44

Do you have a proof that we don't hold ourselves to higher standards? There's actually a rather interesting little corner of mathematics called "proof theory." It deals with the question of what a proof is and how can we use them. It starts to look like philosophy from time to time. I think the real difference is that mathematics typically starts with a ...


20

I will enlarge upon Nuclear Wang's reply by turning the question around a bit, as follows. When did natural philosophers (also known as scientists) decide that philosophy was not useful, and why? I believe this change in thinking about the natural world occurred along with the development of the scientific method, when its practitioners grasped the idea that ...


19

If I'm understanding your question correctly, then you're basically asking "why doesn't philosophy have the same level of rigor as mathematical proof?" I think there's two parts involved in answering this. First, one aspect of philosophy for many philosophers (arguably all) is that philosophy is actually a form of history, meaning we are studying ...


17

My background is in Computer Science, so when I started reading philosophy seriously, I had a similar reaction. A lot (maybe most) of what I've read (that is not that much, I admit) from the great philosophers usually ends up falling into one or more of those kind of problems, specially the ones regarding logical rigorousness. But some philosophers like ...


15

Philosophy became more limited in scope during the 19th century. In the time of the ancient Greeks, philosophy encompassed all forms of knowledge, but specialized subfields of physics, medicine, astronomy, and so on later emerged and became distinct from philosophy. In the past, philosophy encompassed pretty much all knowledge, but today, it's a much more ...


15

In the old joke, a college president complains to his physics professors that they are always asking for expensive equipment. All the mathematics teachers need is a wastebasket, he says, and the philosophers don't even need that. There has always been a feeling among many that philosophy is useless or worse, and one can find this sentiment expressed not only ...


14

Yes, there are many "philosophical theories" that have been refuted by the majority of experts. An obvious example is Thales identification of "water" as the irreducible substance. Many pre-Socratic "theories" of this sort spring to mind. But the "refutation" only comes about by the subdivision of philosophy itself into other fields of "expertise," notably ...


14

Philosophical theories are more like scientific theories than mathematical theories, in that they have empirical content. As such, there aren't any (universally agreed upon) "first principles" that must be respected. Any potential first principles might get discarded if the reasons for doing so are compelling enough. And even if there are some such ...


13

A problem in your question has to do with the concept of refutation and confirmation. If you think of refutation as empirical refutation, then trivially, only empirical sciences refute hypothesis. Concluding that philosophical inquiry is therefore not valuable is question begging: it amounts to adopt a specific philosophical position that would say that only ...


13

I find it useful to approach this question from the bottom up. You made a philosophical argument: My argument is that there is no way to deny the sure success of the sciences (like Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, etc). One of the things I love about philosophy is once you take a stand like this, there's always a line of questioning which can unsettle your ...


12

Philosophy requires logic. It is very difficult to even conceive of how an idea could be expressed independently of logic. Most philosophy is written in language that uses logic implicitly, rather than explicitly/formally. The absence of explicit formulas does not entail absence of logic. Nietzsche's work is, at times, an extreme example of expressing ...


10

Per Russell's "mysticism and logic", the difference between mysticism and logic (He uses the term logic as a tag for reason and the scientific method in general) is purely epistemic. They are two different epistemic methods, even if they both have the same objective of acquiring (metaphysical) knowledge about the world. So to answer your question: ...


10

A proof is only as strong as the axioms it is built upon. Mathematics works over a very limited number of strong axioms to work with, which gives it a limited number* of things that can be proven, but the proofs are very strong thanks to the axioms they work with (and prior proofs relying on the same axioms). Philosophy works with much broader field of ...


9

There is no "immaterial" implication. The term "material implication" originated with Bertrand Russell, The Principles of Mathematics (1903); see Part I : Chapter III. Implication and Formal Implication for : Two kinds of implication, the material and the formal. See in W&R, Principia Mathematica the notation for implication (the "horseshoe") ⊃; in ...


9

You are right that reading means interpreting, and we can never be sure that we did not misinterpret the author's intentions. But it is as with any human endeavor, we are fallible. The principle of charity only asks that we take the author's perspective seriously and in good faith. Seriousness includes researching historical and cultural background of the ...


9

First, I want to mention an important rule (which of course has caveats), but the accuracy with which a philosopher writes about the history of philosophy is in general inversely proportional to their own fame (and infamy). There's several different dimensions on which we can trace Heidegger's beliefs about Greek and German being the only languages for ...


9

I don't think it's the best argument for someone on the pro choice side (apart from being useful at persuading others perhaps). The reason I don't think it's a very strong argument (and I'm pro-choice) is that it doesn't actually engage with the reasons pro-life people have concerns about abortion. Pro-life people are concerned because they believe (or ...


9

Because it would then cease to be philosophy. Philosophy sees itself as the progenitor of all the sciences, as its questions lead to the paradigm shifts upon which branches of science are founded. To limit itself to a predetermined set of rules would be to strip itself of the flexibility needed to come up with the next new thing. In other words, it is ...


9

Non sequitur I'll go off of the example in the comments, namely “One dollar” = “money” : “Nickel” = “money.” Therefore, “one dollar” = “nickel.” This is non sequitur - there's no logical reason to assume that Therefore. Or, alternatively, this could be ambiguity fallacy as this seems to be caused by (intentional?) misapplication of the symbol "=" with ...


8

I think you're mixing up two questions, what parts of philosophy or approaches to philosophy employ the idea of truth, and what parts of philosophy are true. Logic, epistemology, and philosophy of science are among the areas of philosophy that discuss truth, the first set. If you're interested in discussing truth, try those areas. However, the positions ...


8

When something appears so obvious that it is uninteresting and yet one knows that others do not find it obvious at all, what one may be missing is understanding what is at stake for them. Why do they not agree with what is obvious? The OP provides some examples from David Hume's Dissertation on Passions that appeared particularly uninteresting and obvious, ...


7

Why philosophy is still relevant First of all, let me say that I understand many of your frustrations. I don't just understand them, I share them. Yet I would argue this shouldn't deter you from reading philosophy. It looked to me as if the philosophers I was reading had liked to state things without any attempt at proof and use words without any attempt ...


7

Half of philosophy is about working out what peoples assumptions are, and why they are wrong/right. The problem is that philosophy is about some of the most fundamental parts of life, and people (and therefore philosophers) tend to take their most basic assumptions about the world for granted - they just don't notice that things could be otherwise. ...


7

Maybe instead of looking for THE right answer one could look for very useful and relevent answers. This was the attitude adopted by the American pragmatists. John Dewey, in Experience and Nature, called this expectation of a singular answer to philosophical questions, and the subsequent search for a grand unifying theory of everything The Philosophical ...


7

You have answered your own question, in part: there is no particular reason why some non-human entity could not have philosophy based in part upon, for instance, Xyoqi, which is something that said entities have that we don't and which is not easily describable (e.g. akin to qualia--very hard to describe to a qualia-free being, I would imagine). However, if ...


7

Good overviews of the more recent history of analytic philosophy are Burge's Philosophy of Language and Mind: 1950-1990 and Philosophy of Mind: 1950-2000 (ch.20), the philosophy of science side in a very lively and polemical form is described in Zammito's Nice Derangement of Epistemes, "the best history of post-positivist philosophy and sociology of ...


7

"A man might say, with enough truth to justify a joke: 'Science is what we know, and philosophy is what we don’t know.'" -Bertrand Russell “Philosophy for Laymen” Universities Quarterly 1 (Nov 1946), 38-49 Unpopular Essays, Chapter 2 (George Allen & Unwin, 1951) No, philosophy is not taxonomy. Philosophy is respect for obtaining knowledge - whether ...


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