Philosophy, what is it good for?

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chimp3's picture
Why gay people should be

Why gay people should be allowed to marry. A philosophical discussion. Why the death penalty? A philosophical question.

Dave Matson's picture
At the higher levels, with

At the higher levels, with some notable exceptions, it seems that all too many philosophers specialize in building their own sand castles in the sky. Philosophy becomes a giant, rubber stamp to verify personal views, be it a belief in God or something else. There is a tendency to drift into ever-weirder terrain. Sometimes I get the feeling that the best philosophy is what you get in a good, introductory, university textbook. I still believe that there are some good philosophers out there.

The biggest problem of philosophy, at least from a bug's-eye view, is its quest to dot every "i" and cross every "t" in a never-ending attempt to chase down a certainty that ultimately becomes meaningless to real life or is simply not available. Endless hair-splitting ultimately leads to a host of different, unresolvable viewpoints that have little connection with common sense. The emphasis is on the possible, on closing every loophole, when it should be on the probable. Ultimately you are left with an endless debating society lost in its own jingoism.

Some good things can be said for philosophy. A decent introductory course can make you aware of the pitfalls and limitations of popular thinking and introduce you to some interesting ideas.

Austin Vetter's picture
Historically, philosophy has

Historically, philosophy has had major positive impacts on society such as a constraint on science. With it's growth we've seen socieites growth. During the enlightenment, we saw increase in reason due to the political promotion of the philosphes leading to a pursuit of truth in the sciences. Today, there is mostly intellectual dishonesty from a over materialistic society that are monopolizing the beaurcrats control; Science without morals has ruined us.

I'm worried Sheldon you are misanthropic.

Sheldon's picture
"Today, there is mostly

"Today, there is mostly intellectual dishonesty from a over materialistic society that are monopolizing the beaurcrats control; Science without morals has ruined us."

I disagree, but since you have offered zero evidence for your claim Hitchens's razor is all that's needed.

"I'm worried Sheldon you are misanthropic."

I'll not lie to you, this kinds of petty ad hominem from a complete stranger in an internet forum who knows nothing about me is not very disconcerting.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
In response to the OP I would

In response to the OP I would argue that philosophy is fundamentally important. I just so happen to be in a field that has, in many ways, picked up baton from philosophy and transformed it's ideas into experiments.

You can often tell the difference between scientists that are educated in philosophy vs. those that aren't. The act of theorizing in science is in many ways a philosophical act; we have methods for doing research and interpreting data, but when it comes to creating theories there don't seem to be any rules. It is a task left to those creative and philosophical enough to formulate them.

As I stated in my conversations, scientists are only studying the internal representations of an external world; not the eternal world itself. In order to argue against my claim, you need philosophy.

Dave Matson's picture


On what basis do you claim that our collective senses do not faithfully report on conditions of the external world? It is our interpretations of our sensory data that constructs models of the external world. Such models are biased by the limitations of our senses as well as by faulty reasoning, The scientific approach has been to minimize such problems to such an extent that it would be silly to pretend that we know nothing of the external world. We know, beyond a reasonable doubt, a great many things about the external world.

On what grounds would you throw doubt on the existence of rivers and mountains, a spherical earth orbiting a hot, large sun? I think our external reality, at least on a day by day basis in our neighborhood, is pretty much what we experience. Our senses evolved to give us useful data about the external reality. It may be customized internally in accordance with our particular sensory limitations but it is still a valid, coherent view of the external reality. One of the great benefits of science is that it allows us to exceed many of these sensory limitations.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐy's picture
The basis of my claim lies in

The basis of my claim lies in philosophy and psychology. I don't doubt the existence of rivers and mountains; such a statement is applicable to someone that thinks the brain is simulating reality internally. As I've been telling Sheldon, I don't doubt the existence of an external objective reality. My point is that such a reality can only be known through perception, therefore, all that is known is subjective.

To say that science can exceed our sensory limitations, exposes the root of the problem. At most, our technology pulls things that exist beyond our limits and transforms that information into something our senses can perceive. Clearly, such transformations creates problems for objectivity.

Sapporo's picture
If philosophy is not

If philosophy is not practical, it is not necessary.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
Isn't that pragmatism lol,

Isn't that pragmatism lol, what an interesting way to use philosophy against itself.

Sapporo's picture
@ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ

@ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ
:p well, I was just trying to answer the thread's question.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
I just wanted to add an

I just wanted to add an updated response to the OP given that I've learned some new things in class this past week.

To clarify a point that hasn't been important until now: I'm not in Psychology anymore. I'm studying Cognitive Science, and they are not the same thing. Cognitive Science is a relatively new field which is highly interdisciplinary. Psychologists aren't the only ones that study cognition, neuroscientists do as well; linguists, anthropologists, computer scientists, and lastly philosophers all do too. I encompass all of these fields.

So here's an interesting example of the importance of philosophy. Psychology is founded on a very dualistic view of the mind. In other words, the mind is the mind and the body is the body, and never shalt the twain meet. The same is true from the neuroscientists side. When cognitive science was emerging, some psychologists began collaborating with philosophers to ask if this really is the right approach, are the mind and body really separate. Thanks to such collaboration, and application of philosophy to psychology, you have the emergence of things like "embodied cognition." Its this idea that cognition doesn't just occur in the mind, it functions across the entire organism. It therefore spawns new research questions, such as what happens when you ask someone to solve simple math problems, but ask them to sit on their hands or do something with them? People tend to explicitly or implicitly use their fingers to count, so will this interference affect the speed or accuracy at which people count?

Something else that's important to note, is that scientists are not really trained to think. The words "critical thinking" are obviously tossed around, but we aren't taught any specific methods. Instead we are taught the art and procedures of experimentation. How to manipulate variable, isolate them, correlate them, analyze them, etc. In contrast, philosopher are taught how to think. They are taught how to formulate questions in ways that scientists can then investigate with their tools.

SunDog's picture
It's been said, 'Philosophy

It's been said, 'Philosophy doesn't answer the question but questions the answer'. IMO 'critical thinking' in science means to examine an hypothesis closely by using empirical evidence & the scientific method thereby determining it's validity.

arakish's picture
Breezy: "I'm more impressed

Breezy: "I'm more impressed about the child's ability to read scripture at the age of 3.5, than anything else."

And yet I still saw it for the complete lie and bullshit that the Bible is.


SunDog's picture
Checkout the child evangelist

Checkout the child evangelist ' Marjorie Gortner'.

arakish's picture
Why? rmfr



Nyarlathotep's picture
Breezy - Try taking this

Breezy - Try taking this sample Sorting Task. Pay attention to how well you can shift between rules.

OK I did take it.

Error count: 6 (10%)
Perseveration error count: 6 (10%)
Non-Perseveration error count: 0 (0%)

There is also some pretty ugly stuff on that site: For example:

It says In the first block, there are by definition no perseveration errors; yet I managed to get a perseveration error on the very first question!

How funny is it that in an argument about contradictions; you gave me a website that contradicts itself.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐy's picture
I wonder if it has anything

I wonder if it has anything to do with you exceeding the time limit on the first question.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Breezy - I wonder if it has

Breezy - I wonder if it has anything to do with you exceeding the time limit on the first question.

Right, that was a problem also. Instructions said you can't get a perseveration error in the first block of questions; but did not mention there is a 10 second time limit (or mention anything about time at all!). Not knowing that; I went over the time limit on the first question and it gives me a perseveration error. What a joke.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐy's picture
I do think the way you are

I do think the way you are interacting with the test, is itself more insightful than you having taken the test itself. Most people wouldn't have an issue with the perseveration error in the first spot because they understand how to adjust it. Isn't that at the heart of our issue? Your inability to adjust information? Adjusting a perseveration error to a non-perseveration error, adjusting 1 to a 1+X.

It also doesn't matter if you know it was timed. At the end of the day you will naturally answer as fast as you are successfully and comfortably able to. The task works through feedback, so you're not supposed to know what the answer is on the first set; you're expected to get it wrong. If I had to guess why it took you over 10 seconds to answer (assuming you didn't go off to make some coffee) its precisely because you had no way of knowing the right answer, and didn't want to get it wrong, so you hesitated.

Nyarlathotep's picture
It also doesn't matter if you

Breezy - It also doesn't matter if you know it was timed. At the end of the day you will naturally answer as fast as you are successfully and comfortably able to... If I had to guess why it took you over 10 seconds to answer...its precisely because you had no way of knowing the right answer

What? I hadn't even considered the question before I found out (the hard way) that it was timed. I'm lucky it got my attention with a loud noise when time ran out, otherwise I'd have probably missed a few more on time without even realizing it.

Anonymous's picture
Isn't it sad that Amazon

Isn't it sad that Amazon closed its' religion forum? I wondered where everybody went. You came here.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐy's picture


Anonymous's picture
Next time, don't use the same

Next time, don't use the same photo. lol

arakish's picture
Breezy: "Well, you also

Breezy: "Well, you also claimed to have read and comprehended Scripture by the age of 3.5; which either means your memory is faulty, or you are an outliar in cognitive abilities."

Particularly the bold text. By the way, you misspelled it. It is outlier.

Sorry. I did read this. Just skipped right on.

And you are so correct. It took me going to college a second time and delving deeper into psychology before I actually realized I was an oultier.

For at least the first 40 years of my life, I always thought my learning capabilities were NORMAL. For there were others like me. It was not until I had taken a third class of the same psychology professor and began having private discussions with her that I discovered I am an anamoly. I am an outlier. As said, for some reason, I have always been able to spot inconsistencies, contradictions, and down-right bullshit as soon as I read it or hear it.

That is why the Bible, even at 3½ years old, never made sense to me. Simply due to one reason. The Bible is nothing more than fantastical faerie tales plagiarized, rewritten, and complied by a bunch of megalomanical men desiring power over the masses. They threw in enough honey and sugar so that most of the illiterates would not even realize that they were being duped. And as education continued to evolve into greater sophistication, those Religious Absolutists then recognized that they would also have to evolve their indoctrination process. Eventually, like Ken Ham, they realized that to get their bullshit ingrained to a level no one will even question, let alone think critically, about the beliefs they are brainwashed with. They realized that they had no other alternative than to get at children while they were between the ages of 4 to 14, when they are at their most susceptible and most vulnerable to brainwashing.

I would guarantee that if a law were passed that prohibited any and all religious teachings to any person until they are 24 years old, religion would not survive more than two generations. Maybe three. Additionally, I would revoke the tax-exempt status of any and all religious organizations and begin taxing them. Then take that money and put it into a trust fund to pay for anyone wishing a college education. Then, you could begin teaching them about religion.

Another thing I would change is how the public education systems teaches our children, especially in grades 7-12. Instead of teaching our children what they should learn, we should be teaching them how to learn. We should not be waiting until the children get into college to teach them how to learn. The greatest professors I ever had were the ones that gave "open-book" tests. And every one of them had the same answer. "I believe a student learns more by having to go and search and research for the answer than they do by forcing them to memorize by rote."

And that is how I taught my daughters to learn. Whenever they had a question, I would just direct them to what I called "The Walls of Why." These "walls" were nothing but collections of encyclopedias, the past 50 years of National Geographics, the past 30 years of Scientific America, the past 40 years of Popular Science, the past 40 years of Popular Mechanics, my father's college textbooks, my college textbooks, and a vast assortment of other textbooks I had purchased and read. Many of those magazine collections were started by my father and given to me, and I continued to collect them. In other words, instead of blurting out the answer, I taught my daughters how to learn for themselves. Sometimes, I and/or my wife would help them search for the answer(s).

And Mr. Breezy, here is another essay for you.

Pure Genius and Selfish Genes

Now here is a tale that seems so unbelievable, it is actually believable. Hell, I still find it hard to believe myself. And I lived through it.

When my daughters were born, I was nowhere near. I was still in the US Navy. We were on a mission so “top secret classified” that no one was allowed ANY contact outside our immediate command structure. A mission that lasted so long, I never knew we had even gotten pregnant. My wife and I had our honeymoon. I returned to my ship and ten days later we left port. By the time we returned home, I found I was the new father of 5 month old twin daughters. Identical twins. Five months later, there was an accident. An accident that forced me to accept an Honorable (Medical) Discharge. I was returned home.

Both a good and a bad thing. Bad because I was going to spend a lifetime in the Navy. Good because my daughters would no longer be without their daddy. Overall, I think the good won over the bad.

Anyway, my daughters grew up. One thing my wife and I loved was that our daughters were identical twins, so identical, that both had the same exact complete heterochromia. They both had a brown right eye and a blue left eye. My wife and I both had brown eyes. However, we both had the genes for blue eyes. My mother had brown eyes, my father had blue eyes. Get this. My wife’s mother had brown eyes, her father had blue eyes. Funny how the natural selection of genetics can work… What was it Richard Dawkins said about The Selfish Gene?

Our daughters grew up and went off to public school starting with the “K” grade (which we never had when I was a child). It was not until they were in third grade, eight years old, that I accidentally found out that our daughters were dyslexic. I was playing on the computer with programming code that flipped text around to mirror image. I had made functions that would flip the whole page, flip just words, or just each letter. While I was playing around, one of my daughters walked by, saw the screen, and said, “Ooooh… that looks backwards.” It was quite some time before her comment did the “wake-up-call” on the back of my mind. I got my daughter back to the computer and asked her to show me how she saw the letters on screen by writing them on a piece of paper. It was then that I realized that although the letters were backward for me, she was actually seeing them as if they were correct. I then returned the letters to normal and asked again for her to write them exactly as she sees them. She then wrote each letter horizontally flipped, but the sequence of letters still flowed correctly in each word. The form of text that was most difficult for them was italics text. The two images below depict this phenomenon.

[see attached image]

Numbers looked perfectly normal to them (14, 5, 79, 2386, etc.), however. It was just the letters that flipped on them. Go figure. I have since discovered that dyslexia is quite funny in how it can affect people differently. I even read a journal paper which discussed how for one person the letters that flipped around for them were only the uppercase letters. All lowercase letters appeared normal. Then there are persons where the letters and numbers flip around so badly, some would actually flip both ways being mirror image and upside down, that they have no way of learning how to read. That is sad…

When I first discovered this, I was so angry there were no words. I was beyond livid that the school system had had my daughters for over three years and NEVER knew my daughters were dyslexic. Fortunately, this was on a Saturday, and I had almost two days to chill before going and confronting my daughters’ teacher and principal. The next day (Sunday), I then had the wild tangent smack me on the back of my head, “How come neither my wife nor I even knew our daughters were dyslexic? And I am wanting to blame the school system?”

This question truly haunted me. I could not figure out how neither my wife nor I knew our daughters were dyslexic. They spoke like normal children their age. They read books like normal children their age. They even wrote like normal children their age. How in hell…?

It was then that it dawned on me that our daughters were such geniuses that they were able to compensate for their dyslexia so well, that no one even suspected they were dyslexic. Even myself and my wife.

How in hell…?

That Monday, my wife, their teacher, the school principal, and I discussed this issue. The teacher and principal were as completely shocked as I had been. From that day forward, my daughters had their dyslexia entered into their records. They even listed the dyslexia as “Self-Compensated.” This led to several aptitude batteries being given to my daughters to prove they had “self-compensated” their dyslexia.

And I have been told by others that I was intelligent. Not after this… I was just another retard compared to the genius of my daughters. Shame they were killed. With that kind of genius focused into two identical brilliant persons, they could have literally changed the world…

Now here is another question for you: How can children born with dyslexia be intelligent enough to self-compensate for that dyslexia, yet no one, especially the parents, realizes they are dyslexic?



Attach Image/Video?: 

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐy's picture
Well, at the very least,

Well, at the very least, dyslexia requires the individual to have normal or high intelligence in the first place; in other words, the dysgraphia is not due to issues with intelligence.

arakish's picture
dyslexia requires the

dyslexia requires the individual to have normal or high intelligence in the first place

No it does not.


ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐy's picture
If you say so.

If you say so.

Sheldon's picture
"Well, at the very least,

"Well, at the very least, dyslexia requires the individual to have normal or high intelligence in the first place; "

Not true I'm afraid dyslexia afflicts people with a wide range of IQ's.

" the dysgraphia is not due to issues with intelligence."

Correct., people with lower IQ's can benefit from treatment for dyslexia, as it is more likely this condition and not their IQ is the root cause of their reading and writing difficulties.


Anonymous's picture
Philosophies offer different

Philosophies offer different ways to see things, to gain new perspectives, to offer possibility of hope. Philosophies are like colors in a color wheel, imho. Each color becomes a favorite of an individual. My personal philosophy is to "keep going". That's it. Simple. Just "keep going".

I choose yellow.

arakish's picture
Magnificent Beast:

Magnificent Beast: Philosophies are like colors in a color wheel, imho. I choose yellow."

Different perspective. Kind of amusing too.

And that is where I get into trouble on some tests that ask: "What is your favorite color?" And my answer is always: "ALL of them."



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