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[PUG] Usefulness of Philosophy

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by Duty, Dec 13, 2009.

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  1. Duty

    Duty Permanent Fixture

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    I am a former philosophy major, and have studied the subject on my own extensively. Even though I do not actively study it anymore (the reason for that is the subject of this thread), I am really really good at it.

    My problem with philosophy is its usefulness to society and people. The cold, hard fact is that no one cares to listen to philosophers: they don't solve problems.

    I was discussing this with my ENTP girlfriend, and she said: "Well, philosophy is a tool. Just because no one buys it doesn't mean it's not the right tool for the job."

    I responded, "Problem is that philosophy is a tool that is too expensive and would have to run to the store to be bought. People rather do a crummy, lazy do-it-yourself job by just letting religion and society do their thinking for them. It's much easier and they don't care for a nice finished product."


    So although I love the subject, know the subject, and am better at it then any other interest of mine, I'm not at all convinced of its usefulness. Additionally, it doesn't any longer appeal to my NT need for "wizardry" (it's the desire of every NT to be seen as a wizard/expert at some skill), as it doesn't produce marvelous things like electrical engineering or astrophysics.

    What do you all think? Is philosophy useful? Is it useful to society or just individuals? Do philosophers leave the world a better place? I'd love to be convinced.
     
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  2. Isis

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    I'm not here to convince anybody and I doubt I could even do that. People have a mind of their own and I assume they use it. I don't have a deep interest in philosophy as a whole but I do believe that it is useful both to the society and to the individuals and I am open to it.

    You said that philosophers don't solve problems. But I think that philosophy actually does solve problems, it's not an instant fix though. It seems that people want easy solutions that can be instantly applicable and they lack the patience that is needed to understand philosophy. It takes time and patience to sift through philosophical issues to understand their importance and usefulness. I admit, I'd be at a loss here if was required to supply any evidence about it but it's just a deep feeling I have that everything in this world has a purpose whether we're able to see it at the moment or not.
     
    #2 Isis, Dec 13, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2009
  3. Afrelen

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    By useful do you mean a tangible and concrete utility or simply the ability to perform with it in a specific career?

    In either case the bad news is that it's useless. Philosophy, as a liberal art/humanity, is part of the expression of being human. It does not offer that kind usefulness. What it does offer you seem to have grasped but not found to your liking (as most do).

    In the end, it is useful to both the individual and society in a less than concrete and appreciable way. Philosophy allows the individual to think both with an understanding of the world outside and the world within while for society it allows for us, as a race, to reach out and express our humanity.

    What makes philosophy seem so utterly useless is the simple fact that it is universally useful. Your girlfriend was wrong about no one buying it. It's there for everyone to use and they all take it for granted because it's always there. None of us interact with reality counter to our metaphysical conception of it. However, few of us take the time to understand what our metaphysical conception is, whether it is logical, and if it is consistent with other things that we hold true.

    Because philosophy is basically everywhere, a philosophy student graduates into a world in which they are capable of utility anywhere. However, because philosophy is so utterly taken for granted, they are never recognized for it.

    Sadly, welcome to the philosophy major club. I feel your pain, but fear not! Philosophy is ridiculously useful, but not in the way you used it in study. I find that philosophy in academia is basically mental masturbation and totally and completely useless to society. When philosophy is learned to be applied and used out it the world it shapes and changes the whole of society. As a student of philosophy, you need only apply a bit of your own knowledge to see this.

    A wise theologian once wrote about students freshly learning theology that they are like the little brother who is given completely over-sized overalls. They may look and even appear ridiculous and useless in such a state, but, in time, they will grow into them and really be useless. This can be said of the philosophy student, too. Give it time, philosophy does not bear her fruits with speed, only with due diligence.
     
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  4. Gaze

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    This is a fairly common dilemma for many who study philosophy or engage in studies related to philosophy. It's one of the reasons, i put my grad studies on hold. The degree i started wasn't a very practical degree (liberal arts grad.) apart from teaching. I love theory and knowledge but when no one else seems to see any immediate benefits, then it becomes difficult to sustain the interest.

    +1
     
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    #4 Gaze, Dec 13, 2009
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  5. enfp can be shy

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    I claim it was useful in the past. I even claim religion was useful in the past. I evaluate them from scientific perspective.

    [Unknown phenomenon]
    -> hypothesis
    ---> ritual cycle -> [Religion]
    -> more hypotheses
    ------> theory -> [Philosophy]
    -> experiments and results
    --------> methods -> [Science]

    (from top to bottom is the direction of time)

    It is very subjective to point precisely which one is which and to categorize things. I'm afraid we just become easy slaves of the labels when we do this. So this is a very general vague tendency.

    You can notice this sequence in the following:
    Religions first dealt with nature, later with human (eg. Old testament, New testament).
    Philosophy first dealt with nature, later with human (eg. Metaphysics, Existentialism).
    Science first dealt with nature, later with human (eg. Physics, Neuropsychology).

    Wherever there's the unknown phenomenon, first there goes Religion, then comes Philosophy, then comes Science. Even further, science is divided to theory and practice, and we could argue that over 90% of the work in theory is pure speculation, without sufficiently conclusive data yet, so it's the new version of Philosophy. Eventually, when there's enough direct data, we need less formalism and everything becomes self-evident without so complex argumentation.

    Or as is found in my signature: The best argument is the lack of need for it. Meaning, we don't need arguments for most of the input of our senses, it just is. Sooner or later that would be the case with every knowledge. For example, they had to argue in the past if the Earth is round, and now when you are little kid, you just see the whole Earth in detail for yourself, and that's it. They had to argue about molecule interaction, and now you just see it in 3D, how it happens exactly, and that's it. They had to argue about evolution, and now you just see some embryos of different evolutionary stages, repeating all previous stages in themselves, and that's it. Most things are obvious, they don't need long papers with proofs, when you have the data itself. The data becomes the theory, that's the new wisdom that google brings. At least for the most of the problems here on planet Earth, we already have loads of data. About the Universe, we still rely on limited information and keep speculating, however that is more of a hobby, while the nearby problems are mostly within reach.
     
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    #5 enfp can be shy, Dec 13, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2009
  6. the

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    How does being good at philosophy manifest itself in your life?
     
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  7. Satya

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    From philosophy there is born science and from science there is born art.

    Philosophy is the beginning...the untempered idea...the hypothesis. Through methodology it is measure and tested until it either dies or bears fruit. From the new theories or technology that may emerge, people must find ways to enhance or improve their lives. And then the cycle begins again as new problems emerge and new ideas need be crafted into practical solutions.
     
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    Duty

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    My capabilities for critical thinking along with my knowledge of logic/logical fallacies has substantially increased my capacity to understand and analyze any situation, science, etc that I encounter.

    Second, I think it just makes me a better citizen. I can critically examine...question...the bullshit we are fed on a daily basis.

    Third, philosophy has amplified my love of truth. In the mindset of philosophy, I feel I reach more truth...truth that I can be sure is truth...far beyond what people with no love of philosophy could ever reach. It has enriched and enhanced my intellect.

    Last, it guides me in examining other areas of knowledge. Philosophy is largely about methodology: how do we best go about doing the things we do?
     
  9. OP
    Duty

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    In the relevant sciences (like physics), hypothesis is mostly done by theoretical scientists, and then handed down to the experimental sector. In the sciences that don't need much of a theoretical sector (such as psychology), the experimentalists just do the hypotheses themselves.
     
  10. Satya

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    But where did the ideas behind the hypothesis come from? Was the camera obscura an idea created by a scientist? Did not Mo-ti first develop the idea of the pin hole camera? And did not that philosophy then breed the science of photography? And did not the science photography breed an entire new art of medium?

    What you seem to fail to understand is that the modern day theoretical scientist is the philosopher. Many of our scientists perform a dual role as a philosopher and practitioner of science. However, what does not change is the order...philosophy-science-art...in the process of discovery and invention.
     
  11. IndigoSensor

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    Philosophy is interesting, and a useful tool in politics from the way I see it. Praticial implications are hard. I see it as a good thing to supplement other things.

    Nevertheless, philosophy bugs the living crap out of me.
     
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  12. OP
    Duty

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    Mo Jing first observed the effect...he made an empirical observation. His philosophies (which were mainly ethical and political in nature) made no difference...he performed the basic scientific function of observation.


    Even the greatest created methodology in our history: the scientific method, was not a philosopher's doing, it was an astronomer's doing (Galileo).
     
  13. Solar Empath

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    You already hit on the answer: Philosophy is defensive. It may not solve any issues, but Philosophy is king at exposing the crap that passes for fact in our society.
     
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  14. Gaze

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    Agree.
     
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  15. OP
    Duty

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    So it's a news channel that no one tunes into?
     
  16. Solar Empath

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    Well given what passes for 'debate' in American media, I don't think most people even know what it's all about. And since Philosophy won't make you a millionaire or get you tons of dates.. I suppose you could look at it that way.

    BUT reasoning is important nonetheless, and philosophy is the road to true reason.

    Finally I have to ask "Who cares what 'everyone' does?" If knowing philosophy makes you happier and gives you greater self respect, then who is 'everyone' to tell you it's useless?
     
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  17. BenW

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    I think philosophy "professors" ought to make the same amount of money as guys who flip burgers; fairly comparable workload.
    Same goes for art professors.
     
    #17 BenW, Dec 14, 2009
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  18. IndigoSensor

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    They deserve the same kind of pay. Maybe not the highest, but still, a decent pay. They actually do put in alot of effort to what they do. I might not be the most practical thing on the planet, but they are still working hard, and bettering the world in different ways.
     
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  19. Gaze

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    +1

    professors work their butts off (excuse my french) more than most will ever know. And to say they shouldn't be paid much is folly.
     
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    #19 Gaze, Dec 14, 2009
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  20. enfp can be shy

    enfp can be shy people vs the bad people?
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    Rather unfair; burger flipping's much tougher. I think 39407.05 Bill Gates'es should get as much as one senior shepherd:
    [​IMG]
    (note: this image is provided by MIT)
     
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