To: betty boop
"...philosophy (as practiced by Plato and Aristotle) gives us a chance to return to "realist" models of exploring and understanding reality..."
It doesn't work for me. When I read stuff from Plato or Aristotle, other than a few of the basic logical concepts, I don't think there's really much useful there. Part of it is the vagueness of ideas and concepts, part of it is the occasional nuggets of rank nonsense. Mainly it's too much in the "humanities" vein, which I find largely dehumanizing. Every time I see some politician or judge rationalizing some idiotic law or regulation or decision, with a nonsense of legalistic word-salad that could equally easily have come from the mouth of the average street schizophrenic, I think, that person probably studied philosophy before going to law school or some other word-centric outfit. An example, I recently (within past 6 months) heard Bill Bennett being interviewed on some other radio show, and he at one point mentioned "I was a double-major, literature and philosophy." I nearly burst out laughing. No wonder the guy's such an empty blow-hard. Two majors that are considered "cake" at most universities and are in any case nothing but a lot of reading and writing, which basic skills most of the college-bound have a good handle on by the end of third grade. After that it's just a lot of repetition and practice required, but rather little actual thinking, IMHO. And no contact with the real (physical) world is required, that's strictly optional.
I'm not saying there isn't anything there. I just think there's a lot less there, and what is there is of much less importance, compared to a lot of other things, than is generally admitted. If philosophy were actually so all-fired "fundamental" and important, philosophers would be at the leading edge of finding new knowledge, which they're not. For instance, whether it's the period from Russell through Godel when mathematics was set on new foundations, or all the work of the physics community in the first half of the 20th century which re-formed physics in terms of quantum mechanics, basically the physics and mathematics communities got precious little help from the philosophy community. (And I won't go along with a rebuttal that "well, those mathematicians and physicists were philosophers too, just of different stripes." When I use the word "philosopher," I mean the people who bring only the wordplay to the table. The ones who could actually help with the heavy lifting in the math and physics areas called themselves mathematicians and physicists, and the fact that they ended up having to pick up a lot of the philosophical slack around their areas in terms of attempting to "expain what it all meant" points only to the alienation from reality of the philosophers of the day, who were lucky if they could barely understand what was going on.)
What philosophers mostly do nowadays, IMHO, is quibble around the edges of what others do, spackling in the gaps of their own (philosophy's) old rationalizations about the world with freshly-minted word-salads of new rationalizations. It appears to me to be an empty enterprise, more about where we've been (or where we've escaped from, intellectually) than where we're going. If it's interesting to you or others, great. Just does little for me. For me, reality starts where we leave the words behind, and the weird stories and primitive beliefs that we construct with words, and deal with the physical world physically, in its own language, which is mathematical.
You have no clue what education is about.
posted on 06/02/2007 9:25:07 PM PDT
by California Patriot
("That's not Charley the Tuna out there. It's Jaws." -- Richard Nixon)
To: omnivore; Alamo-Girl; hosepipe; cornelis; marron; metmom; editor-surveyor; YHAOS; MHGinTN
I recently (within past 6 months) heard Bill Bennett being interviewed on some other radio show, and he at one point mentioned "I was a double-major, literature and philosophy." I nearly burst out laughing. No wonder the guy's such an empty blow-hard.
Guess that must make me an empty blowhard, too, omnivore; for I was a double major in literature and philosophy. (I hope my minor in history might improve my "rep" a little in your eyes....)
Goodness, I find it amazing that you would find the humanities "dehumanizing." I'm simply speechless....
But I'm over that now: If I might make a "humanities" recommendation: Boccaccio's Decameron, a fourteenth-century collection of 100 short stories. It is a celebration of universal humanity that is by turns hilarious, ribald, scatological; serious, profound, tragic, noble. It presents man as he is, warts and all; saints and sinners, heros and villains, etc., etc. Everytime I read this work, I am struck by the thought "I KNOW these people! They are just like the people you meet everyday!" -- a testimony to the constancy and durability of human nature, down the ages.
Plus the book gives a fascinating account of the Black Plague in ~1350 A.D. Florence: the horrors, the social transformations it caused, etc. (Recommend the Mark Musa and Peter Bondanella translation. Their language is very modern and fresh -- which is most fitting; for Decameron was among the very first works of literature to be published in the vernacular: It was "the height of modernity" in its own time. The book was deplored and condemned by the religious authorities practically everywhere it went. :^) Up to quite recent times! Go figure....)
You wrote that most college-bound students have a good handle on the basic skills of reading and writing "by the end of the third grade." Simply amazing, that they could begin their college career "literate," and yet manage to graduate as illiterates -- and not just in reading and writing skills, but also in terms of knowledge of their own culture and history.
If you believe that writing doesn't require the most painstaking thinking -- well, I guess I should stop myself now, otherwise I'll surely say something I'd regret....
You wrote: "If philosophy were actually so all-fired 'fundamental' and important, philosophers would be at the leading edge of finding new knowledge...."
omnivore, philosophy is the MOTHER OF SCIENCE. As late as the 19th century, science was still called "natural philosophy." Philosophy is the historic source of mathematics (Pythagorus, Euclid), psychology (Plato's specialty), biology (Aristotle), physics (Democritus, Leucippus) -- the list can be easily extended, but I hope you get the picture.
Both Einstein and Bohr -- you know those guys who radically transformed all of physics in the twentieth century -- had a consuming interest in the philosophy of science, and Bohr was probably one of the greatest epistemologists who ever lived. Einstein was (IMHO) a frank Platonist; and his thought was strongly influenced by Baruch (Benedict) Spinoza, a seventeenth-century Jewish philosopher.
For me, reality starts where we leave the words behind, and the weird stories and primitive beliefs that we construct with words, and deal with the physical world physically, in its own language, which is mathematical.
For me, reality starts before
there are words to describe it. And that is why our articulations about it are so important -- they are the only means we have for grasping knowledge and communicating it to others.
We -- you and I -- are parts of the physical world; but neither of us is reducible to mathematics in the sense I gather you to mean.
Guess we just have different points of view, omnivore. Thank you so much for sharing your observations with me!
posted on 06/03/2007 10:20:31 AM PDT
by betty boop
("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein.)
Two majors that are considered "cake" at most universities and are in any case nothing but a lot of reading and writing, which basic skills most of the college-bound have a good handle on by the end of third grade. After that it's just a lot of repetition and practice required, but rather little actual thinking, IMHO.
And sadly, that's where most high school graduates stay. But it's not the fault of the humanities.
And no contact with the real (physical) world is required, that's strictly optional.
The same could be said for most *scientists*. Getting stuck in the lab all the time conducting experiments for a living tends to warp ones view, which is likely where the absent-minded professor stereotype comes in. Totally useless in the real world.
posted on 06/03/2007 1:56:08 PM PDT
(Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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