• Marty
    212
    Had a conversation recently with TGW (The Great Whatever).

    So, his story goes something like this:

    Most of philosophy seems to be an endless inquiry into deep, mysterious and difficult questions that are never resolved and hopelessly debated. Here's his pitch: what are signs of charlatans and sophists? They argue for ages, use indeterminate sounding words to portray their position, its never quite clear what the ideas (systems) signify, and when backed into a corner, the answers they yield don't do anything most of the time. What is philosophy? Two-thousand and five hundred years of confusion, using indeterminate-sounding words, using systems that are generally aporetic, where there's endless arguing with no real resolution. It's never clear what's going to be resolved by many of their terms.

    What does yield results? Literally a ton of domains that you see in the every day world. By all means, not all the sciences, not all arts, but a lot of them do progress in a way that philosophy just doesn't.

    So, then here's the deal: Is investigating mereology, free-will (compatibilism/hard determinism, etc), the ontological structure of substances, essences etc, ever prove anything useful? Should we just rely on intuitions that pre-philosophical instead?

    Here I don't think it'll do to say we're "always in philosophy" or "we can't escape philosophy so we have to do it" or "it's all philosophical." Everything's definitely not philosophy in the sense that when I put on a shoe, that's philosophy. Nor do I think it'll do to say many inquiries are aporetic in the same sense so we should give philosophy free reign. Lastly, it won't do to say that philosophy, according to him, even inquires into interesting questions. Any that aren't more interesting than ordinary scientific inquiry. If it did we should be able to provide many examples.

    So, if there's nothing left. Is philosophy useful? Or with questions like free will (and such) do we just say what seems to be intuitively obvious? Are intuitions so bad? We seem to convince others with them all the time. What're you thoughts on this? (Personally, I believe ethics and theory has a strong case working for the philosopher.)
  • Pfhorrest
    3.6k
    Philosophy makes progress only in showing what philosophical views are wrong. If what’s left over is common sense, so be it.

    This is not actually unique to philosophy though, because critical rationalism. The only progress that can ever be made in any field is showing what options are wrong, and so narrowing in further on those that might still be right.
  • Marty
    212


    But that doesn't seem to be the case because we're still debating the same questions two-thousand and five hundred years later. With more nuanced, sure, but it's still the same issues.

    And we have all sorts of things that are right in the other fields. Take for example we can calculate the surface area of the ocean, or know whether or not Napoleon existed.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.6k
    The difference I suppose is that people persist in holding views that have already been shown wrong in philosophy, because there’s not serious practical consequences attached to being philosophically wrong. Where in the fields that are “hardest” and “make the most progress”, being wrong can get you killed.
  • Marty
    212


    I don't see that being the case? There's plenty of committed individuals who have come up with proofs for the existence of essences, substances, mereological wholes, mereological nihilism, idealism, etc. Some of these views seem equally plausible as their alternative sometimes creating an antimony. I doubt a lot of people are in denial of the truth as much as they are convinced by the arguments.

    I'm wondering if the problem is looking at philosophy from the "outside-in". There doesn't seem to be any large consensus in philosophy.
  • Marty
    212
    Also, if the result that we end up using just common sense. Isn't that just the entire point that's being made here?
  • Pfhorrest
    3.6k
    I doubt a lot of people are in denial of the truth as much as they are convinced by the arguments.Marty

    Sure, but it’s easier to remain convinced of a falsehood by a bad argument when there’s nothing at stake for being wrong.

    Also, if the result that we end up using just common sense. Isn't that just the entire point that's being made here?Marty

    Even if the correct philosophical answers end up being common sense, there is still value in exposing why all the alternative nonsense is wrong, to keep people from veering away from common sense.
  • Marty
    212
    Sure, but it’s easier to remain convinced of a falsehood by a bad argument when there’s nothing at stake for being wrong.

    Yeah, but that's beside the point.

    Even if the correct philosophical answers end up being common sense, there is still value in exposing why all the alternative nonsense is wrong, to keep people from veering away from common sense.

    But the problem is this doesn't usually occur. It rarely occurs, if ever, in philosophy.

    And the way to come to a common sense point doesn't have to be philosophical.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    2.7k
    it’s easier to remain convinced of a falsehood by a bad argument when there’s nothing at stake for being wrong.Pfhorrest

    This is the sort of thing I think is ripe for philosophical analysis, though "analysis" is a lousy word there. I even started a thread on a related phenomenon a couple weeks ago, but drew no interest.

    What interests me about stuff like this is that to do it justice you need some basic logic and argumentation stuff, some more practical argumentation stuff, some psychology, some sociology, some economics, some biology, some linguistics -- you get the idea.

    No one field is really equipped to handle this well. Traditional philosophy deliberately has tunnel vision for "just the arguments" but then exceeds its remit by pronouncing on which behaviors are rational.
  • Darkneos
    88
    I mean isn't what is rational and logical just based on human judgments? To me I think philosophy isn't taken that seriously because it's just glorified opinions. There doesn't seem to be a "right" answer. Most people tend to take right and wrong for granted or given without wondering why that is.

    Also I thought idealism was debunked.
  • Olivier5
    1.2k
    I love the subtitles.
  • Marty
    212


    Yeah, so, saying, "saying philosophy is useless is philosophical" is, I think, missing the point.
  • Jack Cummins
    455

    Your concern that philosophy is about deep, mysterious questions which remain unanswered points to the way in which even published philosophers often write very badly. It was as if they were trying to be clever by being unintelligible, which is a bit like the Sophists.

    It is also possible to write and think endlessly about topics and go round in circles, never coming up with any answers. Perhaps it is about lack of commitment to and one way of seeing amidst a diversity of possible options. Or, perhaps it is about not seeing thinking to clear ends. It is easy to dabble with philosophical questions but not work hard enough at them.

    I am not sure that the issue is simply that pre-philosohical solutions is a solution because I am not sure that such solutions are pre-philosophical in the first place. That is because philosophy goes back to ancient times and by using arguments so most ways of seeing life are rooted in some kind of roots in philosophy in the first place.

    I believe that what is needed is clearer vision in philosophy rather than casting it aside. The twentieth century saw all the language games and then the postmodern writers came up with very sophisticated debates. But so many questions remain unanswered. Perhaps the best way forward would be philosophy which can engage with the debates of the past as well as the scientific knowledge of today. However, it could be one involving demystification.

    While it is is unlikely that absolute answers could be established the challenge would be to explore any central arguments as fully as possible and come up with best possible answers which could enable people to not be lost forever drowning in the deep philosophical mysteries.
  • Wayfarer
    10.4k
    Most of philosophy seems to be an endless inquiry into deep, mysterious and difficult questions that are never resolved and hopelessly debated.Marty

    That's the perception of those who've read about it but never quite understood it.
  • Isaac
    3.3k
    The difference I suppose is that people persist in holding views that have already been shown wrong in philosophyPfhorrest

    Come on then, let's have the list, let us all be enlightened by your solomanesque wisdom on the matter.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.6k
    You really have a problem with anybody ever thinking they know anything, don't you? That's the consistent theme across all of your posts: someone claims to know something, you do everything you can to insist that they don't. Do you fancy yourself Socrates, the only person wise enough to know how unwise he is?
  • Isaac
    3.3k
    You really have a problem with anybody ever thinking they know anything, don't you?Pfhorrest

    You didn't claim you knew something. You claimed other people didn't. That's what pisses me off, the hubris in thinking everyone else has got it wrong. If you can't see the horrific places that thinking everyone else who doesn't follow your ideology is actually objectively wrong have lead to, then God help us.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.6k
    You didn't claim you knew something. You claimed other people didn't.Isaac

    Those are inseparable conditions. To think that something is correct is to think things contrary to it are incorrect.

    If you can't see the horrific places that thinking everyone else who doesn't follow your ideology is actually objectively wrong have lead to, then God help us.Isaac

    Do you think that those who think the places that leads to are not horrific are wrong about that? Or those who don't think it leads to those places? If so, aren't you guilty of exactly what you think is such a horrible crime?

    I ask because one of those very things I think is an objectively wrong philosophical view is appeals to authority, faith, popularity, etc; as well as justificationism, telling everyone else that they must reject their beliefs until they can prove them from the ground up, in lieu of which (i.e. on my account, rejecting justificationism) differences of opinion are to be tolerated until proof one way or the other can be found.
  • Isaac
    3.3k
    Those are inseparable conditions. To think that something is correct is to think things contrary to it are incorrect.Pfhorrest

    No it isn't. No one in real life thinks things are correct or incorrect, it's a philosophical construct to engender ideological purity. People believe things with (ever changing) degrees of certainty, which means that no-one is 'wrong' they just have a different assessment of the degree of certainty.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.6k
    No one in real life thinks things are correct or incorrectIsaac

    I'd like to see a poll about that. Even one just here on TPF. Actually, I did one of those on morality already, and it seems like many people think otherwise. (But you know that already, you were there).

    Also, given that a majority of people are religious, and the kind of violent opposition to disagreement religion often generates (that you yourself reference here), it seems pretty clear that many, many people "in real life" think things actually are correct or incorrect. If any thing, people seem to tend more astray in the direction that affirms that (but doesn't tolerate differences of opinion) than the other way (that rightly questions everything, but then denies there are any correct answers).

    But just as I suspected, your whole thing underlying every view your espouse is "nothing is actually correct or incorrect". Which, FWIW, is precisely one of the philosophical views I think is objectively incorrect. As you know already, because you were involved extensively in the thread where I said what I think those things are.
  • Isaac
    3.3k
    I'd like to see a poll about that.Pfhorrest

    It's not a polling issue, it's how the brain works.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.6k
    I have a different assessment of the degree of certainty of that claim.
  • Isaac
    3.3k
    I have a different assessment of the degree of certainty of that claim.Pfhorrest

    Ha! I expect you do.
  • Marty
    212


    Maybe. But the point of this thread is to rid us of that anxiety. So for example,

    If I turn my hand into a fist, does a new object appear? Or is it the same object as before? And how do you come to know that?
  • Marty
    212


    Well, I thought I addressed some of these concerns but I feel like these type of responses sorta don't get at my anxiety about these concerns that I raised.

    It is also possible to write and think endlessly about topics and go round in circles, never coming up with any answers. Perhaps it is about lack of commitment to and one way of seeing amidst a diversity of possible options. Or, perhaps it is about not seeing thinking to clear ends. It is easy to dabble with philosophical questions but not work hard enough at them.

    The concern isn't just that we don't answer questions, but that the questions themselves aren't interesting because they unanswerable.

    It's true that some more profound questions like, "Is there meaning in the world?" or "Is their a unity to it all?" can be asked without getting any resolutions, but I feel like a baker can ask these questions. And Bakers aren't philosophers in any relevant sense. (Because we'd be equivocating between philosophy as the philosopher does it, and just ordinary arguments or contemplations.)

    I am not sure that the issue is simply that pre-philosohical solutions is a solution because I am not sure that such solutions are pre-philosophical in the first place. That is because philosophy goes back to ancient times and by using arguments so most ways of seeing life are rooted in some kind of roots in philosophy in the first place.

    And ordinary questions and actions go even further back. Before anything we can properly call philosophy. In that sense, bakers aren't philosophers, mechanics aren't philosophers, etc, etc.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    2.7k
    If I turn my hand into a fist, does a new object appear? Or is it the same object as before? And how do you come to know that?Marty

    I think that's a nice question, but not necessarily one that has an answer, and thinking it has to be answerable is probably a mistake.

    Philosophy is often a way of asking ordinary questions about extraordinary things, or extraordinary questions about ordinary things. (Don't remember who said this.)

    There is a difference between a hand formed into a fist and hand formed into some other shape, and that's worth understanding in a bunch of ways, but the "thing" approach looks like a mistake unless "thing" encompasses theoretical entities. But the impulse to look with fresh eyes, to see the very familiar as strange and worth exploring, that's the whole ball game.
  • Jack Cummins
    455
    I am not sure that it is that simple because the ancient civilisation were perhaps different from ours. Life may be more than the satisfaction of survival needs. We are going back to a survival mode in the current times but perhaps the earliest philosophy looked beyond this. I don't know about our present time.

    I do care about life in its basic form and can relate to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, but think that the philosophical quest is extremely important. Without the questions of ultimate meaning I think I would be feel like giving up. Perhaps I am a weirdo but I think that the philosophical quest is one of the important aspects of life.

    I would not wish for philosophy to evaporate in a cloud, in which philosophical questions were seen as a useless relic of the past. Perhaps what is needed is for smart thinking and philosophy to converge to create the best possible thinking.
  • Marty
    212


    But mereology is a philosophical inquiry for the last 2,500 years. People in philosophy attempt to answer questions like these all the time.
  • Marty
    212


    It's fine to call "philosophy" just asking question as long as you know that's not what it is anymore, nor how any philosophers now practice it. I take it to be asking questions in a more precise way than that. So it's not really relevant to the question I'm asking. As I said, we'd be equivocating.
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