Philosophy is useless

For all things philosophical.

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MarkM
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Re: Philosophy is useless

Post by MarkM »

Hello again Notvacka

Ok! Your answer is coherent. I don’t agree with it, but it is a meaningful hypothesis considering the state of out present knowledge. You propose a dualist configuration of mental life. This separates subjectivity from its physical basis. This would suggest that subjectivity might be out of reach of a severe reductionism.
But we are splitting hairs now. You may have a theory of consciousness that insulates it from the circumstances I suggest. But that still does not confront the proposed scenario where science reduces all of consciousness to a strict mechanistic formula. We do not know what consciousness is, and that means that we don’t know where the search for it will end.

You express a belief that consciousness has a certain nature that is separate from any scientifically achievable understanding. But you might be wrong. Many people believe a range of different outcomes is possible, and that range includes simple mechanical models. My issue is that if people take these outcomes seriously, then where is the recognition of the philosophical apocalypse awaiting.

When you say;” It is already perfectly possible to philosophically conclude that there is some physical basis behind consciousness. Determining exactly how it works makes little to no difference in this context.”
If consciousness is found to be an elaborate machine that can be reproduced with synthetic means, then your idea of consciousness is invalidated, because there is no dualistic arrangement to cordon off and protect consciousness from severe reductionism.
How consciousness works is crucial to a host of philosophical questions. I see this as beyond doubt.

Further, I have never come across any arguments that philosophy does not face this situation. I think this is notable, not because I have inventoried all philosophical writing on this subject, but because I think that perhaps this question is being avoided. For instance, I am proposing on a post where the topic is that philosophy is useless, that a significant slice of philosophy faces imminent redundancy. Where are the agitators, haters and masterdebators ?

The corollary of science explaining consciousness, that science may not be able to explain consciousness, has an impact on the topic of this board as well. If science cannot explain consciousness, it will most likely be explained by philosophy, and thus we end up at a speculative argument as to why philosophy may be useful.

In any case, if someone believes that philosophy is useless, it is usually their judgement that science delivers enough answers to make philosophy surplus to requirements. I believe that their argument will be tested by how science performs on the question of consciousness. In a sense science and philosophy are on a collision course that has been laid down by three thousand years of investigative pursuit, and like a comet sighting, we may be lucky enough to witness a decision in our lifetime.

Full disclosure; I do not believe science will claim this prize, because I believe that a different understanding of consciousness will emerge. But this is a discussion board and I think the subject can be usefully bickered about. Hence my persistent cry of; " Hypothetical Wolf !!"

Thanks for the discussion, Mark
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Notvacka
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Re: Philosophy is useless

Post by Notvacka »

MarkM wrote:You propose a dualist configuration of mental life.
No, not really. I propose two complementary understandings of mental life.

The first understanding is from within conscious itself. Everything we know, or rather believe we know, we know from experience, from within the "machine". This is a purely subjective perspective, and also the only actual perspective we have.

The second understanding is from the outside looking in. Here we find any scientific explanation of how the "machine" actually works. This is the objective perspective, but it can never be an actual perspective. We are always looking at consciousness from within consciousness, because we are trapped within the "machine" and understanding how it works will not enable us to escape.
MarkM wrote:This separates subjectivity from its physical basis.
Yes, but it's a separation like with a coin having two sides. The sides are separate, but the coin is one and the same.
MarkM wrote:This would suggest that subjectivity might be out of reach of a severe reductionism.
Yes. That's exactly what I suggest. Objective understanding of subjectivity is not really understanding of subjectivity.
MarkM wrote:But we are splitting hairs now. You may have a theory of consciousness that insulates it from the circumstances I suggest. But that still does not confront the proposed scenario where science reduces all of consciousness to a strict mechanistic formula. We do not know what consciousness is, and that means that we don’t know where the search for it will end.
Actually, we do know what consciousness is, from the first understanding of it. We all know what it is like to be sentient. We are conscious beings, after all. And this is where our understanding begins and ends, full circle, within the "machine".
MarkM wrote:You express a belief that consciousness has a certain nature that is separate from any scientifically achievable understanding.
Yes. The scientifically achievable understanding of consciousness is not consciousness. It's an understanding achieved by consciousness. One side of the coin can never know the other.
MarkM wrote:But you might be wrong. Many people believe a range of different outcomes is possible, and that range includes simple mechanical models.
I doubt that there would be anything "simple" about such a mechanical model. Anyway, it would just be just that, a mechanical model.
MarkM wrote:My issue is that if people take these outcomes seriously, then where is the recognition of the philosophical apocalypse awaiting.
Rather than a "philosophical apocalypse" I see a wellspring of new philosophy.
MarkM wrote:If consciousness is found to be an elaborate machine that can be reproduced with synthetic means, then your idea of consciousness is invalidated, because there is no dualistic arrangement to cordon off and protect consciousness from severe reductionism.
I already believe that consciousness is a product of an elaborate "machine", that could (at least in theory) be reproduced with synthetic means. That does not mean that consciousness is the machine, nor that understanding how the machine works would have any impact whatsoever on epistemological issues, for instance. There is no "dualistic arrangement", only a coin with two sides.
MarkM wrote:How consciousness works is crucial to a host of philosophical questions. I see this as beyond doubt.
Would you care to name even one such question?
MarkM wrote:In any case, if someone believes that philosophy is useless, it is usually their judgement that science delivers enough answers to make philosophy surplus to requirements.
I'm sure that some, perhaps many feel this way. And I think it says a lot about their "requirements". As for philosophy being useless, let me quote my initial response to the initial question of this topic:
Notvacka wrote:I agree that philosophy could be deemed "useless" in some narrow, practical sense, just like art, music, poetry, religion and sports could be deemed "useless". But I would like to propose that only such "useless" activities are truly meaningful in a human sense.

As humans, we do all the useful, necessary stuff in order to make time for activities that give life meaning, things that are ends in themselves. Any animal can gather food and procreate. Which, when you think about it, is rather pointless unless it leads to something more.

Being human, as opposed to being an animal or a plant, is to reflect upon existence, to ask questions that have no answer. In that way, philosophy is the art of being human in its most refined form.
MarkM wrote:Full disclosure; I do not believe science will claim this prize, because I believe that a different understanding of consciousness will emerge.
I would be very interested in hearing more about this different understanding of consciousness.
chaz wyman
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Re: Philosophy is useless

Post by chaz wyman »

SpheresOfBalance wrote:
chaz wyman wrote:
SpheresOfBalance wrote:The only thing that's useless, is that which destroys that of creation, as creation would seem to be the theme of the universe at the atomic level and beyond.
But death and destruction are necessary for re-growth and re-newal.
You're correct, I should have specified that I was referring to destruction (though the term "destruction" could be argued here), outside of natures laws, those other than natures purpose, those of man come to mind. And before you say that he is in fact a part of nature, I see that often his destruction does not benefit nature, but is rather only due to those things that he 'thinks' he needs (wants), despite those things that he actually does.
There is nothing outside nature's laws, and there is no purpose in nature.
Nature does not destroy in order to re-new.
All man's activities comply with the laws of nature, even to the complete destruction of life on earth.
Nature will abide with or without man, the earth and the sun, and one day indeed it will in fact do just that.
bus2bondi
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Re: Philosophy is useless

Post by bus2bondi »

Notvacka wrote: Furthermore, the statement is made in defense of philosophy. While science is mostly looking for answers, I think

philosophy is mostly looking for better questions, though I believe scientists and philosophers alike are happy

when new questions emerge. After all, without questions, neither would have anything to do. :)
thanks for your reply, i think both are looking for answers and more questions and i similarily believe that 'scientists and philosophers alike are happy when new questions emerge.'

last night i found some old books to read and one of them contained two essays by Loren Eiseley titled 'Science and Humanism: The Illusion of the Two Cultures' and 'How Natural is Natural?'.

it echoed alot of what is being discussed in this thread and essentially was making the argument that human progress relies on philosophy and that the two are the same and rely upon eachother to carry us on into a better future.

there was a brief period in my life where i became disillusioned with the world, but i am now full of ideas again because of philosophy and other philosophers.

and also as you said 'after all, without questions, neither would have anything to do'.. i enjoyed reading and thinking about this philosophers thoughts while challenging my own.
MarkM
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Re: Philosophy is useless

Post by MarkM »

Hello Novacka - thanks for the reply.

You suggest that subjectivity and objectivity coexist as two sides of the same coin. In my opinion, this is a dualist account.
The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy presents dualism in the following quote. "The crux of dualism is the apparently unbridgeable gap between two incommensurable orders of being that must be reconciled if our assumption that there is a comprehensible universe to be justified." Even though you describe subjectivity and objectivity as two sides of the same coin, the two sides are permanently separate, and do not constitute a monistic account.
I understand the urge to defend the notion of subjectivity. I actually agree with it. I believe it is a moral concern as well. I am fully sympathetic with a defense of subjectivity. However a person has more than one option when faced with an apparent threat to subjectivity. One may discern the possibility of losing the appreciation of subjectivity, and one can also keep faith that a final explanation of consciousness may actually preserve and ultimately protect our subjectivity. Rather than be intimidated by rash reductionists, we can invite them to demonstrate the courage of their convictions and consider the outcome if a narrow reductionist explanation of consciousness is validated. Such a validation meshes well with the topic of this board, since it would be perfectly suited to the thesis that philosophy is useless. Yet no advocate of philosophy's uselessness cites it. Could it be that they do not really believe that Philosophy is useless after all, and that they are bluffing ?
Until they make a case, I will declare that I believe they are indeed bluffing.

You suggest that we know what consciousness is. I presume you mean that we subjectively know what consciousness is. All I can take from this is that we experience consciousness, and we know we experience it. I believe that we can experience it but not know what it is. For instance, we are unable to outline where consciousness begins and ends. We are unable to assign to consciousness it's particular functions, and the balance of mental functions to the rest of the brain. We do not have a definition of when consciousness begins. At present there is no accepted theoretical or academic understanding of what consciousness is. The subjective experience of consciousness is not an objective account. We do not have an objective account of consciousness, even though thousands of people around the world are working on this problem as we speak.


The philosophical questions impacted by an explanation of consciousness,

1. The fallibility of perception. This is the basis upon which human cognition has been deemed lacking. It has been a basis for those who claim that reason is an untrustworthy guide.
2. Free will. If an exhaustive mechanical account of consciousness is found, then the debate on the question of free will may be settled once and for all. This would have consequences on the consideration of moral culpability and ex-culpability.
3. The role of language and its primacy in high level thought may be laid bare.
4. The origin of reason. Hume/s view of reason. Kant's ordering principles of the mind.
5. The relationship of subjectivity to objectivity.

Yes, I have my own speculation about consciousness, but that is not the topic here.

Thank you again for the reply Notvacka.

Mark
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Notvacka
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Re: Philosophy is useless

Post by Notvacka »

Hello again, MarkM. Thanks for your reply. :)
MarkM wrote:You suggest that subjectivity and objectivity coexist as two sides of the same coin. In my opinion, this is a dualist account.
The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy presents dualism in the following quote. "The crux of dualism is the apparently unbridgeable gap between two incommensurable orders of being that must be reconciled if our assumption that there is a comprehensible universe to be justified." Even though you describe subjectivity and objectivity as two sides of the same coin, the two sides are permanently separate, and do not constitute a monistic account.
I understand the urge to defend the notion of subjectivity. I actually agree with it. I believe it is a moral concern as well. I am fully sympathetic with a defense of subjectivity. However a person has more than one option when faced with an apparent threat to subjectivity. One may discern the possibility of losing the appreciation of subjectivity, and one can also keep faith that a final explanation of consciousness may actually preserve and ultimately protect our subjectivity. Rather than be intimidated by rash reductionists, we can invite them to demonstrate the courage of their convictions and consider the outcome if a narrow reductionist explanation of consciousness is validated. Such a validation meshes well with the topic of this board, since it would be perfectly suited to the thesis that philosophy is useless. Yet no advocate of philosophy's uselessness cites it. Could it be that they do not really believe that Philosophy is useless after all, and that they are bluffing ?
Until they make a case, I will declare that I believe they are indeed bluffing.
I think I can agree with all of this.
MarkM wrote:You suggest that we know what consciousness is. I presume you mean that we subjectively know what consciousness is. All I can take from this is that we experience consciousness, and we know we experience it. I believe that we can experience it but not know what it is. For instance, we are unable to outline where consciousness begins and ends. We are unable to assign to consciousness it's particular functions, and the balance of mental functions to the rest of the brain. We do not have a definition of when consciousness begins. At present there is no accepted theoretical or academic understanding of what consciousness is. The subjective experience of consciousness is not an objective account. We do not have an objective account of consciousness, even though thousands of people around the world are working on this problem as we speak.
Yes. Our knowledge of consciousness is subjective. My point is that an "objective" account of consciousness (presumably a reductionist explanation) would not be able to actually bridge the previously mentioned gap, not even in theory.
MarkM wrote:1. The fallibility of perception. This is the basis upon which human cognition has been deemed lacking. It has been a basis for those who claim that reason is an untrustworthy guide.
Consciousness and perception are different things. Schrödinger and his cat are both conscious beings, for instance, though each percieve the world differently. Any consciousness is as fallible as the input data it receives. The cat is probably less fallible than Shrödinger in this regard; it has no idea of quantum mechanics, but it has keen senses. Even infallible reason will lead to faulty conclusions if the input data is faulty. Thus, the problem will remain.
MarkM wrote:2. Free will. If an exhaustive mechanical account of consciousness is found, then the debate on the question of free will may be settled once and for all. This would have consequences on the consideration of moral culpability and ex-culpability.
No, it would not. And I have already explained why. You don't need a mechanical account of consciousness to conclude that free will is impossible in reality. Yet, free will exists in our imagination, where it matters, and will continue to do so regardless.
MarkM wrote:3. The role of language and its primacy in high level thought may be laid bare.
Perhaps. This might be accomplished even without a complete understanding of consciousness, though.
MarkM wrote:4. The origin of reason. Hume/s view of reason. Kant's ordering principles of the mind.
Maybe.
MarkM wrote:5. The relationship of subjectivity to objectivity.
No. True objectivity will remain unattainable and subjectivtity will remain what it is, regardless.
MarkM wrote: Yes, I have my own speculation about consciousness, but that is not the topic here.
Why don't you start another thread, then?
mickthinks
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Re: Philosophy is useless

Post by mickthinks »

Notvacka wrote:
MarkM wrote: Yes, I have my own speculation about consciousness, but that is not the topic here.
Why don't you start another thread, then?
:shock: Strangely out-of-place suggestion!
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Notvacka
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Re: Philosophy is useless

Post by Notvacka »

mickthinks wrote:
Notvacka wrote:
MarkM wrote: Yes, I have my own speculation about consciousness, but that is not the topic here.
Why don't you start another thread, then?
:shock: Strangely out-of-place suggestion!
I'd like to know more about MarkM's speculations. If he thinks it would be off-topic to further elaborate in this thread, I suggest starting another. How is that "out of place"?
chaz wyman
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Re: Philosophy is useless

Post by chaz wyman »

MarkM wrote:Hello Novacka - thanks for the reply.

You suggest that subjectivity and objectivity coexist as two sides of the same coin. In my opinion, this is a dualist account.
The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy presents dualism in the following quote. "The crux of dualism is the apparently unbridgeable gap between two incommensurable orders of being that must be reconciled if our assumption that there is a comprehensible universe to be justified."
Mark
It seems to me that this definition immediately dismisses the object/subject dichotomy as dualistic.
Objectivity is nothing more that a collection of subjective view that co-incide with agreed parameters.
It is not unbridgeable, far from it. The objective is constituted by the collectivity of the subject.
Many call objectivity inter-subjective for good reason.
Advocate
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Re: Philosophy is useless

Post by Advocate »

Philosophy is useless because too many philosophers, especially the academics who have all the weight, are all trees, no forest (they spend an inordinate amount of time on minutae that isn't remotely important). The purpose of all knowledge, wisdom, and understanding is actionable certainty. You can find it here: tiny.cc/TheWholeStory (formatting in progress)
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Re: Philosophy is useless

Post by Advocate »

[quote=ForgedinHell post_id=112907 time=1343169622 user_id=7311]
In science and mathematics, one may discover truths, and answers, but in philosophy, all one encounters are arguments. In more than 3,000 years of argument, no philosopher has ever explained what is moral, what is immoral, or even if morality exists. If there is a problem that cannot be answered by science and mathematics, then it most certainly cannot be answered by philosophy. Therefore, aside from some entertainment value, philosophy serves no useful purpose. Ijn fact, it is rather harmful, because the time and energy one spends in studying philosophy could be better put to use studying math and science. Any takers?
[/quote]

>I've found all the answers but i can't find a reasonable discussion about what the attributes of the best world view would be so i can prove i can meet them.
FlashDangerpants
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Re: Philosophy is useless

Post by FlashDangerpants »

Advocate wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:18 pm I've found all the answers
Well technically Age has all the answers too, he's told us so in no uncertain terms. So you should run your stuff by him. That will be a most excellent discussion, the most important in the world ever for all time. Future generations will visit us just to see where all the wisdom bloomed (as has been confirmed by Age himself).



I personally feel deeply honoured to exist in such times, and bathe in the reflected majesty of the two gereat titans of intellectual history. It's practically a miracle that you both exist at the same time.
Advocate
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Re: Philosophy is useless

Post by Advocate »

[quote=FlashDangerpants post_id=470200 time=1599679410 user_id=11800]
[quote=Advocate post_id=470186 time=1599675528 user_id=15238]
I've found all the answers
[/quote]
Well technically Age has all the answers too, he's told us so in no uncertain terms. So you should run your stuff by him. That will be a most excellent discussion, the most important in the world ever for all time. Future generations will visit us just to see where all the wisdom bloomed (as has been confirmed by Age himself).



I personally feel deeply honoured to exist in such times, and bathe in the reflected majesty of the two gereat titans of intellectual history. It's practically a miracle that you both exist at the same time.
[/quote]

Age keeps mentioning it but never goes into detail. I guess they've been dealing with you lot too long and know it's pointless. Your sarcasm ads nothing of any value to the universe.
FlashDangerpants
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Re: Philosophy is useless

Post by FlashDangerpants »

Advocate wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:39 pm
FlashDangerpants wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:23 pm
Advocate wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:18 pm I've found all the answers
Well technically Age has all the answers too, he's told us so in no uncertain terms. So you should run your stuff by him. That will be a most excellent discussion, the most important in the world ever for all time. Future generations will visit us just to see where all the wisdom bloomed (as has been confirmed by Age himself).



I personally feel deeply honoured to exist in such times, and bathe in the reflected majesty of the two gereat titans of intellectual history. It's practically a miracle that you both exist at the same time.
Age keeps mentioning it but never goes into detail. I guess they've been dealing with you lot too long and know it's pointless. Your sarcasm ads nothing of any value to the universe.
NWell at least I got to sarcasm at both of the greatest wonder minds who ever lived. Although I have also annoyed both Hedgehog7 too, so I guess you guys are a threesome actually. I guess you get to be middle spoon.
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