# The Naked Scientists Forum

#### coberst

• Sr. Member
• Posts: 292
##### What is philosophy all about?
« on: 30/01/2009 18:08:00 »
That’s philosophy for ya!

At birth an infant has a minimal innate arithmetic ability.  This ability to add and subtract small numbers is called subitizing.  (I am speaking of a cardinal number—a number that specifies how many objects there are in a collection, don’t confuse this with numeral—a symbol).  Many animals display this subitizing ability.

At birth an infant and many other creatures have the ability to reason in a minimal way.  To reason is to infer and to infer requires that a neurological structuring conducive to inferring is necessary.  Thus to reason is to conceptualize and to infer.  Conceptualizing is the creation of neural structures that make inferring possible.

To infer is to make very simple ‘if then’ decisions. Two ‘if then’ examples are ‘if A is true and B is true than C is true’ and ‘if A or B is true then C is true’.  You can think of these as ‘and’ gates and ‘or’ gates.  These two very simple inferences make it possible for us to do the reasoning that we do.  If you examined your computer you would discover that these two simple inference ‘gates’ makes up your computer.  All of the complex things that your computer can do results from these two simple elemental inference terms.

An infant can do math and an infant can reason.  Of course, we all know that our ability to do math can go far beyond this simple innate ability.  Likewise, our ability to reason can go far beyond this simple innate ability.

The philosophy department in college offers a course called Logic 101.  Logic means principles.  Logic 101 teaches the principles of reasoning.  Every person should know the knowledge contained in Logic 101 but since few people were taught this they need to learn this on their own.  If our schools did not teach arithmetic all citizens would be well advised to get a book on arithmetic and learn it on their own.  Such is true also about reasoning; Logic 101 is the principles of reasoning.  Just like math reasoning has vast complexities and possibilities for helping us live our lives

Who is the judge?  I am the judge for me and you are the judge for you.  One cannot hide from this truth and it is a no brainier that each of us is well advised to become as proficient in this matter as possible.

The Catch-22 is that the person who has little learning regarding this matter is the person most in need of self-study of this subject.  In other words, the person with the least ability in making good judgments is the person who will make the judgment as to whether to spend the effort and time in acquiring the knowledge required to make good judgments.

Each of us makes many judgments every day.  Each judgment made has some affect on our life.  There are bad judgments, good judgments, and better judgments.  The more ‘better judgments’ we make in our life the better our life will be, generally speaking.

Physics is about knowledge and is about objects in our world. Philosophy is about understanding and is about meaning that we impose upon the world of objects.

Understanding is a confluence of emotion and reason and happens rarely. It is a long step beyond knowing and is a synthesis of knowledge. When we do philosophy it is like the jazz player who integrates knowledge with emotion and plays the meaning that he or she understands. This understanding is not necessarily related to truth except that it is a synthesis of knowledge.

Physics is about knowledge concerning objects that can be measured. Knowledge is about truth, i.e. about how reality is. Philosophy is about meaning; it is an attempt to understand the world as an object of meaning; it goes beyond that which can be measured. Philosophy does not deal only with factual knowledge. Philosophy creates meaning which has no truth value in the sense that physics does. Philosophy is not merely a word game but neither is it a natural science that attempts to speak to the nature of reality.

Philosophy is a jazz solo. When we study philosophy we learn what the greatest minds have to say about these matters and from this knowledge we can get an idea of how we can do likewise.

CT (Critical Thinking) is philosophy lite.  This is what philosophy means to me.

What does philosophy mean to you?

#### Chemistry4me

• Neilep Level Member
• Posts: 7709
##### What is philosophy all about?
« Reply #1 on: 30/01/2009 21:53:09 »

#### Vern

• Neilep Level Member
• Posts: 2072
##### What is philosophy all about?
« Reply #2 on: 30/01/2009 22:40:23 »
I was reminded of your thread recently when I was discussing physics with someone who was well versed in physics but lacking in philosophy. He kept saying things like the Palui Exclusion Principle prevents two particles from occupying the same state. I kept arguing that the cause was some fundamental property of the particles and not a principal. I finally got through to him when I said his argument was like saying that the theory of relativity caused relativity phenomena, and that theories and principles don't cause things, they merely describe them.

So I agree with you. We should try and get more physics folks to catch up on philosophy. We would do better physics as a result I think.

#### Soul Surfer

• Neilep Level Member
• Posts: 3345
• keep banging the rocks together
##### What is philosophy all about?
« Reply #3 on: 31/01/2009 00:04:34 »
The origins of the word philosophy mean "a lover of wisdom".  As such it can deal with all aspects of existence from basic mathematical and physical relationships to the ways in which lifeforms understand each other and interact all the way to human interactions and motivations.

As such this can be divided into three major aspects.  Firstly The materials that compose the objects under discussion which could be anything from a subatomic particle, a person or group of people to a star or galaxy. Secondly the processes by which the objects interact. and finally of all the interactions that are possible the ones that become permanent and have a lasting effect as opposed to those that are purely transitory.

#### coberst

• Sr. Member
• Posts: 292
##### What is philosophy all about?
« Reply #4 on: 31/01/2009 12:08:09 »
Long ago I asked a professor of philosophy “what is philosophy about?”  He said that philosophy is about radically critical self-consciousness.  It was 30 years later that I finally understood his meaning and was able to agree with it.

#### blakestyger

• Guest
##### What is philosophy all about?
« Reply #5 on: 31/01/2009 23:48:41 »
The story goes that once a taxi driver said to a friend;

'I had Bertrand Russell in the cab the other day and I said to him "Well Mr Russell, what's it all about?" and do you know - he couldn't tell me'.

#### coberst

• Sr. Member
• Posts: 292
##### What is philosophy all about?
« Reply #6 on: 01/02/2009 11:59:48 »
The story goes that once a taxi driver said to a friend;

'I had Bertrand Russell in the cab the other day and I said to him "Well Mr Russell, what's it all about?" and do you know - he couldn't tell me'.

That might be a good answer to the question "What does 'intellectual sophistication' mean?"

#### The Naked Scientists Forum

##### What is philosophy all about?
« Reply #6 on: 01/02/2009 11:59:48 »