The Philosophy of learning

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Reply Mon 27 Jul, 2009 12:19 pm
I was looking for dialog on the philosophy of learning. I know there are different philosophies concerning this, (empiricism, rationalism). But (and more than likely I am wrong) do not in both of these philosophies; the why in which people learn is through instruction and trial and error?

Empiricism (Locke) says that we learn through experience. This could be considered trail and error. And as we all know our belief forming mechanisms are (at least sometimes) reliable. Experience is one of those mechanisms.

Rationalism as defined as belief by way of deductive reasoning and not sensory could be considered as instruction. We are instructed on things like algebra, playing guitar, and tying shoes. These are not innate, and are (at least) difficult to do/experience without some instruction.

What I am really getting at is, are these ways of learning (not so much belief forming) really the only two? Not, Empiricism vs. Rationalism. But in learning, is there only instruction and trial and error?
 
richrf
 
Reply Mon 27 Jul, 2009 11:50 pm
@Lost2ize,
My favorite learning experiences come from observation of phenomenon followed by thought experiments that seek to explain the phenomenon. There is no instruction or trial and error experience. Just visualization - sort of like Einstein's thought experiments which led to Relativity.

Rich
 
Lost2ize
 
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 03:54 am
@richrf,
But can we trust our powers of observation as reliable belief forming mechanism? Or at least trust only in our powers of observation as a belief forming mechanism maybe insufficient at times.

And even so, isn't observation sensory? So then wouldn't using sensory belief forming mechanisms be Empiricism? And if so, there must be some of trial and error in using sensory belief. For example, I am sure that we can all agree that not always what is perceived be sensory (perhaps especially observation) is not always true, and therefore our sensory belief forming mechanisms are only sometimes reliable.

I'm new to philosophy I am just trying to get a better grasp of what experienced philosophers take. We must learn, I know more now about being a Mechanic (my profession in so many words) than I did when I first began. And from my reelection of how this knowledge was gained I can't clearly remember anyway that wasn't from instruction or trial and error.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 06:21 am
@Lost2ize,
Some things to consider:
1. How do we know what "objects" are in the first place
2. How much learning is learning social meanings?
3. What does trial and error mean? How do we know, for example, what an "error" is, and is this learning the same for all kinds of experience?
4. Do belief mechanisms necessarily exist before confirming observations? If not, then what precisely do we confirm (or deny)?
5. Isn't trial and error not precisely what happens, but rather that we have a set of notions about how things are, and we don't worry about it until some event or occasion intrudes and disrupts and "doesn't quite fit?" and then we attend to it and either decide the event does fit, but in a slightly different way or that it doesn't fit at all and we need to modify this set of notions in some way to increase their "reliability"?
 
richrf
 
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 08:41 am
@Lost2ize,
Lost2ize;79954 wrote:
But can we trust our powers of observation as reliable belief forming mechanism?


Why not? I am not going to stop living just because someone else may disagree with what I observe. It happens all of the time. So, we either reach a consensus or not, and move on from there. In politics when we disagree we have elections.
[/COLOR]
[QUOTE]And even so, isn't observation sensory? [/QUOTE]

I am not really talking about observations using any one of the senses. I am talking about a thought in my mind. I can be either or awake or asleep.


[QUOTE]I'm new to philosophy I am just trying to get a better grasp of what experienced philosophers take. [/QUOTE]

Admittedly I may be much different from the average philosopher graduate. I am not too much into things like logic. I observe the world and then form images and thoughts in my mind that would help explain things at a more abstract level. In other words, what may be going on that is motivating all that I am witnessing.

Itzhak Bentov was a mechanical engineer and inventor. He used meditation quite a bit. Not too much different from what I do.

Rich

Rich


 
Lost2ize
 
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 11:58 am
@Lost2ize,
I'm not exactly sure I am tracking what you are saying richf. Perhaps you can maybe walk me through your belief forming steps?

jgweed:

I would define trial and error as an attempt to achieve a desired outcome by using multiple methods and facets.

An example of a Empirical "trial and error" or "Scientific Theorem"

1) Recognize desired outcome
2) Gather information and materials
3) Hypothesize conclusion
4) Conduct experiments
5) Review/Discuss conclusions
6) Repeat 2-5 until 1 is met.

And by instruction, or "Rationality (?)", I mean by given all the steps for a desired outcome in advance. An example of such would be:
"Man 1 instructs Man 2 that if he mixes x amount of substance A into substance B, he will achieve desired substance C. Man 2 accepts the truth in the instruction of Man 1 by the presented intellectual and deductive reasoning given."

I would say that belief forming mechanisms do exist before hand. In the Empirical example in steps 2 and 3 some type of belief forming mechanisms are used to meet the demands of the first step. Those or perhaps others will be reused and reassessed after step 5.

And in the Rationalism approach belief forming mechanisms are used to accept or reject the deductive reasoning or intellectual arguments presented in the matter at hand. If our belief forming mechanisms (for example perceived short comings in the intellectual arguments) reject the Rationalism presented, though the instruction was still useful in forming new deductive reasoning or intellectual argument.

Am I saying all of this right? I mean, is my understanding of Empiricism and Rationality right?
 
richrf
 
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 12:15 pm
@Lost2ize,
Lost2ize;80010 wrote:
I'm not exactly sure I am tracking what you are saying richf. Perhaps you can maybe walk me through your belief forming steps?


If you continue your studies of Eastern philosophy you will probably notice how intertwined it is with daily life - outlook, health practices, relationships, etc. Eastern philosophy is pretty much built around observing daily life practices and what it all means, in order to create a coherent whole out of all of it.

Rich
 
Lost2ize
 
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 12:33 pm
@richrf,
richrf;80015 wrote:
If you continue your studies of Eastern philosophy you will probably notice how intertwined it is with daily life - outlook, health practices, relationships, etc. Eastern philosophy is pretty much built around observing daily life practices and what it all means, in order to create a coherent whole out of all of it.

Rich


I'm sorry. Perhaps you can describe to me the differences in how you describe your belief forming mechanism and Empirical (Sensory) belief forming as different?
 
richrf
 
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 12:44 pm
@Lost2ize,
Lost2ize;80022 wrote:
I'm sorry. Perhaps you can describe to me the differences in how you describe your belief forming mechanism and Empirical (Sensory) belief forming as different?


Some things come from your inner self (e.g. dreams) and some come from the external world. And they combine to form new ideas.

Rich
 
Pathfinder
 
Reply Thu 20 Aug, 2009 05:40 pm
@Lost2ize,
I believe there is another method of learning.

I do not like to use the term believe because that is falsely defining the way I look at things. I never conclude anything because life has a way of teaching us that with change comes new 'truths'.

However I do observe a very credible reason to consider certain things as deserving of further scrutiny based upon their logic and rationale.

Among these is the study of reincarnation and whether or not there is a continuation of life after death in some way.

It is here that I can see strong possibilities of a transference of knowledge and wisdom from one lifetime to another. If this is true than this would be a very considerable form of learning would it not?

One of my main reasons for even considering this as deserving of interest is this little known fact of life that many of us never consider; the vast difference between the simple minded oaf and the wise man.

What I am talking about here is that gap between the intellect and wisdom of one who seems to be lifetimes ahead of the simple man who knows only what his simple mind experiences first hand. I believe that this gap is far too great to be made or accomplished ion one lifetime. In other words a simple minded oaf, could never attain the wisdom and intellect of a wiseman, regardless of study, in one short lifetime. This leads me to believe that the wiseman must have had a headstart if you will. In some way the wiseman was born endowed with an ability tpo grasp and rationalize in a way that surpassed any ability of an oaf.

Also it suggests that the oaf is beginning his journey at a point far behind the wisemans abilities, whereas he could never catch up in intellect or wisdom or logic solving abilitties in just one lifetime.

Given the two at the same starting line of this particular lifetime, one is endowed with certain innate ability that the other is not, and this is not due to physiocal inequality of any sort or any form of disability or retardation. And yet the wiseman is simply able to intellectually grasp logic and thoguht at a far greater capacity.

This leads me to consider the possibility that a man can retain knowledge and wisdom from previous lives which are somnehow engrained into his nature, and which become activated as they are confronted and encountered in new incarnations. The oaf is obviously beginning at a newer and less experienced level of incarnation. There is no retardation or disability or lack of brain material, simply the fact that he is not as old,(had as many life experiences) and experienced as the other incarnate.

I think that this possibility is probably one of the greatest mysteries of learning that humankind can acheive and deserves further study and exploration.
 
PoeticVisionary
 
Reply Thu 20 Aug, 2009 07:24 pm
@Lost2ize,
The mysteries of the mind and the sub-conscious would be an amazing point of study. I think observation is truly intertwined with the gaining of knowledge. I was intrigued with the mention of Eastern Philosophy. The Art Of Warfare by Sun-Tzu (I'm not going to argue if it was one person or multiples of people who helped write it. LOL) The point of it is, in the book observation is key to a lot of the central thought. I myself try to find a medium between Eastern and Western thought.
Plus having so many children observation becomes a personal enjoyment.
I also feel that there is a difference between an old/wise mind and an oaf/childish mind. I understand where you are coming from.
 
Pathfinder
 
Reply Fri 21 Aug, 2009 05:22 am
@PoeticVisionary,
PoeticVisionary;84617 wrote:
The mysteries of the mind and the sub-conscious would be an amazing point of study. I think observation is truly intertwined with the gaining of knowledge. I was intrigued with the mention of Eastern Philosophy. The Art Of Warfare by Sun-Tzu (I'm not going to argue if it was one person or multiples of people who helped write it. LOL) The point of it is, in the book observation is key to a lot of the central thought. I myself try to find a medium between Eastern and Western thought.
Plus having so many children observation becomes a personal enjoyment.
I also feel that there is a difference between an old/wise mind and an oaf/childish mind. I understand where you are coming from.


Just to avoid confusion, remember that it is not the present life age that makes the mind wise or not, it is the degree of past life experience that it is born into this lifetime with. So the wise mind can easily be a very young person while the oafish mind could attain elder years and remain far from the wisdom of the younger person.
 
PoeticVisionary
 
Reply Fri 21 Aug, 2009 06:46 am
@Lost2ize,
Yes. that's what I meant. But after rereading my post I see I didn't make that clear at all. I guess we know which one I am. LMAO
 
Pathfinder
 
Reply Sat 22 Aug, 2009 02:26 am
@PoeticVisionary,
PoeticVisionary;84689 wrote:
Yes. that's what I meant. But after rereading my post I see I didn't make that clear at all. I guess we know which one I am. LMAO


Not at all, we do not have oafs in this forum! Wink Wink :whistling: :devilish::sarcastic:
 
Lost2ize
 
Reply Thu 24 Sep, 2009 12:58 pm
@Lost2ize,
It still seems to me that the use of observation as a belief forming mechanism is still sensory and therefore empirical.
Now the idea of recollection as a form of learning could be a consideration. I do have a few questions though.
1) Is, at least some, knowledge then innate? (not to include what would be considered instinct)
2) What if any methods are there to determine what knowledge is recollection and what knowledge new?
 
Pathfinder
 
Reply Thu 24 Sep, 2009 05:42 pm
@Lost2ize,
No, knowledge is never innate. There is no such thing as new knowledge, only knowledge that has not yet been realized by a particular individual.

Knowledge is the result of a gathering of information and logically deciphering that information. The information is always available and waiting to be found. The deciphering can only be accomplished by minds that have that advanced capability.

Wisdom comes from the rational application of this knowledge into one's life beneficially.
 
john2054
 
Reply Fri 20 Nov, 2009 02:29 pm
@Pathfinder,
A third philosophy of learning which you failed to mention is that of Pragmatism. As created by the Chicago school of Sociologists, and with subsets of symbolic interactionism (symbols) and ethnomethodology (piecing together meaning from the ground up), this is a school which leaves conventional theory to the birds, and addresses the issues facing humanity from the bottom up. About listening to everyday people, and building up understandings of the meanings of things in this way. It is very interesting and well worth looking into guys.

John
 
 

 
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