Philosophy discussion

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message 1: by Tyler (last edited May 28, 2009 02:00PM) (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments A discussion about philosophy has to start somewhere, doesn't it? Yes, and for our group the best place to start may just be to ask what philosophy is in the first place. Even professional philosophers don't agree on the exact definition, so the question comes down to what philosophy means to you.

I'll bring out my own definition to start: Philosophy is and intergrated view of the world. I like this definition because it's simple and inclusive.

Philosophy starts with two basic subjects: Metaphysics and Epistemology. Beyond those two lie two or three evaluative subjects: Logic, Ethics, and Esthetics, for example. You could add more, like Politics and Economics, but those first three are the essential ones.

All these branches can make interesting topics, but they should go on other future threads. So to start this thread, a few questions might be:

*How do you define "philosophy?"

*How can philosophy help a person?

*What would you like to get out of a "philosophical" discussion?

*How can we apply philosophy in daily life?


So ... is this a good place to start? Here, with the right level of generality, we can begin at the beginning.



message 2: by Bibliomantic (new)

Bibliomantic | 7 comments To me, philosophy means simply: disciplined thinking. In my definition I try not to give it an object, be it world, mind, life, etc., because that limits it (e.g., to things we are aware of existing). And I go from there.


message 3: by Matt (new)

Matt (archas) | 5 comments Ah, an excellent starting question. I certainly have my own rather firm loyalties and leanings, but instead of jumping right to debate, maybe I'll throw a couple Theses into the mix and see where the contributions of others take us:

1. "A philosophy" and "a world-view" are different things, though they are related.

2. Philosophy is not a science; nor is it a "fine art" (like literature).

3. 'A' philosophy will be distinguished by its method.

And I'd agree with Bibliomantic, here: philosophy, properly speaking, has no "proper" object.

Finally--and this is where the fun happens, I think--I'd recall something Althusser used to say: that it is impossible to define philosophy without adopting a position within philosophy. That is, simply defining philosophy is a philosophical exercise. [But then, we ask: If this is so, then what does it tell us about the practice of philosophy as such?]


message 4: by Tyler (last edited Jun 20, 2008 04:14PM) (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments
Hi Bibliomantic --

I think one reason not to give philosophy too specific an object is that it often deals with cutting-edge issues that haven't really been precisely defined yet.

For example, two emerging problems this century are animal rights and transhumanism. Neither subject lends itself to a specific field as yet, so philosophy has a lot to say on those subjects.

Instead of taking an object, perhaps philosophy best serves as a sort of glue to make sense of the many conficting trends and the variety objects in the world.


message 5: by Tyler (last edited Jun 20, 2008 04:19PM) (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments 2. Philosophy is not a science; nor is it a "fine art" (like literature).

To me, a fine art would be a subject for Aesthetics, so I agree that philosophy can't be reduced to that.

I saw a comment recently that implied that philosophy was moving closer to the enterprise of science. I thought that was interesting, but if there were an exact correlation, then there would be no such thing as a Philosophy of Science.


3. 'A' philosophy will be distinguished by its method.

I've heard it said that philosophy, properly speaking, is something that you "do." If that's true, than the method employed is indeed important.

Two basic "methods" come to mind: looking at philosophy in terms of its historical development, and looking at it in terms of its personalities. These are two that I've heard of. But I think you may know about other methods in approaching philosophy that we can think about as well.


it is impossible to define philosophy without adopting a position within philosophy

This is an interesting point, but it may be a trivial one, depending on just what the scope of philosophy should be. Besides this point, I've also heard the modern critique that any philosophical system can be "deconstructed" using its own methods and terms. This is another interesting observation, and what it implies is an open book.







message 6: by Quee (last edited Jun 23, 2008 12:13PM) (new)

Quee Some professional philosophers like to quip that philosophy is just "a series of footnotes to Plato." This almost suggests the idea that Philosophy is a thought-tradition not completely unlike a religion (or at least some religions, like Hinduism) seem also to be. Like a religion, it has important founders (Plato, Aristotle, etc.)

But I would not say this. Instead, I would say that Philosophy is a body of literature and a tradition of open-ended debate about certain questions, such as for example:

"Can we know anything with certainty?"
"How do we justify our beliefs?"
"Are there laws of good thinking?"
"Does God exist?"
"Do we have Free Will?"
"Can we justify religious beliefs?"
"Can we have souls?"
"Are there objective moral facts?"
"Is logic universal?"
"Are all observations theory-laden?"
"Are all objects socially constructed?"
"Are you in the room, or is the room in you?"
"Are there objective truths?"
"Must we ever take anything on blind faith?"
"How universal can science be?"



message 7: by Tyler (last edited Jun 21, 2008 12:57PM) (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments I would say that Philosophy is a body of literature and a tradition of open-ended debate

Quee, I was thinking about the influence of literature in philosophy as well. So much of the literature I've encountered contains either an explicit point of view or a representation of some philosophy or other in the pages of the narratives. So I think philosophy as an aspect of literature enriches both subjects.

Many of the questions you brought up appear in Dostoyevsky's works, which I like. And I recently read Camus for the first time, where some of the questions you pose cropped up in the The Stranger.

Philosophy as a thought tradition is an interesting perspective. To the extent that literature has developed as a tradition of thought, it makes sense to look at philosophy in terms of literature. Goodreads is a good place to examine the connection more closely.


message 8: by Bibliomantic (last edited Jun 23, 2008 07:53AM) (new)

Bibliomantic | 7 comments I would never advise anyone to take seriously the statement that philosophy is nothing more than "a series of footnotes to Plato." It sounds like an off-the-cuff remark of a stuffed Platonist, and that’s exactly what it is—I believe we can safely attribute it to Alfred North Whitehead. If I were to describe how it undervalues the original contributions of philosophers from around the world, I wouldn’t know where to begin. Let’s just say that as unfair as it is, saying that the works of Plato are nothing more than a series of footnotes to Socrates is still more accurate than the notion that all of philosophy merely amounts to footnotes to what Plato left behind.


message 9: by Quee (new)

Quee I've always been a secret fan of footnotes, actually. Some of the most important things ever said have appeared in footnotes, since it often happens that an author will stash some little diamond there for no other reason than the fact that it didn't "fit" anywhere else in the flow of the book, but was just too darn good to leave out.

My only caveat about calling philosophy a kind of "literature," is my fear that it lends itself to the postmodern doctrine that there's no real difference between fiction and non-fiction.


message 10: by Bibliomantic (last edited Jun 23, 2008 12:46PM) (new)

Bibliomantic | 7 comments I'm a fan of footnotes myself. I always have a hard time passing one by. I do recall that a few of them have even been footnotes to Plato.

I agree about the danger of "literature"--perhaps "a discipline" or "a body of work" instead of "a body of literature" would be safe from misuse?

What about the "open-ended" part? It may be so, but doesn't it imply irrelevance? After all, if a debate is forever open-ended, nothing that is said at any one point ever really matters since it may be overturned at any time afterward.


message 11: by Vip (new)

Vip Vinyaratn | 3 comments Gile Delueze said something like "Philosophy is a formation of concept" in his book. (Is the title "What is Philosophy?")

And I've herd that if philosophy is not open-ended, it'll become a kind of religion. Since what religion always claim is the absolute end-in-itself Truth.

And all we can grasp, from the philosophical stand point, is only the "trace" of truth...

???


message 12: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments saying that the works of Plato are nothing more than a series of footnotes to Socrates is still more accurate

Of course, without Plato, we wouldn't know that much about Socrates. On the other hand, if more of Aristotle's works had survived, we might be saying the same thing about him.

As best I can tell, Plato's contribution is more significant now to what's called the philosophy of religion, rather than philosophy generally. Of course, until the Enlightenment, there was no specific philosophy of religion, and Plato's thoughts applied to the whole body of work.

The remarkable thing about Plato is not that what he wrote was especially profound, but that he wrote anything at all. Considering what he had to work with at the time, which was practically nothing, it can be said that he almost single-handedly got the enterprise of philosophy off the ground. There lies his true value.




message 13: by Tyler (last edited Jun 24, 2008 12:25PM) (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments Hi Vip --

... if philosophy is not open-ended, it'll become a kind of religion. Since what religion always claim is the absolute end-in-itself Truth.

Even if philosphy completely integrated what we know into a series of bridging concepts, it remains open-ended because our grasp of reality is both incomplete and contingent. "Contingent" means that it doesn't have to be true: "The sun will rise tomorrow" is contingently true only, because nothing guarantees it actually will rise.

Religions often make truth claims that are necessary, not contingent. This is particularly the case when some variation of the Ontological Argument is the basis of a religious claim. The very nature of that argument entails a logical necessity. A logically necessary truth is indeed "absolutely" deductible.

Mathematics is a good example of logically necessary truths. The great problem is whether this kind of necessity can be applied beyond the subject of mathematics.


Gile Delueze said something like "Philosophy is a formation of concept"

I'm not familiar with his philosophy, so I'm not sure what he means. If what he means is that concepts have an integrating, or bridging, value, I understand that. On the other hand, concepts themselves differ in their scope. Some are fairly limited, while others (like the concept of "reality") expansively broad.






message 14: by Vip (last edited Jun 26, 2008 11:40PM) (new)

Vip Vinyaratn | 3 comments Thanks for replying relyt ^^

I'm not familiar with Deluezian philosophy myself. "Philosophy is a formation of concept" is a phrase I've often herd, maybe it's like a kind of jargon. (Hope someone here can clarified the phrase in the deleuzian's sense for me ^^; )

I just skimmed through Nietzsche's "truth and lie in the nonmoral sense". He also emphasized that the concept of Truth as an anthropomorphic invention, "a beautiful dream". We makes those "dreams" refereable by using series of metaphorical language to create "concepts". The quest for Truth in main-stream western philosophy is, in Nietzsche's view, also an illusion.



...Considering what he had to work with at the time, which was practically nothing, it can be said that he almost single-handedly got the enterprise of philosophy off the ground. There lies his true value.

From my understanding, Plato was extremely influenced by pre-socratic philosopher like Parmanides, who introduced the idea of divided line between the appearance world and the intelligible world. Plato developed this idea into theory of form and his own version of divided line (he wrote at the end of the Replubic book 6 and 7).



message 15: by Tyler (last edited Jun 29, 2008 08:55AM) (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments Hi Vip --

Philosophy as a "formation of concept" makes sense to me to the extent that concepts bring together apparently unrelated elements.


Plato was extremely influenced by pre-socratic philosopher like Parmanides...

Parmenides, of course, was one of the first thinkers to try to characterize reality: an ontologist, or metaphysician. What I mean in saying Plato had virtually nothing to work with was not just the absence of previous philosphers, but also the absence of written works to build upon. Little of what Parmenides taught survives in written form.

I didn't know the line simile came from Parmenides, but the other similes, the sun and the cave, all make the same point about the concrete world and the abstract one. Plato may have employed three similes to make his point as clear as possible.

I agree that in developing his theory of ideal Forms, Plato was making both a metaphysical and an epistemological claim, so he must have relied upon Parmenides as a starting point.


The quest for Truth in main-stream western philosophy is, in Nietzsche's view, also an illusion.

Nietzsche's unique style make him hard to interpret. Some read him as a nihilist, but this bears a closer look at how nihilism relates to the concept of truth.

Nietzsche's philosphy tries to do two things. First, it tears down the contemporaneous conventional philosophy; second, it proposes a solution the the question of what to do next. Both sides are important in understanding his notion of truth.

My personal view starts with what Nietzsche destroyed. He rejects not just the religious concept of God, but secular substitutes as well -- things like Hegel's Absolute, or Kant's noumena (which can be extrapolated into a metaphysical imperative). On my reading, Nietzsche dismisses the idea of a necessary truth, as opposed to a contingent proposition.

As he tries to build a new world upon the ashes of necessary truth, he doesn't rule out other means of arriving at propositions we can think of as true. Truth, then, would be more a matter of human perspectives than metaphysical or epistemological necessity.

Nihilism seems to pop up most often in relation to ethics and morality. If no necessary truth exists, it's reasonable to conclude no moral system has justification, or so the idea goes. But in his proposal for an overman, the ethical standards Nietzche applies are a form of "non-cognitive" thinking. I believe that because of the distinction Nietzsche makes between evil and bad. That argues for a psychological interpretation of human actions, but not a total abandonment of morality.

As a result, I think Nietzsche was aiming for a contingent interpretation of truth as a starting point for a new world. His seemingly nihilistic approach to this overman morality is often applied too enthusiastically to the first part of his philosophy, the overthrow of necessity-based philosophical systems.



message 16: by Draco3seven (new)

Draco3seven Crawdady | 1 comments How do you define "philosophy?"

That’s a tricky question… since sometimes it seeks objectivity about subjectivity… there is the innately personal aspect that seeks to justify it self according to some exterior medium (generally logical application of language as to not create any insurmountable contradictions’). As you stated, it’s generally thought at base to include questions concerning metaphysics, epistemology, ethic, and logic, sometimes ontology… I am not sure that the starting point matters so much, since any take is going to have to weave together different aspects of all these subfields… in to some coherent relationship… This weaving together different conception into a coherent relationship, and sometimes talking about it, seems to be the activity side of philosophy… But then there seems to also be the process side of philosophy, which is the effect this newly formed conception has on an experiential level as far as how you now interpret things and behave accordingly (sometimes called awareness), after having analyzed, connected, detangled, rationalized and articulated (either internally or externally) reality and what you know about it.

How can philosophy help a person?

This activity can lead a person to find out who they are at their depths… or define who they are… sometimes both.

What would you like to get out of a "philosophical" discussion?

The light turned on feel… aha

How can we apply philosophy in daily life?

I think this depends on how much faith you can put in what you think… It comes down to the person, if you have the conviction that your thoughts are honest and thorough and they are also the best guiding principle… then you’re likely to act and behave in accordance with you’re philosophy… So you apply philosophy if after having organized it, you “allow” it to have an effect.



message 17: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments Hi Draco3seven --

I am not sure that the starting point matters so much, since any take is going to have to weave together different aspects of all these subfields… in to some coherent relationship… This weaving together different conception into a coherent relationship, and sometimes talking about it, seems to be the activity side of philosophy…

That's an interesting point. One question that came to mind was whether you could start with just any question in philosophy, and that's why I brought that up. If you wanted to talk about ethics, would you want to plunge right in at that point, or back up a little to a more fundamental question of how to justify a moral statement in the first place?

It depends on how well you know the other people in the discussion. Philosophical thinking takes place at all levels: some people know it well, some people are just starting out exploring it. Nobody can get by without philosophy, but outside of academia, people's knowledge of it (including mine) is usually uneven or limited. So I think that's an important factor here.

Your remark about the coherence of the relationship of ideas in philosophy is interesting because it brings up the question of how truth can be defined in relation to a system of coherent ideas -- the Rationalist perspective, I believe.


I think this depends on how much faith you can put in what you think…

Talking about philosophical problems can give a person more faith in what they're thinking. I think that because everyone philosophizes to some extent, so the question isn't whether to do it or not, but how well.


So you apply philosophy if after having organized it, you “allow” it to have an effect.

I agree. Pursuing philosophy to any extent broadens a person's perspective, and this changed perspective affects the way someone sees the people, events and ideas around him.


The light turned on feel… aha

I've gotten that feeling a few times in discussions that have taken a philosophical turn, and it usually comes from a chance remark some other person makes, not from head-on argumentation. Sometimes, a person's philosophical asides have an effect they're not aware of. This is an interesting benefit of engaging in philosophy.


This activity can lead a person to find out who they are at their depths… or define who they are

And likewise, it can help someone define or figure out their relationship to the world around them.



message 18: by Christian (new)

Christian | 1 comments Philosophy, to me is an inheritance, that all of us share but none one owns and anyone can contribute to. A legacy of curiosity really. It pokes its head into literature, art, and daily life through many different mediums. There most certainly was philosophy long before Socrates or Plato and no single person/place/time defines it.

Breaking philosophy down into groups like Metaphysics and Epistomology, and the questions asked under those groups is probably the best way to approach this. True there is history and personalities intertwined into philosophy but they will still fall within the groups.

I see a current dilema within philosophy: The need to be thorough, encompassing the complexity of existence and the need to not stagnate. Personally I have always found that fiction is a more fruitful medium for philosophy. Non-fiction, philosophical essays are to dry, to distant from the human condition. Dostoevsky, Camus, Sartre, and many others have used fiction to bring philosophy alive. I also think that using fiction as a creative method alows us to ask questions of situations that don't currently exist, scifi especially has this capability. I find that identifying thoughts and ideas with characters is more universal. I also see the difficulty of consolidation in philosophy and science. Knowledge has become so specialized that a comprehensive understanding is more difficult than it ever has been.

What are your thoughts on the mediums through which philosophy exist? Favorites?


message 19: by Tyler (last edited Jul 16, 2008 11:51AM) (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments What are your thoughts on the mediums through which philosophy exist?

Sometimes I ask people whether a person can live without a philosophy, and I usually get an answer like, "Of course!" I don't agree. Everyone goes through life according to some philosophy or other, no matter how inexplicit or mangled the beliefs may be. So to me, the medium through which philosophy exists is one of universal necessity. Without it, life would be a series of unprecedented phenomena.

I see a current dilema within philosophy: The need [...] the need to not stagnate.

A certain stagnancy seems to have come over philosophy in the 20th century. But because the project of philosophy engages emerging phenomena (I mentioned transhumanism as an example), I don't think it will remain stuck long.

Personally I have always found that fiction is a more fruitful medium for philosophy.

I like reading both philosophy and fiction. But literature does have an advantage by allowing you to explore a radical idea in privacy, as it might play out in real life if the idea were ever one day put into effect.

I also notice that lots of literature explores philosophical ideas to some extent or other. It would be an interesting discussion to come up with a list of books that do it best.

I also think that using fiction as a creative method alows us to ask questions of situations that don't currently exist, scifi especially has this capability.

Because situations that don't yet exist for humans fall within the scope of philosophical investigation, science fiction is a superb area of literature to do this in. The question that comes to mind is which books and which writers best handle the philosophical angle of the genre.

I find that identifying thoughts and ideas with characters is more universal.

Yes. Dostoevsky is especially good at this. Generally, it's easier to remember a character than an abstract idea.

I also see the difficulty of consolidation in philosophy and science. Knowledge has become so specialized that a comprehensive understanding is more difficult ...

Because scientific development creates specialized categories of knowledge and investigation, the best function of philosophy is perhaps to explore what features hold the scientfic enterprise together, as a whole and with other areas of human experience.


message 20: by einfuhlung (new)

einfuhlung | 4 comments i prefer phenomenology (the study of phenomena) to the term philosophy (the love of wisdom). too many people have too many versions of the word "wisdom".


message 21: by Tyler (last edited Sep 13, 2008 01:37PM) (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments The only problem with that idea is that "phenomenology" already has a more delimited meaning. Doing this would mean one more word, like "philosophy" itself, with meanings open to interpretation.

The problem of defining "philosophy" can be partly resolved by asking whether a given definition is too narrow. Philosophy as a "love of wisdom" is correct to the derivation of the word, but the actual meaning now has little to do with wisdom which, as you point out, has a very elastic interpretation.

Whatever philosophy (or your phenomenology) is, a helpful way to narrow down the concept might be to say what it isn't. It's surely not a specialized field in the ordinary sense, with a limited scope. It seems to more like an integrating field of study, a field that holds all others together with the appropriate degree of generality.


message 22: by Pejman (new)

Pejman | 2 comments Hi
what is philosophy? what this question remind me was the title of Deleuze's book 'What is Philosophy?'. Deleuze in his work argues that philosophy is creating. what philosophy creates is concepts. philosophical concepts are absolutely different with our every day use of concepts. Deleuze gives us an example from Nietzsche philosophy. He says it was Nietzsche who used the concept 'happiness' in a philosophical way. think philosophy is untimely way of thinking. I would like to reject all the conventional ways of applying philosophy.


message 23: by Justin (new)

Justin (calcious) | 1 comments Hello,

Good discussions here, but I wanted to examine further why people should study philosophy...

I'm a philosophy major and I get so much flak for being such: What job are you going to get with that...what's the point...etc.

The trouble is I have a hard time articulating why exactly it's valuable (and why I think it should be way more rampant in education)...I have an idea and I have given standard responses...but none seem to get the real value of studying it is important.

For example, after giving a response like...it helps you organize your thoughts and make better decisions and I go over this point-of-view and that point-of-view...they then ask, "Well who is right?" This is where I get stuck...they don't want to risk following a philosophy that will just be refuted by the next person along the line...while I don't really think it's that cut and dry...

I was wondering if yall had any suggestions to help me out...



message 24: by Chiel (last edited Jun 03, 2009 06:50AM) (new)

Chiel (mueske) | 3 comments How do you define "philosophy?"

The universe, life, experiences,...
Philosophy is everything and can be practiced by everyone. It is the art (or science?) of everything including nothing.

How can philosophy help a person?

A myriad of things. From practical things such as enhancing one abilities in critical and logical thinking to spiritual affairs.

I can help someone experiencing the world in new ways, experience oneself in a new way.

What would you like to get out of a "philosophical" discussion?

A new perspective, a new way of thinking.

How can we apply philosophy in daily life?

Hard question. The application of political philosophies is clear (libertarianism, socialism,...). Same goes for philosophies as a way of life (social) for example: objectivism.

Rationalism, empiricism and such are only for oneself I think. One can debate them, but they do not 'demand' (for a lack of a better word) a way of living (social).


message 25: by Tyler (last edited May 27, 2009 04:40PM) (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments Hi Justin --

I'm a philosophy major and I get so much flak for being such: What job are you going to get with that...what's the point...

To what Douglas said I'd add that I'm not convinced that humanities degrees are necessary dead-ends in the job market. But even if they were, I favor majoring in what you like best, regardless of what it is. That's the only way to capitalize upon your strengths. The fact that the career benefits of such an approach aren't (yet) obvious should not deter you.

The trouble is I have a hard time articulating why exactly it's valuable ...

When someone asks, "What's a philosophy degree good for?" they're usually speaking to you, not writing; that's one of the reasons the question is hard to answer. You need a stock reply suited to the generality of this mode of communication. I'd answer it like this: "I've majored in philosophy because that degree gives you the broadest education you can possibly have."

This answer is irrefutable because it's true almost by definition, and at the same time it's a bold statement of your interests that gives you a kind of verbal control of any discussion. You can follow this up by saying that your interest isn't in what people think, but in how they think.

It's one thing for a scientist to be able to build a new bomb. But it's a much more difficult task to evaluate how what that scientist invented should be used. If more people knew how to evaluate the ever-changing conditions in which we live, then that would result in moral progress.



message 26: by مازن (new)

مازن | 1 comments philosophy is: creation of concepts



message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

"Philosophy is the subjugation of the meco-system to reason and evidence"Stefan Molyneux


message 28: by Tyler (last edited May 29, 2009 01:15PM) (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments Hi Chiel --

The application of political philosophies is clear (libertarianism, socialism,...). Same goes for philosophies as a way of life (social) for example: objectivism.

Politics and economics are two ways philosophy gets applied practically, so I agree there. Of course the question remains just which systems are best. I think that would be a good thread topic and I'd like to start one on them sometime soon.

Personally, I think the distinction between libertarianism and Objectivism unconvincing, although Objectivists will argue with me on that point.


Rationalism, empiricism and such are only for oneself I think. One can debate them, but they do not 'demand' (for a lack of a better word) a way of living (social).

Yes, it's true that their application is subjective. They give differing answers to the question of how humans can claim to know the world around them.

I think there may be a practical side to them as well. After all, when we're talking to other people about the world around us, don't we often come away with the impression that what they count as evidence we don't? This largely traces back to the Rationalists versus the Empiricists, and even earlier.


edit: how does one use italics and the likes on this site? The usual way doesn't seem to work.

Chiel, to put something in italics on this site you have to use the arrows <>, not the brackets [:]. Also, make sure your "I" is lower case "i". If you change those on your post, the sentences should pop up in italics.





message 29: by Tyler (last edited May 29, 2009 01:19PM) (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments Vcadd wrote: ""Philosophy is the subjugation of the meco-system to reason and evidence"Stefan Molyneux "

Vcadd -- Your definition sounds interesting, but I don't quite understand it. Would you explain it further? I'm not familiar with Stefan Molyneux's ideas.




message 30: by Chiel (new)

Chiel (mueske) | 3 comments Tyler,

Personally, I think the distinction between libertarianism and Objectivism unconvincing, although Objectivists will argue with me on that point.

I'm not too familiar with the tennents of libertarianism, just the basics. Which are quite similar too objectivism, I agree.
The foremost difference I can 'spot' would be that objectivism is more of a philosophy for life, interaction with people. While libertarianism can, and is more focused on politics.

I would not call myself an objectivist, but I am more familiar with it. Maybe you could mention some things as to why you believe they are not so different from eachother?

I think there may be a practical side to them as well. After all, when we're talking to other people about the world around us, don't we often come away with the impression that what they count as evidence we don't? This largely traces back to the Rationalists versus the Empiricists, and even earlier.

Sadly, I rarely debate/talk with people about the world around us.

But I do not agree. A practical use (in my opinion) would be achieving something, striving toward something, living toward an ideal. (ie. objectivism aims for happiness through the use of reason and maintaining a rational self-intrest). Rationalism (or empiricism,...) is more of a way to look at life, not how to practice it.


message 31: by Matt (new)

Matt (archas) | 5 comments It may be a subtle distinction, but it's one I find important:

sophia means "wisdom"
episteme means "knowledge"

So philosophy is not "the love of knowledge," but is instead "the love of wisdom."

How much of a difference this makes probably depends on the definition of wisdom, no? But of course, the question, "what is wisdom?" is a wonderfully philosophical question all of its own; hence something I wrote here almost a year ago now, that the attempt to define philosophy is going to itself be a philosophical exercise...Because, of course, a difference in the definition of wisdom will change, not only the meaning of the word "philosophy," but also, of course, how one pursues that wisdom--hence, the very practice of philosophy itself.

One of my favorite examples--one I'll only briefly mention here, as most will already be familiar--is that of Socrates: if human wisdom might be summed up by the statement, "I know that I know nothing," then can you really think of a better practice of philosophy than the one employed by Socrates himself, especially in the earlier dialogues?


message 32: by Davis (new)

Davis (davismattek) | 3 comments I think Philosophy is the attempt to answer the question 'Why?'


message 33: by Tyler (last edited Jun 08, 2009 03:20PM) (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments Maybe you could mention some things as to why you believe [Objectivism and libertarianism:] are not so different from each other?

Since, as you say, libertarianism is more a political (and economic) idea, it doesn't stand on its own. Objectivism, in contrast, has a fully thought out philosophy, such as it is. Its pronouncements on economic issues are so close to libertarianism that as far as I can tell, the two come to the same thing.

Rationalism (or empiricism,...) is more of a way to look at life, not how to practice it.

But here I would question the value of a worldview if it didn't have the ability to change a person's daily life.

As an example, I think Rationalism got rid of some of the negative associations of religion. The practical result was to allow people to believe in God without being tormented by specific doctrinal threats of personal damnation. Personal damnation had been the understanding of man's fate before Rationalism offered an alternative.



message 34: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments I've added a book to the currently-reading list at top to draw attention to it. I think readers interested in the question of what philosophy is will be interested in this book on that very topic. It comes to us from Guattari and Deleuze, a French writing duo that brings a fresh perspective to bear on this broad question.


message 35: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments Hi Kenzie-Divine --

Thanks for adding your views about what makes philosophy. To be so young, you already have good insight into the subject.


I also have a question. 'Can everybody really comprehend philosophy??'

No, not everyone can understand philosophy. It's true that there's no single explanation of what philosophy means. But we know enough to say that many, maybe most, people have little idea how to "do" philosophy.

Everyone engages in philosophy at some level. That's because philosophy involves even our daily activities. We could not live without it. But people in general do a terrible job of it, and most of them have no idea how to even begin to think in a philosophical way.

That's because people think differently, and not all thinking is equal. Some kinds of thinking are much better that others. This better grade of thinking has to be learned, and not everyone learns what the rules of good thinking are.

So all normal people have the ability to comprehend philosophy, but not very many of them ever develop their ability to the point where we could call it philosophy.

Again, it is good that you are already wondering about this at your age.


message 36: by Tyler (last edited Jul 12, 2010 08:13AM) (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments YW, Kenzie-Divine.

Just like we have to study or be taught algebra, we really should be taught the fundamentals of thinking (and from that, philosophy). But educational systems usually don't put much emphasis on it the way it they do other subjects. So it's something we have to learn mostly on our own.


message 37: by Lauren (new)

Lauren | 1 comments *How do you define "philosophy?"
Philosophy is like your opinion, feelings, & thoughts on life
*How can philosophy help a person?
It can help with optimism, keeping yourself organized (mentally) and a healthy state of mind
*What would you like to get out of a "philosophical" discussion?
I'd like to learn more about philosophy
*How can we apply philosophy in daily life?
Well I think that it's probably best to help out others... Not sure about this one. What do you guys think?


message 38: by Katie (new)

Katie | 3 comments In general, philosophy is an exercise in understanding before a specific methodology can be used. I think it can be called a science as a kind of "generic science", because all sciences are trying to understand (the world). But I personally wouldn't call it a science, I would rather call it before-science.

*How can philosophy help a person?
*How can we apply philosophy in daily life?
Reminds me of math classes in high school, where someone goes "How does this apply to real life?"


message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

Its movement;you go from answer to answer.
But answers means questions; deriving from a motionless position;Its non-movement.Now what does that mean?It means you stand and step forward and stand and step forward.That step forward could be towards anything,Standing anywhere...Now this probably means nothing...but i could be wrong.


message 40: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) To me philosophy means communicating thoughts ideas, and not necessarily trying to persuade someone to go along with your views, but it should be engaging and thought provoking, and you both walk away with a clear understanding of what the other person was saying. Getting your point across in a civilized manner.


message 41: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments Getting the point across in a civilized manner is what's missing from public conversation these days, and, to pick up on your point, it's closely connected with the inability to reason philosophically.

More specifically, logic and proper argumentation are evaluative branches of philosophy. If people could simply learn the procedures for arguing properly, real communication would take place and clear understandings among people would be dramatically easier to achieve.


message 42: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) Yes, I agree with you.


message 43: by Mike (last edited Nov 13, 2010 05:30PM) (new)

Mike | 1 comments Hi, all; I'm new to the discussion, so I'll just jump in with something general: I think that why philosophy is important to everybody (which in itself makes it useful in daily life) is that EVERYBODY, as Tyler said, has it and uses it, though usually pretty badly. Everybody has it and uses it, because inside us, we all have rules for action (or inaction), and these are based on our understanding of the real world (whatever that may be)and our understanding of what people (others and ourselves) are; these all relate to our internal ideas of what is a "good" life, what is a "good" society, even what is a "good" person (in fact, "goodness" aside, what each of them IS)-- which is why Jefferson changed Locke's idea of natural rights from "life, liberty, and property" to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
I think that one of the things that made Nietzsche so innovative is that his training was in philology, the study and history of words. This gave his a unique insight into how formalized understanding (which is, after all, done in language)comes about.
Comments?


message 44: by Everyman (last edited Nov 14, 2010 08:52PM) (new)

Everyman | 140 comments Tyler wrote: "A discussion about philosophy has to start somewhere, doesn't it? Yes, and for our group the best place to start may just be to ask what philosophy is in the first place. Even professional philoso..."

I still think the most accurate definition of philosophy (I speak of classical philosophy, not some of the byways it has been dragged into in the past century or so) is that it is a series of footnotes to Plato.

Basically, philosophy is the continuing attempt to answer the questions and address the issues contained in the dialogues of Plato.


message 45: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments Hi Mike --

I'll add that to the extent that people think about what the good life might consist in, the more philosophy they know the better. I wonder how many people subscribe to a version of the good life put before them by the mass media or peer pressure, and would not have bought into those versions of it if they had been able to reason more clearly about it.


message 46: by Tyler (last edited Nov 16, 2010 04:53AM) (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments Hi Everyman --

I think Plato raised problems that are central to philosophy. But if someone new to philosophy heard this definition, they wouldn't understand it without first knowing what Plato said.

So if we answer the question What is Philosophy? by defining it as a series of footnotes to Plato, we have to be prepared to talk some about the issues Plato raises. Would our listeners have enough patience with us for that? It depends on the setting; in a classroom yes, but at the dinner table, perhaps not. Either way, our group could use a good Plato thread at some point.


message 47: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 140 comments Tyler wrote: "So if we answer the question What is Philosophy? by defining it as a series of footnotes to Plato, we have to be prepared to talk some about the issues Plato raises. "

Fair enough.

For starters: what is a "good life" and what does it mean to live a good life? What is a just society and how do we create one? Where does knowledge come from? How do we know what we know? Where does the meaning of language come from and how is it that we are able to apply a single word (such as chair) to many apparently disparate objects (a Morris chair, a recliner, a dining room chair, but not a stool)? How do people learn? Is there an afterlife? What duties in any do we owe to society?

Just a few for starters but that should take care of a few dinner table conversations!


message 48: by Tyler (last edited Nov 19, 2010 06:59AM) (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments Well I, for one, would never finish dinner if even one of those topics came up. But each of them is too important to human well being just to leave it for a classroom subject. Everyone could benefit from learning as much as they can on these topics on their own. Hmmm ... maybe with extended lunch hours, we could talk about those things at the table after all. We should certainly bring them up over coffee, at least.

I read an interesting book, Socrates: Ironist and Moral Philosopher, which discusses Plato's works. It attributes the books concerning virtue and man's good to the historical Socrates, as does Plato, and attributes the books about epistemology to Plato himself, writing under the guise of Socrates.

Epistemology is one of the two main branches of philosophy, and we really do see Plato's impact on it today. But metaphysics is the other branch, and even here Plato is influential -- for example, in his discussion of Forms (Do ideal representations exist as part of reality? Plato says yes).

So at that ancient time, we find in Plato a philosopher who had something to say about metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, art and whatever else I'm forgetting!


message 49: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 140 comments Yep. Plato did indeed bring it all to the table.

Wouldn't it be nice to see some modern philosophers writing as clearly and poetically and meaningfully as he did?


message 50: by R.a. (new)

R.a. (brasidas1) | 21 comments Hi !

Popping in here. It seems as though this thread would be the one to relay a "Kudos" to our moderator, Tyler.

Intermittent in my visits, I was struck tonight by the breadth of topics posted: from analytical philosophy to ethical and political philosophy to the question of the field itself.

So . . . Kudos, Tyler.

Regarding the thread's history here, I must claim ignorance at this time.

There is, though, a neat conversation going around about Montaigne—revitalizing inquiry into the man and his views and quips.

Oh well . . . off I go . . .

Have a great night, folks.


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