What do you say when people ask, "What is Philosophy"?

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anonymous66
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What do you say when people ask, "What is Philosophy"?

Post by anonymous66 » January 15th, 2020, 1:39 pm

How do you respond when people ask, "What is Philosophy"?
How do you define philosophy?
How much time do you spend trying to explain philosophy to others when they bring it up?
I've notice that lot of people really don't want to try to understand- it seems they just ask in order to convince themselves that philosophy is pointless. Have you had similar experiences?

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Terrapin Station
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Re: What do you say when people ask, "What is Philosophy"?

Post by Terrapin Station » January 15th, 2020, 8:42 pm

I give them a rough outline of the discipline, listing the primary fields and topics/the sorts of broad questions asked in each field. (So (a) ontology, which looks at being/existence on a broad level, and includes topics such as what makes something the same thing through time, what is time anyway, what are part/whole relations, what are relations in general, etc. (b) epistemology, which examines knowledge --what does it amount to to know something, how do we justify knowledge, etc., and so on for ethics, aesthetics, logic, political philosophy, philosophy of mind, etc.)

If they're interested beyond that I direct them to an introductory overview. One of the best for that--because it's not too long and it's amusing, though it's still remarkably thorough and fair-minded and it gives a really good feel for what philosophers do, is Donald Palmer's Looking at Philosophy, which you can now download for free as a pdf.

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Pattern-chaser
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Re: What do you say when people ask, "What is Philosophy"?

Post by Pattern-chaser » January 16th, 2020, 11:11 am

anonymous66 wrote: ↑
January 15th, 2020, 1:39 pm
How do you respond when people ask, "What is Philosophy"?
How do you define philosophy?
How much time do you spend trying to explain philosophy to others when they bring it up?
I've notice that lot of people really don't want to try to understand- it seems they just ask in order to convince themselves that philosophy is pointless. Have you had similar experiences?
I tell them that any serious thinking involves philosophy. Especially thinking about thinking. If they want to talk at length, I'm happy to do that. But, where a general definition is required, I already gave it. I'm not academically qualified (in philosophy), nor am I a guru of any kind. I have been interested in philosophy my whole life, though. So that's what I tell them. Everything else is details, no? πŸ€”
Pattern-chaser

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chewybrian
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Re: What do you say when people ask, "What is Philosophy"?

Post by chewybrian » January 16th, 2020, 11:57 am

anonymous66 wrote: ↑
January 15th, 2020, 1:39 pm
How do you respond when people ask, "What is Philosophy"?
The love of wisdom, which is applied knowledge, which is justified true belief.
anonymous66 wrote: ↑
January 15th, 2020, 1:39 pm
How do you define philosophy?
It begins with an acknowledgement of our own ignorance, and an attempt to carry on anyway, to become as wise as we are able, and to use our wisdom, such as we have, with due care in the world. It is a broad category that includes things like science and psychology, and it means very different things to many people. Some want to know simply to know, and some only want to know only insofar as it advances their agenda or to the extent it seems useful to them or to society. I lean hard to the practical side, toward psychology and self-help, and I think we should pursue philosophy to make our lives and the lives of others better.
anonymous66 wrote: ↑
January 15th, 2020, 1:39 pm
How much time do you spend trying to explain philosophy to others when they bring it up?
5 seconds or 5 hours. I'll go on as long as they have serious interest, which is not as often as I would think they would. People are easily intimidated by the technical terms, though the concepts are not always difficult. Worse yet, people are often frightened by the freedom implied by the philosophy, and prefer to dive back into their routines to avoid the angst that goes with the freedom.
anonymous66 wrote: ↑
January 15th, 2020, 1:39 pm
I've noticed that lot of people really don't want to try to understand- it seems they just ask in order to convince themselves that philosophy is pointless. Have you had similar experiences?
See above. I think they do get it, deep down, more than they might admit, but they decide to run from it. If they never try, they can't fail. Birthday parties and football games are more comforting than accepting existential freedom.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

anonymous66
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Re: What do you say when people ask, "What is Philosophy"?

Post by anonymous66 » January 16th, 2020, 1:38 pm

Terrapin Station wrote: ↑
January 15th, 2020, 8:42 pm
I give them a rough outline of the discipline, listing the primary fields and topics/the sorts of broad questions asked in each field. (So (a) ontology, which looks at being/existence on a broad level, and includes topics such as what makes something the same thing through time, what is time anyway, what are part/whole relations, what are relations in general, etc. (b) epistemology, which examines knowledge --what does it amount to to know something, how do we justify knowledge, etc., and so on for ethics, aesthetics, logic, political philosophy, philosophy of mind, etc.)

If they're interested beyond that I direct them to an introductory overview. One of the best for that--because it's not too long and it's amusing, though it's still remarkably thorough and fair-minded and it gives a really good feel for what philosophers do, is Donald Palmer's Looking at Philosophy, which you can now download for free as a pdf.
Thank you. I own and have read David Palmer's book and I found it to be both entertaining and informative.

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Re: What do you say when people ask, "What is Philosophy"?

Post by Terrapin Station » January 16th, 2020, 3:33 pm

anonymous66 wrote: ↑
January 16th, 2020, 1:38 pm
Terrapin Station wrote: ↑
January 15th, 2020, 8:42 pm
I give them a rough outline of the discipline, listing the primary fields and topics/the sorts of broad questions asked in each field. (So (a) ontology, which looks at being/existence on a broad level, and includes topics such as what makes something the same thing through time, what is time anyway, what are part/whole relations, what are relations in general, etc. (b) epistemology, which examines knowledge --what does it amount to to know something, how do we justify knowledge, etc., and so on for ethics, aesthetics, logic, political philosophy, philosophy of mind, etc.)

If they're interested beyond that I direct them to an introductory overview. One of the best for that--because it's not too long and it's amusing, though it's still remarkably thorough and fair-minded and it gives a really good feel for what philosophers do, is Donald Palmer's Looking at Philosophy, which you can now download for free as a pdf.
Thank you. I own and have read David Palmer's book and I found it to be both entertaining and informative.
Glad to hear that. He has another one called "Does the Center Hold" which is very good too.

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Prof Bulani
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Re: What do you say when people ask, "What is Philosophy"?

Post by Prof Bulani » January 21st, 2020, 7:42 pm

As others have pointed out, philosophy can be described as the study of thinking, and all that thinking entails. As such, it is both the most important form of study that exists, since all our interactions with reality requires thinking, and the least important form of study that exists, since nobody cares about the details that goes on under the hood. Nah I'm kidding, understanding thinking can be applied to all other bodies of knowledge, and, in some level, should.
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Re: What do you say when people ask, "What is Philosophy"?

Post by h_k_s » January 23rd, 2020, 10:34 am

anonymous66 wrote: ↑
January 15th, 2020, 1:39 pm
How do you respond when people ask, "What is Philosophy"?
How do you define philosophy?
How much time do you spend trying to explain philosophy to others when they bring it up?
I've notice that lot of people really don't want to try to understand- it seems they just ask in order to convince themselves that philosophy is pointless. Have you had similar experiences?
I tell them, "Philosophy is pure human thought unadulterated by fallacies, myths, religion, propaganda, or faulty science. And you must be trained to think philosophically in order to free yourself from all heretofore brainwashing from your parents, friends, teachers, clerics, politicians, governments, corporations, and the news media."

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Re: What do you say when people ask, "What is Philosophy"?

Post by Gee » January 23rd, 2020, 9:13 pm

My definition of philosophy is: Philosophy is the study of what we can know and how we can know it -- or what is real and true.

I know that the meaning of the word, philosophy, is a love of wisdom, but wisdom is just advanced level truth. It is truth that has been measured by time and polished by experience.

When people say that they don't care for philosophy, I always smile and say, "That's OK. A lot of people don't actually like to think".

Gee

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Re: What do you say when people ask, "What is Philosophy"?

Post by Terrapin Station » January 24th, 2020, 9:05 am

Gee wrote: ↑
January 23rd, 2020, 9:13 pm
My definition of philosophy is: Philosophy is the study of what we can know and how we can know it -- or what is real and true.


That's putting an apparent focus on epistemology, and it's limiting philosophy to epistemology and ontology at best.

Philosophy is more than epistemology and ontology.

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Re: What do you say when people ask, "What is Philosophy"?

Post by Pattern-chaser » January 24th, 2020, 11:23 am

h_k_s wrote: ↑
January 23rd, 2020, 10:34 am
anonymous66 wrote: ↑
January 15th, 2020, 1:39 pm
How do you respond when people ask, "What is Philosophy"?
How do you define philosophy?
How much time do you spend trying to explain philosophy to others when they bring it up?
I've notice that lot of people really don't want to try to understand- it seems they just ask in order to convince themselves that philosophy is pointless. Have you had similar experiences?
I tell them, "Philosophy is pure human thought unadulterated by fallacies, myths, religion, propaganda, or faulty science..."
When I look at real humans, in the real world, I see no evidence of the capability to achieve philosophy as you describe it. "Unadulterated by fallacies" - really, in real human beings? I think not.
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Re: What do you say when people ask, "What is Philosophy"?

Post by Gee » January 24th, 2020, 2:05 pm

Terrapin Station wrote: ↑
January 24th, 2020, 9:05 am
Gee wrote: ↑
January 23rd, 2020, 9:13 pm
My definition of philosophy is: Philosophy is the study of what we can know and how we can know it -- or what is real and true.


That's putting an apparent focus on epistemology, and it's limiting philosophy to epistemology and ontology at best.

Philosophy is more than epistemology and ontology.
Having spent a lot of time in science forums, and dealing with some very poor attitudes toward philosophy, I worked to come up with a short concise definition of philosophy. I have been comfortable with the above definition for a few years now.

I always thought the "and how we can know it" part of the definition opened up the study to methodologies and venues that would help to answer the questions of "what we can know". But if you think the definition is missing something, I would like to know what you think.

Gee

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Re: What do you say when people ask, "What is Philosophy"?

Post by h_k_s » January 24th, 2020, 4:47 pm

Pattern-chaser wrote: ↑
January 24th, 2020, 11:23 am
h_k_s wrote: ↑
January 23rd, 2020, 10:34 am


I tell them, "Philosophy is pure human thought unadulterated by fallacies, myths, religion, propaganda, or faulty science..."
When I look at real humans, in the real world, I see no evidence of the capability to achieve philosophy as you describe it. "Unadulterated by fallacies" - really, in real human beings? I think not.
I'm more optimistic.

At the very least, Philosophy has taught me how to think clearly.

It has also taught me logic.

With these two skills I have freed myself from all propagandist brainwashing from governments, politics, religion, and employers.

I have hope that others can achieve the same thing as well.

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Re: What do you say when people ask, "What is Philosophy"?

Post by chewybrian » January 24th, 2020, 8:42 pm

Gee wrote: ↑
January 24th, 2020, 2:05 pm

My definition of philosophy is: Philosophy is the study of what we can know and how we can know it -- or what is real and true.
Terrapin Station wrote: ↑
January 24th, 2020, 9:05 am


That's putting an apparent focus on epistemology, and it's limiting philosophy to epistemology and ontology at best.

Philosophy is more than epistemology and ontology.
Having spent a lot of time in science forums, and dealing with some very poor attitudes toward philosophy, I worked to come up with a short concise definition of philosophy. I have been comfortable with the above definition for a few years now.

I always thought the "and how we can know it" part of the definition opened up the study to methodologies and venues that would help to answer the questions of "what we can know". But if you think the definition is missing something, I would like to know what you think.

Gee
I would say it is often the study of things we can't 'know', like ethics, psychology, and such. What should our priorities be? How should we treat each other? How do we maintain peace of mind if things are not going our way? Things like the dichotomy of control or the categorical imperative are important, but can't be 'known' to the extent we might think we know the laws of physics.

My view is that these issues dwarf the science issues. My experience in life will be largely driven by my preconceptions and attitudes about the world, myself and others. If I get these worked out correctly, then I can live happily under most conditions. Raw knowledge in the hands of someone who has not worked out these issues is dangerous, and in and of itself does not make life much better, if it doesn't make it worse.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: What do you say when people ask, "What is Philosophy"?

Post by creation » January 25th, 2020, 1:20 am

anonymous66 wrote: ↑
January 15th, 2020, 1:39 pm
How do you respond when people ask, "What is Philosophy"?
How do you define philosophy?
How much time do you spend trying to explain philosophy to others when they bring it up?
I've notice that lot of people really don't want to try to understand- it seems they just ask in order to convince themselves that philosophy is pointless. Have you had similar experiences?
To me, phil; love, o; of, sophy; wisdom.

'Phil-o-sophy' is just the love-of-wisdom.

How one becomes wiser is just through learning,

So, having the love-of-learning one is a 'philosopher'.

The best and greatest 'philosophers' of all time, are the ones with the highest love-of-learning and the highest ability to learn. These people are ALL of us, when we are new born and very young.

This is when we are most OPEN, and then most able to learn, and thus most able to become wiser.

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