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Thread: What does Philosophy mean to you?

  1. #1 What does Philosophy mean to you? 
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    What is philosophy? Is it a religion? A scientific research article? Is it the prelude to a great scientific theory? Or, maybe a personal experience that resonates with our religious or scientific beliefs?

    Most of what I've ever seen in philosophy forums is reviews of noted philosophers as if no one on this planet at this time is capable of individual thought. Scientists I have had discussions with see themselves as being philosophers and use convoluted arguments to back their judgement of themselves. They see philosophy as part of science to be used to put forward ethical arguments for scientific theories rather than an evolving thought train that discusses world issues and perhaps along the way brings forth ideas that can be formulated into theories.

    The world, its politics and beliefs are distorted to an extent where people are looking for a more rational direction. Truth, fake news, propaganda, socialism, communism, fascism, are misconstrued words while Realism isn't even on the horizon any more. We all seem to be trapped in a manufactured realism that is deluding all of us into believing that only what happens to us is relevant. Only the individual exists in such a contortion.

    I watch a lot of subscriber shows and movies, I wouldn't be the only one I'm sure, however, what I notice with it is that what I get to see varies according to which service I subscribe to. The same applies to the rest of life today. We used to praise modern technology because it meant people didn't need to feel isolated but the result of so much technology has been further isolation and extremism.

    Mental health issues have always been a part of society. In recent times the pandemic has highlighted the true extent of the problem and possibly some of its causes. It is a wonder that anyone on the planet can say they are truly free of any and all mental health issues. Even health care workers find it difficult to nominate what 'normal' means.

    So, what role should Philosophy be playing or should it keep standing aside until there is a clearer picture so some profound statements can be made? Is money and influence that which dictates how and when philosophers get involved? Are philosophers so afraid of being labelled as being political they don't say anything or perhaps so involved they can't have any overview of any situation?

    I don't understand anymore. Watching the news it's all about the numbers, people don't seem to matter anymore.


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    Well science is about making observations and asking "What happens now?"

    Philosophy is about making observations and asking "What was that all about?"

    Also philosophy involves the observer in the realm of discussion whereas science seeks to remove the observer from the debate if at all possible.

    Although I am sure there is much more (and perhaps in contradiction to)to it than that.


    Last edited by geordief; February 16th, 2022 at 08:02 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sageimnot View Post
    What is philosophy?
    Many would consider philosophy an amalgamation of various aspects of human perceptions upon which rational approaches and discussions to various topics can be made. There is no clear definition.

    However, it is instructive to appreciate that the highest degree typically awarded by colleges and universities is a Ph.D. - a doctorate in philosophy*. This is true for those who study physics, chemistry, biology, geology, sociology, etc.

    So "Scientists I have had discussions with see themselves as being philosophers...." is an accurate description. I have known hundreds over many years, and most do not "use convoluted arguments to back their judgement of themselves". Some might use such arguments to describe faulty concepts, but the best scientists are not self-absorbed. They employ empirical evidence from experimental results to back up their theories, etc.

    By studying the reasons for this designation of Ph.D., one might find some better ideas as to the definition(s) of philosophy.


    "Doctor of Philosophy"

    * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_of_Philosophy
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    [QUOTE=Double Helix;634671]
    Quote Originally Posted by Sageimnot View Post
    What is philosophy?
    So "Scientists I have had discussions with see themselves as being philosophers...." is an accurate description. I have known hundreds over many years, and most do not "use convoluted arguments to back their judgement of themselves". Some might use such arguments to describe faulty concepts, but the best scientists are not self-absorbed. They employ empirical evidence from experimental results to back up their theories, etc.

    In a perfect world your response would be ...perfect however, scientists do in fact get full of themselves. The point of philosophy in the traditional sense isn't necessarily empirical. To suggest otherwise is really saying that philosophy isn't a requirement in a modern day world. The awarding of a PhD to scientists only depreciates the value of Philosophy. We desperately need real philosophers. We need open discussion and direction and we're not going to get that from a physicist or biologist.
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Well science is about making observations and asking "What happens now?"

    Philosophy is about making observations and asking "What was that all about?"

    Also philosophy involves the observer in the realm of discussion whereas science seeks to remove the observer from the debate if at all possible.

    Although I am sure there is much more (and perhaps in contradiction to)to it than that.
    Philosophy is also about possibilities relative to what is and what was. Without this there is no point and we might as well listen to the news instead.
    Science is about facts, research, and number crunching to obtain an empirical view of what is and what could be. The mechanics of an idea.
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    I don't take any notice of philosophy now because it's dead having failed to keep up with science.
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    If philosophers appreciate the limits of their enquiries then it is a far deeper pursuit that understanding the laws of physics (and other scientific endeavours)

    If they do not then it is far more dangerous and fallible.

    A bad scientist is very limited in the harm he or she can do whereas bad philosophers can destroy our democratic practices and poison our social intercourse.
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    A bad scientist is very limited in the harm he or she can do whereas bad philosophers can destroy our democratic practices and poison our social intercourse.
    Could not agree more.

    However, in the final analysis, we are all philosophers to some extent. Many are worthless, or worse.

    Those who provide for the common good are few and far between.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Helix View Post
    However, in the final analysis, we are all philosophers to some extent. Many are worthless, or worse.
    Philosophy is only trying to bridge the gap between what we know and what we don't know.
    It may be true that philosophy is a tool for scientific enquiry, but observation and experiment are far more useful.
    Philosophy complicates. Science simplifies.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    It may be true that philosophy is a tool for scientific enquiry, but observation and experiment are far more useful.
    Philosophy complicates. Science simplifies.
    This fails to take into account that the scientific method is itself based on philosophical principle.
    There are no paradoxes in relativity, just people's misunderstandings of it.
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    Can you clarify how far you go back with the scientific method.
    Did it derive from Aristotle, Ibn al-Haytham, Roger Bacon or whoever?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    I don't take any notice of philosophy now because it's dead having failed to keep up with science.
    So sad. There are so many benefits to be found in Philosophy. Philosophy was there before the scientific method and provided direction for people both political and social. There is a great need for it today but unfortunately most who have studied anything of it are scientists and it is too difficult for them to understand philosophy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Double Helix View Post
    However, in the final analysis, we are all philosophers to some extent. Many are worthless, or worse.
    Philosophy is only trying to bridge the gap between what we know and what we don't know.
    It may be true that philosophy is a tool for scientific enquiry, but observation and experiment are far more useful.
    Philosophy complicates. Science simplifies.
    This is a vagary. Philosophy isn't about new discoveries, though some have over time led to such discoveries, it is about the clarification of discovery and action and it's implications on the wider society. Something science can't handle as science deals only with the discovery.
    Science can be seen as simplifying because it ignores the implications and only focuses on the direct involvement of the discovery. It is time science looked at the more complex picture.
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    If philosophers appreciate the limits of their enquiries then it is a far deeper pursuit that understanding the laws of physics (and other scientific endeavours)

    If they do not then it is far more dangerous and fallible.

    A bad scientist is very limited in the harm he or she can do whereas bad philosophers can destroy our democratic practices an d poison our social intercourse.
    A bad scientist can destroy the world. We have all seen the effects of a virus let loose on society. No philosopher can ever do that. You will mostly find that bad philosophers are very quickly found out and ignored by the majority.
    My complaint about modern day philosophers is their employment as ethics consultants. This work straddles the philosopher to thinking in company mode and makes them more or less a marketing tool.
    I wouldn't call politicians and political analysts philosophers, I hope we are all above that. You step on dangerous ground suggesting the infestation of social discourse with malice is the practice of philosophers. Social discourse is an ancient avenue for philosophers to get together and discuss ideas.
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    Now, maybe, I have ventured a little offline to my own desires with my posts. See, humanity has not changed much over the millennia. We like to think we're different and certainly our scientific advances make life look and feel very different however, socially and emotionally we are the same. With that if there was a need once upon a time for philosophers then there is the same need today. So, what do we have to offer to meet today's needs but a handful of scientists who ventured to do an extra year of study and thus attain the title of philosopher. Like science, philosophy needs to be a life service and not a passing whim. My understanding of why philosophy started to be taught to scientists is because they had a problem with ethics and communication. Unfortunately, what has happened is that it has made some scientists better at selling their product and at justifying their ethics. If philosophy is dying then it will probably die with the likes of myself and others who belief in the purity of our beliefs.
    I'm political yes, if the circumstances are there I will voice my opinion but overall I stand neutral and view the various topics from an unbiased position. I'm a realist and don't pander to mystical or religious perceptions. I feel religious books have been much misinterpreted because so many have tried to interpret every line and every word in the same way philosophers words are continually misinterpreted by those looking for that phrase that agrees with their beliefs.
    To me, if you're studying and quoting a philosopher or religious passage or phrase you need to also study under what circumstances the words were written. There has to be an understanding of history in relation to the writer. As with fiction writers we need to know what were the influences affecting the writer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sageimnot View Post
    As with fiction writers we need to know what were the influences affecting the writer.
    Yep, philosophy IS fiction.
    What testable predictions has it made?

    What has it ever said about the big questions that humans have tried to understand with regards life and the universe:
    How and why does the universe exist?
    How and why does life exist?
    Science has come up with really good answers here.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    How and why does the universe exist?
    How and why does life exist?
    Science has come up with really good answers here.
    From the perspective of "definition", the good answers would seem to be how these things exist.

    Perhaps philosophy can provide "answers" to why these things exist. (Otherwise, one must call upon the infinite contemplations of religion, or so it would seem.)

    From Oxford dictionary:

    How : "in what way or manner; by what means"

    Why : "for what reason or purpose."
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  19. #18  
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    Life: How does it exist?
    Darwinian evolution a big factor here, and is dependent on the amount of energy the earth receives from the sun and possible interference from cosmic rays to provide genetic mutations.

    Why does it exist? One answer could be to hydrogenate carbon dioxide. Another answer might be to do with the Anthropic Principle.

    Universe: How does it exist?
    Our best answer to date is the so called Big Bang cosmology.

    Why does it exist? It could be we should be asking why time exists, the strange property of the universe (or multiverse) which prevents everything from happening at once.
    Last edited by ox; March 2nd, 2022 at 11:05 AM.
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    Yes, why is a rudimentary philosophical question relative to everything and generally leads to other questions and possible answers. It is also a question that science and religion has pondered. Our intelligence exists because we first why.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sageimnot View Post
    Our intelligence exists because we first why.
    Err...what?

    I think you'll find that European philosophy has only consisted of a series of footnotes to Plato (A N Whitehead).

    Also suggest you read Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy where he shreds philosophers one after the other.
    Last edited by ox; March 5th, 2022 at 08:31 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    I think you'll find that European philosophy has only consisted of a series of footnotes to Plato (A N Whitehead).

    Also suggest you read Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy where he shreds philosophers one after the other.
    Pretty brutal to bring in such a brilliant mind as Russell.

    Not many are brave enough to argue against his comments.

    With current events, some might be drawn to one in particular:

    "War does not determine who is right, only who is left."
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Sageimnot View Post
    Our intelligence exists because we first why.
    Err...what?

    I think you'll find that European philosophy has only consisted of a series of footnotes to Plato (A N Whitehead).

    Also suggest you read Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy where he shreds philosophers one after the other.
    First, bad grammar should read 'Our intelligence exists because we first ask why'
    Secondly, you have read or understood so little of philosophy or philosophers that you would make such a statement?
    Yes, I have read Plato but also many others and no they are not the same nor do they derive their knowledge or quotes solely from Plato. I suggest you read more, it will be of great benefit to you. When you do so also take note of the history of the day because this is the greater of influence to all philosophers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Helix View Post
    Pretty brutal to bring in such a brilliant mind as Russell.
    Not many are brave enough to argue against his comments.
    I'm not arguing with Russell's History of Western Philosophy because I think it's brilliant how he demolishes every philosopher except perhaps Leibniz who he seemed to have had some respect for.

    With current events, some might be drawn to one in particular:"War does not determine who is right, only who is left."
    Russell supported pacifism, which is now replaced by diplomacy.
    His autobiography was one of the first non-school books I ever read.
    He was also an atheist, having realised that most war stems from religion and being influenced by his godfather JS Mill's ideas on religion.
    Last edited by ox; March 7th, 2022 at 07:26 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sageimnot View Post
    Our intelligence exists because we first ask why
    Nice try.

    https://www.ed.ac.uk/unpublished/new...ligence-031212
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Sageimnot View Post
    Our intelligence exists because we first ask why
    Nice try.

    https://www.ed.ac.uk/unpublished/new...ligence-031212
    and your point is?
    You see the scientific conclusion to an investigation as little or as much is the credibility. Mine is the philosophical. No question can be asked without first asking why, any 4 year old knows that.
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    My point is that the brain evolves due to natural selection underpinned by genes.
    No philosopher has ever pointed to this.
    Even the Greeks had no idea how life forms are present in huge diversity on this planet.
    It was left to Darwin to uncover the truth and he was a naturalist and not a philosopher.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    My point is that the brain evolves due to natural selection underpinned by genes.
    No philosopher has ever pointed to this.
    Even the Greeks had no idea how life forms are present in huge diversity on this planet.
    It was left to Darwin to uncover the truth and he was a naturalist and not a philosopher.
    Of course it does, no argument there. However knowledge grows from knowledge. You wouldn't be a scientist today if you didn't have knowledge of the basics then added more knowledge to your collection. Darwin would never have discovered or revealed such knowledge if he wasn't in possession of other knowledge previous to it. Science wouldn't know to look at the brain if someone with prior knowledge didn't point to it. At the beginning of the 20th century we had no idea how the brain worked outside of it having the appearance of a large muscle. No scientific investigation or discovery has ever happened without the presence of prior steps. We can analyse what we see because we know the rules pertaining to analysis, otherwise we would only be guessing and that as we all know is dangerous.
    Maybe, philosophy doesn't point to how the brain has evolved in nature because in philosophy we are more concerned about constructs of civilization and the interaction of the species, which is the very reason why science stopped being a part of philosophy.
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    Philosophy is like prayer.
    They both work.
    Let's be generous and say 5% of the time by a lucky guess or a 'logical' conclusion.

    https://press.princeton.edu/books/ha...-of-philosophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Philosophy is like prayer.
    They both work.
    Has it ever worked for you, and how could one be certain that anything actually resulted from praying?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Helix View Post
    Has it ever worked for you, and how could one be certain that anything actually resulted from praying?
    Nope. Neither prayer or philosophy has ever worked for me.
    But for those who pray and their prayers come true I'm willing to accept it works 5% of the time.
    Like when i was told that someone had prayed for a better job and he got one.
    I heard nothing of when his prayers went unanswered, but Christians tell me that in some cases it's simply a NO from god.

    In the case of philosophers, sometimes they get it right (at least sort of right, even if it's mostly wrong).

    Can anybody explain Wittgenstein to me in plain english?
    I'm guessing not because even Bertrand Russell couldn't understand him.
    That's how philosophers earn a living - by going over the top of people's heads.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    That's how philosophers earn a living - by going over the top of people's heads.
    That is how preachers earn a living too, by delivering the word of God, they are more significant and should themselves be revered.

    Probably a good job if one is good at it.
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    Interesting, I have never equated Philosophy to prayer or religion even though some philosophers have religious backgrounds.
    Personally, philosophy helps me apply logic to everyday situations. Certainly not praying, there are no gods of philosophy.
    In as far as the accuracy of philosophers, I always say you need to know the history of the particular philosopher to understand what they're talking about and from what angle they are approaching a problem. The idea of philosophic discussion is to open discourse on a subject and not necessarily to arrive at a conclusion. That's left to scientists to do.
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