• Garth
    79
    The joy of life comes not from absolute achievement, but simple living in a community where every person participates communally in functions which are open to all and to which all are welcomed and appreciated for their particular qualities.

    Instituting a competitive metric by which the art of any particular thing is steadily improved, so that the people of the community become specialized to particular ends destroys this sense of communal participation. The people come to expect more and better forms of performance and entertainment, so that only the specialist or the highly trained person can meet these demands. The people each lose their own self-sufficiency as well as the capacity to help or benefit each other, undermining the interdependence which constituted the community itself and destroying the basis of friendship.

    The act of being trained brings a person to stop appreciating simple efforts and to only view others as having skill if they are similarly trained. For instance, a person untrained in singing, who has never heard an excellent singer, will be content to listen to even a bad singer. Thus, this person, and his friends, all equally ignorant, will happily sing to each other. But if a person trained in singing arrives and begins sharing his ideas on what constitutes proper singing, all these untrained singers will feel shame at having ever raised their voices, and the village will fall silent.

    What really matters is not whether these people are singing well together, but whether they are having fun. When we run about, demanding excellence from one another constantly, we do nothing but destroy the possibility of genuine and authentic fun. Ultimately, we look at ourselves in the mirror and see a lonely failure. Then our only hope for entertainment becomes vicarious, so we turn on the television to watch the real experts.

    Can we not say the same thing about philosophy?

    By demanding and pursuing some perfect and excellent way of understanding the world, we really do nothing but discourage our ignorant friends from participating. In the end, truth, justice, and all of those things don't really matter if you have nobody to talk to about them. What is important is that we have fun with each other while having our discussion. In my experience, the discussion is a lot more fun when we all don't know what we are talking about and make many unfounded assertions.

    We should be wrong all the time. It's boring to be correct; nobody has anything to say about a sound argument.

    Should we even do philosophy at all? In nature, the animal that stops to contemplate the meaning of the universe is quickly eaten by a bigger animal. Or its mate is buggered by a rival and that's the end.
  • Outlander
    859
    The people each lose their own self-sufficiency as well as the capacity to help or benefit each other, undermining the interdependence which constituted the community itself and destroying the basis of friendship.Garth

    The obvious counter-argument would be, no not at all. Simply the 'specialist' or 'highly trained' becomes more successful in their ways and means to help said people, provided they choose to of course. Take "Diddy" as a recent example.

    The act of being trained brings a person to stop appreciating simple efforts and to only view others as having skill if they are similarly trained.Garth

    Not always. The master conservationist no longer spends an extended period of time admiring a single rose, not because he lost appreciation for it, simply because he knows his time is better spent protecting the garden so that others in the future may enjoy the gaze at the lone rose that perhaps first inspired him. Nothing more. And nothing less.

    When we run about, demanding excellence from one another constantly, we do nothing but destroy the possibility of genuine and authentic fun.Garth

    Others are content with what is, solely thanks to those who strove beyond what is in order to protect it. There is no wrong path, provided neither are foolishly chastised or become out of proportion. Which is what typically happens when individuals are allowed to fall into complacency.
  • Brett
    3k


    The people come to expect more and better forms of performance and entertainment, so that only the specialist or the highly trained person can meet these demands.Garth

    It seems to me, generally, that people have come to expect less in terms of performance and entertainment, or given up expecting it. It’s probably true that more people are able to take part in things that only specialists or the talented once did, which is probably a good thing. Except that ideas of excellence have come under question through the non-competitive ideology that there are no winners and losers, that everyone’s a winner. Which probably makes people feel good but does nothing towards improving our world. People still flock to the Olympics or football games. Which means they like to see people excel in what they do.

    By demanding and pursuing some perfect and excellent way of understanding the world, we really do nothing but discourage our ignorant friends from participating.Garth

    I don’t think that’s true. I understand where you’re coming from but I think it does us no good to think in that way. Participation is important for the reasons you state, but the quest for excellence seems to be something important to us, maybe essential.

    Ultimately it leads to this.

    Should we even do philosophy at all?Garth
  • jgill
    979
    By demanding and pursuing some perfect and excellent way of understanding the world, we really do nothing but discourage our ignorant friends from participatingGarth

    Clearly you are not speaking of the social environment here at TPF. :wink:
  • Antony Nickles
    116

    Well this is a refreshing attitude I must say. And, as well, I propose, not without philosophical relevance. (I take some liberty in the exact wording of the quotes, but I believe the spirit is the same.)

    By demanding and pursuing some perfect and excellent way of understanding the world, we really do nothing but discourage [participation from our friends in the talk of] truth, justice, and all of those things [that really matter].Garth

    What jumped out at me is the "demanding" a "perfect" "understanding [of] the world". Wittgenstein, Heidegger, and Nietzsche (among others) all warn that the desire for certainty, universality, predetermination, predictability, pre-judgement, etc., occludes our ability to see the meaningfulness of our ordinary, differing criteria for the varying concepts we have in the contexts in which, and when, they are expressed. The harder we squeeze the less we grasp, Emerson and Heidegger say. Witt would say we sublime (universalize) our language's logic, strip from its context and ordinary criteria, beginning with the example that we might think all language works as naming--a word for an object. PI #38. A logic that "seeks to see to the bottom of things" and not "concern itself whether what actually happens is this or that." #89. To purify (#94) communication is, as @Garth says, to "discourage" the "participation" by humans--fallible, partial, unsure, etc.--in their friendship.

    ...demanding excellence from one another constantly, we do nothing but destroy the possibility of [the] genuine and authentic [and of] fun.Garth

    J.L. Austin decried the "profundity" of philosophy--for him, the desire for the descriptive fallacy--the difference between fervent ideological belief/theory and a real investigation of our concepts (which is quite fun in his case). Also, an important part of Emerson's work is its constant optimism (in the face of conformity and skepticism). Wittgenstein's interlocutor in the Philosophical Investigations is very adamant and certain--and Witt is constantly leaving them flustered with almost a mocking enigmatic humor. Nietzsche also found joy, courage, and a sense of humor was necessary for philosophy; even to title a book The Gay Science. This is not a trivial, tangential topic--the more certain and strict and strident we are, the less we see of the awe and fullness and fun of the world.

    I would say though that, having let go of only being satisfied with a perfect solution, we are still (then) able to perfect our existing human world. Foregoing righteous justice, we can strive for a more just "good-enough" justice (from Stanley Cavell's discussion of Rawls). A new yet unapproachable America, Emerson says.
  • Garth
    79

    The last chapter of Rorty's Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature sort of says what I am saying here. He seems to be saying we should conduct philosophical discussions without any methodology or criteria.

    Participation is important for the reasons you state, but the quest for excellence seems to be something important to us, maybe essential.Brett

    There's a trade-off. Like, we need to be able to defend ourselves, but if we build too many weapons and research too much technology, we are more likely to invade other people. We are the monkeys and rather that pretending we won't launch the missiles, we shouldn't build missiles for monkeys in the first place.

    Once fewer people die of disease than in war, we should ban the development of new technologies. We would be far past that point if not for World War II.

    The master conservationist no longer spends an extended period of time admiring a single rose, not because he lost appreciation for it, simply because he knows his time is better spent protecting the garden so that others in the future may enjoy the gaze at the lone rose that perhaps first inspired him.Outlander

    I think there's a distinction to be made here. Doing something clever because you're lazy is OK. But building a fancy rose garden because you want to outdo your neighbor is not OK.
  • khaled
    2k
    pursuing some perfect and excellent way of understanding the worldGarth

    have fun with each other while having our discussion. In my experience, the discussion is a lot more fun when we all don't know what we are talking about and make many unfounded assertions.Garth

    We do both here.
  • Kenosha Kid
    1.8k
    Nice OP, Garth. I largely agree, at least up until the application to philosophy. I started a thread on 'natural morality' many months ago which touched on how hunter-gatherer groups worked. One of the interesting things that came up (I think in discussion with Isaac) was the idea of group dominance in which, for instance, a particularly good hunter attempting to leverage his accidental superiority to wield power would be shut down by the group as a whole. Being the best is fine; expecting special treatment because of it will bite you on the ass.

    We don't live in hunter-gatherer groups so I'm not sure how well we can argue for such egalitarianism now, other than to say that, whatever kind of social group we find ourselves in, that characteristic is still part of us, specifically it's part of our moral biology, manifest in disgust toward the boastful and a sense of injustice at preferential treatment. That is, elitism is bad because morality is biology and our biology says it's bad.

    Another argument for egalitarianism is the illusion of expertise as described by Daniel Kahneman during his study of iirc stock brokers. The prevailing culture is that one stock broker can be said to be better than another based on a good win. In his study, Kahneman found that none of the so-called experts demonstrated above-average performance outside of that one big win. It was just luck, nothing more. In addition, none of the brokers were any better than a rational amateur: the entire industry persists simply because most people are irrational and make systematic errors. I mention it because it seems like a prime example of where 'excellence' is so unjustly rewarded.

    Naturally some people are talented and many endeavours have little to do with increasing one's (or one's group's) standard of living. Not everyone can be a neurosurgeon and I would like very much, should I ever need a neurosurgeon, to have the best. I would hate to find out that mine was a hobbyist who, despite no particular talent, thought he would just 'have a go'. Likewise my field, physics, is not for amateurs: the field progresses through excellence (or niche, well-trained mediocrity) outdoing excellence. Not being more wrong than one's predecessors is an existential matter.

    Physics is a branch of philosophy -- empiricism -- that adheres to a specific methodology. But while the means differ, the aim is much the same: discover truth by finding fault in the existing theories and addressing and improving on them in your own. This cannot be a democratic or egalitarian process. Illogical theories should not be seen as the equal of logical ones nor ill-grounded propositions the equal of well-grounded ones. If they were, you'd just end up with an infinite number of monkeys crapping on an infinite number of typewriters, which is far from profound.

    On which, a sound argument can be extremely profound. Natural selection was a sound argument and people haven't stopped talking about it yet. Then again, unsound arguments, such as creationism, have generated even more discussion. I'm not sure the soundness of an argument is particularly correlated to its public interest.
  • Judaka
    1k

    Competitive metrics are not fundamentally instituted but exist through a pre-existing hierarchical mode of evaluation. Singing didn't become competitive due to our advanced understanding of how to sing properly, it was always competitive and it was always true that some were better than others at it. That being said, your entire argument is demonstrably incorrect, we actually live in a world where you have easy access to people who are better than you at each thing you might do. Did people stop playing sport because they know they can't compete with the best in the world? Do people no longer play chess because they're aware a grandmaster would disagree with their play? Do people feel ashamed to dance because they've seen dancing competitions on television? Of course not, doesn't all evidence goes against your claim?

    We should be wrong all the time. It's boring to be correct; nobody has anything to say about a sound argument.Garth

    We should be wrong all the time? Really, what are you talking about? Thinking and talking about your thoughts isn't a purely recreational activity...

    In nature, the animal that stops to contemplate the meaning of the universe is quickly eaten by a bigger animal. Or its mate is buggered by a rival and that's the end.Garth

    What animal stops to contemplate the meaning of the universe besides us? How do you come to this conclusion?

    Overall, I am at least impressed that you seem to practice what you preach but I can't say I agree with what you're preaching.
  • Garth
    79
    You've raised a valid point here. To some degree we do always perceive some as better than others. I think the harm arises when that difference becomes a kind of separation that the individual feels they cannot overcome. I think the kind of perfection we see on TV and the Internet often strikes us as unobtainable, because it is something we can't reach. When that happens, it is easy to lose hope. Many people do lose hope in part because of this.

    So I think that if we are going to have things like television, we also need compensatory institutions which help us to overcome these feelings and set more realistic goals so that we can stay motivated.

    What animal stops to contemplate the meaning of the universe besides us? How do you come to this conclusion?Judaka

    This just proves we are defective, like E.O. Wilson's slave-making ants, doomed to an evolutionary dead end. Either we will evolve to no longer be able to think about these things or we will go extinct.
  • Judaka
    1k

    All the evidence goes against you, who would argue that Michael Jordon made basketball less popular? Or that Michael Jackson made people had the effect of making people NOT want to dance like him? Figures who demonstrate their exceptional qualities inspire others, they have the opposite effect of causing people to lose hope.

    This just proves we are defective, like E.O. Wilson's slave-making ants, doomed to an evolutionary dead end. Either we will evolve to no longer be able to think about these things or we will go extinct.Garth

    Yeah, it certainly proves that something is defective, I'm going to say it was your original point, which was demonstrably absurd. Agree to disagree I guess.
  • Valentinus
    868

    The joy and suffering that comes from the pursuit of achievement is not a zero sum game. It appears as a means to get better. But who is the tutor after a certain point?

    Skill comes from having to do things without the proper preparation. One has to make mistakes to start paying attention. No skill appears unless somebody went through the trouble of acquiring it.

    From that point of view, the question of why labor got specialized comes more from the deals we have made between ourselves than any preponderance for suffering we might display as a species.
  • Garth
    79
    All the evidence goes against you, who would argue that Michael Jordon made basketball less popular? Or that Michael Jackson made people had the effect of making people NOT want to dance like him?Judaka

    I think you're using a more sophisticated theory of consumption than me. I am treating goods like "watching basketball on TV" and "going out and playing basketball" as substitutes. You are arguing that they are complementary. Ultimately we are dealing with an empirical question of statistical economics. But if seeing all of these people doing sports and dancing on TV really makes us want to go do these things, why would 73% of Americans be overweight? Are we not watching enough television to become sufficiently inspired?

    Skill comes from having to do things without the proper preparation. One has to make mistakes to start paying attention. No skill appears unless somebody went through the trouble of acquiring it.Valentinus

    I think I'm talking about more than just skills. I mean that the act of setting standards and training regimens has a real harm for us. We tend to think that if kids didn't go to school they'd just remain fantastically ignorant. But there is a problem with such comparisons, because the imposition of compulsory education displaces and permanently destroys previous cultural systems for raising and educating children. Yes, certainly, making the kids work in the mine or watch the animals might not be as helpful for them to get the high test scores, but it might do more to develop their character. Just joking about that last part. I mean, more specifically that it destroys aspects of traditional family and community culture.

    People do not tend to get together and do things without a reason. Traditional culture creates these reasons. But the purpose of traditional culture is to help everyone in the community provide for each other. If we turn everything into competition and put it on the market, economies of scale will dominate and most of us will no long even have a reason to be excellent. We won't need culture anymore, and so we won't have any reason to get together and do things. Thus we won't make friends anymore and we will lead miserable lives while paradoxically drowning in material abundance.

    Excellence, therefore, has its limit. Beyond this limit it turns around and devours itself.
  • Valentinus
    868

    Traditional Culture also has its cruelty. The fun time can't-we-just-all-get-along-vibe works to keep the peace while excluding others from that benefit. Your idea of competition is far removed from where it is happening.
  • Brett
    3k


    People do not tend to get together and do things without a reason. Traditional culture creates these reasons. But the purpose of traditional culture is to help everyone in the community provide for each other. If we turn everything into competition and put it on the market, economies of scale will dominate and most of us will no long even have a reason to be excellent.Garth

    Having put it that way I do think you have a point. But I’m not sure if competition is behind it. I mean if the number of people sitting around watching tv as much as you suggest, which I don’t doubt, gaining weight, barely using their minds, then I don’t see competition as the cause. Unless you feel they have actually been defeated by the competitive world, which is possible. I agree that our traditional culture has been damaged. And it wouldn’t matter what that culture is, all cultures have been damaged. I said in another post that we have become the economy. That means, as individuals, we can never stop. If we do we sink. That changes priorities.
  • Garth
    79
    Animals before the frikkin market.
  • Judaka
    1k

    But if seeing all of these people doing sports and dancing on TV really makes us want to go do these things, why would 73% of Americans be overweight? Are we not watching enough television to become sufficiently inspired?Garth

    Not a valid argument. Not only is it possible to play sports or dance and still be overweight but inactivity is not the cause of American obesity, so there's really nothing here for you at all.

    I can take any example I want really but here's a recent one:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/23/arts/television/chess-set-board-sales.html

    The main character in this show is a genius, what she does cannot be replicated by nearly anyone but guess what, she makes people think chess is cool.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2020/05/03/michael-jordans-1-billion-nike-endorsement-is-the-biggest-bargain-in-sports/?sh=927301261363

    Businesses are paying stars like Michael Jordan millions because they know he'll inspire people to buy what he uses because they want to be like him. Not because he's driving them to despair how they'll never be as good as he is.

    When you form your opinions based on theories, rather than looking at facts, you can make up almost anything. I don't really want to hear what else you can makeup, you need to be fact-checking yourself instead of just believing whatever is convenient for you.
  • Brett
    3k


    Not only is it possible to play sports or dance and still be overweight but inactivity is not the cause of American obesity, so there's really nothing here for you at all.Judaka

    I think it’s very unlikely that someone could be overweight and play sport or dance. Of course it’s possible but not long enough to count as anything. Inactivity would be a large contributor to obesity. Activity would certainly change it.

    Edit:
    Businesses are paying stars like Michael Jordan millions because they know he'll inspire people to buy what he uses because they want to be like him.Judaka

    Without actually doing anything except buying a pair of shoes made in a sweat box in a third world country.
  • Judaka
    1k

    I think it’s very unlikely that someone could be overweight and play sport or dance. Of course it’s possible but not long enough to count as anything. Inactivity would be a large contributor to obesity. Activity would certainly change it.Brett

    All you have to do is open up a calorie calculator to realise that even doing a large amount of exercise does not burn enough calories to make that much of a difference. The typical American diet is filled with sugar and processed carbohydrates (sugar), which causes weight gain and insulin resistance, this is what is causing the obesity epidemic, mostly that at least. You can be very lean and not exercise at all but you cannot eat and drink sugar and process carbohydrates all day and be lean just because you do some sport or dancing. What you're saying is akin to saying you can eat whatever you want provided you're physically active and that's just not true.

    If you just go out and do some social sport or dancing, your "unlikely" will become a "certainly" at least anecdotally. It's only when you get into a more competitive environment that you'll stop seeing overweight people participating. Also, overweight is NOT the same as obese, I am saying overweight as in 25-30 BMI or something.
  • jgill
    979
    For instance, a person untrained in singing, who has never heard an excellent singer, will be content to listen to even a bad singer. Thus, this person, and his friends, all equally ignorant, will happily sing to each otherGarth

    This is hilarious. One of the reasons I enjoy this forum. :cool:
  • Garth
    79
    you need to be fact-checking yourselfJudaka

    I'm not an empiricist. Consequently, I don't need to base my arguments on facts.
  • Brett
    3k


    What you're saying is akin to saying you can eat whatever you want provided you're physically active and that's just not true.Judaka

    That is not what I’m saying. This is what I said.

    Inactivity would be a large contributor to obesity.Brett

    Also, overweight is NOT the same as obese, I am saying overweight as in 25-30 BMI or something.Judaka

    I used obesity because you had used it. So I don’t know what we’re talking about now.

    If you just go out and do some social sport or dancing, your "unlikely" will become a "certainly" at least anecdotally.Judaka

    That’s a bit rich using anecdotal evidence when you condemn @Garth, saying “ I don't really want to hear what else you can makeup, you need to be fact-checking yourself instead of just believing whatever is convenient for you.

    You used to be better than this.
  • Judaka
    1k

    What? You believe it is rational to believe something to be true when it's demonstrably untrue because...? Your logic? Or what? You also don't care about rationality?


    That is not what I’m saying. This is what I said.Brett

    I think it’s very unlikely that someone could be overweight and play sport or dance.Brett

    This is what I was responding to but if when you said "overweight" you meant "obese" then I would agree with you. If that is just the misunderstanding then that's fine, I do not use these terms interchangeably but I can see how you thought I might be.

    That’s a bit rich using anecdotal evidence when you condemn Garth, saying “ I don't really want to hear what else you can makeup, you need to be fact-checking yourself instead of just believing whatever is convenient for you.Brett

    I complimented my fact-based argument with anecdotes, there's nothing wrong with that.
  • Brett
    3k


    What? You believe it is rational to believe something to be true when it's demonstrably untrue because...? Your logic? Or what? You also don't care about rationality?Judaka

    I don’t know what this refers to.

    I complimented my fact-based argument with anecdotes, there's nothing wrong with that.Judaka

    If you just go out and do some social sport or dancing, your "unlikely" will become a "certainly" at least anecdotally.Judaka

    Your anecdotal evidence wasn’t related to any fact- based argument but to the idea that “If you just go out and do some social sport or dancing, your "unlikely" will become a "certainly" ...” There’s nothing factually reliable about that whole sentence.
  • Garth
    79
    I don’t know what this refers to.Brett

    It was directed at me, and I deserve it. I'm actually starting to regret making this thread now. I'm definitely saying a lot of ridiculous things at this point.
  • Brett
    3k


    Well rewrite it without what you think is ridiculous, if you feel they are?
  • Judaka
    1k

    Your anecdotal evidence wasn’t related to any fact- based argument but to the idea that “If you just go out and do some social sport or dancing, your "unlikely" will become a "certainly" ...” There’s nothing factually reliable about that whole sentence.Brett

    You did not clarify whether you are using obesity and overweight interchangeably.

    I said enough, that neither being overweight or obese necessarily means that there's no physical activity. At 25-30 BMI, which is considered overweight, there is no reason that someone could not play casual sports or go dancing. I personally know or have seen many people who are overweight who play sports regularly. There is no reason to think that someone who played sports actively could not be overweight nor that someone who was overweight could not play sports actively. I don't know about any statistics showing how physically active overweight people are but it shouldn't be necessary because you've got nothing to back up your claims and really, it's in plain sight, now, that's if you are talking about the 25-30 BMI range, not obese.

    I said enough, why should I have to write an essay to a comment of yours which was literally "I think" without any argument, statistics, quotes or anything of anything? The point I'm making isn't even relevant to the OP in the first place. Your criticism of me is invalid, there's nothing to argue about.

    It was directed at me, and I deserve it. I'm actually starting to regret making this thread now. I'm definitely saying a lot of ridiculous things at this point.Garth

    I'm not saying these things just to try to make you look silly, if you admit that you were being ridiculous then I'm happy to agree with you and leave it at that. Acknowledging and learning from our mistakes is much more impressive than pretending we never make any.
  • Brett
    3k


    The point I'm making isn't even relevant to the OP in the first place. Your criticism of me is invalid, there's nothing to argue about.Judaka

    Yes, very true. No sarcasm intended.
  • Brett
    3k


    We should be wrong all the time. It's boring to be correct; nobody has anything to say about a sound argument.Garth

    An interesting statement. OPs where posters agree die very quickly. But that could be the nature of people the forum attracts. Very few people think anyone else is correct.

    “Nobody has anything to say about a sound argument”. Yes, why is that, because there’s no friction?
  • Hippyhead
    1.1k
    I'm actually starting to regret making this thread now. I'm definitely saying a lot of ridiculous things at this point.Garth

    If that's true, then wouldn't that make you the bad singer who should just relax and keep singing?

    I think your thread raises all kinds of interesting questions, and thus is not at all ridiculous on a philosophy forum.
  • Hippyhead
    1.1k
    The people each lose their own self-sufficiencyGarth

    This does seem a very important aspect of specialist culture. Specialist culture brings great new powers, some of which present grave new threats, and should those threats manifest themselves very few of us know how to feed ourselves. Social chaos would erupt at the moment when the average person concludes they will not be able to replenish their meager food supplies by legal means.

    By demanding and pursuing some perfect and excellent way of understanding the world, we really do nothing but discourage our ignorant friends from participating.

    It's true that some people just aren't cut out for abstract ideas. This is typically addressed by the group consensus telling we philosophers that we are hogging the conversation if we dare shift the focus away from wandering idle chit chat for more than one minute. :-)

    I might rephrase your statement this way. By demanding and pursuing some perfect and excellent way of understanding the world we are shifting our focus away from reality itself to our thoughts about reality. That is, we are choosing a diluted 2nd hand experience of reality over the real thing.

    It's boring to be correct...

    It's not just boring. When it comes the largest of questions which appeal to we philosophically minded folks, being correct is also largely a fantasy.

    Should we even do philosophy at all?

    We should, because that's what people like you and I were born to do, and respect for that genetic inheritance is warranted.

    But we should do so in a manner which imitates the reality we are trying to understand. The overwhelming vast majority of that reality consists of what we typically refer to as nothing, with tiny little bits of something sprinkled throughout. So if our philosophical experience is mostly silence, with little gems of wisdom contained within that vast space, we're probably on the right track.

    It's perhaps interesting to recall that for those engaged in sports their muscles grow not when they are using them, but when they are at rest. Might be true for mental exercise as well.
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