• A Seagull
    621
    What do non-philosophers make of philosophy?

    Do they consider it to be:
    Relevant?
    Important?
    A guide to life?
    True?
    Interesting?

    What do you think?
  • Pfhorrest
    3.1k
    I have the impression that most people don’t even know what philosophy is about. The traditional religious majority seem to think it more or less theology, new agers seem to think it’s all about reincarnation and crystals and shit, and most of the remainder seem to me to come from a place of scientism and dismiss it as either one of the above, or else reduce it to just ethics, which they may or may not think important or capable of truth.

    That’s all just my impression though. I recently started a similar thread to find out what other people think most people think philosophy is about.
  • Artemis
    1.9k


    What do you mean by "philosophers" and "non-philosophers"? If by philosopher you mean professional or academic philosopher versus the rest of humanity... well, there's a pretty broad range from people who are technically amateurs, but love love love to engage with philosophy to those people who think it's a joke, if they ever think about it at all.

    But, on this forum I've noticed that even among people who like philosophy, there are those who think it's dead/a joke/ all just "opinions." Cue eyeroll.

    Among people who don't engage philosophy much at all ever... I've personally noticed this funny cognitive dissonance where they want on the one hand to maintain that "oh, all that philosophy stuff is too hard and heady for me!" but then also don't want to think that professional philosophers know anything more than they do or could have more nuanced/educated/researched ideas about all sorts of things (i.e., they also belong in the camp of "it's just everyone's opinion. Cue eyeroll).

    With everything going on in the world (and, to be honest, people in my personal circles) right now, I've been fostering some serious pessimism about the abilities of most people to do even basic logic. I'm fairly certain that it's a dispositional disability, as there is nothing about a=a and a=/=~a that is outside the theoretical brain power of any human being of average intelligence.... but then it does pose an interesting question: does being dispositionally unable to do X make you actually unable to do X?
  • BitconnectCarlos
    665


    This is pretty in line with what I find too.

    To OP: At the end of the day, ideas matter. You can't just choose to "not do" philosophy because it's unavoidable. Some ideas are a hell of a lot more destructive than others and lend themselves to certain types of extremely murderous behavior.
  • A Seagull
    621
    What do you mean by "philosophers" and "non-philosophers"?Artemis

    I didn't use the word 'philosopher'.

    By 'non-philosopher' I mean people who do not engage in any serious or formal way with philosophy.

    Nevertheless, such people might have use for philosophy, perhaps politicians, social workers, teachers and so on.
  • Wheatley
    1.3k

    I think that current philosophy is accessible only to a narrow range of people. It takes a certain level of intelligence to appreciate philosophical concepts, so that's a good portion of the population excluded right there. Of those who are smart enough to understand philosophy, much less have the time, patience, or the interest to engage in philosophy. And of those who show interest and are intelligent enough to study philosophy, fewer of them are actual readers who would open a philosophy book.

    The question: What do most people think about philosophy?

    Answer: "Not for me."
  • 180 Proof
    1.8k
    What do non-philosophers make of philosophy?A Seagull
    They don't 'think about thinking' so those who do must seem strange to them to the point of stupidity. They just don't know, maybe can't understand. Fools are fools because they're blind to their own folly. Don't wake a sleepwalker for her sake; don't gadfly a fool for your sake! From the vantage of ubiquitous, rampant vidiocy within this encompassing moral circus, philosophers - intellectual rodeo-clowns - seem to them just 3rd rate fools & failed jesters because our clowning, apparently, lacks conviction! Enthusiasm! They think we're morons who need to loosen-up and get laid! Well ... no doubt. :sweat:

    ... of what account are the rest?—The rest are merely humanity.—One must make one’s self superior to humanity, in power, in loftiness of soul,—in contempt. — Freddy Zarathustra!
    It can't matter (much) what they think of those of us who 'think about thinking' if they themselves don't also 'think about thinking'.

    To live alone one must be a beast or a god, says Aristotle. Leaving out the third case: one must be both — a philosopher. — Freddy Zarathustra!
    :death: :flower:
  • Pfhorrest
    3.1k
    Oh, I left out one thing I’ve anecdotally seen people take philosophy to be: psychology. Those people seem to think that philosophers/psychologists “must be really smart” be because “those subjects are hard”.
  • Artemis
    1.9k
    I didn't use the word 'philosopherA Seagull

    Not explicitly, but non-philosopher implies some idea of philosopher. ~A can only be understood in terms of A.

    Nevertheless, such people might have use for philosophy, perhaps politicians, social workers, teachers and so on.A Seagull

    In theory, every human being in every occupation does. But they neither recognize it usually, nor are interested. See my above comment re:disposition.
  • A Seagull
    621
    If philosophy is not relevant to non-philosophers, then philosophy becomes indistinguishable from an academic game.

    That said, I believe that philosophy is relevant to non-philosophers, but in somewhat subtle and indirect ways.
  • christian2017
    1.4k


    I think all people are philosophers. Some people just have better things to do with their time.
  • Isaac
    2.9k
    they want on the one hand to maintain that "oh, all that philosophy stuff is too hard and heady for me!" but then also don't want to think that professional philosophers know anything more than they do or could have more nuanced/educated/researched ideas about all sorts of thingsArtemis

    This is not a dissonating position to hold. Advanced chess is too hard and heady for many, but those expert at it do not "know" anything more about "all sorts of things". They've simply invented a game, the full impliations of which are quite complex and so understanding them is 'hard and heady'. They still know nothing more about anything outside of chess. A computer can be programmed to understand chess, I wouldn't ask it any advice on other matters.
  • Artemis
    1.9k
    They've simply invented a game, the full impliations of which are quite complex and so understanding them is 'hard and heady'. They still know nothing more about anything outside of chess.Isaac

    Yes, but certainly you would defer to their expertise on all matters chess, or at least recognize that they probably know better than you about the best way to move the rook.

    I'm talking about laypersons who specifically won't defer or acknowledge the expertise of the...,yknow, experts on philosophical matters.
  • Isaac
    2.9k
    Yes, but certainly you would defer to their expertise on all matters chess, or at least recognize that they probably know better than you about the best way to move the rook.

    I'm talking about laypersons who specifically won't defer or acknowledge the expertise of the...,yknow, experts on philosophical matters.
    Artemis

    Yes, but if one of these hypothetical chess experts claims that his expertise on bishops extends to, say, real bishops, we aren't obliged to simply take his word for it. It is not an expert in chess who determines the extension of propositions about chess, it it experts in other fields making more satisfactory claims about the contested area.

    The trouble with Philosophy in this context is that experts in other fields compete over almost all areas.
  • Artemis
    1.9k
    but if one of these hypothetical chess experts claims that his expertise on bishops extends to, say, real bishops, we aren't obliged to simply take his word for itIsaac

    That would be an amphiboly....so obviously. That example doesn't therefore pertain to the discussion.

    The fact that philosophers disagree on any given subject doesn't mean a layperson can claim to have equal say in the matter.

    For example, there is disagreement among quantum scientists about whether the implications lead to a determinist or non-determinist view of quantum behavior. I personally side with the determinists, but realize that I don't know enough to actually participate in the debate or to try and convince a scientist of my view. Most non-philosophers do not show the same humility toward philosophy.
  • Qwex
    366
    Guidance.

    The wise man collective.

    Necessary for prosperity.

    A secular core.
  • Isaac
    2.9k
    That would be an amphiboly....so obviously. That example doesn't therefore pertain to the discussion.Artemis

    The amphiboly is the point. Simply declaring a subject matter does not confer a field of expertise, its just a name. Actual competition of theories determines fields.

    The fact that philosophers disagree on any given subject doesn't mean a layperson can claim to have equal say in the matter.Artemis

    I'm not talking about philosophers disagreeing. I'm talking about philosophers making theoretical claims in areas where there are competing claims by psychologists, physicists, neuroscientists, linguists, historians, anthropologists etc... In a field, say consciousness, where both a philosopher and a neuroscientist make a claim, who judges who has strayed into whose territory? It clearly can't be either expert (they have competing claims).

    I don't know enough to actually participate in the debate or to try and convince a scientist of my view. Most non-philosophers do not show the same humility toward philosophy.Artemis

    It depends very much on the topic at hand. The reason why you could not participate in the quantum physics debate is, as you say, that you "do not know enough". But in the matter under debate, there is no 'knowledge' otherwise it would not be up for debate would it? So what we're referring to by not 'knowing' enough is the already agreed on body of knowledge on which both parties base their competing theories.

    In philosophy, there is no such agreed upon body of knowledge in the widest sense. Only within specialised fields might you have a similar situation to the physicists, where a considerable body of axioms are agreed by both parties, but these are rarely the debates in which lay people become involved.
  • Qwex
    366
    My guess is that a physicist does use philosophy in his work.

    Philosophy spans across all fields.

    As it's own field, it's pretty much redundant where societial growth is concerned.

    Let's just say we were wise, if creating a philosophy free reality is our objective.

    It's more for the toil of the thinking man.
  • Artemis
    1.9k
    Simply declaring a subject matter does not confer a field of expertise, its just a name.Isaac

    Since philosophers don't just do that, this is a dead end.

    I'm talking about philosophers making theoretical claims in areas where there are competing claims by psychologists, physicists, neuroscientists, linguists, historians, anthropologists etc... In a field, say consciousness, where both a philosopher and a neuroscientist make a claim, who judges who has strayed into whose territory? It clearly can't be either expert (they have competing claims).Isaac

    Ideally, they would not debate but share their respective insights whilst acknowledging the expertise of the other.

    But in the matter under debate, there is no 'knowledge' otherwise it would not be up for debate would it?Isaac

    Of course it would be. People debate over matters of knowledge all the time.

    philosophy, there is no such agreed upon body of knowledge in the widest sense. Only within specialised fields might you have a similar situation to the physicists, where a considerable body of axioms are agreed by both parties, but these are rarely the debates in which lay people become involved.Isaac

    That's just pretty inaccurate.
  • A Seagull
    621
    They've simply invented a game, the full impliations of which are quite complex and so understanding them is 'hard and heady'. They still know nothing more about anything outside of chess. — Isaac
    Yes, but certainly you would defer to their expertise on all matters chess, or at least recognize that they probably know better than you about the best way to move the rook.

    I'm talking about laypersons who specifically won't defer or acknowledge the expertise of the...,yknow, experts on philosophical matters.
    Artemis

    But is it the same game they are playing?

    Take the field of ethics for example; is the rather theoretical ethics that philosophers discuss the same
    domain as that empirically experienced by non-philosophers? And perhaps more importantly do the non-philosophers consider it to be the same domain? For if they don't consider it to be the same domain and thus not relevant, they will not acknowledge the expertise of philosophers on the matter.
  • Artemis
    1.9k
    But is it the same game they are playing?A Seagull

    Depends.
  • Artemis
    1.9k
    is the rather theoretical ethics that philosophers discuss the same
    domain as that empirically experienced by non-philosophers?
    A Seagull

    Yes. Just with more knowledge and at a different level. The difference between chess world championships and amateur chess at home.
  • Qwex
    366
    Other men.

    Agents.
  • Isaac
    2.9k
    Since philosophers don't just do that, this is a dead end.Artemis

    So, are you suggesting that, for example, epistemology has a pre-existing set of criteria determining what constitutes the field? That it's not defined by its practitioners?

    Ideally, they would not debate but share their respective insights whilst acknowledging the expertise of the other.Artemis

    This just begs the question. You're presupposing that the neuroscientist is deficient in some knowledge or skill which the philosopher of consciousness can supply. Many do not consider that to be the case. I'm asking you to present the argument that it is, not just presume it.

    Of course it would be. People debate over matters of knowledge all the time.Artemis

    Knowledge as justified true belief. People debate over what might become knowledge were it to turn out to be true, or about the acceptability of justification. Absolutely no scientist I've ever encountered has argued with another about some matter they consider to be absolutely settled knowledge (ie true), they argue about theories, speculations which may, in time, end up sufficiently agreed upon to be classed as knowledge.

    That's just pretty inaccurate.Artemis

    OK, well then simply provide me with an example proposition from philosophy which is agreed upon across the fields.
  • Isaac
    2.9k
    Yes. Just with more knowledge and at a different level. The difference between chess world championships and amateur chess at home.Artemis

    No. Because a right move in chess is agreed upon by every single chess player in the world. There is no equivalent agreed upon 'right move' in ethics.
  • Qwex
    366

    Morality is a widely accepted theory that is against you. There can be good, as is good.
  • Isaac
    2.9k
    Morality is a widely accepted theory that is against you.Qwex

    'Morality' is a theory? In what form?
  • Qwex
    366

    That there is good and evil.

    What, you saying that good is not defined

    I know what good is, is more sensory phenomena, but it is improperly defined by word, though you can word the concept, it's not the particulars which lead to the resolution. It is ineffable.

    At any given moment, there is beneficent qualia concerning the sensory data.

    Philosophy forum --> Philosophy is a good idea to post. Post good joke. Don't post.
  • Isaac
    2.9k


    Not a definition I'm aware of. Perhaps you could enlighten me.
  • Qwex
    366

    At any given moment, there is beneficent qualia concerning the sensory data.

    Philosophy forum --> Philosophy is a good idea to post. Post good joke. Don't post.

    What do you call that?
  • Isaac
    2.9k
    At any given moment, there is beneficent qualia concerning the sensory data.

    Philosophy forum --> Philosophy is a good idea to post. Post good joke. Don't post.

    What do you call that?
    Qwex

    I'm afraid I have no idea what you're talking about.
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