Author Topic: Your thoughts on Philosophy  (Read 7100 times)

Offline SGOS

« Reply #30 on: March 05, 2013, 09:16:47 AM »
Quote from: "bennyboy"
That's why morality MUST be arbitrary, and why Sam Harris is kind of full of baloney on this subject, IMO.  What he's saying is that science can study things like the amount of suffering in a brain, etc.  But what he's implying is that scientists are the right people to establish the criteria with which we evaluate goodness in life.
Guess I'll have to go read Harris now to see how well he defends that idea.  Like you, it does strike me as a grand claim, so we might be missing an important context found in his book (which book, however)?  In my third year of college, I was taking yet another psychology course, and was noticing a common pattern throughout the texts.  

Psychology is categorized as a science, and almost every claim in the texts is documented with references to scientific studies.  OK, this is expected in the sciences.  But sometimes, I had to make unscientific inferences between the claim and the supporting studies.  One example that comes to mind was in a chapter that dealt with reasons for human aggression.  It referenced a well done experiment where rats were introduced into an identical environment with the control group, but with the added variable of crowding.  Wah-La!  Rats tended to act more aggressively when crowded.  The somewhat unscientific inference we draw is that this also accounts for higher aggression when crowding humans.  Strictly speaking, that's probably a stretch, even if we have studies that humans act more aggressively when crowded  (I have no idea if we have such studies, although I would guess such studies have been done).

At one point, the professor, who I rather admired, pointed out that since psychology was a science, the researchers approached the subject scientifically with controlled experiments.  He added that he personally thought that was a mistake, and the researchers should have approached the subject philosophically.  How that could be done and still be credible is still a bit of a mystery to me.

Hold on.  I'm getting to my point.  Fact is, in my later graduate studies, we studied some of the great clinical psychologists of the time, Albert Ellis, Carl Rogers, Fritz Pearls, etc, and these guys all approached the subject philosophically. Of course, their writings were somewhat just salesmanship of their own methods, as books often are.  They were each widely acclaimed by others in the field, and apparently each had impressive track records in helping clients.  The one thing their writings had in common is that they all made intuitively sound cases for their individual methods.  "Intuitively", being the operative word here, as opposed to "scientific."

But philosophy can often be more like political gibber jabber.  There isn't much science in politics.  It's salesmanship, ideology, and lets face it... about 80% pure bullshit used to advance ulterior motives of special interests.  Yet if an intuitive idea is advanced with some care and thought, it can often make a reasonable case, but a lot of it is in the salesmanship that must make a somewhat logical impression on educated peers, at least with some caution.

OK, that was bit off your particular rant, but it seemed kind of relevant.

Re: Your thoughts on Philosophy
« Reply #31 on: March 25, 2013, 07:08:52 PM »
Quote from: "GurrenLagann"
It is my view that philosophy is of great importance and to dismiss it as plain useless because of science is to vindicate the usage of the pejorative form of "scientism" and to forget about the in-built assumptions built into the scientific method(s) and forget about the philosophy of science and not know about the history of philosophy. I understand why science is held so highly (look how it transforms our world), but some here take it too far in my view.

I find it funny the way some atheists worship science.  They pretend it has all the answers.  Science doesn't answer many--if not most--of the really important questions.

What is morally good?
What is the nature of knowledge?
Are there universals?
Does God exists?
Is there an external world?
What's the nature of the mind
I could go on and on.  Actually science--like philosophy--only ever gives tentative answers.

Also, there is progress in philosophy.  Tons of progress.  Progress is made on old problems.  New distinctions are made, concepts clarified, etc.  Philosophy is just as respectable--if not more respectable--than science.  In my view :)
"Engaging in philosophy is salutary, even when no positive results emerge...The color is brighter, that is, reality appears more clearly as such." ~Kurt Godel.

"Do not weep; do not wax indignant. Understand." ~Benedict De Spinoza

Offline Sal1981

Re: Your thoughts on Philosophy
« Reply #32 on: March 26, 2013, 08:08:39 AM »
I think this critique can be traced back to a few intellectuals. First that comes to mind is Peter Atkins and his bashing of philosophy in TSN's Beyond Belief 2.0

Peter Atkins' segment: ... ter-atkins

Also, there has been some blogging on the subject: ... t-science/


Anyways, I was swayed by his presentation for a while, until I realized he used words rooted in philosophy.

The way I view it, philosophy answers questions about the limits of what we can know, whereas science seeks and discovers knowledge in that framework.
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool" --- Richard P. Feynman