Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

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

Post by chewybrian » August 4th, 2018, 5:35 am

Eduk wrote:
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.
As usual, the discussion won't make much sense unless we first define what we are talking about. Why don't you take a turn and define what you think wisdom means?

It must begin, I would assume, with knowledge. The knowledge available to us so far does not paint a pretty picture, so you could say it leads to a pessimistic view. If one is only being realistic or honest about what one finds, then maybe pessimistic is not the right word. Wisdom also seems to go beyond mere knowledge, so there is plenty of room for a different picture to emerge when you add judgment, experience, insight, or whatever else you think goes into the recipe for wisdom.

If you also add the layer of the 'true world', or whatever lens you use for looking at the world, then the sky is the limit. If you do so, are you being wise in the process? Maybe... Greta and I both gave examples for viewing the bad news as less harsh than it might seem standing alone. Are you saying you have a similar mechanism, or that the knowledge available to you paints a kinder picture in the first place?

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

Post by chewybrian » August 4th, 2018, 6:00 am

p.s. Eduk, here is a link to Rousseau's argument that civilization and technology (wisdom, if you wish) brought nothing but trouble to man:

http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/111 ... mages.html
The first man, who, after enclosing a piece of ground, took it into his head to say, "This is mine," and found people simple enough to believe him, was the true founder of civil society. How many crimes, how many wars, how many murders, how many misfortunes and horrors, would that man have saved the human species, who pulling up the stakes or filling up the ditches should have cried to his fellows: Be sure not to listen to this imposter; you are lost, if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong equally to us all, and the earth itself to nobody!...

The worthiest men learned to consider the cutting the throats of their fellows as a duty; at length men began to butcher each other by thousands without knowing for what; and more murders were committed in a single action, and more horrible disorders at the taking of a single town, than had been committed in the state of nature during ages together upon the whole face of the earth. Such are the first effects we may conceive to have arisen from the division of mankind into different societies.
Now THAT's pessimism! Or maybe it's harsh reality...?

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

Post by Eduk » August 4th, 2018, 9:12 am

Yes wisdom and knowledge are separate (though linked). As ever defining concepts (definition in general) is extremely tricky. So for example you could use your knowledge that you don't know any purpose to life to therefore conclude that you know there is no purpose in life. Knowing there is no purpose in life you could go further and decide the universe is some horrible bleak abyss of nothingness where nothing you do or think could possibly matter (even to yourself). Problem with the above though is that knowledge that you don't know there is purpose is not knowledge that you do know there is not. Furthermore wisdom (in my book) does not ever lead to a path of unhappiness (otherwise it's not wisdom by definition) so with knowledge that I know I don't know I am perfectly able to operate without assumption that existence is in anyway bleak. This is why I said you were pessimistic. If you had said wisdom concludes the universe is bright and wonderful I would say you were optimistic.
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Re: Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

Post by Eduk » August 4th, 2018, 9:14 am

Oh and I don't agree with Rousseau at all. The world of humans is nowhere near that simple. Thinking you could somehow magically remove some concept and it have universally positive results without effect on the nature of being seems foolish in the extreme to me.
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Re: Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

Post by Fooloso4 » August 4th, 2018, 2:46 pm

Eduk:
Furthermore wisdom (in my book) does not ever lead to a path of unhappiness (otherwise it's not wisdom by definition)
Here is another viewpoint:
For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.
(Ecclesiastes 1:18)

This is followed by:
A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil.
(2:24)

Is this a wise conclusion or a rejection of wisdom? Is it wise not to seek wisdom? Or, as I think might be the case, is it similar to Socrates’ human wisdom? The author of Ecclesiastes is troubled by the fact that the wicked prosper, the righteous suffer, and the fate of all in death is the same. We may ask why but we find no satisfactory answers to the injustices of life. Perhaps it is human wisdom not to expect to find answers to things we cannot know or understand or for which there is no answer except an acknowledgement that that is the way it is.

There is something here that will strike many as anti-religious. They have been assured that God is just and has his reasons. Some may conclude that we simply lack the ability to understand, but perhaps the problem lies deeper. Perhaps the ascription of reason and justice to God or the universe is itself a symptom of our lack of understanding. Perhaps wisdom lies in questioning our questions. Perhaps it is unreasonable to expect that reason is anything more than a human faculty, that the order or ordering of our minds mirrors the order of Mind or the universe.

Is this a path to happiness? Perhaps not, (although the stoic may disagree) but it may be a path that leads away from a certain kind of unhappiness engendered by the desire to discover answers to questions that have no answers.

The Greek philosophers discovered the aporetic nature of philosophical inquiry, but hid it well. Plato’s dialogues end in aporia. Aristotle’s metaphysics begins with aporia but it is not so easy to see, end that way as well. Despite appearances things are never as settled as they may seem. Why is this hidden? I concur with those (David Boloton, “An Approach to Aristotle's Physics: With Particular Attention to the Role of His Manner of Writing”, and Christopher Bruell, “Aristotle as Teacher: His Introduction to a Philosophic Science”) who suggest it is necessary in order to close off the vacuum that others will rush to fill with all manner of mystery and claims of knowledge of matters divine.

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

Post by Eduk » August 4th, 2018, 3:08 pm

The author of Ecclesiastes is troubled by the fact that the wicked prosper, the righteous suffer, and the fate of all in death is the same.
I only agree with the last statement and don't agree with the authors conclusion.
For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.
I also don't agree.
There is something here that will strike many as anti-religious. They have been assured that God is just and has his reasons. Some may conclude that we simply lack the ability to understand, but perhaps the problem lies deeper.
This is the perniciousness of random religions thought up by random people tens of thousands of years ago. You accept that the world is unjust without even considering what that means. You already believe in God even before getting to a belief in God. To the superstitious the world might seem very unjust. Even though I sacrificed a virgin today my crop still died, how unjust.
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Re: Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

Post by Fooloso4 » August 4th, 2018, 7:11 pm

Eduk:
You accept that the world is unjust without even considering what that means. You already believe in God even before getting to a belief in God.
If by "you" you mean me then you have completely misunderstood my post. I said:
Perhaps the ascription of reason and justice to God or the universe is itself a symptom of our lack of understanding.
Perhaps wisdom lies in questioning our questions.
Perhaps it is unreasonable to expect that reason is anything more than a human faculty, that the order or ordering of our minds mirrors the order of Mind or the universe.
The iteration ‘perhaps’ is intentional. I agree with each of these statements but have offered them as a matter for consideration.

I am an atheist and have explained by views on this several times on this forum including in response to your topic on agnosticism. There is no agreed upon concept of God. I do not believe that there is a transcendent or immanent or supreme being or cause or ground of being. Some would label me agnostic since I acknowledge that this is not something I know, but unlike some who consider themselves agnostic I am not on the fence. I do not believe there is a God.

Ecclesiastes is part of the Biblical wisdom literature, it is part of our intellectual heritage, and if for no other reason is worthy of consideration in a topic dealing with wisdom on a philosophy forum. It has nothing to do with “random people tens of thousands of years ago”. There is nothing outdated in observing that life is not fair by our standards or that death is the end of the story. As a side note: it is estimated that Ecclesiastes was written around the same time your favorite philosopher lived, give or take a few hundred years.
To the superstitious the world might seem very unjust. Even though I sacrificed a virgin today my crop still died, how unjust.
You are not refuting the author of Ecclesiastes you are agreeing with him. He has no expectation that life should conform to our notion of fairness, he gives no explanation for why things are the way they are, or ways in which to remedy it. He simply takes it as a given based on observation that doing good or what is imagined to be pleasing to God will NOT be returned by reaping what is good.

The following from the Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman may help in seeing what is at issue:
For the author of Ecclesiastes “traditional” wisdom (such as one finds in the book of Proverbs) was inherently flawed — another reason I like him so much. It simply is not true (as Proverbs insists) that the righteous are rewarded in life and the wicked perish. As the author of Ecclesiastes states: “In my vain life I have seen everything; there are righteous people who perish in their righteousness, and there are wicked people who prolong their life in their evil doing” (7:15); “there are righteous people who are treated according to the conduct of the wicked, and there are wicked people who are treated according to the conduct of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity” (8:14). The reason it is all hevel (vanity; ephemeral) is because everyone dies and that’s the end of the story: “Everything that confronts them is vanity, since the same fate comes to all, to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to those who sacrifice and those who do not sacrifice. As are the good, so are the sinners…. the same fate comes to everyone” (9:1-3). And even in this life, before death, rewards and punishments are not meted out according to merit, but everything is dependent on chance (https://ehrmanblog.org/the-afterlife-or ... lesiastes/)
If anyone is to be accused of being superstitious it might be Plato’s Socrates. It is Socrates who offers stories of rewards and punishment after death. It is Socrates who provides the image of the Good as the ground and cause of being and knowledge. It is Socrates who says that justice as we find it in the world is imperfect but justice itself is singular, eternal and unchanging. If you were to respond that we need to see these things in their proper context I would agree, but the same holds for Ecclesiastes (and even my simple statements which you seem to have read without sufficient care and attention).

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

Post by chewybrian » August 5th, 2018, 5:48 am

Eduk wrote:
August 4th, 2018, 9:12 am
Yes wisdom and knowledge are separate (though linked). As ever defining concepts (definition in general) is extremely tricky. So for example you could use your knowledge that you don't know any purpose to life to therefore conclude that you know there is no purpose in life. Knowing there is no purpose in life you could go further and decide the universe is some horrible bleak abyss of nothingness where nothing you do or think could possibly matter (even to yourself). Problem with the above though is that knowledge that you don't know there is purpose is not knowledge that you do know there is not. Furthermore wisdom (in my book) does not ever lead to a path of unhappiness (otherwise it's not wisdom by definition) so with knowledge that I know I don't know I am perfectly able to operate without assumption that existence is in anyway bleak. This is why I said you were pessimistic. If you had said wisdom concludes the universe is bright and wonderful I would say you were optimistic.
I actually agree with you that wisdom does not lead to unhappiness. Ignorance is bliss, knowledge leads to a dark place, but wisdom allows you to choose to be happy. But, perhaps most people bounce back and forth between the first two, learning terrible truths and practicing harmful methods of avoiding the truth.
Eduk wrote:
August 4th, 2018, 9:14 am
Oh and I don't agree with Rousseau at all. The world of humans is nowhere near that simple. Thinking you could somehow magically remove some concept and it have universally positive results without effect on the nature of being seems foolish in the extreme to me.
Actually, Rousseau is not nearly that simple. There is a lot of "dot dot dot" between those quotes I threw out, and he makes some points that are hard to refute, if you read the text.

-------------------------------------------

The beginning of property soon led to the need to protect it and the desire to take it from each other. Without having changed, people became impoverished by others becoming wealthy. People began to set different values on each other, and to expect others to treat them with respect, and to take offense if they did not get the respect they thought they deserved:
Men no sooner began to set a value upon each other, and know what esteem was, than each laid claim to it, and it was no longer safe for any man to refuse it to another. Hence the first duties of civility and politeness, even among savages; and hence every voluntary injury became an affront, as besides the mischief, which resulted from it as an injury, the party offended was sure to find in it a contempt for his person more intolerable than the mischief itself. It was thus that every man, punishing the contempt expressed for him by others in proportion to the value he set upon himself, the effects of revenge became terrible, and men learned to be sanguinary and cruel.
Men came to be in need of each other, rather than to be free in a state of nature. They had to serve or be served to get by in the new reality.
...man, heretofore free and independent, was now in consequence of a multitude of new wants brought under subjection, as it were, to all nature, and especially to his fellows, whose slave in some sense he became even by becoming their master; if rich, he stood in need of their services, if poor, of their assistance; even mediocrity itself could not enable him to do without them.
As more people formed societies, it became unsafe, and nearly impossible, to avoid joining, and eventually preparing for war.
We may easily conceive how the establishment of a single society rendered that of all the rest absolutely necessary, and how, to make head against united forces, it became necessary for the rest of mankind to unite in their turn. Societies once formed in this manner, soon multiplied or spread to such a degree, as to cover the face of the earth; and not to leave a corner in the whole universe, where a man could throw off the yoke, and withdraw his head from under the often ill-conducted sword which he saw perpetually hanging over it.
Survival now necessitated accepting being subject to one master or another. People chose or accepted, or had forced upon them, chiefs and kings for protection at the cost of their freedom.
Now in the relations between man and man, the worst that can happen to one man being to see himself at the discretion of another, would it not have been contrary to the dictates of good sense to begin by making over to a chief the only things for the preservation of which they stood in need of his assistance? What equivalent could he have offered them for so fine a privilege? And had he presumed to exact it on pretense of defending them, would he not have immediately received the answer in the apologue? What worse treatment can we expect from an enemy? It is therefore past dispute, and indeed a fundamental maxim of political law, that people gave themselves chiefs to defend their liberty and not be enslaved by them. If we have a prince, said Pliny to Trajan, it is in order that he may keep us from having a master.
In the end, he sees an endless cycle of corruption leading to revolution which begins the process again. Even the most proper forms of society are eligible to be usurped, and power corrupts, and you can see where that leads. When the usurping and corruption carry on far enough, force is required to retain the power. The government begins to threaten the security it was put in place to protect, and becomes the enemy. His predictions have been quite accurate if you set them against the time between his writings and today.
This is the last term of inequality, the extreme point which closes the circle and meets that from which we set out. 'Tis here that all private men return to their primitive equality, because they are no longer of any account; and that, the subjects having no longer any law but that of their master, nor the master any other law but his passions, all notions of good and principles of justice again disappear. 'Tis here that everything returns to the sole law of the strongest, and of course to a new state of nature different from that with which we began, in as much as the first was the state of nature in its purity, and the last the consequence of excessive corruption. There is, in other respects, so little difference between these two states, and the contract of government is so much dissolved by despotism, that the despot is no longer master than he continues the strongest, and that, as soon as his slaves can expel him, they may do it without his having the least right to complain of their using him ill. The insurrection, which ends in the death or despotism of a sultan, is as juridical an act as any by which the day before he disposed of the lives and fortunes of his subjects. Force alone upheld him, force alone overturns him. Thus all things take place and succeed in their natural order; and whatever may be the upshot of these hasty and frequent revolutions, no one man has reason to complain of another's injustice, but only of his own indiscretion or bad fortune.
Before you dismiss him, consider that he helped to inspire the American and French revolutions. These are not perfect forms of government, obviously, but they are arguably among the best so far, despite their faults. It remains to be seen if he helped inspire us to break the cycle he predicted. But, his writings were compelling and influential, and his assertions were not 'so simple'.

I'm not sure my quick summary does him any justice, but I had to assume from your response that you had not read this and did not intend to read it. So, maybe this gives you more context, or even inspires you to check out the source:

http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/111 ... mages.html

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

Post by Eduk » August 5th, 2018, 7:27 am

If by "you" you mean me then you have completely misunderstood my post. I said:
No I wasn't saying that you believe in God as in you are a practicing Christian.
He has no expectation that life should conform to our notion of fairness
This is the point I was trying to make. If you accept the above then you have 'fallen' for the Christian 'trap' (not unique to Christianity of course, more something that is common to mankind that Christianity uses).
For me the universe and life perfectly fits my notions of fairness. This is because I assume inanimate objects to have nothing to do with fairness. And I see life as something which is (without malicious forethought). Indeed the way I see things reality shapes life to be quite 'fair'.
He simply takes it as a given based on observation that doing good or what is imagined to be pleasing to God will NOT be returned by reaping what is good.
That is not my, anecdotal, perception of life. Obviously it isn't super straight forward but those who do good have a much higher percentage chance of reaping good.
perhaps most people bounce back and forth between the first two, learning terrible truths and practicing harmful methods of avoiding the truth.
I just don't see the truth as being terrible. I would always rather know the truth (except perhaps in some contrived situations) as I would therefore be better able to cope with reality as it is rather than how I would 'like' it to be.
The beginning of property soon led to the need to protect it and the desire to take it from each other.
The second I pick up a rock I have property. Property which if 'you' were to try to take away I (and my family/friends) would try to protect. Such is life. I cannot imagine a world without property. Nor can I imagine a world without death. People often fantasise about some mythical peaceful past but the reality is that it has never been safer to live than it is now (a trend I hope continues).
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Re: Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

Post by chewybrian » August 5th, 2018, 8:25 am

Eduk wrote:
August 5th, 2018, 7:27 am
I cannot imagine a world without property.
You are correct in that YOU can not imagine it, and that is a large part of the point Rousseau was trying to make. He was trying to refute Hobbes' assertion that life before society was "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short". He puts a lot of effort into explaining that we are making a mistake of anachronism when we think of ourselves living in a primitive state. The idea is not what it might be like for you, but what it was like for them.
The philosophers, who have examined the foundations of society, have, every one of them, perceived the necessity of tracing it back to a state of nature, but not one of them has ever arrived there. Some of them have not scrupled to attribute to man in that state the ideas of justice and injustice, without troubling their heads to prove, that he really must have had such ideas, or even that such ideas were useful to him: others have spoken of the natural right of every man to keep what belongs to him, without letting us know what they meant by the word belong; others, without further ceremony ascribing to the strongest an authority over the weakest, have immediately struck out government, without thinking of the time requisite for men to form any notion of the things signified by the words authority and government. All of them, in fine, constantly harping on wants, avidity, oppression, desires and pride, have transferred to the state of nature ideas picked up in the bosom of society. In speaking of savages they described citizens. Nay, few of our own writers seem to have so much as doubted, that a state of nature did once actually exist; though it plainly appears by Sacred History, that even the first man, immediately furnished as he was by God himself with both instructions and precepts, never lived in that state, and that, if we give to the books of Moses that credit which every Christian philosopher ought to give to them, we must deny that, even before the deluge, such a state ever existed among men, unless they fell into it by some extraordinary event: a paradox very difficult to maintain, and altogether impossible to prove.
I've made my best effort to show the value or at least interesting nature of this classic of philosophy. Perhaps my effort was too weak. If you care about philosophy, you should care about Rousseau, or at least show a spark of interest in it, and don't allow my feeble attempts to make it seem less compelling than it should be. The mere fact of the impact of his work on the course of history should drive you to want to know what it was about, as you might feel about the Communist Manifesto, or the "I have a Dream" speech. I don't mean to accuse you of lack of interest in philosophy, but it is surprising that someone on a philosophy forum would be so quick to dismiss works like these without checking them out.
Eduk wrote:
August 5th, 2018, 7:27 am
People often fantasise about some mythical peaceful past but the reality is that it has never been safer to live than it is now (a trend I hope continues).
It's a mixed bag at best, and you might have a different view from a different spot on the globe. We have created the potential for longer lives along with greater ability to cut lives short. I have relatives who were in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam. What about the 'works' of Stalin, or Mao? Do you consider that we have 'moved on' from these minor tantrums to a better place, or do you agree such things are still possible, even likely?

It seems you are perhaps being as simple as you accuse Rousseau of being, I can't see any of these issues as being as black and white as you describe them, or as you accuse him of describing them (evidently without accessing his works).

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

Post by Fooloso4 » August 5th, 2018, 8:28 am

Eduk:
Obviously it isn't super straight forward but those who do good have a much higher percentage chance of reaping good.
Perhaps it is more a matter of being good at being bad - that it is the appearance of doing good that reaps the benefits. In addition, there is the issue of power. In general, one does not obtain or maintain power by being “good” but they are more capable of obtaining the good things they want, taking them from those who may be good but are powerless.
People often fantasise about some mythical peaceful past but the reality is that it has never been safer to live than it is now (a trend I hope continues).
Rousseau was a subtle writer. For example, from the extended quotation posted by chewybrian:
… and indeed a fundamental maxim of political law, that people gave themselves chiefs to defend their liberty and not be enslaved by them. If we have a prince, said Pliny to Trajan, it is in order that he may keep us from having a master.
Rousseau was known for his deliberate misquotes and misattributions. The letter from Pliny to Tragan contains the following:
Those who denied that they were or had been Christians, when they invoked the gods in words dictated by me, offered prayer with incense and wine to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for this purpose together with statues of the gods, and also cursed Christ – none of which those who are really Christians can, it is said, be forced to do — these I thought should be discharged. Others named by the informer declared that they were Christians, but then denied it, asserting that they had been but had ceased to be, some three years before, others many years, some as much as twenty-five years. They all worshipped your image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ.
Pliny, the prince, forced those who were accused of being Christians to worship the image of Tragan the emperor, and the Roman gods. There is more here than meets the eye.

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

Post by Eduk » August 5th, 2018, 11:34 am

If you care about philosophy, you should care about Rousseau
Yes an important point. The thing is I don't care about what you care about philosophy. I have found some of the most famous philosophers to have said some of the most wrong things. I'm not discounting Rousseau (as you say you are not a perfect translation of Rousseau) but for me no one is an island. And I simply have to look at average length of life to see improvement across the board (even if unevenly). I, and no individual human, could ever hope to treat heart disease (for example).
I do believe philosophy is important but only the philosophy which is correct. Again you could argue that philosophy can't be wrong (by definition) and if you do so then much that is pretending to be philosophy isn't. In the same way that much that pretends to be art isn't.
Perhaps it is more a matter of being good at being bad - that it is the appearance of doing good that reaps the benefits. In addition, there is the issue of power. In general, one does not obtain or maintain power by being “good” but they are more capable of obtaining the good things they want
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Re: Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

Post by Georgeanna » August 5th, 2018, 12:11 pm

Chewybrian:
'... 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.'

You wait patiently - where ?
For the right opportunity to arise - what, where, when, how ?
Leaning on a lamppost at the corner of the street ?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ie-YtdRa6g8

How do you choose your subjects for your philosophy test ?

Do you really think that watching someone's reactions to your question about the square root of a million indicates their worthiness to engage in philosophy with you ?

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

Post by Eduk » August 5th, 2018, 1:19 pm

Thinking about it. Perhaps philosophy is more like art. Much in the same way that one person can read Lord of the Rings and get a lot out of the experience and another can read the same book and be left cold (and neither person is wrong). But that would mean philosophy isn't the search for truth. Although I only value philosophy which is.
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Re: Do you take your philosophy out into the world?

Post by Georgeanna » August 5th, 2018, 2:06 pm

Eduk wrote:
August 5th, 2018, 1:19 pm
Thinking about it. Perhaps philosophy is more like art. Much in the same way that one person can read Lord of the Rings and get a lot out of the experience and another can read the same book and be left cold (and neither person is wrong). But that would mean philosophy isn't the search for truth. Although I only value philosophy which is.
Perhaps it is like art, or an art.
Either way, what kind of truth are you searching for ? And what other issues might be involved along the way?
Do you think you would know it, if you found it.

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