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September 13, 2009

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twitter.com/nja

I thought this one was rather weak - I was reading Jeremy Stangroom and Julian Baggini's collection of interviews with British philosophers this weekend and was struck by Miranda Fricker's comment on this: "I think it is a bit ludicrous when people defend philosophy on the grounds that it teaches you how to think. That is extraordinarily insulting to other subjects!". Doesn't there need to be some justification for the idea that professional philosophers are better at clearing up conceptual confusions in history or science than professional historians or scientists? I've certainly never seen much evidence that philosophers of science have a clearer view of the subject than scientists themselves.

Harold Godwineson

The comment from "ajn":

"Doesn't there need to be some justification for the idea that professional philosophers are better at clearing up conceptual confusions in history or science than professional historians or scientists?"


A simple example:

"Mass" in Newton is a homonym of "Mass" in quantum theory, they are distinct concepts. This result and its concomitant clarifications came from philosophy, not science.

There are many many other examples, this is merely a very accessible one.


Altogether a very large question, but the non-scientist's presupposition of the epistemic pimacy of
"science" is very dangerous and to some degree anti-rational.

Indeed the term "scientific" has come to take a synonymous relationship with the phrase "is true".

One might as well use the phrase "it is written..."

Philosophy is about discovering, confronting, and acknowledging uncertainty. Particularly in areas where there was none.


twitter.com/nja

""Mass" in Newton is a homonym of "Mass" in quantum theory, they are distinct concepts. This result and its concomitant clarifications came from philosophy, not science."

And this was discovered by which philosopher(s)? There were plenty of people involved in the development of quantum theory who had philosophical training as well as being physicists (Heisenberg and Bohr for example), but I'm struggling to think of any pure philosophers who contributed significantly to the development of the field - or any other field of science. The argument in any case isn't that philosophers can't clear up such confusions (though I'd like a few concrete examples), it is that they are no better at doing so than people working from within the field.

Roger Byrne

If you think that pure philosophers have never contributed significantly to science then you really need
to study the ancients. A good starting point is Guthrie's "A History Of Greek Philosophy".

l.g.i.g

In this episode and particularly the comments, the point emerges that philosophy is inane drivel. It is the pursuit of the idle and the unwell.

Brian

Harold Godwineson is pretty much spot on. Philosophy is the subject which studies ideas, and the connections between ideas and reality. Science works as well as it does because of the philosophers and their dedication to logical rigor.

Charlie

"a lot of [philosophers] are pedants but they're also boring..."

My sentiments exactly. Most academic philosophy is just a big word game. The game is played with pensive looks and jargon and claims to have read improprably large amounts of ever more obscure philosophical writings. ("You can't possibly understand unless you've read 14c Laotian philosopher Pa Vong's obscure unpublished early work which has never been translated from the ancient Lao and which you need a $100 a month subscription to Lao Philosophy Today to read..."). The only way to win is to be as evasive and incomprehensible as possible and thereby secure some research funding or a position in a University which is, after all, all that matters in professional philosophy because that's the only way you can avoid starvation or having to get a real job which produces something or provides a service. Academic philosophy rarely touches on people's everyday lives except when someone (cough*De Botton*cough) is trying to sell books into the mass market and even then it's still evasive and inconclusive and aloof just without quite so much jargon. Rant over.

Carl

"a lot of [philosophers] are pedants but they're also boring..."

My sentiments exactly. Most academic philosophy is just a big word game. The game is played with pensive looks and jargon and claims to have read improprably large amounts of ever more obscure philosophical writings. ("You can't possibly understand unless you've read 14c Laotian philosopher Pa Vong's obscure unpublished early work which has never been translated from the ancient Lao and which you need a $100 a month subscription to Lao Philosophy Today to read..."). The only way to win is to be as evasive and incomprehensible as possible and thereby secure some research funding or a position in a University which is, after all, all that matters in professional philosophy because that's the only way you can avoid starvation or having to get a real job which produces something or provides a service. Academic philosophy rarely touches on people's everyday lives except when someone (cough*De Botton*cough) is trying to sell books into the mass market and even then it's still evasive and inconclusive and aloof just without quite so much jargon. Rant over.


You clueless cunt

Charlie

OK, I was a bit over the top.

I enjoy reading philosophy and listening to this podcast so professional philosophy does provide a service to me. I was being disingenuous in my comment above. And I do know some professional philosophers and they're neither pedants nor boring so apologies to them.

I was just a bit frustrated by this podcast. I have a philosophy degree so the question "What can you do with philosophy?" is quite pertinent to me. I suppose at its heart is a frustration that even after 3 years studying philosophy full time and 10 years thinking about it on and off I still have not heard a cogent explanation of what philosophy is. I thought this podcast might contain a bit of an insight and I was disappointed.

Heidi

I was rather pleased with the comments on the artworld being not very ambitious about the intellectual content.
Thank you for putting my frustration with some art (more specifically art texts, and curator babble) into these adequately chosen words.

James James

I liked this podcast. I like all the podcats. Thank you for the podcasts.

Notwthstanding, could somebody please tell me what is
(1) the difference between "good writing" and "philsophy"
(2) what people mean in this context by the use of term "is"? Do they mean the real world practice of philosophy - or of the essence of same - or the distinguishing chacateristics of same - or what? Does all this not amount to people on this thread actively discussing the philosphy of philosphy on electronic armchairs?

Anybody wanna help me with soem ideas on a thesis proposal I have to submit for "The Philosophy of Profound Unilateral Hearing Loss" ?

see - http://deaf.headplug.com

Listen up there - this and all the other podcasts, I reckon, are/were/shall be very helpful :-))

PS - some of them are brusque verging on rudeness (see the John Campbell one, for example). Whatever happened to good manners :-(

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