticism from other people, right? It is a limited board of highly-educated other people (hence "peers"), not the general public, but still it's not a matter of just writing something and then walking away and letting others defend it for you. You have to defend it yourself, to at least the gatekeepers of the journal you want to publish in, otherwise you don't get published.Pfhorrest

    My understanding is that for every philosopher whom we study at great detail and pain in educational institutions, there is a great number (please don't force me to say what that number is; I haven't counted them) of philosophers who were ignored in their lifetime, and by posterity, because they did not pass the peer review if I may call it that. Such philosophers may have been Janoska Laszlo, Graf Otto von Urbanek, Denise Harris, Phyrne Parker, Selwyn Firth and many others. Not to mention Laszlo Gyura, Janos von Hunyadi, and Socrates -- Kostas Socrates, not the other one.
  • alcontali
    1.3k
    I wonder how a Wittgenstein or a Plato or any notable philosopher of history would do on a regular forum like this.schopenhauer1

    You can look at how things are going for contemporary philosophy stars like Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who is a grandee in the epistemology of randomness. He is doing absolutely fine and has a large following on his subreddit, his twitter account, and his medium blog.

    The cream will always rise to the top.
    The dross will always sink to the bottom.

    Technology does not change any of that.

    By the way, people who merely read philosophy are not philosophers. Someone with a degree in philosophy is not a philosopher. You need to make meaningful, original publications for that. Plato did not have a degree in philosophy. At best, his students did (by learning from Plato).
  • deletedmemberMD
    590
    A lot of my philosophy, or arguments, if not all, are ignored. When people face an argument they can't face, but they are still in love with their pet theories, then they ignore dissentgod must be atheist

    While this is one of the reasons people ignore others; it isnt the only reason someone can find themselves ignored. I often find that my rebuttals draw begrudging silent acceptance, telling of inward accepting of the argument but the lack of willingness to just say so for a myriad of reasons. Pride being one I think. It's a shame really as I choose to get happy when people genuinely make me speechless in a way that shows they are onto something. Nothing is ever perfect though.
  • Possibility
    2.7k
    A lot of my philosophy, or arguments, if not all, are ignored. When people face an argument they can't face, but they are still in love with their pet theories, then they ignore dissent
    — god must be atheist

    While this is one of the reasons people ignore others; it isnt the only reason someone can find themselves ignored. I often find that my rebuttals draw begrudging silent acceptance, telling of inward accepting of the argument but the lack of willingness to just say so for a myriad of reasons. Pride being one I think. It's a shame really as I choose to get happy when people genuinely make me speechless in a way that shows they are onto something. Nothing is ever perfect though.
    Mark Dennis

    I think there are also those who have gone silent because they are genuinely reading up on what they are struggling to understand. There are some here who have the humility to say ‘I will have to do some more reading on that subject/theory/philosopher’, and I greatly admire that. It’s difficult to admit that in the face of someone who believes they are engaged in a debate instead of a philosophical discussion.

    I want to say that each contributor to this thread so far have contributed to my learning process since I’ve been here. I haven’t always engaged with you, and I haven’t always engaged well, but following your discussions have lead me down many paths, and helped me to articulate, critically examine and revise my theories. So thank you.

    As for the OP, I think engaging with posters here enables you to structure both the academic and applicable aspects of a philosophy, which I don’t imagine would happen as much in a purely academic environment. It’s certainly a challenge for those philosophies that are built on one or the other, and I think the particular environments of some past philosophers may have protected their theories in this way, to some extent.
  • deletedusercb
    1.7k
    Any response is speculative, but they would likely stand out for their brilliance, regardless. This would likely not be acknowledged by some or many of the other posters, but for some posters here would recognize people with both unique minds and extremely interesting responses. They would likely carefully respond to those points made that they were claiming to be rebutting. And this would set them apart from weak posters.
  • deletedmemberMD
    590
    I think there are also those who have gone silent because they are genuinely reading up on what they are struggling to understand. There are some here who have the humility to say ‘I will have to do some more reading on that subject/theory/philosopher’, and I greatly admire that. It’s difficult to admit that in the face of someone who believes they are engaged in a debate instead of a philosophical discussion.

    I want to say that each contributor to this thread so far have contributed to my learning process since I’ve been here. I haven’t always engaged with you, and I haven’t always engaged well, but following your discussions have lead me down many paths, and helped me to articulate, critically examine and revise my theories. So thank you.

    As for the OP, I think engaging with posters here enables you to structure both the academic and applicable aspects of a philosophy, which I don’t imagine would happen as much in a purely academic environment. It’s certainly a challenge for those philosophies that are built on one or the other, and I think the particular environments of some past philosophers may have protected their theories in this way, to some extent.
    Possibility

    Personally I have always found your contributions and responses refreshing and often find myself wishing you'd reply more.

    I'm glad some people make a point to research what people say here and that I'm not the only one.

    I try to make a habit of using keywords in all my writings so that research is a little easier and I try to use an approach I've adopted through my early life interests in the hard sciences over the humanities; wherein you mention concepts more than the people associated with them. You'll notice that in a lot of physics material names and references to lots of other researchers aren't really used anywhere close to the level citations are used in philosophy and they are structured very differently when they are used. It's concept focussed which I feel is the best method to use for discussion either on a 1 to 1 or group. So long as everyone remembers to include and write formal philosophy citations and references in their formal work its all good. However my advice on this front is to write whatever it is you are writing first in the hard science method and then add your quotes, references and citations.

    This way you can just write a regular flow in the first draft which will keep your positions more likely to be consistent. Then you add in the who's from what book where they are needed as you read back the first draft.

    Personally, I've always preferred concept keywords as my frames of reference but I also feel that the hard sciences doesn't cite or reference people enough. Makes it hard to account for bias in the opinions about hard scientific research in the researcher themselves.
  • Possibility
    2.7k
    I think the difference between philosophical concepts and physics concepts, is that physics concepts are objectively defined: in most cases there is a consensus that extends beyond human experience. We can define ‘energy’ in a way that is inclusive of how an amoeba, a tree or a piece of paper responds to what the concept refers to. But can we do the same with ‘pain’?

    I’m not an academic - it’s been more than 15 years since I’ve written anything that requires citations, formal or otherwise, and I’ve not formally studied science since high school. There are many discussions here where I feel ill-equipped to contribute in a way that would be taken seriously. Sometimes I do anyway, and occasionally my post is ignored. I try not to assume the reason for this. I recognise that I’m relatively new to philosophy, and my ability to frame my position in relation to established theory is limited. I also realise that I should be structuring my arguments more formally, but to be honest, I’m too far out of practise to even know where to begin.

    In that respect, @Baden’s advice on ‘How to Write an OP’ was excellent, and much appreciated.

    I wonder sometimes if some of the academics here could offer more of their expertise in this regard - if there was a place where we could ask for (or they could compassionately offer) tips and advice in structuring arguments and positions, and it would be quite separate from any opinion or position (academic or otherwise) on the topic or content itself. Perhaps a section where discussion or debate was secondary to the learning process, where the many non-academics on this forum could be students without being subject to condescension. As much as I’d like to, I’m not yet in a position to go back to formal study, so this is my university for the time being...
  • deletedmemberMD
    590
    That's all fair enough! I'll compile all the free learning resources I know for you. In the meantime @Pantagruel has an amazing Reading list he can share with you on Goodreads which I have been through and out of the few I have read before or heard of its diverse and extensive with some really engaging subjects to pick from.

    Can you tell me where in the world you are from? I could recommend some local philosophers of historical significance if I know any from there.

    You are understandable so that is a good starting structure and foundation for you to have already.

    For structure, other than Badens thread; studies in logic are helpful and I cannot recommend giving Cohen's preface to logic enough early on studies in logic.

    Don't worry about pure formality here. Focus on concept keywords and your familiarity with the concepts themselves and over time and multiple arguments you'll familiarise yourself through repetition the who's, where's and when's.

    I think moderators here are trying to cultivate a lenient learning environment and you make a lot of effort to speak rarely, speak well, humbly and clearly as well as honestly and you arent lazy with how much you write in one comment either. You're pretty courteous also.

    I'll open up a thread soon asking for people to contribute toward free learning materials too. Restore a little balance in equal access to education where we can even if it's informal.
  • Possibility
    2.7k
    Can you tell me where in the world you are from? I could recommend some local philosophers of historical significance if I know any from there.Mark Dennis

    I’m Australian - I’ve read a little Chalmers, and familiar with his recent work with Tononi on IIT. That’s an interesting work in progress. I can see what they’re trying to achieve, but I think, like most, they’re hampered by assumptions in relation to evolution theory and reductionism that only people like Nagel are courageous enough to address from a philosophical standpoint - at great cost to his reputation, mind you.

    For structure, other than Badens thread; studies in logic are helpful and I cannot recommend giving Cohen's preface to logic enough early on studies in logic.Mark Dennis

    Yeah, logic is a struggle for me. I read Marianne Talbot and Chris Wood’s ‘Critical Reasoning’ a few years ago, and I know I have to re-read it (or something similar), but it’s literally like learning a new language. I find that formal logic has limitations that commonly discard information I think is vital for a more ‘objective’ understanding of reality. It’s like trying to draw: you have to be proficient enough in the medium to know which marks on the page will convey the 3D object in 2D, in a way that most accurately retains its 3D perspective. Otherwise the 2D structure you create will look nothing like the 3D object you’re trying to illustrate - especially to someone who is proficient in the medium.
  • Pfhorrest
    4.6k
    I would love to be an amateur teacher for amateur students in such a subforum, were it to exist. The opportunity to share my education and help other people discover the wonders of philosophy is one of the main reasons I’m here.
  • Possibility
    2.7k
    Shows how much I pay attention, and rely on the ‘Forum’ landing page...

    Missed this excellent recent addition to the already existing ‘Learning Centre’ this site, on effective argumentation.

    Thanks again, @Baden - I will be spending more time here, I think...
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