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Why I Like Philosophy

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Posted by Harvey on July 30, 2003 00:33:16 UTC

Since one poster inferred that heavy participation in this forum as a waste of time, I thought I would offer a rebuttal to this position (why not add to the 28K posts?).

First, let me say that my main reasons for debating is not to convert others to my viewpoint. If that were the case, this is not the group that I would be interested in doing so. Nor, is it to discredit or mock the ideas of those who are obviously philosophically-impaired.

My interest in debating these philosophical issues, even with those who are 'philosophically-impaired' is to probe the deeper issues of philosophy that concern philosophers worldwide. Quacks, like Dick Stafford, can actually help in bringing out deeper issues of philosophical importance simply because they are so committed to the quackery. They are more likely to require being pushed to the limits in order to dissuade them from their kookiness, and that can enable a deeper understanding of the critical philosophical matters that concern modern analytic philosophy.

The reason to pursue a philosophical understanding is very clear to me. As Richard Feynman often said, the easiest person to fool is yourself. Now, think about that for a second. The easiest person you know that will accept just any ole' BS is yourself. You are your worst enemy when it comes to believing the naive thing, or the absurd thing, or simply wrong thing. And, if you are the easiest person to fool, then that means the easiest way to fool that person is if they pay no attention at all to what they think. The less attention that you pay to understanding the major philosophical issues of life, the more likely you will be in a state that fools yourself.

So what? Well, I suppose that all depends on the kind of person that you are. If you're like me, you don't want to be a fool. You want to give everything you have to develop thoughts that are not only well thought out, but the best you can possibly manage given our human state.

Is it worth sacrifice? I think it is. I think what you think not only makes you who you are, it actually defines you. I don't want to be ignorant of the important philosophical issues without trying not to be.

So, I expect to know less practical knowledge in the hope that I will have the satisfaction that when I read a Dummett, or I read a Putnam, or read a Quine, or some other great philosopher, that I will understand what they are talking about. I will have the unique pleasure of perhaps a few thousand people alive to know what the brightest minds who have pondered the philosophical state of our knowledge and know what they think about it.

I learned a long time ago that philosophers have far outpassed the leading scientists or leading mathematicians in terms of the important issues. That might not make sense to many of you given the 'high priest' status that scientists enjoy today, but if you study philosophy you will come to understand why many scientists have very primitive philosophical frameworks. True, they are the best on the planet when it comes to understanding models of nature, but the basis of that knowledge is often naive and often wrong. To get a better conceptual view you have to study philosophy.

Think of it like this. If someone were to tell you that there was a place on planet Earth which represented the most we knew about the planet. A place that the leading experts where dumbfounded by, and who considered it the best paradise on the planet. You would want to go there if you could? Wouldn't you. You would consider it worth perhaps a huge part of your life's journey to somehow make it to that location. Well, that's what philosophy is. It's the opportunity to go somewhere that few get to see, and yet, when you get to that point, you can think of no other place that you would rather be.

So, some people will consider such efforts to be at that spot to be horribly wasted time and effort. I know people who consider the search for human beginnings to be a waste of time and money too. But, if there is any adventure and curiosity in you at all, then you want to be taken on the ride of your life. And, philosophy is that ride.

Is there other things? Maybe. But, none so exciting as unearthing the mysteries of life and the universe. Philosophy is it.

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