Sunday, June 29, 2008

Fixing Philosophy?

So, it's pretty obvious that philosophy hasn't worked out as a science.

Either that's because it can't, or because philosophers have failed.

Since it hasn't failed completely, the first is falsified.

Since I'm a fan of the things that did work out, I attempted to fix it.

If I have succeeded, (here's an independent solution) that means that basically all previous philosophers are trumped by me.

This is the situation. Philosophy has a long, complicated, and dismal history. Now, however, I seem to be getting somewhere. Even if I'm not, I'm specifying which direction somewhere lies, which is still better than anything that came before. If I'm doing anything right I'm doing more right than literally any of the so-called 'great' philosophers. I represent a massive inflection point on the graph of the signal-to-noise ratio in philosophy.

Yet, naturally, of course, I cannot say things like "I'm the first real philosopher," even though I'm the first to even successfully define the discipline. I'm not allowed to say things like that.

So, what am I supposed to say instead? Assuming I am the first real philosopher, (or one of a small wave of first philosophers) how am I supposed to tell people?

So, still assuming this is true, because I'm interested in the answer either way, how am I supposed to claim that I'm doing philosophy right and everyone who came before was doing it by accident?

And here's my motivation; even if this person is not me, I would like to get the ground all cleared and tidied up for their arrival. Someone is eventually going to fix philosophy, and it would be nice if they knew what to tell people when they succeed.

A related question is, when an amateur offers a terrible argument, the simplest thing to say is, "That's a terrible argument." Of course they don't agree, or they wouldn't have used it. So, you have to back it up somehow, and the simplest backup for the above person is, "I fixed philosophy. I can recognize a good argument when I see one. (For instance, here.)" At this point the amateur is welcome to insist, but they're just wrong. There's no point in continuing the argument.

Unfortunately, that's another thing you're just not allowed to say. So what should this person say instead?


O.o said...

I would say that you shouldn't go about it by saying "I'm the first real philosopher. I fixed it." Just do your philosophy, and try to be influential. "Philosophers" exist, and, yes, much of their work is dismal. Your job is not to prove them all wrong and dismiss their poor arguments.

You're now working with a technical definition of philosophy (one which differs from the conventional common-usage definition). So when you go about saying "I'm the first. I came up with the frickin' conceptual theory of what philosophy is," you won't be doing yourself a favor. Because, in general, arguments which require that a word be re-defined, or assume a unique definition (one which is unconventional), are weak.

The best you can do is to be influential. Many "philosophers" have claimed that their definitions and their insights are what philosophy is really all about. Many have come across some problem X, wrote a thesis on it, and claimed "I fixed it. All these other people seem to think there's a problem concerning X, but they're wrong - I just examined it, in depth," and then some others come and pick apart their arguments and the problem of X persists.

Again, just try to be influential. An "amateur philosopher" approaches you with a naive argument; don't just say "That's terrible. Believe me, I'm teh masta. Begone." This happens a lot on, someone will pose an argument, and people feel that it's sufficient to respond with the effect of "Obviously wrong. No, I insist that it's wrong. Moron. This is deep philosophy, you're incapable of logic, etc." Some, like redditcensoredme, are more harsh than others, but it's still rare that you actually see a good response to a bad argument. Nobody cares to be influential.

There's certainly a problem of amateur philosophy, but the trend of "Terrible argument. Just trust me, I know." helps it persist.

Many are quick to take that kind of response to your dualist, consciousness is nonphysical, argument. Call that the Alrenous-controversy. When I say "That's not a good argument. No, trust me, I know, I'm really quite good at evaluating arguments," have I fixed the controversy?

Actually, I once said something to that effect, and you replied "If it's a bad argument, then it shouldn't be difficult to tell me why, or identify the fallacy, or point out the flaw in my reasoning." Lets say that I hypothetically do, I show that the argument has a crippling weakness at some precise point, and call my solution "G". Call the "Terrible argument. I know, I'm good at philosophy, and your argument is bad" response "B".

G is influential, B is nothing. In fact, in philosophy, its

When you pose an argument such as the Alrenous-controversy, you demand that any refutations be like G. But in your problem with the "amateur", you would give response B.

You can't "fix" philosophy as easily as you've fixed the definition. You can't say "I'm the first philosopher. I fixed it", "Why, and how?", "B."

Just put forth good arguments. Be influential. Be confident in your arguments, but don't act like you're all over and above everybody else - share your ideas, and associate with people who give you G and not B.

Alrenous said...

Many "philosophers" have claimed that their definitions and their insights are what philosophy is really all about.

Ah, that's what I'm doing wrong. It's an occupational hazard.

Call that the Alrenous-controversy.

I think I can deal with this.

"That's not a good argument. No, trust me, I know, I'm really quite good at evaluating arguments," have I fixed the controversy?

Yeah...I see your point.

So, I've found that I can blow my own mind, through resonance. I essentially become manic for a bit. I'm going to blame that.

TGGP said...

It has failed completely. No progress is possible.

Alrenous said...

Uhh...thanks...TGGP...that's really...uhh...helpful.

Kindly don't say things like this in my comments section. The temptation to make fun of you is something I cannot resist.