The Value of Philosophy

Discussion in 'Off Topic Area' started by Socrastein, May 8, 2005.

  1. Socrastein

    Socrastein The Boxing Philosopher

    The following is an extract from Bertrand Russells great work The Problems of Philosophy. It's a fantastic book that should be on the list of anyone even remotely interested or curious about philosophy, for it makes a fantastic introduction to philosophy. It's not a very long book either, I myself read it in just a few hours.

    Anyway, I thought that this thread and the words of Russell were sorely needed in the Philosophy forum, because it seems that there is a ridiculous lack of understanding inherent in most members of MAP, notably those who post in the philosophy section, regarding what philosophy is and how it is valuable. I thought that it would be useful to everyone who hasn't already read Russell's book, and those who haven't read it in quite some time, to take the time to read through his detailed and eloquent passage on what philosophy is, what it isn't, and why it is valuable.

    For those with a short attention span, I have bolded the most important section of the chapter that can be read in itself and still give the reader a good impression of philosophy's value - though this is nowhere near as valuable as reading the chapter in its entirety, and even this isn't as good as reading the book itself. You can find an online copy of it in many places, such as here.

  2. Bil Gee

    Bil Gee Thug

    through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.

    Is he really suggesting that if you study philosophy you will become capable of "union with the universe"? What is the highest good of the mind? Does this actually mean anything?

    What on earth is this quote meant to prove?

    You've already demonstrated the issue with "what philosophy is". It seems to be using arguments that other people have created, as though their eloquence were any proof of value.

    You have indicated that philosophy is not there to answer questions or provide us with knowledge about the world. Could you kindly explain what it is there for? Succinctly in your own words would be good.
    Last edited: May 8, 2005
  3. Socrastein

    Socrastein The Boxing Philosopher

    Psin I don't know about you but I was taught how to read a passage in context over 10 years ago.

    Oh is that what I've done? Also, can you ever use an argument that hasn't already been created by someone else? A wise man once said, "Nothing is spoken which hasn't already been said before"... apparently not for the first time.

    Also, I'm assuming you read the chapter on the value of philosophy before you posted. And yet, in your post, you ask me to tell you what the value of philosophy is. Either you're playing games or you're playing dumb, but either way you're accomplishing nothing.
  4. Bil Gee

    Bil Gee Thug

    I suspect that nothing is being accomplished yes. No I haven't read the chapter on philosophy, life is short and I have no intention of ploughing my way through an entire chapter, when any paragraph I select at random has at least one statement that is devoid of meaning.

    So I guess you aren't able to sum up the value/purpose of philosophy succinctly in your own words?

    You mentioned in another thread that you were a dogmatic christian until being influenced by the thinking of philosophers that cause you to question that dogma. From what I have seen you have simply replaced it with another set of beliefs and quote philosophical texts in the same way that I would expect a bible basher to quote the bible as though they were making a valid point.
  5. Shadowdh

    Shadowdh Seeker of Knowledge

    The problem with philosophy is that it has the danger of breeding many close minded or arrogant (for want of a better word) people who believe that the person who doesnt want to be involved in phil is benighted or imprisoned...
  6. jonmonk

    jonmonk New Member

    Well I appreciated it Socrastein. Thankyou.

    I like to think I joined MAP to learn no matter how challenging that might be. What I've discovered is that it's not that easy but I'm determined to make the effort :D

    We have a number of options when faced with a different point of view it seems to me. We can either pull down the shutters or we can open them up. Closing them is easy, we can rant and argue in circles or we could simply walk away (but that's harder isn't it?) Opening them I think is ultimately more fullfilling. Just because we listen, it doesn't mean we have to agree. What we may need to do though is spend some time in contemplation to see whether or not our view can move forwards. Just because we once held a view, it doesn't mean we're somehow weak if we change our minds. Who was it that said that one of the symptoms of death was that you stop learning a new thing every day?
  7. Davey Bones

    Davey Bones New Member

    Last edited: May 9, 2005
  8. Socrastein

    Socrastein The Boxing Philosopher

    Psin, if you honestly think I'm going to appease your laziness (What would it take, 3-5 minutes to read that chapter?) by just summing it all up for you like sparknotes or cliffnotes, you're mistaken. If you think randomly picking one sentence out of the entire chapter and judging it out of context is a valid form of reading comprehension, you are in dire need of a high school English course.

    Also, you say that from what you've seen I've replaced my old religion with a new religion. Suffice it to say, you've seen very little if anything. In fact, I'd parallel what little you've seen of me and your making a false conclusion out of context with your randomly picking one sentence in that entire chapter and concluding that the whole thing is meaningless because you couldn't see the meaning behind that statement.

    All in all, a pathetic way to engage in conversation. Learn to see the big picture or spare me your narrow-minded attacks.

    Philosophy is the rational questioning of one's beliefs, one's reality, one's everyday assumptions and one's prejudices. It is a devotion to rational understanding, a pursuit of knowledge. That being said, if someone is not involved at all in philosophy, then that person is not questioning their beliefs, reality, assumptions, or prejudices rationally. They have no concern for rational understanding, or pursuing knowledge.

    How is such a person not "imprisoned" in their ignorance? How is one not in a state of intellectual darkness, especially when compared to someone who does question their views and the world around them for the sake of understanding and knowledge? Also, in my experience, of all the 'groups' of people in the world, philosophers are the least close-minded, almost by definition really. And arrogance is rare in the philosophers I know, though they are often mistaken for arrogance, because the second they try to get someone to open their mind, try to get them to reason and examine their opinions, people automatically assume they're being condescending and arrogant.
  9. Bil Gee

    Bil Gee Thug

    It would take 3-5 minutes to read the chapter and probably about an hour to put together a list of every meaningless point in the chapter. It would have taken 3-5 seconds to read my post properly, and to simply refute the specific example that I highlighed.
    If you look back you will see that I challenged to to present any paragraph in the text you had quoted that did not have some content that sounded good but was ultimately meaningless. The alternative would have been a full analysis of the chapter with posts that would send people into comas.

    You've told me quite a lot about yourself. I thought that you would have been more aware of the amount of detail that you have disclosed.

    (btw This is why it keeps going wrong for you in life. Courtesy would get you a lot further. If you really want to convince others that you have got something meaningful to say, and the indications are that you are driven to do this, then you should learn how to do so without becoming abusive.)

    You're talking about your experience here.
    If you want to convince people of something and they experience you as being dismissive of their views and experience, you will not succeed, even if you are right. If people like you, they will be more receptive to what you have to say, even if you are wrong.

    Now do you have a succinct summary of the value of philosophy?
    If not why not?
    Last edited: May 10, 2005
  10. Davey Bones

    Davey Bones New Member

    I wasn't going to, but...

    There are more ways to question one's beliefs besides "philosophy". I can just as easily do that thru Spirit as I can thru Mind. Much you assume about people who choose not to be armchair philosophers. We are not imprisoned because we choose to look at the world around us in a different manner than you do. The problem with most "philosophers", in my experience, is that they deny the ability to question or experience the world with anything but the Mind. They forget we have Body and Spirit. Get stuck in any one over the other, and you are incomplete. Rationality is not the be all and end all of experience, not is it the only way to interpret and question. Trust me, been there done that.

    I'll avoid the generalizations about philosophy majors to be fair. But there is a fine line between encouraging someone to open themselves to the world around them and telling them they're imprisoned or laboring under some illusions about the world around them just because they don't see the world in the same way you choose to.

    There are no absolutes. That includes how one ineterprets the world around them...
  11. Shadowdh

    Shadowdh Seeker of Knowledge

    Using the perceptions of the self to make judgements of others (eg calling them imprisoned because they do not follow your set of guidelines or beliefs is arrogant in the extreme and extremely close minded... thus I would rather remain "imprisoned" and be open to new ideas and paths than spout philosophical beliefs and claim that those who dont are benighted or "imprisoned"...

    Sure you can use phil to question yourself... but as has been said it aint the only way... the pursuit of knowledge etc is not dependant on the pursuit of philosophical discussion... if you think that then your thinking is fuzzier than mine... and who are you (general in relation to philosophisers) to suggest that someone is not concerned with "rational understanding, or pursuing knowledge" just because they dont subscribe to the philosophical pov... thank you for proving my point...

    As for the 2nd para of your post... imprisoned by whose standards...??? "intellectual darkness"...?? by whose measure...???

    "because the second they try to get someone to open their mind, try to get them to reason and examine their opinions, people automatically assume they're being condescending and arrogant." this can be because of the way they go about it... attacking someones beliefs, belittling someones intelligence and claiming they are close minded is perhaps not the way to open a persons mind... that instead will often make it shut down instead to that idea... if the way is a good way then it doesnt need to be pushed...
  12. Socrastein

    Socrastein The Boxing Philosopher


    Like I said, I'm not going to analyze the piece for you. If you can't be bothered to read it yourself, I can't be bothered to waste my time with you. Like I said, most people are taught how to read a piece in context while they're still in school. You are just asking for someone to do it for you. That's pathetic psin. In approximately 40 years one would assume you'd have managed to pick up a bit of reading comprehension skills, and don't need to take the easy way out when you're presented with a thought-provoking work.

    No, I've told you very little of myself psin, and I'm fully aware of it.

    Also, you tell me that courteousy would get me farther in life, and that I should practice it if I want people to consider what I'm saying. Long before I even responded to you, much less attacked you in any way, you refused to read the chapter I posted. Then you had the gall to tell me the post you hadn't even read was meaningless. I have no kindness for such absurdity. If I'm not worth your time and consideration, you're sure as hell not worth my courteousy.

    Only a very small handful of people on this site have earned enough of my respect that I would care whether or not they liked me. You are not one of them. I had respect for you in the nihilism thread while you were being rational and considerate, until you started acting like everyone else in there. What little respect I had left for you was obliterated when I read your refusal to read the passage because it would take to long, and you'd rather just attack it out of context until I spell it out for you. You cannot expect me to strive for your admiration in the least.

    I've already told you, more than once, why not.


    If you are rationally questioning your beliefs, then you are philosophizing in a way. You say that there are more than one way to question your beliefs. So, how does one irrationally question one's beliefs? And why would anyone in their right mind do so? Also, what proof or at the very least evidence do you have of this "spirit" that you have assumed in your post as though it were a given? (It surely is not). Also, how on EARTH do you question a belief with your BODY? What does a carbon-based organism have to do with the world of ideas and the abstract? I'm sure psin would you think the highest of philosophers :D, since you're saying a lot of crap that sounds good but is completely devoid of meaning.

    Yes, you can interpret and question things irrationally (there's no other option, unless of course you are denying the law of excluded middle and thus logic itself - if so, please let me know so I can cease any and all discussion with you as soon as possible) but again, why the heck would anyone do such a thing willingly? If you are questioning things with no regard to logic, you are denying reality itself. If you don't understand this, I'm afraid you don't understand logic.

    To say there are no absolutes is to assert an absolute. If the statement contradicts itself, it is meaningless. Once again, you're saying things that may sound good to you, but are devoid of meaning. Anyway, I'll give you some absolutes: a square has 4 corners. All dogs are mammals. A corpse is dead. A decapitated lion is a lion without a head. Is that enough for you to see that your axiom is false?


    I didn't say people who don't follow my set of guidelines or beliefs are ignorant. Where did you get that from? Certainly not from what I said. Let's take a look at what I actually said:

    Obviously I said, as can be seen, that if someone isn't rationally questioning their beliefs, their reality, their assumptions, or their prejudices (Essentially, their thoughts and opinions as a whole) then that person is not concerned with understanding or knowledge, and thus they are imprisoned in their ignorance (Actually, I didn't specifically state they were imprisoned, but I asked it rhetorically to very much imply it). Now, where in there did I say "If a person doesn't follow my personal guidelines and beliefs they're imprisoned in their ignorance"? I don't see it. Shadodh, what you've done is called a straw man attack, it's a very common (possibly the most common in my experience) logical fallacy. You've attacked what I haven't even said, and made it appear that I said it, so you can make me look bad/stupid without even addressing my actual points. It's a pretty lame way to converse and make an argument, and I suggest you find a better method. I don't know who that crap works on, but it does not work on me. I'd be delighted if you put more effort into addressing what I've actually said in the future, or don't bother responding to me at all.

    Do you think slavery is a good thing? Do you think that the freedom of every human being is a bad thing? Do you have any idea how long it took for people to "push" the freedom of black people, native americans, hispanics, pacific islanders, etc. before the way of freedom for all was adopted? You can either deny that this was pushed (good luck) or you can deny that granting everyone freedom is a good way to treat human beings.

    And just in case you try to weasle out of that one buy saying it doesn't apply just because it's not specifically referring to ways of thinking (although it is, but I'll preempt that possibility just to be thorough anyway) then how about special relativity and what it did to the way of thinking about time and space? Before SR, people thought of space and times in terms of universal absolutes. Einstein "pushed" another way of thinking, the way of considering space-time as changing and relative to things like velocity, gravity, and observer. It took a long time for people to accept this idea, even the scientific community. Some people completely refused to accept it at all. Obviously it was a good way, cause it was the only true way - everyone before had been wrong.

    So much for thinking that good "ways" magically convince people without effort.
  13. Davey Bones

    Davey Bones New Member

    See, herein lies your problem. You are trapped by your intellect, plain and simple. I can experience the world and question what I experience in ways other than that. You'd probably refer to it as "new age", but whatever. You're trapped in one stage of your learning. I hope you eventually move on. Although from what I know of philosophy majors, you probably won't.

    As for my spirit. I kow it exists. I have experienced connection with the divine before, and know I will do so again. That's how I know it exists.

    As for the Body, *sigh*. Try it some day. That's the best I can tell you. Because right now you suffer from the "I know it all" bs that all college philosophy majors subscribe to. How trendy!

    Oh, I understand it quite well. Your problem is that I choose not to live my life by it. there's a difference. You don't understand what I speak of, therefore it must be illogical. Thank you for proving your own point about your own arrogance.

    Wow, a philosophy major who believes that saying there are no absoutes is an absolute". Nice try, but that's about as logical as the "non-conformity = comformity" argument you've previously used.

    Just because things are devoid of meaning to you doesn't mean they are devoid of meaning. You live in a very black-and-white world, and I feel sorry for you. Maybe one day you'll come down off your high horse and join the rest of us mortals. Until then, it's comments like those posted above which show me that you are nothing more than an arrogant philosophy major who thinks he understands the world but hasn't lived in in yet. How utterly closed-minded. And what a shame.
    Last edited: May 10, 2005
  14. Socrastein

    Socrastein The Boxing Philosopher

    Bakaiguy, are you aware of the fact that your post doesn't contain a single argument? And yet, you dismissed every single thing I said. So, you're telling me I'm wrong, but you're not demonstrating how in any way whatsoever. You're just sighing and huffing and puffing and feeling sorry for me - but nowhere amongst all your pity is there a single refutation, nowhere is there an argument against mine, nor an argument for your, opinions.

    So how do I respond to something like that? Am I supposed to just sigh back? Should I say "Well I feel even MORE sorry for you"? Should I sigh even louder, and say that your views are even more of a shame than mine? Perhaps I should tell you to come down off your higher horse? Or maybe, I should just say "Well you're utterly and incredibly close-minded!"

    You leave me little options. I do have one question though - where the hell did you get the idea I was a philosophy major? Holy crap that's funny.

    Also, I tried questioning my beliefs with my body. I waved my hands in the air a bit, took my shirt off and rubbed my chest hairs, wiggled my toes and even crawled around on me knees with my eyes closed. Sorry, didn't feel anything. I especially didn't feel like my beliefs had been questioned. Maybe you could tell me what position I'm supposed to put myself into for my beliefs to start being questioned? I can put my foot behind my head, but I didn't try that - perhaps that is the secret?

    Yeah, and I once dreamed I was fighting a dragon, that's how I know I'm really a knight with a magical shield. Cause of course, experiencing something is the only criteria for knowing it's real. Who cares if it's logicall consistent or evidentially supported :rolleyes:

    Also, you say you understand logic, then you say that you choose not to live your life by it. How peculiar. So, you choose not to live your life in accordance with the fundamental laws of reality? So a boat is a tree, and my dead gerbil is really alive and dead, triangles can have 17 sides, and I can question my beliefs with my body. Yeah, who needs logic, coherency and reality are SOOO overrated.

    I guess your non-response wasn't a total loss. Now I know to preempt all readings of your posts with a mental note: "The following is the opinion of a new-age pseudo-philosopher and is for your amusement only; rational consideration and objection is a waste of time."
  15. Davey Bones

    Davey Bones New Member

    There's a reason my posts to you contain observations. You don't argue, Socrastein, as much as you like to think you do. You make observations, and then tell everyone else they're wrong because what they have said cannot be found in one of your precious little philosophy books that you love so much. As soon as someone steps outside of your comfort zone you start crying and denying their experiences. It's actually pretty funny.

    So now you also deny the realities of a person who is spiritual, claiming it's a dream? This is why there is no point wasting one's breath on you; because you haven't experienced it or because you choose to deny it, it MUST be wrong. Therefore arguing with you is like this, :bang: because if you don't accept it, it can't possibly be true! You've been rude and condescending to Uki, Shadowdh, and now myself. Why? Because we don't think like you or accept your interpretation of reality.

    As for your personal attacks on me, they mean nothing. Your arrogance is amazing. And sad. And unlike you, I won't reduce myself to personal attacks.
  16. Bil Gee

    Bil Gee Thug

    I've come to the conclusion that this guy is just trolling.
    As you point out, unless the arguments are limited to a specific set of texts and terminology he is unable to respond with anything but personal abuse.
    He says he doesn't care what anybody thinks (apart from a select handful who demonstrate their wisdom by agreeing with him), the arrogance and abuse is a consistent response to dissenting opinions. I can't see any other outcome than him rapidly making himself disliked and inevitably being criticised and ridiculed even when he is making a good point.
  17. Bil Gee

    Bil Gee Thug

    So thats a refusal to provide me with a single paragraph in that chapter the you feel you could argue doesn't contain something that is eloquent meaningless. You don't have much faith in the chapter or your debating skills do you?

    Generally I try to give everybody basic courtesy, regardless of their worth. Its not such a bad thing.

    Why do you think that people start to attack you personally rather than your views. Is it really because your thinking is so profound it makes them feel uncomfortable? Are you not willing to acknowledge the fact that there must be a reason that when people are levelling criticism at you the same criticism comes up time and again - along the lines of being arrogant and patronizing. There's no need to treat someone with contempt because they don't agree with you.
  18. Socrastein

    Socrastein The Boxing Philosopher

    You can tell yourself I just hate everyone who disagrees with me if you want, but that won't make it true. I have a lot of respect for many people who completely disagree and hold different views. Even some conservative Christians, which is admittedly very far from my own views. I respect reason mostly. Baikai, you have not argued with reason, so no, I have not had respect for your views. You've just sighed at me. I asked how you can use your body to question your views, and you just told me to try it and made belittling remarks. You didn't actually support your statement, you just acted like I was so stupid for asking what you meant that you couldn't be bothered with supporting it.

    Also, I pointed out with counterexample that just because you experience something doesn't mean it's true. I saw now rebuttal. All you did was sigh some more.

    And psin, what texts do you refer to? You too baikai. What texts have i dogmatically held to and refused to think outside of? Is it too much to assume that you'll back these statements up, or should I expect you'll just demonize me some more without actually responding?

    And as for trolling, that's rich. How was your last post there not a troll psin? You didn't respond or add anything to the debate, you just baited. Same with Baikai and his last two posts. Who's the troll? I keep asking for reasonable arguments so we can have a rational discussion, and I'm just met with nothing but insults, and then I'm called a troll. That's crazy talk.
  19. Cuchulain82

    Cuchulain82 Custodia Legis

    @Socrastein, psin, BaiKaiGuy

    Why are you all getting so upset with each other? One of the best ways to kill a discussion is by telling people that they are wrong and you personally know better.

    @Socrastein (and anyone else)

    What year are you in school? Are you actually a philosophy major?
  20. Socrastein

    Socrastein The Boxing Philosopher

    I'm not a philosophy major no. I never went beyond high school. I never said i was a philosophy major either, not even as a joke or sarcastic remark.

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