Dammit! I think I might be philosophical.

I have railed against philosophy a lot here. It’s no secret I don’t hold philosophy in high regard. But after mulling over my last post, I’m starting to think that many of my posts are more of a philosophical nature than I had realized. This has lead me to the conclusion that my preconceived notions about philosophy may be way off. As always, if I’m wrong, I want to know it. I don’t want to be the village idiot who posts a highly philosophical argument about why philosophy is bad.

So is anyone here willing to give me a little introductory lesson into what philosophy really is? Perhaps a telling definition that describes its true purpose and how it works? Lauston, I have no idea what your background is, but if I had to guess, I would say philosophy. You’re certainly vastly more familiar with it than me. You often post quotes I’ve heard, which seem to impart deep meaning and understanding, which I never realized were philosophy. That last one was Godel, I believe. Can you recommend any books to give me a good grasp of what philosophy actually is, how it’s used outside of a courtroom, an argument or a nonsense “proof” that God is real and what its purpose actually is? I would greatly appreciate it.

I’m a total amateur, but I owe a lot to this guy. He uses common language, which makes him fun. The first link inside this link is a speech that really helped me. I’ll suggest a couple books later.

There’s nothing wrong with being philosophical. Some of the greatest philosophers in history contributed to what we now call humanism or at least their philosophical works have.

Wittgenstein’s Poker – A fun history of 20th century philosophy, including Karl Popper. It tells a story of Popper and Wittgenstein meeting and the conversation gets a bit out of hand. With that as the background it goes in to great detail of these mid 20th century philosophies.

Sense and Goodness Without God – Richard Carrier – rare idea for philosophy incorporating all modern knowledge

Think – Simon Blackburn Descartes to modern era. One of the best quick introductions to philosophy that I’ve read.

Here’s the long list

There’s nothing wrong with being philosophical. Some of the greatest philosophers in history contributed to what we now call humanism or at least their philosophical works have.
Lol, there is if you're the idiot using a philosophical argument to rail against philosophy, which I think I might have actually done a time or two, looking back. But it's okay. I'm mature enough to laugh along with you when I realize it. Crazy ol' Widdershins, at it again.
I’m a total amateur...
You're being modest. You may not be a philosopher by training, but you're a pro at heart. At least, in my admittedly limited experience.


That first video was interesting, but there were definitely some problems with it.

First he claimed that science was a part of philosophy, named “physics” in his chart, and then later claimed that science was philosophy, that philosophy became science. So essentially he said that science is a part of itself. That’s an obvious problem as a thing cannot be an integral part of itself.

He then gives old examples of where science was referred to as philosophy. Okay, so because, in the early days of science, it was known as philosophy that means that they’re the same thing? Language evolves. To me that suggests that science and philosophy became so different that eventually we had to create a word to distinguish the two.

Throughout the talk he both says that science and philosophy are the same thing, but also points out obvious differences between the two, most notably when he says, “Science is philosophy with the best data”.

And he continually says that atheism is “a highly certain factual conclusion, but not a scientific conclusion.” Even as an atheist I am not willing to concede that there is any certainty to the idea. Certainly no “facts”. I am an atheist because of the lack of facts to support supernatural claims. A lack of facts does not constitute facts. I am very certain that there are no gods or magic of any sort, but I have absolutely zero facts to back that, it is based on the claims of the existence of gods and magic also have absolutely zero facts to back their claims.

In the end I think he ended up actually confirming some of my (revised) views and beliefs about what philosophy is and is not. I do not agree whatsoever that science is both a part of and analogous to science. I don’t think philosophy can “prove” anything. In fact, most of the things he said philosophy could help us answer were things like our own world view, things which weren’t at all scientific in nature, further demonstrating that science is most definitely not philosophy by another name, nor a specific branch of philosophy.

However, philosophy is a part of science, as I have long known. The formation of a hypothesis is a philosophical act, taking what you know (the facts) and trying to understand what it means. But then the testing of your conclusions is completely non-philosophical.

I have no doubt that philosophy has evolved into modern science, but it has also remained its own, separate thing. Because philosophy still exists as a separate thing, a separate field of study, they are simply not the same thing.

I was happy to see, however, that Hawking made a philosophical argument against philosophy. I feel that I’m in good company now. But I do not believe, as I originally did, that philosophy is completely useless. But I still do believe philosophy is, used alone, completely useless for answering any question of any kind with any amount of certainty. It is more for answering questions about one’s own beliefs. I’ll check out the second link when I have a little more time. But personally, I think the way you use and count on philosophy is a lot more realistic than this speaker did in the video.

EDIT: I was typing this as I was finishing up the video and hadn’t gotten to this part yet. Toward the end of the video he even claimed that mathematics departments were really philosophy departments (presumably in colleges). I find that claim to be particularly outlandish. Science AND mathematics are really just philosophy? AND science is an integral part of philosophy and you can’t do ANY philosophy without using science (and the 5 other parts)? This strikes me as a kind of “fanboy” stance on philosophy. He loves philosophy. Great. But that doesn’t make philosophy a part of ALL quest for knowledge. I would say that philosophy is more a quest for belief, generally speaking, and science a quest for knowledge.

To me, any time you think about something that doesn’t have a ‘right’ answer, you’re doing philosophy (in the modern sense.)

Morality, purpose, how we know what we (think) we know, and other questions that can’t be observed or experimentally answered are what I consider philosophical questions. So we’re all philosophers in some way.

Widdershins, I think your issue is the intentionally complicated and hard to understand writing that goes along with it. Philosophy is easy so those who do it professionally have to make it look hard to justify their paycheque and impress their harder working and, smarter peers.


To me, any time you think about something that doesn’t have a ‘right’ answer, you’re doing philosophy (in the modern sense.)
Bingo! Exactly how I feel about it. So it's really the philosophy that claims to come up with the "right" answer that I hate. Which is why I didn't like the speaker in that video at all. He kept claiming absolutes, sometimes absolutes which were opposed to each other. Philosophy proves atheism, ever though is not only philosophical, it uses all six components of philosophy, science is just what we call philosophy now... It less like he was trying to impart something he knew, which is how he presented it, and more like he was trying to "prove" something, to make an argument.

Thank you, 3point. That actually helped me understand what it was I felt about it in the back of my head, but couldn’t bring to words. So my revised understanding of philosophy is that it’s not at all useless. Not in the least. It’s just misunderstood and misused far more often than it is used correctly. That is the philosophy we generally see, not the philosophy actually used in science.

I would modify your definition very slightly, though. You don’t use philosophy just any time there is no right answer, you also use it when you’re trying to find the path to find the right answer, but don’t yet possess the facts of that answer. This would be the case when forming a hypothesis. There is a “right answer”, or at least as close as we can get to one. But you’re not quite to the point where you can say with any certainty what it is. So you use philosophy to form your hypothesis and then you test that hypothesis to gain more knowledge using your philosophical understanding as a springboard to true understanding.

Widdershins said; I don’t want to be the village idiot who posts a highly philosophical argument about why philosophy is bad.
A wonderful philosophical argument....... :)