Proposal: Why philosophers should hang out at the humanists’ parties

#1
https://aeon.co/ideas/why-philosophers-s...ts-parties

EXCERPT: [...] the branches of learning that have to do with culture, people, history, language, ideas – and, above all, books. For books are what distinguish the humanities from the other ways of getting at those human endeavours. Social scientists, after all, chase after the same human stuff, but they do their work with studies, surveys and archaeological digs. [...]

But this rough-and-ready grasp of the humanities leaves out a significant group: namely, the philosophers, or at least the majority of them in the Anglophone world. For even though they write and read a lot of books, most philosophers aren’t as excited about them as the other humanists are. You can see this at academic cocktail parties, where the philosophers are more likely to hang out with the physicists than with the literary critics. Physics and philosophy are both problem-driven disciplines, where theories are proposed and held up for public refutation, all with an eye toward getting at How Things Really Are, history and niceties of language be damned. From a certain altitude, the approaches of philosophers and physicists look the same; the only difference is that physicists stop at the limits of what they can test, and philosophers try to go further.

[...] when philosophers grapple with [...] problems, they turn not to long shelves of books, but to the things themselves. By exerting their imaginations and their talent for coming up with pesky counterexamples, they probe away at the conceptual boundaries of God, free will, morality, etc, and try to determine, by the power of thought experiments alone, just what is and isn’t possible, and what conclusions are the most reasonable.

It’s a different method altogether from that of the other humanists. Say the word ‘justice’, and humanists will scramble toward the ways in which that word has been deployed over the centuries, in a thousand interesting texts. We will soon see quotations from Hugo Grotius, Samuel von Pufendorf, Bernard Mandeville, Montesquieu – and that’s all before we get to the lesser-known thinkers. Contemporary philosophers, on the other hand, are much more likely to skip the history and begin with a formula [...] and start sorting through promising ways of filling in the blanks, armed only with their critical minds and literature that goes back no further than a generation.

[...] The philosophers can learn a lot from the humanists about the importance of context and culture. [...] The humanists [...] can learn from the philosophers that, while context is important, it isn’t everything....

MORE: https://aeon.co/ideas/why-philosophers-s...ts-parties
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#2
Hate to see threads just drift off into cyberspace so I'll wax on a bit. World's worst philosopher spins another ....

You make a wish for a material object and it comes true before your eyes, appearing out of nowhere. Would you wonder about how it could happen or what's it made of? Is there a distinction between the two, one that separates the event from the product of the event? Which is the bigger mystery? Is not one just as mysterious as the other?

You notice the object is composed of the exact same material as anything you know to exist in your universe, behaving according to all known laws of physics. However, just how it came to be is still a puzzle. To solve it, wouldn't the first logical step be to assume this event and the mechanism of how it occurred are both natural? Although this event has never been observed elsewhere at any time, the second logical step would be to establish its mathematical probability of occurrence. Despite all calculations you cannot totally eliminate the chance of it never happening, despite astronomical odds against it ever happening. 

Yet we can invent hypotheses that defy all known science and make it sound reasonable to anyone who wants to believe you. We can create just about any scenario to make it work and call it abstract, conceptual, speculative, intellectual, academic, theoretical, transcendental and the list goes on. Is it because the mystery cannot yet be solved by any known means of science? Mysteries are natural until when, a time when you can't figure it out?  

Philosophy sometimes seems to me like a result of the frustration of not totally understanding the universe and a lack of patience in getting to that point? Would I hang with philosophers who are searching for a supernatural reason for something to suddenly appear or do I hang with those who look for a reason only this universe can provide?
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#3
Context and culture are completely irrelevant to anything but moral philosophy, which was the precursor to the social sciences. Sounds like another in a very long list of attempts by social science to subsume anything that may lend it credibility.
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#4
lol Isn't humanism itself a philosophical stance?
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#5
(Nov 27, 2017 12:55 AM)C C Wrote: the branches of learning that have to do with culture, people, history, language, ideas – and, above all, books. For books are what distinguish the humanities from the other ways of getting at those human endeavours.

There might be some truth to that, but push it too hard and the humanities implode into being nothing more than stylistic criticism. The thing is, the subject of the humanities typically isn't just books, it's about what the books are about.

Quote:But this rough-and-ready grasp of the humanities leaves out a significant group: namely, the philosophers, or at least the majority of them in the Anglophone world. For even though they write and read a lot of books, most philosophers aren’t as excited about them as the other humanists are. You can see this at academic cocktail parties, where the philosophers are more likely to hang out with the physicists than with the literary critics. Physics and philosophy are both problem-driven disciplines

I think that's a good observation and it's true. So-called 'analytic' philosophy (the kind that's ascendant in most of the English-speaking world, in Scandinavia and among more technical philosophers of science even in Germany and France) do focus on philosophical problems more than philosophical personalities. It's the so-called 'continentals' (the kind of philosophy ascendant in continental Europe and Latin America) who have turned interpreting the writings of their canonical authors into an industry. The author of this thing CC posted seems to have devoted all of his publishing for the last ten years to studies of Spinoza and Nietzsche.

Quote:where theories are proposed and held up for public refutation, all with an eye toward getting at How Things Really Are, history and niceties of language be damned.

I disagree pretty strongly with that. Philosophers are less about "getting at How Things Really Are" (that's the work of the scientists or whatever they are) than they are about untangling all the conceptual and methodological assumptions and presuppositions that go into the effort. This author (a philosophy professor) should be aware of the history of philosophy, the history of science, and of both analytical and continental philosophy's almost obsessive interest in language during the 20th century. (Ayer-style positivism's focus on meaning, Wittgenstein's 'language games', ordinary language philosophy, hermeneutics, structuralism, Derrida and deconstruction)

Regarding history, I think that one of the best ways to uncover the concepts and assumptions that go into an area of intellectual inquiry is to look at the history of that subject. So the philosophy of science is (or has been until recently) closely joined with the history of science. It's hard to understand how scientists conceive of their problems (and what the language they use means) unless we look at the technical details of the scientific controversies of the past.

Quote:From a certain altitude, the approaches of philosophers and physicists look the same; the only difference is that physicists stop at the limits of what they can test, and philosophers try to go further.

No,no,no. Philosophy isn't just speculation, even if it's written very well in books with fine literary qualities. The philosophers (of science anyway) are inquiring into the physicist's "test", what exactly is being tested, what kind of evidence is being brought to bear and the logic of how it's done.

Quote:It’s a different method altogether from that of the other humanists. Say the word ‘justice’, and humanists will scramble toward the ways in which that word has been deployed over the centuries, in a thousand interesting texts. We will soon see quotations from Hugo Grotius, Samuel von Pufendorf, Bernard Mandeville, Montesquieu – and that’s all before we get to the lesser-known thinkers.

Exactly what the philosophers of science do when they are confronted by a word like 'force' or 'mass'. They try to determine how physicists not only use those words today, but how they featured in the intellectual controversies of the past.
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#6
(Nov 28, 2017 04:40 AM)Leigha Wrote: lol Isn't humanism itself a philosophical stance?

good question.
there are differing concepts of interpretation by public perception.
public perception of humanists is nowhere close to comprehending who they are.

half the battle of names in US culture is all about conning someone to give you their money or vote, thus labels & name calling have become part of the culture for a profit(or politically manipulative) based process.
[cold-war brainwashing & social engineering/brainwashing of children/babyboomers and construction of organisations which perpetuate that dogma & brainwashing & small mindedness]

https://americanhumanist.org/what-is-hum...-humanism/

Quote:Humanism is a progressive lifestance that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead meaningful, ethical lives capable of adding to the greater good of humanity.
American Humanist Association
Humanism is a rational philosophy informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion. Affirming the dignity of each human being, it supports the maximization of individual liberty and opportunity consonant with social and planetary responsibility. It advocates the extension of participatory democracy and the expansion of the open society, standing for human rights and social justice. Free of supernaturalism, it recognizes human beings as a part of nature and holds that values-be they religious, ethical, social, or political-have their source in human experience and culture. Humanism thus derives the goals of life from human need and interest rather than from theological or ideological abstractions, and asserts that humanity must take responsibility for its own destiny.
The Humanist Magazine
Humanism is a democratic and ethical lifestance which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethics based on human and other natural values in a spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.
The International Humanist and Ethical Union

Quote:Note: These definitions of Humanism are provided for the education and interest of readers. The AHA does not necessarily agree with or advocate any one except the definition (printed first above) officially approved by the AHA Board of Directors.

note Religous dogma and other such spiritualised brain washing does not validate(or invalidate) the interpretation of Humanism to be invalid or valid because it is not able to be beaten with a stick & shouted about while walking around stamping your feet.
fatalistic materialism as a dogma of religous brainwashing is not humanism.
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