Poll: Philosophy: Important or a Waste of Time?

Xojins

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Well philosophy has no real-world applications, so while it's a fun hobby for rich guys to spend their lives doing, it's not a very important subject.
 

Commerford

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Seems to be alot of misunderstanding as to what Philosophy is. In essence, it is just the pursuit of answers that 'hard sciences' CAN'T answer, when a time comes that the other sciences can answer them, the question becomes part of that field, and on the whole the philosophers leave them alone. Philosophy and Science are just part of the same process of the human understanding of the universe around us.

For example. Is space a substance?
What is right and wrong?
Do we have a soul?
Is time travel possible? What are the consequences?(I bet most of you have thought about this one and didn't even realise you were being philosophers)
What are the RIGHT political views?

A good example is colour, it has been, in the past century, greatly puzzled over ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary's_room ) but in the past decade or so science has put huge effort into understanding colour and how we interact with it and it has shook most philosophical theories on the subject to their foundations.

These are all questions that science currently can't answer, and rather unfairly, as soon as they can they snatch them away from the philosophers.

Although there are branches of Philosophy that aim to assist sciences such as logic.

When thinking again about the OP's question, I realise it rather angers me at how ignorant it is, simple fact; If you care who and how your country is run, you care about philosophy.
 

k-ossuburb

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Personally, I think one can't exist without the other.

Hypothetically speaking, if we discover in the future that reality is entirely predetermined by quantum physics then, really all we have is data, unbiased and just a simple answer to a question when it comes to science.

When you apply philosophy to that model, that's when you start to discuss what that means. Should we still punish criminals if they actually had no choice in committing that crime? How can there be a concept of "evil" when being "good" is just the result of collapsed probability waves, rendering one exactly the same as the other? Do we still have freedom? And so on, and so forth.

I may be wrong about this, but that's how I see it.
 

Kair

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To put things in simple words:

If people weren't stupid, we wouldn't need the treatment for stupid.
 

poppabaggins

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I feel that everyone should think of their own personal philosophy, but seriously studying what a bunch of other people have thought about is a complete waste of time (unless it's just being used as exploration and guidance).
 

Tanakh

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funguy2121 said:
(2) Epistemological nihilism, a reality that you claim to know, which states that reality is impossible to know.
(3) You don't understand math if you think it doesn't use scientific method, and even if that statement were true it wouldn't do anything to diminish the validity of scientific method.

(4) A very powerful component of the epistemology in which you arbitrarily choose not to believe (denial) is the force with which what we want to believe colors what we actually do. Many people don't believe in certain things simply because they don't want to; at least you admit it.
(2) If i am understanding this right, you are saying that to claim that reality is impossible to know, you need to know reality to be sure of it? Hummm, if it's that i would have to say nup, i am more of a "Epistemological Agnostic" or something like that, reality is impossible to know, and even if we knew it, it is impossible to do something to verify that knowledge, so its indistinguishable of not knowing.

(3) Well, we don't. Not in Algebra, Topology, and Geometry, and we don't really in Analysis either tough a lot of it is inspired by people that do use the method; those are the 4 big pillars of pure math. In app math... well, not really AFAIK, though there i am not that sure, i have only knowledge of non linear optimization, basic game theory, basic stat, basic probability.
You are right though, it doesn't diminish it's value.

(4) Kinda is for me... not arbitrarily though, it has taken me freaking years to polish a set of values, ethics and aesthetics that i feel comfortable with and that works.

What i am trying to say is that, if you want to be consistent you can only:

- Make the definition of science more lax and inclusive.

- Remove a bunch of stuff from science, like all the cognitive sciences, social sciences, math, theoretical branches of physics, chem and bio... i dunno, i just dislike this way.

I like the first one, so i take it. But... well, haven't done empirical science or philosophy ever, but that's the way that works in math, you take what you like and then use it to build cool shit.
 

Eclectic Dreck

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If you are looking to study a subject that offers a concrete conclusion, then philosophy is indeed a waste of time. But if you're looking to change your basic perspective with which you look at the world, philosophy is an excellent tool. At some point, people are forced to confront the only useful question philosophy ever asks: "is life worth living". We each find our own answers through different means but the search for the answer to that question lies at the heart of philosophy.

Is it useful? Not in a purely pragmatic sense. But it is inescapable.
 

i7omahawki

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Glass Joe the Champ said:
Hey guys. I have to take a Philosophy class this year, so I've been reading the required book over the summer, and OH MY GOD IS THIS THE STUPIDEST SUBJECT EVER!

See, I'm a very hard sciences kind of guy, so reading about dead Greeks' abstract theories on trivial bullshit (a lot of which have been proven false by modern science) seems like a complete waste of time to me. Why bother with high concept ideas that can't be proven and are inapplicable to real life?

What do you guys think about the subject? Are there any philosophy aficionados out there that can teach me the error of my ignorant ways?

EDIT: Just to clarify, I mean philosophy as in the academic subject as it currently exists, not the general school of thought.
Well, as a philosophy graduate I guess I have a lot invested in that topic, but depending on your level, I think it could be a waste of your time.

It really depends on who you're studying, at what level, and in which context.

In terms of politics, economics, art, literature, drama, psychology and sociology, I'm not sure the ancient greeks (most of all Plato and Aristotle) can be beaten. Even in terms of logic and reason, these guys are very valuable as the source of what we consider to be rational today.

If you're focussing on their hard science, it will probably be a bit of a waste aside from its use as a history of scientific thought. There are interesting ways in which Aristotle's elements (fire, earth, air and water) coincide with the modern model (plasma, solid, gas and liquid) as well as ole' Aristotle's little mode of thought known as biology, which has been pretty important to science.

So, if you're trying to get modern science out of ancient philosophy, you'll be sorely disappointed, but that isn't the point in reading them.

My philosophy professor first graduated in physics, so it isn't as if there's a fixed choice between science and philosophy.

I think, and here's where my investment comes in, that in terms of value theory (not economics) philosophy is pretty damned important right now. Seeing as we have so many cultures and perspectives melted together it seems like investigating how we reach the values we do, and the value of those values, is a pertinent question.

For example, I read about a neuroscience committee who discovered the brain patterns associated with moral behaviour, and seriously considered the possibility of chemically inducing this brain pattern in humans, so as to achieve a moral society. A journalist (and neuroscientist) was able to take their argument apart with an argument from Plato's Eurythro. Seeing that obviously intelligent scientists failed to recognize one of the central paradoxes in Western thought shows that philosophy still has valuable contributions to make in science, if not the scientific theory itself.

TL;DR (in which case good luck with philosophy :p): Philosophy has many valuable ideas and modes of thinking in it, modern science isn't one of them, but it is the root of modern science itself.
 

Da Orky Man

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Apr 24, 2011
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Philosophy majors provide one very important role on this world. They gives us hard-science guys someone to mock.
Seriously though, it should exist, but science is much more important.
 

Deacon Cole

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Much of what's useful in philosophy has broken off into other disciplines, such as science. What's left are the picked over bones of a carcass.
 

honestdiscussioner

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Xojins said:
Well philosophy has no real-world applications, so while it's a fun hobby for rich guys to spend their lives doing, it's not a very important subject.
Have you heard of the Constitution? Without philosophy, it wouldn't exist, not in anything even remotely resembling its current form. Much of it is based on the philosophy of John Locke.

Instead of "no real-world" applications, it is more so that anything that has real world applications is based in philosophy.
 

Discon

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It's kind of hard to avoid philosophy all together. Philosophy is a lot more than just sitting with your chin in your hand, thinking about "the big questions".
 
Feb 13, 2008
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Togs said:
No doubt Im gonna get shouted down for saying this, but how is that an example of applied philsophy? If anything thats neurology and anatomy.
Neurology and anatomy determine how. Philosophy determines why, as we can only speculate.

However it happens though, it proves that your brain/eyes cannot be trusted to give you unbiased information of the world - so you have to prove everything from first principles...which is why it tends to get waffley.
 

Togs

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The_root_of_all_evil said:
Togs said:
No doubt Im gonna get shouted down for saying this, but how is that an example of applied philsophy? If anything thats neurology and anatomy.
Neurology and anatomy determine how. Philosophy determines why, as we can only speculate.

However it happens though, it proves that your brain/eyes cannot be trusted to give you unbiased information of the world - so you have to prove everything from first principles...which is why it tends to get waffley.
But surely the how determines the why? i.e. what we see is mostly our brains guessing due to information overload, meaning that any motion blur will be edited out by our brains to its job easier?

EDIT=Acutally ignore that, funny feeling Im sitting on the opposite side of the table in an arguement equivalent to "evolution is just a theory".
 

effilctar

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I had a roommate who would bash any subject that wasn't maths or physics, he's studying for a degree in maths. One of his favourites to bash is philosophy. Philosophy is the whole reason we're looking for answers to things in the first place. Philosophy and science are not mutually exclusive. Science is experimental philosophy.

And no I don't study philosophy.
 

DanielDeFig

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Because Philosophy in the classroom allows students to discuss morals and ethics, which will be vital if they are ever to become voters (If you are not sure where you stand politically, and ethically, then how can you make a voting decision?).

Personally I think it should be mandatory. I have to agree that Philosophy classes as they are now, include too much learning about previous philosophers (though some is necessary, to see the "train of thought" of human philosophical thought throughout history, as they all build off each other.), and not enough learning about the origin of different ethical, moral, and political ideals.
Philosophy also further strengthens the idea of critical thinking, as it is taken to the most extreme level where we question our own morals, where they come from, thier sources, and how logical they actually are.
 
Feb 13, 2008
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Togs said:
But surely the how determines the why? i.e. what we see is mostly our brains guessing due to information overload, meaning that any motion blur will be edited out by our brains to its job easier?

EDIT=Acutally ignore that, funny feeling Im sitting on the opposite side of the table in an arguement equivalent to "evolution is just a theory".
Heh...It's the problem with philosophy. You can't take anything as "surely"...you have to prove it. But it can bring some great ideas.

Case in point [http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread742187/pg1]. 13 year old kid looks at trees, thinks about the Fibonacci sequence, finds a way to make solar panels 25-50% more efficient.

Good modern use by not saying "surely". Yes, it does sound all high-falluting, but it's there for a reason. :)
 

Weaver

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Consider it a historic study.
No one's saying you have to believe Plato, but I found it very interesting to study him and Aristotle as they're the foundation for western science.
 

FalloutJack

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Glass Joe the Champ said:
Hey guys. I have to take a Philosophy class this year, so I've been reading the required book over the summer, and OH MY GOD IS THIS THE STUPIDEST SUBJECT EVER!

See, I'm a very hard sciences kind of guy, so reading about dead Greeks' abstract theories on trivial bullshit (a lot of which have been proven false by modern science) seems like a complete waste of time to me. Why bother with high concept ideas that can't be proven and are inapplicable to real life?

What do you guys think about the subject? Are there any philosophy aficionados out there that can teach me the error of my ignorant ways?

EDIT: Just to clarify, I mean philosophy as in the academic subject as it currently exists, not the general school of thought.
Alright. It wasn't my major, but I enjoyed most OF my philosophy courses.

Speaking on a purely historical basis at first, philosophy (meaning the love of knowledge) is the origin of regular academia in the first place. These first philosophers were also teachers of math, for instance, and used their knowledge for their philosophy and their philosophy for their math. (Trust me when I say at least half of algebra and much of higher-level courses are this. And if you still don't believe me: Discreet Mathematics.) The ability to think outside of the box, to operate beyond merely pragmatic thinking, is the way of the philosopher. Hell, logic as a systematic process is due to philosophy, historically.

Buuut, moving right along... Many have used philosophizing and such-like to try and understand god. Descartes himself (in his famous meditations) tears down the perception of reality and all things in it and then proves both existence of himself and a god (as well as the world in between) through logical thought alone. Since discussing religion is good for religious purposes, it works there. I already mentioned math, so it's there too. As also then, so is true now, philosophy expands the mind and develops different modes of thought into it. One's own ability to express and be profound is increased by this subject. Though, what one must do IS make certain they're learning a philosophy that they can get into.

If nothing else, philosophy allows you to get the joke when I use Plato's Allegory to make fun of someone.