Is philosophy worth bothering with?

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Re: Is philosophy worth bothering with?

#921  Postby Fallible » Jan 17, 2017 4:31 pm

Cito di Pense wrote:
Fallible wrote:Oh, I see you did a massive edit. I'm merely pointing out that you don't bother with it whether it's worth bothering with or not.


That's exactly right. Isn't it obvious that I do it just to get on the tits of people who let their tits out a mile? Never forget this thread was started by someone who doesn't think philosophy is worth bothering with. As soon as ever somebody does that, the chorus begins, and just like you, I'm curious as to why that is.


You do what to just get on the tits of people? Bother with philosophy when it's worth bothering with? No. You bother with it because you think it's worth bothering with. The clue was in the sentence. Unless you're not really bothering with philosophy at all, a possibility which a few here will readily entertain. If you want to say you bother with getting on the tits of people, just say it. No one's looking. Well, no one who's inclined to do anything about it.
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Re: Is philosophy worth bothering with?

#922  Postby VazScep » Jan 17, 2017 4:34 pm

archibald wrote:Really? If I recall right, the culminating chapter of 'How The Mind Works' was an argument for a computational theory of mind.
Yeah. I really didn't like the book for that.

As I said, I can only argue from the perspective of AI research. I don't know what psychologists are up to. The point is that Pinker's at least appealing to experiment, and does it himself. And when you're writing a book summarising a bunch of scientific research you've been involved with, it's not unusual to overstate your conclusions. It's why I don't take popular science that seriously.

I very much enjoyed Better Angels of our Nature, though I suspect the stats are pretty dubious, and the neuroscience bits towards the end are the sort of thing with which I don't give a lot of benefit of the doubt. But there were a few bits that made me go "holy fuck: is that right?" In particular, the claim that in the middle ages, 1/4 noblemen would die in battle. Those odds suck.
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Re: Is philosophy worth bothering with?

#923  Postby VazScep » Jan 17, 2017 4:38 pm

archibald wrote:I'm not dodging your other questions. 'How much worth bothering with?' is a different question to just 'worth bothering with?'. I'm not making huge claims on behalf of philosophy even for the individuals I've cited. For one thing, they're not in my specialist area of expertise. I could tell you about Le Corusier. He wrote quite a bit of architectural philosophy and a LOT of buildings got built according to it, and people lived their lives in them (and still do). I don't think there's many other 'philosophical worthwhiles' that are quite as tangibly influential, for better or worse. :)
Well, I will say nice things about philosophy of mathematics influencing computer science and mathematics, and I will mention individuals and specific contributions. Admittedly, some of the individuals had credentials as working mathematicians (but then, so did Descartes). I would respond to any claim that these people were really doing mathematics and not philosophy by pointing out that they got derided at the time for doing the latter but not the former.

Taxonomists are tedious people.
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Re: Is philosophy worth bothering with?

#924  Postby archibald » Jan 17, 2017 4:39 pm

VazScep wrote:
archibald wrote:Really? If I recall right, the culminating chapter of 'How The Mind Works' was an argument for a computational theory of mind.
Yeah. I really didn't like the book for that.

As I said, I can only argue from the perspective of AI research. I don't know what psychologists are up to. The point is that Pinker's at least appealing to experiment, and does it himself. And when you're writing a book summarising a bunch of scientific research you've been involved with, it's not unusual to overstate your conclusions. It's why I don't take popular science that seriously.

I very much enjoyed Better Angels of our Nature, though I suspect the stats are pretty dubious, and the neuroscience bits towards the end are the sort of thing with which I don't give a lot of benefit of the doubt. But there were a few bits that made me go "holy fuck: is that right?" In particular, the claim that in the middle ages, 1/4 noblemen would die in battle. Those odds suck.


I haven't read that one but I do try to take stats with a pinch of salt when I'm reading popular science books or articles (which to be fair is about my top level). I particularly had the feeling when reading 'Freakonomics'.
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Re: Is philosophy worth bothering with?

#925  Postby archibald » Jan 17, 2017 4:43 pm

VazScep wrote:Taxonomists are tedious people.


A lot of this debate seems to me to be about taxonomy. And maybe a bit of fashion (it's not cool to be a scientist nowadays and acknowledge philosophy, or something).

And then there's the fact that a lot of armchair philosophy really is pretty useless, imo, regarding knowledge about the world. Other than subjective knowledge. :)

Here's a question. Could you foresee a situation in the future in which scientists might want to or have to fall back on activities more philosophical than currently? Some sort of catastrophe for or grinding to a halt of the current scientific method?
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Re: Is philosophy worth bothering with?

#926  Postby VazScep » Jan 17, 2017 4:58 pm

archibald wrote:
VazScep wrote:Taxonomists are tedious people.


A lot of this debate seems to me to be about taxonomy. And maybe a bit of fashion (it's not cool to be a scientist and acknowledge philosophy, or something).

And then there's the fact that a lot of armchair philosophy really is pretty useless, regarding knowledge about the world. :)
I was only going to have a go at metaphysics, and some analytic philosophy that really rubs me the wrong way. And when I say "metaphysics", I don't have any thing in mind besides what gets published in contemporary journals bearing that name. As Tracer Tong suggested at the beginning of this thread, "metaphysics" is just the unimaginative name that scholars gave to an unnamed book by Aristotle, which came after another book they had already named "Physics."

As for philosophy of mind, I can recount a story that I have told before. I attended a seminar some years ago by a bunch of psychologists, where they had done a bunch of reaction time experiments in order to claim that the processing of certain concepts requires activating parts of the nervous system outside the brain. One of the people in the seminar had clearly got wind that the speakers were trying to claim this was evidence of something called "embodied cognition." He put his hand up and said something like "all these philosophical debates are fun, but what do you want us to implement?" He didn't get an answer.

Here's a question. Could you foresee a situation in the future in which scientists might want to or have to fall back on activities more philosophical than currently? Some sort of catastrophe or grinding to a halt for the scientific method?
Economic collapse might do it. If your budget only covers an armchair, and no lab equipment, you might have to go back to metaphysics.
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Re: Is philosophy worth bothering with?

#927  Postby DavidMcC » Jan 17, 2017 5:47 pm

VazScep wrote:...Economic collapse might do it. If your budget only covers an armchair, and no lab equipment, you might have to go back to metaphysics.

Assuminng that the budget covers pens and paper, they could concenrate on theoretical science, and hope for economic recovery later, that would allow a return to experimental science - one that would be enhanced.
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Re: Is philosophy worth bothering with?

#928  Postby DavidMcC » Jan 17, 2017 5:53 pm

archibald wrote:
DavidMcC wrote:I haven't read Pinker, but I am quite sure that the mind cannot be reduced to a computer, no matter how big the computer, largely because a computer does not use emotion to make decisions, only data input and computation. Show me a computer with atitude that isn't pre-programmed - fake attitude.


We've been around for hundreds of thousands of years but only had proper computers for about half a century. Give it time. :)

Maybe with robots/computers that are biological?
Oh, wait! ... That's us! NS beat us to it long ago.

EDIT: We are, after all, just slightly unpredictable robots with attitude.
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Re: Is philosophy worth bothering with?

#929  Postby Thommo » Jan 17, 2017 7:48 pm

BWE wrote:If Thommo is attributing a strong case from me, it is just that I have clear delineations relating theory and praxis. My assertion is merely that neither can grow or build on itself independently of the other so philosophy without application is meaningless and application without philosophy is blind or maybe random.


Indirectly perhaps. The proximate cause was merely that you said so:-

  • All disciplines ... in fact rely on philosophy.
  • social science is extremely powerful as an instrumental science and among the most important research programs currently occupying humanity
  • You can't have a field without philosophy.
  • the idea of the null or falsification or some variation of methodology which is a philosophical issue
  • Ph.D stands for doctor of philosophy and means (or is supposed to mean) that one is qualified to teach the philosophical doctrines of a discipline.
  • [the people who can explain why Dennett's ideas about the intentional stance are important] are almost every single PhD and lots and lots of professionals who are pushing the boundaries of knowledge in their fields.
  • Philosophy is the core of a discipline. Any discipline I think.

I don't think the language I used to describe that was really even taken from outside direct quotes - importance, reliance, centrality, universality all lie in the things you've said. I hope this settles the questions of why I discussed those issues using the words I did, I really don't like to misrepresent people or to be perceived as having done so. But at the same time please don't think I am suggesting you aren't entitled to your view - you absolutely are. :thumbup:
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Re: Is philosophy worth bothering with?

#930  Postby Thommo » Jan 17, 2017 7:57 pm

Fallible wrote:You bother with it when it's worth bothering with. When you bother with it, it must have reached the level of worth at which you can be bothered to bother.


A man can bother who he will, but can he will who he bothers?
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Re: Is philosophy worth bothering with?

#931  Postby archibald » Jan 17, 2017 9:26 pm

Fallible wrote:You do what to just get on the tits of people? Bother with philosophy when it's worth bothering with? No. You bother with it because you think it's worth bothering with. The clue was in the sentence. Unless you're not really bothering with philosophy at all, a possibility which a few here will readily entertain. If you want to say you bother with getting on the tits of people, just say it. No one's looking. Well, no one who's inclined to do anything about it.


I reckon he just misread the thread title and thinks the OP is 'Does philosophy bother you'?
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Re: Is philosophy worth bothering with?

#932  Postby archibald » Jan 17, 2017 9:28 pm

DavidMcC wrote:Maybe with robots/computers that are biological?
Oh, wait! ... That's us! NS beat us to it long ago.

EDIT: We are, after all, just slightly unpredictable robots with attitude.


Exactly! :)
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Re: Is philosophy worth bothering with?

#933  Postby scott1328 » Jan 17, 2017 10:23 pm

Thommo wrote:
Fallible wrote:You bother with it when it's worth bothering with. When you bother with it, it must have reached the level of worth at which you can be bothered to bother.


A man can bother who he will, but can he will who he bothers?


I think we have another thread for that topic... :ask:
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Re: Is philosophy worth bothering with?

#934  Postby BWE » Jan 17, 2017 11:18 pm

Thommo wrote:
BWE wrote:If Thommo is attributing a strong case from me, it is just that I have clear delineations relating theory and praxis. My assertion is merely that neither can grow or build on itself independently of the other so philosophy without application is meaningless and application without philosophy is blind or maybe random.


Indirectly perhaps. The proximate cause was merely that you said so:-

  • All disciplines ... in fact rely on philosophy.
  • social science is extremely powerful as an instrumental science and among the most important research programs currently occupying humanity
  • You can't have a field without philosophy.
  • the idea of the null or falsification or some variation of methodology which is a philosophical issue
  • Ph.D stands for doctor of philosophy and means (or is supposed to mean) that one is qualified to teach the philosophical doctrines of a discipline.
  • [the people who can explain why Dennett's ideas about the intentional stance are important] are almost every single PhD and lots and lots of professionals who are pushing the boundaries of knowledge in their fields.
  • Philosophy is the core of a discipline. Any discipline I think.

I don't think the language I used to describe that was really even taken from outside direct quotes - importance, reliance, centrality, universality all lie in the things you've said. I hope this settles the questions of why I discussed those issues using the words I did, I really don't like to misrepresent people or to be perceived as having done so. But at the same time please don't think I am suggesting you aren't entitled to your view - you absolutely are. :thumbup:


I must be missing something. I a) don't see you attributing a strong case from me and b) don't see that list as contradicting a.
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Re: Is philosophy worth bothering with?

#935  Postby Thommo » Jan 17, 2017 11:24 pm

You don't think literally saying that you cannot have lawyers* without philosophy and more generally that you cannot have any field of human intellectual pursuit without philosophy, that literally everything relies on philosophy is a strong claim?

Ok, that's my assessment about the extent of those claims. I think it's fair.

*"If you think a field would progress without its philosophers, you don't understand academic pursuits and the way academic contributions feed into the world of practitioners. Imagine what law would be without philosophy. There would be no lawyers."
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Re: Is philosophy worth bothering with?

#936  Postby Spinozasgalt » Jan 17, 2017 11:24 pm

archibald wrote:
Cito di Pense wrote: I'm curious as to why that is.


You and spinozasgalt both. It's like your own little quiz show in here that you get to be the hosts of.

What's on your answer cards? Peoples wants to kno.

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Re: Is philosophy worth bothering with?

#937  Postby archibald » Jan 17, 2017 11:30 pm

Spinozasgalt wrote:What did I do now?


That's exactly what I'm talking about.
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Re: Is philosophy worth bothering with?

#938  Postby archibald » Jan 17, 2017 11:32 pm

No seriously, do you think philosophy is worth bothering about, and if so for what reasons?




Now would be a good opportunity to confess that you regret ever having opened a book on the effin' subject in the first place, if you feel you want to do that. I for one will try to not go hard on you, unless you want me to.
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Re: Is philosophy worth bothering with?

#939  Postby BWE » Jan 18, 2017 12:04 am

Thommo wrote:You don't think literally saying that you cannot have lawyers* without philosophy and more generally that you cannot have any field of human intellectual pursuit without philosophy, that literally everything relies on philosophy is a strong claim?

Ok, that's my assessment about the extent of those claims. I think it's fair.

*"If you think a field would progress without its philosophers, you don't understand academic pursuits and the way academic contributions feed into the world of practitioners. Imagine what law would be without philosophy. There would be no lawyers."

It's totally fair but we straightened that out with the tautology bit, no?
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Re: Is philosophy worth bothering with?

#940  Postby Spinozasgalt » Jan 18, 2017 12:12 am

archibald wrote:No seriously, do you think philosophy is worth bothering about, and if so for what reasons?




Now would be a good opportunity to confess that you regret ever having opened a book on the effin' subject in the first place, if you feel you want to do that. I for one will try to not go hard on you, unless you want me to.

Well, I bother with moral philosophy quite a bit and it throws me into a lot of other areas of philosophy. So, to the extent that I do bother with it and plan to bother with it further, yes, I do think it's worth bothering with. But then, I've got an obvious use for it that others might not have. I also read religious philosophy, so....

Do I think that everyone should bother with philosophy? I don't know. Hence the skepticism here and refusal to say yes or no. As interesting as some of this has been, I'm not convinced by any side of it. So, I'll have to rethink it for myself.

I think the comparison between philosophy and science can be fun to think about, if that helps. I think their differences are interesting rather than damaging to one or the other. Philosophy seems to be one of its own favourite subjects, whereas science seems to be mostly settled with itself. Maybe you can gloss it in terms of progress? Science, being somewhat settled with itself, can't do much else other than progress. Whereas with philosophy always being unsettled with itself, any progress would seem chimerical. I don't know how well I like any of that, but it's another way of looking at it.
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