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Author Topic:   On The Philosophy of, well, Philosophy
Silent H
Member (Idle past 3899 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 256 of 307 (433465)
11-12-2007 4:33 AM
Reply to: Message 254 by Wounded King
11-12-2007 3:56 AM


Re: Not too late for philosophy?
Okay one last post...

Not so, an alternative formula for Ph.D. is D.Phil.. The reversal in the form 'Ph.D.' comes from the latin Philosophiæ doctor. The elements denoting any sort of 'ranking' would be the 'B','M' and 'D' in increasing length of study required.

I see what you're saying, but doesn't that actually mean the degrees go in rank from B, M, then PhD? That is to say its neither just the Ph nor the D alone, but the singular PhD? I thought that's what the Wiki entry was suggesting, but screwed up when I wrote the reply and excluded the D (thinking "degree"... duhhhh). In particular it discussed how D.Phil and PhD came into conflict because of pre-existing doctorates for philosophers.

Now I'm really going to bed, most likely will be busy for a day or two, so keep that in mind.


h
"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." - Robert E. Howard
This message is a reply to:
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Archer Opteryx
Member (Idle past 1677 days)
Posts: 1811
From: East Asia
Joined: 08-16-2006


Message 257 of 307 (433468)
11-12-2007 5:58 AM
Reply to: Message 242 by Quetzal
11-10-2007 9:22 AM


Quetzal:

Although a number of people on this thread have attempted to claim that science, etc, is "philosophy" - in fact, that everything is philosophy

You say "a number of people" have said this. It should therefore be no problem to cite a few names and posts. Please do.

I ask because although the phrase "everything is philosophy" appears often on this thread, I have yet to see anyone actually make this claim. I've only encountered the phrase in the posts of individuals--you being the latest--who say they disagree with it.

What has been said is that philosophical questions arise in every field of intellectual endeavour. And they do.


Archer

All species are transitional.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 242 by Quetzal, posted 11-10-2007 9:22 AM Quetzal has responded

Replies to this message:
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Archer Opteryx
Member (Idle past 1677 days)
Posts: 1811
From: East Asia
Joined: 08-16-2006


Message 258 of 307 (433474)
11-12-2007 6:38 AM
Reply to: Message 242 by Quetzal
11-10-2007 9:22 AM


Quetzal:

To forestall that quibble, I would merely point out that when I trip over a rock and fall on my face in the mud, I can bloody well determine beyond reasonable doubt that the rock exists

Until you wake up, and find out it was all a dream. Then you conclude the opposite: that the rock you thought was real never existed.

So again the question arises: How do you know?

It's a question worth asking anywhere knowledge itself is a goal.

You say you don't like to be bothered with asking it. You prefer to leave certain questions unasked and take their answers for granted. If a rock seems real to you, it is.

Who can argue with you about your personal preferences? You are the world's foremost authority on what subjects interest you and what subjects don't.

But let's be plain about it: a statement of personal likes and dislikes is not a reasoned argument invalidating any realm of human intellectual endeavour.

I like canteloupe. I don't like raisins. It does not follow that raisins are poison or that canteloupe is all the food humans beings need to survive.


Archer

All species are transitional.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 242 by Quetzal, posted 11-10-2007 9:22 AM Quetzal has not yet responded

nator
Member (Idle past 249 days)
Posts: 12961
From: Ann Arbor
Joined: 12-09-2001


Message 259 of 307 (433476)
11-12-2007 7:07 AM
Reply to: Message 253 by Silent H
11-12-2007 3:41 AM


Re: Not too late for philosophy?
quote:
But let's take your points at full effect, and I think you did make an interesting argument. Wouldn't you agree that given the fact that Universities have changed names of degrees in the past, they'd likely have changed the name of their top degree (or at least a few would have) if the conventional meaning of the term was as odious and oxymoronic to real knowledge as has been suggested?

Meh, I don't think so. Academia is a place of tradition and convention; hallowed halls of the ivy walls and all that. Stuff gets put into place for one reason, meanings change over time, but as long as everybody knows what they all mean, it stays the same.

You know, like we have the "laws" of thermodynamics but the "theory" of evolution, even though there is no real difference in surety or status within their diciplines.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 253 by Silent H, posted 11-12-2007 3:41 AM Silent H has responded

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Quetzal
Member (Idle past 3952 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002


Message 260 of 307 (433494)
11-12-2007 9:14 AM
Reply to: Message 257 by Archer Opteryx
11-12-2007 5:58 AM


Let's see, I could probably wade back through 245 posts and pick out bits that support my contention - that you cherry-picked out of a longer response, but I'll just use your own most recent post as a response:

AO writes:

Until you wake up, and find out it was all a dream. Then you conclude the opposite: that the rock you thought was real never existed.

So again the question arises: How do you know?

It's a question worth asking anywhere knowledge itself is a goal.

In short, you claim we are unable to know absolutely anything about the world without engaging in silly discussions about the nature of existence, the philosophy of knowledge, etc. What utter nonsense. I can tell whether something was a dream or not depending on whether I am actually covered in mud and my toe hurts. If I am (and it does), then for all intents and purposes the trip was "real". If not, then it wasn't. There is no need whatsoever to delve into some bizarre musing on the nature of reality. My toe hurts - end of story.

You say you don't like to be bothered with asking it. You prefer to leave certain questions unasked and take their answers for granted. If a rock seems real to you, it is.

You think the question boils down to personal preference? Fine. However, before you declare victory over the ignorant semi-literate plebes who "prefer" to think a rock on which they have stubbed their toes actually exists, riddle me this: if one seeks to understand the nature, mechanics and operation of the observable universe - in which I would assume most of us "exist" - what method would be of the most use? Philosophical maunderings on the nature of existence, or methodological naturalism (which, undoubtedly, you will consider as falling under the rubric of "philosophy" - and which I have already conceded to Mod in a previous post when I said "Not all philosophical positions are necessarily vapid")?

Quite beyond the relative merits of science vs. metaphysics, religion, etc, perhaps in part it is the arrogance and patronizing attitude of so-called "philosophers" - epitomized by several of your previous posts on this thread - that has led me to the conclusion that philosophy writ large is a waste of time.


This message is a reply to:
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Modulous
Member (Idle past 184 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 261 of 307 (433523)
11-12-2007 12:38 PM


What is true, what is false?
Telling true propositions from false ones is something we should all want to do. The first thing we need to do is work out our

Metaphysics

What is the nature of reality. On this forum we have basically two schools of metaphysics in play. If you were not aware of this, it might be important to consider it now. We don't see much in the way of radical scepticism here, but it does crop up from time to time.

Radical Scepticism

Everything is an illusion ala the Matrix or similar. If so - why bother to discuss it?

Dualistic idealism

The idea (heh) that there are ideals that exist in some 'higher realm' and that what we experience here is but shadows of that realm. This was Plato's devising, but it remains central to religion. We normally see this position advocated in terms of an ideal justice or ideal morality.

Materialism

What we can sense or detect is real. Energy/matter etc etc. This is the stone kicking position that most posters here have. It seems so obvious to so many people today, that it seems crazy that people even argued over it...but this forum is essentially built upon the argument so...whaddya gonna do?

From these metaphysical positions (none of which can be proved) we can try and derive our

Epistemology

How do we know if something is true or false? The radical sceptics simply dismiss it is as basically impossible so the fun begins with the idealists. Inherent to

Idealist philosophy

is the idea that we remember or have some other 'sense' of ideal forms. Thus: I don't know what ideal justice is, but I'll know it when I see it. I don't know what right or wrong is, but I'll know it when I see it. We see this argued here mostly in the form of having some kind of 'godsense'.
The problem with this concept is that the 'sense' or idea of what the truth is has primacy over actual sensual experience. If we hold to the idea that the earth is 6,000 years old, and our experience of the world (ie evidence) tells us otherwise, our experience is considered less worthy than the ideal knowledge imbued upon us by godsense (or to us via authority and revelation, and 'known' to be true via intuition). Thus, idealists tend to favour rationalism over empiricism. They might accept the conclusions of empiricism, only until there is a clash with their ideals.
This makes it essentially a faith-based position - however it comes to problems when we consider the axiom that minds are able to make error or hold erroneous ideas (otherwise we'd always hold to the same ideas...). There are probably ways out of this, but like any position that is ultimately faith-based, the gymnastics are mostly not worth the time to perform.

So, what's better?

The Materialist epistemology

As you can see, I'm being very general here, but the point is that materialists hold the opposite opinion about ideas vs evidence. To them, evidence wins in any conflict. If you have an idea (hypothesis) that does not correspond with, or is contradicted by, the evidence - the idea loses and should be tossed out. Rationalism is important (to develop a hypothesis), but empiricism has primacy.

We cannot prove which epistemology is right, or even which is better. However, philosophy as a field has moved away from the primacy of ideas and that has been left for religion to cling to. They still teach idealism and radical scepticism as well as the arguments for them. However, the field of modern philosophy is primarily about materialist empiricism in one way or another. The methodologies may not end up as rigorous as the methodology that came out of natural philosophy, but the world of inanimate matter (for the most part) is more predictable than the world of society or people. It is no surprise that it is more difficult to come to consensus in a field where the objects of study are sentient (sometimes irrational) beings as opposed to a field where the objects of study basically behave in a logical, predictable and essentially rational way. Until you dig really deep that is...

Most people don't need to delve into the intricacies of their metaphysical world view and the arguments that were put forward to try and convince others that it is the best to engage in debate. At EvC, from time to time, we see a metaphysical argument. An argument where the evidence doesn't matter - if it contradicts certain ideas it must be wrong (or its interpretation or whatever) - is a metaphysical argument.

You don't have to get into it, if you think it is all sophistry and nonsense, but the evidence of my senses indicates that people around here do enjoy getting into it. The final point I would make is that rigour can be defined in a much better way: sticking to an epistemology. Rigour has been defined as the ability to tell true things from false things. Epistemology is the study of how we can tell true things from false things. If you pick one epistemology and stick to it in your philosophical discussions...you have rigour. In some areas of human experience it actually gets very hard to develop a way of determining truth from falsity, because they are studying an area in which their subjects are not always consistent. When you study something that is consistent (such as nature), you can be sure that you have a better idea of truth and falsity. You might say this gives you an increased rigour - but that isn't a fault of a philosophical field of study, that's just because the nature of the thing being studied - we have to simply accept more grey areas and do our best.

If you find people not sticking to their own epistemology you can (and philosophers do) point that out as a major, probably fatal, flaw in their thinking.


Replies to this message:
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 262 of 307 (433528)
11-12-2007 12:46 PM
Reply to: Message 255 by Silent H
11-12-2007 4:25 AM


Re: Not too late for philosophy?
I'm not sure how or where you get a PhD without doing philosophy, unless its a disreputable University.

I've attended more colleges and universities than I should admit to, including two of Minnesota's top liberal arts institutions, and now I'm working on finishing my undergrad at UNL here in Lincoln, and I can assure you, none of these institutions specifically require attending any classes in the PHIL department.

Nothing disreputable about it. Classes in philosophy are irrelevant to actually getting a PhD in the majority of fields. Look up a few course catalogs, and you'll see. You don't have to take a single class from the PHIL department to get a PhD.

Did you have a problem with that stated methodology?

What methodology? The scientific method is science, not philosophy. Logic is mathematics, not philosophy. Textual analysis (like you might do for a degree in literature) is criticism, not philosophy.

There are scientists who support ID and argue that it is valid science. You and I would clearly say that is not the case, and that their existence does not in turn paint the whole of science with their concept of what science itself is (which is actually a valid form of science from many centuries ago).

I guess I'll have to repeat my rebuttal to this, since this argument was covered already. Is there some reason you're choosing to ignore more than 250 posts on this subject? Is that how you think constructive dialogue works? Anyway...

As a result of their deviation from the scientific consensus, from scientific rigor, proponents of ID are marginalized. Science is self-policing. Models that meet rigorous requirements and are substantiated by evidence enjoy increasing support among scientists until a consensus view emerges. Models that are not rigorous and are not supported by evidence suffer decreasing support, until the entirety of their support comes from marginalized figures and cranks, and those theories wind up in the dustbin of science, of interest only as historical novelty.

A recent example of this was the work of Hwang Woo-Suk in Korea, who announced the success of a program to clone human beings. But not days after he had published his research, it was exposed as being fraudulent.

As a result, Hwang Woo-Suk can't find a job cleaning toilets, much less doing science. That's the enforcement of rigor in the sciences. Wrong models and false results are quickly exposed for what they are and rejected by the community of scientists.

That doesn't happen in philosophy. Consider Plato v. Aristotle, a debate that remains unsettled to this day, 2300 years later. They can't both be right, so one of them must be wrong. Regardless of that, both Plato and Aristotle enjoy great prominence among philosophers, and their respective positions continue to be defended to this very day by an assortment of philosophers.

In science, wrong models are discovered and rejected. In philosophy, models that must surely be wrong continue to enjoy prominence, and their level of support is not diminished for being wrong. That's what you would expect from a field with no rigor, where an individual's support for one or another position is determined not by evidence but by the consistency of that position with the individual's personal ideology. (Economics and theology are the exact same way.)

Philosophers can't help that some continue to practice outmoded fields and schools and claim they are doing philosophy.

They could certainly help it, if their field had rigor and they chose to enforce it the way scientists do. They certainly can't help it if their field has no rigor, but then, that's my whole point.

I am not failing to distinguish between them, I am saying I can see them as clearly separate.

But it's all philosophy, and that's the equivalence. Both Plato and Aristotle enjoy nearly equal prominence in philosophy, despite the fact that one or the other of them must surely be wrong.

Because philosophers can't tell the difference. They don't know who won the debate! Because their field gives them no way to tell whether or not Aristotle was right, or whether Plato was.

Because it has no rigor. Philosophy can't settle the debate because it has no way to discern between true positions and false ones. Only valid positions and invalid ones, but the problem is, both the arguments are valid, so clearly validity is not the same as rigor. (Godel would later formalize the proof that validity is not the same as veracity.)

Hume was clearly arguing that the rotten ones should be thrown out.

And Dennett too, I'm led to understand.

So why aren't they thrown out? Because philosophy gives no justification for doing so. Sure, you can insist on rigor the way Hume and Dennett do - or you can choose not to. Either way, it's all the same to philosophy. You certainly won't be marginalized as a philosopher for disagreeing with Hume and Dennett, the way Woo-Suk was for violating the scientific method.

as I mentioned the science ID uses was at one time valid science protocol.

And its not now. In science, ideas are refined by a process where wrong ideas are excluded from support. That's because it's a field with rigor.

In philosophy, wrong ideas are never excluded, because there's no way to tell which ideas in philosophy are actually wrong. Thus, Plato and Aristotle are held in the exact same esteem by philosophers, even though one or the other of them must surely be wrong.

It's hard to imagine the same thing happening in the sciences. Darwin v. Lamark might represent a similar clash of positions, but in the present day, Darwin is enshrined and Lamark is a punchline. And that was after only 150 years or so. 2300 years after Plato v. Aristotle, the question is still unresolved - a nearly unthinkable situation in any field with rigor.

Philosophy has no rigor. Honestly, if it did, one of you would have been able to show that it does by now.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 255 by Silent H, posted 11-12-2007 4:25 AM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 265 by Silent H, posted 11-12-2007 4:39 PM crashfrog has responded
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 263 of 307 (433529)
11-12-2007 12:48 PM
Reply to: Message 260 by Quetzal
11-12-2007 9:14 AM


Here, here.
This message is a reply to:
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bluegenes
Member (Idle past 557 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 264 of 307 (433542)
11-12-2007 1:33 PM
Reply to: Message 263 by crashfrog
11-12-2007 12:48 PM


Here, here.

Where? where?;) (Not a philosophical question, really).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 263 by crashfrog, posted 11-12-2007 12:48 PM crashfrog has not yet responded

Silent H
Member (Idle past 3899 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 265 of 307 (433609)
11-12-2007 4:39 PM
Reply to: Message 262 by crashfrog
11-12-2007 12:46 PM


Re: Not too late for philosophy?
Work hit a snag so I can come out and play today! Most of your reply can be addressed briefly, as much of it seems to be miscommunication between us...

1) I thought I made it clear that PhD students DON'T have to take Phil courses. In that I totally agree with you. I said they have to DO philosophy, that is they perform philosophy, in pursuit of their final degree. I might add that in certain schools you don't have to take a science class to get a PhD in science either, at that level you usually are doing things, not learning about them.

2) You ask what methodology, but I stated directly the methods listed within the Wiki article (2nd one I posted). They state that it is commonly agreed that philosophy is a method, and describe it (in general terms). I posit people tend to use that in pursuing PhDs. Right?

3) You didn't have to repeat an earlier rebuttal. I was trying to explain to you that (what you now just repeated) is in error. I started by agreeing with what we'd both do (as scientists) and then explained the similarity in Philosophy. Your only counter appears to be...

That doesn't happen in philosophy. Consider Plato v. Aristotle, a debate that remains unsettled to this day, 2300 years later. They can't both be right, so one of them must be wrong. Regardless of that, both Plato and Aristotle enjoy great prominence among philosophers, and their respective positions continue to be defended to this very day by an assortment of philosophers.

??? What debate remains unsettled? Right or wrong about what? I'm not being sarcastic. They all said a lot of stuff. And I have to say I never bumped into a philosopher who was still wrangling over PnA, studying yes (but that is more or less History or methods of philosophy), but not thinking these guys are modern or relevant in any and all aspects. Its just that they were great figures at the beginning of the field (which ironically for you, includes science). Outside of history of ancient philosophy, and to some extent ethics, they are rarely discussed, much less used as examples of contemporary relevance.

In philosophy, models that must surely be wrong continue to enjoy prominence, and their level of support is not diminished for being wrong.

I honestly don't know what you are talking about. But don't worry about reacting to this yet. I want to create another post which might explain some things, perhaps iron out some misunderstandings/misinterpretations. You appear to be hung up on the application, rather than the methods.

So why aren't they thrown out? Because philosophy gives no justification for doing so. Sure, you can insist on rigor the way Hume and Dennett do - or you can choose not to. Either way, it's all the same to philosophy. You certainly won't be marginalized as a philosopher for disagreeing with Hume and Dennett, the way Woo-Suk was for violating the scientific method.

I'm using this specific statement to reply to your earlier, larger section. First of all there is a huge difference between being wrong and being fraudulent. Second science does not throw out scientists who were wrong, only their theories. Even Einstein made mistakes, indeed much of the last portion of his career was dedicated to what modern science considers an error (with solid evidence packed in years before). No one is talking about throwing out Einstein, or Bohr, or Darwin, or Newton, etc. Active scientists can make many mistakes. It is the nature of their successes at their periods of time which made them great. Same for philosophy.

You can even go back and check their errors to see what went wrong and find useful information... even genius sometimes.

As far as validity and truth goes, what is the difference? I ask because as soon as you move to answer what you are doing IS philosophy and there's no way around it. I can tell the difference because I have an answer which comes from a line of Philosophy, which I accept, that is a pretty strong current in philosophy today. If you have an answer I'd like to know where you got it, if it wasn't the application of reason to the question.

In philosophy, wrong ideas are never excluded, because there's no way to tell which ideas in philosophy are actually wrong.

Excluded? Wrong? Even science does not exclude ideas at the outset because they are wrong. It excludes avenues which are not capable of being addressed by specific methodology, but that is not the same as saying it is wrong... simply indefinable. Once included, it may make a determination and so exclude a wrong theory, until perhaps later evidence recalls its potential credibility.

On this note you mention Lamark as a punchline. I never saw it that way. His name is still in the papers as it were. It was a valid concept he held, but ultimately not productive. Ironically, it could turn out... given later evidence... that Lamarkian mechanisms do appear at certain levels or in certain species during reproduction. In that case, you'd have to admit he'd enjoy a certain vindication, and the joke would be on you. Right?

Never say never, or absolutely wrong in science. Does that mean it is indiscriminate? No. Another good example happens to be research (lit) that I am coincidentally working on now. The original Double Slit experiment proved that light was waves, it is thought an incredibly important experiment even today, despite the "discovery" being acknowledged as quite wrong.

Likewise people still use models of atoms and electrons which are wholly inaccurate to the underlying "truth", they are valid for predictions but not true to nature. What can ya do?

I hope this doesn't seem upsetting, or necessarily involving emotional baggage. I see what you are saying and we could talk the way you do, I'm just saying that it IS a personal definition you seem to be using. I'm trying to explain what I see as the modern interpretation of Philosophy, and show how I understand its usage and practice. Given the dictionary and Wiki entries on the subject (as well as posters here), your definition does not seem to be the actual mainstream understanding.

The scientific method is science, not philosophy. Logic is mathematics, not philosophy. Textual analysis (like you might do for a degree in literature) is criticism, not philosophy.

I saved this for last to exemplify the non mainstream nature of your definition. Logic is not math, quite the opposite: math is a form of logic, and logic is a field of philosophy. I'm not sure how you can view that as anything but the mainstream view.

Likewise, while I can certainly agree that the scientific method is science, science is a branch of philosophy and whether you agree with that assessment or not, its pretty unquestioned that the scientific method was developed through philosophy (philosophers attempting to gain knowledge about natural phenomena, using empirical evidence).

While I can accept your change in modern definition if I must, that doesn't retroactively change who was doing what in the past, or what methods were being employed. Again, I will be using another post to try and make this all clearer.


h
"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." - Robert E. Howard
This message is a reply to:
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Silent H
Member (Idle past 3899 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 266 of 307 (433625)
11-12-2007 4:56 PM
Reply to: Message 259 by nator
11-12-2007 7:07 AM


Re: Not too late for philosophy?
Stuff gets put into place for one reason, meanings change over time, but as long as everybody knows what they all mean, it stays the same.

And what do you understand philosophy to mean? The statement above seems to support my position. If philosophy came to mean crap (literal or figurative) and only crap, and people could not divine the actual meaning then I doubt such degrees would be handed out.

Given that some rather important figures in science, such as Einstein, Bell, Newton, etc described themselves as philosophers or engaging in philosophical study, makes me ask when this other, modern, derogatory definition of philosophy came about?


h
"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." - Robert E. Howard
This message is a reply to:
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 267 of 307 (433634)
11-12-2007 5:19 PM
Reply to: Message 265 by Silent H
11-12-2007 4:39 PM


More tired arguments
1) I thought I made it clear that PhD students DON'T have to take Phil courses.

Then I guess there was some confusion on our parts. I thought you were saying the opposite; my apologies.

I said they have to DO philosophy, that is they perform philosophy, in pursuit of their final degree.

Oh, I see. You're in the "everything is philosophy" crowd.

They state that it is commonly agreed that philosophy is a method, and describe it (in general terms).

Then I guess I didn't understand it when the article said it, so could you summarize, in your view, the "methodology of philosophy"?

??? What debate remains unsettled?

Aristotle Vs. Plato. Look, here's a pile of student essays on the subject, which substantiates my claim that this debate has yet to be settled more than 2300 years after either figure was alive.

Can you imagine an array of student essays in biology, arguing Darwinism vs. Lysenkoism? It's impossible to imagine anything but a stack of papers expositing the evidence that supports Darwinism, and approaching Lysenkoism from a perspective of historical interest to show how support for Lysenko's theories was driven by official pressure from the Communist Party. There would certainly be no papers taking the opposite view.

Outside of history of ancient philosophy, and to some extent ethics, they are rarely discussed, much less used as examples of contemporary relevance.

Here's another 30 student essays on the subject, refuting your assertion that the issue is "rarely discussed." Apparently discussing it is a central feature of low-level philosophy courses.

I honestly don't know what you are talking about.

I'm sorry, what part specifically do you find unclear?

First of all there is a huge difference between being wrong and being fraudulent. Second science does not throw out scientists who were wrong, only their theories.

Whereas, theories in philosophy are never discarded, despite their wrongness.

Even Einstein made mistakes, indeed much of the last portion of his career was dedicated to what modern science considers an error (with solid evidence packed in years before).

Yes. And the difference in science is that, regardless of Einstein's colossal stature - even in his own time - as a scientist, even he could not escape rigor, and those models he created which were not rigorous and unsupported by evidence were discarded by scientists, even though they had the Einstein "brand" on them.

Even a titan like Einstein still has to have evidence for his conclusions if they're to be accepted by the scientific consensus.

That's rigor. In philosophy? Nothing even comes close. The great names in philosophy are held in esteem no matter what they say, and previous success in the field leads people to think that subsequent work is also true, even though there's no reason that should automatically be the case. So here we are, 2300 years after Plato and Aristotle can't both be right, and yet both men are considered two of the greatest philosophers who have ever lived.

Another example - James Watson (co-discoverer of the helical structure of DNA) and Anthony Flew (philosopher) have both recently been involved in scandals involving ill-considered statements that they had made. Possibly as a result of creeping senescence. James Watson, despite his legendary status as one of the most influential living biologists/biochemists, found his professional engagements evaporating as a result of his racist comments offered as scientific "truth" would any evidence.

Anthony Flew apparently co-authored by mistake a book of arguments for Christian theism, a book roundly condemned for faulty logic and invalid, trite arguments; yet his status as a philosopher is unchanged.

As far as validity and truth goes, what is the difference?

"Validity" is when a given statement can be derived from one or several axioms by means of valid transformations. "Truth" is when a given statement corresponds to reality.

It's obvious that these are not at all the same thing, since a valid statement still depends on its axioms - and is only true if you assume the truth of your axioms. Godel formalized a proof that shows that even if your axioms are known to be true, it's still possible to arrive at a valid statement that is nonetheless false.

I ask because as soon as you move to answer what you are doing IS philosophy and there's no way around it.

If philosophy can be used to diminish its own significance, that only proves my point.

Even science does not exclude ideas at the outset because they are wrong.

Who said anything about "at the outset"?

In that case, you'd have to admit he'd enjoy a certain vindication, and the joke would be on you. Right?

Sure. But either way we'd know the difference; we'd know that there were reasons to believe that either Darwinism or Lamarkianism was the more accurate model. We'd know that because the evidence would have told us, and the scientific consensus, either way, would form around the model that could be proven to be the most correct.

That's not what happens in philosophy. Support for different positions is determined by the degree that they're consistent with or useful to the ideologies of its supporters, not because of the evidence. The Church of Christian Scientists adopts a position of irrealism not because of any evidence for irrealism but because that's the philosophy consistent with their religion.

Logic is not math, quite the opposite: math is a form of logic, and logic is a field of philosophy.

Mathematicians are mathematicians, not philosophers, and ever since Russel, Boole, and Napier, logic has been a form of mathematics. I'm aware it's the tendency of philosophers to appropriate the successes of other fields, but it's arrogant and ridiculous and I ask you to stop. It disrespects the great minds in science and mathematics for philosophers to take the credit without having supplied any of the work.

Likewise, while I can certainly agree that the scientific method is science, science is a branch of philosophy and whether you agree with that assessment or not, its pretty unquestioned that the scientific method was developed through philosophy (philosophers attempting to gain knowledge about natural phenomena, using empirical evidence).

No. The scientific method was developed by scientists doing science. People were doing science - accruing knowledge by observation and empirical testing - long before any so-called "philosophers of science" were around to tell them how to do it.

Philosophers of science describe how science is done, they do not determine how science is done, and the proof of that is that the vast majority of scientists go about their work and generate results without sparing a single thought to any philosophical concerns. If you don't believe me, ask some scientists! Ask them how many courses in philosophy they took. Ask them how much if their day is spent dealing with metaphysics and epistemology. I don't know a single scientist that spares a thought for philosophical concerns in their day-to-day activities, but they're generating good science, nonetheless.

How is that possible if science is only made possible by philosophy? The answer is - the philosophers are wrong. Science owes them nothing, and it's simply arrogant self-interest on their part that leads them to attempt to dishonestly appropriate the successes of science for their own field.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 265 by Silent H, posted 11-12-2007 4:39 PM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 270 by Silent H, posted 11-12-2007 7:37 PM crashfrog has responded

Silent H
Member (Idle past 3899 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 268 of 307 (433671)
11-12-2007 6:42 PM


Philosophy by example
This might be seen as an addendum to Mod's post. I want to walk through philosophy as I understand it, and people can let me know where I am getting mixed up. So as an up front you can always caveat my statements with "from what I know/learned/experienced".

Philosophy is a method for obtaining knowledge. It began with people asking what they understand (know) about X (which could be anything on any subject). This means that they decided to apply their reason (mental faculties) to address X, rather than take for granted what they had been told, or base instructions regarding.

At its root then, any endeavour which seeks to gain knowledge about X, using reason, is a philosophical endeavour. That is by definition not saying that everything is philosophy, nor is it to imply that anything using reason alone counts as MODERN philosophy. The latter would assume no growth in philosophy.

Fields of study emerged, as well as refined tools of reason. Some of these are treated interchangeably but there really is a distinction which is important.

Logic itself is a tool and the philosophical field of Logic an understanding and development of that tool. It is a sharpening of reason's edge by finding consistent results in certain kinds of arguments or ideas: essentially the necessary relationship between one idea (or premise) and another. This is the cornerstone of all rational inquiry. Its most common and useful forms are math, and informal logic. If you are NOT using logic during your inquiry, I don't know any philosopher that would agree you are doing philosophy.

Epistemology is also a tool, though it relies on the use of logic. It inquires about the nature of knowledge itself, which helps one assess criteria for claims to knowledge. Without at least a hidden, assumed premise regarding this field, claims to knowledge (including those based on evidence) are just flapping in the wind. It is through examining how one knows, or should be allowed to claim knowledge, that rules are produced and checked and improved... and perhaps most importantly understand where the limits of knowledge from a line of intellectual pursuit is drawn.

The remaining fields of Philosophy are applications of the above tools toward some subject X grouped into common themes. There is the theme of what is the essential nature of the world (metaphysics), what is pleasing (aesthetics), what drives (or should drive) human action (ethics), and how does this observed phenomena work (natural inquiry).

These fields developed schools of thought as Mod pointed out. Philosophy as an academic subject regards understanding all of the fields, both tools and applications, as well as their history and some of the "great thinkers". That does not suggest any are venerated as "right" or modern. Indeed I'm not aware of any program that doesn't divide between ancient and modern philosophy.

One important reason for this distinction is that the field of natural inquiry (natural philosophy) was a pretty common subject, people wanted to get a handle on what they could manipulate, and it drove certain other fields toward conclusions of productivity (or lack thereof) as regards THAT THEME. Especially with regards to epistemology and metaphysics, there came a development of specific protocols/understandings which when accepted routinely gave greater productivity. It required dedication to a narrow way of inquiry (championed by philosophers like Descartes [accidentally], Newton, Hume) which was different than those of the ancients.

This is not to say that the ancients produced nothing, just that they didn't produce as much as quickly. Their methods were not as concise. And of course like anyone, sometimes they could just be flipping wrong.

The field of natural philosophy took off and was so distinct a field, with such specific rules, that it eventually was called by its own name... science. That doesn't erase that it came from philosophy, nor that what scientists are doing IS philosophy: applying specific logic and epistemological tools, to a generally assumed metaphysical model to examine natural phemonena.

These specific tools are not necessary to generate productive results for every theme and subject that can be addressed. And that does not make those themes or subjects less "worthy" or "rigorous". Logic is the tool underlying all of this so as rigorous as that is, so goes the theme's examination by philosophy.

If a subject does not have enough material, examined by logic, to produce an answer, that doesn't make it bankrupt, that makes it as yet undefined... just like any frontier of science.

Worth is a subjective opinion. Some may feel examining the world in extreme environments isn't very worthy, or the minutiae of some animal's biology or habits. Certainly most scientists can find work by others scientists that leave them scratching their head at why someone would want to study that. And yes, someone can decide to inquire about something OTHER than natural phenomena. A scientist can of course feel that those subjects aren't productive in a material sense, and so not worthy. It does not logically denigrate philosophy as a whole, that someone decides to apply philosophical techniques (and so do philosophy) on a subject another person doesn't like.

As it is I tend not to believe people, particularly scientists, who claim they don't like philosophy or think it is bankrupt. I tend to think their minds are a bit to inquisitive to park a brain outside natural phenomena.

Scientists (who I've mentioned in previous posts) routinely use and develop: logic, epistemology, and metaphysics. Particularly as science expands into the realm of extreme environments, investigations are becoming routinely metaphysical at the outset, followed by investigations into the refined metaphysic.

Further, in the evc debate itself, I routinely see evos discuss biblical texts to refute creos within their own paradigm. That is not science, that is logic, which is philosophy, and ironically what is necessary to refute (because science could not touch such things). Thus, clearly, philosophy CAN discern between valid and invalid, as well as true and untrue. For example, that the instructions of Noah's ark might render an impossible structure given geometry, proves the assertion invalid and untrue. We can throw such claims out, and a "philosopher" that hangs on to it is wrong.

Oh of course they can still be a philosopher, just as any scientist can stay a scientist after an error. But continued protestations of a correct claim is invalid, untrue and the person is understandably ignored on that subject.

Finally, just about everyone likes to debate, or watch debates, on ethics. That is inherently philosophy and cannot be derived from scientific investigation, even if the results of such investigations can help us make ethical decisions. The key is the ethical formula, not the understanding of a natural phenomena.

Summing up, philosophy is a broad field with the common trait that it is the investigation of a subject using reason. In modern terms that involves acceptance of modern logic, math and informal logic. When investigating natural phenomena the COMMON assumption of MODERN philosophers is the scientific method (with its logic, epistemology, and general metaphysical assumptions).

Man do I hope this helps. Is this something we can agree on? If not, why not? You don't have to hit every point, and can create your own freestanding explanation if you want.


h
"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." - Robert E. Howard
Replies to this message:
 Message 269 by crashfrog, posted 11-12-2007 6:49 PM Silent H has responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 269 of 307 (433674)
11-12-2007 6:49 PM
Reply to: Message 268 by Silent H
11-12-2007 6:42 PM


Re: Philosophy by example
I appreciate your post, but if you're not going to add anything new, I'm content to let my previous posts on the subject speak for themselves. I think they address essentially every point of what you've put forth here, but I appreciate the effort on your part.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 268 by Silent H, posted 11-12-2007 6:42 PM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 271 by Silent H, posted 11-12-2007 7:46 PM crashfrog has responded

Silent H
Member (Idle past 3899 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 270 of 307 (433716)
11-12-2007 7:37 PM
Reply to: Message 267 by crashfrog
11-12-2007 5:19 PM


Re: More tired arguments
I just wrote a huge freestanding explanation which answers many of your questions here... especially whether I am in the "everything is philosophy" crowd. Answer: No.

Aristotle Vs. Plato. Look, here's a pile of student essays on the subject, which substantiates my claim that this debate has yet to be settled more than 2300 years after either figure was alive.

Clearly you saw my statement that "Outside of history of ancient philosophy, and to some extent ethics, they are rarely discussed". You have the quote in your text. So I'm not sure why you bring this up.

I looked through some of those papers and they all appeared to be discussing the nature of the arguments these men made at the time. That is history and methodology, not product. The possible exception is ethical-political issues. Plato's Republic often returns as an applicable subject, when we hear people arguing for censorship, or greater gov't controls.

If you saw one stating how fresh and alive and unsolved their debate is, oh we can't live without that resolution, please link to it. Otherwise my point is made.

The great names in philosophy are held in esteem no matter what they say, and previous success in the field leads people to think that subsequent work is also true, even though there's no reason that should automatically be the case. So here we are, 2300 years after Plato and Aristotle can't both be right, and yet both men are considered two of the greatest philosophers who have ever lived.

This really is a caricature. They are venerated as having been founders and extremely influential. I personally do not find them the greatest that ever lived, or even at that time. Nor have I ever observed that during instruction. They were certainly intelligent, and interesting, but more of note for their different methods. There longterm efficacy was limited... except ethics.

Regarding Einstein, you ignored my point. Einstein's theories have been thrown out, not his stature. So goes it with P n A.

Regarding Flew, I don't know him and I'm not sure what you want done with him. If his logic was correctly criticized, what else do you want, that's the same as having your logic or evidence criticized in natural investigations. Its worthless, anyone hanging on to him is like someone still plugging away at phlogiston. Don't ask me why but people (especially in local time scales) tend to hang on to such things. Like Einstein, his philosopher card doesn't get pulled. As far as an ethics scandal, that is up to his employers. There is no company called Philosophy, that has exclusive hiring/firing rights.

I should add same for science. Your examples of discredited scientists in no way argues that such people cannot or do not work as scientists (perhaps even do good work) after ethics scandals. An argument that SCIENTISTS refuse to hire other scientists caught with their pants down, is not an argument that SCIENCE throws them out or has any such requirements. That's a social thing, not a science methodology issue.

Mathematicians are mathematicians, not philosophers, and ever since Russel, Boole, and Napier, logic has been a form of mathematics. I'm aware it's the tendency of philosophers to appropriate the successes of other fields, but it's arrogant and ridiculous and I ask you to stop. It disrespects the great minds in science and mathematics for philosophers to take the credit without having supplied any of the work.

That is an assertion on your point. And an insult. And kind of funny to see an ethical appeal not to hurt the great minds of science and math. Who made you gate-keeper of science? Once again, I am a scientist and have a great respect for science. I have also studied its foundations and its history. I'm explaining that your definitions do not seem to match history or even modern usage.

Can you explain why both the dictionary and wiki list logic as being under philosophy, and the latter listing math as under logic? In fact, I'm still not sure how you would interpret the idea that logic is math, your statement, as if that excludes philosophy.

The consistent theme seems to be your definition is right... period... end of discussion. I am not doing that to you.

The scientific method was developed by scientists doing science. People were doing science - accruing knowledge by observation and empirical testing - long before any so-called "philosophers of science" were around to tell them how to do it.

Ahem, the philosophy of science is completely different than a philosopher doing natural philosophy, which later was called science.

You do admit that those doing what we call science now were known as natural philosophers, right? And there was simply a semantic shift, with no change in what they were doing? Its a subset of rational investigation. The most powerful, productive, form of rational (meaning with reason) investigation into natural phenomena we have.

If you don't believe me, ask some scientists!

I sure did... I'm telling you the answers. That you by fiat define anything scientific as not philosophy, metaphysical/epistemological/logical rules used in science as not philosophy, allows only one outcome. Otherwise, if one is aware of the history of the development of these things, one will see that scientists take philosophy courses at the outset at the very least, and have a great concern for it all the time.

My question would any scientists know when the are actually using philosophy or not, if they don't know the history and methodology of philosophy? You can learn any skill and apply rules without knowing where they come from or what they mean. That does not change the fact that they came from somewhere or have a certain meaning.

Heheheh... now that I think about it this sort of feels like I'm explaining to a creo how humans descended from common ancestors, and I keep getting told they aren't an ape, and humans were humans all along!

Really science is a form of philosophical inquiry and was once called that specifically. Hence, science owes a lot to the philosophers who pushed science from its infancy to what it is today. And no, they never needed any philosophers of science. We clearly agree on that.


h
"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." - Robert E. Howard
This message is a reply to:
 Message 267 by crashfrog, posted 11-12-2007 5:19 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 272 by crashfrog, posted 11-12-2007 9:10 PM Silent H has responded

  
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