Philosophical Concept Confusion

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Khethil
 
Reply Wed 11 Mar, 2009 06:45 am
Good Morning,

THE GIST: Concepts which carry emotional and/or socially "loaded" connotations often lead to disagreements where no "real" disagreement exists.

I keep seeing conversations, on various philosophical topics, that run aground because it appears people are talking about two different concepts. One argues Pro for 'A' and the other argues Con for 'B'. What they don't realize is that even though the term being flung about is the same, they're actually talking about often overlapping, yet distinctly-different ideals. I believe these differences are likely to lie in the context of their social structure, or how they've been socialized to view the concept 'X'. Here are some of the more profuse miscommunications/conceptual misfires I see:[INDENT]Happiness and Pleasure: This is a popular one that's very common and leads to much mirth and choler-raising.

  • Happiness may be pleasurable but what is pleasurable doesn't usually equate to happiness. Depending on the context/concept being discussed, they could be considered synonymous.
  • If I say "I like pleasure.." what's envisioned is something slovenly, abject, selfish and/or indulgent. Yet I might have been talking about something completely noble, "I find pleasure in sacrificing my desires for the good of my son".
  • "Pleasure" has been socialized - for many of us - to carry a negative connotation, as has "Happiness" (being socialized to carry an admirable intonation).
  • Happiness, too, may be a perfectly-accurate description of a sensation resulting from of a hedonistic, low result, "I'm happy that dog is dead". This might not be terribly admirable, but that's not to say it isn't accurate.

Beauty and Sexuality: When I see confusion of these concepts I'll generally chalk them up to immaturity (though that may not be accurate or even fair).

  • Bring up the general term "beauty"; ask what's 'beautiful' and you'll inevitably get responses that focus, almost exclusively, upon sensuality.
  • Although this may be a perfectly-legitimate expression of the beautiful, focusing on it exclusively undermines the understanding that comes from a broad perspective of the commonalities in what's pleasurable to gaze upon or experience. This broad perspective is necessary if we're to converse amiably to folks of divergent mindsets,
  • What is beautiful may or may not be sensual; what is sensual may have nothing to do with one's concept of beauty.
  • Sensuality (or sexuality) seems to carry a intonation of negativity - which is short-sighted and narrow-minded.

Ethical Behavior and Lawfulness:

  • What is 'right' and what is 'wrong' have nothing, innately, to do with any law.
  • The 'rules' may be wrong (and often are); if so, then adherence to such rules would also be 'wrong'
  • "Because it's the law" is no justification for judging an act to be right. Doing so assumes that whatever the law perpetuates (or stands for) is precisely what the individual holds dear.
  • The police may be perpetuating an unethical or unjust situation, depending on your point of view

Religion and Christianity: This is a whopper and saturates popular philosophical chats.

  • For those of us raised in a culture whose basis/genesis has its roots in christianity, we most vulnerable of all to fall into this trap.
  • "God", on a human level, isn't only the christian-god. It's just a term that seems to imply a trillion different definitions (some only slightly, others generalized and still more completely undifferentiated).
  • Again, today, someone else will come in and rail against what they call "religion" and yet be referring to medieval christianity, rather than religion. Yes, it makes a difference and yes; someone will have to explain that to them.
  • Theists may worship the Cat-God, the christian god or Zorbar the Undead. It takes many forms.

Knowledge and Belief: I've railed about this before so I shouldn't belabor the point too much. Still, contextually, I feel pretty confident saying that there should *almost always* be a distinction made between these two when making a stand.

  • In some contexts I think it perfectly justifiable to use them interchangeably (depending on the force/weight of support I think I have), "I believe my cat is black; I know my cat is black"
  • In other contexts they're as different as night-and-day, "I believe the sun will come up over the horizon tomorrow; I know the sun will come up over the horizon tomorrow morning". In this case, your belief is justified (I think - given what we observe) but do you *know* this? No, you don't
  • The social structure in which I've been raised tends to polarize 'belief' towards something iffy, spurious, tenuous and unsupported. Thought this might well be the case, assertion of belief might be quite strong (the sun rising, for example).
  • To profess "knowledge" is - to me - to assert that one has support for a notion; support that's so strong, so compelling, that no other possibility is likely at all.

[/INDENT]Comment, disagreement, agreement and discussion is invited. Thanks
 
xris
 
Reply Wed 11 Mar, 2009 06:56 am
@Khethil,
Blinkered vision..tunnel vision..preconceived opinions..not listening..sins of the ego.
 
hammersklavier
 
Reply Thu 19 Mar, 2009 06:42 am
@Khethil,
But one must consider, of course, that sexuality is a subset of beauty. You're not going to be attracted to someone you don't find pretty, so, frankly, I think that what attracts us (that is, what triggers one's sexuality) must be considered in any valid definition of human beauty. Just saying.

In fact, most of the problematic dualities you're stating happen because one is a subset of the other; pleasure is a subset of happiness; sexuality of beauty; belief of knowledge: you need to factor belief into a total accounting of knowledge, sexuality into a total accounting of beauty, and pleasure into a total accounting of happiness.
 
ACB
 
Reply Thu 19 Mar, 2009 08:07 am
@hammersklavier,
hammersklavier wrote:
In fact, most of the problematic dualities you're stating happen because one is a subset of the other; pleasure is a subset of happiness; sexuality of beauty; belief of knowledge: you need to factor belief into a total accounting of knowledge, sexuality into a total accounting of beauty, and pleasure into a total accounting of happiness.


Isn't it the other way round with belief and knowledge? Knowledge is justified true belief, so it is a subset of belief.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Thu 19 Mar, 2009 11:17 am
@hammersklavier,
hammersklavier wrote:

In fact, most of the problematic dualities you're stating happen because one is a subset of the other; pleasure is a subset of happiness; sexuality of beauty; belief of knowledge: you need to factor belief into a total accounting of knowledge, sexuality into a total accounting of beauty, and pleasure into a total accounting of happiness.


True. This seems to be the case I find most often that the subset of the other i.e. sensual beauty is being argued as the whole of beauty when misunderstandings like this happen. It is frustrating to me that although it seems to happen this way, the party arguing from a position of the subset being the whole knows that the subset isn't the whole and for some reason is so set on his/her argument that s/he doesn't register it for the duration of the argument.

I can also see latent ideological fossilization of sorts in some of the dichotomies expressed, such as Pleasure and Happiness. It is often an unconscious or epiconscious ideology of people raised in certain cultures and or religions to separate pleasure from happiness, not in the sense that pleasure doesn't aid one's happiness in a very real sense they experience this, but in a snese that ideologically in their system pleasure is separated from happiness because pleasure is equated with the corporial being and seeking the corporial over other froms of happiness or other means to achieve happiness is "wrong". This sort of ideologized function happens in the other dichotomies mentioned as well and may not even be something the writer of any post has conscious control over without serious reflection on his/her post and ideologies.
 
Ultracrepidarian
 
Reply Sat 25 Apr, 2009 04:18 am
@GoshisDead,
Individuals are different and communication is hard. I wouldn't expect to explain it by social backgrounds, because I experience this problem - using approximately the same language, but talking about very different things - with my brothers. Like social circumstances shouldn't put you at a disadvantage, but if it can so difficult even in the immediate family, then I wonder if there isn't something else.

But I wouldn't know what to suggest. Personally, I believe talking about ideas like beauty and ethics is just hard, particularly in close quarters, but even online and most especially when there is something to prove and there almost always is.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 25 Apr, 2009 04:01 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
[INDENT]Knowledge and Belief: I've railed about this before so I shouldn't belabor the point too much. Still, contextually, I feel pretty confident saying that there should *almost always* be a distinction made between these two when making a stand.

  • In some contexts I think it perfectly justifiable to use them interchangeably (depending on the force/weight of support I think I have), "I believe my cat is black; I know my cat is black"
  • In other contexts they're as different as night-and-day, "I believe the sun will come up over the horizon tomorrow; I know the sun will come up over the horizon tomorrow morning". In this case, your belief is justified (I think - given what we observe) but do you *know* this? No, you don't
  • The social structure in which I've been raised tends to polarize 'belief' towards something iffy, spurious, tenuous and unsupported. Thought this might well be the case, assertion of belief might be quite strong (the sun rising, for example).
  • To profess "knowledge" is - to me - to assert that one has support for a notion; support that's so strong, so compelling, that no other possibility is likely at all.

[/INDENT]Comment, disagreement, agreement and discussion is invited. Thanks



Isn't an important difference between knowledge and belief that although you cannot know something and be wrong, you can believe something and be wrong? So knowledge implies truth; belief does not imply truth.

And isn't an important difference between knowledge and belief that we can believe something with little or no justification, we cannot know something unless we have adequate justification?

It is important to notice that although belief does not imply knowledge, that knowledge implies belief. If, for instance you don't believe that Quito is the capital of Ecuador, you cannot know it is; but if you know that Quito is the capital of Ecuador, then you believe it is.
 
 

 
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