What Makes Philosophy Interesting and Important in Life?

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JackDaydream
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What Makes Philosophy Interesting and Important in Life?

Post by JackDaydream »

I am writing this thread with a view to thinking about what relevance philosophy has on a personal level in life. Each person who uses this forum comes from an individual autobiographical engagement or interest in the subject matter and issues.

I am aware of wondering about issues of time and existence before starting school. I can remember my first big philosophy problem at school was the idea of evolution because it was not what I had been brought up to believe. I was fiercely against the idea until I was a teenager. Also, I was often reading books in the psychology and philosophy sections of the school library rather than what I was supposed to be studying during my last few years at school.

As a student, some of my studies were related to philosophy, but not all. However, I think that it has always been in the background, even when I have been busy working. In particular, I am inclined to get into philosophical conversations with people, even at parties. Some people probably find this a bit heavy, but on this forum everyone has chosen to join, so I am interested to know what it is that lead you to become interested in philosophy. Even though I go round in circles at times I see it as a quest or an adventure and, I am constantly looking for new authors and views to think about. So, I am inviting you to reflect on what draws you towards philosophy and keeps you wishing to explore and read about it.
stevie
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Re: What Makes Philosophy Interesting and Important in Life?

Post by stevie »

JackDaydream wrote: November 24th, 2021, 7:28 pm ... I am constantly looking for new authors and views to think about. So, I am inviting you to reflect on what draws you towards philosophy and keeps you wishing to explore and read about it.
I am not constantly looking for new authors because I've never been interested in philosophy as such but became naturally involved through my interest in politics. So from the outset my focus has been on what drives/determines human behaviour and desires and conflicts. Later a collaborative project slightly shifted the focus of my interest towards epistemology and the fuzziness of verbal expression of knowledge and issues connected with language and conceptual thinking which perfectly complemented my original interests. So in terms of philoyophy my approach is existential and psychological: What makes humans think philosophically and what are the potential drawbacks and benefits of philosophical thinking which - from my perspective - is ubiquituous in every day life of all individuals who take part in social life through communication. Psychology and philosophy for me are two sides of the same coin.
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LuckyR
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Re: What Makes Philosophy Interesting and Important in Life?

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JackDaydream wrote: November 24th, 2021, 7:28 pm I am writing this thread with a view to thinking about what relevance philosophy has on a personal level in life. Each person who uses this forum comes from an individual autobiographical engagement or interest in the subject matter and issues.

I am aware of wondering about issues of time and existence before starting school. I can remember my first big philosophy problem at school was the idea of evolution because it was not what I had been brought up to believe. I was fiercely against the idea until I was a teenager. Also, I was often reading books in the psychology and philosophy sections of the school library rather than what I was supposed to be studying during my last few years at school.

As a student, some of my studies were related to philosophy, but not all. However, I think that it has always been in the background, even when I have been busy working. In particular, I am inclined to get into philosophical conversations with people, even at parties. Some people probably find this a bit heavy, but on this forum everyone has chosen to join, so I am interested to know what it is that lead you to become interested in philosophy. Even though I go round in circles at times I see it as a quest or an adventure and, I am constantly looking for new authors and views to think about. So, I am inviting you to reflect on what draws you towards philosophy and keeps you wishing to explore and read about it.
Philosophy in isolation is not interesting to me. The relationship between what folks should do (philosophy) and what they actually do (psychology/sociology) is what I find interesting.
"As usual... it depends."
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Sy Borg
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Re: What Makes Philosophy Interesting and Important in Life?

Post by Sy Borg »

My interests are broad and only philosophy has the scope to consider most of them. I love science but it's like A Song of Ice and Fire - a compelling collection of stories that not only lack a conclusion, but probably will never have one. So a philosophy forum gives people a chance to discuss possible furthering of those stories - be it the nature of the universe, of the Earth, of life, of consciousness and so forth.
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chewybrian
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Re: What Makes Philosophy Interesting and Important in Life?

Post by chewybrian »

LuckyR wrote: November 25th, 2021, 2:51 amPhilosophy in isolation is not interesting to me. The relationship between what folks should do (philosophy) and what they actually do (psychology/sociology) is what I find interesting.
Uncoupled philosophy is not only dull, but often unproductive and sometimes downright dangerous. The Ayn Rand style logic of GE Morton is a good example to me. You can stack logic on all sorts of assumptions, like 'everyone is lazy', 'everyone is greedy', 'money equates with happiness', 'freedom Trumps everything else', 'the common good is all that matters', 'nothing matters', or 'only God (as I decide he is) matters'.

The psychology is what matters to me. It allowed me to limit my own forming of unfounded opinions about reality and acting upon them or becoming angry, sad, frustrated, etc. based upon such opinions. It helped me to (mostly) see the world without fear or conceit, wishes or unfounded beliefs. All the rest ranges from mildly interesting to the equivalent of a toddler brandishing a flamethrower, but only the psychology is useful to me.

Proper philosophy consistently reminds us to be humble because there is more that we don't know than we do know. Using it to try to 'prove' what we think we know or wish to be true is a misuse, I think.
"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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JackDaydream
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Re: What Makes Philosophy Interesting and Important in Life?

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@stevie
What is so interesting is how people on this forum come from such diverse approaches. Some prefer reading books much more than others. Coming from political interest initially is so different from my initial approach although I do have an interest in social issues and what is going on in the world. I also find that sociology is helpful for bridging the gap between social issues and philosophy, and sociology draws upon political ideas.

I find the blending of psychology and philosophy to be such an important area and while they are mostly split up the two seem to draw upon each other as the whys and hows of existence are connected. I do find the ideas of the psychoanalytic theorists very helpful for thinking about some of the issues related to human nature, but do try to read latest developments. I think that my own need to keep up to date was based on what I was told on one course which I did was that references should be to books written in the last 5 years, unless they are classics. However, this should probably not be applied too rigidly in philosophy.

As for people thinking philosophically, Freud and some others spoke of it as intellectualisation but, he was a philosopher himself in many ways. Personally, I see it as more of a problem if one can only think in a rigid way and I see some fluidity as being important in being able to juggle and mix different approaches and disciplines in the approach to knowledge of self, others and life in general.
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Re: What Makes Philosophy Interesting and Important in Life?

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@LuckyR
If philosophy becomes too distant and focused on academic concerns rather than the practical issues arising in psychology and sociology, which you refer to, it does lose its relevance for many people. That may have happened a lot in the twentieth century, especially in institutions like Oxford University. It becomes an elite concern rather than a tool and focus for enabling clarity of thought in daily life.
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JackDaydream
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Re: What Makes Philosophy Interesting and Important in Life?

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@Sy Borg
I agree that philosophy gives so much scope and a forum such as this one allows for such blending of ideas, because people come from all kinds of approaches and experiences. I find this to be so much wider than when I was a student and most people came from similar backgrounds. It is also fantastic to be able to share ideas with people in different countries.

As far as philosophy and science are concerned, it is such a complex relationship. One aspect which I am aware of is that in England in the biggest chain of bookshops is that there is not usually a separate section on philosophy or science. The two are combined together under the category of' Smart thinking'. As for finding books, I find it a bit of a jumble and it can be hard to find many important authors in philosophy in these sections. I am also not sure about the concept of 'smart thinking' because even though logic and rigour may be useful for thinking, it may be that the focus on being 'smart' may not go deep enough in scope.
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JackDaydream
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Re: What Makes Philosophy Interesting and Important in Life?

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@chewybrian
I love your statement, 'Proper philosophy consistently reminds us to be humble' because there are just so many people who like to act as if their own ideas and approach is the correct one. It can be extremely arrogant to think that one knows so much and it may be a stumbling block in preventing people from being open to learning. I believe that there is so much to be learned and, psychology definitely enables greater understanding of one's own beliefs and opinions.
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JackDaydream
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Re: What Makes Philosophy Interesting and Important in Life?

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I hope that the thread which I have created is not simply boring because I hoped that it may open up discussion. One important aspect of this may be inspiration and how this has an effect on life. My own inspiration comes from within philosophy, including the ideas of Plato, and even Kant, as well as Hume and, some of the existential writers, including Kierkergaard. So; my own interest is in opening up the ideas which writers may have developed, with a view to how this can offer exciting philosophical possibilities. But, so much comes down to unique experience and how and what makes sense.
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JackDaydream
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Re: What Makes Philosophy Interesting and Important in Life?

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One thing which I wonder about is whether there is any place for those who have 'deflated' as opposed to 'inflated' egos within philosophy. There have been so many people proclaiming ideas of knowledge and truth, but whether humble beings, who express uncertainty and unknowing are considered of any importance, or will be thrown into the dustbin, and possibly not even the one for recycling. Perhaps, one needs to say something controversial in order not to fade into the obscure haze of the philosophers dustbin, which may consume most of our mundane thoughts. It may be about how to remain interesting but not obnoxious, and it may be a fine line. But, most of us, sadly from the point of ego identity, remain as insignificant and this may lead to great sadness and a sense of invisibility, especially in relation to the fundamental question of ' who am I?'
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Re: What Makes Philosophy Interesting and Important in Life?

Post by stevie »

JackDaydream wrote: November 25th, 2021, 12:53 pm I hope that the thread which I have created is not simply boring because I hoped that it may open up discussion. One important aspect of this may be inspiration and how this has an effect on life.
For me it's been a good opportunity to bring to mind my history of verbal conditioning.


JackDaydream wrote: November 25th, 2021, 5:04 pm One thing which I wonder about is whether there is any place for those who have 'deflated' as opposed to 'inflated' egos within philosophy. There have been so many people proclaiming ideas of knowledge and truth, but whether humble beings, who express uncertainty and unknowing are considered of any importance, or will be thrown into the dustbin, and possibly not even the one for recycling. Perhaps, one needs to say something controversial in order not to fade into the obscure haze of the philosophers dustbin, which may consume most of our mundane thoughts. It may be about how to remain interesting but not obnoxious, and it may be a fine line. But, most of us, sadly from the point of ego identity, remain as insignificant and this may lead to great sadness and a sense of invisibility, especially in relation to the fundamental question of ' who am I?'
What you are expressing again has to do with verbal conditioning from my perspective. Human organisms are learning verbal behaviour which covers not only external verbal speaking expressions but also internal emotions and self-perceptions and non-expressed [outer] world perceptions.
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JackDaydream
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Re: What Makes Philosophy Interesting and Important in Life?

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@stevie
The internal world of experiences and its expression by verbal means is a central aspect of human experiences, but it is important to think about what lies behind it. How much is emotion, or sensation, as part of meaning and how does it come into play in philosophy? In another way, it could be asked how does the basic raw material of sensations become translated into emotions and ideas, especially in the development of philosophy? Why did human beings begin to develop philosophicalI ideas and how was this related to the internal experience of emotions? This may be where it gets complicated because human experiences give rise to sensations in the body which are related to ideas and concepts, especially in social life. It could be asked where did reflective consciousness come into this process?

I wonder how philosophy developed in it's own right and whether it was related to the internalised sense of social meanings, or whether logic is central to thought intrinsically. In other words, philosophy could be seen as a way of meaning underlying evolutionary biology or as independent category of metaphysics. The experience and naming through descriptions is so central to human experience that it may even be irrelevant to consider whether it is a pure evolutionary construct of meaning. But, it is also possible to ask where does meaning originate in the first place, because this may have been an aspect of reflective consciousness, prior to the birth of any philosophical thinking.
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Sy Borg
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Re: What Makes Philosophy Interesting and Important in Life?

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JackDaydream wrote: November 25th, 2021, 7:45 am @Sy Borg
I agree that philosophy gives so much scope and a forum such as this one allows for such blending of ideas, because people come from all kinds of approaches and experiences. I find this to be so much wider than when I was a student and most people came from similar backgrounds. It is also fantastic to be able to share ideas with people in different countries.

As far as philosophy and science are concerned, it is such a complex relationship. One aspect which I am aware of is that in England in the biggest chain of bookshops is that there is not usually a separate section on philosophy or science. The two are combined together under the category of' Smart thinking'. As for finding books, I find it a bit of a jumble and it can be hard to find many important authors in philosophy in these sections. I am also not sure about the concept of 'smart thinking' because even though logic and rigour may be useful for thinking, it may be that the focus on being 'smart' may not go deep enough in scope.
That relates to the history, how science and philosophy split from the single field, natural philosophy. While philosophers have largely respected the science and awaited findings as eagerly as anyone, the respect has not been reciprocated. Some in science today believe there is no longer any need for philosophy. To be fair, some of those scientists have moved far beyond "shut up and calculate" and come up with some pretty compelling philosophical thinking IMO.

This brings us to the crux of their objections. Competition.

Scientific hostility towards philosophy echoes the competition between religions, the battle for people's hearts and minds. Basically, some in science and science education want to take out the competition. This follows a grand old tradition, as theists have been doing this to each other for millennia. Some scientists will posit philosophy as extraneous and uninformed guesswork that exploits scientific gaps so as to promote hopeful delusions and gain unearned attention. Sometimes it is too, but not always.

Not being an academic, I don't worry about the state of philosophy, just as long as the ideas keep flowing without unnecessary restriction. I do not care for the kind of thinking that stops at current knowledge outside of formal education. There is a common assumption that today's scientific knowledge is largely complete, that we have a pretty strong handle on the nature of reality, with just some arcane details to tidy up.

Every generation think they just about have the game sewn up, that they have a solid handle on the nature of reality. Every generation is proved wrong. As will this one, no doubt. I've previously listed critical phenomena that we do not understand - the big bang, dark energy, abiogenesis, consciousness, etc. Massive gaps.

So God musta dunnit ;)
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chewybrian
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Re: What Makes Philosophy Interesting and Important in Life?

Post by chewybrian »

JackDaydream wrote: November 25th, 2021, 5:04 pm One thing which I wonder about is whether there is any place for those who have 'deflated' as opposed to 'inflated' egos within philosophy. There have been so many people proclaiming ideas of knowledge and truth, but whether humble beings, who express uncertainty and unknowing are considered of any importance, or will be thrown into the dustbin, and possibly not even the one for recycling. Perhaps, one needs to say something controversial in order not to fade into the obscure haze of the philosophers dustbin, which may consume most of our mundane thoughts. It may be about how to remain interesting but not obnoxious, and it may be a fine line. But, most of us, sadly from the point of ego identity, remain as insignificant and this may lead to great sadness and a sense of invisibility, especially in relation to the fundamental question of ' who am I?'
I think the point of philosophy is to seek truth. If we are honest with ourselves, we quickly discover that we don't have it and soon after decide that we probably never will (and neither does/will anyone else). Yet, we continue seeking. If, instead, we wish to fold our arms and declare victory, spouting our alleged truths to the world, we might get more attention, but this would not satisfy most of us, since attention is not the goal.

We all do seem to be rather insignificant, depending on the scale or methods you use to decide on our meaningfulness. But, we are all free to decide if this leads to your 'great sense of sadness' or not. I had the great sense of sadness before I entertained philosophy, and now I don't. Philosophy helped me understand the one important truth that I believe so far, that my opinions are in my control, and little else is. Accepting this alleged fact makes me feel...however I decide to feel. I choose not to feel this great sadness, but to focus on whatever things I might find to be grateful about.
"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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