Closer To Reality: Philosophy

Regarding Philosophy

– Everybody, including readers here, have personal beliefs. Almost by definition, if you have a personal belief, you believe that belief to be clearly true. You are not an exception to that rule; I am not an exception to that rule. Part of the construction of personal beliefs is adopting definitions that re-enforce those beliefs. You seem to think that each and every term or phrase has a rare one and only one definition that is carved in stone. If things were that clear-cut, it would be impossible to have debates since everybody would have to absolutely agree on the rare one and only one possible definition before-the-fact of each and every term that will be under discussion. consequently, 100% of everybody would agree on 100% of everything. Somehow the world doesn’t seem to work that way. Sorry ’bout that.

– truly I speculate not everyone will be mentally capable of answering any and all thorough existential and metaphysical questions. I also speculate not everyone who is mentally capable of coming to terms with what you consider to be thorough existential and metaphysical questions will truly give a stuff. The highest priorities or interests of some of the great unwashed often has nothing to do with what you or already I might term The Big Questions.

– Philosophy (of causation or anything else) is not a subject whose postulates are set in stone, absolutely fixed, pinned to the wall and not unprotected to argue. Philosophy is complete of debatable waffle, so there is probably no such thing as any central point, but rather central points depending on what side of the fence you are sitting on; maybe already sitting on the fence. If you’re sitting on the left side of the fence you’re going to miss or misunderstand the central point put by someone sitting on the right side of the fence – and vice-versa. There is no such thing in philosophy as “has to be”, otherwise it wouldn’t be philosophy, which for all functional purposes is a something that “has to be” something that everyone can agree to disagree on, hence argue.

– The Accidental Meta-physician gives the thumbs down to those who wax lyrical outside of their field(s) of skill. If you’re not a formally trained specialized philosopher consequently, you have little street credibility when it comes to dealing with the Big Questions. Nix to that viewpoint.

It would appear that everyone with FORMAL training in philosophy have had no luck in answering the Big Questions. It that had been the case, all of those Big Questions would no longer be a part of philosophy but reside in cosmology or physics or neurology or the law or in other places. There would be no argue about a before-the-Big-Bang or the Copenhagen (or Many Worlds) interpretation of quantum physics or free will or dualism or morality.

Now if specialized philosophers adopt drastically differing locaiongs on any one Big Question, ranging from one extreme to the other extreme, then sorry, there’s no rhyme or reason the rest of us great unwashed can’t go into the fray. Formal training in philosophy leads no closer to truth than the average John Doe pondering the same Big Questions. Philosophy is one of those fields where anyone can join in and strut their stuff, unlike say medicine or law or various other specialized fields that really do require skill. We’re all experts in philosophy since we all apply philosophical principles and locaiongs to ourselves and the world around us. I’d better not practice unlicensed medicine on myself, and I’d better not be my own lawyer, but I’m quite okay in pondering my own free will, or without of it.

– Though I’ve been accused of it, I never ingemination saying that philosophy hasn’t made progress. All fields of inquiry make progress as newcomers add to what has gone before. My beef here is that unlike many other professions, philosophy isn’t an exclusive specialized ‘members only’ club. And agreeing to disagree seems to be a mantra of or between specialized philosophers. Never have so many debated for so long with so little conclusive results, although, as the Accidental Meta-physician says, progress happens.

However, IMHO, if two (or more) specialized philosophers can find themselves on totally opposite sides of an issue involving say theology, free will, consciousness, the character of time, etc., then all that formal training doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, unlike say the medical profession where one would expect a reasonable degree of consensus when it comes to a diagnosis. Squabbling siblings can argue opposites just as effectively as specialized philosophers with equal results.

Since philosophical questions are unanswerable questions, I put just as much stock in the opinions of John & Jane Doe, already myself, as I do the professionals. Philosophy is one of the few professions where I feel safe in making that judgement. I wouldn’t go to just anyone for legal advice or medical advice.

Further, philosophy is one of those subjects that can be self-taught, though for best results it helps to have a sparring partner(s), usually and easily found down at the local pub.

– The specialized philosopher may be more adapt at writing textbooks and tossing around unpronounceable jargon, but that doesn’t average he or she thinks any more deeply about an issue than the average person in society.

– Philosophy on the whole is pretty worthless, for while it asks consistent questions, it fails to give consistent answers. About all that can be said for philosophy is that it gives you options, but from that point on you gotta do the hard yards and sort things out for yourself. So philosophy is pretty much a do-it-yourself activity. So in that context it’s marginally more interesting than watching paint dry or the grass growing.

– I’ve watched many a Big Question interview, such as you find on the website “Closer to Truth”, coming out none the wiser about what the heck the philosopher in question was on about. That just re-enforces a past comment I made in a long ago past post that, for example, “Closer to Truth” should pick a panel of kids from say 10 to 14 or so and interview them on all of the Big Questions. Kids would be really quick smart to cut by all of the jargon and associated bovine fertilizer. complex it wouldn’t be, but they would cut right to the chase.

– seemingly philosophy and logic intellectually trump all else, or at the minimum that’s the impression I get from the Accidental Meta-physician.

Let’s see, what were those 3 R’s again? Oh yes, reading, ‘righting and ‘rithmetic! Somehow philosophy got left out of the essentials. Going back to my high school days, philosophy was never a required subject, unlike English and history and bonehead general mathematics and science; already gym was required. truly I couldn’t have studied philosophy in high school already if I had wanted to. It was never a part of the curriculum in any shape, manner or form. And philosophy was never a mandatory subject when I was a university either. Seems in the grand educational scheme of things, philosophy isn’t regarded all that highly as an basic to having a well rounded education. Why’s that? Alas, seemingly that’s all just a quirk of cultural history – an anomaly; a mistake.

So our Accidental Meta-physician seems to be saying that reading, writing and arithmetic are not as important as philosophy when it comes to having to make your way in this world. I average his excuse to the IRS tax office might be – sorry I couldn’t do my tax return because I don’t know how to add and subtract, but I know philosophy if that’s any help. Methinks that if you go for a job interview I’d bet that your ability to read and write and do basic mathematics will weigh more heavily in the panel’s consideration of your suitability than your ability to pontificate on the Big Questions! You couldn’t post your philosophical thoughts here without first having mastered reading and writing. I want my GP to know medicine, not philosophy. The plumber had better know plumbing first, philosophy second. There are multi dozens of professions, emergency service workers and supermarket clerks come to mind, that are basic in our society without those professions requiring detailed or already any understanding of philosophy. Your military officer had just better obey orders as opposed to endlessly pondering the philosophical issues and consequences of those orders, already if there are philosophical issues and consequences. Shoot first; ask questions later.

– When it comes to the average person trying to manage their average day and overcoming the average challenges faced, the 3 R’s have a more useful application than philosophy or logic or indeed quantum physics or evolutionary biology. It would be really nice if we all could be omniscient but there are only so many years one can use in high school / college / university / adult education; there are only so many hours in the day; the human brain does not have an indefinite capacity to absorb more and more and more. consequently, priorities have to be set, firstly by federal, state and local government and their school boards (the schooling curriculum) and by parents and ultimately by students when they reach a certain age. Anyone believing along the lines of the Accidental Meta-physician are of course free as a private citizen to lobby the applicable powers-that-be to elevate the teaching of philosophy and logic in say years 7 to 12 – as electives. truly it sounds like a good idea to me. I can find no philosophical or logical objection to this.

– The Accidental Meta-physician laments the decline in the levels of comprehension or understanding in the areas of logic and mathematics in the greater population. On this we basically agree.

I haven’t seen or read about any studies done on rational / logical thinking and whether it is in decline or not, or what comparisons there are with respect to other nations. However, there have been many studies done that show a rather sharp decline in the ability of students, already university and graduate students to do bonehead mathematics using pencil and paper, a occurrences that seems to cut across many of the traditional English speaking countries, not just USA. seemingly many attribute this to the ready access of electronic calculators that comes part and parcel with smart phones, laptops, PC’s, and as just standalone instruments as solely functional calculators. I gather they are already allowed in many exam rooms now. Of course in the retail trade now electronic scanners now do the sums and calculate change. Everything is electronically calculated so sales staff don’t have to worry about that aspect of their jobs. Fortunately, I can nevertheless do elementary mathematics using pencil and paper.

– While on the subject of relevance, in conclusion, the topic of philosophy might conjure up better image if it weren’t associated with a group of ancient white-bearded old men in robes debating angels and pinheads. That hemlock episode doesn’t help the image either. If I had to sum it all up, it would be along the lines of never have so few gone on for so long about so little (of functional relevance) with so little results to show for it all. Apologies, Winston!

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