Past Philosophy Still Useful?

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The Voice of Time
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Past Philosophy Still Useful?

Post by The Voice of Time »

At what degree does philosophy of the past make sense in the present?

I mean. There is a perspective by some folk that philosophical ideas are eternal, ever open for question. But if a philosophical idea has been tried out for years, decades, even centuries or millenniums: can it still prove useful? Or are we just clinging to the past?

Let's talk examples, for instance. Now I don't want any affiliation here, I want to stick to the philosophy and argue its usefulness from anybody's point of view (so doesn't matter whether you agree or not), and I want to ask: how much of the past in these people can we still use?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rousseau#Philosophy
“The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said "This is mine," and found people naïve enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.

— Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality, 1754"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Marx# ... al_thought
"The fact that man is a corporeal, actual, sentient, objective being with natural capacities means that he has actual, sensuous objects for his nature as objects of his life-expression, or that he can only express his life in actual sensuous objects."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_to_po ... pretations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Nietzsche)
"To speak of just or unjust in itself is quite senseless; in itself, of course, no injury, assault, exploitation, destruction can be 'unjust,' since life operates essentially, that is in its basic functions, through injury, assault, exploitation, destruction and simply cannot be thought of at all without this character. One must indeed grant something even more unpalatable: that, from the highest biological standpoint, legal conditions can never be other than exceptional conditions, since they constitute a partial restriction of the will of life, which is bent upon power, and are subordinate to its total goal as a single means: namely, as a means of creating greater units of power. A legal order thought of as sovereign and universal, not as a means in the struggle between power complexes but as a means of preventing all struggle in general perhaps after the communistic cliché of Dühring, that every will must consider every other will its equal—would be a principle hostile to life, an agent of the dissolution and destruction of man, an attempt to assassinate the future of man, a sign of weariness, a secret path to nothingness"
The point make here is that if philosophy is the Love of Wisdom, and Wisdom is the efficiency of knowledge, that efficiency has to be relative to something. And that something would be us, our time, our world. All of the above, CAN, be used in our world, but its not natural ideas to think of, they do not make sense in our world for the commoner because relative to hers/his life the world does not pop questions like these ones, and the paths to the future does not lead along these tracks. So what use do these people have in our world, in our time? Speaking specifically for myself and my people at my own age (20 years old), and after me and just before me. Does thinking along these lines actually make me wiser to the world I live in? Or do they make me cling to a past that has already been and is out of date, out of context?

Personally I find these things more fun than present philosophy since contemporary professional philosophy is such a dull gang of men and women. And yet, the past is so useless in my eyes because it's so void of context to our own. Contemporary philosophers don't seem to have balls enough or creativity enough to pull things into the future, whereas the past of great personalities seems to be like awesome but rusty old cars, or a legendary sportman who's beginning to reach a really old age. So, what do you think, how can the past be useful? Or should be make more effort to pull things ourselves into the future?
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Re: Past Philosophy Still Useful?

Post by marjoramblues »

Hmmm, so many questions and angles to this...but I'll jump in here...

All the whats,ifs,buts and maybes about the use or otherwise of philosophy:past, present and future.

Is philosophy designed to be 'useful' and in what respect: to your own life or the bigger picture ?

I had a look at 3 news websites and picked out the 5 most viewed articles. A tiny example of current concerns that can be said to be 'eternal' in some sense; core concerns of philosophy ?

Euronews: 1. France far right row rages in presidential campaign 2. Police and protestors square up in Kuala Lumpur 3. Germany appeals to Ukraine release Tymoshnko 4. Bombs in bins rock eastern Ukraine city 5. Barcelona prostitutes try to stay on streets.

Guardian: 1. News Dutch government decrees that all cannabis cafes are off limits to tourists 2. Comment: Rupert Murdoch may be a monster but David Cameron and co are far worse 3. Art and Design Big Picture: Death Row Prisoners' Last Meals 4. Music Nicki Minaj 'i have bigger balls than the boys' 5. Fashion Abercrombie Fitch: for beautiful people only.

Al Jazeera English: 1. police violence marks Malaysia reform rally 2. Lebanon stops ships with Syria bound weapons 3. Canada student fee protests continue 4. unintended consequences: India's rape crisis 5. understanding Iran's diplomatic strategy.

So, power, politics, rights, law, violence, sex, art, freedom, and differences. But well you might ask where do we hear the active and present danger of a particular Philosopher. Muffled by the cloak of academia ? We know where philos speak out but where do they break out ?
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Re: Past Philosophy Still Useful?

Post by The Voice of Time »

marjoramblues wrote: So, power, politics, rights, law, violence, sex, art, freedom, and differences. But well you might ask where do we hear the active and present danger of a particular Philosopher. Muffled by the cloak of academia ? We know where philos speak out but where do they break out ?
It's a niche, that I know. Normal people don't talk long rants about moral, justice and politics in ways that are considered philosophical. Philosophy is everywhere, I like to say, because the order we give to our thoughts and call philosophy can equally be given to that which we see around us. Like analysis, we can analyse any human being to reason about human nature, we can look at any pattern of social behaviour for ethical conduct, and we can pick up any item to question their beingness, and anywhere where there's a stressless chair you can sit back and gaze into your own mind and question all those things that happen inside there.

But there are places in society where the core topics of philosophy receives more clear and open philosophical value. Like applied ethics when you go into the store to buy food. Many individuals find such things important to think about, and so they buy food whose origin and processing follows a set of ethical guidelines. Or courts about justice, like when a celebrity gets thrown in jail for some thing people can't believe (Michael Jackson and is child sexual allegations), then suddenly the topic of justice, judiciary on the philosophical level, becomes important to individuals who else never philosophize. Or we can talk about high politics considering the relationship between China and the United States, where power is the word echoing in all the walls of embassies and meeting rooms and seated upon the sweat of shaking hands. In effect, these are the kind of thoughts we allow, not us here in specific, but we people as commoners in general allow ourselves to be philosophical about. And my point, as I try to make it, is that the philosophy of the past doesn't seem to have place with these situations. The philosophers of the past had their own problems to think about, their own situations to rant about, in totally different contexts, in different cultures and different times and with different people and values, they don't seem to help us any in our own situations, at least not very effectively. Philosophers "researching" the past seems to think that whether Machiavelli meant "this" or "that" or whether the spelling of some medieval latin word is correct in translation is of actual value to our world, our time and our people, and most of all our situations. Is philosophy equal to the history of philosophy? Then why do we, or they (the academics) talk about the history of philosophy in "philosophy" journals? Why don't they do that in the history journals? And why does it matter what we say in a philosophy journal about things like Michael Jackson or ethical food; does it make a difference?
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Re: Past Philosophy Still Useful?

Post by marjoramblues »

Damn it all. Replied to this and then lost it. Totally pissed off. But then again, who cares ? Now off on out, over.
lancek4
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Re: Past Philosophy Still Useful?

Post by lancek4 »

The Voice of Time wrote:At what degree does philosophy of the past make sense in the present?

I mean. There is a perspective by some folk that philosophical ideas are eternal, ever open for question. But if a philosophical idea has been tried out for years, decades, even centuries or millenniums: can it still prove useful? Or are we just clinging to the past?

Let's talk examples, for instance. Now I don't want any affiliation here, I want to stick to the philosophy and argue its usefulness from anybody's point of view (so doesn't matter whether you agree or not), and I want to ask: how much of the past in these people can we still use?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rousseau#Philosophy
“The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said "This is mine," and found people naïve enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.

— Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality, 1754"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Marx# ... al_thought
"The fact that man is a corporeal, actual, sentient, objective being with natural capacities means that he has actual, sensuous objects for his nature as objects of his life-expression, or that he can only express his life in actual sensuous objects."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_to_po ... pretations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Nietzsche)
"To speak of just or unjust in itself is quite senseless; in itself, of course, no injury, assault, exploitation, destruction can be 'unjust,' since life operates essentially, that is in its basic functions, through injury, assault, exploitation, destruction and simply cannot be thought of at all without this character. One must indeed grant something even more unpalatable: that, from the highest biological standpoint, legal conditions can never be other than exceptional conditions, since they constitute a partial restriction of the will of life, which is bent upon power, and are subordinate to its total goal as a single means: namely, as a means of creating greater units of power. A legal order thought of as sovereign and universal, not as a means in the struggle between power complexes but as a means of preventing all struggle in general perhaps after the communistic cliché of Dühring, that every will must consider every other will its equal—would be a principle hostile to life, an agent of the dissolution and destruction of man, an attempt to assassinate the future of man, a sign of weariness, a secret path to nothingness"
The point make here is that if philosophy is the Love of Wisdom, and Wisdom is the efficiency of knowledge, that efficiency has to be relative to something. And that something would be us, our time, our world. All of the above, CAN, be used in our world, but its not natural ideas to think of, they do not make sense in our world for the commoner because relative to hers/his life the world does not pop questions like these ones, and the paths to the future does not lead along these tracks. So what use do these people have in our world, in our time? Speaking specifically for myself and my people at my own age (20 years old), and after me and just before me. Does thinking along these lines actually make me wiser to the world I live in? Or do they make me cling to a past that has already been and is out of date, out of context?

Personally I find these things more fun than present philosophy since contemporary professional philosophy is such a dull gang of men and women. And yet, the past is so useless in my eyes because it's so void of context to our own. Contemporary philosophers don't seem to have balls enough or creativity enough to pull things into the future, whereas the past of great personalities seems to be like awesome but rusty old cars, or a legendary sportman who's beginning to reach a really old age. So, what do you think, how can the past be useful? Or should be make more effort to pull things ourselves into the future?
Who said wisdom if the efficiency of knowledge? You rush past this but use it to orient your question. How are you determining what is past? Perhaps you might consider Kierkegaards query of the 'contemporary' before you rush on so.
Indeed, there are ideas that qualify ( loosely) as philosophy, and thereby may qualify in this looseness as past ideas, but I guess it matters how vigorous a 'philosophical' inquiry you wish to undertake. Most that ask questions such as yours would rather speed past upon progress to create a true object of themselves, though.
lancek4
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Re: Past Philosophy Still Useful?

Post by lancek4 »

marjoramblues wrote:Damn it all. Replied to this and then lost it. Totally pissed off. But then again, who cares ? Now off on out, over.
I hate that.
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Re: Past Philosophy Still Useful?

Post by lancek4 »

The Voice of Time wrote:
marjoramblues wrote: So, power, politics, rights, law, violence, sex, art, freedom, and differences. But well you might ask where do we hear the active and present danger of a particular Philosopher. Muffled by the cloak of academia ? We know where philos speak out but where do they break out ?
It's a niche, that I know. Normal people don't talk long rants about moral, justice and politics in ways that are considered philosophical. Philosophy is everywhere, I like to say, because the order we give to our thoughts and call philosophy can equally be given to that which we see around us. Like analysis, we can analyse any human being to reason about human nature, we can look at any pattern of social behaviour for ethical conduct, and we can pick up any item to question their beingness, and anywhere where there's a stressless chair you can sit back and gaze into your own mind and question all those things that happen inside there.

But there are places in society where the core topics of philosophy receives more clear and open philosophical value. Like applied ethics when you go into the store to buy food. Many individuals find such things important to think about, and so they buy food whose origin and processing follows a set of ethical guidelines. Or courts about justice, like when a celebrity gets thrown in jail for some thing people can't believe (Michael Jackson and is child sexual allegations), then suddenly the topic of justice, judiciary on the philosophical level, becomes important to individuals who else never philosophize. Or we can talk about high politics considering the relationship between China and the United States, where power is the word echoing in all the walls of embassies and meeting rooms and seated upon the sweat of shaking hands. In effect, these are the kind of thoughts we allow, not us here in specific, but we people as commoners in general allow ourselves to be philosophical about. And my point, as I try to make it, is that the philosophy of the past doesn't seem to have place with these situations. The philosophers of the past had their own problems to think about, their own situations to rant about, in totally different contexts, in different cultures and different times and with different people and values, they don't seem to help us any in our own situations, at least not very effectively. Philosophers "researching" the past seems to think that whether Machiavelli meant "this" or "that" or whether the spelling of some medieval latin word is correct in translation is of actual value to our world, our time and our people, and most of all our situations. Is philosophy equal to the history of philosophy? Then why do we, or they (the academics) talk about the history of philosophy in "philosophy" journals? Why don't they do that in the history journals? And why does it matter what we say in a philosophy journal about things like Michael Jackson or ethical food; does it make a difference?
If philosophy is a method toward and end then philosophy's value is inherent in the question. Where one would argue its uselessness, one thud has seen the problem with method but is still 'hooked' on the method as being the proper way toward the end. Your questions beg the question of itself; such juxtapisitioning of your applied questions to the validity of philosophy is non sequitur .
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Re: Past Philosophy Still Useful?

Post by marjoramblues »

lancek4 wrote:
marjoramblues wrote:Damn it all. Replied to this and then lost it. Totally pissed off. But then again, who cares ? Now off on out, over.
I hate that.
Learning from it. Saving, saving. But not always.
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Re: Past Philosophy Still Useful?

Post by marjoramblues »

Most that ask questions such as yours would rather speed past upon progress to create a true object of themselves, though.

I'm not sure what you mean by that ? I interpret this ( probably wrongly) as an accusation of not producing a clearly defined question so that a personal opinion is pushed through ? How do you 'create a true object' of yourself ? And why do you think this would be anyone's aim ?
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Re: Past Philosophy Still Useful?

Post by The Voice of Time »

lancek4 wrote: Who said wisdom if the efficiency of knowledge? You rush past this but use it to orient your question.
Oxford dictionary. Anyways, philosophy, like everything else, can be toyed with. But I mean it a bit more serious than just toying with ideas, and thus if we are to produce anything we should start from a mutually agreeable metaphilosophical axiom. It is depressing and confusing to never get any further than metaphilosophy, so at least try to stick with me on this one.
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Re: Past Philosophy Still Useful?

Post by The Voice of Time »

lancek4 wrote:How are you determining what is past? Perhaps you might consider Kierkegaards query of the 'contemporary' before you rush on so.
Indeed, there are ideas that qualify ( loosely) as philosophy, and thereby may qualify in this looseness as past ideas, but I guess it matters how vigorous a 'philosophical' inquiry you wish to undertake. Most that ask questions such as yours would rather speed past upon progress to create a true object of themselves, though.
I didn't quite understand this one, especially the bit after what past is.

Well past to me is anything which was made for a different time and for different people than myself and my time, and therefore isn't tailored to be understood by people like myself or give wisdom to people like myself and my time.

The objects of reality I deal with are quite different than those before 1900. So much has changed it's difficult to find things that are the same. And I don't mean, like, the tree is as much a tree now as it was 100 years ago, at least mostly, but the way we think about it is so different, our associations are wildly different. If I hadn't lived on the country-side I would probably see more trees on my computer than in real life. My familiarity with trees are founded in such things as clicking to harvest them in Age of Conan (MMORPG... online game), and their artistic beauty in games like World of Warcraft and Warcraft 3, or making forests in Warcraft 3 World Editor, or build lumber mills in Civilization 4 and 5. Movies such as Avatar, Lord of The Rings etc. portrays trees wildly different than reality and how we associate and use them in reality.

No, the times can hardly be compared, there is so much difference and such a new world that words are the closest to the same as you can get it. In our times trees aren't always even real! Artificial X-mas trees or mass-planting of x-mas trees. Large formerly forested areas disappear, cities, towns, factories and highways replace them. Animals are experienced in zoos and their like and not in the wild. You understand what I mean?
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Re: Past Philosophy Still Useful?

Post by The Voice of Time »

lancek4 wrote: If philosophy is a method toward an end then philosophy's value is inherent in the question. Where one would argue its uselessness, one thud has seen the problem with method but is still 'hooked' on the method as being the proper way toward the end. Your questions beg the question of itself; such juxtapositioning of your applied questions to the validity of philosophy is non sequitur .
First sentence of yours:

a) If it was aimless then it would be like roaming and expect ending up somewhere. Sometimes you can do it, but mostly it is undesirable, as you really want to get somewhere.

Second sentence of yours:

b) You generalize and assume too much. It's not a general critique of philosophy I make, it is a critique of valuing past when it wasn't made for us. Like I take a critical look at you when you try bringing an exclusive dress, which was exclusive in the 1500th century France, to an urban school prom in London in year 2010. It's nothing wrong about it, really, it's just void of context, and doesn't seem to have any inherent value besides bizarreness and silliness. Why don't you try basing your style, even if your own, on a more proper prom dress for 2010? O-key, make a few changes, so it's really you and your expression of self, but at the bottom it's you-in-context. You communicate understanding.

Third sentence of yours:

c) Many fine words which I had to look up. You do know right that the philosopher isn't made by the shell he wears? Anyways, your sentence illustrates my very point, because even this rabble of logic is out-of-context, it does not communicate with me and what I'm trying to say and my world. Just as Descartes does not communicate with me, nor Schopenhauer or the rest of the Enlightenment for that sake.
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Re: Past Philosophy Still Useful?

Post by lancek4 »

The Voice of Time wrote:
lancek4 wrote: If philosophy is a method toward an end then philosophy's value is inherent in the question. Where one would argue its uselessness, one thud has seen the problem with method but is still 'hooked' on the method as being the proper way toward the end. Your questions beg the question of itself; such juxtapositioning of your applied questions to the validity of philosophy is non sequitur .
First sentence of yours:

a) If it was aimless then it would be like roaming and expect ending up somewhere. Sometimes you can do it, but mostly it is undesirable, as you really want to get somewhere.

Second sentence of yours:

b) You generalize and assume too much. It's not a general critique of philosophy I make, it is a critique of valuing past when it wasn't made for us. Like I take a critical look at you when you try bringing an exclusive dress, which was exclusive in the 1500th century France, to an urban school prom in London in year 2010. It's nothing wrong about it, really, it's just void of context, and doesn't seem to have any inherent value besides bizarreness and silliness. Why don't you try basing your style, even if your own, on a more proper prom dress for 2010? O-key, make a few changes, so it's really you and your expression of self, but at the bottom it's you-in-context. You communicate understanding.

Third sentence of yours:

c) Many fine words which I had to look up. You do know right that the philosopher isn't made by the shell he wears? Anyways, your sentence illustrates my very point, because even this rabble of logic is out-of-context, it does not communicate with me and what I'm trying to say and my world. Just as Descartes does not communicate with me, nor Schopenhauer or the rest of the Enlightenment for that sake.
Good. Communication is the point. Perhaps sometimes the participants begin at rxtremes. So how shall we breach this gap ?

So what are you trying to say? That you don't relate with past philosophers; perhaps you propose starting anew?

Seems interesting to me, and I would like to know what it might look like.
Last edited by lancek4 on Sun May 06, 2012 9:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Past Philosophy Still Useful?

Post by lancek4 »

Or bridge, rather - how shall we bridge this gap ?
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Re: Past Philosophy Still Useful?

Post by Arising_uk »

marjoramblues wrote:Damn it all. Replied to this and then lost it. Totally pissed off. But then again, who cares ? Now off on out, over.
What browser do you use? As normally you can just hit the back button and find what you thought you'd lost.
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