Discussion: Philosophy an Art form rather than science

Philosophy is men asking the most profound questions they can imagine; then pondering those questions from as many angles as conceivable.

The great philosophers are the ones who can weave beautiful stories out of that maelstrom. Reaching conclusions is less important than having an interesting journey and story to tell.

I mention it because I’m coming to look at philosophy like so much intellectual gaming. It often seems to be more about people defending & bolstering, or attacking, each others grand ideas, to the point that learning anything relevant regarding the original topic becomes impossible. I’m thinking this as I’m on chapter 13 of Dennett’s Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (audio) and wholly unimpressed, many wonderful ways of telling us what we already know, but worse is the beating of dead horses with dead ponies (his parsing of “punctuated equilibrium”, being a case in point).

Of course, I was expecting too much of the book (actually there is one chapter about a third of the way in that made me perk up and that I must revisit once I manage to finish all of it.). Still, I wanted to hear about Darwin’s Danger Idea itself - I don’t care about generations worth of contentious scholars arguing about it with their outmoded obsolete arguments. Well, it’s good to know about, but to make it center stage? That’s why I’m continuing, I do keep hoping for a rousing to the point original idea, or summary.

And so much of philosophy is like that: ‘we are the genius and only we can understand each other and the rest we’ll condescend to occasionally. Here’s what my splendid mindscape has created, can you top that, can you even understand it you mortal, …’

I’m all about appreciating the point that there is a Physical Reality ~ Human Mindscape divide, that most just as soon ignore. I think it’s critical equipment for those who intend to survive into the coming brave new world of extremely destructive weather pattern, water shortages, energy grid breakdowns, cascading consequences, etc.

Not to mention simple mental health as humans trapped in a crumpling society, especially as our sense of security in the future continues to degrade.

I know much great stuff has come out of philosophy, but I’m talking about the here and now. This search for consciousness is a most exquisite example of the profound disregard for the implications of biophysical fact.

Trying to find the wellspring of consciousness by studying the human mind, and divining the most minute components, while acting oblivious to simple biophysical fact that the roots of human consciousness reach back to the Ediacaran and Cambrian, and even before if you want to split hairs.

Consciousness is a biological adaptation required for creatures in order to have feedback mechanisms such as manipulatory controls, senses, collecting processing, data, command and control and all that. Without it there could have been no diversity.

As Dr. Solms points out you’re better served thinking of consciousness as the inside reflection of our physical body/brain and it dealing with itself and its surrounding environment

So once again, let me ask:

Why don’t modern philosophers ponder the implications of evolution and deep-time unfolding one day at a time, upon this amazing planet, to create us human creatures out of the ape, mammalian branch of the animal kingdom?

IMO, consciousness is the ultimate evolved ability to process environmental data.

It start in single-celled organisms as mechanical responses and evolved along with cellular complexity into a extreme ability to receive, process, and experience the self within its environment.

Oddly we do not experience ourselves as being locked up in a bony skull, unless we get a head ache… :exploding_head:

edit: But a headache is part of homeostatic interoception which does not offer visual experience but acts as a sub-conscious control and alarm mechanism that keeps us alive. When under anesthesia, the interoceptive function in the brain remain active, albeit only at a subconscious level, Quite remarkable actually that interoceptive part of the brain is autonomous from conscious control.

I can’s see my bladder, but when I need to void my bladder warns me with discomfort, that makes me say; “I gotta pee”… :shushing_face:

But then you don’t fancy yourself a philosopher, do you. :kissing_heart:

I don’t. No one has ever called me a scientist, but I have been called a philosopher on occasion.

I like to think of myself as an observer, trying as much as possible to be objective in my perspectives. My posits are almost always probative, asking for confirmation or correction where necessary.

When I advance a scientific principle I always rely on and refer to published and peer reviewed science . I lack extensive formal education, but I have a wide range of interests and I am well-read giving me some basic understanding of many identified scientific phenomena.

When I read a scientific paper I rely on the narrative rather than scientific mathematics to understand the subject.
If I can follow the narrative I feel confident I have a general understanding of the subject.

And perhaps that may well be the difference between the hard science and the general philosophical understanding of the subject.

I’m not sure about deep time, but if any philosophy that does not take evolution into account, it’s psuedo, it’s not grounded in reality. I understand the “why” of your point, but it might be you want a different “how”.

Evolution is why we can ponder, you can’t avoid that. Are you looking for thoughts on how we process the idea of being evolved creatures?

The “why” would involve origins and that is a whole different ballpark that has been endlessly explored.

The Vatican has conceded that evolution is true, but now they just moved the goal posts back to before the BB. and declared God is the primal causal agency.

No modern philosopher or scientist has found a non-spiritual alternative, even as we ( I ) cannot accept the notion of an intelligent and motivated agent that made man in his own image. Considering the scope of the universe the idea is prima facie preposterous.

A rare book that provides a philosophy for living with an understanding of current science about our origins

For lazy people, Dr. Carrier has a bunch of videos on YouTube. Looking forward to watching some of his lectures and debates. My eyes get tired when reading.

Or the lack thereof.

Guess my problem is, what I see as, the lack of pondering about evolution I found as I was wrestling with Hoffman’s book, and being introduced to some of the other convoluted egocentric nonsense that’s built up around “consciousness studies” that frankly totally ignore evolution’s implications. 69’s flippant remarks didn’t do anything to help my outlook.

I like Carrier, he seems more real than most the other talking heads in that field and listening to him makes sense.

Okay, I’ve only listen to Carrier a few times, and read even less, still I do know it’s always been comfortable. He resonates with me in a way others haven’t. Even now listening to a short introduction to himself, narrated by a very young looking Carrier makes me curious to hear about his journey.

I’m downloading the book from Audible as I type.

But back to the Art of Philosophy, Daniel Dennett is driving my thoughts these days. Listening to Dennett’s Darwin’s Dangerous Idea has been a rather frustrating challenge. It quite different from my excursions into Hoffman’s somewhat delusional mindscape, in that Dennett is very evidence based, there’s nothing to dispute on a factual rational basis - it’s the tone and blind spots that I have issues with, and that provide a vehicle for me to better define my ideas.

Darwin’s Dangerous Idea is a retelling of people’s ideas about the details of the mechanism of Evolution, and it’s about arguing about definitions and examining various geniuses’ notions, then the endless beating dead horses with dead ponies. It’s a celebration of human ingenuity and evolving rhetoric in action, but it loses sight of the topic it’s supposed to be about.

From my perspective the problem is that the actually topic, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea; namely that Natural Selection is a mindless, mechanical and algorithmic process is overlooked. The process itself still hasn’t become the focus (though I’m only to Chapter 16 with nearly 8 more hours to go, so we’ll see) .

What disturbs me is so much focus is on evaluating each others ideas, that they lose sight of a fundamental transcendent truth: The fact that we are here, indicates there was one particular path Evolution took, only one actual unfolding. Anything may have been possible and we can dream about all the possibilities, but in the end the actual factual bottomline is that only one story went down for real, regardless of what our human minds can conjecture. The Physical Reality of us being here is the absolute proof of that notion.

Treating their conjectures with such overblown seriousness - such as Dennett’s deep explorations of the debates, punctuated equilibrium and such, where competing ideas are both obviously wrong, yet both holding kernels of truth just the same. (same as it ever was)

My biggest gripe is the egocentric lop-sidedness. For instance, Earth’s evolving environmental conditions receive a nod now and then, but there’s never an explicit recognition, or integration, of the idea that you can’t understand an organism without also understanding the environment/biosphere it was born into and must negotiate it’s entire existence.

Evolution isn’t driven from within creatures, Evolution is driven by creatures interacting with environments, with far more connections between them than is recognized by most.

That’s very big, with cascading impacts upon one’s understanding and it should color every discussion about the Evolution of life on this here Earth.

The same with Deep Time, try to grasp that we are born out of billions of years worth of life, then creatures, living one day at a time with the future being restricted to dealing with the ever changing immediate concerns of the next moment. The insight will profoundly change one’s own perspective of the life unfolding within and surrounding us. Evolution flows within our blood, why don’t philosophers glory in that?

In that light, a framing such as: “Natural Selection is a mindless, mechanical and algorithmic process” is as quaint and telling, as well as limiting, as a Sherlock Holmes novel. The quality of our answers are limited by the quality of our questions.

Dennett never explicitly recognizes the fact of the “Human Mindscape ~ Physical Reality divide” with all its philosophical implications. Yet without which, neither Evolution, nor our human consciousness, can be “objectively” appreciated.

For that matter knowledge itself can’t be philosophically grasped until the meaning within “Human Mindscape ~ Physical Reality divide” blinks on like a shining beacon.

I have read that we need that long term perspective to truly understand ourselves. It’s new though, so integrated into all philosophy

lausten, you write:

“… so integrated into all philosophy”

What do you mean?

Pure and simple ignorance. It is so easy to forget that we are just one step away from the jungle. Are there any animanls aside from humans that give any thought to the environment? No, because they live in harmony with their environment.

Only humans alter the environment to suit their purposes. That ability comes with a price.

As Hellstrom said: there are two species that are on the increase; man because he can alter his environment, and the insect because it can adapt to anything humans do to change the environment.

The irony is that the life form first to appear on earth will be the last life form to remain.

I’ve been known to drop the word “not”. It’s not integrated, yet.

Well yeah. That’s what I been trying to say. :+1:

Right. I’m just not sure what to do about it. Those philosopher types can be pretty technical. They have a way of saying of everything is absurd, but that means something. Or it’s all about language, but words can’t express it.

Scientists finally got it that they have to figure out how to relate to non-scientists, rather than expecting everyone to agree with them out of sheer respect. Philosophers need to get that too. There are some comedians who get it, but they aren’t taken seriously. (I’ll be here all week.)

Back to the Intellectual Art Form called philosophy.

Listening a little further in Dennett’s book I’m once again struck by how often he uses his "Sky Hook’ metaphor for something that’s apparently impossible. He spent a lot of time early in the book setting up the scene for this “Sky Hook” analogy and all the time I’m thinking, but Sky Hooks actually do exist, think task specific helicopter cranes and other flying vehicles.

Then it occurred to me Sky Hooks exist in the biological world also, most famously in the Dragonfly with its incredible flying, hovering, grasping abilities.

Then, recently, as the Sky Hook analogy has taken on the aspect of a steady repetition, like some advertising jingle, it strikes me that even at the molecular level, I’ll bet it could be argued that “jumping genes” could be viewed as functional Sky Hooks.

And okay I appreciate some would say that should be looked at as a dramatic storytellers device, so we should suspend such quibbles for the sake of the entirety of the story.

But that’s not right because humoring all such ‘what if’ devices philosophers keep using on us, blinds us to more fundamental truths and obscures the entirety of our story.

One off hand for instance, that “reality” doesn’t need to prove itself to us and we shouldn’t take our assumptions too seriously, especially if you’re still not seriously and deeply considering Earth’s role in our Evolution.

My internet is restored. I’ll be binging this weekend

strong textI’m into finding some constructive dialogue and don’t care much where I need to go to get it. That’s why in the interest of furthering this thread “Philosophy an Art form rather than science” I’m bringing this over from comments at a YouTube video: “Why I am not a Physicalist – Peter Sjöstedt” (Four Reasons for Rejecting the Faith).

[citizenschallengeYT] started off with:

Can someone explain why philosophers always try to make things as complicated as possible? What about the simple notion that we live within a physical reality, we are a product of evolution, that Evolution is the product of physical entities, atoms and molecules and the laws of nature, moving through time.

All the quantum magic inside a quark or blackhole are irrelevant to this Earth and the geological/biological experiment that unfolded here. If we don’t fully understand every crevice, so it is. Blame ourselves and the universe.

All the rest of this is bellybutton gazing, where’s it really get us, but detached from our biosphere so much so, that we are running towards our own self-destruction just as fast as industry will allow.

Philosophy, so much fun, but what’s it good for, if it remains so blind to our self-destructive habits, in favor of embracing the unknowable.

MK ULTRA to citizenschallengeYT
They’re not trying to make things complicated, things are complicated. Look up Kant’s “Things in themselves” to get an idea of why this isn’t as cut and dry as it appears. All the quantum magic inside atoms are precisely why we’re here watching youtube videos, and the “bellybutton gazing” philosophers have done over millennia is precisely what scientific materialism emerged out of.

citizenschallengeYT to MK:
@MK ULTRA Yes, reality is an amazing mix of simplicity and complexity - folds within folds of harmonic complexity flowing down the cascade of time. As for Kant’s “Things in themselves” it’s an excellent example of what I refer to as the legacy of ‘Abrahamic Thinking’ which puts us at the center of everything and that’s trapped us within our mindscapes, intellectually & spiritually divorced from the physical reality unfolding around us.

Kant’s “Transcendental idealism” has at its heart a weird notion that the Universe/reality needs to prove itself to us. And unexamined undercurrent that our interpretation is what defines reality.

When in fact the simple reality of this physical planet existing with us in it, proves there’s one underlying material reality that unfolded regardless of what we imagine. It helps lead to a deep appreciation that Earth created us and we created our own gods and demons.

"… Philosophy, so much fun, but what’s it good for, if it remains so blind to our self-destructive habits, in favor of embracing the unknowable.”

@citizenschallengeYT Yeah so the assertion that “the simple reality of this physical planet existing with us in it, proves there’s one underlying material reality that unfolded regardless of what we imagine” is itself a philosophical argument. We’re both bellybutton gazing here. Peter S-H (and other pan-psychists) aren’t advocating solipsism or new-age wacky woo woo, they’re just saying that we don’t have epistemological claim to the truth of the nature of reality. I love science and physics, pan-psychism isn’t anti-science nor anti-physics, it’s one side in a debate between materialism versus idealism.

citizenschallengeYT to MK,
@MK ULTRA you write “… is itself a philosophical argument” - you’re basically telling me atoms, molecules, gravity, time, solar system and Earth, geology, biology are philosophical notions. Or? To me that does not compute. What I see missing is an explicit appreciation for the “Human Mindscape ~ Physical Reality divide.”

The world makes impression upon us, it’s those impressions that we humans are dealing with. The reality we were evolved out of, is itself an absolute, it simply IS. Same as it ever was.

It’s reminiscent of the yarn about the perceiver creating the perceived. It’s folly. The perceiver creates an impression of the perceived. It’s subtle distinctions like that, that matter.