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What was done in philosophy?

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Much was done in physics, starting with Isaac Newton. We have both theory and practical applications. Our technology is made possible by physics.

Much was done in mathematics, starting some thousands of years ago, let's say Ancient Athens.

Much was done in chemistry, starting more recently.

What was done in philosophy, starting with Socrates?

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Jerry, I know that OL is your go-to shop for learning. It seems you want someone to give you a lesson on philosophy, or at least let you know if philosophy has done anything notable for human beings. Perhaps you want to know if philosophy has added to or expanded human scope of knowledge, if philosophy has increased human ability to identify important, fruitful questions.

I suggest you start with reading "Philosophy, Who Needs It?" -- a collection of essays by notable 20th century writer Ayn Rand.

If that is an unpleasant option, you could always put your question in a form that other OLers can understand. A cry of help. A passionate urge to open a book, consult an encyclopedia, take the bus to the library.

__________________

I am going to give you a couple of hints, just out of pure fellow-feeling. Hint 1: look up 'Socratic Method.' Hint 2: Look up "inquiry" and "logic." Hint 3: look up a purported link between Socrates and what is called 'scientific method.'

Here's noted singer/dancer Janet Jackson putting the same question to that dang Socrates:

Edited by william.scherk

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Much was done in physics, starting with Isaac Newton. We have both theory and practical applications. Our technology is made possible by physics.

Much was done in mathematics, starting some thousands of years ago, let's say Ancient Athens.

Much was done in chemistry, starting more recently.

What was done in philosophy, starting with Socrates?

In terms of important practical applications and advances? Damned little.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I suggest you start with reading "Philosophy, Who Needs It?" -- a collection of essays by notable 20th century writer Ayn Rand.

I am familiar with the writings of Ayn Rand. Wrong question. The question is not who needs it but was was done in philosophy. Let's assume everybody needs it. That does not tell us what was accomplished in philosophy in the last 2300 or so years since Socrates.

The USSR was a country based on a philosophy, Marxism. Hitler had a philosophy. Stalin had some kind of crude philosophy. Chairman Mao had some kind of Chinese philosophy. The best country of all time, the USA, started half ass decent, based on a philosophy of freedom (without the benefit of Ayn Rand). Now the USA is a war monger. Seems to me more should have been accomplished in 2300 years of progress in philosophy.

Many years ago I listened to a lecture by an Objectivist, Gary Hull titled 'The Black Hole of Contemporary Philosophy'. The general drift of the lecture was it started with Immanuel Kant and developed into the black hole. By 'black hole' he meant metaphysics: there is no reality; epistemology: we can't know anything; ethics: there are no values. According to Gary Hull, this was the state of modern mainstream philosophy in the universities. Is this what was accomplished in 2300 years of progress in philosophy?

Now we have Objectivism, which might be the start of real progress in philosophy, or not.

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~ Restored~

Jerry, philosophy is intellectual, but (with the stellar exception of formal logic invented by Aristotle, which William mentioned) philosophy is not an intellectual discipline whose purpose is to create, supplant, or extend the discoveries of more specialized disciplines such as mathematics, physics, or computer science. Philosophy can supplement each as a “meta” of the special discipline, setting the results and methods of the discipline in a wider setting. So we have metaphysics and philosophy of physics and philosophy of biology. The name philosophy means love of wisdom, and that remains its center to this day.

In the nineteenth century you could find philosophers putting forward philosophies that included not only the areas we count as proper to it today, but putting forward philosophies that tried to extend the findings of the special disciplines, thereby not confining themselves to meta-discipline. A good example of that is Friedrich Schelling. That sort of endeavor for philosophy is now not countenanced in the profession. Rightly so.

Philosophy has had and will have some influence on right methods in the special sciences. Philosophy is not only something thought about in the minds of philosophers, but in the minds of scientists: not only by Aristotle, but by Newton; not only by Locke, but by Boyle. Philosophy is at work in every mind, at least in the mind’s broad operative assumptions of the natures of things and people and its own right operation, even if not every mind realizes that. Philosophy is at work in many minds in the form of religion. Whether of religious or secular shade, philosophic views on right thinking and right conduct, views at work in every mind, have had a part in giving us the various political organizations of society (and the poverty or wealth in a society), whether fascist, communist, theocracy, or liberal democracy. If we rate that last one better, we can thank philosophy (one factor) in a population of minds for the existence of such liberal democracies as there are on earth; blame philosophy too as part of the cause of the other regimes. As you observed, this is one sort of result and possible progress from which one might grade philosophies at work.

(Your summary of present USA is very incomplete, I should say. It is not simply a war-mongering nation, and the fact that in your youth you were not in fact called up for the draft as my generation had been is partly due to progressing ideology in the population. Good philosophy has helped to progress this country in science, education, productivity, and in protection of individual rights, over its history. Also, the view you mention of the history of modern philosophy and the makeup of professional philosophy today is fantastically false. That is not what is going on or has gone on. By the way, I took a course by Gary Hull on this topic in 1992, and as I recall, it was far more historically nuanced than your summary come-away. Realism is a major strand in Anglophonic contemporary philosophy, and has been so all the more in the last thirty years.)

Political organizations of society are collective actions, and the greater effect the philosophy of each mind can have is on its own life. Look to the results in your own existence for some role of good or bad operative philosophy in your mind. To be sure, because so much of one’s life is social—family, jobs, romance—the philosophies of others also has some impact on results in one’s own life. But I expect any abiding happiness one may have won has not been won without employment of one’s better philosophy.

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Now we have Objectivism, which might be the start of real progress in philosophy, or not.

The cash value of physical science is the technology that it engenders. What is the cash value of philosophy?

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Now we have Objectivism, which might be the start of real progress in philosophy, or not.

The cash value of physical science is the technology that it engenders. What is the cash value of philosophy?

Ba'al Chatzaf

[/quote

Oh, who could resist this one?

a secondhand Rand paperback ..$5

Life as a first hander...priceless.

Thx visa or whoever it was

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The cash value of physical science is the technology that it engenders. What is the cash value of philosophy?

It crowned kings and popes, limited their powers and dethroned them as arbiters of human thought, created banks and commercial law, discerned freedom of the seas and individual rights, wrote the first encyclopedia, saw virtue and value in markets, invented insurance, ended slavery, promoted empiricism, defied authority, negotiated constitutions, educated the young, measured risk, defended creative ambition, set priorities for sanitation, and wrote the history of science -- past, present, and future.

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The cash value of physical science is the technology that it engenders. What is the cash value of philosophy?

It crowned kings and popes, limited their powers and dethroned them as arbiters of human thought, created banks and commercial law, discerned freedom of the seas and individual rights, wrote the first encyclopedia, saw virtue and value in markets, invented insurance, ended slavery, promoted empiricism, defied authority, negotiated constitutions, educated the young, measured risk, defended creative ambition, set priorities for sanitation, and wrote the history of science -- past, present, and future.

Since 1850 philosophy and physical science parted ways. Aristotle was a millstone around the neck of physical science. Physical science did not progress well until it dropped the Aristotelian load it was carrying.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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The cash value of physical science is the technology that it engenders. What is the cash value of philosophy?

It crowned kings and popes, limited their powers and dethroned them as arbiters of human thought, created banks and commercial law, discerned freedom of the seas and individual rights, wrote the first encyclopedia, saw virtue and value in markets, invented insurance, ended slavery, promoted empiricism, defied authority, negotiated constitutions, educated the young, measured risk, defended creative ambition, set priorities for sanitation, and wrote the history of science -- past, present, and future.

Since 1850 philosophy and physical science parted ways. Aristotle was a millstone around the neck of physical science. Physical science did not progress well until it dropped the Aristotelian load it was carrying.

Good thing then, that philosophy created fabulous wealth and industrial infrastructure to bankroll modern physics, yes?

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Since 1850 philosophy and physical science parted ways. Aristotle was a millstone around the neck of physical science. Physical science did not progress well until it dropped the Aristotelian load it was carrying.

Ba'al Chatzaf

You are so stuck in a rut. Changing one philosophical frame for another is not getting rid of philosophy, any more than moving from one place to another is getting rid of the need for a place to live.

Ellen

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Since 1850 philosophy and physical science parted ways. Aristotle was a millstone around the neck of physical science. Physical science did not progress well until it dropped the Aristotelian load it was carrying.

Ba'al Chatzaf

You are so stuck in a rut. Changing one philosophical frame for another is not getting rid of philosophy, any more than moving from one place to another is getting rid of the need for a place to live.

Ellen

Do you know the details of physical science. I can assure you that real honest to goodness physical scientists stay as far away from Aristotelian metaphysics as they are able to. All forms of causation other than efficient cause have been pretty well purged from the physical sciences.

You might be amused to read some of Richard Feyman's mordant comments on philosophy which are peppered throughout his famous three volume text book on physics. Feynman did not suffer philosophers gladly.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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The Oracle in Ancient Athens said Socrates is the wisest of all of mankind. Socrates tried to find someone wiser than himself, thinking this would be easy. First he examined the politicians. Certainly the leaders of mankind must be wise. Nope. Next he examined the poets. They wrote such fine poetry that surely they must be inspired by the gods. Nope. Next he examined the craftsmen. They really had wisdom in their trade but not the kind Socrates was looking for. Finally Socrates understood what the Oracle meant by the statement that Socrates is the wisest of all of mankind. Socrates had the wisdom to know his ignorance.

Fast forward 2300 or so years. Socrates learns of this very remarkable philosopher / novelist, Ayn Rand.

How well would Ayn Rand do being questioned by Socrates?

(That might be an idea for some creative writing.)

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The Oracle in Ancient Athens said Socrates is the wisest of all of mankind. Socrates tried to find someone wiser than himself, thinking this would be easy. First he examined the politicians. Certainly the leaders of mankind must be wise. Nope. Next he examined the poets. They wrote such fine poetry that surely they must be inspired by the gods. Nope. Next he examined the craftsmen. They really had wisdom in their trade but not the kind Socrates was looking for. Finally Socrates understood what the Oracle meant by the statement that Socrates is the wisest of all of mankind. Socrates had the wisdom to know his ignorance.

Fast forward 2300 or so years. Socrates learns of this very remarkable philosopher / novelist, Ayn Rand.

How well would Ayn Rand do being questioned by Socrates?

(That might be an idea for some creative writing.)

Socrates never got the chance. The citizens of athens saw to that. He was forced to drink the Hemlock because he was a wise-ass.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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In order to make the question easier to answer, let's break it into parts.

In the last 2300 years, since Socrates:

1. What was done in metaphysics?

2. What was done in epistemology?

3. What was done in ethics?

4. What was done in politics? (Why do we still have war?)

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The Oracle in Ancient Athens said Socrates is the wisest of all of mankind. Socrates tried to find someone wiser than himself, thinking this would be easy. First he examined the politicians. Certainly the leaders of mankind must be wise. Nope. Next he examined the poets. They wrote such fine poetry that surely they must be inspired by the gods. Nope. Next he examined the craftsmen. They really had wisdom in their trade but not the kind Socrates was looking for. Finally Socrates understood what the Oracle meant by the statement that Socrates is the wisest of all of mankind. Socrates had the wisdom to know his ignorance.

Fast forward 2300 or so years. Socrates learns of this very remarkable philosopher / novelist, Ayn Rand.

How well would Ayn Rand do being questioned by Socrates?

(That might be an idea for some creative writing.)

Socrates never got the chance. The citizens of athens saw to that. He was forced to drink the Hemlock because he was a wise-ass.

Ba'al Chatzaf

We don't need to let facts stand in the way of a good piece of creative writing.

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Follow-on to the science/philosophy part of #5 above, the following post and its ensuing discussion in its old thread:

There is a book valuable for the issues raised in this thread. It is Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience (Blackwell 2003, 461 pages). It is coauthored by M. R. Bennett, neuroscientist, and P. M. S. Hacker, philosopher.

From the back cover:

"Writing from a scientifically and philosophically informed perspective, the authors provide a critical overview of the conceptual difficulties encountered in many current neuroscientific and psychological theories, including those of Blakemore, Crick, Damasio, Edelman, Gazzaniga, Kandel, Kosslyn, LeDoux, Penrose, and Weiskrantz. They propose that conceptual confusions about how the brain relates to the mind affect the intelligibility of research carried out by neuroscientists, in terms of the questions they choose to address, the description and interpretation of results, and the conclusions they draw."

"The book forms both a critique of the practice of cognitive neuroscience and a conceptual handbook for students and researchers."

From the Table of Contents:

Part I - Philosophical Problems in Neuroscience: Their Historical and Conceptual Roots

1 The Early Growth of Neuroscientific Knowledge: The Integrative Action of the Nervous System

2 The Cortex and the Mind in the Work of Sherrington and His Proteges

3 The Mereological Fallacy in Neuroscience
3.1 Mereological Confusions in Cognitive Neuroscience
3.3 On the Grounds for Ascribing Psychological Predicates to a Being
3.4 On the Grounds for Misascribing Psychological Predicates to an Inner Entity
3.5 The Inner
3.6 Introspection
3.7 Privileged Access: Direct and Indirect
3.8 Privacy or Subjectivity
3.9 The Meaning of Psychological Predicates and How They Are Learnt

Part II - Human Faculties and Contemporary Neuroscience: An Analysis

4 Sensation and Perception
4.1 Sensation
4.2 Perception
4.2.1 Perception as the Causation of Sensations: Primary and Secondary Qualities
4.2.2 Perception as Hypothesis Formation: Helmholtz
4.2.3 Visual Images and the Binding Problem
4.2.4 Perception as Information Processing: Marr

5 The Cognitive Powers
5.1 Knowledge and Its Kinship with Ability
5.2 Memory

6 The Cogitative Powers
6.1 Belief
6.2 Thinking
6.3 Imagination and Mental Images
6.3.1 The Logical Features of Mental Imagery

7 Emotion

8 Volition and Voluntary Movement

Part III - Consciousness and Contemporary Neuroscience: An Analysis

9 Intransitive and Transitive Consciousness

10 Conscious Experience, Mental States, and Qualia

11 Puzzles about Consciousness
11.2 On Reconciling Consciousness or Subjectivity with Our Conception of an Objective Reality
11.3 On the Question of How Physical Processes Can Give Rise to Conscious Experience
11.4 Of the Evolutionary Value of Consciousness
11.5 The Problem of Awareness
11.6 Other Minds and Other Animals

12 Self-Consciousness

Part IV - On Method

13 Reductionism
13.1 Ontological and Explanatory Reductionism
13.2 Reduction by Elimination
13.2.1 Are Our Ordinary Psychological Concepts Theoretical?
13.2.2 Are Everyday Generalizations about Human Psychology Laws of a Theory?
13.2.3 Eliminating All that Is Human
13.2.4 Sawing Off the Branch on which One Sits

14 Methodological Reflections
14.1 Linguistic Inertia and Conceptual Innovation
14.2 The 'Poverty of English' Argument
14.3 From Nonsense to Sense: The Proper Description of the Results of Commissurotomy
14.3.1 The Case of Blind-Sight: Misdescription and Illusory Explanation
14.4 Philosophy and Neuroscience
14.4.1 What Philosophy Can and What It Cannot Do
14.4.2 What Neuroscience Can and What It Cannot Do

Appendix 1 - Daniel Dennett
Appendix 2 - John Searle

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Since 1850 philosophy and physical science parted ways. Aristotle was a millstone around the neck of physical science. Physical science did not progress well until it dropped the Aristotelian load it was carrying.

Ba'al Chatzaf

You are so stuck in a rut. Changing one philosophical frame for another is not getting rid of philosophy, any more than moving from one place to another is getting rid of the need for a place to live.

Ellen

Do you know the details of physical science. I can assure you that real honest to goodness physical scientists stay as far away from Aristotelian metaphysics as they are able to. All forms of causation other than efficient cause have been pretty well purged from the physical sciences.

You might be amused to read some of Richard Feyman's mordant comments on philosophy which are peppered throughout his famous three volume text book on physics. Feynman did not suffer philosophers gladly.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Bob, given how long you have been a participant of this site, how can you not know that Ellen's husband is a physicist* and that she is in excellent situation to know what a contemporary physicist thinks is sensible from Aristotle for modern physics and what is not? And how can you not have noticed that Ellen is a reader in the history science and and its historical relations to philosophy? And for that matter an informed critic of the Objectivist guide to modern physics and its history as held forth in Mr. Harriman's book The Logical Leap?

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Thanks, Stephen, for the post above.

Right, how can Bob manage not to know these things (and multiple similar examples involving other posters)? Or, alternately, not to bother to pause to remember what he knows before posting something dumb?

Do you know the details of physical science. I can assure you that real honest to goodness physical scientists stay as far away from Aristotelian metaphysics as they are able to. All forms of causation other than efficient cause have been pretty well purged from the physical sciences.

You might be amused to read some of Richard Feyman's mordant comments on philosophy which are peppered throughout his famous three volume text book on physics. Feynman did not suffer philosophers gladly.

And, note, Bob: You are again making the same mistake, which you make over and over, that of equating specific views of Aristotle on metaphysics with metaphysics as such.

As to Feynman, I know what he said on the subject. Brilliant as Feynman was, there are issues on which I think his intelligence was notably not in gear. His ignorant remarks about philosophy are one of those issues.

Ellen

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Stephen, thanks again, this time for posting that link to a photo of Larry.

It's a photo I especially like - although, since he's wearing sunglasses, one can't see in the photo how nice his eyes are.

The photo was taken at Cal Tech in 2000 by a former student who happened to be on the campus one day that summer when Larry was doing some research at the Einstein archives.

The photo was subsequently used on a poster advertising a talk Larry gave at Princeton re climate issues. I think that was in 2007. Will Happer and Freeman Dyson were among those attending and were among those who went afterward for dinner.

Ellen

Also for restoring post #5 and for adding post #18. :smile:

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Now we have Objectivism, which might be the start of real progress in philosophy, or not.

The cash value of physical science is the technology that it engenders. What is the cash value of philosophy?

Ba'al Chatzaf

Speaking generally, as you are doing, it's zero for both. And you are assuming there is no philosophy foundational to science or a philosophy of science. If there is no philosophy of science you can't use science to attack philosophy. So what are you using? The philosophy of non-philosophy? That's a contradiction.

--Brant

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The Oracle in Ancient Athens said Socrates is the wisest of all of mankind. Socrates tried to find someone wiser than himself, thinking this would be easy. First he examined the politicians. Certainly the leaders of mankind must be wise. Nope. Next he examined the poets. They wrote such fine poetry that surely they must be inspired by the gods. Nope. Next he examined the craftsmen. They really had wisdom in their trade but not the kind Socrates was looking for. Finally Socrates understood what the Oracle meant by the statement that Socrates is the wisest of all of mankind. Socrates had the wisdom to know his ignorance.

Fast forward 2300 or so years. Socrates learns of this very remarkable philosopher / novelist, Ayn Rand.

How well would Ayn Rand do being questioned by Socrates?

(That might be an idea for some creative writing.)

Very interesting. However, Socrates would only get one question in at a time and Rand could take an hour to answer it. Also, Rand never addressed any Socrates. Don't think for a minute Rand would accept a student-teacher relationship in which she was the inferior party.

--Brant

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Don't think for a minute Rand would accept a student-teacher relationship in which she was the inferior party.

Rand did accept a relationship in which she was the student for a time with Isabel Paterson.

Ellen

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