Philosophy

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rainbowcult
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Philosophy

Post by rainbowcult »

What are your-PL philosophical views? I'm not sure if there's a large overlap in the people interested in conlanging and the people interested in philosophy, but the only other conlanger I know is interested in philosophy, and I am too. I personally consider myself an act utilitarian, and a rather.... extreme one, at that. Just yesterday I wrote a fairly short (and fairly misanthropic) note on when murder is ethical.
Spoiler:
Image
Yeah. Anyway, what are your philosophical views?

Oh, notice how I had to use the glossing because of how English evolved to the point where it doesn't have a plural you that doesn't make me look like a southern bell? This is why I'm that misanthropic.
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Re: Philosophy

Post by Salmoneus »

Are you, by any chance, a teenager?


[your views, both on ethics and on grammar, are poorly thought-out. It's true that death and birth are both famously 'divide by zero' problems for naive utilitarianism - but this is of course entirely sophistical, as it delivers completely different 'solutions' depending on arbitrary encoding decisions*. (Genuine utilitarianism, incidentally, actually has the opposite problem, in that it (accidentally) advocates the maximal peopling of the universe). You will no doubt also have noticed for yourself that advice like "murder everyone one by one so that nobody is left upset" are of course incompatible with utilitarianism (even if you (wrongly) believe that universal death is the best outcome, an act-based consequentialism does not allow you to reach that outcome death-by-death, because each act must maximise utility in its own right, in the moment, without reference to an ultimate justifying state that is supposed to be brought about at the end of the chain of acts). The naive sensationalism you imply is also, incidentally, rather unfair even to utilitarians (or it would be, if any serious utilitarians still existed) - utility is not generally considered purely identical to pleasurable nerve stimulation.]


[this is not so much philosophy as 'posturing'...]



*technical business:
Spoiler:
Any hedonistic theory immediately must make, as it were, an encoding decision, in assigning numerical (or other hierarchical/linear) values to outcomes on the basis of woe and weal. You have six possible approaches:
- add up the amount of utility. Disutility is considered only the temporary absence of (or only a low level of) utility. [Epicurus' position]
- add up the amount of utility. Disutility is considered a reduction of utility; nonetheless, you logically can't have less than zero utility. [The classical utilitarian position, mostly]
- add up the amount of disutility. Utility is a reduction of disutility; nonetheless, you logically can't have less than zero disutility. [a fringe position]
- add up the amount of disutility. Utility is only the temporary absence of disutility. [Schopenhauer's position]
- utility and disutility are exact opposites; one is the negation of the other, and hence you can have a negative value of one (it's just a positive value of the other)
- utility and disutility are incommensurable.

Then, when you have a theory of global hedonism, you run into an additional problem: aggregation. Having assigned numbers to outcomes per person, how do you assign numbers to global outcomes? Your two main options are total outcome value, or average value outcome. If you combine total value outcome with nihilism, you have to destroy the world (including all the animals, of course). If you combine total value outcome with positive hedonism, then you have to have as many children as possible (and as many locusts as possible, of course). This is logically and pragmatically a problem, because positive and negative hedonism should be conceptually identical - the choice between one and the other is purely a matter of wording, which of course should not yield wildly different solutions. The approach in which you can simply perfectly balance pros and cons as mirrors of one another is implausible for a range of practical reasons (eg it argues that you're entitled to whip anyone you like, provided you then give them a sufficiently large amount of ice cream), but also has the problem that as you then cannot meaningfully, objectively define 'zero' (the neutral point), you can then by perfectly valid arbitrary defintions yield either the kill-them-all or the breed-like-rabbits solution. The incommensurability approach, meanwhile, means you can't decide anything.
Some of these problems are ameliorated by moving to an average values model, but this moves away from the intuitive simplicity of utilitarianism, and introduces further problems around definition and calibration. It also gives some pretty unintuitive results. [you have a universe of a trillion intelligent beings, all in a state of permanent near-ecstasy. Then an additional intelligent being is born, and quickly rises to, let's say, 98% perfect ecstasy, compared to everyone else's 99%. An average values model says that this makes the universe a worse place - even though no individual has become worse off, and the only additional being is in an almost perfect situation. Indeed, this model would say that it's better to have a single being living a perfect life, then a trillion trillion beings living a 99.99999999% perfect life. This is not intuitively compelling...]

This is an example of the reasons why utilitarianism has been abandoned for one of a large range of less logically incoherent, and less intuitively perverse, successor theories.



Meanwhile: if you are 'misanthropic' because you feel uncomfortable sounding like a woman, a Southerner, or both, then that's obviously irrational, and says more about you than about them. A rational speaker would also note that there is a perfectly adequate plural in English: 'you'. I can guarantee that nobody reading your post without your '-PL', other than a reader suffering from paranoid delusions, would have been confused whether you meant plural or singular.
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Re: Philosophy

Post by sangi39 »

Ohhh yeah, didn't you study philosophy at university, Sal?
You can tell the same lie a thousand times,
But it never gets any more true,
So close your eyes once more and once more believe
That they all still believe in you.
Just one time.
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Re: Philosophy

Post by rainbowcult »

Salmoneus wrote: 01 Nov 2020 22:09 Are you, by any chance, a teenager?


[your views, both on ethics and on grammar, are poorly thought-out. It's true that death and birth are both famously 'divide by zero' problems for naive utilitarianism - but this is of course entirely sophistical, as it delivers completely different 'solutions' depending on arbitrary encoding decisions*. (Genuine utilitarianism, incidentally, actually has the opposite problem, in that it (accidentally) advocates the maximal peopling of the universe). You will no doubt also have noticed for yourself that advice like "murder everyone one by one so that nobody is left upset" are of course incompatible with utilitarianism (even if you (wrongly) believe that universal death is the best outcome, an act-based consequentialism does not allow you to reach that outcome death-by-death, because each act must maximise utility in its own right, in the moment, without reference to an ultimate justifying state that is supposed to be brought about at the end of the chain of acts). The naive sensationalism you imply is also, incidentally, rather unfair even to utilitarians (or it would be, if any serious utilitarians still existed) - utility is not generally considered purely identical to pleasurable nerve stimulation.]


[this is not so much philosophy as 'posturing'...]



*technical business:
Spoiler:
Any hedonistic theory immediately must make, as it were, an encoding decision, in assigning numerical (or other hierarchical/linear) values to outcomes on the basis of woe and weal. You have six possible approaches:
- add up the amount of utility. Disutility is considered only the temporary absence of (or only a low level of) utility. [Epicurus' position]
- add up the amount of utility. Disutility is considered a reduction of utility; nonetheless, you logically can't have less than zero utility. [The classical utilitarian position, mostly]
- add up the amount of disutility. Utility is a reduction of disutility; nonetheless, you logically can't have less than zero disutility. [a fringe position]
- add up the amount of disutility. Utility is only the temporary absence of disutility. [Schopenhauer's position]
- utility and disutility are exact opposites; one is the negation of the other, and hence you can have a negative value of one (it's just a positive value of the other)
- utility and disutility are incommensurable.

Then, when you have a theory of global hedonism, you run into an additional problem: aggregation. Having assigned numbers to outcomes per person, how do you assign numbers to global outcomes? Your two main options are total outcome value, or average value outcome. If you combine total value outcome with nihilism, you have to destroy the world (including all the animals, of course). If you combine total value outcome with positive hedonism, then you have to have as many children as possible (and as many locusts as possible, of course). This is logically and pragmatically a problem, because positive and negative hedonism should be conceptually identical - the choice between one and the other is purely a matter of wording, which of course should not yield wildly different solutions. The approach in which you can simply perfectly balance pros and cons as mirrors of one another is implausible for a range of practical reasons (eg it argues that you're entitled to whip anyone you like, provided you then give them a sufficiently large amount of ice cream), but also has the problem that as you then cannot meaningfully, objectively define 'zero' (the neutral point), you can then by perfectly valid arbitrary defintions yield either the kill-them-all or the breed-like-rabbits solution. The incommensurability approach, meanwhile, means you can't decide anything.
Some of these problems are ameliorated by moving to an average values model, but this moves away from the intuitive simplicity of utilitarianism, and introduces further problems around definition and calibration. It also gives some pretty unintuitive results. [you have a universe of a trillion intelligent beings, all in a state of permanent near-ecstasy. Then an additional intelligent being is born, and quickly rises to, let's say, 98% perfect ecstasy, compared to everyone else's 99%. An average values model says that this makes the universe a worse place - even though no individual has become worse off, and the only additional being is in an almost perfect situation. Indeed, this model would say that it's better to have a single being living a perfect life, then a trillion trillion beings living a 99.99999999% perfect life. This is not intuitively compelling...]

This is an example of the reasons why utilitarianism has been abandoned for one of a large range of less logically incoherent, and less intuitively perverse, successor theories.



Meanwhile: if you are 'misanthropic' because you feel uncomfortable sounding like a woman, a Southerner, or both, then that's obviously irrational, and says more about you than about them. A rational speaker would also note that there is a perfectly adequate plural in English: 'you'. I can guarantee that nobody reading your post without your '-PL', other than a reader suffering from paranoid delusions, would have been confused whether you meant plural or singular.
I am in fact 14, and I also got into philosophy extremely recently so I haven't had a lot of time to think everything out. When you're a 14 year old constantly swamped with homework and depression, contemplating ethics is not the top priority. As for my grammar, I made this post immediately after waking up and also struggle with grammar in practice (I have a good hold of grammar hypothetically, but when I'm actually speaking I have a tendency to mix up words, say the opposite of what I mean, or speak in sentence stubs). I may also note that the screenshot from my story I provided was written at 3 AM. You accused me of posturing, when I was simply stating my opinions, if those decisions were seen as attention-seeking or posturing to you, than that's more of your problem than mine.

I am not misanthropic because I fear sounding like a southerner, that was obviously a joke. I don't know where you got that I'm misanthropic because I fear sounding like a woman, I didn't mention my gender in the post in question, and that wouldn't make much sense anyway. I'm mainly misanthropic because being any minority, especially ones that are disliked or hated (noting that being trans is hardly the only minority I'm part of), shows that humans will be downright cruel as soon as being cruel becomes the social norm. I have witnessed this many times.

I put the glossing in my post for two reasons: One, a lot of people may genuinely be confused, and two, as someone who has experienced paranoid delusions it's a courtesy.
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Re: Philosophy

Post by Salmoneus »

Sangi: I did, yes! (does it show?)

In fact, in my interview when applying, I defended utilitarianism. I was, of course, a teenager at that point.

Over time, I drifted into what one might call a sort of incommensurabilist ethical pluralism that superposed two ethical subsystems: a hedonically-centred act-consequentialism (so yes, something still akin to utilitarianism - but probably in more preferential terms?), and a rather more complicated aretaicism, derived egoistically from a pseudo-Nietzschean narrative (though grounded not in power but in autonomy - so, yeah, I guess you could say there are Kantian echoes!) - and this pluralism could itself be seen as metaphysically grounded in perspectivism. That is, I thought (think?) that that aretaicism describes a moral universe seen from the perspective of the self, and that agent-neutral universal consequentialism describes a moral universe seen from the perspective of the collective, with neither perspective being directly subsumable within the other (although the former should also broadly shape the utility-definitions of the latter, one would expect). There is not therefore a single right action in many cases, as the two ethical systems may countermand one another (though more rarely than one might think): we are therefore left in a continual position of ethical choice - and indeed, we ought I think to be suspicious of the monosystematising impulse in ethical philosophy, as a kind of rescission of autonomy in the face of existential dread? To further complicate the issue, I think that there is a value in a sincere public morality of maxims - either deontological or rule-consequentialist - that may conflict with both underlying evaluation systems on an act-by-act basis, but the maintenance of which is itself an act of superior significance (I'm not of course talking about naive popular mores, but a well-grounded maxim set that ultimately aims at the underlying good, while accounting for the possibility of ignorance and error); and of course, on top of that, legal, political and social norms may have a further systemic value, albeit only of a strictly instrumental and defeasible kind.

Metaphysically speaking, I would then in turn found the above on, frankly, a sort of neo-Fichtean - well, not a neo-Fichtean ontology in a naive sense, to be sure, but perhaps we could, to abuse a term, speak of a neo-Fichtean ontological hermeneutics? No, that's probably not a great term. And yet I don't really want to talk of epistemology, as that's developed a more specialised meaning. Perhaps I should simple say a transcendental argument, and leave it at that.

In any case, I would say, more or less, that the ethical is in some ways simply the self as object. The positing of the self through the positing of Anstoss (an unfalsifiable and yet transcendentally irrevocable hypothesis), and the division of the Anstoss into Other and Other-Self through which by the self-assertion of and self-call into a communion the self further defines itself, experienced subjectively as the act of which consciousness is an incomprehensible direct reflection, is made comprehensible though its objective experience as ethical landscape. For the self to understand itself as self - as the creator of itself - is for the self to act ethically, from the perspective of a self-ethic. And yet, for the self to understand itself as self-in-communion - a conceptually contingent yet practically unavoidable understanding - it must understand Other-Self as equally self, and hence self as no more than equally other. In other words, it must understand itself from the agent-neutral and impartial position. Nonetheless, to understand oneself univocally as self-in-communion is to fail not only to understand oneself as self, but also to fail to understand the self-hood of the other-self, and hence self-defeats as a mode of comprehension of the communal self. Either univocal perspective is therefore inadequate in describing the experience and nature of the self: hence, the superposition of perspectives. That this leads to the inescapability of choice is not a logical error, but a logical inevitability: the self cannot be understood without choice, because choice is (from the self's perspective) the nature of self. In other words, like the naive Pepper's ghost of described consciousness, the more sophisticated objectification of the self through described ethics still fails to reduce to the objective the ineradicably, transcendentally subjective. If - and I suspect it does not - that makes any sense?

Something along those lines, anyway.
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Re: Philosophy

Post by Salmoneus »

EDIT: I should have said: sorry to say "poorly thought-out" so bluntly, and sorry if my post was too dismissive.

[I studied politics and philosophy at uni - the two subjects about which the general public is most certain that they know absolutely everything for certain, even if they have studied them very little at all. It's probably give me a bit of a twitch when it comes to philosophical overconfidence...]

rainbowcult wrote: 02 Nov 2020 00:04 I am in fact 14
In which case, well done! 14 is a good age to begin to think philosophically about things. [I was starting to think philosophically at that age, though more metaphysics and epistemology than ethics, and I'm not sure I knew what utilitarianism was yet]. I was assuming you were more in the 16-18 range.
, and I also got into philosophy extremely recently so I haven't had a lot of time to think everything out.
And (spoiler alert!) you never will (noone really does). Which is fair enough. Nonetheless, it is certainly useful, particularly as a young person, to think philosophically about the world - to understand the world and yourself, to train your intellect, and to understand in a new way society and history.

[it's also - and again, my perspective is biased here! - really fun!]

A big thing that philosophy teaches (many people) is perspective. In my case, I approach this through an explicit perspectivism (a jargon term, don't worry about it). When you are feeling sad or angry about some problem you have, perspective doesn't means that the problem goes away. But it lets you see it from different angles and distances. It doesn't take away the world in which you react one way to the problem; but it does help to give you the freedom to find - and hence potentially move into - worlds in which you react other ways. [and, if you still react the same way, it can help you react to your reaction in different ways, as it were...]

Some advice (probably unhelpful): don't be too defensive about yourself. You took my remarks as criticism, as I suppose, in a sense, they were. But now you are defending yourself, with excuses. Good excuses, to be sure! I'm not saying they're not good excuses, or that you don't have a right to defend yourself. But rather: perhaps you don't have to.

I have a lot of flaws. We all do. That means it's easy for people to criticise me. And of course, sometimes I want to defend myself: to say either, no, this isn't a flaw; or else, yes, this may be a flaw, but look why I have it. Sometimes, defending myself in this way is important (don't be afraid to defend yourself). But as you get older, you tend to realise that very often, it isn't. To get philosophical (or psychological) about it: all defence is a form of vulnerability. Defending myself - out loud or only to myself, or even only emotionally without conscious thought - is putting myself in another person's power, making my feelings subject to their actions. And I only do it when I'm hurt - otherwise, why would I care? Don't worry what I think about you, or how you look on a message board. We don't matter. Relax. Of course, I don't mean you should never listen to criticism. But don't be afraid of it.

[I know this advice probably isn't helpful. Telling you to do something doesn't make you able to do it. But sometimes we have to have people point out the ladder before we can learn how to climb it...]
When you're a 14 year old constantly swamped with homework and depression, contemplating ethics is not the top priority.
Personally, I think that if you have depression, philosophy increases in importance. But then, I'm a philosophy graduate, so I'm biased - we each deal with things differently.

I'm really sorry about your depression. I was often pretty unhappy at around your age - I'm not sure it was ever depression in a clinical sense (fortunately although I could/can brood intensely, I easily 'reset' back to neutral, emotionally - which causes its own practical problems, of course - it's tended to make me a slow learner in some situations) but yeah. Personally, philosophy was a big part of my becoming a significantly happier, and more psychological autonomous, person (although I'm sure people around here have noticed that I have my weak moments...). And several good friends and family members have had periods when they've struggled. If you don't mind, I'd just say three things:

- as you're probably aware, depression (both clinical depression and a broader range of unhappinesses) is very common for people your age, and for the next few years. Partly because being a teenager is genuinely difficult (it doesn't help that society doesn't know what to do with teenagers: you're expected to sort of leap from being a child when you're 12 to being an adult when you're 21, without really a coherent flight path or timeline between those two points... also, of course, everyone over the age of 21 seems to think they should give you well-meaning but vacuous lectures about what being a teenager is like, the arseholes), and partly because your brain is being messed up by growth hormones. It's good to remember that just because you're depressed now doesn't mean you always will be. It's also good to remember that a very large percentage of your cohort are also depressed, or have experience of depression (though it's often not the ones you necessarily expect).

- don't feel afraid, embarrassed or ashamed to talk about your feelings; if you can't talk to people in real life, you can talk to people online. People mostly won't judge, and if they do, fuck'em. At this board and on the ZBB, there are some really messed up people, and people who remember having been messed up.
[On the other hand: it's generally best not to overstate your negative feelings, even if it feels like that's the only way to be heard. One of the great and terrible facts of human psychology is that are very gullible when we listen to persuasive people - and we find ourselves endlessly persuasive. The things you say about yourself tend to come true. If you already feel a certain way, it can be good to say how you feel - but try not to say you feel worse than you actually do, because it tends to make you feel worse. ]

- if you find yourself getting seriously depressed, in a way that interferes with your life, remember: treatment is available! Talking therapies (CBT) can be very effective; if you don't have access to a therapist, you may be able to find sites that suggest helpful books to read. Nothing's going to change your mind completely overnight, but they can really help. Also: don't be scared of antidepressants if you need them. I've not had them myself, but I know several people for whom they were incredibly effective. They're not really intended as "cures" - therapy and lifestyle modifications are probably more effective in the longrun - but when things get bad, they can help keep things under control so that you can still function. It should be said: they probably don't work for everybody; and a good therapist would probably say you shouldn't use antidepressants to simply avoid confronting your issues. But they can be really useful, so use them if you need to.

[also, don't underestimate the power of moderate, regular physical exercise, particularly a nice walk outdoors (obviously this isn't the ideal year for that, but...). Also, diet changes can be very helpful for mood.]

As for my grammar, I made this post immediately after waking up and also struggle with grammar in practice (I have a good hold of grammar hypothetically, but when I'm actually speaking I have a tendency to mix up words, say the opposite of what I mean, or speak in sentence stubs).
You don't struggle with grammar, grammar struggles with you. Grammar is only a description of how you speak, after all - when you and grammar disagree, it simply means that grammar is wrong (or incomplete, at least). And bear in mind that liteally eveybody mixes up words, says the opposite of what they mean, and speaks in fragments (indeed, fragmentary speech is more common than full sentences, in actual speech. Have you ever read a real speech transcript, the kind you get in legal or scientific contexts? It's almost amazing we manage to understand each other at all, when you see what we really say!).

But anyway, I didn't say your grammar was bad (in practice), but that your view of grammar was wrong (in theory). There's nothing wrong with English not having a dedicated second-person plural. [many languages don't have a first- or third-person plural either!]

(It's common for people new to linguistics to make value judgements about linguistic features - this is better, that is pointless, etc. These are generally oversimplifying at best, unjustified at worst).

[sidenote: American English seems to strongly desire a second person plural, and different dialects use different strategies, of which "you all" is just the most famous (iirc "you guys" is really common too). this is also true in parts of Scotland and Northern England ("youse", "yiz", etc). However, in my own part of England, this just isn't really an issue - there's no really regular plural expression, and not much feeling of a need for one, at least among people of my social circle. The idea didn't even occur to me until I started interacting with Americans...]
I may also note that the screenshot from my story I provided was written at 3 AM. You accused me of posturing, when I was simply stating my opinions, if those decisions were seen as attention-seeking or posturing to you, than that's more of your problem than mine.
The fact that you want to defend yourself (by saying what time you wrote something or how awake you were) indicates that my comments were a problem for you. [I hope they weren't too big a problem]. Which is fine, nobody likes the implication of criticism. Anyway, there's an old aphorism: always do when sober what you said you'd do when you were drunk. It's terrible, terrible advice, in practice. But it's excellent advice philosophically.

Stand by your 3AM self! God knows they probably need someone to be on their side - nobody's really self-sufficient at 3AM. Don't throw your 3AM self to the wolves to keep your own hands clean!

[at some point, you'll find you transition from "I'm not an attention-seeking teenager! I'm just stating my opinions!" to "yeah, I was attention-seeking. *shrug*. Everyone's attention-seeking." But this will probably be a few years in the future.]

(also: go to bed! Seriously (and hypocritically), being on a computer at 3am is almost never a good idea.)
((my record is... well, I've just not gone to bed a few times now, but in uni I'd also sometimes go to bed at 6, 7, even 8am. And I can't even claim I was partying. I think my record for getting up was about 6.15pm. This was much better for me than it would be now... but it wasn't a good idea, as a general habit. For one thing, it tends to encourage depression.))
I am not misanthropic because I fear sounding like a southerner, that was obviously a joke. I don't know where you got that I'm misanthropic because I fear sounding like a woman, I didn't mention my gender in the post in question, and that wouldn't make much sense anyway.
You specified "southern bell(e)" rather than just "southerner". A belle is a woman. [I don't know if 'bell' was a typo or a reanalysis, but I didn't actually spot it at the time anyway]
(My comment was also a joke.)
I'm mainly misanthropic because being any minority, especially ones that are disliked or hated (noting that being trans is hardly the only minority I'm part of), shows that humans will be downright cruel as soon as being cruel becomes the social norm. I have witnessed this many times.
Humans will occasionally be cruel, yes (though as a teenager, you're surrounded by the cruelest people in the world, so your perspective is a little biased in that regard). Humans will also be incredibly noble, self-sacrificing, loving and sensitive. This is probably less noticeable to you at this point in your life, but you will probably realise it as you get older. One fortunate irony is that the more pain you experience in life, the more you'll probably realise the kindness of others.

[you should also probably realise sooner rather than later - though some people never do - that other people also regard you as cruel and hateful, and while this is a gross simplification and arguably unjustified, it is not entirely without cause. That's not a statement about you personally, mind you - it's true of almost everybody, and probably literally every teenager. Conversely, other people are cruel usually as a reflection of their own pain and fear - whether consciously or unconsciously. This does not, of course, justify their actions.]
I put the glossing in my post for two reasons: One, a lot of people may genuinely be confused
As a linguistic point: no, they won't be. Almost everybody realises that a forum post is publically viewable, and hence almost never addressed (unless it says otherwise) to an individual reader. However...
, and two, as someone who has experienced paranoid delusions it's a courtesy.
Fair enough. [and I'm sorry to hear that.]
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Re: Philosophy

Post by Salmoneus »

Anyway, sorry if we've gotten off on the wrong foot. Let's try again...


When I was your age (I think? Well, give or take a bit), the two philosophical books that I really valued were:

- Sophie's World. It's a postmodern YA novel that's also an introduction to the history of philosophy. The novel side of it is a bit cheesy, and the philosophy is inevitably rather cursory (and gets weaker at the end, because the plot has to take over). It's certainly not all dark and angsty. But I found it engaging both as a charming (clever) story and as an intro to philosophy. [it's an intro to philosophy dressed up as a novel, rather than a novel dressed up as an intro philosophy]


- Goedel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. This is pretty dense (it's not technical - it's for a popular audience - but it's weird and complicated and long), and isn't exactly academic philosophy, but it is philosophical, and touches on academic philosophy. It's a rather meandering book that attempts to tie together the art of MC Escher, the music of JS Bach, and the Incompleteness Theorem of mathematician Kurt Goedel (via some discussions of the obsolete programming language, LISP). In other words, it's about recursion and self-reference.The chapters are punctuated by paradoxical philosophical dialogues inspired by Lewis Carroll's disproof of the concept of proof, and by the canons of Bach's "Musical Offering". To be honest, I didn't really understand it when I was your age, but I did find it to be full of fascinating ideas. [and it also meant that I already knew the propositional calculus (a system of symbolic logical deduction) and didn't have to learn it from scratch at uni...]. It's heavy going, but I dipped in and out...



[Later in the school libary I read (much of) Russell's History of Western Philosophy, which is both pompous and biased (it tends to assume that history is primarily the process by which the world produced Russell...), a century out of date and very long - but packed with information, and not unentertaining at times (Russell is one of those Edwardian writers whose English is pompously correct and longwinded, but also elegant and laced with a dry wit). However, when I went to uni one of the introductory texts was Russell's much, much, much shorter The Problems of Philosophy, which is an intro to the subject - again a bit out of date, but very readable. The other intro text we were given, more modern, was Nagel - possibly called 'What's it all about?' or somesuch. And a book by Jonathan Woolf as an intro to political philosophy, possibly called 'an introduction to political philosophy' or the like. [I also have a book by Kymlicka et al with a similar title, which is great, but more a uni text than a popular intro]. We didn't really get a broad-strokes dedicated ethics text, other than having to read Utilitarianism itself (spoiler: On Liberty is better...). Although I later found out that Singer's anthology called Ethics seemed like a pretty good intro - it's not an overview, but it's a collection of representative key texts from through the centuries. Oh, and the intro to the history of philosophy as a whole that many people don't get recommended: Rorty's Philosophy as the Mirror of Nature; Rorty's kind of an iconoclast, as PMN is kind of a "where philosophy has gone wrong" from the Greeks onward. But probably works better when you already know the mainstream history...]

[I don't know if you're aware, or indeed where you learnt about utilitarianism from, but aside from Wikipedia there's two dedicated online philosophy encyclopaedias: the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, both of which google will probably show you. The IEP is the more accessible of the two for newcomers (you know, as technical encyclopedia essays go...), whereas the SEP is more technical, but more in-depth. I don't particularly recommend either of them for a 14-year-old just starting to be interested in philosophy, but I feel I should mention them so that you know that they're there...]



Anyway, if you have any questions about philosophy, do please ask! (!!!!)
[I mean, I probably won't know the answers, but I can try...]
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rainbowcult
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Re: Philosophy

Post by rainbowcult »

Salmoneus wrote: 02 Nov 2020 02:21 Anyway, sorry if we've gotten off on the wrong foot. Let's try again...


When I was your age (I think? Well, give or take a bit), the two philosophical books that I really valued were:

- Sophie's World. It's a postmodern YA novel that's also an introduction to the history of philosophy. The novel side of it is a bit cheesy, and the philosophy is inevitably rather cursory (and gets weaker at the end, because the plot has to take over). It's certainly not all dark and angsty. But I found it engaging both as a charming (clever) story and as an intro to philosophy. [it's an intro to philosophy dressed up as a novel, rather than a novel dressed up as an intro philosophy]


- Goedel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. This is pretty dense (it's not technical - it's for a popular audience - but it's weird and complicated and long), and isn't exactly academic philosophy, but it is philosophical, and touches on academic philosophy. It's a rather meandering book that attempts to tie together the art of MC Escher, the music of JS Bach, and the Incompleteness Theorem of mathematician Kurt Goedel (via some discussions of the obsolete programming language, LISP). In other words, it's about recursion and self-reference.The chapters are punctuated by paradoxical philosophical dialogues inspired by Lewis Carroll's disproof of the concept of proof, and by the canons of Bach's "Musical Offering". To be honest, I didn't really understand it when I was your age, but I did find it to be full of fascinating ideas. [and it also meant that I already knew the propositional calculus (a system of symbolic logical deduction) and didn't have to learn it from scratch at uni...]. It's heavy going, but I dipped in and out...



[Later in the school libary I read (much of) Russell's History of Western Philosophy, which is both pompous and biased (it tends to assume that history is primarily the process by which the world produced Russell...), a century out of date and very long - but packed with information, and not unentertaining at times (Russell is one of those Edwardian writers whose English is pompously correct and longwinded, but also elegant and laced with a dry wit). However, when I went to uni one of the introductory texts was Russell's much, much, much shorter The Problems of Philosophy, which is an intro to the subject - again a bit out of date, but very readable. The other intro text we were given, more modern, was Nagel - possibly called 'What's it all about?' or somesuch. And a book by Jonathan Woolf as an intro to political philosophy, possibly called 'an introduction to political philosophy' or the like. [I also have a book by Kymlicka et al with a similar title, which is great, but more a uni text than a popular intro]. We didn't really get a broad-strokes dedicated ethics text, other than having to read Utilitarianism itself (spoiler: On Liberty is better...). Although I later found out that Singer's anthology called Ethics seemed like a pretty good intro - it's not an overview, but it's a collection of representative key texts from through the centuries. Oh, and the intro to the history of philosophy as a whole that many people don't get recommended: Rorty's Philosophy as the Mirror of Nature; Rorty's kind of an iconoclast, as PMN is kind of a "where philosophy has gone wrong" from the Greeks onward. But probably works better when you already know the mainstream history...]

[I don't know if you're aware, or indeed where you learnt about utilitarianism from, but aside from Wikipedia there's two dedicated online philosophy encyclopaedias: the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, both of which google will probably show you. The IEP is the more accessible of the two for newcomers (you know, as technical encyclopedia essays go...), whereas the SEP is more technical, but more in-depth. I don't particularly recommend either of them for a 14-year-old just starting to be interested in philosophy, but I feel I should mention them so that you know that they're there...]



Anyway, if you have any questions about philosophy, do please ask! (!!!!)
[I mean, I probably won't know the answers, but I can try...]
I'm not sure how to quote multiple posts, but I'll be responding to both of them.

I now see that you weren't intending to come off as accusatory/rude/various other adjectives, I have a tendency to go into fight mode before actually determining if that's necessary. People as a whole tend to use age ("are you, by any chance, a teenager") as an insult, because it's a well known fact that all teenagers think the exact same way, and I've grown more used to the connotations of asking if someone is a teenager than the actual meaning of the phrase at this point. I'm also bad at telling when someone is joking, which is ironic seeing as I usually have a very subtle and dry sense of humor.

I got all of my information of philosophy off of Wikipedia, I have difficulty comprehending large pieces of text for some reason (I'm most likely autistic, so the reason is very possibly related to that. 80% of people with autism also fit the diagnostic criteria for ADHD to the point where ADHD is seen as a symptom to autism), which has made it difficult to study philosophy. From what I understand, philosophers have a bit of a tendency to write extremely long papers.

I've been looking into philosophy a lot, at least trying to grasp the basic idea of various ideologies, and although there are some notable flaws with utilitarianism, I'm still not sure that there is a philosophical view that doesn't, and utilitarianism is the best we may get. The problem, at least in my opinion, with virtue ethics is that if you say virtue is the only important thing then people would no longer have the incentive to do what helps others if they think they're doing a good thing, which would ultimately create a sort of paradox. (Again, the point of virtue ethics may have completely flown over my head.) Kantian ethics is genuinely one of the worst things I've ever thought about. If an ax murderer asked me where my dog was, I'd lie, obviously. As a matter of fact, I have problems with all deontologist (is that the correct form of the word?) ethics.

Those are the only philosophical views I can think of off the top of my head.
♂♥♂♀
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LinguistCat
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Re: Philosophy

Post by LinguistCat »

I think I have more questions about philosophy than answers to what my philosophy is. I sometimes wonder if a strict philosophical framework could ever be applied to something as messy as life. I do think that any philosophy that can't account for different people having different needs, let alone wants, in life can be thrown out immediately. Any philosophy that leads to an "ideal world" in which people are given a role, must do that role, and cannot grow out of it or change course - because if people did that the whole thing would come crashing down - is too inflexible to account for all the weirdness of life.
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Torco
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Re: Philosophy

Post by Torco »

I agree that there's probably more percapita interest in philosophy amongst conlangers than there is in the general population, but if pressed I'd just attribute that to the fact that conlangers are nerds, and nerds like nerdy things, and philo is nerdy: I don't imagine that there's more of it amongst conlangers than amongst, say, people who really like history, or people who play TTRPGs.

as to my views, i've picked like a random list from google and will answer it as short as i can. i've pruned the questions i thought were the boringest.

Is the mind the same as the brain, or do we have souls?
no souls

Can computers think, or fall in love?
maybe?

What is consciousness?
epiphenomenon of brain activity.

Can we really know what it feels like to be a bat?
na

When you have a toothache, is the pain in your mouth or in your brain?
oh come off it.

What is the meaning of life?
a terrible question

Does freewill really exist?
i'm a compatibilist, of the kind that goes "don't sweat it, free will is just that you can choose things. there's no mystical from-outside-reality-forces tho.

If there is no freewill, should we punish people at all?
maybe

Does God exist?
gnostic atheist thank you.

If God exists, why is there so much evil in the world?
i dunno maybe he's evil? he sounds like a psycho in most religious stories.

Is morality relative?
"relative/absolute" is kind a confusing and misleading thing. I do believe there are moral facts, but which those are is gonna depend on what you mean when you say good/evil, moral/immoral, whatever. I do think ultimately value judgements boil down to ordinary facts, but that not everyone means the same thing when they say "x is wrong".

Is it objectively wrong to torture innocent babies just for fun?
I'd say so, yeah.

Is abortion ever permissible?
ofc. go play violin.

Is it wrong to have children, if you don't know whether they want to be born?
what do you mean want to be born. things which don't exist don't have feelings either way.

What is wrong with incest?
though i find it as icky as anyone, I haven't been presented with a solid case that boils down to anything more than "ew" so i'm forced to go "nothing really" in general. in particular, it's very likely that you're making a mistake by wooing your mum.

What is art?
baby don't hurt me

Is there progress in art?
very likely

Is it wrong to spend money on expensive food when people are dying of hunger?
there is no ethical consumption under capitalism.

If someone is drowning and you refuse to help, are you responsible for his death?
depends ofc. it's clear that the degree to which you are scales with distance social and spatial, but also with other things.

Why do we punish people?
for others to see.

Is it alright to torture terrorists to extract information?
"terrorist" lmao.

When is it ok, if ever, to disobey the law?
honestly? most times. i don't think law has any moral weight: a thing is right or wrong regardless of what laws say.

Is it the main purpose of law to promote morality?
lmao no.

Should governments penalize people for unhealthy lifestyles?
mostly no ?

Why ban drugs and not alcohol or trans-fat?
no reason, tbh, sometimes things just turn out some specific way: like how we drive on the left and not the right. also, fats are awesome.

Should prostitution be made legal?
sure

Is there such a thing as sexual perversion?
thank god there is.

What is wrong with having sex with animals?
same as incest, but moreso.

How much freedom should people have?
81,333%

should people be free to sell themselves into slavery?
ancap get out reeeeeeeeeeeee

Why think there are universal human rights?
un sez so. also, they're a nice point in the horizon to aim for

Is democracy the same as decision by the majority?
not at all. what we call democracies are not especially democratic.

Should people who pay more taxes get more votes?
ancap get out reeeeeee

Is democracy suitable for all countries?
see, that's what i mean by "what we call democracy"

When should governments intervene in the market?
always. and also, markets are state policy.

Is there a difference between free trade and fair trade?
yes

Is patriotism irrational?
totally. also it's sometimes necessary.

Can wars ever be just?
sure

Should people have the right to live in any country they wish?
pls

Is the preservation of culture a good reason to limit immigration?
mñeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee... maybe sometimes?

Is race a biological category or a social construct?
social construct fo sho

Are you the same person you were ten years ago?
mereological nihilist thank you

What is a person? Is it the mind, or the body?
not a substance dualist: minds are a thing bodies do. that being said, programs are a thing computers do and we can copy those.

Do we think with language or pictures?
neither

Can animals reason?
yes, but they're not great

What about fish, oysters and tomatoes?
delishus

Do animals have rights?
i say yes, but rights doesn't mean much more than either "we in fact treat them as if they have inherent deserts and/or are the recipients of moral obligations on the part of individuals, society or both" or, sometimes, we should treat them as is they blabla. there are no transcendent rights that exist outside that.

If we eat chickens, why not dogs, dolphins, or babies?
baby don't hurt me

If super-intelligent aliens want to eat humans, are they wrong?
yes. fuck em.

If meat can be grown using stem cells, is there any reason not to eat meat?
plenty. some ppl don't like it.

Should we let people commit suicide when they are terminally ill?
pls

Should we kill coma patients on life support to provide more resources to others?
sometimes

Should organ donation be made compulsory?
pls no...unless you mean after death, in which case... i remain wary.

Should organ donors be financially compensated?
ancap get out reeeeeeeeeee

Is it wrong to grow brain dead babies to harvest their organs?
sure?

Why should we respect the dead?
honestly politeness

Should we fear death?
yes.

Is life meaningless if we can live forever?
what does meaning mean tho... but no, not anymore than if you can't.

What are numbers and do they really exist?
i'm kind of a realist towards abstract objects like numbers of squares these days, so I'd say something like "they are forms".

Does Sherlock Holmes exist?
sure, fictive things exist: but they exist in a different sense from non-fictive things.

Does time flow? How fast does it flow?
i think i flow through timespace.

Is time travel possible?
yes, we all do it, generally at one second per second.

If you go back in time and teach young Einstein relativity theory, where does the idea come from?
i don't have big problems with closed time curves.

Are there parallel universes?
no, only perpendicular ones.

Does every event have a cause?
ofc not. i haven't ever seen any even which i can't find a bunch of causes for.

"This sentence is false." Is it true or false?
neither. my view on these kinds of things is that phrases can never be true or false, only propositions can: and that phrase doesn't resolve to any propositions, so there's nothing to be true or false.

"It will rain a week later." Is it true or false or neither?
depends. will it?

Is truth relative, or a matter of opinion?
huuuh... neither? i'm p sure truth is like a property of propositions such that those propositions somehow relate to reality. the exact relationship i dunno, but it's probably something like 'it maps onto reality' or 'it describes' or sth.

How do you know you are not dreaming right now?
i don't apodictically know, but then again there is no sure knowledge.

Would you choose to live in a computer simulation if it will make you a lot happier?
mebbe?

Can we be certain of anything?
sure, more or less.

What is science?
a social movement. a tradition of praxis, writing and so on.

Why is mathematics so important in science?
numbers are real.

Is mathematics the same as logic?
mñeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Why believe in electrons and blackholes if we can't see them?
they work, and also not believing in them doesn't work.

Can there be two different theories of the world, both true and complete?
i bet.

How should we distinguish between good and bad scientific theories?
outcomes. also, ease of use, but mostly outcomes.

Is science compatible with religion?
depends on your religion i guess but, pragmatically, not really.

Is there progress in philosophy?
maybe?

What is philosophy anyway?
a social movement. a tradition of praxis, writing and so on.
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eldin raigmore
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Re: Philosophy

Post by eldin raigmore »

I am very pleased to hear from, and see, Torco again!

.....

My own ethical and metaphysical opinions are, like Torco’s, rather easy to explain, though difficult to convince someone else of; save that mine are much more extreme examples of those qualities.
(In other respects my ideas don’t resemble Torco’s much at all.)

. , . . . . .

Here’re summaries.

Ethics:
A thing is objectively good if I like it; and a thing is objectively evil if I don’t like it.


Metaphysics:
Something is real if I believe in it.
Something is unreal if I don’t believe in it.


.....

I think you can see both how much easier to understand my ideas are than even Torco’s already-easier-than-average ideas;
yet at the same time harder to convince someone else of than his are expected to be.
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Torco
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Re: Philosophy

Post by Torco »

s o l i p s i s u m u

also, hello. it's nice to feel remembered after all these years, tbh. =)
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