Strange

What problems does philosophy solve

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Yes, this is a common view. But not mine. My background is in business, not academia, and I prefer to get on and solve problems. On this I part company from the western tradition, for which your comments would apply. You ask what problems philosophy solves. I was asking this at one time. Then I discovered that it solves them all. But this would take us off-topic.

 

I though this was interesting enough to have its own thread ...

 

(I am also from industry and have spent my career solving problems. Which is perhaps why I don't know what problems philosophy solves. :))

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i've always viewed philosophy as a progenitor of inclination towards something, or to produce a new way of looking at a problem. without philosophy progress seems bleak and misguided. i don't know of any direct impact philosophy has had on solution of problems not that there aren't any examples.

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I can see that philosophy and philosophers can contribute to solving problems, perhaps by clarifying what the problem is. For example, ethics committees in research labs or hospitals might use philosophers to help them work through all the issues around an ethical decision.

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!

Moderator Note

Four posts have been... filed elsewhere, as they hijacked the thread topic. A bout of leniency caused me not to issue warning points.

 

Please report hijacking rather than responding to it.

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I though this was interesting enough to have its own thread ...

 

(I am also from industry and have spent my career solving problems. Which is perhaps why I don't know what problems philosophy solves. :))

 

Ha. You must admit though, that no management team would allow themsleves to become so booged down as univesirt philsophy has become.

 

This is going to sound outrageous, but I can solve all philosophical problems. I claim no credit, although I did reach my conclusions independently they have been reached countless times before. No time now but am happy to expand.

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I can solve all philosophical problems.

 

Well, I was hoping to hear about philosophy solving real world problems. But go ahead, anyway...

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It should be clear that philosophy does not solve any scientific problem. If it did, then it would be part of a science. If it solves any problem, then it could be called an intelligibility problem. That means that philosophical problems can arise everywhere where people think.

Obviously, normally thinking is no problem. Science was already progressing before philosophy tried to find out how, and why science progresses. But philosophy can clarify this by trying to find out when e.g. in science a statement or theory is accepted. And that is not the sociological question (when does a group of scientists accept a theory) but the methodological question: when is it justified to accept a theory.

 

Such questions become important when people, or society in general, ask themselves what they should accept as truth. Methodologically philosophy is hardly important for the scientists themselves. It partly explains the disdain scientists have for philosophy. They think that philosophy thinks that it says to scientists how they should do their work. Occasionally some philosophers also really do this, which is mostly distorting for philosophy's reputation.

 

Also in morality people know very well what to think. But to find out how they think might again be a task for philosophers. Again, not the sociological question, but the question which kind of thinking leads to a justified morality. This job is of course for ethics: to find and reflect on the criteria we use, or should use, in our moral thinking if we want to be consistent.

 

There is also a class of problems that arise from our daily thinking. One example is the problem of free will. Where nearly all people experience they have free will, it seems that science, based on the idea that laws of nature are in general deterministic, denies that we have free will. It is a task for philosophers to show how the daily use of the concept of free will differs from the concept that scientists use, and show that there is in fact no such free will problem at all. It is all based on some wrong pre-concepts that confuse the discussion.

 

So if there is some positive result from philosophy, it is intellectual clarity. If a problem disappears under this intellectual clarity, then it could be called 'solved'.

 

But intellectual clarity definitely doesn't solve empirical or in general scientific problems. That is just a false expectation.

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...

Excellent points, very well made.

 

The only thing I might take issue with:

Also in morality people know very well what to think.

I agree that people know what they think when faced with a single issue. What they might not have thought through is the wider implications of a particular decision in one case when applied to other cases. This is where philosophy can really help: knowing what questions to ask.

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The solution to metaphysics is profoundly simple. Or, one solution. This woud be why it is so ofen missed. It is also rather mind-boggling.

 

What is the entire problem of metaphysics, the reason why we cannot easliy just work out what is true about the universe? The reason is that all positive or extreme metaphysical theories are logically indefensible, That is to say, they can be refuted in the dialectic. They give rise to contradictions.This is well known and inarguable. This is the whole problem.

 

So why, we might ask, did Nagarjuna go to such lengths to logically prove that all positive metaphysical theories are logicalyl indefensible? Why spend so much time proving that metaphysics has this devastating problem?

 

It would be because in his eyes this would be the correct solution for metaphysics. For a Buddhist the fact that all these theories cannot be defended in logic would be the proof that none of them are correct. The correct description of the universe would not be a positive metaphysical theory, . .

 

Briefly put this would be the whole solution. It took me ten years to be able to put it so simply. The reason why at this time metaphysics seems to be utterly useless to scientists would be that metaphysics does not see what is right under its nose, the possibility that all positive metaphysical theories are logicially absurd because they are wrong. The universe would be a unity.

 

The details are endless but given time this logical solution can be applied to each philosophical problem in turn and it works. Whether it is 'true' or not is not something worth arguing about, but its logical soundness can be demonstrated.

 

I should say that this is an explanation of something, not an attempt to foist a theory on anyone. For better or for worse, this is the solution that mysticism gives for all metaphysical problems. This is the hurdle that would have to be crossed if we want to see philosophy as solving problems and not just causing them.

Edited by PeterJ

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I have to admit, I don't really understand much of that. Are you saying that the answer is that there is no answer? (All theories are wrong.)

 

Edit: And I am not even sure what problem is being solved by this approach ... Oh well.

Edited by Strange

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What problems does philosophy solve?

Having too much time on ones hands to just piss away.

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Maybe it's too big a topic for a forum. It shows the way philosophy is neglected in our society that what I said above is not already well understood. There's nothing new in it.

Edited by PeterJ

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I agree that people know what they think when faced with a single issue. What they might not have thought through is the wider implications of a particular decision in one case when applied to other cases. This is where philosophy can really help: knowing what questions to ask.

 

Agree, partially. Depends a little on what you mean with 'wider implications'. But by asking this question, I have already gone full into ethics. Do you mean consequences for our acting, based on out moral thoughts. Or do you mean on how we think about similar choices based on our actual thinking?

 

To give an example of the second idea: we can reason completely in terms of the good and/or bad consequences of our actions (consequentialism); or we can have at least some moral norms that we apply whatever the consequences (deontology).

 

But if we are consequentialists, one can still think about the wider implications: say the consequences on the long term, involving everybody who is influenced by the action in question, or only the direct implications.

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Agree, partially. Depends a little on what you mean with 'wider implications'.

 

Sorry, I was being brief due to lack of time and because I couldn't think of a good example.

 

But, for example, many people would say "killing someone is wrong"; a clear moral statement. But then if you start testing various cases, it is clear that it is not so clear cut. Is it OK to kill in self defence? Is it OK to kill someone who is suffering from an incurable disease? If it is wrong to kill someone, then is capital punishment OK? If you have a choice of deliberately killing someone in order to save the lives of 2 other people, should you do it? What if it is 100 people? Or a million? What if it is a choice between killing an old man to save two babies? Or killing a baby to save two old men?

 

I don't think philosophy can provide answers to any of these, but I think it requires some knowledge of philosophy to test the ideas.

Edited by Strange

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Maybe it's too big a topic for a forum. It shows the way philosophy is neglected in our society that what I said above is not already well understood. There's nothing new in it.

there's nothing really meaningful either.

 

you made the assertion that metaphysical theories are logically indefensible without clear reasoning as to why you accept this. you essentially have a rhetorical tautology rather than a real argument. i hope it really didn't take ten years to reach this conclusion.

 

how does this answer questions pertaining to metaphysics? it seems to outright ignore them.

Edited by andrewcellini

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It was full of meaning, more than in many whole text books, but I can accept that it's difficult to see this when it is such a brief statement.

 

Andrew. It didn't take me ten years to reach this conclusion. It took me ten years to learn to to say it this simply. It took three days to reach the conclusion.

 

It was Nagarjuna who most famously proved what I'm saying here about metaphysics, but nearly all metaphysicians prove it. Why has metaphysics has made no progress for so long, and why none is none predicted? Why would someone post a forum thread with this title? It is because all positive metaphysical theories are logically absurd, and this can make it seem that (logical/analytical) metaphysics is a dead end.

 

Nagarjuna's solution would be to abandon all these absurd theories for a neutral metaphysical position. This would be the philosophical foundation of the perennial philosophy, mysticism and Middle Way Buddhism.

 

According to this view .the ethical problem set out by Strange would be solved by assuming the unity of the universe. For the mystic right and wrong would be contextual, relative, non-absolute. It would not always be wrong to kill a person, and this is perhaps why a story is preserved that in a previous life the Buddha committed a murder in order to save a boatload of people. Ethics would be solved by assuming that we share a common identity with all sentient beings. An enlightened person would know this, would be aware of it constantly. In their case there would be do difference between selfish and altruistic behaviour since the ego has departed and the unity of the universe is a living reality. (This would be the solution to altruism given Schopenhauer, when he explains it as the 'break through of a metaphysical truth'.

 

For us this is just a conjectural theory, but as a theory it works in logic. As a metaphysical theory it would be the only one that does work, and this is demonstrable, It is this theory that is always rejected by people who cannot solve philosophical problems. It may not be obvious at first that it is a theory, and not just the absence of one.

 

The logical positivists knew for certain that all positive or extreme theories do not work. This was their entire criticism of metaphysics. The solution that I'm proposing here accepts this fact. But it awards this fact a different interpretation. If all these positive theories do not work, then we must assume that they have to be rejected. This leaves only one theory standing. It is this theory that we would need to understand in order to solve philosophical problems.

 

Note: A 'positive theory is what Kant calls a 'partial' or 'selective' theory. Such theories always have a mirror-image counter-theory. .

Edited by PeterJ

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Why would someone post a forum thread with this title?

 

Because someone claimed that philosophy solves problems. The conclusion seems to be that it only solves problems created by philosophy, rather than real problems.

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Strange - This is missing the point. The OP's question was asked because for many people philosophy does not solve problems. I was suggesting that we need to ask why they think this. Clearly it is because all positive theories do not work. If they did work, then nobody would be asking the OP's question.

 

In other words, the OP's question is in itself evidence that what I'm suggesting about metaphysics is correct.

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Strange - This is missing the point. The OP's question was asked because for many people philosophy does not solve problems.

 

No. It was asked because you said that philosophy solves problems. (Specifically you said that Dennett had not solved any problems, which is what led me to wonder what problems any philosopher had solved.)

 

In other words, the OP's question is in itself evidence that what I'm suggesting about metaphysics is correct.

 

It might be evidence that philosophy is useless (but I don't believe that). You haven't presented anything that solves any problems so I'm not sure what you are saying.

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When the OP asked his question he did not know of my existence, so I have no idea what you're saying here.

 

Philosophy is not useless. It is just that bad workmen blame their tools. .

 

If you cannot grasp what I'm saying then my apologies, but I can't write essays here.

 

To say that philosophy does not solve problems means ignoring a vast swathe of literature. When one mentions this nobody is interested. So philosophy gets the blame for the narrow thinking of some of its practitioners and the western tradition is preserved intact, to continue to fail until the end of time.

 

Yes. western university philosophy is useless and solves no problems. We can at least agree about that.

Edited by PeterJ

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When the OP asked his question he did not know of my existence, so I have no idea what you're saying here.

I'm sure he did because you're quoted in the op from stranges other thread.

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When the OP asked his question he did not know of my existence, so I have no idea what you're saying here.

 

That is quite surreal. Or maybe metaphysical. I get the impression you weren't really interested in answering the question, just promoting your beliefs.

 

Philosophy is not useless.

 

I agree.

 

To say that philosophy does not solve problems means ignoring a vast swathe of literature.

 

But I haven't yet seen any examples of problems solved or questions answered, yet. And I don't see your approach of saying all other approaches are wrong is in at all helpful. That is a bit like the people who pop up here, now and again, and say "all science is wrong" but don't have any alternative.

 

When one mentions this nobody is interested.

 

Well, I was interested. Hence this thread.

 

 

Yes. western university philosophy is useless and solves no problems. We can at least agree about that.

 

I can't agree it is useless.

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