I know it may sound like I'm thinking of myself as I already know everything within philosophy, every problem and every response. When I was 15 reading it could be interesting. However now, most philosophical problems I see, even in contemporary philosophy, are not those interesting. I already thought about most of them, and already even thought about those which I could not google, and produced more than a single answer in my head for each of them.

For example, I read SEP article on truth (note, I will be too simplistic here). Various theories and issues with them. Almost none of them were really new to me. There are so many people thinking truth is drawn on the canvas of the reality (correspondence). Or that inconsistent theory can't be true (coherence), which seems intuitive as well. Or deflationary theories which do not actually produce something new, just are forms of language reductionism or minimization. In fact none of these theories made sense to me as I don't count beliefs or language units to be truth-bearers. So, what I did is just read something I already thought of and rejected, something uninformative. It was like a waste of time.

And it was just a single example, such things happen quite often. The only thing I usually learn is terminology which does not require that much time. Not only it feels like waste of time, it also feels boring, like "learning" basic arithmetics, just where all numbers are depicted differently from the notation I got used to. These depictions, on the other hand, happen to be common to philosophers and it is important to know them in order to discuss philosophy with others.

So, is there a faster way to learn terminology without wasting time on reading about the ideas I'm already aware of? Should I (or any other person like me) even learn bald terminology?

  • openculture.com/2016/02/… – Dwarf Sep 14 at 2:40
  • It somewhat depends on how sensitive you are to being held in infinite contempt by the thoughtless part of the community. That is, to most of us most of the time. – Dwarf Sep 14 at 2:53
  • F. Kafka<Alas," said the mouse, "the whole world is growing smaller every day. At the beginning it was so big that I was afraid, I kept running and running, and I was glad when I saw walls far away to the right and left, but these long walls have narrowed so quickly that I am in the last chamber already, and there in the corner stands the trap that I must run into." "You only need to change your direction," said the cat, and ate it up.> ...do not allow the cat... – drvrm Sep 14 at 3:15
  • Poincaré? How did he approach a problem? For instance, is there a philosophy of creativity? – Gordon Sep 14 at 4:58
  • Are you sure you understand those ideas? Producing answers in the head without committing them to paper and submitting them to scrutiny of others may be fun, but it does not reflect well on their quality. If you wish to improve you need to interact with others, and if you wish to be understood by them you need to know their use of terms and background context. There are no shortcuts. You may even discover that what you thought you understood you didn't. – Conifold Sep 16 at 0:43

It sounds to me like you haven't begun to study philosophy beyond the walls of the Academy. I'd suggest getting out more. No point in carefully learning all the terminology for a collection of theories that don't work (such as all those theories of truth you mention). It might take you a year just to work out what 'existentialism' or 'heterophenomenology' mean.

You could try Nagarjuna but that's going in at the deep end. If you do this I'd recommend 'The Sun of Wisdom' by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso. Or you could maybe try Francis Bradley's 'Appearance and Reality' or Radhakrishnan's 'Philosophy of the Upanishads'.

I don't wish to start a war of words but I would agree with you that you are wasting your time following the path of research you describe. You will go round and around for ever reading long SEP articles on truth and so forth but getting no answers and reaching no conclusions. This sort of philosophy is a non-halting Turing machine and once one has recognised this, as you seem to have done, it's best to get off.

Philosophy is no longer, if it ever was, an isolated inquiry. To do philosophy fruitfully nowadays you have to integrate it with other disciplines. For instance, it's no longer possible to do the philosophy of mind effectively save in association with neurophysiology : and the cases and puzzles that are thrown up by that association are novel and they are thought-provoking and since they are tied to an advancing science, you will not be already familiar with them.

There can still be a distinctively philosophical contribution; I am not reducing the philosophy of mind to neurophysiology only pronouncing 'RIP' over the solo endeavour view of philosophy.

  • Well, what I mean are claims that I don't understand various philosophical views. For example, understand what Hume's is-ought problem actually is. If I don't agree with premises (there is actual truth drawn on the canvas of the world) then it is uninteresting for me to learn conclusions. At the same time I do not dismiss the fact that I cannot always convince everyone in everything (including various oughts) I think, not even through death threat. And many people call this problem the is-ought problem. Though can't say for Hume, neither it makes sense to say for him. – rus9384 Sep 14 at 8:45
  • Not sure I understand but my answer plainly isn't what you want. Best : GT – Geoffrey Thomas Sep 14 at 11:11
  • @rus9384. You said something profoundly interesting : 'I don't count beliefs or language units to be truth-bearers'. (Suggestion : 'as' rather than 'to be' : or you could say 'consider to be') Would you care to post a question based on this point of view ? Are there no truth-bearers ? Or are there truth-bearers but truth-bearers are not beliefs or language units ? The topic deserves a question. Best - Geoffrey – Geoffrey Thomas Sep 14 at 12:44
  • I think I'm going to ask it, but at first I'm going to ask another question regarding philosophers vs. thinkers. – rus9384 Sep 14 at 12:51
  • I will wait, then. It will be worth it. Btw : it should be 'but first' not 'but at first'. Best - Geoffrey – Geoffrey Thomas Sep 14 at 13:11

Well, as I personally do not belong to the pure stream of "philosophy" and being a physicist your question or state of affairs made me curious to see what is happening at the philosophy front in recent times and whether it is interesting or not. what I could gather was interesting-

The scientific and technological revolutions (perhaps 3 in number)changed our understanding of human nature, the nature of society, and the nature of the universe.

The impact upon philosophy was profound.

It is not surprising, therefore, that today’s Information Revolution promises to have major philosophical implications.

Physicists have recently argued, for example, that the universe is made of information and that human beings are exquisitely complex information objects. In addition, new kinds of decision-making agents – such as robots, softbots, and artificial companions – now can be found in homes, schools, hospitals, workplaces, entertainment centers. Instead of being utterly different from human beings, many computerized devices can be viewed as entities very much like ourselves – fellow information objects journeying together through an informational world.

This radically different understanding of human nature and our role in the universe offers exciting, powerful – and to some people, threatening – answers to some of the deepest questions of philosophy and psychology:

Who am I? What am I? What does it mean to be? What is my place in the universe?

The result is sure to be a worldwide and decades-long philosophical conversation.

Therefore how can one say that now Philosophy has become drab and uninteresting. As a final remark, let me point out that a large computing machine, whether in the form of mechanical or electric apparatus or in the form of the brain itself, uses up a considerable amount of power, all of which is wasted and dissipated in heat. The blood leaving the brain is a fraction of a degree warmer than that entering it. No other computing machine approaches the economy of energy of the brain. In a large apparatus like the Eniac or Edvac, the filaments of the tubes consume a quantity of energy which may well be measured in kilowatts, and unless adequate ventilating and cooling apparatus is provided, the system will suffer from what is the mechanical equivalent of pyrexia, until the constants of the machine are radically changed by the heat, and its performance breaks down.

Nevertheless, the energy spent per individual operation is almost vanishingly small and does not even begin to form an adequate measure of the performance of the apparatus. The mechanical brain does not secrete thought "as the liver does bile," as the earlier materialists claimed, nor does it put it out in the form of energy, as the muscle puts out its activity. Information is information, not matter or energy. No materialism which does not admit this can survive at the present day.

*I take it that one can identify "science" by enumerating the fields included in the category (biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, geology, ...) and then pose the question of what commonalities (if any) these examples of scientific fields have with no risk of circularity. Especially since we're leaving it to the scientists to tell us what the sciences are. It's quite possible that the sciences won't end up having a common core -- that there won't be any there-there. **>

My graduate advisor in chemistry had a little story he told that was supposed to illustrate the dangers for scientists of falling in with the philosophers and historians and sociologists of science: A centipede is doing a beautiful and complicated dance. An ant walks up to the centipede and says, "That dance is lovely! How do you coordinate all your feet so perfectly to do it?" The centipede pauses to think about this and eventually replies, "I don't know." Then the centipede watches his feet and tries to do the dance again -- and can't! The centipede could do the dance without knowing precisely how each foot was supposed to move relative to the others.

A scientist can do science while taking the methodology of her field for granted. But having to give a philosophical account of or a justification for that methodology deeper than "this is what we do and it works pretty well for the problems we want to solve" may render that methodology strange looking and hard to keep using.

There's a big difference between certain philosophical "theories" and those of Witten et al. StringTheory and some of its more curious hypotheses (like the one alluded to above) are based on logically sound implications of mathematical systems that have shown parallels with real-world behavior.

When you have a mathematical system that can repeatedly and successfully predict measurable aspects of a significant number of real-world conditions, it can be effectively used as a model of an aspect of reality. When a model is shown to be reliable, the (as yet) unmeasurable predictions it makes have to (at least) be taken more seriously than pure supposition. That doesn't mean the model is necessarily true -- further research may find flaws in it or replace it with a better model that makes alternative predictions about (as yet) unmeasurable conditions -- but it does mean we are more inclined to treat its predictions seriously than those produced and supported only by imagination, mythology, etc. -- DaveVoor

I'm also surprised at statement that science is "apathetic towards truth; it matters not whether the models are true, only that they are useful, testable, and not contradicted by present or future evidence." Many a scientist has lost face in their professions for cranking out false data, models, or information. The very idea that the models are dumped once "contradicted by...evidence" means that the people involved care about truth. The PiltdownMan comes to mind. -- BrucePennington

An ideal science is one in which scientists have no human foibles, no egos to bruise, no reputations to lose, no research funding to maintain, and no years of wasted effort to lament. Ideal scientists would all willingly and happily give up their favorite theories when faced with irrefutable contradictions. However, real scientists are human, and some are as inclined as any other flawed and ego-centric creature to commit fraud or whatever in an effort to save face or research funding (though they risk losing both if they are caught) when faced with contradictory evidence. Have you never sustained an argument, or even lied, despite knowing you were wrong? Fortunately, the scientific process permits this. Invalid theories eventually get weeded out, but it sometimes takes a while and may involve many wrong turns along the way.-- DaveVoor

Of course, I would never dismiss Science. Predictions over perception are among the most useful, most practical sort. And technology accompanies science, allowing better manipulation of future perception. That is definitely sweet considering how effectively we have added to our own comfort (a feeling, based in perception) by use of technologies.

I'll need to disagree, here. Science seeks useful explanations, whereby 'useful' means capable of predicting future observations. Science is rather apathetic towards truth; it matters not whether the models are true, only that they are useful, testable, and not contradicted by present or future evidence. Philosophy, meanwhile, cares little about information or evidence or anything derived directly from the outside world; philosophy deals with 'what ifs', axioms, postulates.

That isn't to say philosophy doesn't care about truth, but the truths drawn from philosophy are invariably tied to the axioms and postulates that, themselves, cannot be deductively proven... and often can be inductively disproven, judging by how often I've seen "Spiders have 8 legs" as a premise to a deductive argument. Various maths fall under philosophy... they're sort of the 'hard philosophy', just like sciences based in measurement are 'hard sciences'.

Science neither requires nor implies the existence of Absolute Truth; it operates by inductive logic and relies on its own evidence that future predictions can be aided by modeling past predictions. Philosophy, however, often deals with absolute truths... e.g. "'if P then P' is true under some logic systems". It just doesn't deal with the truth about the real world. I am not convinced that Scientists and Philosophers can really seek a convenient agreed upon "truth". First of all, because it depends upon the existence of a mutually agreeable definition of just what "truth" is. I am convinced that some may be able to agree that one can "validate" a controlled and well-defined position. Thus, it may be said that "X discipline" and "Y discipline" seek "Validation". An individual can also arrive at what they determine by "faith" as being true, and may even find others who also "believe", having that same faith. -- DonaldNoyes ThinkingOutLoud

Philosophy and science are just methods, tools, or disciplines we use to gather and/or analyze information.

It is people who seek the truth.

They just use these methods (sometimes) to get at it. Certainly, there are those of us (me included) that just enjoy the practices of philosophy and science.

And there are those who pursue them because it is their passion, it is what they are talented at. And then there are those who just do it for money. But, BigPicture, I think mankind has been using them to find out "what is." (There are other reasons we use them, like wanting a BetterMouseTrap, or self defense, or curing disease, etc). But, over-all, I think it is the same drive that pushes us to explore new frontiers, new lands, outer space. We just want to know! -- BrucePennington

I am sorry that this piece became big and perhaps you have been through these quotes- but they were just to focus that "new authentic knowledge" is being created in the society and will keep philosophers busy in creating an understanding- afresh and may not need the earlier language and terminologies which work in their own domain.

Ref.- http://wiki.c2.com/?PhilosophyAndScienceSeekTruth

Ref.- https://backdoorbroadcasting.net/2009/12/the-future-of-philosophy-metaphilosophical-directions-for-the-21st-century/



  • Well, digital universe is not something fresh. It is not a very rare event to see someone who believes that the universe is a discrete computable simulation. Regarding methodology, I still think it can be scientific, because to assume it is not scientific, is to assume it does not seek useful theories, and thus to assume that all methodologies are equal in their use. – rus9384 Sep 14 at 18:05
  • @rus9384-agreed..however the dark matter and multiverse theories including the structure of 'universe' raise fresh philosophical issues for analysis... – drvrm Sep 14 at 18:37

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