Does this forum have any value?

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Eduk
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Does this forum have any value?

Post by Eduk » July 23rd, 2018, 8:05 am

Philosophically is there value in this forum?
I have read far too many posts which ask a reasonable question but get no reasonable reply.
Far too many posts which read like Nigerian prince scams.
Far too many posts where instead of discussing it is instead the preference to argue.
Don't get me wrong there are some sensible replies in amongst the noise. But they are drowned out.
So the question is would you actually be more productive, philosophically, not participating in the forum?

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chewybrian
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Re: Does this forum have any value?

Post by chewybrian » July 23rd, 2018, 8:42 am

Eduk wrote:
July 23rd, 2018, 8:05 am
Philosophically is there value in this forum?
It is limited, to be sure, but there are decent reasons to check in.
Eduk wrote:
July 23rd, 2018, 8:05 am
So the question is would you actually be more productive, philosophically, not participating in the forum?
In theory, you could be. If you are bright, motivated, and well grounded, then you could probably get a lot more from the original sources.

But, most of us need a feedback loop to see if we are off the rails on some of the more difficult ideas. Once in a while, you'll see something new (to you) that sparks interest for follow up in the real world. Very often these discussions allow you to see ideas known to you from a very different perspective, which can raise doubts or reinforce your own position. Mostly, expressing your own ideas allows them to gel into something more refined. I think most of us are just polishing our own ideas in this way, rather than gathering new ideas or (that most unlikely result imaginable), being talked out of our own opinion and into something more sensible.

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Re: Does this forum have any value?

Post by Karpel Tunnel » July 23rd, 2018, 9:42 am

Eduk wrote:
July 23rd, 2018, 8:05 am
Philosophically is there value in this forum?
Some.
Eduk wrote:
July 23rd, 2018, 8:05 am
So the question is would you actually be more productive, philosophically, not participating in the forum?
Depends on the alternative. Certainly reading actual classical works would be more worthwhile for some philosophical goals. Likewise some other activities.

But there is somethign different about encountering philosophical activities in specfic minds. You get to see, to some degree live, over time, how that mind defends and justifies its positions and also how it interacts with information or ideas that may or may not lead to cognitive dissonance. IOW we get to see what is going 'out there' in minds. How they fortify their positions, what they refuse to look at, how they deal with confusion...and so on. I think that is important, but it does not necessarily make one a better philosopher. Here we get to interplay with the kinds of meme and mental processes that lead to all sorts of decisions and attitudes out there. That is not easy to get from books since books tend to be much better organized than minds are, including the minds of the authors.

Here you can find out just how the mess of the world is held in place. And also how messy your own mind is, where there are gaps, how you yourself avoid cognitive dissonance and deal with it.

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Re: Does this forum have any value?

Post by Hereandnow » July 23rd, 2018, 10:26 am

Be nice if reading philosophy could take precedence over blind bickering (or even not so blind bickering). But it does hit the mark on occasion. It's the consequence of a free exchange that it is not so tightly bound thematically, and spillage into other things becomes inevitable. If you want to give it better direction, write relevant, poignant posts. But to stay away altogether? Better to read something terribly interesting, like Kant or Kierkegaard, and bring this into discussion and invite others to read what you've read. Hard to do, but no reading, no philosophy; not really. It's like playing chess but not ever knowing how the pieces move. The whole thing collapses into a chat over tea.

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Re: Does this forum have any value?

Post by chewybrian » July 23rd, 2018, 3:08 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
July 23rd, 2018, 10:26 am
Better to read something terribly interesting, like Kant or Kierkegaard, and bring this into discussion and invite others to read what you've read.
I just finished "The Present Moment". He gives it to organized religion with both barrels!

He compares the parish to a crowd at a fire who show up with buckets and garden hoses. The fireman needs to tell them to get the (expletive) out of the way, so he can get at the fire. The priest, who should be acting like the fireman, is instead giving his blessing to the metaphorical buckets, and taking ten dollars to bless each bucket. They are putting the prefix "Christian" ahead of whatever people would prefer to be doing, or what little good they are willing to do, as if the prefix alone made it holy, instead of standing firm on what Jesus said we should be doing. Kierkegaard takes his turn at turning over the money changers table, and it's hard to fault him for trying to get peoples' attention.

I'd say it is worth reading no matter your stance on God or religion.

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Re: Does this forum have any value?

Post by Hereandnow » July 23rd, 2018, 5:48 pm

Well Chewybrian, if the issues at hand are like fires needing to be out then perhaps the metaphor has some merit, but really--it's not that simple. Turning over the money changers table is certainly inline with Kierkegaard and his animosity toward orthodoxy, but the substance of Kierkegaard needs very close attention to be understood. I am reading Jaspers' Philosophy of Existence right now and it is remarkable how much he, as well as Sartre and others, owes Kierkegaard. You might want to look at his Concept of Anxiety for a serious presentation to the foundations of Existentialism. Question on this: what does one do with his qualitative leap? Is there something that reveals itself, some ineffable essence in the "radical inwardness" of subjectivity, in the earnest pursuit of philosophical understanding? Or is philosophy like Rorty seems to hold: just one more literary body of themes whose time has come and gone.

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Re: Does this forum have any value?

Post by chewybrian » July 24th, 2018, 6:51 am

Hereandnow wrote:
July 23rd, 2018, 5:48 pm
Well Chewybrian, if the issues at hand are like fires needing to be out then perhaps the metaphor has some merit, but really--it's not that simple. Turning over the money changers table is certainly inline with Kierkegaard and his animosity toward orthodoxy, but the substance of Kierkegaard needs very close attention to be understood. I am reading Jaspers' Philosophy of Existence right now and it is remarkable how much he, as well as Sartre and others, owes Kierkegaard. You might want to look at his Concept of Anxiety for a serious presentation to the foundations of Existentialism. Question on this: what does one do with his qualitative leap? Is there something that reveals itself, some ineffable essence in the "radical inwardness" of subjectivity, in the earnest pursuit of philosophical understanding? Or is philosophy like Rorty seems to hold: just one more literary body of themes whose time has come and gone.
You are throwing out a lot of ideas there; I'm not up to speed on all of them. I can see a connection between Kierkegaard's 'dizziness of freedom' and Camus' absurdity, for example, though they are heading in different directions from close starting points. I like the honesty in both cases.

I'm not sure how useful the leap is unless you are willing to take it. I don't buy original sin, and I'm not sure we have to take a leap to sin ourselves. The leap back to God is at least an honest explanation of how to have faith, rather than a tortured attempt to prove God. We all take some smaller leaps to function in the world. We have to take some things for granted that can not be proven. Ironically, the one I see the most here is the notion that science and logic have proven or will prove everything. The idea that we can get by without ever accepting anything we can not prove seems as odd as most of the unproven principles people have accepted. Somehow knowing of the big bang, evolution and cause and effect suffices for many, and there is no need to wonder why matter and energy and life and consciousness came to be in the first place, or what type of people we should try to become (since we can't choose our own path, anyway--heredity and experience drive the bus; we sit in the back).

Of course, I don't think philosophy has 'jumped the shark', or I would not be here. In the quest for new ideas, though, perhaps we've forgotten that we need the old ones as much as ever. As technology increases our ability to help or hurt each other, isn't understanding and practicing virtue becoming critical for survival? Cicero said philosophy is treatment for the damaged soul. I think philosophy is as powerful as ever in this context of self-help and self-discovery, rather than trying to use it to explain the nature of the universe. It is a great tool for showing the need for and the process for developing virtue, rather than a tool for proving we can never be virtuous.

I'm willing to take the small leap to find truth in Socrates, Epictetus, Rousseau, or Montaigne. Perhaps I can not prove their ideas, but I can find value in them, and find them to be true for me, and benefit from the adoption. Subjectively, unprovable notions can become as true as any scientific theory, and often more valuable. They are just much more difficult to pass on to others who don't share your subjective point of view. About all you can do is try to live by your principles and let them pick up on it in their own time (if ever).

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Re: Does this forum have any value?

Post by Hereandnow » July 24th, 2018, 9:59 am

Chewybrian:We all take some smaller leaps to function in the world
The trouble with philosophy is that, and this is just one of many, it takes ideas that are bandied about and gives them heft and crowds them with discussion one never thought possible. K. isn't talking about original sin, but two kinds of sin: qualitative and quantitative. the latter is what he calls hereditary sin and it's the culture and language we inherit as we assimilate our world. It's the everydayness of our lives, and it is inherently sinful because it is a part of a structure of our nature, of the nature of the self, that ignores God and clings to specious forms of value. But qualitative sin, that is something very different. K. spent most of his life a the "dark nights of inwardness" and his thought pulls away dramatically from everydayness (which includes empirical science and especially dogmatic religion). Qualitative sin occurs what one becomes aware of one's estrangement from Being and God. K. believed that we are spirit, and our true reality is dialectical tension between soul and body, but we simply do not know this because we are too busy wasting our time on petty infatuations. Our true selves are hidden from us (not unlike the Buddhist argument).

It's a long story, for to access Kierkegaard, one has to go through Kant and German rationalism, at least to the extent that one gets what a "Copernican Revolution" is as Kant uses the term. It is really the Cartesian turn: what is considered Real in science is only empirically real, and this begs the question: how can one ever get past the perceptual act itself to "get at" the objects of observation? Descartes puts doubt on all objective knowledge claims save one, the egoic center. Neither Kant nor Descartes were mystics and did not talk about extraordinary "leaps" into subjectivity. Kierkegaard, one could argue, was a kind of mystic, though this needs a lot of attention to show. But if the assumption holds that Being as such, authentic and true Being, the genuine "isness" of the world is there, at the core of subjectivity; if the way to clear and real apprehension of what it means to exist at all is to dismiss to assumptions of science that dominate our everyday lives and go where science cannot go, into philosophical thought, then the game of discovery becomes a very different one. The Real IS the self, and here is where God is encountered. Philosophical work here is like jnana yoga, the yoga of wisdom. In modern terms, it deconstructs the world, leaving bare things that are primordial, original.
I think philosophy is as powerful as ever in this context of self-help and self-discovery, rather than trying to use it to explain the nature of the universe. It is a great tool for showing the need for and the process for developing virtue, rather than a tool for proving we can never be virtuous.
You would have to explain to me how philosophy is powerful for self help and discovery.

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Re: Does this forum have any value?

Post by chewybrian » July 24th, 2018, 2:04 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
July 24th, 2018, 9:59 am
It's a long story, for to access Kierkegaard, one has to go through Kant and German rationalism, at least to the extent that one gets what a "Copernican Revolution" is as Kant uses the term.
I still have much to learn there, but the exposure I have to Kierkegaard has sparked my interest to look further.
Hereandnow wrote:
July 24th, 2018, 9:59 am
Descartes puts doubt on all objective knowledge claims save one, the egoic center. Neither Kant nor Descartes were mystics and did not talk about extraordinary "leaps" into subjectivity. Kierkegaard, one could argue, was a kind of mystic, though this needs a lot of attention to show. But if the assumption holds that Being as such, authentic and true Being, the genuine "isness" of the world is there, at the core of subjectivity; if the way to clear and real apprehension of what it means to exist at all is to dismiss to assumptions of science that dominate our everyday lives and go where science cannot go, into philosophical thought, then the game of discovery becomes a very different one. The Real IS the self, and here is where God is encountered. Philosophical work here is like jnana yoga, the yoga of wisdom. In modern terms, it deconstructs the world, leaving bare things that are primordial, original.
This is a compelling line of thought, and again I have more to learn, beyond Descartes, at least. But this:
Hereandnow wrote:
July 24th, 2018, 9:59 am
You would have to explain to me how philosophy is powerful for self help and discovery.
This one I've got.

http://www.vacounseling.com/stoicism-cbt/

The Enchiridion by Epictetus in particular, and stoicism in general, are the basis for cognitive behavioral therapy, which has proven more effective than drug treatments. It is used for treating: anger issues, anxiety, depression and addiction.

http://classics.mit.edu/Epictetus/epicench.html

The point of the Enchiridion is to line up your desires and aversions with the things in your control, while learning to release worry about any outcomes outside your control, which, surprising to many of us, includes things like your health, wealth or reputation. If you take the strategies of Epictetus to heart, you virtually eliminate unpleasant surprises. You will learn to line up your desires with what is natural and good for you and within your capacity to get. Similarly, you will align your aversions to things you should naturally avoid which you have the power to keep at bay. Importantly, you will learn that others have their own perspective of events, and should not be expected to see your side. This goes a long way to reducing anger. The guy who cut you off in traffic might have seen things differently. If not, it is still only his problem, unless you consent.

The next step is to use your properly aligned desires and aversions to go out into the world and make choices which fulfill your duties to your family, friends, and community, following the four virtues: wisdom, temperance, courage, and justice. Only when steps one and two are in place should one consider moving on to considerations of the nature of the universe and such.

I could quote you the entire work and comment line by line, but you can take the link and check it out if it interests you. A few of my favorites:
1. Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.

The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others. Remember, then, that if you suppose that things which are slavish by nature are also free, and that what belongs to others is your own, then you will be hindered. You will lament, you will be disturbed, and you will find fault both with gods and men. But if you suppose that only to be your own which is your own, and what belongs to others such as it really is, then no one will ever compel you or restrain you. Further, you will find fault with no one or accuse no one. You will do nothing against your will. No one will hurt you, you will have no enemies, and you not be harmed.

9. Sickness is a hindrance to the body, but not to your ability to choose, unless that is your choice. Lameness is a hindrance to the leg, but not to your ability to choose. Say this to yourself with regard to everything that happens, then you will see such obstacles as hindrances to something else, but not to yourself.

19. You may be unconquerable, if you enter into no combat in which it is not in your own control to conquer...

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Re: Does this forum have any value?

Post by Hereandnow » July 24th, 2018, 6:50 pm

chewybrian:
he point of the Enchiridion is to line up your desires and aversions with the things in your control, while learning to release worry about any outcomes outside your control, which, surprising to many of us, includes things like your health, wealth or reputation. If you take the strategies of Epictetus to heart, you virtually eliminate unpleasant surprises. You will learn to line up your desires with what is natural and good for you and within your capacity to get
I have no argument with techniques that make us feel better about ourselves, or help us deal with an unpleasant world. But if the point is to feel better, manage better, then surely it is an encouragement of any particular alignment of beliefs with the world: the agreement between belief and the world is purely pragmatic, and if something else comes along that "works" better, than it would be preferred over competitors. I would think this kind of approach falls more along the lines of practical psychology than philosophy, though I do see that there is a philosophical thesis behind it, namely, that of the stiocs. But these guys are utility driven, and not very interesting otherwise. It gets interesting only when the struggle with philosophy begins to undo complacency and wonder turns to intense inquiry, and the foundations of knowledge fall apart at the base. There comes a point at which you realize as Socrates did that we really don't know who we are at all, and that what we thought we were was just part of some grand narrative we've been putting together through the ages.
Philosophy wants the truth at the level of basic questions, basic assumptions. And it has a lot to say.

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Re: Does this forum have any value?

Post by chewybrian » July 25th, 2018, 5:21 am

Hereandnow wrote:
July 24th, 2018, 6:50 pm
But these guys are utility driven, and not very interesting otherwise. It gets interesting only when the struggle with philosophy begins to undo complacency and wonder turns to intense inquiry, and the foundations of knowledge fall apart at the base. There comes a point at which you realize as Socrates did that we really don't know who we are at all, and that what we thought we were was just part of some grand narrative we've been putting together through the ages.
Philosophy wants the truth at the level of basic questions, basic assumptions. And it has a lot to say.
Well, it is not in the nature of stoics to be offended by your slighting them, or to offer any defense, but rather to point out that you must not be aware of their many other failings, or you would have mentioned those as well. Ironically, they thought of Socrates as quite the hero, the rare example of the sage. Yet, they realized, as you must, how extremely unlikely it would be for any of us to be at that level. Again, they specifically warned of the tendency to jump ahead in philosophy, to wish to understand the great questions before properly working out the basics, and the stuff in the middle. It is dangerous to work above your pay grade, as you have a great chance to get things wrong, and to have your priorities all out of order, such that you would be worse off for having made the effort. Humility was par for the course, so even Socrates would have surely denied he was qualified to be called a sage. Much of his life was spent trying to disprove the claim of the oracle that he was the wisest man.

They thought philosophy had value for everyone, and felt the message was more important than the messenger. As a result, you might see their teachings as 'too simple'. Their clarity does not imply they had nothing serious to say, but only that they did not wish to inflate your opinion of the author through the style, but only to get the point across. A lot of other works could benefit from such a treatment.

I'm sure you meant something else, which might not be called 'basic' at all. However, what could be more basic questions than these? How should we interpret the world, events and actions of others? What duties do we have to each other? How should we prepare our minds to face the world? What could lead us to lasting happiness and tranquility, rather than chasing empty promises of wealth, power, or fame?

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Re: Does this forum have any value?

Post by Eduk » July 25th, 2018, 6:12 am

Chewy if I can swing us back to topic for a moment I'd like to consider your original reply.
It is interesting that you say the main value of the forum might be to polish your own ideas?
So I guess I'd like to ask the obvious question. Are we polishing our ideas? And by polishing I mean improving. For example, taking the analogy further, if I was to polish a diamond by asking how to polish diamonds, on this forum, would I be doing a better or worse job?

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Re: Does this forum have any value?

Post by Thinking critical » July 25th, 2018, 6:49 am

Eduk wrote:
July 23rd, 2018, 8:05 am
Philosophically is there value in this forum?
Hi Eduk, for me personally the value is the intellectual challenge which drives me to read, research and learn more in order to sustain coherent discussions with other members.
There have been times where I have had a compete paradigm shift after seriously questioning my own deepest views.
More recently i have had some enlightened thoughts after reading some of Tamminen's views on consciousness and have (almost) second guessed some....only some of my views of free will after a recent discussion with Chewy. However I'm still firm chewy, I just can't help it :lol:
This cocky little cognitive contortionist will straighten you right out

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Re: Does this forum have any value?

Post by chewybrian » July 25th, 2018, 8:50 am

Eduk wrote:
July 25th, 2018, 6:12 am
Chewy if I can swing us back to topic for a moment I'd like to consider your original reply.
It is interesting that you say the main value of the forum might be to polish your own ideas?
Actually, TC lays out what the value of the forum SHOULD be:
Thinking critical wrote:
July 25th, 2018, 6:49 am
Hi Eduk, for me personally the value is the intellectual challenge which drives me to read, research and learn more in order to sustain coherent discussions with other members.
There have been times where I have had a compete paradigm shift after seriously questioning my own deepest views.
More recently i have had some enlightened thoughts after reading some of Tamminen's views on consciousness and have (almost) second guessed some....only some of my views of free will after a recent discussion with Chewy. However I'm still firm chewy, I just can't help it :lol:
Being inspired to check out something new would be an excellent payoff for checking in. Even better would be the favor of learning we were incorrect about the facts, or had not interpreted them properly. Rather than being insulted, we should be thankful for having learned. I must applaud him for being open-minded, even if he decides to continue on the wrong path in the end sometimes (I kid).

I only meant that polishing our own ideas is what happens, not that it was the highest and best use of the forum.
Eduk wrote:
July 25th, 2018, 6:12 am
So I guess I'd like to ask the obvious question. Are we polishing our ideas? And by polishing I mean improving. For example, taking the analogy further, if I was to polish a diamond by asking how to polish diamonds, on this forum, would I be doing a better or worse job?
We are doing fine if we were right to begin with, yet were willing to confirm or deny being correct. We can gain a better understanding of why we were right, and how to express ourselves better next time. "Polishing" in that sense is a win; it was the result, but not the intention.

But, if we began with the intention of reinforcing the ideas we entered with, then we are polishing a turd, and simply entrenching ourselves further if we are wrong (and not on the right path in the long run even if we were factually correct this time). This is the way of politics. This is a terrible use of the forum, or any opportunity to exchange ideas. We all have ego or optimism bias, so we are likely to believe our own ideas true, rather than to be open-minded, which is the way of philosophy, which requires extra care and effort.

The way of philosophy is the use TC describes, and it is probably the most we could hope for, and a good example for the rest of us to follow.

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Re: Does this forum have any value?

Post by Georgeanna » August 4th, 2018, 4:03 am

Eduk wrote:
July 23rd, 2018, 8:05 am
Philosophically is there value in this forum?
I have read far too many posts which ask a reasonable question but get no reasonable reply.
Far too many posts which read like Nigerian prince scams.
Far too many posts where instead of discussing it is instead the preference to argue.
Don't get me wrong there are some sensible replies in amongst the noise. But they are drowned out.
So the question is would you actually be more productive, philosophically, not participating in the forum?
There is value. This thread is one example.
I find it useful to read and observe the interaction of posters who have a passion for a certain topic or philosopher. Even if I don't actively participate, or am seen to be 'philosophically productive' whatever that means, there is value.

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