Should philosophy be easy to understand? | INFJ Forum

Featured Should philosophy be easy to understand?

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by Ren, Sep 4, 2018.

Share This Page

Watchers:
This thread is being watched by 13 users.
More threads by Ren
  1. Ren

    Ren Pin's android

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2017
    Threads:
    23
    Messages:
    3,363
    Featured Threads:
    16
    Likes Received:
    19,731
    Trophy Points:
    1,732
    Location:
    Geneva
    MBTI:
    INFJ
    Enneagram:
    458
    "Making itself intelligible is suicide for philosophy." Martin Heidegger


    This a thorny question to which I don't have the answer, but I sometimes wonder. On the one hand, of course I want to say: "Yes, philosophy should be easy to understand. Otherwise, what's the point? It's just obscurantism." On the other hand, with technical language comes the ability to say more things in fewer words, and to gain in precision. The thing is, sometimes technical language is not necessary; and other times it can be technical in a way that is not inaccessible.

    So I'm wondering what you think, guys. What is your stance on philosophy and intelligibility? :o_q:
     
    #1 Ren, Sep 4, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2018
    Sandie33, Gaze, Puzzlenuzzle and 6 others like this.
  2. Elis

    Elis Permanent Fixture

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2011
    Threads:
    8
    Messages:
    928
    Likes Received:
    938
    Trophy Points:
    657
    Gender:
    Male
    MBTI:
    ENFJ
    If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. While some things are more complex than others I still think there's a lot to that statement, and philosophy is the same I feel. But on the other hand I think philosophy shouldn't be anything, you either explain in adequately or you don't.
     
    Sandie33, Gaze, Puzzlenuzzle and 9 others like this.
  3. Wyote

    Wyote Moody Magician
    Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Threads:
    217
    Messages:
    19,904
    Featured Threads:
    10
    Likes Received:
    63,517
    Trophy Points:
    4,271
    Gender:
    Male
    MBTI:
    Ni Space
    Enneagram:
    9 Seas
    It should strive toward being so, but not limit itself in that pursuit
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
    Sandie33, Gaze, Puzzlenuzzle and 9 others like this.
  4. OP
    Ren

    Ren Pin's android

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2017
    Threads:
    23
    Messages:
    3,363
    Featured Threads:
    16
    Likes Received:
    19,731
    Trophy Points:
    1,732
    Location:
    Geneva
    MBTI:
    INFJ
    Enneagram:
    458
    [​IMG]
     
    Sandie33, Gaze, Puzzlenuzzle and 7 others like this.
  5. TheGoodOlDrama

    Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Threads:
    6
    Messages:
    276
    Featured Threads:
    1
    Likes Received:
    285
    Trophy Points:
    807
    Gender:
    Male
    MBTI:
    ISFP
    i think the problem about language in philosophy is that most philosophers were rejected weirdos aka poets / language artists, not actual philosophers, so you know, that's what you get.
    then the other so called philosophers, the lesser ones with (perhaps and this is an hypothesis) no soul / students saw gold in the show and decided to label these and those to build up their industry and make it look more real.
    a passionate showbiz.
    this is how mostly everything works in humanities.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
    Hostarius and Ren like this.
  6. OP
    Ren

    Ren Pin's android

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2017
    Threads:
    23
    Messages:
    3,363
    Featured Threads:
    16
    Likes Received:
    19,731
    Trophy Points:
    1,732
    Location:
    Geneva
    MBTI:
    INFJ
    Enneagram:
    458
    Yes, but it is possible to explain something adequately in a way that is difficult to understand, say with the use of technical terms.

    Do you think simplicity must come at the expense of subtlety?
     
    Gaze, Puzzlenuzzle, Hostarius and 4 others like this.
  7. Lady Jolanda

    Lady Jolanda The Queen of Sophistry
    Staff Member Tech Admins

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2017
    Threads:
    14
    Messages:
    2,168
    Featured Threads:
    3
    Likes Received:
    13,042
    Trophy Points:
    1,757
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Netherlands
    MBTI:
    ENTP
    Enneagram:
    7-4-9
    Yes, I believe philosophy should be 'easy to understand'. Philosophy is inherently abstract and complex, but neither of those properties make it impossible to also be comprehensible. What you really need to avoid is too much vagueness and too many assumed technical terms. To draw an analogy, you want to present your philosophy as if you write a review paper, as opposed to a research paper.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
    Sandie33, Gaze, Puzzlenuzzle and 7 others like this.
  8. Elis

    Elis Permanent Fixture

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2011
    Threads:
    8
    Messages:
    928
    Likes Received:
    938
    Trophy Points:
    657
    Gender:
    Male
    MBTI:
    ENFJ
    My point is that I think the concepts on which we base our philosophies are what they are. There's no should, or ought to, to that. The crux lies within how well we convey these philosophies or ideas. You can have an adequate explanation for something, but what's the point if no one understands what you're trying to convey.

    Personally I find beauty in taking something seemingly complex and making it simple, and what can be very hard to grasp at first might be perfectly tangible once you delve into it.
     
    Sandie33, Gaze, Puzzlenuzzle and 8 others like this.
  9. Fidicen

    Fidicen Community Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2017
    Threads:
    1
    Messages:
    473
    Likes Received:
    2,489
    Trophy Points:
    1,112
    MBTI:
    INFJ
    Well you know Tractatus 4.116: "Everything that can be thought at all can be thought clearly. Everything that can be said can be said clearly."

    But that statement in itself is problematic because clarity of expression is subjective. I don't know if Wittgenstein himself thought his expressions are clear, but they sure have made a lot of people to wonder what he meant.

    Also, notation of logic may be consistent and clear, but I don't think a layman would consider it easy to understand. Yet it's probably the simplest way to present the ideas, so the difficulty really depends on the background of the reader. It would be nice to make it easier for everyone, but I don't know if it's possible.

    Philosophy discusses topics that may be hard to understand even without obfuscation, but I do think a lot of philosophers make simple things appear needlessly complicated through their choice of grammar or vocabulary. Often when philosophers talk about abstractions and come up with new words to describe them, or new meanings for old words, they aren't actually presenting some new worldview except to the extent that their subjective experience is unique. In other words, specialist vocabulary can be a way to make the subjective experience appear universal, or the concrete appear abstract. Or sometimes philosophers even try to borrow words from natural sciences, completely misunderstand some concept, and then use that misunderstanding as a basis for ontology, a set of abstractions that has nothing to do with science. The French postmodernists are especially guilty.
     
    Gaze, Puzzlenuzzle, John K and 5 others like this.
  10. Lady Jolanda

    Lady Jolanda The Queen of Sophistry
    Staff Member Tech Admins

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2017
    Threads:
    14
    Messages:
    2,168
    Featured Threads:
    3
    Likes Received:
    13,042
    Trophy Points:
    1,757
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Netherlands
    MBTI:
    ENTP
    Enneagram:
    7-4-9
    I think I know what you're trying to say, and yet, I feel the need to ask: How is that possible? Aren't explanations only adequate if they're understandable?
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
    Gaze, Puzzlenuzzle, John K and 4 others like this.
  11. Elis

    Elis Permanent Fixture

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2011
    Threads:
    8
    Messages:
    928
    Likes Received:
    938
    Trophy Points:
    657
    Gender:
    Male
    MBTI:
    ENFJ
    Yeah, what I was going for was it being technically correct, just maybe not right for the specific audience to comprehend. I agree with you, I just thought I wouldn't mix up my language too much.
     
    Gaze, Puzzlenuzzle, John K and 5 others like this.
  12. Lady Jolanda

    Lady Jolanda The Queen of Sophistry
    Staff Member Tech Admins

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2017
    Threads:
    14
    Messages:
    2,168
    Featured Threads:
    3
    Likes Received:
    13,042
    Trophy Points:
    1,757
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Netherlands
    MBTI:
    ENTP
    Enneagram:
    7-4-9
    We understand each other. :thumbsup:
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
    Gaze, Puzzlenuzzle, John K and 6 others like this.
  13. OP
    Ren

    Ren Pin's android

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2017
    Threads:
    23
    Messages:
    3,363
    Featured Threads:
    16
    Likes Received:
    19,731
    Trophy Points:
    1,732
    Location:
    Geneva
    MBTI:
    INFJ
    Enneagram:
    458
    I think you raise some interesting points here, but what is the connection with intelligibility in philosophy? Make it more clear please :grimacing:

    I like your analogy :) But what's not clear to me is what you are denoting by "review paper" within it. Is it the philosophical work itself, or a presentation of the philosophical work, that should be easy to understand?

    I think these are two different things, which differ in a crucial way.
     
    Gaze, Puzzlenuzzle, John K and 3 others like this.
  14. OP
    Ren

    Ren Pin's android

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2017
    Threads:
    23
    Messages:
    3,363
    Featured Threads:
    16
    Likes Received:
    19,731
    Trophy Points:
    1,732
    Location:
    Geneva
    MBTI:
    INFJ
    Enneagram:
    458
    Ok, here's another possible perspective. I'd be curious to know what you guys think.

    Suppose that truly great philosophy consists in thinking things anew: looking at the world in a different way, and conveying it on paper. Do you not think it may be likely that the philosopher who faces that task may have to make language fit with their new ideas? That is, use language itself in a new way, so as to reflect as faithfully as possible what the new ideas, concepts, and the whole new way of looking at things is.

    But if language has to be used in a new way, would not "returning" to the old way to make the philosophy easy to understand, deface the new ideas somewhat?
     
  15. OP
    Ren

    Ren Pin's android

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2017
    Threads:
    23
    Messages:
    3,363
    Featured Threads:
    16
    Likes Received:
    19,731
    Trophy Points:
    1,732
    Location:
    Geneva
    MBTI:
    INFJ
    Enneagram:
    458
  16. Lady Jolanda

    Lady Jolanda The Queen of Sophistry
    Staff Member Tech Admins

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2017
    Threads:
    14
    Messages:
    2,168
    Featured Threads:
    3
    Likes Received:
    13,042
    Trophy Points:
    1,757
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Netherlands
    MBTI:
    ENTP
    Enneagram:
    7-4-9
    Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. You know my situation. (Benzo's all day every day! :crazybounce:)
    Can you elaborate please? Do you mean the difference between "The work itself should be easy to understand" and "The work should be accessible"?

    I meant the latter myself.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  17. Asa

    Asa Resident palindrome

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2015
    Threads:
    63
    Messages:
    2,334
    Featured Threads:
    15
    Likes Received:
    9,188
    Trophy Points:
    1,181
    Gender:
    Female
    MBTI:
    INFJ
    Should Philosophy Be Easy To Understand - yes and no. Philosophy is about thinking. It could go either way. It also depends on the philosopher and the 'thinker'.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  18. Skarekrow

    Skarekrow ~~DEVIL~~

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Threads:
    90
    Messages:
    15,376
    Featured Threads:
    7
    Likes Received:
    16,292
    Trophy Points:
    1,421
    MBTI:
    Ni-INFJ-A
    Enneagram:
    Warlock
    First the original question...yes to a point...and then from a certain point if you are not challenging your own mind and thinking then it’s worthless for making new discoveries or coming up with new concepts...or even just bettering oneself.

    And the above ^^^
    Yes I do think that, having had numerous numinous experiences that I absolutely could never put into existing words.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
    #18 Skarekrow, Sep 12, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2018
  19. OP
    Ren

    Ren Pin's android

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2017
    Threads:
    23
    Messages:
    3,363
    Featured Threads:
    16
    Likes Received:
    19,731
    Trophy Points:
    1,732
    Location:
    Geneva
    MBTI:
    INFJ
    Enneagram:
    458
    No, I meant something slightly different. Earlier you said:

    And I was wondering if by "present your philosophy" you meant write your philosophy book, or write/make a presentation of the content of that book for the benefit of a larger audience. Because if you mean the former, I might have to ask you: "How could original philosophical work be worded merely as a review paper?"
     
  20. charlatan

    charlatan Community Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Threads:
    0
    Messages:
    795
    Likes Received:
    1,298
    Trophy Points:
    682
    Gender:
    Male
    MBTI:
    Ne-ILE/H-Si
    Enneagram:
    6w5 spsx
    I suppose I say it should be as easy to understand as possible without screwing with the usual goals it has...I think one annoying effect of the nature of the field on terminology is that there are so many *names* you end up running across, because there are so many positions on every issue.

    Usually, I try to avoid getting sucked into too many such names, and try to spell out the main arguments directly, but I imagine it becomes more important to keep track of all the names when you're trying to contribute professionally to the literature, just to make a buzzword for what your position is and what positions you're responding to.


    The other type of 'easy to understand' it would be helpful to have is to make the motivation for a position clear. I find sometimes the literature is more interested in completeness and precision in stating the given position than in motivating the position.


    But overall, I think this latter issue is shared with a lot of fields!

    slight addendum -- I think the best way to fix the first issue for professionals is to try to mention at least the different flavors of positions and their motivation at play before getting bogged down in the very specific mucking around they're going to do.

    This lets people read at different levels of interest -- I think some people really do want all the mucking around, but some accessibility to nonspecialists is nice at least if the subject could be of broader interest.
     
    #20 charlatan, Sep 13, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
    Puzzlenuzzle, Fidicen, John K and 4 others like this.
Loading...

Share This Page