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What does philosophy do?

Philosophy: you need it.

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What does philosophy do?

Postby coberst » Wed Sep 30, 2009 1:18 pm

What does philosophy do?

I claim that the task of philosophy is to look inward to find the basis for the presuppositions that form the foundation for all human created theories. I claim that in our first effort to look inward primitive humans saw thier mortality; they hated what they saw and immediately sought a means to successfully repress that thought. That solution turns out to be what we today call religion.

Long ago a professor of philosophy said to me, after my asking him what philosophy is all about, “philosophy is a radically critical self-consciousness”. It took me 30 years to comprehend what he said.

“But I'm a philosopher, and it's a philosopher's job to tell people how they should lead their lives.” Thus wrote Linda Hirshman in an article in the Washington Post. Linda R. Hirshman, is a retired professor of philosophy and women's studies at Brandeis University.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 01766.html

If I had read in the morning paper some doctor saying “it is the doctor’s job to tell people how they should lead their lives.” I would not have blinked. I have no problem with a doctor making such a statement but a philosopher making such a statement certainly will cause a pause.

A retired professor of philosophy from Brandeis University cares weight with me and when such a person says something startling I must give it some heed; I must pause to reflect and study the meaning of that statement.

Reflection on this statement reveals to me that human life is really a philosophical endeavor. We do not realize it but every thought we have, every decision we make, and every action we take are based upon some philosophical assumptions. Philosophers have molded these assumptions into theories that now form the very essence of our life.

We ‘know’ what is real, what is knowledge, what is moral action, how the mind works, etc. because these philosophical theories permeate every aspect of our life. Metaphysics is a philosophy word that really means ‘what is real, what is time, what is essence, what is causation, etc’.

I guess I will give the professor an “A” here. It is a philosopher’s job to tell people how they should lead their lives.
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Re: What does philosophy do?

Postby thelastindividual » Wed Sep 30, 2009 1:31 pm

I'm not entirely sure but I think it was Wittgenstein who said that the purpose of philosophy is to clarify language.
"Well, judging by his outlandish attire, he's some sort of free thinking anarchist." - C.M Burns

"Property is theft right? Therefore theft is property. Therefore this ship is mine" - Zaphod Beeblebrox
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Re: What does philosophy do?

Postby coberst » Thu Oct 01, 2009 6:42 am

thelastindividual wrote:I'm not entirely sure but I think it was Wittgenstein who said that the purpose of philosophy is to clarify language.


Philosophy took the "linguistic turn" long ago. SGCS (Second Generation Cognitive Science) has challenged this as a mistake about three decades ago. New theories in the human sciences take generations to trickle through the system. In a few generations these new theories may begin to trickle down to DickandJane through a process of social osmosis.

There, doesn't that make you feel good?
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Re: What does philosophy do?

Postby Guest » Thu Oct 01, 2009 6:46 am

i've lately been increasingly leaning toward the conclusion that philosophy is essentially meaningless intellectual masturbation. if we begin with what we can prove to a reasonable degree of certainty, everything else is just jacking off to whichever "could-be" tickles your fancy. why bother? i'm finding it increasingly difficult to answer that. at first i felt sad about it, but it's actually rather liberating. take politics: instead of dicking around over the philosophical questions, why not (1) take stock of reality - e.g. we live in a world where billionaires sip umbrella-drinks by the pool, while dirt-farmers spend the day working like mules for an even less nutritious reward; (2) recognize the self-evident truth that there's no justification for it or possibility of accounting for it, and that it's extremely destructive and unsustainable; (3) fix it, without the slightest concern for the wailing and gnashing of teeth that result? the only reason we don't simply dethrone the masters is because there are (shitty, laughable) philosophical arguments to support them. ok, so fuck philosophy. meanwhile, back here in material reality, there is wealth to expropriate and people in need of it. i'm finding it increasingly difficult to give a flying fuck about anything else anymore.
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Re: What does philosophy do?

Postby Guest » Mon Oct 05, 2009 4:32 am

I agree with the above post that philosophical discussions do often seem like mental masturbation, especially when the views of Aristotle, Hobbes, Kant, or any other philosophical pioneers are brought into the act. Philosophy seems to be a little "special" when it comes to dwelling on the past. If we take a car to an auto mechanic to find out why it isn't running well, we don't need to get into a long discussion about Daimler developing engines, Goodyear improving tires, Ford modernizing production, and so on.

The primary philosophical question today is whether the coercion of individuals by churches, democracies, kleptocracies, other institutions, or groups of individuals is logically ethical. We don't need the views of dead philosophers to help us answer this. One basic question, for example, is, if I do not personally possess a right to prevent you from smoking marihuana, how can I logically delegate this right, that I don't possess, to a Town Councilperson or a Congressperson? We don't need to know what Thomas Aquinas' arguments were during the period of the Divine Rights of Kings and Popes, we'd like to know how this logically computes now. Tom Palven
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Re: What does philosophy do?

Postby variagil » Sun Jan 24, 2010 12:48 pm

The philosophy, and more preciselly philosophy of the science should give the students the ability to criticise scientific sentences to think if it can be true or not. This is a rational and modern pedagogie, should be rational in order to make a proper use of the formal knowledge at the age the children can learn this concepts, like maths, thermodinamics or whatever, and requires not to think in godness and evils, discard the causality in the events and some few principles of the metaphysics that a good use of reason bring to us. This allows to make use of sciences to the students. And modern contents means that taking the most accepted teories like evolution of live or universal gravitation and requires enough scientific knowledge of the teacher at each age of the children. So philosophy of the science can became a useful tool to enlarge the proper knowledge of the world in which the childrens will develop themselves and enjoy and suffer his nature and risks.

Other disciplines of philosphy like ethics are useful to develop a criticism of politics and social relations or estetics to enjoy and produce art.
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Re: What does philosophy do?

Postby Anarchological » Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:40 pm

IMHO the history of philosophy, which is the way "philosophy" is usually taught, with the alleged contributions of hundreds of "philosophers", including dozens of people who contributed to "anarchist thought", can be a fun hobby for some people, as can bird-watching and developing a life list of all the birds one has seen. Great fun for some, but not of particular use to the average person. However, again, IMHO, learning a philosophy of life and developing a personal set of ethics can be useful, leading to happiness. This is what philosophy is supposed to be about, how to be contented, at peace with oneself. Some relgions like Buddhism may teach philosophical principles, but the Biblical Judeo-Christi-Islamic religions teach by dogmas: Thou shalt not do this or God will get you.

As I have often repeated, Thomas Aquinas said that lying is sinful because it a misuse of God's gift of speech. Mark Twain, on the other hand, said "When you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything." If you lie, you also lose credibility with others. So, if I were going to try to teach some philosophy, I would I would teach those time-tested ethics of being as truthful and honest as possible, simply because it can make life easier, better and more fun. What goes around comes often comes around, and if you don't lie or steal you don't have to lose sleep trying to watch your back. Thoreau said that most people buy a larger house than they can comfortably afford trying to impress others, and end up leading "lives of quiet desperation". There could be a philosophical lesson in that statement that could be worth learning in order to make life easier. Neither the public schools nor the Sunday schools seem to teach these lessons. Instead they have you memorizing the names of generals, Kings, and Biblical figures involved in the slaughter of infidels, Phillistines, the Axis, the Union Army, or whatever.
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Re: What does philosophy do?

Postby variagil » Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:42 am

The Philosophy even in the teenagers can be learned mainly in two ways. First is to give the several theories of each subjects of the philosphy like freedom, ethics, hermeneutics ... The second way is to focus in several classic philosophers and read some of their books. But not only this ways, philosophy -not only moral- is present when we argue or discuss with other persons. And speech and pedagogie can be more political or more philosphical and with more or less philosophical background.
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Re: What does philosophy do?

Postby Anarchological » Sat Apr 17, 2010 1:42 am

Philosophy, as generally taught to children in the US and the rest of "the Western World" is a Biblical version of ethics accepted by all the Abrahamic Judeo-Christi-Islamic sects. It is a jumble of rules and prohibitions which includes The Ten Commandments and admonitions not to spill one's seed on the ground, engage in homosexual activities, and so on.

[b]The fact that the Western world teaches this morality as ethics instead of something more logical is, IMHO, part of the reason for the Crusades, the Holocaust, the Mai Lai Massacre, the Shock and Awe on Iraq, the subjugation of the Palestinians, etc.[/b

Instead of the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Biblical rules about sex, violence, pillars of salt, and such, consider Confucius' ethics of reciprocity, and Rabbi Hillel's statement, "Do not unto others that which is hateful to you. This is the whole of the law; the rest is commentary." Instead of filling children's heads with nonsense dressed up as "morality" in Sunday schools, why not teach them a philosophy that can make life easier and more enjoyable for themselves and others?
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Re: What does philosophy do?

Postby Brainpolice » Sun Apr 18, 2010 11:36 am

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Re: What does philosophy do?

Postby Anarchological » Sun Apr 18, 2010 6:04 pm

I agree.
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Re: What does philosophy do?

Postby coberst » Mon Apr 19, 2010 7:01 am

Where, in American culture, is the domain of knowledge that we would identify as morality studied and taught?

I suspect that if we do not quickly develop a science of morality that will make it possible for us to live together on this planet in a more harmonious manner our technology will help us to destroy the species and perhaps the planet soon.

It seems to me that we have given the subject matter of morality primarily over to religion. It also seems to me that if we ask the question ‘why do humans treat one another so terribly?’ we will find the answer in this moral aspect of human culture.

The ‘man of maxims’ “is the popular representative of the minds that are guided in their moral judgment solely by general rules, thinking that these will lead them to justice by a ready-made patent method, without the trouble of exerting patience, discrimination, impartiality—without any care to assure themselves whether they have the insight that comes from a hardly-earned estimate of temptation, or from a life vivid and intense enough to have created a wide fellow-feeling with all that is human.” George Eliot The Mill on the Floss

I agree to the point of saying that we have moral instincts, i.e. we have moral emotions. Without these moral emotions we could not function as social creatures. These moral emotions are an act of evolution. I would ague that the instinct for grooming that we see in monkeys is one example of this moral emotion.

We can no longer leave this important matter in the hands of the Sunday-school. Morality must become a top priority for scientific study.
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Re: What does philosophy do?

Postby variagil » Fri Apr 23, 2010 10:35 am

This is the design of the house of Joseph Fritzl, the monster of Amstetten, where he managed to hidde his activities and make his own bisness.

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Re: What does philosophy do?

Postby steveervin » Wed Apr 06, 2016 11:22 pm

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Re: What does philosophy do?

Postby Guest » Mon Nov 21, 2016 5:23 am

The Philosophy even in the young people can be adapted mostly in two ways. In the first place is to give the few hypotheses of every subjects of the philosphy like flexibility, morals, hermeneutics. This is the plan of Research Paper Service the place of Joseph Fritzl, the creature of Amstetten, where he figured out how to hidde his exercises and make his own business.
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