Obligatory Introduction

Tell us a little about yourself.

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Metadigital
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Obligatory Introduction

Post by Metadigital » Wed Jun 02, 2010 6:27 am

I was lucky enough to stumble across Philosophy Now on Facebook, so that proves that if you look anywhere long enough something of value might pop up.

I'm a philosophy student in Texas, just about to finish my undergraduate degree (a bit late, but not bad). Yes, you read that right... Texas. In about a year I'll be working on my masters, then perhaps a PhD. You never know. I was originally a geology major, but I found philosophy more rewarding. That's not to say that the natural sciences aren't rewarding. Actually, my focus in on the philosophy of science and ecology, so I haven't entirely left geology. I just don't spend as much time calculating light as it refracts through crystals, which is fine by me.

Hopefully I find the time and energy to post some, though wading through pages of old philosophy topics to be able to contribute with a worthwhile reply can be daunting. There's a distinct lack of philosophers (and thinkers) in Texas, so hopefully the internet can help make up for the barren mental landscape I live in.

Typist
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Re: Obligatory Introduction

Post by Typist » Wed Jun 02, 2010 12:14 pm

Metadigital wrote:There's a distinct lack of philosophers (and thinkers) in Texas, so hopefully the internet can help make up for the barren mental landscape I live in.
Well, there are thinkers and philosophers everywhere, but they come in many different styles and flavors.

Academic book learning is one form of life experience, and perhaps not really the most instructive form.

Try this maybe. Pretend that you are attending a university in a foreign country. Explore the local community in an open minded inquiring way, meet the man in the street, and see what you can learn about an unfamiliar culture.

If you can't find thoughtful people in Texas, "the barren mental landscape" you are experiencing might be your own.

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Metadigital
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Re: Obligatory Introduction

Post by Metadigital » Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:21 pm

Typist wrote:If you can't find thoughtful people in Texas, "the barren mental landscape" you are experiencing might be your own.
I can tell you've probably never lived in Texas. Thanks for the warm welcome...

Typist
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Re: Obligatory Introduction

Post by Typist » Wed Jun 02, 2010 5:13 pm

Metadigital wrote:I can tell you've probably never lived in Texas.
And I can tell you haven't either. Not really.

Please don't take it personally, got nothing against you. This is a philosophy forum, and it's a philosophical point.

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Metadigital
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Re: Obligatory Introduction

Post by Metadigital » Wed Jun 02, 2010 7:49 pm

Typist wrote:Please don't take it personally, got nothing against you. This is a philosophy forum, and it's a philosophical point.
You must be popular.

another_paradox
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Re: Obligatory Introduction

Post by another_paradox » Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:09 pm

Typist's probing contains a very useful insight. Much of how we see the world is based on our assumptions, our conditioning. So often the things we hate in others are things we cannot see that we hate in ourselves. The miser hates others' greed and the irritable man can't figure out why his wife is so irritable.

I also liked the part about looking at your home through the eyes of a traveller.

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Metadigital
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Re: Obligatory Introduction

Post by Metadigital » Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:34 pm

Nothing like being psychoanalyzed on a philosophy forum by strangers who've read a single introductory post and jumped to conclusions. *sigh*

Yes, there are smart people in Texas. No, it's not the standard. I didn't mean to start a whole discussion on it, but anti-intellectualism is really the culture in Texas. Stimulating conversation is seen as threatening and creativity as impractical. Philosophy is too esoteric to be bothered with. People here have their own skills and trades which they excel at, but don't examine them too deeply (that's naughty). Yes, it's the nation's heart of environmental ethics. It's not the heart of environmental awareness, though. There's a huge disconnect between the college towns (like Austin or Denton) and the other cities (like Dallas or Houston). I've lived here for almost 30 years now, but I'm originally from Colorado. I, like my family, have traveled quite a bit. I even went to college in Italy for a while. Most places appreciate critical thinking more than Texas, and anyone who's lived here for any length of time learns that very quickly.

Typist
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Re: Obligatory Introduction

Post by Typist » Fri Jun 18, 2010 1:49 am

I didn't mean to start a whole discussion on it, but anti-intellectualism is really the culture in Texas.
And that, is a philosophy.
Stimulating conversation is seen as threatening and creativity as impractical. Philosophy is too esoteric to be bothered with. People here have their own skills and trades which they excel at, but don't examine them too deeply (that's naughty).
The problem isn't that people in Texas are too [insert your favorite condescending characterizations here], the problem is that some of us have a limited view of what philosophy is.

It's a reasonable position to state that the intellectualized big words academic kind of philosophy enjoyed on this forum is too esoteric to bother with.

It's reasonable to state this proposition in simpler words than I just used.

This is philosophy, but perhaps one you don't like, because it doesn't celebrate the kinds of things you are good at.
There's a huge disconnect between the college towns (like Austin or Denton) and the other cities (like Dallas or Houston).
I hear you, I live right on the edge of the biggest college town in north Florida, just where rural Florida begins. Been here 40 years. During that time I've worked all kinds of blue and white collar jobs, and have had the opportunity to meet lots of people from both cultures. I understand the cultural gap you're referring to.

Both cultures have their own personalities, some good, some bad, like any culture.

You are expressing one of the characteristics of middle class white collar college town culture, condescension towards local cultures you don't understand.

It's the same process as going to Pakistan, and assuming that the locals there are all ignorant, because they dress different than us, and eat strange food.
Most places appreciate critical thinking more than Texas, and anyone who's lived here for any length of time learns that very quickly.
Again, if you don't understand the dominant culture of Texas, you don't actually live there.

artisticsolution
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Re: Obligatory Introduction

Post by artisticsolution » Fri Jun 18, 2010 4:07 am

Metadigital wrote: I've lived here for almost 30 years now, but I'm originally from Colorado. I, like my family, have traveled quite a bit. I even went to college in Italy for a while. Most places appreciate critical thinking more than Texas, and anyone who's lived here for any length of time learns that very quickly.
30 YEARS!!! I'd have blown my brains out by now if I had to live in Texas for a week much less 30 years! The best thing I can say about Texas is....um...hmmm....there's nothing good I can say about Texas. Well...okay...if you're lookin to get your man a good ass kickin just for kicks...Texas is the place to go. Just mosey up to any bar and tap the biggest and meanest lookin cowboy on the shoulder and say, "My boyfriend says he don't like your looks." Good times...lol.

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John
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Re: Obligatory Introduction

Post by John » Fri Jun 18, 2010 9:19 am

artisticsolution wrote: if you're lookin to get your man a good ass kickin just for kicks...Texas is the place to go. Just mosey up to any bar and tap the biggest and meanest lookin cowboy on the shoulder and say, "My boyfriend says he don't like your looks." Good times...lol.
That'll get your ass (though it's usually arse where I come from) kicked in a lot more places than Texas :lol:

Nikolai
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Re: Obligatory Introduction

Post by Nikolai » Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:36 am

Yes, there are smart people in Texas. No, it's not the standard. I didn't mean to start a whole discussion on it, but anti-intellectualism is really the culture in Texas. Stimulating conversation is seen as threatening and creativity as impractical. Philosophy is too esoteric to be bothered with. People here have their own skills and trades which they excel at, but don't examine them too deeply (that's naughty).
I think you're wrong to single Texas out. Everywhere is like this. Philosophers always find themselves in the minority.

Hands up anyone here who has a large circle of like-minded friends and relatives?

artisticsolution
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Re: Obligatory Introduction

Post by artisticsolution » Fri Jun 18, 2010 2:57 pm

Nikolai wrote: I think you're wrong to single Texas out. Everywhere is like this. Philosophers always find themselves in the minority.

Hands up anyone here who has a large circle of like-minded friends and relatives?
Unless you have been to the US you can't say that everywhere is like this. Each state has it's own culture. And while it's true you can find all kinds of people all over the world...it is also true that groups of like minds seem to be drawn to each other in little herds. This is true in the states....each state has it's own culture...it's own dialect...it's own personality. Texas is known for having more brawn than brains...California is know for being laid back and liberal...New York is cutting edge in your face...etc. Those are just the facts like it or not...I think typist would even agree to this...unless he is uncomfortable with truth.

Anyway, here is an example of Texan mentality...

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/18/us/po ... tml?src=mv

And here's a great response by VP Joe Biden...one that I share.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABToOl-xbHE

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Metadigital
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Re: Obligatory Introduction

Post by Metadigital » Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:22 pm

Typist wrote:And that, is a philosophy.
I disagree. Philosophy, at the bare minimum, is a reflective examination of life. That is exactly what's missing in the majority of cases.
Typist wrote:The problem isn't that people in Texas are too [insert your favorite condescending characterizations here], the problem is that some of us have a limited view of what philosophy is.
I tend to have a broader definition of philosophy than others are comfortable with, ironically. Either way, I don't expect to live in a society of philosophers. That might actually be terrible, all things considered. I feel like you're jumping to conclusions a little too quickly, here.
Typist wrote:Both cultures have their own personalities, some good, some bad, like any culture.
I agree, but do you understand the culture in Texas? You talk as though you have some insight to Texas or all human culture that I'm unaware of, and frankly, I'm unconvinced.
Typist wrote:You are expressing one of the characteristics of middle class white collar college town culture, condescension towards local cultures you don't understand.

It's the same process as going to Pakistan, and assuming that the locals there are all ignorant, because they dress different than us, and eat strange food.
This is uncalled for. There's a huge difference between discrimination against a culture for its food and clothing and frustration with a sub-culture for its anti-intellectualism and dogmatism. The former is an an actual cultural bias, the latter a valid cultural criticism.
Typist wrote:Again, if you don't understand the dominant culture of Texas, you don't actually live there.
You don't actually live there.

Basically, what I see you doing in this thread Typist, is attempting to criticize me for criticizing the culture in my area. Fine, I'm used to and expect that. What I don't understand, though, is why you jumped into the thread to criticize me if you don't understand the culture that I'm criticizing. Perhaps I'm right. I'm actually here on a day to day basis interacting with and forming relationships with people here in Texas. I don't have a choice but to be confronted with the beliefs and assumptions that are common here, and make friends or at least establish relations with the people who have those beliefs and assumptions. I came here, and half seriously vented about my frustrations about Texas, only to be told from someone in Florida that I've never actually lived in Texas. Well, thanks. I appreciate what you're attempting to do here to show that one's biases affect how one sees the world, but it's my job to be aware of these things. It's quite literally, what I do for a living. Going so far as to say that the it might be my mind that is barren or that I'm simply discriminatory against other cultures based on an introductory post is simply unnecessarily confrontational and pretty cold for a simple introduction thread that obviously never intended to be a discussion on the beliefs and practices of Texas. If you'd like, I can start a whole other thread about it in another forum, but I see no need to continue it here.
I think you're wrong to single Texas out. Everywhere is like this. Philosophers always find themselves in the minority.

Hands up anyone here who has a large circle of like-minded friends and relatives?
I totally agree. As I said above, I'm not looking for philosophers in Texas. I'm just looking for people calm and open-minded enough to actually put up with being friends with one. =)

Typist
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Re: Obligatory Introduction

Post by Typist » Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:02 pm

Metadigital wrote: There's a huge difference between discrimination against a culture for its food and clothing and frustration with a sub-culture for its anti-intellectualism and dogmatism. The former is an an actual cultural bias, the latter a valid cultural criticism.
Ok, that's a good summary of our debate, thanks for that. Here's a question that might help move us forward.

Are philosophy professors happier on average than Texas cowboys?

Where is the evidence that we should assume that intellectualism is a higher value than anti-intellectualism? Upon what basis would we make such a "valid cultural criticism"?

It seems to me that people like us are born with big picture analytical minds, and we deserve no credit or blame for this, as we had nothing to do with it. For us, intellectualism is a higher value, because that is what we were born to do.

That's different than saying intellectualism is a higher value in a universal sense.

I don't see the huge difference you refer to. Some people like tacos while others eat squid. Some people like big ideas, while others find them boring.

Unless someone can demonstrate why we idea nerds with fancy academic words are better off than everybody else, it just looks like personal preferences to me.

The other side has a point. If we can't see their point, maybe the problem is ours?

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Metadigital
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Re: Obligatory Introduction

Post by Metadigital » Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:03 pm

Typist wrote:Are philosophy professors happier on average than Texas cowboys?
I do sometimes pretend (to people not from Texas) that I have an oil rig behind my farm and we ride horses to the grocery store and drink beer with the local cowboys... but I think I was born almost 100 years too late for any of that. Are Texans happier on average than philosophers? It depends on the Texan and the philosopher. Many philosophers don't aspire to be happy, and many Texans can't figure it out.
Where is the evidence that we should assume that intellectualism is a higher value than anti-intellectualism? Upon what basis would we make such a "valid cultural criticism"?
I am of the belief that people who don't examine their beliefs not only suffer for it, but cause misery to those around them as well. I've had ample experience to reinforce this belief, and in studying environmental ethics, I've found that it can even be applied on a world wide scale.
It seems to me that people like us are born with big picture analytical minds, and we deserve no credit or blame for this, as we had nothing to do with it. For us, intellectualism is a higher value, because that is what we were born to do.
Sure, but I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about a dominant culture.
That's different than saying intellectualism is a higher value in a universal sense.
If you define intellectualism as a means by which you examine your beliefs, then yes, I do think it has a higher value in a universal sense.
I don't see the huge difference you refer to. Some people like tacos while others eat squid. Some people like big ideas, while others find them boring.
Some people are friendly and functional. Some people will beat you with a club for not believing in God. I'm not talking about a difference in taste, and I think you must realize this.
Unless someone can demonstrate why we idea nerds with fancy academic words are better off than everybody else, it just looks like personal preferences to me.

The other side has a point. If we can't see their point, maybe the problem is ours?
I'm not saying that I'm better off than anyone else. I'm saying that not stopping and examining your beliefs and assumptions about the world disenfranchises you and the people around you.

I'm not saying that everyone needs to be an academic philosopher, I'm saying that everyone needs to appreciate the things around them.

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