Posted: Jan 19, 2017 8:49 am
by Spinozasgalt
VazScep wrote:
Spinozasgalt wrote: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....
What sort of religious philosophy, may I ask? Any particular favourite?

I did the standard group of analytics; Adams, Plantinga, Alston, Quinn, Finnis, and a lot of others to a lesser degree. Mostly, I was introduced to these guys in ethics and then followed up on their other views later. Mark C. Murphy is a Thomist I don't mind; he's very much within the conventions of analytic philosophy (which can helpful or annoying or both), but when quite a few philosophers were praising and deploying Adams's view of obligation, Murphy jumped in to say, "Hold up, I don't think you guys have thought this through." He probably didn't actually make that comment, but that's how it looked and it was kinda fun. I've done a few traditional Thomists as well, including one that was trying to get concurrentism about divine causation off the ground again, but I can't for the life of me remember who he is. Oh and Helen De Cruz has a nice non-realist theism, I recall. I quite liked Hartshorne and his process theology, too.

Outside of the analytics, I've done some stuff on Charles Taylor and Alasdair MacIntyre, though I preferred the former. Simone Weil pops up a lot and I quite like her. Others like Derrida and Irigaray (actually, a lot of that bunch) say interesting things about religion, but I don't know if you'd call that religious philosophy.

There are more, especially outside of the analytic group, but I can't remember them all. :lol:

VazScep wrote:
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.
There's a particular difference between science and philosophy that's come to my attention, that I first noticed when discussing technical issues about Goedel's Incompleteness Theorems with philosophers who, for some bizarre reason, cite Goedel's original paper in their arguments. I have never read Goedel's original paper, and I don't know anyone who has. I assume his proof is pretty crap compared to the modern ones. What little I know of his paper is that the theorem he proved is substantially weaker than the one I studied. The conversation normally ended with me saying "I don't care what Goedel said."

Scientists and mathematicians have comparatively little respect for their ancestors. You don't read Newton to understand Newtonian mechanics. But you do read Kant to understand Kantian philosophy. I did once read Alonzo Church's original papers on lambda calculus, but it was in this patronising tone of "wow. Alonzo kinda understood lambda calculus."

Someone wrote a blog post on this a few weeks back that hit the front page of Hacker News: ... hilosophy/

I reach a different conclusion to the poster, and think that the philosophical obsession with personality is what makes it closer to literature than science. Scientific progress manifests partly in the fact that you don't need to care about who invented a theory to become competent at it. This was indirectly suggested in the first paper I read by Rorty "Decline of Redemptive Truth and the Rise of a Literary Culture", in which he claimed that analytic philosophers of his generation had been told that they didn't need bother studying anyone prior to 1900, and that analytic philosophy was aiming to be like the sciences and make progress. Rorty didn't think it was making any progress, and that aping science wasn't what people wanted anyway. Instead, he suggested we all become literary critics.

I have some sympathy for the philosophy as literature angle. I think Rorty and some others are quite eloquent about it. But there's a tendency from some of these guys that I want to avoid, which is to highlight a similarity (and, to be fair, they often work hard on picturing and clarifying it) and then pass or patch over the differences and forcibly assimilate philosophy to literature.