Author Topic: Philosophy vs Science is ...  (Read 919 times)

Offline Baruch

Philosophy vs Science is ...
« on: April 11, 2018, 04:27:58 PM »
and old argument, between Plato and Isocrates.  And the original refutation that philosophy is useless, was done by Aristotle, when he was an undergraduate student ...

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A long video, but one can skip around, or just watch the first 20 minutes.  Much of current view of how philosophy is useless, is an Anglo-phone prejudice, non-English speaking scientists don't think this way.  Just as Analytic Philosophy was an Anglo-phone movement within 20th century philosophy.

Newton said he was doing Natural Philosophy ... and he was.  He wasn't a mere physicist, but much more than that.  Even an alchemist, Revelation theologian, and master of the London mint.  Newton was an eccentric gay academic, who was a theist.  For him, minimally, absolute space and absolute time exist "in the mind of G-d".  Criticism of his theology, is what led to post-Newtonian physics.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2018, 04:32:14 PM by Baruch »
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Re: Philosophy vs Science is ...
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2018, 08:56:18 PM »
Excellent video, Baruch. I made it to about the 40 minute mark,but I plan on finishing the rest later. I may end up using it in another forum where philosophy has come under attack as "impractical."

Many fail to realize how important philosophy is to all intellectual disciplines (including science). As the lecturer in the video points out, Einstein was inspired by Schopenhauer. It is nearly impossible to quantify how important inspiration is to the sciences, but the argument could be made that science would not advanced to the level it has without it. Philosophers urge us to dispense with our prejudices and see the world anew. Philosophy is a catalyst for new discovery and a wanderlust that encourages seekers of knowledge to venture beyond the existing paradigm.

Offline Baruch

Re: Philosophy vs Science is ...
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2018, 10:22:30 PM »
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Excellent video, Baruch. I made it to about the 40 minute mark,but I plan on finishing the rest later. I may end up using it in another forum where philosophy has come under attack as "impractical."

Many fail to realize how important philosophy is to all intellectual disciplines (including science). As the lecturer in the video points out, Einstein was inspired by Schopenhauer. It is nearly impossible to quantify how important inspiration is to the sciences, but the argument could be made that science would not advanced to the level it has without it. Philosophers urge us to dispense with our prejudices and see the world anew. Philosophy is a catalyst for new discovery and a wanderlust that encourages seekers of knowledge to venture beyond the existing paradigm.

Are you "vulcanlogician" from Atheistforums.org?  That site is too big to keep up with, I like to be a Big Fish (movie) in a small pond.

I am not a scientist, but used to be an aerospace electrical engineer.  I appreciate the practical aspects, and am not anti-science.  I don't see any necessary opposition between any branch of human behavior, science being  just one thing that people do.

There are anglophone prejudices that are distinct in academics or science compared to the other Europeans or other modern cultures.  Anglophones typically think that Anglo-Saxon culture is the only European culture.  And Americans think that America is the only Anglo-Saxon culture of note.  Of course many people now don't think that England or the US are ethnic, that you could replace the entire population with an entirely different population, with a completely different language and culture, and keep the liberal politics the same, and nothing would change.  Chauvinism is completely natural, as is ideology.  But it is better if we are aware of our own ... as well as that of others.

Philosophy was overtaken in the 19th century by Positivism (in attempt to make it more scientific), next Logical Positivism, and eventually Analytic Philosophy by the mid 20th century ... in Anglophone countries.  This was enhanced by the notion in epistemology of reductionist materialism.  Even Descartes only attempted rationalist reductionism ;-)  His contemporary, Pierre Gassendi, was the one who reintroduced Epicureanism and atomism into European thought.

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Thomas Hobbes was his corresponding empiricist in England.  The current political and epistemic prejudices derive from him.  Continental philosophy is much more informed by Descartes, as Leibniz was dominant over Newton there.  Back in that day, support of particular schools of mathematics and physics was a matter of ethnocentric nationalism.  Anglophones still tend to dismiss any ideas from France and Germany.

The most popular form of reductionism here, is the one that dismisses the history of science and of thought generally.  The latest science news is all you need to know, particularly in the form of technology.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2018, 10:38:55 PM by Baruch »
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Re: Philosophy vs Science is ...
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2018, 11:24:51 PM »
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Are you "vulcanlogician" from Atheistforums.org?  That site is too big to keep up with, I like to be a Big Fish (movie) in a small pond.

I am, in fact, vulcanlogician from AF.org. I always use the "vulcanlogician" handle paired with a Spinoza avatar on the internet, but I decided to break with that tradition here out of respect for you. (You were here first, after all, even if you don't use the Spinoza avatar anymore.)

I don't know if you can reduce ideas to language as much as you have. I fail to see entire schools of thought as "anglophone" as you apparently do. You seem to be moved by Nietzsche's distrust of the English... as well as his imperative that we free ourselves from the seduction of words. Interesting.

I do love the rationalists, though.

Trends in philosophy,  such as it being overtaken by logical positivism in the early 20th century, mean little to me. I don't really trust logical positivism. It's like "thinking on rails" and anything not on the rails is false. Sounds like tunnel vision to me. The same could be said of the trends that esteemed Hegelian and Kantian thought... those that preceded logical positivism. They amount to little. A blip in our intellectual history.

Offline Baruch

Re: Philosophy vs Science is ...
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2018, 01:00:46 AM »
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I am, in fact, vulcanlogician from AF.org. I always use the "vulcanlogician" handle paired with a Spinoza avatar on the internet, but I decided to break with that tradition here out of respect for you. (You were here first, after all, even if you don't use the Spinoza avatar anymore.)

I don't know if you can reduce ideas to language as much as you have. I fail to see entire schools of thought as "anglophone" as you apparently do. You seem to be moved by Nietzsche's distrust of the English... as well as his imperative that we free ourselves from the seduction of words. Interesting.

I do love the rationalists, though.

Trends in philosophy,  such as it being overtaken by logical positivism in the early 20th century, mean little to me. I don't really trust logical positivism. It's like "thinking on rails" and anything not on the rails is false. Sounds like tunnel vision to me. The same could be said of the trends that esteemed Hegelian and Kantian thought... those that preceded logical positivism. They amount to little. A blip in our intellectual history.

I noticed and admired your posts before, on the other site ... and your use of Spinoza avatar was ... appropriate.  I am sort of an inverse of Spinoza, I used him as a symbol of the first modern Jewish thinker, not primarily as a developer of Descartes' ideas.  Though I do accept some of his ideas, I had used the old Spinoza avatar for nearly 3 years, and it started to break down when we had a system reset here.  So I jumped to a different avatar (Churchill with tommy-gun) because that suites my politics.

Yes, labels can be troublesome, as an anti-realist I know this.  20th century philosophy is quite diverse, particularly before 1950.  I am rather more sympathetic to Phenomenology and Jungian psychology myself.  Dummett developed anti-realism as an antidote to reductionist phenomenalism, and that is persuasive to me, a holistic phenomenalism.  Dummett was influenced by the later Wittgenstein, who emphasized language ... which I also emphasize ... as did Confucius.  The Chinese Room problem by John Searle is decisive for me.  I am very much interested in translation vs meaning.

We can attempt to escape semantic problems of common language, by retreating into jargon, but that won''t work here, because we are contentious non-professionals vis philosophy.  Even professionals don't agree to definitions.  It is 'as if' ... definitions are gedanken-experiments.  Which reminds me of Hans Vaihinger ... who I sympathize with.  I agree with him that we can't really know "qualia" but we have to get on with life anyway (hence pragmatism).

Nietzsche was an interesting character, because he was an irrationalist ... perhaps as a result of his developing insanity.  We had a recent spurt of interest in him here.  Most of my background is Anglophone in language and culture ... but my self skepticism leavens that.
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Offline SGOS

Re: Philosophy vs Science is ...
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2018, 08:53:05 AM »
In college, I stopped in for a chat with my philosophy professor, a really great guy that I admired, and chatting with professors was not typical for me as an undergrad.  I wasn't majoring in philosophy, but I did find it interesting, although not entirely practical.  And yes, I know science is a branch of philosophy, which may or may not turn out to be the only surviving branch someday.

But the point of my visit was to tell him that while I enjoyed philosophy, I wanted to know what practical use it had.  During the discussion, it became known to him that science was my chosen area of study, specifically the biological sciences.  He gave me a name for my philosophy, Pragmatic Something or Other, and when I laughed, he was emphatic that this was not a branch of philosophy he just made up on the spur of the moment.  He went on to tell me that some scientific labs actually hired philosophers.  I asked, "To do what?  Walk around the question everything?"  Basically, he acknowledged, "Well, yeah.  That and..." 

I can't remember happened after "That and..."  I was too busy caught up with images of guys in togas carrying parchment scrolls walking around scientific laboratories questioning the meaning of life."  I was also feeling rather skeptical of the whole idea.  I left the chat, still enjoying philosophy and thinking that professor was one of my favorites, but I couldn't shake the feeling that our chat was about as useless as philosophy itself.

I thought I would just interject that story because the memory of it never went away.  I don't mean to be disruptive, so just go on and talk among yourselves. 


Offline Baruch

Re: Philosophy vs Science is ...
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2018, 01:25:20 PM »
I had a bad experience with my undergrad philosopher, but in the Humanities department, there was also a logic professor.  I had a good experience with him.  Yes, STEM doesn't think it needs philosophers.  But politics, law etc do.

You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login ... at University of Kentucky ...

Though I think that GB takes philosophy majors more seriously.  Americans only care about ... how much money can I make ASAP, to pay off this damn student loan ;-(
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Re: Philosophy vs Science is ...
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2018, 11:20:59 PM »
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Yes, labels can be troublesome, as an anti-realist I know this.  20th century philosophy is quite diverse, particularly before 1950.  I am rather more sympathetic to Phenomenology and Jungian psychology myself.

I'm not familiar with anti-realism. But you and I might have some interesting conversations about Jung. I took a deep dive into him in my mid twenties. Not a lot of people understand that much of his work was in response to Freud and that it also presupposed a lot of Freud. In essence, Jung was trying to portray all the elements of the psyche that Freud left out.

I think that if you really want to understand the human psyche, you've got to be a bit of a mystic. Our emotional lives, feelings, desires, how we regard the object of our love... pure mysticism can understand that. Behavioral models, for all their accuracy and efficiency cannot begin to probe the depths of our inner worlds and make sense of the processes between stimulus and response.

Quote
Dummett developed anti-realism as an antidote to reductionist phenomenalism, and that is persuasive to me, a holistic phenomenalism.  Dummett was influenced by the later Wittgenstein, who emphasized language ... which I also emphasize ... as did Confucius. The Chinese Room problem by John Searle is decisive for me.  I am very much interested in translation vs meaning.

I have some issues with Searle. He's smoothed over some aspects of the mind/body problem that I find unanswerable by contemporary philosophy and neuroscience. Biological naturalism is comparable to a theory of retrograde motion in the Ptolemaic model... what we really need to solve the hard problem is a Copernican revolution.

Quote
(hence pragmatism).

You familiar with William James at all?

Quote
Nietzsche was an interesting character, because he was an irrationalist ... perhaps as a result of his developing insanity.  We had a recent spurt of interest in him here.  Most of my background is Anglophone in language and culture ... but my self skepticism leavens that.

Yeah, my thoughts above about needing a mystic to truly understand the human psyche encapsulates what I find compelling about Nietzsche's philosophy. I'll have to check the backlogs for discussions about him. Although it conjures images of Bob Marley, I consider Nietzsche to be a "natural mystic" if there ever could be such a thing.

Offline Cavebear

Re: Philosophy vs Science is ...
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2018, 01:04:57 AM »
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Excellent video, Baruch. I made it to about the 40 minute mark,but I plan on finishing the rest later. I may end up using it in another forum where philosophy has come under attack as "impractical."

Many fail to realize how important philosophy is to all intellectual disciplines (including science). As the lecturer in the video points out, Einstein was inspired by Schopenhauer. It is nearly impossible to quantify how important inspiration is to the sciences, but the argument could be made that science would not advanced to the level it has without it. Philosophers urge us to dispense with our prejudices and see the world anew. Philosophy is a catalyst for new discovery and a wanderlust that encourages seekers of knowledge to venture beyond the existing paradigm.

Oh please, not another philosophy major with no sense of reality, LOL!

I read Plato and Aristotle, and the ideas of Greek mystics did not impress me.  Give me Aristarchus, Eratosthenes, and Hypatia...
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Offline Baruch

Re: Philosophy vs Science is ...
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2018, 06:42:23 AM »
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I'm not familiar with anti-realism. But you and I might have some interesting conversations about Jung. I took a deep dive into him in my mid twenties. Not a lot of people understand that much of his work was in response to Freud and that it also presupposed a lot of Freud. In essence, Jung was trying to portray all the elements of the psyche that Freud left out.

I think that if you really want to understand the human psyche, you've got to be a bit of a mystic. Our emotional lives, feelings, desires, how we regard the object of our love... pure mysticism can understand that. Behavioral models, for all their accuracy and efficiency cannot begin to probe the depths of our inner worlds and make sense of the processes between stimulus and response.

I have some issues with Searle. He's smoothed over some aspects of the mind/body problem that I find unanswerable by contemporary philosophy and neuroscience. Biological naturalism is comparable to a theory of retrograde motion in the Ptolemaic model... what we really need to solve the hard problem is a Copernican revolution.

You familiar with William James at all?

Yeah, my thoughts above about needing a mystic to truly understand the human psyche encapsulates what I find compelling about Nietzsche's philosophy. I'll have to check the backlogs for discussions about him. Although it conjures images of Bob Marley, I consider Nietzsche to be a "natural mystic" if there ever could be such a thing.

Yes, I know William James ... for his time, he was very open minded about Freud and interior experience.  On of the founders of American psychology and pragmatism.  The opposite of the Behaviorism that took over American psychology in the 1920s.  I am a practicing mystic, though I don't put much emphasis on the paranormal.  Ordinary experience, reinterpreted is my coin of the realm.  Have you listened to recent work on Jung's Red Book?

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Re: Philosophy vs Science is ...
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2018, 02:41:09 PM »
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Oh please, not another philosophy major with no sense of reality, LOL!

I read Plato and Aristotle, and the ideas of Greek mystics did not impress me.  Give me Aristarchus, Eratosthenes, and Hypatia...

It's kinda interesting that you speak unfavorably of people with no sense of reality and then dismiss Plato in your next sentence. Plato's main gripe was with the "general opinion" and how it counted as the truth to most people. His work was very important to the development of Western thought. It emphasized a dialectic over rhetoric. This is something we take for granted nowadays, but this is the line of thinking that leads to questioning religious dogmas and even forms the foundation of the scientific method. "Reality > Opinion"-- so sayeth Plato.

Whats more, Plato is still relevant. Most people would rather be sold a package of beliefs than take the time to discern the real truth. That's why the White House is occupied by Donald Trump. We like to think of ourselves as more politically refined than the ancients. And, in many ways, this is true. Social contract theory and classical liberalism are good examples of this. But if you carefully read the Republic you'll see that democracy in ancient Greece was very similar to the shitshow that we enjoy in modern America.

Offline Baruch

Re: Philosophy vs Science is ...
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2018, 03:19:40 PM »
Friends, atheists, countrymen, lend my your forum.  I come here not to bury Plato, but to praise him.  The good thoughts that men have, are remembered after their deaths, but the bad is often buried in the footnotes.  It might as well be the same with Plato.  The erudite Popper told you (in The Open Society And Its Enemies) that Plato was ambitious.  Aspiring to create an ideal city state, ruled by philosopher king (to which Plato aspired to be prime minister).  If that is true, it is a serious fault, and Plato's reputation and Plato in temporary imprisonment, has paid seriously for it. ;-)

Well, Plato is a very dominating, and complex character.  Philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato - Alfred North Whitehead.

Aristotle was Plato's best student ... Plato the utopian rationalist was opposed by Aristotle the empiricist ... who was the first comparative constitutional scholar.  I dare say, Popper would approve of Aristotle's method, if not his actual politics.  In more recent times Sir Thomas More is closest to Plato, and Sir Francis Bacon.  More, like Socrates, paying for telling truth to power, with his life.  Francis Bacon got off with temporary imprisonment.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2018, 03:24:06 PM by Baruch »
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Re: Philosophy vs Science is ...
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2018, 04:31:38 PM »
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Friends, atheists, countrymen, lend my your forum.  I come here not to bury Plato, but to praise him.  The good thoughts that men have, are remembered after their deaths, but the bad is often buried in the footnotes.  It might as well be the same with Plato.  The erudite Popper told you (in The Open Society And Its Enemies) that Plato was ambitious.  Aspiring to create an ideal city state, ruled by philosopher king (to which Plato aspired to be prime minister).  If that is true, it is a serious fault, and Plato's reputation and Plato in temporary imprisonment, has paid seriously for it. ;-)

Well, Plato is a very dominating, and complex character.  Philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato - Alfred North Whitehead.

Aristotle was Plato's best student ... Plato the utopian rationalist was opposed by Aristotle the empiricist ... who was the first comparative constitutional scholar.  I dare say, Popper would approve of Aristotle's method, if not his actual politics.  In more recent times Sir Thomas More is closest to Plato, and Sir Francis Bacon.  More, like Socrates, paying for telling truth to power, with his life.  Francis Bacon got off with temporary imprisonment.

I disagree with Popper's overall assessment of Plato. (I have yet to read beyond the first two chapters Open Society, but I'm familiar with Popper's notions as explained elsewhere.) I interpret Plato differently than do many scholars. If you're familiar with Julia Annas, I more-or-less agree with her concerning how to take Plato. His utopia was more to demonstrate what distilled justice looks like than to demonstrate how an actual city ought to function.

We could do the same thing with any virtue: equality for instance. We could design a city government designed to make everyone equal. We could do the same with productivity. We could imagine a city which was in theory more productive than any other-- perhaps an anarcho-capitalist city state. Plato selected the virtue of "justice" to distill... which the Greek word (dyke I think?) translates as righteousness more so than justice. So Plato created a hypothetical city in which righteousness was the primary feature. I see it more as a thought experiment than an actual political programme. Though plenty of philosophers disagree with me.

But even if I'm wrong about all of this, Plato's early works--the Socratic stuff--was very important to the West's intellectual development. One could argue that Socrates forms a foundation for Aristotle as well... a foundation for both rationalism and empiricism. Those early works still inspire people today.   Regardless of how false many of his ideas turned out to be... he is the author who brought us Socrates, and (for that alone) Plato deserves his place as a juggernaut in the history of philosophy.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2018, 06:26:06 PM by Vulcan »

Offline Cavebear

Re: Philosophy vs Science is ...
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2018, 12:39:41 AM »
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I disagree with Popper's overall assessment of Plato. (I have yet to read beyond the first two chapters Open Society, but I'm familiar with Popper's notions as explained elsewhere.) I interpret Plato differently than do many scholars. If you're familiar with Julia Annas, I more-or-less agree with her concerning how to take Plato. His utopia was more to demonstrate what distilled justice looks like than to demonstrate how an actual city ought to function.

We could do the same thing with any virtue: equality for instance. We could design a city government designed to make everyone equal. We could do the same with productivity. We could imagine a city which was in theory more productive than any other-- perhaps an anarcho-capitalist city state. Plato selected the virtue of "justice" to distill... which the Greek word (dyke I think?) translates as righteousness more so than justice. So Plato created a hypothetical city in which righteousness was the primary feature. I see it more as a thought experiment than an actual political programme. Though plenty of philosophers disagree with me.

But even if I'm wrong about all of this, Plato's early works--the Socratic stuff--was very important to the West's intellectual development. One could argue that Socrates forms a foundation for Aristotle as well... a foundation for both rationalism and empiricism. Those early works still inspire people today.   Regardless of how false many of his ideas turned out to be... he is the author who brought us Socrates, and (for that alone) Plato deserves his place as a juggernaut in the history of philosophy.

I do not consider or Plato or Socrates rational thinkers.  They just didn't have the knowledge we do today and they both tended to be mystical theists.
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Offline Baruch

Re: Philosophy vs Science is ...
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2018, 01:03:24 AM »
Vulcan ... the "interior view" of what The Republic means ... has some weight.  But Plato himself tried to implement it with the tyrant, Dionysius of Syracuse.  Like Seneca to Nero, Plato tried to rule his student too much.  But we today can take it as we iike it.  The humanist Socrates that Plato presents, is a more memorable one than Xenophon's version.

Cavebear ... yes, Socrates as Plato describes him ... is clearly a follower of a mystery religion, an early effort at turning public paganism into private piety.  Plato himself, it isn't clear what he believes.  He seems cynical, if you follow the Myth of Er ... presented as a false flag religion in The Republic.  In their day, science hadn't yet accomplished much ... Archimedes being one or two generations later.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2018, 01:35:24 AM by Baruch »
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