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Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

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chewybrian
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Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

Post by chewybrian » July 31st, 2018, 6:41 am

First, do you discuss philosophy with regular folks, with friends, family, coworkers, even strangers on the bus? If you do, what success or struggles do you have? Do you alienate people, or do they think you are odd? Or, do they surprise you with their interest, insight or knowledge?

Second, does philosophy influence your behavior, the choices you make, the way you treat others, or your entire way of living? Can you give examples of how your philosophy directs you to act differently than you might otherwise act in everyday situations? Do you sit in your tower with your books like Montaigne or go out into the streets to harass people like Socrates?

Consider the example of Diogenes. He owned nothing but a barrel in which he lived, and a cloak. When Alexander the Great asked what gift he could bestow upon him, Diogenes said Alexander could move out of his sunlight, so he could resume warming himself in the sun. I'm guessing none of us have this level of commitment. Is there value to reading and knowing philosophy without living it, or does the value come from living it?

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Re: Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

Post by Fooloso4 » August 1st, 2018, 12:36 pm

Chewybrian, thank you for posing some excellent and thought provoking questions.
First, do you discuss philosophy with regular folks, with friends, family, coworkers, even strangers on the bus?
When I first began studying philosophy I did. I don’t anymore. In part because many people feel threatened or intimidated by an examination of their opinions, and in part because those who express an interest are usually only interested in telling you about their own quasi-religious speculation.
Second, does philosophy influence your behavior, the choices you make, the way you treat others, or your entire way of living?
Absolutely. Central to my interest in philosophy is “the examined life”.
Can you give examples of how your philosophy directs you to act differently than you might otherwise act in everyday situations?
Of primary importance is the way I evaluate the situation. This includes an awareness that things can be seen from various perspectives and that all perspectives are limited. Epictetus makes an important distinction between events and judgment of events, knowing what is within my ability to change and what is not. Self-knowledge and self-awareness also play an important role - what do I really know about the situation and how best to react? What is motivating me to act - anger is a good example, but honestly, I think blood pressure medication plays an important role in regulating my anger.
Do you sit in your tower with your books like Montaigne or go out into the streets to harass people like Socrates?
Like Trump I sit on my gold plated throne and harass people, but unlike Trump I do not tweet and only harass people on philosophy discussion boards. When not doing that I sit on my throne and read books. Actually, I do not have a gold plated toilet and sitting on one for too long can lead to various health problems.
Consider the example of Diogenes … I'm guessing none of us have this level of commitment.
I do not see it as a matter of commitment. There is more to the story. Alexander, who was a student of Aristotle, is the paradigmatic man of action, but Diogenes too was a man of action, except in a very different way. Alexander sought to conquer the world. Diogenes sought to conquer himself, but perhaps his behavior was symptomatic of a psychological imbalance, that is, a failure to conquer himself. It could be said that he lived his convictions, and in this way taught them, but does one need to commit to his way of life in order to live a philosophical life? This brings us back to the question of the examined life.
Is there value to reading and knowing philosophy without living it, or does the value come from living it?
In my opinion, philosophy is a way of life, but as Nietzsche asks:
... this is my way what is yours?
In other words, the philosophical way of life is not a single way of life lived according to set rules and practices. Borrowing from Pindar, Nietzsche’s imperative:
Become who/what you are
guides his way of life. I am not Diogenes, and so, my commitment to a philosophical way of life has not led me to live as he did.

I think we can learn a great deal from reading the philosophers. Thoreau criticized professors of philosophy for coming home from work and living lives that were indistinguishable from that of others. I think this criticism is justified, but I think there is also value in reading philosophy as a body of knowledge, something to be known for the sake of knowing it, for learning how others think and see themselves, others, and the world.

Heidegger is widely held to be a great thinker, perhaps the greatest of the twentieth century, but given his affiliation with the Nazis and his unconscionable treatment of his Jewish students, does he deserve to be thought of as a great philosopher?

I think Wittgenstein sums it up nicely:
Working in philosophy -- like work in architecture in many respects -- is really more a working on oneself. On one's interpretation. On one's way of seeing things. (And what one expects of them.) (Culture and Value 16)

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Re: Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

Post by Eduk » August 2nd, 2018, 4:00 am

Defining philosophy is tough. Is Diogenes' criticism of societal norms philosophy or phycology? For example is recognising that appeal to the masses is a fallacy philosophical?
You could easily argue that everybody has a philosophy. And that their philosophy was of prime importance.
You could just as easily argue there are very few philosophers and no benefit to philosophy.
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Re: Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

Post by Eduk » August 2nd, 2018, 4:03 am

psychology not phycology
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Re: Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

Post by chewybrian » August 2nd, 2018, 6:34 am

Eduk wrote:
August 2nd, 2018, 4:00 am
Defining philosophy is tough...
You could easily argue that everybody has a philosophy. And that their philosophy was of prime importance.
You could just as easily argue there are very few philosophers and no benefit to philosophy.
I think few people define their philosophy before they head out the door, and reference it before acting out in the world. They may have a 'true world' view, like religion or politics, through which they filter impressions of the actual world, but I would call that a mechanism for avoiding having to decide on a philosophy. So, I agree there are few philosophers, but disagree strongly that there is no benefit to philosophy.
Eduk wrote:
August 2nd, 2018, 4:00 am
Is Diogenes' criticism of societal norms philosophy or phycology?
Diogenes was definitely practicing philosophy, as his criticisms were right in line with the cornerstones of Cynicism. He lived his philosophy to the fullest, but none of us need to follow his example unless we also take cynicism to be the one true path to happiness. I find the most value in stoic philosophy, and there is a lot of overlap with cynicism. It seems the important difference is that cynics reject wealth and possessions, while stoics view them as indifferent. I still use money and possessions, but I no longer have strong emotional attachments to either as I had in the past, and that makes life much less stressful as I know I can get along without most material things. I have not had a car for over 10 years, for example, because I am able to get by without one, and it frees up resources for things I would rather have. Experiencing physical hardship is a useful stoic exercise, so being out in the elements fits well, and allows me to quietly demonstrate a commitment to myself and anyone who might notice.

Living in accordance with nature and seeking virtue as its own reward are important areas of overlap between cynicism and stoicism. But, stoics tend to seek tranquility internally, and somewhat ignore others, except for fulfilling the duties they owe them based on relationships and social contracts. Cynics find happiness out in the world, and attempt to impose it on others.
Eduk wrote:
August 2nd, 2018, 4:00 am
For example is recognising that appeal to the masses is a fallacy philosophical?
It's hard to argue that logic would not qualify as philosophy, though some people might not recognize it as such. Since I don't give credit for tortured logic or rationalizations, I still maintain there are few philosophers.

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Re: Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

Post by chewybrian » August 2nd, 2018, 7:28 am

Fooloso4 wrote:
August 1st, 2018, 12:36 pm
Of primary importance is the way I evaluate the situation. This includes an awareness that things can be seen from various perspectives and that all perspectives are limited. Epictetus makes an important distinction between events and judgment of events, knowing what is within my ability to change and what is not...
Truly the last response I expected was preemptive agreement with what would have been my own answer to the question. I am happy to see it is of value to you.

To the question of engaging others about philosophy, I do it, but I wait patiently for the right opportunity to arise. One of my favorite questions is: "What is the square root of a million?". I'm not so much searching for the right answer, but watching the person's willingness to try to figure it out. It seems telling to me if they trust their own abilities enough or have a natural curiosity to at least think about it, or if they assume they could not figure it out without even trying. I tend to give up further inquiry with the second set of people.

The other question is: "Do you believe you have a free will?" Everyone says yes, and then I confront them, in the way of a novelty, with the idea of materialism/determinism. Their response readily displays their interest or lack of interest in philosophy. In only a few cases do I go on to discuss other issues on another day. There are only a handful of people to whom I will bring ideas or concerns out in the 'real' world. These are the ones who passed the initial tests and continued to show interest.

So, an example of how philosophy directs action in the real world: a trip to the race track, which seems a far cry from a stoic exercise, yet...
When you are going about any action, remind yourself what nature the action is.
Before walking in the door, I remember what happens at the track. There are loud, whiny, self-absorbed people there who could upset my apple cart if I let them. Even friends will interrupt me when I am focusing on the Form or the tote board, or try to give me crappy touts of horses they 'like' for questionable reasons based on shallow analysis. I can and probably will lose a photo, or get a poor trip or a bonehead move by a jockey. With these thoughts in my head, none of these events should surprise or disturb me if they happen.
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.
In my control is the amount I am willing to lose, so I enter only with that amount in my pocket, along with enough for coffee and a sandwich. In my control is my effort to handicap as best I am able, to always seek value, to try to interpret the Form as honestly as I can, and to bet or not to bet. Out of my control is everything else, so nothing but my own efforts should concern me, including any results of the action on the track.
If a person gave your body to any stranger he met on his way, you would certainly be angry. And do you feel no shame in handing over your own mind to be confused and mystified by anyone who happens to verbally attack you?
The race track is full of opinionated blowhards, and most of them are wrong, based on simple math. So, I need to stick to my own honest effort and not be pulled into action by others, no matter how forceful their (probably misguided) convictions seem. I make exceptions for a couple people whose opinions I do respect.
The condition and characteristic of a vulgar person, is, that he never expects either benefit or hurt from himself, but from externals. The condition and characteristic of a philosopher is, that he expects all hurt and benefit from himself.
I need to examine negative outcomes not from the perspective of having gotten a raw deal by bad luck or machinations of trainers or jockeys, but first and foremost with the idea that I probably missed something that could have informed me better about the possible outcome. I won't always find such a nugget of wisdom to carry with me for next time, but I never will if I don't go looking with that attitude.
Everything has two handles, the one by which it may be carried, the other by which it cannot. If your brother acts unjustly, don't lay hold on the action by the handle of his injustice, for by that it cannot be carried; but by the opposite, that he is your brother, that he was brought up with you; and thus you will lay hold on it, as it is to be carried.
People will get emotional and act accordingly, but I am quick to recall their nature when they are calm before the races begin, and to treat them with respect. Further, I am careful not to be disturbed by my own results of the day, and possibly take out my frustrations on others, even by 'venting'. At most, I'll show my near-miss ticket to one of my contemporaries with a smile on my face, and then move on to the next race.
Don't be prideful with any excellence that is not your own.
Of course, I'm happy when I win, but I try not to crow much, though this is a very common behavior at the races. I don't need to say "I told you number five!", though I might ask someone if they had number five or not, after we had discussed the race prior to post time.

Of paramount importance is leaving when I've turned a profit, usually set at doubling my bankroll. I don't want to be carried about by events, but rather to focus on my mission, and leave when the mission is accomplished, to avoid playing on an emotional high, which is just as unproductive as playing angry. Secondary missions of high importance are to have fun and to treat others well.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Stoic philosophy influences my attitude, actions, and interactions with others at all times, unless I am failing, which of course I am apt to do at times. Still, there is a drastic difference between my experience at the races now vs. many years ago, and similar differences apply in most activities.

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Re: Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

Post by chewybrian » August 2nd, 2018, 9:21 am

chewybrian wrote:
August 2nd, 2018, 7:28 am
Fooloso4 wrote:
August 1st, 2018, 12:36 pm
Epictetus makes an important distinction between events and judgment of events, knowing what is within my ability to change and what is not...
...I am happy to see it is of value to you.
p.s. I neglected to define "it" as the Enchiridion of Epictetus, which is the source I also quoted several times. It is a handbook for living well, and it is philosophy, and there is no reason to say it could or should not be both.

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Re: Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

Post by Eduk » August 2nd, 2018, 1:36 pm

Is philosophy by definition a positive term? In the same way that saying something is wise is positive.
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Re: Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

Post by Fooloso4 » August 2nd, 2018, 2:07 pm

Eduk:
Is philosophy by definition a positive term? In the same way that saying something is wise is positive.
Following Plato’s lead, the love of wisdom is the desire (eros) to be wise. In accord with the Symposium, and contrary to the image of the philosopher-king in the Republic, the philosopher’s desire for wisdom stems from its absence. The philosopher desires to be wise but is not.The problem is, and we see it here all the time, that not knowing what wisdom is since we are not wise, desire can make us indiscriminate lovers who cannot see the object of our love for what it is but only as we desire it to be. Put more simply, we can mistake something for wisdom and thus seek this idealization as wisdom. And so, it can be a negative term both in the sense of a lack of wisdom and in the sense of an indiscriminate desire for what we do not know that can lead us astray.

In positive terms, the philosopher knows that he or she does not know (Apology), that is, the philosophers possesses knowledge of their ignorance. This form of skepticism serves to bridle the indiscriminate erotic passion for wisdom.

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Re: Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

Post by Eduk » August 2nd, 2018, 4:38 pm

To my mind knowing what you don't know is wise. But so is knowing what you do know. I don't think I would call someone wise if they knew nothing at all.
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Re: Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

Post by Fooloso4 » August 2nd, 2018, 7:15 pm

Eduk:
To my mind knowing what you don't know is wise. But so is knowing what you do know. I don't think I would call someone wise if they knew nothing at all.
I agree. The claim that “I know nothing at all” is commonly but incorrectly attributed to Socrates.

In Plato’s Charmides the question arises as to what ‘sophrosyne’ is (temperance, moderation, self-control, excellence of character, soundness of mind) and Socrates comes up with this ambiguous and somewhat paradoxical definition:
And this is what being sôphrôn, and sôphrosunê, and oneself knowing oneself are: knowing what one knows and what one does not know (167a).
In the Apology Socrates says that the artisans have knowledge of their craft, but they are intemperate when they assume that because they are knowledgeable they have knowledge of things that they do not. They lack knowledge of their ignorance.

In the Charmides Socrates concludes that with knowledge of knowledge one will not err.

Two thousand years later Descartes will echo this idea when he says that error can be avoided if we will only what we know (Meditations). Where Socrates thought that knowledge of knowledge or knowledge of the whole is not possible, Descartes proposes him algebraic method of solving for any unknown (Discourse on Method).

He adopts what he calls a provisional or temporary morality that he identifies as stoic. But with the perfection of human knowledge there will no longer be a need to accept what one cannot change because there will be nothing man cannot change to his will (Discourse on Method).

Philosophy becomes immoderate and without limits. Love of wisdom is replaced by the project of the perfection of knowledge and the philosopher will become truly wise.

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Re: Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

Post by chewybrian » August 3rd, 2018, 7:37 am

Eduk wrote:
August 2nd, 2018, 1:36 pm
Is philosophy by definition a positive term? In the same way that saying something is wise is positive.
First you must define philosophy, and you are unlikely to get agreement on a definition. I would say philosophy is a method for interpreting the world and events, and that wisdom would only be a subset, or one possible way of interpreting things. You could seek wisdom at all costs, or seek happiness at all costs, including the chance you might need to chuck wisdom and do what makes you happy, even if it defies logic.

Wisdom leads to anxiety or terror, as an honest interpretation of the world puts us in a no-win situation, where we must suffer without purpose and be lost to time in the end, as if we had never even existed. So, there is a temptation to escape through addictions, or to develop the 'true world', where justice reigns, people may live forever, or at least life, work and suffering have meaning. You can escape into religion and create an alternate reality in heaven. Or, you can escape into the future and convince yourself all your work and suffering is helping to build a future utopia. It's possibly easier to spend your life building a pyramid than to confront the harsh reality of existence head on.

We had little need to suffer until we began to understand reality beyond nature. Rousseau makes a compelling argument that we were better off being 'uncivilized', and actually treated each other much better before all the rules about how we should treat each other.

So, it's not hard to say wisdom is negative, if it leads to suffering. It seems man is compelled to seek knowledge, and then wants to run from what he finds. If your philosophy is limited to seeking wisdom at all costs, then you might say it is negative as well, based on the outcome.

Richard Taylor makes a good argument in "The Meaning of Life"...

http://rintintin.colorado.edu/~vancecd/ ... Taylor.pdf <(only 8 pages, and very easy to understand)

...that we should in fact imagine Sisyphus happy. Imagine that one of the Gods felt regret for the terrible fate they had imposed on him, and decided to give him a break by making Sisyphus desire to push rocks. So, he would in fact be happy by pursuing his heart's desire for all of eternity. Similarly, the nature of man is that he is endowed with reason, and possibly could or should be happy by being able to search for knowledge, with no other reward than the continuation of the search.

It seems we often over-reach, and attempt to control what we find, even if it is beyond our control, or to accept too much responsibility. That is where stoic philosophy gives relief, by showing us that we should not worry about what we can not control, and empowers us by showing we have full control over our opinions, emotions, attitudes and interpretations of events. Some may see this as my own 'true world', if they don't believe they can control these things. I pity them as perhaps a Christian might pity a non-believer. Yet, I don't think I have accepted a fantasy in place of reality, but simply found a kinder and more proper way to understand reality. I could turn away if shown something better.
If in the life of man you find anything better than justice, truth, sobriety, manliness; and, in sum, anything better than the satisfaction of your soul with itself in that wherein it is given to you to follow right reason; and with fate in that which is determined beyond your control; if, I say, you find aught better than this, then turn thereto with all your heart, and enjoy it as the best that is to be found...Marcus Aurelius, "Meditations"

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Re: Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

Post by Eduk » August 3rd, 2018, 7:57 am

That is an extremely pessimistic interpretation of wisdom. For me I would say the opposite is the case, though I guess there is wriggle room for the subjective nature of your being.
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Re: Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

Post by Greta » August 3rd, 2018, 9:15 pm

chewybrian wrote:
August 3rd, 2018, 7:37 am
Wisdom leads to anxiety or terror, as an honest interpretation of the world puts us in a no-win situation, where we must suffer without purpose and be lost to time in the end, as if we had never even existed. So, there is a temptation to escape through addictions, or to develop the 'true world', where justice reigns, people may live forever, or at least life, work and suffering have meaning. You can escape into religion and create an alternate reality in heaven. Or, you can escape into the future and convince yourself all your work and suffering is helping to build a future utopia. It's possibly easier to spend your life building a pyramid than to confront the harsh reality of existence head on.
I find a naturalistic approach the greatest comfort. Nature, including human history, tells us that death and destruction are necessary to avoid stagnation and to make space for growth and development.

We appear to routinely underestimate the difficulty and significance of what has happened and is happening - the transformation from geology to organised molecules to microbes to colonialism to multicellularity to sensory integration, to awareness and now to understanding.

Each advance in complex systematisation was forced by change, yet the very essence of life is to maintain stability and equilibrium. So the death, destruction, accidents and the subsequent suffering associated with these innovations in systematisation are not only necessary, but provide the key to the next steps of growth.

Suffering presents the challenges that life is compelled to overcome, coerced by its environment. Suffering will no doubt continue to drive life's development as it has done in the past, and the process won't stop until life solves the problem of suffering one way or another.

So if humans in the 21st century are only in a very formative stage of development as compared with what life may become, then our torment and suffering can be rationalised away to some extent as simply growing pains suffered by any immature feeling entity.

Obviously, no matter how one rationalises, suffering will always be there, either as an actual or potential. However, taking a naturalistic view at least reduces the sense of unfairness that can amplify pain. All of this is most likely terribly small and temporal in the greater sweep of reality - the myriad torments of toddlers until they gain some control.

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Re: Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

Post by Georgeanna » August 4th, 2018, 5:13 am

chewybrian wrote:
July 31st, 2018, 6:41 am
First, do you discuss philosophy with regular folks, with friends, family, coworkers, even strangers on the bus? If you do, what success or struggles do you have? Do you alienate people, or do they think you are odd? Or, do they surprise you with their interest, insight or knowledge?

Second, does philosophy influence your behavior, the choices you make, the way you treat others, or your entire way of living? Can you give examples of how your philosophy directs you to act differently than you might otherwise act in everyday situations? Do you sit in your tower with your books like Montaigne or go out into the streets to harass people like Socrates?

Consider the example of Diogenes. He owned nothing but a barrel in which he lived, and a cloak. When Alexander the Great asked what gift he could bestow upon him, Diogenes said Alexander could move out of his sunlight, so he could resume warming himself in the sun. I'm guessing none of us have this level of commitment. Is there value to reading and knowing philosophy without living it, or does the value come from living it?
Re: taking one's philosophy out into the world.
In one sense, this could suggest a kind of evangelical fervour.
Engaging with people in argument so as to persuade them to what ?

I don't go out of my way to even mention the word 'philosophy' - when I studied the subject I felt embarrassed to tell people of it.
I emphasized the practical side rather than the theoretical - the OU modules were related to human experience. How else does philosophy work if not to improve understanding by clarifying and challenging thoughts and actions of humans.

So, everyone you meet has their philosophy or worldview, right or wrong; also insights and wisdom gained through experience not necessarily by reading philosophy.

It never surprises me when I hear wise words from 'ordinary people' just as it never surprises me to hear lies from politicians, those who have studied politics, philosophy and economics.

Critical thinking is what is important. In examining your self and others.

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