• A Seagull
    530
    How much of what has been written about philosophy is indubitable?

    How much of it is indistinguishable from opinion, even if that opinion is 'justified' by cogent arguments?

    Personally, I am doubtful of almost all of it.

    What, for you, is indubitable?
  • Outlander
    357
    Perhaps much of it, perhaps none at all. Maybe that's the point. To understand what is and what isn't based on what holds water so to speak. Early philosophy was much more metaphysical. Perhaps random ideas by an individual becomes shared belief (morality) which becomes codified law (the state demanding buildings be fire safe) which becomes scientific law (principles of flammability). Perhaps 'gods' were early concepts of natural forces and their 'commandments' were early understandings of how they worked.

    What would be indubitable to me about philosophy, that is to say what can be extrapolated from it, is that we all have different opinions, some of which benefit us as a society and some which do not, the former generally being gravitated toward and perhaps becoming more. Myths being residual and useful proof of this. Remnants or ghosts of the early human process of progress. Take the 'Japanese bathroom demon' from the 'mythical creatures' thread. It clearly had a purpose. Back then sanitation was likely poor and an unkept bathroom could be lethal. If you either appease the 'entity' say by incense or sprinkling something of value (that likely had antibacterial or disinfectant qualities) or banish it by in this case simply cleaning it, 'it' would leave and you would be safe as opposed to possibly getting sick, by what would presumably at that time be said entity. Makes sense.
  • Frank Apisa
    1.9k
    What is certain, as best I can determine, is that it will continue to be spelled philosophy.

    All the rest is in flux or doubt.
  • Echarmion
    1.4k


    The scientific method seems to have a pretty good track record. There are the basic rules of logic and of honest argument, which also seem pretty stable.

    It of course has a number of enduring questions: how do I know, what is my knowledge actually about (how real is reality), what should I do. And I think associated with these a basic position of doubt, that asks for claims to be justified, even if a true argument from first principles is perhaps impossible.
  • David Mo
    635
    What, for you, is indubitable?A Seagull
    Cogito ergo sum.
    The rest, more or less justified opinions or analysis work.
  • tim wood
    4.6k
    It seems to me that what is certain is what is established with respect to given criteria. Are the criteria certain? And so on.
  • Statilius
    60
    How much of what has been written about philosophy is indubitable?A Seagull

    I wonder if perhaps, after all these years, epistemic defeatism deserves our respect and attention. By epistemic defeat (as I understand it at this point, in this time and in this place) I mean, or think I mean, that in the final analysis (and who's to know if it is or is not), and all things being equal (which they never are), we have no good evidence for the truth of any proposition. I say "perhaps" because I do not know. It appears (to me) that evidence is always conditional, or ignorant of something or other.
  • prothero
    312
    What is certain in any field?
    A justified belief in some facts of the science of the 18th century might not be a justified belief in the 21st century. Knowledge they say is "justified true belief" but I not sure we can know what is "true" perhaps the best we can do in look at the facts and our experience and formulate "justified belief" for own time and circumstances. From the professionals see below.

    https://web.ics.purdue.edu/~drkelly/RussellValuePhilosophy1912.pdf
    Betrand Russell
    HAVING now come to the end of our brief and very incomplete review of the problems
    of philosophy, it will be well to consider, in conclusion, what is the value of philosophy
    and why it ought to be studied. It is the more necessary to consider this question, in view
    of the fact that many men, under the influence of science or of practical affairs, are
    inclined to doubt whether philosophy is anything better than innocent but useless trifling,
    hair-splitting distinctions, and controversies on matters concerning which knowledge is
    impossible..........................
    .Thus, to sum up our discussion of the value of philosophy; Philosophy is to be studied,
    not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions since no definite answers can, as a
    rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because
    these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual
    imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against
    speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which
    philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great, and becomes capable of that
    union with the universe which constitutes its highest good END


    “Speculative Philosophy is the endeavor to frame a coherent, logical, necessary system of general ideas in terms of which every element of our experience can be interpreted. By this notion of interpretation’ I mean that everything of which we are conscious, as enjoyed, perceived, willed, or thought, shall have the character of a particular instance of the general scheme. Thus the philosophical scheme should be coherent, logical, and, in respect to its interpretation, applicable and adequate. Here ‘applicable’ means that some items of experience are thus interpretable, and ‘adequate’ means that there are no items incapable of such interpretation.”

    – Alfred North Whitehead, In Defense of Speculative Philosophy

    Whitehead's stronger claim; namely that "In philosophical discussion, the merest hint of dogmatic certainty as to finality of statement is an exhibition of folly."
  • SophistiCat
    1.3k
    How much of what has been written about philosophy is indubitable?A Seagull

    What would be the point of writing down what is indubitable, except as a jumping off point (like Descartes' cogito)?
  • 180 Proof
    1.4k
    How much of what has been written about philosophy is indubitable?

    What, for you, is indubitable?
    A Seagull
    Well first, what do you mean by "undubitable" "indubitable"?

    How much of it is indistinguishable from opinion, even if that opinion is 'justified' by cogent arguments?
    Only sophistry (vide Plato's early-middle dialogues, or scholastic & utopian apologias, (all 31 flavors of) 'anti-realism', etc ... e.g. francophone/centric academic p0m0).

    :mask:

    Whitehead's stronger claim; namely that "In philosophical discussion, the merest hint of dogmatic certainty as to finality of statement is an exhibition of folly."prothero
    :up:
  • Statilius
    60
    Only sophistry (vide Plato's early-middle dialogues, or scholastic & utopian apologias, (all 31 flavors of) 'anti-realism', etc ... e.g. francophone/centric academic p0m0).180 Proof

    I'm curious about this. Can you say a bit more?

    Whitehead's stronger claim; namely that "In philosophical discussion, the merest hint of dogmatic certainty as to finality of statement is an exhibition of folly."prothero

    I agree . . . and how difficult: MY folly too often.
  • Statilius
    60
    Personally, I am doubtful of almost all of it.A Seagull

    I'm wondering if you had something specific in mind when you said "almost all of it". Or, perhaps you were meaning this in a more general way.
  • Statilius
    60
    What would be the point of writing down what is indubitable, except as a jumping off point (like Descartes' cogito)?SophistiCat

    I've been thinking about what you said and it came to mind that, in real life, when someone expresses what they believe to be indubitable, they usually mean it as an ending point, a final conclusion to end conversation or inquiry--not a starting point. As in dogma: religious, scientific, philosophic or otherwise.
  • Statilius
    60
    It seems to me that what is certain is what is established with respect to given criteria.tim wood

    I'm thinking about this but am not sure I understand. Can you say a bit more? Perhaps an example would help.
  • Statilius
    60
    And I think associated with these a basic position of doubt, that asks for claims to be justified, even if a true argument from first principles is perhaps impossible.Echarmion

    Does this leave skepticism as the foundational philosophic default?
  • A Seagull
    530
    How much of what has been written about philosophy is indubitable?

    What, for you, is indubitable? — A SeagullWell first, what do you mean by "undubitable"?
    180 Proof

    From the internet : 'impossible to doubt; unquestionable."

    PS The word is 'Indubitable'.
  • A Seagull
    530
    Personally, I am doubtful of almost all of it. — A Seagull
    I'm wondering if you had something specific in mind when you said "almost all of it". Or, perhaps you were meaning this in a more general way.
    Statilius

    I was thinking of things like "(I think therefore) I am", and : We create a model of the world , which is related to the phenomenon/numenon divide.
  • Banno
    8.4k
    It's a mistake to think of philosophy as a doctrine, and hence a mistake to expect it to be certain.

    Philosophy is an activity.
  • Echarmion
    1.4k
    Does this leave skepticism as the foundational philosophic default?Statilius

    That is what I was thinking of, yes. Not necessarily a radical scepticism, more a methodological approach.

    But perhaps that's only true of parts of philosophy. There is also the philosophy of meaning and purpose, which seems to be less concerned with questions and more with guidance
  • Statilius
    60
    Good point! I think of philosophy as a means of orienting myself to knowledge, certainty, truth, the Good. To me, it is not important to get closer to it, but merely to stay pointed at it. I think of knowledge or certainty as I do the North Star. It would be foolish for me to think I can ever reach the North Star--the Pole Star--but it would be wise to orient my life toward it, point myself in its direction, moment by moment--not being concerned or worrying about getting nearer to it, but simply doing the best I can to orient and re-orient myself to it moment by moment, day by day.
  • tim wood
    4.6k
    To say that something is certain is to say that it is always the case. Our friend 2+2 is always 4. But it's certain only wrt the system within which it is certain, namely ordinary arithmetic.

    Well, is arithmetic certain? It is wrt aspects of the world although not everything in the world. (Remember your JHS science experiment when 2 1/2 glassfuls of two particular different things are poured together and the result is less than a full glass?) But, two bricks together with two other bricks make four bricks in all.

    Are those aspects of the world certain? And so forth. At some point you get to a limit test where either the original proposition either itself is absolutely certain, or a much larger part of the world is wrong, or you have certainty in "these" cases, but absolute certainty cannot (yet) be demonstrated.

    You might argue, then, that certainty is never certain but always provisional: but you can always return to the circumstance where the thing is certain, and therein absolutely certain.

    Which means that "certainty" in some discussions must be defined to be understood.

    Example: everyone knows that the sum of the interior angles of a triangle is 180 degrees, always and certainly. Except it isn't in non-Euclidean surfaces.

    The shortest and best, imo, proof of certainty was by a philosophy professor. On being asked how he knew the proposition in question was true, he answered,"It had better be."
  • 180 Proof
    1.4k
    Every (philosophical) statement which is a (formal, performative, or pragmatic) contradiction to - or lacks grounds for - doubt, no?

    Also, the presuppositions and entailments of every coherent concept or sound argument.

    :up:
  • Statilius
    60
    The shortest and best, imo, proof of certainty was by a philosophy professor. On being asked how he knew the proposition in question was true, he answered,"It had better be."tim wood

    Thanks, I too favor the professor's response. Somehow, it reminded me of the William Carlos Willams poem:

    The Red Wheelbarrow

    so much depends
    upon

    a red wheel
    barrow

    glazed with rain
    water

    beside the white
    chickens
  • tim wood
    4.6k
    A surprisingly tough-minded little poem, if understood.
  • Valentinus
    791

    What makes philosophers interesting is that they are writing for themselves.
    Once you start writing for other people, you become boring.
    As it has been and will forever be.
  • I like sushi
    2.4k
    Logic. In practice not application.
  • A Seagull
    530
    ↪A Seagull
    What makes philosophers interesting is that they are writing for themselves.
    Once you start writing for other people, you become boring.
    As it has been and will forever be.
    Valentinus

    Why should this be?
  • A Seagull
    530
    A Seagull Logic. In practice not application.I like sushi

    What do you men by 'logic'?

    And how do you differentiate between 'practice' and 'application'?
  • I like sushi
    2.4k
    I mean logic by logic? Abstracted and applied.

    All men are mortal.
    I am a man.
    I will die.

    There are various logical schemes, but propositional logic doesn’t require application to the real world - meaning the nuances of semantics. In the purest state it is mathematical, whilst applied to statements the meaning of terms used has to be agreed upon.

    Everything else is imbued with opinion, bias, guesswork, emotion, and un/happy exploration. The boon of the ‘philosophical’ mindset (so to speak) is the ready engagement with thoughts and ideas where the propositions involved are taken as a given for the sake of exploration - science arose due to certain methodologies (measured and applied predictive scheme) mapping onto our cosmological perspectives.
  • A Seagull
    530
    ↪A Seagull I mean logic by logic? Abstracted and applied.

    All men are mortal.
    I am a man.
    I will die.

    There are various logical schemes, but propositional logic doesn’t require application to the real world - meaning the nuances of semantics. In the purest state it is mathematical, whilst applied to statements the meaning of terms used has to be agreed upon.
    I like sushi

    As I see it, logic is the manipulation of symbols according to specified rules.

    Its application to words or statements is somewhat haphazard. There is no logical rigour to it. And any logical rigour in the abstract system is lost when it is applied to words.

    If A is on B then B is under A
    X is on drugs
    Drugs is under X.
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