Are we engaging in philosophy?

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wayne
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 07:00 pm
I am beginning to notice a difference between arguing philosophy and engaging in philosophy.
For this purpose I will view philosophy as if standing on a road, from my perspective the road stretches to a vanishing point in the distance.

I want to distinguish between my position on the road and the view down the road.
It seems that quite often we are arguing from our position on the road.
I'll define this as arguing philosophy.
I define engaging in philosophy as attempting to move down the road, extending the vanishing point .
By this view, philosophy is never perfected, yet , always moving down the road.
Do you see the difference I am suggesting.?
Are we more often, arguing "A" philosophy, rather than engaging in philosophy?
If you are interested, use this thread to demonstrate and explore the difference.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 09:02 pm
@wayne,
I've noticed a few people say things like "I disagree, because I'm a "something"-ist". That would fall under "arguing philosophy" in your description I think.

I agree that engaging in philosophy is what's important. Although arguing philosophy is important too. You have to be able to state what you think clearly and with good arguments to back it up. So arguing a preset position has its uses. You at least find out what reasons for supporting it are good, and which are not.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 09:14 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;157739 wrote:
I've noticed a few people say things like "I disagree, because I'm a "something"-ist". That would fall under "arguing philosophy" in your description I think.

I agree that engaging in philosophy is what's important. Although arguing philosophy is important too. You have to be able to state what you think clearly and with good arguments to back it up. So arguing a preset position has its uses. You at least find out what reasons for supporting it are good, and which are not.


Suppose someone engages in philosophy, and argues for his view; I suppose that is possible. Indeed, if he does not argue for his view, then he must be supposing that his word will just be taken that his view is true. Should he suppose that? And let's suppose he does argue for his view and he says something dumb (or argues unsoundly). Should that simply be allowed to pass? If philosophy is about anything, it is about arguing for a certain position, or arguing against a certain position. There is no great, or even reputable, philosopher who does not engage in philosophy by means of argument. Argument is the very soul of philosophy. For philosophy is just critical thinking as applied to philosophical problems. As Socrates is reported to have said, "We must follow the argument wherever it leads". But, if anyone thinks differently, he is of course free to pursue "engaging in philosophy" as he pleases. It is a free country. Only, I predict he will find himself unable to engage in philosophy with other philosophers. Can anyone who advocates engaging without argument name any philosopher of any repute who has done that? If so, we'll have something to engage in. Indeed, it is worth noting that even those who seem to be advocating engagement without argument are arguing for that very point of view! And I am, of course, arguing against it! I await their rebuttal of my argument.
 
HexHammer
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 09:18 pm
@wayne,
wayne;157702 wrote:
I am beginning to notice a difference between arguing philosophy and engaging in philosophy.
For this purpose I will view philosophy as if standing on a road, from my perspective the road stretches to a vanishing point in the distance.

I want to distinguish between my position on the road and the view down the road.
It seems that quite often we are arguing from our position on the road.
I'll define this as arguing philosophy.
I define engaging in philosophy as attempting to move down the road, extending the vanishing point .
By this view, philosophy is never perfected, yet , always moving down the road.
Do you see the difference I am suggesting.?
Are we more often, arguing "A" philosophy, rather than engaging in philosophy?
If you are interested, use this thread to demonstrate and explore the difference.
I don't see that distinction.

My distinction would lie in the naive/ignorent/demagogue/poetic vs productive/intelligent philosophy.

Too many speak purely out of ignorence and don't know the distinction between idealistic and optimal philosophy, which is why too many make unproductive philosoph which are only good for mental mastrubation.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 09:53 pm
@wayne,
I make no bones about the fact that a lot of what I contribute does not fall strictly under the heading of 'philosophy'. I even wrote blog entry to that effect about a month after I joined. A lot of what interests me does not form part of the philosophy curriculum, and ipso facto much of what I write would not pass muster in a philosophy class. I do like to 'challenge and be challenged', but I am often 'out-of-bounds' with regards to the strict definition. (But then the header on the site says 'science religion philosophy humanity' which is quite a lot broader than the strict definition.)

Anyway, for what it is worth, I have changed my views in response to feedback from others here; there are some lines of argument I have realised I was wrong about and others I realise nobody will ever respond to. I have looked up books and articles that others have quoted. So it is a learning experience. But I have also realised I am here a lot because when I was a lot younger, I used to hang out with a group who spent a lot of time talking about life, the universe, and everything, and now we are all dispersed, and mortgaged, and nobody does that any more.:whistling:
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 10:03 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;157764 wrote:
I make no bones about the fact that a lot of what I contribute does not fall strictly under the heading of 'philosophy'. I even wrote blog entry to that effect about a month after I joined. A lot of what interests me does not form part of the philosophy curriculum, and ipso facto much of what I write would not pass muster in a philosophy class. I do like to 'challenge and be challenged', but I am often 'out-of-bounds' with regards to the strict definition. (But then the header on the site says 'science religion philosophy humanity' which is quite a lot broader than the strict definition.)

Anyway, for what it is worth, I have changed my views in response to feedback from others here; there are some lines of argument I have realised I was wrong about and others I realise nobody will ever respond to. I have looked up books and articles that others have quoted. So it is a learning experience. But I have also realised I am here a lot because when I was a lot younger, I used to hang out with a group who spent a lot of time talking about life, the universe, and everything, and now we are all dispersed, and mortgaged, and nobody does that any more.:whistling:


Yes, in my college days, we used to call those "bull-sessions". And with a jug of cheap red wine at the ready, and at about 2 in the morning, they were fun. But were they philosophy?
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 10:12 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;157747 wrote:
Suppose someone engages in philosophy, and argues for his view; I suppose that is possible. Indeed, if he does not argue for his view, then he must be supposing that his word will just be taken that his view is true. Should he suppose that? And let's suppose he does argue for his view and he says something dumb (or argues unsoundly). Should that simply be allowed to pass? If philosophy is about anything, it is about arguing for a certain position, or arguing against a certain position. There is no great, or even reputable, philosopher who does not engage in philosophy by means of argument. Argument is the very soul of philosophy. For philosophy is just critical thinking as applied to philosophical problems. As Socrates is reported to have said, "We must follow the argument wherever it leads". But, if anyone thinks differently, he is of course free to pursue "engaging in philosophy" as he pleases. It is a free country. Only, I predict he will find himself unable to engage in philosophy with other philosophers. Can anyone who advocates engaging without argument name any philosopher of any repute who has done that? If so, we'll have something to engage in. Indeed, it is worth noting that even those who seem to be advocating engagement without argument are arguing for that very point of view! And I am, of course, arguing against it! I await their rebuttal of my argument.


I agree though. My understanding of the OP is that his "arguing philosophy" is people starting with a conclusion that they are unwilling to question, and then throwing whatever fallacies and distractions they can just to defend it. Acting like a lawyer rather than a scientist. Or refusing to engage in an actual discussion of the premise at all. And "engaging philosophy" would be when they are willing to engage, obviously. The word "arguing" should probably be changed in "arguing philosophy" though, to make it clearer.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 10:24 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;157747 wrote:
There is no great, or even reputable, philosopher who does not engage in philosophy by means of argument. Argument is the very soul of philosophy.


Actually, reading that again, I think I agree with the first sentence, but not the second. Certainly the ability to argue, or to put a persuasive case, or illustrate a point, is important. But if you consider Socrates, the 'soul' of his philosophy lay not so much in arguing, but in asking questions. I think you would only say that argument is the basis of philosophy, if your overall approach is to present or defend a particular position.

For me, the very soul of philosophy is not to engage in argument, but to understand 'the logos' (to use that expression) or Spinoza's 'intellectual love of God', or something similar to that. So it is much more contemplative than argumentative approach. And I would be prepared to argue this.:bigsmile:
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 10:25 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;157773 wrote:
I agree though. My understanding of the OP is that his "arguing philosophy" is people starting with a conclusion that they are unwilling to question, and then throwing whatever fallacies and distractions they can just to defend it. Acting like a lawyer rather than a scientist. Or refusing to engage in an actual discussion of the premise at all. And "engaging philosophy" would be when they are willing to engage, obviously. The word "arguing" should probably be changed in "arguing philosophy" though, to make it clearer.


Why on earth would you take he OP as saying that? What the OP said is that what he called "engaging in philosophy" should be different from arguing in philosophy. He said nothing at all about arguing fallaciously and the rest. He just doesn't think that philosophers should present arguments for their views? Who, do you think wouldn't agree that philosophers should not argue fallaciously and with bias. Do you really think that the OP is saying simply that argument is fine unless it is proper argument without fallacies and bias? Why even bother to say that?
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 10:33 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;157778 wrote:
Why on earth would you take he OP as saying that? What the OP said is that what he called "engaging in philosophy" should be different from arguing in philosophy. He said nothing at all about arguing fallaciously and the rest. He just doesn't think that philosophers should present arguments for their views? Who, do you think wouldn't agree that philosophers should not argue fallaciously and with bias. Do you really think that the OP is saying simply that argument is fine unless it is proper argument without fallacies and bias? Why even bother to say that?


I think everyone would agree that we should not argue fallaciously and with bias. However, we often do. The OP is asking how often.

He says "arguing from our position on the road" and "arguing 'A' philosophy" which suggests to me close minded, biased arguing in favor of a position that the arguer holds (the word arguing seems to be used in the sense more like bickering than debating).

I think it is a worthwhile subject. Many times people will reject a argument simply because the conclusion goes against a belief that they hold dear. When they do that, they are arguing like a lawyer (making the best argument they can, but with the direction of their argument a foregone conclusion) rather than a scientist (or, one might say, a real philosopher).

It's a natural tendency I think, which you have to strive very persistently to suppress.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 10:38 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;157785 wrote:
When they do that, they are arguing like a lawyer (making the best argument they can, but with the direction of their argument a foregone conclusion)


I believe this is called 'tendentiousness'.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 10:40 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;157785 wrote:
I think everyone would agree that we should not argue fallaciously and with bias. However, we often do. The OP is asking how often.

He says "arguing from our position on the road" and "arguing 'A' philosophy" which suggests to me close minded, biased arguing in favor of a position that the arguer holds (the word arguing seems to be used in the sense more like bickering than debating).

I think it is a worthwhile subject. Many times people will reject a argument simply because the conclusion goes against a belief that they hold dear. When they do that, they are arguing like a lawyer (making the best argument they can, but with the direction of their argument a foregone conclusion) rather than a scientist (or, one might say, a real philosopher).

It's a natural tendency I think, which you have to strive very persistently to suppress.


Are we talking about the same OP? That isn't what the OP was arguing, so far as I can tell. Perhaps you have information I don't have. I certainly agree that we should not think that a conclusion of an argument is true just because we would like it to be true. I think that is called, "wishful thinking". And people generally have a dim view of the logical cogency of wishful thinking. And, of course, even if the conclusion happens to be true, that is no reason to think that the argument is any good. Terrible arguments can have true conclusions.
 
wayne
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 12:45 am
@Jebediah,
kennethamy;157778 wrote:
Why on earth would you take he OP as saying that? What the OP said is that what he called "engaging in philosophy" should be different from arguing in philosophy. He said nothing at all about arguing fallaciously and the rest. He just doesn't think that philosophers should present arguments for their views? Who, do you think wouldn't agree that philosophers should not argue fallaciously and with bias. Do you really think that the OP is saying simply that argument is fine unless it is proper argument without fallacies and bias? Why even bother to say that?


Actually, I probably should have written more to clarify my view, but I get lazy. I do not mean ,at all, that argument is not an important part of engaging in philosophy. Argument can be a very productive means of progress. I just think that some arguments fail to move us down that road ,being more effective at defending a particular position on the road.

Jebediah;157773 wrote:
I agree though. My understanding of the OP is that his "arguing philosophy" is people starting with a conclusion that they are unwilling to question, and then throwing whatever fallacies and distractions they can just to defend it. Acting like a lawyer rather than a scientist. Or refusing to engage in an actual discussion of the premise at all. And "engaging philosophy" would be when they are willing to engage, obviously. The word "arguing" should probably be changed in "arguing philosophy" though, to make it clearer.


This is the largest part of my intention, correct.
The distinction exists, though I may lack in my definition.

That vanishing point on the philosophy road is ever beyond our reach.
Many philosophical problems are infinite, utopia does not exist.
We should still engage in philosophy, of which argument is part, with the object of moving further along that road.

My distinction intends to discern between arguments that move along the road, and arguments defending a school of thought or particular philosophy.

Books, once written, never change.
Shouldn't every philosopher seek to expand, to move along the road.
 
Pepijn Sweep
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 01:26 am
@kennethamy,
I just suspect we are encaging in philosophy terminology. It's hard to step on the road and really engage people with philosophy...

I think philosophy should be more easy to start with; less terminology and accessible to US who don't speak English well. I think there is a language difference, a difference in thinking even. Cultural differences we call it.

Even crossing the Mare Germanicum was a cultural event. Meeting friends (bankers, muslima's, philosophers, designers, poets and home-keepers) and friendly people was a treat.

I think I am a liberal; still full of pre-judgements. I aim to be a humanist, a peoples person. You're not really Friends untill you meet face to face I believe personally this is true.

PepI:whistling:

 
platorepublic
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 10:51 am
@wayne,
I just don't take things that seriously... or do I?! Maybe, I'm just young and jumpy, but I go off path and you won't see me on the road anywhere.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 11:08 am
@wayne,
wayne;157831 wrote:


Books, once written, never change.
Shouldn't every philosopher seek to expand, to move along the road.


I don't know what road you are talking about, since you never say, but I hope that truth and understanding are at the end of that road, whatever that road is. Don't you?
 
sometime sun
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 12:02 pm
@Jebediah,
Does philosophy need to engage us?

My truths are circumstantial.
I will believe them and trust them until someone proves they and their truth is more trustworthy.
Postive truth v negative truth?
Proof and truth are journeys.
Now philosophy (for me at the least) is how one goes about convincing me of their facts and their conclusion, i need ot trust you are not leading me form the sunnier path, you need to lead me down your path not just take me to the end of the road.
You need to tuck someone in before you can take away the covers.
This convincing for me needs to show the ideology, how one can live better by the better truth, before you wish me to convert.
Imagine leaving someone with out any truth to hold onto.
The prose and form of the arguement is that which will at least ready my mind for a gear shift.
Re-evaluation is opening up to theory.
People dislike theorising because they are used to being told or telling you what to think instead of coming up with it on their own conclusion by acctually travelling there. Walking the path.
What is theory?
Just try to remember that proof, truth and belief are all theoretical and therefore circumstantial until they are not merely a theoretical science but a consequence science.
What is consequence?

Philosophy is theoretical science until uncircumstantial and consequentional and solo science,

So untheoretical science is not philosophy? (please answer this question)

Theory is open. a good philosopher asks opens.
Science is closed. a better scientist answers closes.
But both need to be good workers of prose (theory) and form (argument) in order to lead and then convince their 'truth'.

I see philosophy as the search for truth and science as the found truth.
(Who believes in me enough to believe?)
 
melonkali
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 02:48 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;157778 wrote:
Why on earth would you take he OP as saying that? What the OP said is that what he called "engaging in philosophy" should be different from arguing in philosophy. He said nothing at all about arguing fallaciously and the rest. He just doesn't think that philosophers should present arguments for their views? Who, do you think wouldn't agree that philosophers should not argue fallaciously and with bias. Do you really think that the OP is saying simply that argument is fine unless it is proper argument without fallacies and bias? Why even bother to say that?


Kenny,

From my infrequent visits to PF, it seems to me you are truly one of the brightest minds around, particularly in debate. Yet I struggle to recall how many times, if ever, I've read your admission of an "oops -- I hadn't thought of it that way -- perhaps you are right". Again confessing the infrequency of my visits to PF, perhaps I am wrong about this point -- am I?

rebecca
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 02:58 pm
@melonkali,
melonkali;158067 wrote:
Kenny,

From my infrequent visits to PF, it seems to me you are truly one of the brightest minds around, particularly in debate. Yet I struggle to recall how many times, if ever, I've read your admission of an "oops -- I hadn't thought of it that way -- perhaps you are right". Again confessing the infrequency of my visits to PF, perhaps I am wrong about this point -- am I?

rebecca


When I "oops" I admit it. And when I oops, it is usually a beaut. But, I try not to oops, and maybe I don't as often as you seem to expect me to oops. After all, you can admit you oops only when you do oops. That's logic. What oops of mine have you noticed that I have not admitted. That would be the place to start a criticism. I would not think that a good place to start a criticism is, "I have not noted you admitting any oopses" without noting some oopses I have not admitted. Would you?
Anyway, visit more often, and you can glow in my radiance.
 
melonkali
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 05:50 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;158076 wrote:
When I "oops" I admit it. And when I oops, it is usually a beaut. But, I try not to oops, and maybe I don't as often as you seem to expect me to oops. After all, you can admit you oops only when you do oops. That's logic. What oops of mine have you noticed that I have not admitted. That would be the place to start a criticism. I would not think that a good place to start a criticism is, "I have not noted you admitting any oopses" without noting some oopses I have not admitted. Would you?
Anyway, visit more often, and you can glow in my radiance.


oops --mea culpa.

rebecca
 
 

 
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