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    Is there any use in philosophy ? (September 2011)

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    Rene
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    Is there any use in philosophy ? (September 2011)

    Message  Rene le Mar 20 Sep - 21:02

    Hello everyone,

    The starting question was : Is there any use in philosophy ?

    what is philosophy ?

    Is it possible not to philosophy ?

    What is the link between philosophy and democracy ?

    Is philosophy also in our emotions ?

    Is subjectivity included in philosophy )

    Is philosophy just rational thoughts ?

    The word has been invented in Greece, but was there a practice of philosophy in other places of the world ?

    ....




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    my view in 10 points

    Message  arash le Mar 20 Sep - 23:17

    1. Human beings can cooperate by means of communication. Communication is possible as long as we agree on a given set of basic concepts expressed by words (e.g. justice, love, virtu, science, good, evil, freedom, rationality, etc.)
    2. The basic concepts are those ones which shape our basic cognitive and ethic objectives.
    3. The problem of agreeing on these concepts within a community via communication is function of how like-minded people are: the bigger is the number of non-likeminded people the greater is the possibility of conceptual conflicts within the community that can be solved if and only if we find out shered point of views.
    4. As the Ancient Greek history proves, democracy is the political background of the clash of thoughts due to exposition of a greater number of non-likeminded people with conflicting family and class interests in public political and juridical debates.
    5. In this context, a new approach to public debates, called sophistry, started developing. Their goal was to conceive and apply tecniques to obtein not the truth but the consensus of the majority, simply because it's the consensus of the majority that democracy is based on. These tecniques made the individuals capable of interpreting traditions, truth of faith and laws in the best way to obtain the consensus of the majority (nowadays we would talk of demagogic tecniques).
    6. Now, the occidental philosophical tradition that roots back to Plato and Aristotle is historically tightly related to the athenian ancient democracy. And their contribution to the society consists essentialy in contrasting the 2 ways of approacing public debates: that is faith (religion and tradition) and rhetoric (demagogy and sophistry).
    7. To contrast faith and rethoric means to execute an activity oriented toward the truth by means of disciplined rationality: the aim is truth and not consensus of the majority and the access to the truth is given by rationality and not faith
    8. To have truth + rationality the philosophers demanded rules for the definitions (the definitions were used to define the domains and objects of our thoughts, that is the basic concepts) and reasoning (that is how we deduce the truth of thoughts considered as consequences from other thouths considered as premises). The primary outputs of this activity were called ontology (a hierarchically structeured taxonomy of all the basic objects of knowledge) and logic (a list of technical terms and principles for correct reasoning: syllogisms, principle of non-contradiction, principle of identity, fallacies material/verbal/deductive, modal/aletic/temporal/deontical/quantified concepts, etc.). The secondary output was the foundation of a rational state.
    9. To summarize with an analogy: as in the ancient greek democracy we have to choose what laws and then evaluate the consequences of someone's acts accordingly, in philosophy we have to define rules to evaluate concepts and then evaluate the concepts themselves. That's why the philosophical kick start is always "what is X?" where X can stay for whatever basic concept you like (time, space, perception, cause, number, logic, justification, truth, believe, faith, right, virtu, love, man, women, animal, instinct, emotion, rationality, truth, meaning, state, right, dignity, tolerance, life, concept, mental, society, happiness etc...).
    10. What is the utility of philosophy? According to what I said philosophy can be seen as useful for 2 reasons:
    - as a pleasure in itself like playing a game with its rules
    - as a tool to deploy in a disciplined (no faith and no rhetoric) way the basic concepts necessary for a given community in order to cooperate on collective tasks (e.g. the community of scientists studying neurophysiology  or the community of citizens of a democracy while discussing about abortion, euthanasia, rights, human dignity, sovereignty, civic virtus, capitalism, communism, etc.)

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    some comments on alternative definitions fof philosophy

    Message  arash le Mar 20 Sep - 23:50

    def1. philosophy = attitude to wonder about reality
    No, because "how is the weather tomorrow?" is not a question of any philosophical interest
    def2. philosophy = love of knowledge
    No, because also science and religion are love of knowledge
    def3. philosophy = posing questions about one's goals and choices
    No, because also religion and tradition may include the same questions and provide answers

    These are very good examples of very bad definitions of 'philosophy' Smile
    (rule: a definition of concept X has to provide either the whole list of things to which the concept applies or the necessary and sufficient conditions for the application of X, otherwise it's not a definition!)
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    Re: Is there any use in philosophy ? (September 2011)

    Message  Rene le Mer 21 Sep - 15:29

    humm, humm! scratch

    First of all, thank you very much Arash for your contribution.

    Although you present your thoughts as facts and like definitive choices (i.e. philosophy can be seen as useful for 2 reasons:
    - as a pleasure in itself like playing a game with its rules
    - as a tool to deploy in a disciplined (no faith and no rhetoric) way the basic concepts necessary for a given community in order to cooperate on collective tasks


    I wonder : can truth be all enclosed in what we say or think ?
    If not, is philosophy still useful as it may not lead to truth ?

    I remember Johan posing, since we can't prevent oneself form asking questions, is it possible not to philosophy ?
    Thus, philosophy could have a use just for oneself, for questioning oneself, maybe for an inner search of truth ?

    Concerning the meaning of "sophist", it evolved form Homer (7th bc) to Socrates (4th bc) and the word philosophy (who likes sophy wisdom) reflects again its two meanings : arguing about truth with discipline and searching wisdom... with maybe more than cognitive thoughts ?



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    Re: Is there any use in philosophy ? (September 2011)

    Message  Aresh le Jeu 22 Sep - 12:20

    Our debate started with a question like "is there any use in philosophy?"
    To answer this we realized that we need to define:
    1. What philosophy is
    2. What its utility is according to that definition

    I answered both as briefly and clearly as I could. However I realized that our views diverge significantly because we have a completely different cultural background, and I'm afraid this can heavily compromise the possibility of talking fruitfully about any subjects.  I'll give you just an example:
    "since we can't prevent oneself form asking questions, is it possible not to philosophy?"
    this question seems to presuppose that a good definiton of philosophy were:
    "philosophy = asking oneself questions'
    Unfortunatly I'm totally convinced that this is a very bad definition of philosophy
    for the reasons I explained in the previous post (see def1 and def3).

    My conclusion is then: this question doesn't deserve to be answered at all, because it's a wrongly formulated question.
    And it's a wrongly formulated because it presupposes a definition of philosophy which is simply wrong. In fact, as far as I know, there are no historically notable philosophers who would accept such a definition (that's is also why I started my intervention by talking about the Plato-Aristotle tradition on which the whole western philosophy history is based, as also confirmed by Whitehead’s claim that the "safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato").
    This question is as meaningless as the question: "since we can't prevent ourselves from breathing, is it possible to not philosophy?"

    My definition of philosophy would be instead "philosophy = disciplined reasoning (in contrast with both rhetoric and religious dogma) about necessary truths (not empirical truths like science) that is the whole framework of our basic concepts shaping our basic cognitive and ethic objectives".

    if "wisdom is necessarily to 'act', 'behave' accordingly to the truths and ethic principles that the philosophical practice establishes" (this is not a definition, but an hypothesis about a necessary condition for the concept "wisdom"), then philosophy is a necessary pre-condition of the exercise of wisdom. But it is not wisdom.

    Regarding the story of "Sophism" I was referring to what "Sophists" were to the Plato-Aristotelian tradition.
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    Re: Is there any use in philosophy ? (September 2011)

    Message  Rene le Jeu 22 Sep - 20:26

    Hello everyone,

    I was reading this definition of philosophy in Britannica Encyclopaedia :
    "It would be difficult if not impossible to find two philosophers who would define philosophy in exactly the same way. Throughout its long and varied history in the West, philosophy has meant many different things. Some of these have been a search for wisdom (the meaning closest to the Latin philosophia, itself derived from the Greek philosoph, “lover of wisdom”); an attempt to understand the universe as a whole; an examination of humankind's moral responsibilities and social obligations;", etc.

    According to "cafe philo" approaches, the philosophy they practice is rather an anthropology, that's a way to discover other people, how to listen with attention and interest other persons, trying to understand how they think, who they are and maybe, how they feel ? That's why, philosophy in an open dialogue and inter-cultural group, advocates also an open definition.
    In cafe philo, we start from the point of view that there is more to learn in discovering each other thoughts instead of imposing one definition and one method to everyone.
    Maybe you will try it ?


    Dernière édition par Rene le Sam 8 Oct - 8:50, édité 4 fois


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    Re: Is there any use in philosophy ? (September 2011)

    Message  Arash le Jeu 22 Sep - 21:54

    Dear Rene,

    I got your point and from now on I will try to adjust to it as you kindly suggested,
    while limiting my contributions to the spirit of your cafephilo Smile

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