Maidansky wrote:With all the differences in views and preferences, however, all philosophers at all times really did one common thing - they investigated the world of the human spirit, sought to understand its logical structure and determine the place occupied in this world by individual consciousness, a separate human "I".
Odiseizam has a good point, but the philosophical nexus of it is a reliance on materialism in my opinion, and not merely overconsumption and relativization--the latter of which I think is a more precarious issue. Taking root with Marxism and gaining mass currency following World War I, much of the West simply abandoned religion altogether--operating purely with physics and little or no metaphysics. A counterpoint to that followed World War II, and the embrace of secular ethics. Pure physics gets you the atomic bomb, methamphetamine and methodone among other things. It's not all bad, but physical properties aren't necessarily normative "good."
This leads to some really counter-intuitive behaviors--for example, the German state did not violate treaties around the use of chemical weapons during the second world war, but ended up exterminating many non-combatants with Zyklon B in concentration camps. Whereas, the "good guys" also did not violate treaties around the use of chemical weapons, but instead developed nuclear weapons and used them. It demonstrates an almost bizarre adherence to written rules, but an absence of reflection on the use of violent force for example.
Odiseizam wrote:so even do nowadays there are plentiful philosophers even way smarter than the proposed humanists, still they cant surface easily, after all people are so preoccupied with triviality on every level
I think that's a fair characterization of mass society, but it doesn't really explain the behavior of highly educated people. The well-educated suffer from an inordinate degree of hubris. In other words, there is so much that we just don't know, but people who consider themselves experts cannot admit to the fact that we do not know everything. For a technocratic society, being an "expert" is akin to money and power, such that truly entertaining what is unknown is something that makes a technocratic expert terribly uncomfortable, and leads to an almost profound lack of curiosity.
While I'm given more to the physics side of philosophy than metaphysics, there is an element to metaphysics even in mathematics and physics itself. For example, Kurt Godel's undecideability of certain propositions means that you cannot prove or disprove certain mathematical expressions. So when you include them in the universal set, by extension, mathematics taken as a whole cannot be proven or disproven--yet, it has remarkable utility. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle is similar, that you cannot measure momentum and position simultaneously even in theory.
Wellsy wrote:I'm glad to have prompted a response with Maidansky's summary.
So when you speak of triviliaty, or you speaking about the division of intellectual labor being so intensely specialized that there are people attempting to examine every piece of things?
As a result of this intense specialization, if someone were to attempt to synthesize different sciences and philosophical outlooks, they would be mocked as they seemingly step outside of their expertise into the realm of others.
That's a huge part of it. That's why I think "expertism" if you will tends to foreclose inquiry. It's not limited to metaphysics either. We know a great deal today about ribonucleic acid, deoxyribonucleic acid, and so forth. Darwin didn't. Darwinism does a decent job of describing specialization within species by random mutation. However, the title of his most famous work, "The Origin of Species" is way off the mark, because he doesn't actually describe the creation of entire species, let alone the origin of life. He describes specialization by random mutation.
As a computer head, it's fairly easy to see that biological behavior has discrete properties. Transcription, for instance. Whereas, that's well described in genetic disciplines, it operates counter to the second law of thermodynamics in that life increases order whereas entropy does the opposite. When you get to advanced life forms, it's fairly easy to describe the action of a meteor crossing the night sky, but it's terribly complex to explain the behavior of someone looking up at the meteor, pointing at it, etc. So for all our somewhat miraculous capabilities, we're still well short of any sort of grand unified theory, because there are behaviors/forces that we still cannot explain mathematically/scientifically.
For example, you can use a scientific theory to describe the life cycle of stars--early stage, red giant, neutron star, pulsar, black hole, etc. Yet, you cannot really use such a theory to predict the creation of a ham sandwich; yet, it happens regularly. Present that to an expert, and they tend to laugh at you or dismiss you altogether.
Wellsy wrote:What is more, narrow specialisation, deprived of any breadth of vision, inevitably leads to a creeping empiricism, to the endless description of particulars.
I don't think description of particulars is a bad thing unless it's being done for its own sake. Binding reason to empirical observation is what allowed humans to make such great strides.
Wellsy wrote:What are we to do about assembling integral knowledge? Such an assembly can nevertheless be built by the integrative power of philosophy, which is the highest form of generalisation of all human knowledge and life experience, the sum-total of the development of world history.
I fear much of that will be machine learning and AI driven, particularly as I suggested that learning requires accepting first that you don't know something--which is a problematic behavior for "experts."
Wellsy wrote:This is the upshoot now remember of a tradition that is at least 2500 years old, and now that tradition is produced in tiny little articles – four, five page articles – in journals that are read by a number of people that’s a small enough number that if they were all in a boat and it sank, they would have no readership. And it could be a small boat, it wouldn’t need to be Lusitania, it could be a raft, perhaps.
Well, I think that's overstating it. I would say it is a matter of the time people allocate to reading philosophy, and some of that is stages in life.
Wellsy wrote:Rorty’s view is that any problem that has been around for 2500 years for which we still don’t have a solution, the right response by the contemporary philosopher is “I don’t care”. And the charm of Rorty’s answer is it’s so American. It’s deeply rooted in our culture, in both the anti-intellectualism of our culture, in our fear of eggheads and so on, and so in that sense it has a double significance. Positively it means that the work of intellectuals has always been separated off from the work of ordinary people. In other words, you have to be freed from the constraints of manual labour. When I was a dishwasher, I didn’t have a lot of time to do this. When I was a union organiser, I didn’t have a lot of time to do this. Any time I was involved in manual labour, I didn’t really have the time to do this intellectual work.
Well that's a strong distinction between manual labor and intellectual work. I work in cloud computing software for telecommunications at the moment. It's not physical labor other than banging my fingers against a keyboard. It's highly intellectual, logical, rational and discrete. Software programming is very intellectual, linguistic, and demands syntactic correctness in ways that even the practice of law doesn't.
Wellsy wrote:That separation, that fateful separation between intellectual and manual labour has been with philosophy throughout. It’s rather disappointing though to have that tradition – the great tradition of thinking in general – be reduced to a comment like “Well, gee… I don’t care. We haven’t figured it out”
I disagree with Rorty on a lot of things, because I think in many respects he was pushing a political agenda through philosophy and philosophy was more like camouflage for what he was really up to. I think that could be said of a lot of "experts" too. They aren't truly interested in knowledge for its own sake but for the money and power it gives them to push their own agenda.
Many of the people on this board are interesting and have diverse backgrounds and substantial expertise, but much of political debate is foreclosed due to ideology and epistemic closure. Take a problem that has been around for 2500 years, like racism or oppression for example. Not many people shrug it off and say, "I don't care," but they cannot explain the persistence of these phenomena over 2500 years. It will quickly devolve into a debate about capitalism and socialism being the answer.
Wellsy wrote:Tarski’s theory of truth goes something like this. Tarski says the sentence “Snow is white” – and he puts “Snow is white” in quotation marks – is true, if and only if snow is white. I don’t expect anybody in the audience to gasp, if you follow me. This isn’t a theory of truth; this is the deflationary remark about how we use the word “true”, you follow me?
Yes. However, to Odiseizam's point that society is absorbed with triviality is "true." Today's college-educated person is more likely to say, "Snow is white. Therefore, snow is racist." rather than reflecting on a truth-value function. So even a college education becomes a triviality.
Wellsy wrote:But not one in which you can talk to young people the way you can at the college level today, and find out that they believe… nothing. Want… nothing. Hope… nothing. Expect… nothing. Dream… nothing. Desire… nothing. Push ’em far enough and they’ll say: “Yeah, I gotta get a job. Spent a lot of money at Duke.” That’s not what I am talking about. They hope nothing. Expect nothing. Dream nothing. Desire nothing.
And it is a fair question to ask whether a society that produces this reaction in its young is worthy of existence at all.
I think a good part of that is the loss of a high culture, and that's where I'd say Odiseizam has a point about over-consumption and relativism. However, there is also no real sense of struggle for anything material--as Dinesh D'Souza once said in emigrating to America, "I want to live in a country where the poor people are fat." So there isn't a struggle to create great music, for example. Who's writing great symphonies today? Have you listened to any popular music? It's become mechanical--almost devoid of any human emotion. It's frankly very easy to quantize everything with computers. So music itself has lost it's human feel, because it's not really made by humans. That's why I think what followed WWI in the arts--dada, surrealism, etc.--was a bit of a loss of high culture that preceded it. Artists with the talent of 19th Century painters ultimately paint pleasing scenes for middle-class buyers, and "true artists" tend to paint the ugly rather than the beautiful.
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