Where do you begin?

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Reply Fri 30 Apr, 2010 07:32 am
I assume most are familiar with the famous beginnings, the book of Genesis, Descartes' cogito ergo sum, etc.

I am curious where those in this forum begin (if they do). And in regard to that beginning, do you see it as an assumption, a tautology, an absolute truth, or something else?
 
jgweed
 
Reply Fri 30 Apr, 2010 08:01 am
@Resha Caner,
One begins at the beginning, and this can be completely different for each individual, as can its existential status. In philosophy, it seems, the beginning is actually an attitude that first recognizes confusion and then attempts to clarify it in a critical and questioning manner.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 30 Apr, 2010 08:02 am
@Resha Caner,
Resha Caner;158395 wrote:
I assume most are familiar with the famous beginnings, the book of Genesis, Descartes' cogito ergo sum, etc.

I am curious where those in this forum begin (if they do). And in regard to that beginning, do you see it as an assumption, a tautology, an absolute truth, or something else?


Like the late English philosopher, G.E.Moore, I often begin by being surprised by some of the very foolish, and clearly false things others say, and wonder why they say them. As an illustration, David Hume (and no one admires him more than I do) held that "anything can cause anything". I think I know why he said that. But it seems to me clearly false.
 
Resha Caner
 
Reply Fri 30 Apr, 2010 09:09 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;158404 wrote:
this can be completely different for each individual


Yeah, and I'm asking what it is for you.

jgweed;158404 wrote:
it seems, the beginning is actually an attitude that first recognizes confusion and then attempts to clarify it in a critical and questioning manner.


So, is this where you begin? If so, what is the first confusion (if that even makes sense as a question)?

---------- Post added 04-30-2010 at 10:12 AM ----------

kennethamy;158405 wrote:
I often begin by being surprised by some of the very foolish, and clearly false things others say


It sounds to me as if you begin with skepticism. If a skeptic had nothing to criticize, would he cease to exist?

Anyway, suppose you are not looking at what other people say, but you must take the initiative to make a proposition. Where would you begin?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 30 Apr, 2010 09:59 am
@Resha Caner,
Resha Caner;158417 wrote:
Yeah, and I'm asking what it is for you.



So, is this where you begin? If so, what is the first confusion (if that even makes sense as a question)?

---------- Post added 04-30-2010 at 10:12 AM ----------



It sounds to me as if you begin with skepticism. If a skeptic had nothing to criticize, would he cease to exist?

Anyway, suppose you are not looking at what other people say, but you must take the initiative to make a proposition. Where would you begin?


In what respect, begin? Since I am now, among other things, talking about free will, I might begin by saying that determinism is compatible with free will.

My understanding of philosophy is that it is not in the business of discovering anything new, since that is the business of science. My view is that philosophy is in the business or clarifying and understanding what we already know. So, what I would say would be, I am sure, pretty mundane, and evoke a yawn from you, at best.
 
Resha Caner
 
Reply Fri 30 Apr, 2010 10:43 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;158424 wrote:
In what respect, begin?


I intentionally left the question vague to see how people would bootstrap their answer.

Quote:
My understanding of philosophy is that it is not in the business of discovering anything new, since that is the business of science. My view is that philosophy is in the business or clarifying and understanding what we already know.


You've said a mouthful here. But in trying to keep to the subject, I would conclude that for you philosophy is not a beginning, but rather science is. So what would you point to as a first principle for science? Or is "science" itself your first principle?

Quote:
So, what I would say would be, I am sure, pretty mundane, and evoke a yawn from you, at best.


This is not a trivial statement. I wonder if it is the nature of the beast that many starting points are mundane. It's of interest to me nonetheless. And I'm not waiting to attack whatever someone might state for their beginning proposition. It's a curiosity thing. Take your comment on determinism for example. If you were pressed in a debate, would you stand on determinism alone, or would you fall back on something else (say science) to bolster your argument. If so, then I would say that determinism is not where you begin, but rather science.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 30 Apr, 2010 02:49 pm
@Resha Caner,
Resha Caner;158438 wrote:
I intentionally left the question vague to see how people would bootstrap their answer.



You've said a mouthful here. But in trying to keep to the subject, I would conclude that for you philosophy is not a beginning, but rather science is. So what would you point to as a first principle for science? Or is "science" itself your first principle?



This is not a trivial statement. I wonder if it is the nature of the beast that many starting points are mundane. It's of interest to me nonetheless. And I'm not waiting to attack whatever someone might state for their beginning proposition. It's a curiosity thing. Take your comment on determinism for example. If you were pressed in a debate, would you stand on determinism alone, or would you fall back on something else (say science) to bolster your argument. If so, then I would say that determinism is not where you begin, but rather science.


Science answers scientific questions. Philosophy, philosophic questions, Scientific questions are first order questions about the world, philosophic questions are second-order questions about our concepts. For example, science asks about the causes of water freezing, or or water boiling, and philosophy asks about the concept of causation. As Gilbert Ryle succinctly put it, science is talk about the world, and philosophy is talk about talk.
 
doswizard
 
Reply Fri 30 Apr, 2010 07:25 pm
@kennethamy,
Kick Ass.

What a Wonderful Discourse we have going on. Welcome, Resha.

To answer your question in Polite terms might I suggest to you that you Strive for the Moment rather than what is Past.

Try and stop the Wheel from turning and call that One particular Stop relative and you will get nowhere.......

In my opinion, the Beginning is Perfectly and Precisely aligned, polarized and summarized in The End........

Only a Paranoid goes beyond that.

 
Resha Caner
 
Reply Fri 30 Apr, 2010 09:57 pm
@doswizard,
Doswizard,

OK. One way to look at my question is via presentism, which is being discussed in more detail here:

http://www.philosophyforum.com/philosophy-forums/metaphilosophy/8000-presentism-interesting-concept.html#post140448

But you needn't try to dig at this as if my opinion is buried in the question. I'm interested in how others respond to the question ... consider it an experiment on my part if you wish. If you find the experiment boring or pointless, there's no need to participate.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Fri 30 Apr, 2010 10:33 pm
@Resha Caner,
I've never tried to start from a point and build some grand philosophy. I expect most people haven't. Has that ever been done successfully? Generally I just think about things as I read about them or as they occur to me. I guess the beginning there is the English language and my experience of the world.
 
wayne
 
Reply Fri 30 Apr, 2010 10:36 pm
@Resha Caner,
Your question requires a beginning to begin, so I will begin to begin

"There is nothing new under the Sun"

Shall we begin?

The more I say the word begin, the stranger it sounds
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 1 May, 2010 03:00 am
@wayne,
wayne;158670 wrote:
Your question requires a beginning to begin, so I will begin to begin

"There is nothing new under the Sun"

Shall we begin?

The more I say the word begin, the stranger it sounds


That phenomenon has a name, although I don't remember the name. But it happens with all words. It is because we are thinking of the term without a context. As Wittgenstein would say, when language is idling (and doing no work). It is on vacation.

The question, "where do you begin" is similar. If asked out of context, it asks nothing. Asking that question commits the fallacy of asking about nothing in particular. It is like asking, "What is to be done?" out of any context. The only sensible reply to that is, "About what?". And the only sensible reply to, "where do you begin?" is, "Where do you begin what?".
 
wayne
 
Reply Sat 1 May, 2010 03:21 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;158742 wrote:
That phenomenon has a name, although I don't remember the name. But it happens with all words. It is because we are thinking of the term without a context. As Wittgenstein would say, when language is idling (and doing no work). It is on vacation.?".


Hadn't happened to me for some time. By the time I finished my post I had the worst case of it ever.

kennethamy;158742 wrote:
The question, "where do you begin" is similar. If asked out of context, it asks nothing. Asking that question commits the fallacy of asking about nothing in particular. It is like asking, "What is to be done?" out of any context. The only sensible reply to that is, "About what?". And the only sensible reply to, "where do you begin?" is, "Where do you begin what?".


Yes, I think the question itself set that phenomenon into motion so my repetition of the word caused the most pronounced feeling of it I can remember having.
T'was an interesting occurrence. I'll look for the name.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 1 May, 2010 03:29 am
@wayne,
wayne;158757 wrote:
Hadn't happened to me for some time. By the time I finished my post I had the worst case of it ever.



Yes, I think the question itself set that phenomenon into motion so my repetition of the word caused the most pronounced feeling of it I can remember having.
T'was an interesting occurrence. I'll look for the name.


The cure, of course, is to get a context. As Wittgenstein puts it , "Back to the rough ground". That is where you get traction for language.
 
wayne
 
Reply Sat 1 May, 2010 03:48 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;158760 wrote:
The cure, of course, is to get a context. As Wittgenstein puts it , "Back to the rough ground". That is where you get traction for language.


Now you've gotten me to thinking about context.
It speaks about relationships of many different things besides words doesn't it?
My dictionary only defines it as relating to language, but we use the word in other contexts don't we?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 1 May, 2010 03:57 am
@wayne,
wayne;158776 wrote:
Now you've gotten me to thinking about context.
It speaks about relationships of many different things besides words doesn't it?
My dictionary only defines it as relating to language, but we use the word in other contexts don't we?


I guess so, as you have just illustrated. But it was language that Wittgenstein was discussing.
 
wayne
 
Reply Sat 1 May, 2010 04:03 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;158787 wrote:
I guess so, as you have just illustrated. But it was language that Wittgenstein was discussing.



yeah I know, I got off the track, and out of context. Smile

Is Wittgenstein a decent read? I have a lot of trouble with literary reads. If that makes sense. I like language though.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sat 1 May, 2010 04:04 am
@Resha Caner,
Honest and spontaneous answer is that I think the main point of philosophy is to discover what is really good. We are after all offered all manner of things in the modern age, we can pursue all kinds of pleasures, occupations, careers, adventures, and diversions. Never before have so many been so free from the necessities of survival. And yet, so what? Most of what seems to occupy most people, most of the time, is jejune, transient, meaningless, unsatisfactory and unhealthy. So what is really good, what should we make an effort to understand or do? That is what drives me in philosophy. And I presume that this is actually the task of wisdom, to ask this question, and to learn to discriminate between truth and illusion. Life has never been more diverse, nor ever more full of illusion, in my view.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 1 May, 2010 04:13 am
@wayne,
wayne;158793 wrote:
yeah I know, I got off the track, and out of context. Smile

Is Wittgenstein a decent read? I have a lot of trouble with literary reads. If that makes sense. I like language though.


Yes. But no one reads Wittgenstein because what he writes is a "decent read". He doesn't write literature, although I think he is a great writer. You read Wittgenstein to learn stuff. But I would not approach him cold. You need first to know why he writes what he writes. What problems he is addressing, and who are the philosophers.

---------- Post added 05-01-2010 at 06:19 AM ----------

jeeprs;158794 wrote:
Honest and spontaneous answer is that I think the main point of philosophy is to discover what is really good. .


But if you are right, then a lot of what goes under the name of philosophy is not philosophy. Most of what is called philosophy is not ethics. Descartes, for example says very little about ethics. But most think he was a philosopher.
 
wayne
 
Reply Sat 1 May, 2010 04:22 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;158799 wrote:
Yes. But no one reads Wittgenstein because what he writes is a "decent read". He doesn't write literature, although I think he is a great writer. You read Wittgenstein to learn stuff. But I would not approach him cold. You need first to know why he writes what he writes. What problems he is addressing, and who are the philosophers.



What I mean by decent read is more about style, Say for instance Thoreau gets very literary, and I have to work extremely hard at that style to get much, not really cost productive for me. The value has to be very high for me to do that.
The quote you gave led me to believe he might write in a style I can get through ok. Don't know what makes some writng so difficult for me, it's odd, been reading since year 2. Must be a disability of sorts.
 
 

 
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