Author Topic: What is philosophical?  (Read 1815 times)

avec

  • Posts: 371
What is philosophical?
« on: January 06, 2009, 04:29:50 pm »
I have followed topics and argumentation here for a while now and I'd like to see discussion about this subject. What do you think is philosophical and what is not?

I'll begin with some views of my own. The word philosophy means literally 'love of wisdom'. Therefore imo you cannot claim that any brainfart is philosophy even though it might sound philosophical. Do you agree?

Also I have witnessed many fall to the Pit of Semantics. Is mere playing with the meaning of words philosophical? Sometimes I have seen interesting discussions which began from semantics but too often semantics buried the real subject what the discussion was about (example (not philosophical but still): once I asked someone 'what happens when water boils?' She answered with a synonym: 'It evaporates?'). What do you think is the role of semantics?

Thought plays are most commonly associated with philosophy. 'What happens when a tree falls in a forest when nobodys listening?'. What is the role of thought plays in relation to real life observations and experiments?

Last and most importantly I'd like to hear thoughts about the role of logic. I like to think that in a way science is philosophy and logic applied to real world experiments. First one asks a philosophical question about the nature of light, then makes real life experiments, follows on with logic and concludes what can be said about light based on made observations (hint: scientific method). This is just one view, but do you consider logic important? What can you say about logic and its nature in philosophy? Discuss.

count drakula

  • Posts: 1090
Re: What is philosophical?
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2009, 04:34:15 pm »
Wikipedia's ( :ugeek: ) definition on this:

Philosophy is the study of general problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, truth, beauty, justice, validity, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing these questions (such as mysticism or mythology) by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on reasoned argument. The word philosophy is of Ancient Greek origin: φιλοσοφία (philosophía), meaning "love of wisdom.

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Sara.Droz

  • Posts: 2000
Re: What is philosophical?
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2009, 03:43:16 pm »
Omg - another philospher :). Well, a bit busy now but will get back to you later and yes I regard the nature of logic as intrinsic to philosophy.
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Will Salmon

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Re: What is philosophical?
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2009, 03:46:06 pm »
I'll say this now, Sara will pwn you all down if you bring up philosophy :P
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avec

  • Posts: 371
Re: What is philosophical?
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2009, 04:15:29 pm »
We'll see who pwns who :)

And actually I'm a physicist (well, almost).

Maksim Chuikov

  • Posts: 112
Re: What is philosophical?
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2009, 06:59:45 pm »
Captain obvious to the rescue: It's impossible, for a human being, to master all areas of philosophy, it's just too much.

Sara.Droz

  • Posts: 2000
Re: What is philosophical?
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2009, 09:59:57 pm »
Give me time... but what is time? lol Just many pms atm...
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Sara.Droz

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Re: What is philosophical?
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2009, 11:05:47 pm »
Ok avec - are you French? - !!!!

"What is philosophical?" I think it was anciently said that 'a life without inquiry is not worth living' and that I would by and large agree with. Philosophical thought could be described as any form of questioning and it is no coincidence that modern science came from philosophy and Newton called his book Principles of Natural Philospohy.

Philosophy has been with manking as long as he has existed and today we normaly classify it into four areas: Ethics, Epistemology (how do I know the table exists etc), Metaphysics (existence of God and beauty and similar) and Logic. These four categories are not absolute and some would argue are non existent but in general terms they as a whole seek to answer the fundamental questions humans ask.

Thus my prelude to explain to others, now I shall try to answer you 'with' my opinion:

You speak of semantics and logic and in my opinion rightly so. For a long time logic was regarded as mereley the tool of philospohy as perhaps maths is the tool of physics but the reality is that the experiment relies on the instruments being used (to use a physicists terms). If a physicist looks for something he will design a 'tool'/'experiment' to find it and will find or not find only that. The same with philosophy - what we can learn depends on our idea of logic, but in philosophy this is our only 'tool'.

So how does this revolve around semantics? Well one of the most useful failures of the last century was Russells Pricipia Mathematica in which he tried and failed to prove that maths was logical. It isn't because it's categorisation is definite, 1 is always 1 and 2 is 2 and Phi is 3.147 etc. They relate to each other only within one structure. Now when we come to logic we can all agree with the basic rules (x implies y, x .:. y etc) but it depends on what you call an x in the first place.

Here we get into theories of meaning... What is a toothache and how do you know you have one? Would it be possible to know what it was without a language and if you were alone how would you be sure that it was toothache and not a headache?

I could go on but I only seek to re-assure that the semantics - or rather the meaning is vital to logical interpretation and how we use our tool vital to our increased understanding.

Having given you a reply I would like myself to pose you a question: How does scientific opinion change? It seems to me that many out there may be right - indeed one could alter Newton only slightly and discount Einstein. Upon what basis does science progress?

If I may be so bold I ask a second question: What proof does science offer? It is all theory. I let go of my pen and it drops - past experience is no proof of future experience. There is no logic to it!
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Bestie101

  • Posts: 1185
Re: What is philosophical?
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2009, 11:26:18 pm »
^ what she said

Will Salmon

  • Posts: 1121
Re: What is philosophical?
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2009, 01:29:07 am »
Quote from: "Will Salmon"
I'll say this now, Sara will pwn you all down if you bring up philosophy :P

Proved
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rastari

  • Posts: 5218
Re: What is philosophical?
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2009, 02:11:19 am »
Quote from: "Will Salmon"
Quote from: "Will Salmon"
I'll say this now, Sara will pwn you all down if you bring up philosophy :P

Proved

there's nothing objective about philosophy, so nobody can really pwn anybody else
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Will Salmon

  • Posts: 1121
Re: What is philosophical?
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2009, 02:20:22 am »
Quote from: "rastari"
Quote from: "Will Salmon"
Quote from: "Will Salmon"
I'll say this now, Sara will pwn you all down if you bring up philosophy :P

Proved

there's nothing objective about philosophy, so nobody can really pwn anybody else

... damn, I got pwned :P
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Sara.Droz

  • Posts: 2000
Re: What is philosophical?
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2009, 09:54:13 am »
ras: so the existence of the table is purely subjective? The problem with this view is that it leads to solopsim (I'm the only existing entity). In that case I=the universe and I would have no distinction in language or logic between "I" and "you" or "I" and and "the universe". I use such terms and 'correctly' because I have interaction with others that are 'not I'.
Robots call, but we don't answer to their wail
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twaters

  • Posts: 894
Re: What is philosophical?
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2009, 11:00:41 am »
Quote from: "Sara.Droz"
ras: so the existence of the table is purely subjective? The problem with this view is that it leads to solopsim (I'm the only existing entity). In that case I=the universe and I would have no distinction in language or logic between "I" and "you" or "I" and and "the universe". I use such terms and 'correctly' because I have interaction with others that are 'not I'.

Or so you think :P

avec

  • Posts: 371
Re: What is philosophical?
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2009, 11:02:13 am »
First, I am not French. Second, nobody's won yet  ;)

I'll begin by offering a different analogy to your 'logic is the tool of philosophy and mathematics is the tool of physics'. In my opinion more accurate description would be that mathematics is the language of the physicist and logic the language of a philosopher. Thus the better you speak the language, the better you fare at explaining your point. The 'tool'-analogy is used a lot and it works when speaking about specific subjects (for example methods to solve ODEs) but it is inaccurate in a larger context (relation of maths and physics). I might explain this better but then again, English isn't my first language. Before you ask, I'm Finnish.

Quote from: "Sara.Droz"
Here we get into theories of meaning... What is a toothache and how do you know you have one? Would it be possible to know what it was without a language and if you were alone how would you be sure that it was toothache and not a headache?

I could go on but I only seek to re-assure that the semantics - or rather the meaning is vital to logical interpretation and how we use our tool vital to our increased understanding.

To that I have nothing more to add. Semantics is important when meanings hinder the understanding of a subject. However my point about semantics was the situation when semantics are on the way. One can continue to analyze the meaning of a sentence 'I shall come to you at night' and wonder is that Romeo speaking to Juliet or Dracula speaking to his victim. However there is a point when semantics is no longer important (in this case when we know who said that to whom and in what context). After this one should not continue to ponder about semantics but rather seek the pragmatic meaning of the sentence.

Quote from: "Sara.Droz"
Having given you a reply I would like myself to pose you a question: How does scientific opinion change? It seems to me that many out there may be right - indeed one could alter Newton only slightly and discount Einstein. Upon what basis does science progress?

If I may be so bold I ask a second question: What proof does science offer? It is all theory. I let go of my pen and it drops - past experience is no proof of future experience. There is no logic to it!

First question: How does scientific opinion change? I believe an accurate answer to this is the 'Hypothetico-deductive model' first presented by Popper himself. Falsifiable is one of the most important things which separate true science from pseudo-sciences. Let's suppose we have a hypothesis h and assumptions B so that we can deductively conclude e, where e is an argument concerning reality (h + B -> e).
In this case if the argument e turns out to be wrong, we can assume that either h or B is wrong. Therefore the theory which posed h and B is at least partially incorrect. This is how science progresses; by trials and errors. Note that progress does require some basis on which upon to build. One could speak about 'hard core' formed by postulates and which is untouchable, however there is no reason to assume postulates are not falsifiable. I find house of cards a nice analogy.

You used the words 'scientific opinion'. I assume you referred at least partially to Kuhn's paradigms (Kuhn himself hated that word, he swore he'd never use it again but popular culture began to use it and so it stayed alive). According to Kuhn science progresses when it meets an anomaly it cannot explain. This requires changes to theories and sometimes the anomaly can revolutionize the entire science. Examples are too many in history, but to mention some: the orbit of Mercury, the wave nature of matter, ...

The second question is harder. I could say that the Sun rises tomorrow because the Earth orbits the Sun but this leads to infinite chain of questions (why do I assume the Earth continues to orbit the Sun etc). However, if I assume that there IS movement at some point of time, it leads to movement elsewhere (a billiard ball moves on a table, hits another ball and so on). Assuming this is where everything began, there is movement in the system as long as any of the parts in it are in movement. Our knowledge of things is based on the past. If we have seen your pen drop from the table before, we assume it drops again if you repeat the same mistake of letting go. The question you posed is that is there a rule or pre-requisite based on which we can assume that the same happens in the future? This I cannot answer, but in order to deduct anything we must make the assumption that the past was future in an earlier time frame and if something happened in that future, we can inductively assume that the same does happen in the future from our point of view.

I could continue with 'it's just a theory' but I'm too tired to flame about that. The point being, we must always make some assumptions upon which to base our reasoning and logic. Ultimately the goal of science is to find the first untouchable assumptions which cause everything and which cannot be disproved. But then, what next? Is that the end of humanity?

rastari

  • Posts: 5218
Re: What is philosophical?
« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2009, 12:01:39 pm »
Quote from: "Sara.Droz"
ras: so the existence of the table is purely subjective? The problem with this view is that it leads to solopsim (I'm the only existing entity). In that case I=the universe and I would have no distinction in language or logic between "I" and "you" or "I" and and "the universe". I use such terms and 'correctly' because I have interaction with others that are 'not I'.

there is the possibility that tables don't exist, there is the possibility that I don't exist. Nothing should be taken as fact, and i don't care if I'm being to sound mental.
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avec

  • Posts: 371
Re: What is philosophical?
« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2009, 10:24:09 am »
Quote from: "rastari"
Quote from: "Sara.Droz"
ras: so the existence of the table is purely subjective? The problem with this view is that it leads to solopsim (I'm the only existing entity). In that case I=the universe and I would have no distinction in language or logic between "I" and "you" or "I" and and "the universe". I use such terms and 'correctly' because I have interaction with others that are 'not I'.

there is the possibility that tables don't exist, there is the possibility that I don't exist. Nothing should be taken as fact, and i don't care if I'm being to sound mental.

Why shouldn't anything be taken as a fact? How can you be sure of that? The problem of a skeptic. After you pass that phase of questioning everything you can actually begin to make philosophy. Assume something and continue with logic. Then assume the opposite and see if your conclusions contradict each other. Way more fun that way.

Sara.Droz

  • Posts: 2000
Re: What is philosophical?
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2009, 11:03:29 pm »
Ok... am pondering this avec - will get back to you asap. Sry for delay.
Robots call, but we don't answer to their wail
Computers hum and bright lights flash to no avail
The course has been set for us to go in light years past
Outlaws of time, visions of an ancient cast.

twaters

  • Posts: 894
Re: What is philosophical?
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2009, 12:24:25 am »
What do you guys (Sara and avec) think of logic itself? I don't think it's simply a case where you can 'assume something, and build on it with logic', because you have to 'assume' logic and its consequences first. And as the first description of logic i got from a philospher at uni was 'it's illogical', i'd appreciate your thoughts :P

avec

  • Posts: 371
Re: What is philosophical?
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2009, 07:23:43 pm »
Well, if a philosopher says that logic is illogical then it must be true :) I have thought something about logic but my thoughts are a bit scrambled. In its essence I'd say that logic is an extension of a sort of cause-effect relation. Everything in nature happens the fastest way possible or so that the work required to do something is minimal. Logic simply put follows that principle; first we assume that something is/happens and then we deduce what follows from it.

I assume that what your friendly-neighborhood philosopher meant by logic being illogical is that logic itself cannot be verified, i.e. it does not follow logic. However we can safely assume that logic does work since that's the way the universe is. In another universe we cannot expect the same rules to apply, however logic most likely works also there if we simply change the principles upon which to base logical conclusions. For example if you tie a rope from tree to tree, it's silhouette takes the form of hyperbolic cosine. In another universe everything might work so that everything does maximum amount of work and so forth the rope forms minus * hyperbolic cosine (forgive my bad formalism  :oops: )

That must be what you are partially sometimes referring to when you claim we cannot assume some things to be true. The hole in that argument is that you claim that within the boundaries of logic, in other words you use logic in saying so. One cannot make any conclusions from the fact that we do not know if there is something beyond our universe. 'We do not know' in this context does not mean that 'There is something but we haven't seen it' but rather it is truly not knowable. Know what I mean?

Example:
Scientist: We do not know how much memory the human brain has.
Joe the Plumber: I heard it has five terabytes of memory.
Scientist: We cannot know that.
Joe the Plumber: Then it might be true.

Of course I can say that there exists Imaginationland beyond our universe where tooth fairy and unicorns live in peace and harmony but then it isn't logical nor philosophical. We simply cannot say. This turned into a rant and my point is somewhere between the lines. Also this is what I meant by scrambled thoughts, anyone can see holes in my writings  :|

 

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