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jonathan7
09-07-2008, 09:51 PM
Howdies all,

This thread is exactly what it says in the title ;)...

For me;

1. Friedrich Nietzsche - I first ran into the German age 17, I was then, and am still now a massive fan of his work, Nietzsche at least to me, is wonderfully brutal with his logic, and is a wonderfully original thinker, who's influence I think is wider than people may realise, I have no doubt, that he had a massive impact on much of Freud's work, and in some senses could be considered a 'proto' psychologist (though I think most philosophers, tend to understand the human psyche rather well. I think Nietzsche has suffered from bad translations and being wrong attributed to Nazism - which is for anyone properly familiar with his works, I think silly.

Some favourite quotes...

"The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher regard those who think alike than those who think differently." - The Dawn

“At every step one has to wrestle for truth; one has to surrender for it almost everything to which the heart, to which our love, our trust in life, cling otherwise. That requires greatness of soul: the service of truth is the hardest service. What does it mean, after all, to have integrity in matters of the spirit? That one is severe against one's heart...that one makes of every Yes and No a matter of conscience.” - The Antichrist

And I think perhaps his most famous Quote...

"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you."

I could could happily quote all day, however I shall stop there :p

2. Voltaire - he wasn't the most original thinker of all the Philosophers out there, but I think as a human being, he was probably top of the lot, an enlightenment thinker. He stood up against both the Catholic Church and the French Government, for the little men during the Terror (perhaps France's Darkest days). A wonderful man in my book, though of course had his faults.

Often wrongly attributed to him is this quote; "I disagree with what you have to say but defend to the death your right to say it" - that would more be a summing up of Voltaire's thoughts on freedom of speech, it actually origination in the 19th Century, in a book reviewing him, what he actually said was;

Monsieur l'abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write. - Voltaire, letter to M. le Riche, February 6, 1770

Voltaire, is a wonderfully witty writer, and I would highly recommend any of his works, due to the witty, knowledgeable way in which they are all done.

3. Bertrand Russell - as a man, he had his dark side, which some have tried to use to discredit some of his works, I think however this sets him up as a straw man - after all do you think the Jumbo jet is wrong because it was first conceived in Nazi Germany? Russell also did a great deal in campaigning for good causes, and as such, like most, was a contradiction, between his light and dark side. The greatest, I think of Russell, is that much of what he did still impacts philosophy, and the History of Western Philosophy is perhaps my favourite Philosophy work. The Problems of Philosophy also, I think remains the seminal work for introducing Philosophy students to their subject. He was of course a mathematician as well - and perhaps this comes across in the very logical way he goes about nearly all his work.

Favourite Qutes;

“The fundamental difference between the liberal and illiberal outlook is that the former regards all questions as open to discussion and all opinions as open to a greater or less measure of doubt, while the latter holds in advance that certain opinions are absolutely unquestionable, and that no argument against them must be allowed to be heard. What is curious about this position is the belief that if impartial investigation were permitted it would lead men to the wrong conclusion, and that ignorance, therefore, the only safeguard against error. This point of view is one which cannot be accepted by any man who wishes reason rather than prejudice to govern human action.” - 'Why I'm not a Christian'

“The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.” - Marriage and Morals

-- I would prefer it, if those posting in thread, have read the books from which the Quotes come from, rather than using Quote sites from the internet - the now generation I think sadly bring poverty to literature and thinking, but not investing suitable time in pursuits, instead trying to have 'quick fixes' - often I find belies a lack of knowledge around the quote myself (or perhaps I've just being elitist, yet again :xp:).

Arcesious
09-07-2008, 10:11 PM
Philosophy is all well and good for attaining 'wisdom', but there are limits to what it can do. As much as I like witty anecdotes of brilliant philosophers, philosophy isn't everything.

Emperor Devon
09-07-2008, 10:24 PM
Philosophy is all well and good for attaining 'wisdom', but there are limits to what it can do.

hey good thing this thread was about favorite philosophers and not what philosophy can do

on the topic at hand i like ayn rand she doesn't take crap from anyone and incites rage with her name alone

jonathan7
09-07-2008, 11:01 PM
Philosophy is all well and good for attaining 'wisdom', but there are limits to what it can do. As much as I like witty anecdotes of brilliant philosophers, philosophy isn't everything.

I'm becoming rather concerned about you - Philosophy isn't everything but "witty anecdotes" aren't philosophy. I think Philosophy is a lot more important than you may think - and what particular limits are you talking about? I would strongly recommend you at least read Bertrand Russell's "The Problems of Philosophy" before making such comments.

hey good thing this thread was about favorite philosophers and not what philosophy can do

on the topic at hand i like ayn rand she doesn't take crap from anyone and incites rage with her name alone

I'm not too familiar with Ayn Rand's work, I shall investigate :)

El Sitherino
09-07-2008, 11:20 PM
Philosophy is all well and good for attaining 'wisdom', but there are limits to what it can do. As much as I like witty anecdotes of brilliant philosophers, philosophy isn't everything.

This in and of itself is a philosophy.

I think you've proven yourself wrong.

Sabretooth
09-07-2008, 11:21 PM
I have yet to make a serious dive into Western Philosophy, but right now, no philosopher is higher than the Buddha for me. I love him because he was not influenced by anyone, because of his legend and most importantly, because his philosophy and teachings were surprising for their era; when everyone was seemingly engulfed in debating God and chaos and war and whatnot.

Buddha is first person I see who take the individual for what he is and that the individual must strive for enlightenment by himself and by renouncing his primal instincts. He is the first I see who claims that God, Origin and other mythological phenomena are in fact, irrelevant. I see Buddha's way as living for what you have now and making the most of it, rather than worrying about the past or future.

Assuredly, if you are doing well right now, the past was well enough and if you do good, the future will be good enough.

Again, pardon my lack of enlightenment on this topic. :)
---
Philosophy is all well and good for attaining 'wisdom', but there are limits to what it can do. As much as I like witty anecdotes of brilliant philosophers, philosophy isn't everything.

This in and of itself is a philosophy.

I think you've proven yourself wrong.

I would like you to share some witty anecdotes with us, Arcesious. o_Q

jonathan7
09-07-2008, 11:35 PM
<snip>o_Q

I think that swings both ways to be honest, I can't claim a massive knowledge of Eastern Philosophy, I have a general idea of a few things and have read Confucious and some of the Religious texts, but beyond that I have little knowledge. - So I think we will bring different areas of knowledge forward to the conversation - if you want a brief and wide overview of Western Philosophy - Bertrand Russell's book on it is brilliant IMHO :)

Edit; removed response - However I will leave in this (incase its helpful...) Definition of Philosophy in my Oxford Wordfinder; 1. the use of reason and argument in seeking truth and knowledge of reality, esp. of the causes and nature of things and principles governing existence, the material universe, perception of physical phenomena, and human behaviour. 2a a particular system or belief set of beliefs reached by this. b a personal rule of life

El Sitherino
09-08-2008, 10:44 AM
Buddha is first person I see who take the individual for what he is and that the individual must strive for enlightenment by himself and by renouncing his primal instincts. He is the first I see who claims that God, Origin and other mythological phenomena are in fact, irrelevant. I see Buddha's way as living for what you have now and making the most of it, rather than worrying about the past or future.

QFE.

El Sitherino
09-08-2008, 06:52 PM
Philosophy is like Psychology and Sociology, it's a science of humanity.

Through observation one can gain many attributes, and make assessments.

jonathan7
09-08-2008, 09:15 PM
Anyways, something I may or may not have confused, which I'll express in this question is this:

If this is the definition of philosphy:

Then what is the defference between philosphy and science? Is there none? Is there a fine line, or a blurry one?

To add to what Sithy put...

“The conceptions of life and the world which we call 'philosophical' are a product of two factors: one, inherited religious and ethical conceptions; the other, the sort of investigation which maybe called ‘scientific’, using this word in its broadest sense. Individual philosophers have differed widely in regard to the proportions in which these two factors entered into their systems, but it is the presence of both, in some degree, that characterizes philosophy.

‘Philosophy’ is a word which has been used in many ways, some wider, some narrower. I propose to use it in a very wide sense, which I will now try to explain.

Philosophy, as I shall understand the word, is something intermediate between theology and science. Like theology, it consists of speculations on matters as to which definite knowledge has, so far, been unascertainable; but like science, it appeals to human reason rather than to authority, whether that of tradition or of revelation. All definite knowledge – so I should contend – belongs to science, all dogma as to what surpasses definite knowledge belongs to theology. But between theology and science there is a No Man’s land, exposed to attack from both sides; this No Mans land is philosophy. Almost all questions of interest to speculative minds are such as science cannot answer, and the confident answers of theologians no longer seem so convincing as they did in former centuries. Is the world divided into mind and matter, and, if so what is mind and what is matter? Is mind subjective to matter? Has the universe any unity or purpose? Etc etc <snip set of philosophical questions> To such questions no answer can be found in the laboratory. Theologies have professed to give answers, all too definite, but their very definiteness causes modern minds to view them with suspicion. The studying of these questions, if not the answering of them, is the business of philosophy”. – Bertrand Russell – in his Introduction to 'History of Western Philosophy'.

That's makes so much more sense...

Okay, so now it seems that I'd veiw it as 'the science of the human mind' or soemthing along those lines. Philosophy doesn't sound flawed to me anymore in and of itself, I think that what is flawed is the way it is sometimes applied to uber-critical/sceptical extremes...

For example, i see this very, very often:

"You are wrong because I have proof against A and for B, and you don't."
"That's a fallacy. I know what I beleive is true because of X and Z."
"That doesn't prove anything though! You're not being rational."
"You're using ad hominem!"
"No I'm not."
"You're also using the inductive fallacy with your so-called 'proof' of A."
"I don't beleive C because there is no proof for C."
"Well you can't disprove C because you're using fallacies D, E, and F."
"You're setting up a non-falsifiable position, which is unfair."
"Well that argument still doesn't prove anything."
"Your system of thinking is flawed, and you're not being open minded."
"And yet again, you use ad hominem again! And you're not being open minded either."
"But I have proof that my position is true. And you're using strawman fallacies.
"That statement in and of itself is a strawman fallacy."
"But you're avoiding the argument."
"And you're putting up all kinds of walls of fallacies."
"Forget it. I'm not arguing with you anymore."
"(sarcastic) Well that sure isn't open-minded of you..."

etc, etc, etc... That's where it seems to me, IMHO, that philosphy is used in to far of an extreme...

Firstly please give me an source/example of this... Your job in reviewing the debate, is to decide who is correct/incorrect, who's argument is weaker etc. Just because someone says something is a fallacy, or a strawman, does not mean it necessarily is.

In no serious Philosophy debate have I ever, ever heard ""Forget it. I'm not arguing with you anymore."
"(sarcastic) Well that sure isn't open-minded of you..."" - You may hear that on internet boards, and between pretend philosophers, but I have never in all the debates I've ever listened too, heard that.

Totenkopf
09-08-2008, 09:33 PM
-.......You may hear that on internet boards, and between pretend philosophers, but I have never in all the debates I've ever listened too, heard that.


In the serious philosophical discussions you've been witness to, what has been the disengagment techniques when it's apparent to both parties that their lack of common first principles is basically causing them to talk past one another or at least keeping them from coming to any sort of agreement?

Litofsky
09-08-2008, 09:35 PM
I'm new to the whole concept of "Philosophy," recently being exposed to such ideas, but I must say, it's an amazing idea. The mere idea of philosophy is just fun. To attain knowledge, discover truths, and find the very meaning of ideas? It's like a sweet candy after the dentist's office. :xp:

Despite the fact that I've only been recently exposed to these people (such as Voltaire, Nietzsche, and others), I intend to read their work. Until then, I don't really see how I can make an educated argument on who my favorite philosophers are.

Does anyone have any suggestions for a beginner in this field? I'm not looking to explore the meaning of life, only to get a basic grasp for this fairly new (to me) concept.

jonathan7
09-08-2008, 09:43 PM
In the serious philosophical discussions you've been witness to, what has been the disengagment techniques when it's apparent to both parties that their lack of common first principles is basically causing them to talk past one another or at least keeping them from coming to any sort of agreement?

There is always a chair, who can swish in if need be, but in none of the debates I've listened too has the chair needed to 'referee'. Generally the debates are very civil - and indeed usually those debating have a good old tennis match of hitting points back and forth. - I also often get the impression that despite differences (say Atheist Philosopher vs Theist Philosopher) they are often friends, or at least have a respect for one another. And indeed despite his reputation, of all the debates of Dawkins, I've listen too, he has always been courteous and friendly to those he was debating with, indeed when he was Debating with McGrath, I recall Dawkins leaping to the defence of McGrath, when a member of the audience, asked a nasty loaded question. Here would be an example for you to review, I hope it helps answer your question :) - http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/p20.htm

Does anyone have any suggestions for a beginner in this field? I'm not looking to explore the meaning of life, only to get a basic grasp for this fairly new (to me) concept.

'The Problems of Philosophy' by Bertrand Russell - I think is an excellent, readable and short start :)

Litofsky
09-08-2008, 09:57 PM
'The Problems of Philosophy' by Bertrand Russell - I think is an excellent, readable and short start :)

I appreciate the recommendation, Jonathan. I'll try to pick it up as soon as I can.

I'll let you guys get back to your 'heated debate' now. :p

Samuel Dravis
09-08-2008, 11:56 PM
No need to purchase it, Lightofsky; it's on the internet (http://www.ditext.com/russell/russell.html) in many places. It's a good overview of what you're likely to find people talking about, anyway.

Ludwig Wittgenstein (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wittgenstein)
Before I was exposed to Wittgenstein in a philosophy class, I had pretty much sunk into the belief that nothing was certain; Descartes' skepticism seemed to be inescapable (and Descartes' way out of his own skepticism faulty). In fact I disliked philosophy a lot before Wittgenstein - it only seemed to make troubles, not solve them. The very first words I ever read by him were these:

Scepticism is not irrefutable, but palpably senseless, if it would doubt where a question cannot be asked.

For doubt can only exist where there is a question; a question only where there is an answer, and this only where something can be said.

It took me a while to come around to Wittgenstein's point of view, but since then I have read and learned a great deal. So far, Wittgenstein's "ordinary language philosophy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordinary_language_philosophy)" is exactly what I always wanted from philosophy: an answer to anything I might ask (including those in Russel's book). The idea that philosophy is necessarily about words and how we use them - I had not fully grasped that until long after I was introduced to Wittgenstein (and even now I have trouble applying it, I am so used to the normal methods). Wittgenstein is the most convincing and influential philosopher to my current thought.

A helpful way of putting his views, from Culture and Value:
"Words are deeds."


O. K. Bouwsma (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oets_Kolk_Bouwsma)
My liking of Bouwsma is an extension of my liking of Wittgenstein. While Wittgenstein's writings were rather aphoristic, Bouwsma's are easier to understand and sometimes more developed. Three essays I particularly like from him are on: the nature of religious faith (and other similar concepts) as something distinctly different from scientific propositions, an explanation of Wittgenstein's "use is meaning" idea, and an exposition of the ontological argument.

Soren Kierkegaard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kierkegaard)
Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling was extremely interesting. While I don't think that K. was right about the absurdity of the "leap of faith" (foundational concepts can't be absurd), he exposed the differences between grammatical propositions and empirical ones very well.

Lao Tzu (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lao_Tzu)
tk102 encouraged me to read the Tao Te Ching a while back. It immediately stuck me as very similar to Wittgenstein in methodology: Wittgenstein's "forms of life" certainly seem to have been influenced by Tzu's "Tao", and the most pronounced similarities were in W.'s On Certainty (a good book if you're wondering about philosophical skepticism). I enjoyed Tao Te Ching a lot.

Socrates (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socrates)
I really liked reading the Socratic dialogues (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socratic_dialogues) because questioning in that way reveals the properties of the concept under discussion (good, holy, etc). I think that if Socrates and Wittgenstein were contemporaries, they'd be drinking buddies. :p

Aristotle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristotle)
I like Aristotle because I like virtue ethics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtue_ethics). I'm not very well read in Aristotle beyond some of Nicomachean Ethics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicomachean_Ethics) and various things I've read online about virtue ethics, so I can only really comment about that. I've grown to dislike consequentialist and deontological ethics systems (at least for personal use - consequentialism/deontology are excellent systems for lawmakers) because they are inadequate for various reasons (the classic "Would you lie to the Nazis about having Jews in your house" thought experiment for deontology is an example) and virtue ethics fits in better with my other philosophical predilections.

From what I've read of Nietzsche, I don't really like him. He just doesn't seem that interesting. What I liked best were some of his aphorisms.

Arcesious
09-09-2008, 12:13 AM
As a philosophy fan, I would wager that you'll maintain these false opinions until you finally man up enough to actually learn about what you're insulting.

You seem to have opinions on things that you know nothing about - which is why it may feel to you as if we're often trying to correct you.
_EW_

I'm not insulting it (unless if somehow, I have no idea why, you would feel insulted by me.), I am attempting to debate and learn about it. I've already conceded that real philsophy is completely a good think- and my new stance is that I often see it used wrongly, or at least it seems that way.

And going into 'false opinions' and 'true opinions' sounds very scetchy...
I admit I am no expert in philosophy. Don't expect me to have a degree in it. Yes I am debating about its use without much knowledge of it. try to understand that I'm going on what I understand of it at the moment- and I want to learn. I'm going to be sceptical about the reasoning of its inner workings, of course- so, instead of telling me "You are wrong", tell me why the 'fallicious' opinions I'm holding are incorrect; and then what is correct.

Firstly please give me an source/example of this... Your job in reviewing the debate, is to decide who is correct/incorrect, who's argument is weaker etc. Just because someone says something is a fallacy, or a strawman, does not mean it necessarily is.


Well they are civilized, but it seems to me that both sides end up setting up seemingly 'non-falsifiable' defenses. darkins has always been a great debater, in my opinion. The particular debate I've always rolled my eyes at was the stood out to me as crap (IMO) was the Hitchens vs. D'Souza debate...

I would have to say that I prefer Dawkins over Hitchens... Hitchens is just too aggressive for my tastes... Then again... I haven't watched/listened to a whole lot of these debates... Only parts of them.

Ugh... As much as I hate to admit it I really don't know a whole lot about this stuff... And it's frankly kind of embarrassing now that I've waltzed into this discussion starting a debate I now know I can't win because of my lack of knowledge in so many things.

I'll have to try to find that Bertrand Russell book you've been suggesting throughout this thread since not reading any philosophy books and thn debating about all of it is pretty hypocritical.

The reason I haven't done this however is because, from all the philosphical quotes and whatnot I've heard (probably only a small fraction of them all), it all sounds the same I just haven't seen any new intriquing philosphical opinions that I haven't heard the basic jist of before.

If there are some really intriquing philosphical veiws beyond the common ones I've been hearing, please refer them to me to study.

(Unless of course Bertrand Russell's book has them I hope :/ )

Edit:

Samuel Dravis, I think you've just helped me find the kind of philosophy I like... It'll take awhile to learn but... Wittgenstein and the others sound very interesting. I've heard of Aristotle and Socrates before, but I haven't learned much about them... Thank you for all the links...

Ray Jones
09-09-2008, 10:19 AM
all the philosphical quotes and whatnot I've heard (probably only a small fraction of them all), it all sounds the same I just haven't seen any new intriquing philosphical opinions that I haven't heard the basic jist of beforeThat is because that's what it often is: repetitive, bloated gibberish about always the same stuff. It's like looking at fractals, there's always a difference, but it keeps repeating itself endlessly while you look closer. Every fractal is different, but they are following the same scheme. So is the point of a philosophy (and thus what it says), it is always the same: describe the world using its own patterns and make it understandable within those terms. That's also one cause for the repetition you mention: most philosophers/philosophies talk about the same stuff anyway.


However, I'd argue that the point of philosophy itself is the very meaning of the word, philosophy, which is love of wisdom or love of knowledge. To me that means not attaining knowledge or wisdom, but the desire and striving to understand knowledge, and ultimately sticking to the wisdom that stems from it. In other words, I don't gain knowledge and wisdom through philosophy, but because of it. That is true philosophy, silent, without huge clouds of word, text and speech.


If there are some really intriquing philosphical veiws beyond the common ones I've been hearing, please refer them to me to study.Don't flatter yourself, there won't be any. At least for the thoughtful, skilled mind. Don't get me wrong, most philosophic texts give an interesting read, but, I you ever took the time to lay back and think about the world, there won't be much new in them.

Anyway, I like this one very much:

Imagine an Englishman, a Frenchman, a Chinese and an Indonesian
all looking at a cup. The Englishman says, ‘That is a cup.’ The French-
man answers, ‘No it’s not. It’s a tasse.’ Then the Chinese comments,
‘You are both wrong. It’s a pei.’ Finally the Indonesian man laughs at the
others and says ‘What fools you are. It’s a cawan.’ Then the Englishman
get a dictionary and shows it to the others saying, ‘I can prove that it is
a cup. My dictionary says so.’ ‘Then your dictionary is wrong,’ says the
Frenchman, ‘because my dictionary clearly says it is a tasse.’ The Chinese
scoffs; ‘My dictionary says it’s a pei and my dictionary is thousands of
years older than yours so it must be right. And besides, more people
speak Chinese than any other language, so it must be a pei.’ While they
are squabbling and arguing with each other, a another man comes up,
drinks from the cup and then says to the others, ‘Whether you call it
a cup, a tasse, a pei or a cawan, the purpose of the cup is to hold water
so that it can be drunk. Stop arguing and drink, stop squabbling and
refresh your thirst.’


Also, I suggest reading Turbulent Mirror: An Illustrated Guide to Chaos Theory and the Science of Wholeness by John Briggs and F. David Peat. ^^

Arcesious
09-09-2008, 03:30 PM
That is because that's what it often is: repetitive, bloated gibberish about always the same stuff. It's like looking at fractals, there's always a difference, but it keeps repeating itself endlessly while you look closer. Every fractal is different, but they are following the same scheme. So is the point of a philosophy (and thus what it says), it is always the same: describe the world using its own patterns and make it understandable within those terms. That's also one cause for the repetition you mention: most philosophers/philosophies talk about the same stuff anyway.


However, I'd argue that the point of philosophy itself is the very meaning of the word, philosophy, which is love of wisdom or love of knowledge. To me that means not attaining knowledge or wisdom, but the desire and striving to understand knowledge, and ultimately sticking to the wisdom that stems from it. In other words, I don't gain knowledge and wisdom through philosophy, but because of it. That is true philosophy, silent, without huge clouds of word, text and speech.

Imagine an Englishman, a Frenchman, a Chinese and an Indonesian
all looking at a cup. The Englishman says, ‘That is a cup.’ The French-
man answers, ‘No it’s not. It’s a tasse.’ Then the Chinese comments,
‘You are both wrong. It’s a pei.’ Finally the Indonesian man laughs at the
others and says ‘What fools you are. It’s a cawan.’ Then the Englishman
get a dictionary and shows it to the others saying, ‘I can prove that it is
a cup. My dictionary says so.’ ‘Then your dictionary is wrong,’ says the
Frenchman, ‘because my dictionary clearly says it is a tasse.’ The Chinese
scoffs; ‘My dictionary says it’s a pei and my dictionary is thousands of
years older than yours so it must be right. And besides, more people
speak Chinese than any other language, so it must be a pei.’ While they
are squabbling and arguing with each other, a another man comes up,
drinks from the cup and then says to the others, ‘Whether you call it
a cup, a tasse, a pei or a cawan, the purpose of the cup is to hold water
so that it can be drunk. Stop arguing and drink, stop squabbling and
refresh your thirst.’

I never thought of it like that before... That's brilliant.

Corinthian
09-09-2008, 05:17 PM
Presumably? Because philosophers will argue about anything, because for the most part, they're incredibly superficial.

jonathan7
09-09-2008, 05:36 PM
Presumably? Because philosophers will argue about anything, because for the most part, they're incredibly superficial.

Thanks to a friend of mine here is a definition;

Superficial:
shallow; not profound or thorough
insubstantial or insignificant

Surely as a loving Christian, representative of Jesus, you do not think anyone is insubstantial or insignificant?

Besides this point, I find it hard to see any logic in claiming a thinker (which is what a philosopher is) could be Superficial - it goes against the very nature of the pursuit of knowledge.

Ray Jones
09-09-2008, 05:54 PM
I think arguing about what the cup is, not what it does, would not be exceedingly deep, indeed.

Corinthian
09-09-2008, 06:06 PM
*Sigh* Allow me to correct myself, since apparently, the obvious is not obvious here. Philosophy, for the most part, is superficial.

True_Avery
09-09-2008, 06:16 PM
*Sigh* Allow me to correct myself, since apparently, the obvious is not obvious here. Philosophy, for the most part, is superficial.
So, you're calling yourself superficial?

You post in a debate forum and share your philosophy of the world. And, correct me if I'm wrong, you're a christian and just called your religion superficial.

Asking questions and seeking the answers is not superficial. It is the human condition. The actions of an intelligent, free thinking mind trying to make sense of its surroundings.

If you are calling humans superficial, then I may agree with you. If you are calling the career superficial, then I'd direct you to the writers, movie makers, game makers, etc of our current time who have made millions off of it. If you are talking about the concept itself, I'd say you seem to have a dislike for the mind nature has given you.

Correct me if I'm wrong on any of the above.

jonathan7
09-09-2008, 06:19 PM
No need to purchase it, Lightofsky; it's on the internet (http://www.ditext.com/russell/russell.html) in many places. It's a good overview of what you're likely to find people talking about, anyway.

Sorry, I have a bias to wanting books in Print - I don't think most suffer from my expensive eccentricities.

Ludwig Wittgenstein (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wittgenstein)
Before I was exposed to Wittgenstein in a philosophy class, I had pretty much sunk into the belief that nothing was certain; Descartes' skepticism seemed to be inescapable (and Descartes' way out of his own skepticism faulty). In fact I disliked philosophy a lot before Wittgenstein - it only seemed to make troubles, not solve them. The very first words I ever read by him were these:

It took me a while to come around to Wittgenstein's point of view, but since then I have read and learned a great deal. So far, Wittgenstein's "ordinary language philosophy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordinary_language_philosophy)" is exactly what I always wanted from philosophy: an answer to anything I might ask (including those in Russel's book). The idea that philosophy is necessarily about words and how we use them - I had not fully grasped that until long after I was introduced to Wittgenstein (and even now I have trouble applying it, I am so used to the normal methods). Wittgenstein is the most convincing and influential philosopher to my current thought.

A helpful way of putting his views, from Culture and Value:
"Words are deeds."


As we have slightly discussed before, I disagree with this point, though having not read TL-P, I shall not argue it further, until I have read it (I shall hopefully get a copy post haste!) - IIRC, I think it is interesting to note though; that Russell evidently didn't consider those questions to have been answered by Wittgenstein - as HoWP, was printed some 20 years after TL-P. I shall respond further with my thoughts having read it :)

<snipped for brevity>

Thank you, I was most intrigued to see which philosophers you were a fan of :)

From what I've read of Nietzsche, I don't really like him. He just doesn't seem that interesting. What I liked best were some of his aphorisms.

I would obviously disagree ;) I think Ravi Zacherias in a lecture (thanks to Jae) I heard summed up Nietzsche, by saying he was one of the most honest thinkers of the 19th Century, his aphorisms are wonderful, and Ecce Homo, is probably my favourite of all hos works - which of his works did your read?

@Ray - much as I love you bro, I wasn't a fan of your little analogy :xp:


The reason I haven't done this however is because, from all the philosophical quotes and what not I've heard (probably only a small fraction of them all), it all sounds the same I just haven't seen any new intriguing philosophical opinions that I haven't heard the basic jist of before.

Firstly, and I going to try and hammer this in; Philosophy isn't quotes, its much much more than that.

If there are some really intriguing philosophical views beyond the common ones I've been hearing, please refer them to me to study.

With respect to Ray, I do disagree, I think myself that there are many different philosophical styles out there, and while there are quite a few things that an intuitive mind may come across - original thinkers, do come up with ideas previously not thought of - Descartes, I think started modern Philosophy as we understand it, by questioning the status quo.

*Sigh* Allow me to correct myself, since apparently, the obvious is not obvious here. Philosophy, for the most part, is superficial.

Given, that none of your posts have actually had anything really to do with the thread, pray tell me, from your extensive philosophical readings, which particular philosophies/philosophers are superficial? And do you have any favourite philosophers, and if so why?

Jae Onasi
09-09-2008, 06:24 PM
I'm sorry you feel that way, Corinthian, that you think these people are simply superficial.

You'll be missing out on so much of the depth of great thinkers that have caused fundamental paradigm shifts throughout history. If these people were so superficial, we'd be without the Socratic method, Platonic thinking, Christian concern for humanity. There would have been no Christ inspiring people like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Gandhi. We'd be without Islam which has fundamentally altered the shape of the entire Middle East and most of northern Africa, and without Confucius or Buddha whose thinking have become the underpinnings for Far Eastern culture. We'd be without the great thinkers during the time of early modern Europe that allowed the flowering of science. No Descartes, no Voltaire, no Kant allowing us to further develop reason that became the basis for democracy. No Nietzsche being used and abused in such a way that the entire 20th century was consumed in both cold and open warfare for ideals developed from his supposedly superficial thoughts.

You are missing so much of the richness of the fabric of life and history, the very moral and philosophical basis for the United States and indeed the world, and that is a pity.

jonathan7
09-09-2008, 07:06 PM
I frankly don't understand what you're getting at.

Thread title; "Favourite Philosophers and why..." - Please indicate at any point when you answered that question, perhaps I missed it...

Jae Onasi
09-09-2008, 07:57 PM
Thread title; "Favourite Philosophers and why..." - Please indicate at any point when you answered that question, perhaps I missed it...

Bingo.

I just did a massive thread pruning of completely off-topic discussion on the merits (or lack thereof) of philosophy. Start another thread for that topic if you'd like, but this thread is specific in its intent, which is 'Favorite Philosophers and why.' Please keep it related to your favorites, or the post will be edited/deleted.

jrrtoken
09-09-2008, 08:27 PM
Hm... well, Groucho, I mean, Karl Marx, has to be somewhere on my list. Other than trying to modernize beliefs that were already invented thousands of years before him by Jesus H. Christ, Buddha, and others, Marx's legacy has had the largest impact on the present day as we know it, and I dare anyone to prove me otherwise. o_Q

jonathan7
09-09-2008, 08:37 PM
Hm... well, Groucho, I mean, Karl Marx, has to be somewhere on my list. Other than trying to modernize beliefs that were already invented thousands of years before him by Jesus H. Christ, Buddha, and others, Marx's legacy has had the largest impact on the present day as we know it, and I dare anyone to prove me otherwise. o_Q

Interesting :) I like Marx, I think Communism is a wonderful idea in theory, just doesn't work in practice.

(A quick side note; Given Communisms nearly fallen (not that it was ever achieved how Marx would have wanted) - and given the power still of religions such as Islam and Christianity, I would argue that while Communism had a massive impact on the previous century - I would question how much it will effect this century? As such are not both Islam and Christianity not still having a large impact?)

jrrtoken
09-09-2008, 08:45 PM
Interesting :) I like Marx, I think Communism is a wonderful idea in theory, just doesn't work in practice.I think it could work, but only under the right conditions. It is my belief that communism must be introduced to society gradually, which is why most communist states that were brought about upon an overnight revolution (So to speak) have ended up failing in the long run. Also, communism should only work in relatively small populations. Close knit villages and tribes are both examples of where communism could greatly prosper, but I believe it might also work in city-states.

(A quick side note; Given Communisms nearly fallen (not that it was ever achieved how Marx would have wanted) - and given the power still of religions such as Islam and Christianity, I would argue that while Communism had a massive impact on the previous century - I would question how much it will effect this century? As such are not both Islam and Christianity not still having a large impact?)I wasn't really implying modern philosophy or religion, but more so modern history.

Miltiades
09-09-2008, 08:55 PM
I don't know every important philosopher out there, and the ones I know well come from ancient times and I can't say I have favorites in that period. I do like Socrates' way of doing things, but I can't say I agree with his philosophical beliefs (or those of Plato).

From a lot of the philosophers I have learned about, I have seen some things that I can understand and agree on. But none that really is my favorite. The one that come closest would probably be Russell, though I don't know that much about him to find him to be my favorite. I've read a little bit in The History of Western Philosophy, but it doesn't say a lot about his personal beliefs. His views on Theology (as seen in Why I am not a Christian) are largely the same as mine, and he's, in my opinion, a very intelligent man. So you could say Russell is my favorite, though less about his philosophical beliefs and more on his other beliefs.

I'd like to learn more about Eastern Philosophy, who know, perhaps there I'll find something I can relate to. :)

Samuel Dravis
09-10-2008, 02:22 AM
Sorry, I have a bias to wanting books in Print - I don't think most suffer from my expensive eccentricities.Oh, I love to have printed books as well. Just pointing out a resource. :)

As we have slightly discussed before, I disagree with this point, though having not read TL-P, I shall not argue it further, until I have read it (I shall hopefully get a copy post haste!) - IIRC, I think it is interesting to note though; that Russell evidently didn't consider those questions to have been answered by Wittgenstein - as HoWP, was printed some 20 years after TL-P. I shall respond further with my thoughts having read it :)I would not really recommend the Tractatus as an introduction to Wittgenstein, or even as really representative (it is, but in theme only) of his later work, which is the part I am interested in. If you were to get any book by Wittgenstein, I'd suggest the Philosophical Investigations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_Investigations). Wittgenstein's post - 1930 work could easily be seen as a severe criticism of the Tractatus (by extension, I suppose, of Russel as well).

As for whether Russel ever accepted Wittgenstein's later work, I'm not sure it's particularly significant - many people disagreed with Wittgenstein because his method of doing philosophy was so radically different.

Another point I like about Wittgenstein's work is that it is very accessible, sometimes deceptively so. I mean that you can see the ideas he presents, but that doesn't necessarily mean you'll immediately see how far you can take them! He uses a lot of examples illustrating how words are used as well.

A note on "the meaning of a word lies in its use": This is not as threatening as it might appear. For example, someone might object that we're not talking about words, we're talking about concepts we use words to discuss. A Wittgenstenian would deny the distinction that there are two separate things involved in the discussion (e.g. the word "good" and concept of good). Instead, he'd say that how we use the word good and the concept of good are necessarily connected, although the word itself - the arrangement of letters - may be arbitrary. Since this is the case, we can convert a question like:

"How do I know what is real?"

into

"How do I apply the word 'real' correctly?"

This has two benefits. First, it allows us to actually answer the question (helpful!). Second, it eliminates the problems caused by certain forms of expression that get hold of us and make us misuse our own language. You mentioned Descartes; he's a perfect example of this. Everything he doubts he lacks grounds for doubting... he lacks the circumstances which would make his doubts possible.

Interestingly, the Tractatus was largely a result of Russel's influence - W. studied under Russel and was great friends with him for some time - and Wittgenstein's own leanings towards a sort of mysticism. The logical atomism of the Tractatus is extremely similar (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/logical-atomism/#5) to the logical atomism espoused by Russel.

I would obviously disagree ;) I think Ravi Zacherias in a lecture (thanks to Jae) I heard summed up Nietzsche, by saying he was one of the most honest thinkers of the 19th Century, his aphorisms are wonderful, and Ecce Homo, is probably my favourite of all hos works - which of his works did your read?I read The Antichrist and some of Thus Spake Zarathustra. While it did have some interesting points, I simply didn't find it as amazing as people often speak of him as being.

Ray Jones
09-10-2008, 04:00 AM
@Ray - much as I love you bro, I wasn't a fan of your little analogyHm, not my analogy. Someone else's, I must admit. :p In fact, I read it in some kind of Q&A about Buddhism. The question was like "Is Buddhism the superior religion?" However, I find it quite intriguing, because there is a truth to it regarding a great of debates, or how people handle things, in general.


With respect to Ray, I do disagree, I think myself that there are many different philosophical styles out thereOh, I think that too. Probably, I have not said it clear enough. I was aiming at that when I said "Every fractal is different, but they are following the same scheme." :)


original thinkers, do come up with ideas previously not thought ofNot said or written down before, maybe, but not thought of, no.

Darth InSidious
09-10-2008, 11:07 AM
The problem with Nietzsche is that he engages with the whole history of Western thought - to avoid falling into the trap of fairly facile slogans, it is necessary to have a strong grasp of that. Heidegger instructed his students only to read Neitzsche after studying Aristotle for 15 years.

Which brings us fairly neatly to Aristotle. Already recommended by Sam, this thinker is important for his impact, and because his thought contains many important concepts, such as the Four Causes and the Golden Mean (touching in part on Sam's brief commentary), and his pre-eminence in metaphysics (the name for which in fact comes from one of his books). Aristotle has been the foundation-stone of Western philosophy since about the thirteenth century.


Piety requires us to honor truth above our friends.

And that is thanks to Thomas Aquinas. Thomas is difficult to pin down as anything in particular: he straddled philosophy, theology, epistemology and politics. As such he doesn't fit into any particular category.

He is, however, an extremely important thinker, since he almost single-handedly changed the dominant classical philosopher in the Western world from Plato to Aristotle. Not only that, but in his extensive writings he drew on all the greatest thinkers of the day and from the past (from Avicenna to Augustine) , refining and blending their thought with a linguistic precision that has been found to be extraordinarily cohesive even in the eyes of analytical philosophy and post-Wittgensteinian thought. His restoration of natural law ethics has influenced many ethicists who followed, and his principle of double effect is still widely applied, particularly to medical ethics. But perhaps his most important influence is in his development of the concept of a just war, and his advocation of both ius ad bellum and ius in bello, which underpins much of the modern understanding, and without which our outlook upon what was to be considered a war crime would be much less clear. His influence is enormous, his thought rigorous, he is without doubt one of the foremost of the scholastics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholasticism).

Law: an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by him who has care of the community.

Going off the general direction of this post, although he strictly speaking probably doesn't count as a philosopher, I'd justify the inclusion of Ptah-hotep here as an ethicist, primarily concerned with eudaimonia, in its sense of a 'life of blessedness'; in this sense, his ethics derives from a similar source to that of Aristotle. Living in the 24th century BC, Ptah-hotep was vizier to King Djedkare Isesi in the Egyptian fifth dynasty, in the Old Kingdom and was buried at Saqqara. According to Egyptian legend, he lived to one-hundred-and-ten years (a life considered worthy of a sage), and wrote for his son. It became the closest thing to an Egyptian best-seller, and seems to have been popular throughout the history pharaonic Egypt.

The one work attributed to Ptah-hotep, an instruction on upright behaviour, is found no earlier than the Middle Kingdom, but differs from many of the Middle Kingdom manuscripts by being concerned more with efficiency at work and surviving courtly life than with what we now might term virtues. Some, like Grimal, attribute the work to his grandson, Ptah-hotep Tshefi, but it is by no means agreed, and others hold that it is essentially a Middle Kingdom composition. It is claimed by the text that it is written by the vizier for his son.

His advice is sensible, down-to-earth and avoids both lofty irrelevance and nitpicking. It must be read with some caution, however. Some of it is difficult to follow, at times talks in terms that may well have been clear to the ancient Egyptian but now are incomprehensible, and at times comes out with comments we may not have been expecting, or seem somewhat arbitrary (the instruction not to copulate with effeminate boys springs to mind in particular...). Nevertheless, it is worth a read.


Do not be haughty because of your knowledge,
But take counsel with the unlearned man as with the learned,
For no-one has ever attained perfection of competence,
And there is no craftsman who has acquired (full) mastery.
Good advice is rarer than emeralds,
But yet it may be found even among women at the grindstones.

:p I also particularly like Ayn Rand for her sound advice on children:

Speak roughly to your little boy
and beat him when he sneezes
he only does it to annoy
because he knows it teases.

I speak severely to my boy
I beat him when he sneezes
for he can thoroughly enjoy
the pepper when he pleases

Samuel Dravis
09-10-2008, 02:35 PM
On the subject of Aristotle, this is an excellent passage (Nicomachean Ethics, Ch. 4 section 5-7):

"We must notice, however, the difference between arguments from principles and arguments toward principles. For indeed Plato was right to be puzzled by this, when he used to ask if the argument set out from the principles or led toward them-- just as on a race course the path may go from the starting line to the far end, or back again. For we should certainly begin from things known, but things are known in two ways, for some are known to us, and some are known without qualification.

That is why we need to be brought up in fine habits if we are to be adequate students of fine and just things, and of political question generally. For we begin from the belief that something is true; if this is apparent enough to us, we can begin without also knowing why it is true. Someone who was well brought up has the beginnings, or can easily acquire them. Someone who neither has them nor can acquire them should listen to Hesiod: 'He who grasps everything himself is best of all; he is noble who also listens to one who has spoken well; but he who neither grasps it himself nor takes it to heart from another is a useless man.'"

Achilles
09-10-2008, 05:27 PM
Favorite? I don't know if I have a favorite. I do have some that have been substantially influential in my life.

John Rawls, Immanuel Kant, Adam Smith, Bertrand Russell, Sam Harris. I'm sure there are others that I've studied over the years that have also helped to shape my thinking, however these are the names that stand out.

ChAiNz.2da
09-10-2008, 06:54 PM
the original post the last few were referring to was deleted by the poster(ee) so I snipped the other comments to maintain thread continuity :) - Cz

Jae ninja'd Cz! :xp: