Two threads, Big heads?

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Aedes
 
Reply Mon 9 Feb, 2009 09:02 pm
@Icon,
Icon;47710 wrote:
Thoroughly and to every extent possible.
It's all relative. I know the difference between researching a topic for here and researching a topic for work. It's not even close. I'm reading original medical literature for work, poring over the details of the methods and statistics, etc.

Given the breadth of what we discuss here, it's fair to say that almost no one has advanced academic knowledge of every topic they discuss. Some people have advanced knowledge of one topic. A couple people have undergraduate-level knowledge of philosophy; almost no one here has graduate or postgraduate level knowledge. But when discussions heat up and the posturing begins, I don't think anyone is in the mood to confess that they really don't know as much as it seems about the subject du jour.

I'll be the first to do it, though. I've gotten into some heated discussions about Islam lately, and I've come to its defense. But do I have intimate knowledge of its history and workings? No -- I mean I've traveled in Muslim countries in West Africa, gotten to know many wonderful people who practice Islam, I've read some of the history and a lot of amazing academic documents about the Golden Age of Islam, I've read some Muslim authors, and I've learned about it as part of my medieval studies minor in college. That said, I have zero right to say anything authoritative about it except for easily checkable facts, and to beat my same old drum about not generalizing about huge populations based on a minority of extremists.
 
Icon
 
Reply Mon 9 Feb, 2009 10:16 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
It's all relative. I know the difference between researching a topic for here and researching a topic for work. It's not even close. I'm reading original medical literature for work, poring over the details of the methods and statistics, etc.

Given the breadth of what we discuss here, it's fair to say that almost no one has advanced academic knowledge of every topic they discuss. Some people have advanced knowledge of one topic. A couple people have undergraduate-level knowledge of philosophy; almost no one here has graduate or postgraduate level knowledge. But when discussions heat up and the posturing begins, I don't think anyone is in the mood to confess that they really don't know as much as it seems about the subject du jour.

I'll be the first to do it, though. I've gotten into some heated discussions about Islam lately, and I've come to its defense. But do I have intimate knowledge of its history and workings? No -- I mean I've traveled in Muslim countries in West Africa, gotten to know many wonderful people who practice Islam, I've read some of the history and a lot of amazing academic documents about the Golden Age of Islam, I've read some Muslim authors, and I've learned about it as part of my medieval studies minor in college. That said, I have zero right to say anything authoritative about it except for easily checkable facts, and to beat my same old drum about not generalizing about huge populations based on a minority of extremists.


So because you do not, no one else does either?

I happen to love philosophy and study it on a continual basis. I teach it, tutor students in it, lead discussions on it. It, like all things I pursue, is of the utmost importance and has my utmost passion and intensity.

The difference is that I see philosophy as a joke of sorts.. The punch line is a little fuzzy but the telling of the joke is what makes it fun. Philosophy is a question which leads to more questions. A cycle which ends only when the tolerance of the human mind ceases. No questions are answered, only conclusion come to out of frustration and personal examination. That is the joke of the matter. Kant says this, Hume says that, Descartes says yes, Locke says no. In the end, have we answered anything? No... But we have grown. Philosophy is the endless question, the endless pitting of oneself against the ideas of the world and those in it.

I do not study philosophy to quote a book. I live philosophy to find my answers. To give myself an ever changing goal. To breath in the fresh air of objective reality and exhale subjective truths about it. So you tell me, do I have graduate/post graduate knowledge of the subjects I discuss? I certainly have a post graduate knowledge of the process and critical thought patterns of philosophy. Is that not enough to call myself an expert? Is being an expert really anything more than knowing how to find the answers?

For many more years than school could have provided, I have studied the extensive breadth of philosophy and studied more in my time then most of the masters and doctorates of this field. My conclusion, wait to read them in my book.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Mon 9 Feb, 2009 10:52 pm
@Joe,
I agree with Icon that the expert of philosophy is a master of knowing how to find the answers. That is why there are so few experts of philosophy today. Many (and I would go out on the limb and say most) philosophy professors are not experts, because they were/are too worried about the history of philosophy rather than applying the skills they learn. While the world is falling apart, and is need of a serious injection of good ideas, people that should be strong critical thinkers and good problem solvers, are in offices and lounges in campuses across the country arguing what Kant was trying to say, what Descartes was really trying to say, or even whether Thomas Aquinas' proofs for God are valid, rather than using their skills to help solve problems that need solving. Thankfully some philosophy professors are outstanding teachers and inspire many critical thinkers. But unfortunately so many turn off young minds to the potential of philosophy in their futures.

While I would never call myself an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but based on my interaction with graduate students outside of my major of philosophy, I am better and reaching sound conclusions than they are. Why? Because I learned how to find key ideas and the connections between them rather than trying to put as much information into my head as possible. Books exist to store ideas. It is my job to make connections between them. I only need to remember the connections. The books hold the reference information that I can refer to as needed.

One parting thought, graduate level knowledge is not guaranteed by studying at the graduate level. It only means that the individual jumped through the hoops within an institution to get to that point. Another person could have read the same material, and be far more advanced without actually attending a university or college.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2009 07:13 am
@Joe,
Well, I suppose that expertise in philosophy can come in a couple forms, only one of which is knowledge of the history of philosophy and philosophers in western civilization, including analytical familiarity with texts. Being able to lead philosophical discussions or generate novel philosophy is something else, just as being a baseball analyst is different than being a baseball player.

By the way, Icon, I wasn't referring to you or anyone else in particular.

Theatetus wrote:
Another person could have read the same material, and be far more advanced without actually attending a university or college.
I don't think that this is true in general. I mean I'm not making a case that all expertise necessarily must pass through a PhD program first, but the thing is that independent study is very seldom going to offer the depth and complexity of graduate work. Reading material is not what graduate study is about -- having access to experts in the field, having mentorship, having an intimate knowledge of active and current scholarship, and working on a dissertation that demands exhaustive source knowledge in the original language -- these are things that grad school can offer but very few people will get with independent study.
 
Icon
 
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2009 09:42 am
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
Well, I suppose that expertise in philosophy can come in a couple forms, only one of which is knowledge of the history of philosophy and philosophers in western civilization, including analytical familiarity with texts. Being able to lead philosophical discussions or generate novel philosophy is something else, just as being a baseball analyst is different than being a baseball player.

By the way, Icon, I wasn't referring to you or anyone else in particular.

I don't think that this is true in general. I mean I'm not making a case that all expertise necessarily must pass through a PhD program first, but the thing is that independent study is very seldom going to offer the depth and complexity of graduate work. Reading material is not what graduate study is about -- having access to experts in the field, having mentorship, having an intimate knowledge of active and current scholarship, and working on a dissertation that demands exhaustive source knowledge in the original language -- these are things that grad school can offer but very few people will get with independent study.



How exactly do you become a philosophy player instead of an analyst?
 
Aedes
 
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2009 10:37 am
@Joe,
I hear there is a yearly draft, but you can try joining the minor leagues to get a start.
 
manored
 
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2009 05:14 pm
@Joe,
It is true that we do not have deep knowledge about most things we talk about, well, at least I dont, and that is one of the reasons we talk about then. Actually I believe most talking comes from the desire of learning or sharing knowledge
 
 

 
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