Philosophical positions

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Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 09:45 pm
What is a philosophical position? How do some people come to hold philosophical positions?

Epistemology asks "Is knowledge really important and in what ways is knowledge acquired?"

I'm wondering whether philosophical positions filter all the information we take in.

Then I'm wondering if our philosophical positions are a result of the way we process information.

Or whether our philosophical positions directly bias how we process information.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 01:49 am
@Billy phil,
Hi Billy,

Philosophical positions are thoughts on certain matters that we have valued as 'true' or 'false'. The reason this is important is because when we observe new information we compare it to what we already know. If I would see a person crossing the street without looking left and right first I'd judge it nsafe because I have been taught by experience that people can get killed that way. What I percieve (what the mind understands of what is observed) is directly dependent on what I know.

Taking all this into consideration not just our philosophical positions, but everything (we think) we know influences what we understand of what we observe. This makes us bias indeed. In that sense our philosophical positions are already influenced by prior perceptions, so our philosophical positions indeed are a result of the way one processes information, let alone the way humanity as a whole processes information.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 09:25 am
@Arjen,
Someone asks, "What is Plato's position on education"" This question is different from "What is Plato's philosophy?" because it is asking a question about Plato's thinking about a specific topic. We are not inquiring about Plato's philosophy taken as a whole, but about a part of it that is relevant to what we are considering.
In general, then, a position is a thinking about a particular branch of philosophy, or a specific issue, or another philosopher's writing. Sometimes the untutored ask a speculative question, such as "what would be (note the future conditional) Plato's position on abortion?" that asks one to apply doctrines of his philosophy to conditions he had not considered.

Now how these positions are developed depends not only upon how one views philosophising itself, but as well on one's own epistemological "position." I would suggest that a philosophical position begins as a process of investigation and thought until it takes shape, is tested against other positions (both of earlier philosophers and just as importantly against other positions one holds since a position must be consistent within a system of thinking), and lastly undergo revision in the light of new perspectives or new information. This is somewhat, and not to press the point, akin to Hegel's triadic movement of thought: thesis, antithesis, and synthesis the latter "including" the antithesis.

I think, lastly, that one should avoid the use of the term "bias" because of its unsavory connotations. While it may be that some philosophical positions may in some fashion influence or colour the way things and events are understood, it does not necessarily follow that either this happens in every instance, or that it must do so; a philosophic mind should be able, in its quest for truth and precision, to "bracket" this influence.
 
Billy phil
 
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 11:35 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;24618 wrote:
Someone asks, "What is Plato's position on education"" This question is different from "What is Plato's philosophy?" because it is asking a question about Plato's thinking about a specific topic. We are not inquiring about Plato's philosophy taken as a whole, but about a part of it that is relevant to what we are considering.
In general, then, a position is a thinking about a particular branch of philosophy, or a specific issue, or another philosopher's writing. Sometimes the untutored ask a speculative question, such as "what would be (note the future conditional) Plato's position on abortion?" that asks one to apply doctrines of his philosophy to conditions he had not considered.

Now how these positions are developed depends not only upon how one views philosophising itself, but as well on one's own epistemological "position." I would suggest that a philosophical position begins as a process of investigation and thought until it takes shape, is tested against other positions (both of earlier philosophers and just as importantly against other positions one holds since a position must be consistent within a system of thinking), and lastly undergo revision in the light of new perspectives or new information. This is somewhat, and not to press the point, akin to Hegel's triadic movement of thought: thesis, antithesis, and synthesis the latter "including" the antithesis.

I think, lastly, that one should avoid the use of the term "bias" because of its unsavory connotations. While it may be that some philosophical positions may in some fashion influence or colour the way things and events are understood, it does not necessarily follow that either this happens in every instance, or that it must do so; a philosophic mind should be able, in its quest for truth and precision, to "bracket" this influence.


Thanks for responding. I'm glad you're thinking about this, and I'd like to get on the same page as you. I like the term bias (like my tires and my high bias audiotape), because we all have tendencies to view events a particular way. And it seems one's philosophical position will generally translate into a tendency to see things one way, a perspective-- taking a position reflects that you have a tendency.

As for philosophical position, one's position on abortion or capital punishment can hardly be philosophic positions. They may be functions of one's larger philosophical position.

Plato's philosophy also is not his philosophical position. But when we ask what was his position on the smallest unit of the human, was Plato an Individualist or a Collectivist? In ethics, was he a Deontologist or Eudaimonic? These are all philosophical positions. [I believe Plato was a Collectivist and Deontologist].
 
Billy phil
 
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 09:15 pm
@Billy phil,
This thread seems related to the thread entitled: Context Defines A Relational World View.

It's also in Epistemology, started by Boagie.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Wed 15 Oct, 2008 12:01 pm
@Billy phil,
The problem with equating a perspective with bias is that normally, one never questions in a serious manner one's biases. For the most part, a philosophical position is the result of (hopefully) careful consideration and meditation, and is not the result of simply accepting a view based on opinion; consequently, a philosophical position is subject to change and growth.

It seems difficult to read the word "bias" without at the same time understanding it in an accusative way. In normal discourse, a biased opinion is the result of ignor-ance (this can be be passive or active) or unthinking adherence to dogmatic opinions. It seems awkward, for example, to say that Kant's transcendental aesthetic (space and time) is a "bias."
 
Billy phil
 
Reply Wed 15 Oct, 2008 09:14 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed;27883 wrote:
The problem with equating a perspective with bias is that normally, one never questions in a serious manner one's biases. For the most part, a philosophical position is the result of (hopefully) careful consideration and meditation, and is not the result of simply accepting a view based on opinion; consequently, a philosophical position is subject to change and growth.

It seems difficult to read the word "bias" without at the same time understanding it in an accusative way. In normal discourse, a biased opinion is the result of ignor-ance (this can be be passive or active) or unthinking adherence to dogmatic opinions. It seems awkward, for example, to say that Kant's transcendental aesthetic (space and time) is a "bias."


Though many great philosophers held a philosophical position and never changed it.

One might even argue that the reason one arrives at a position after "careful consideration and meditation" (HA HA) is because one's process of "careful consideration and meditation" is itself biased.

billy
 
 

 
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