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March 1st, 2009

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08:43 pm - Experimental Philosophy
I have a broad classical education, with a focus on social science and mathematics. I'm also very much of an intellectual dilettante, and I have found something of interest in almost every area of the humanities, social sciences, or natural sciences that I've studied - with one distinct exception. Philosophy is a discipline that both completely bores me and which seems complete devoid of any point other than the amusement of philosophers. I simply don't see either the point or the utility of studying it. However, I just encountered something that for the first time gave me some interest in this discipline - experimental philosophy - using social science research techniques combined with MRI scans to find out what people actually believe and how emotions, rational thought, and morality are actually related to one another, rather than sitting around thinking in a vacuum. In any case, I strongly suspect that many cherished assumptions about consciousness, self, and morality, will be banished to the same historical dustbins currently holding Ptolemaic astronomy and biblically based geology & biology. It's then unsurprising that the fundys are almost as strongly against cognitive research as they are against evolution. In any case, I shall definitely read more about experimental philosophy.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

(7 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:March 2nd, 2009 05:15 am (UTC)
I find philosophy itself fascinating, but the way in which many philosophers practice it (where they have to go on and on at length reviewing all previous views on the subject before getting down to their point) can render it unbearable tedious. A coworker lent me a lengthy essay on “is reality really real?” that covered some interesting ideas, then made an abrupt mistake-map-for-territory error in the conclusion; I observed that the philosopher could have gotten it wrong like that in about two pages instead of taking up that amount of space. Epistemology can be quite interesting, but not when the writers are trying for maximum word count instead of concise clarity.
[User Picture]
Date:March 2nd, 2009 06:35 am (UTC)
I liked the God Of The Gaps". It amuses me greatly that there is a term for this practice. That's one to remember.
[User Picture]
Date:March 2nd, 2009 07:42 am (UTC)
but I likes Ptolemaic astronomy ..
[User Picture]
Date:March 2nd, 2009 10:43 am (UTC)
I like philosophy in a conceptual sense, but I don't really have the patience to learn it academically. I have a similar sense about reading books on magic(k): "What, I'm supposed to spend hours reading a lot of nonsense?" It's not that I have no interest in nonsense; I just don't want to be inundated with it in a book. It's something I'd much prefer to discuss in person, though as someone who hasn't read much on either, I don't have a direct knowledge base to contribute. So mostly I learn, and around healthy people, I can give general feedback based on my reactions to the topics.
[User Picture]
Date:March 2nd, 2009 02:56 pm (UTC)
"Would you rather have people be helpful or not? It turns out that having little nice things happen to them is a much better way of making them helpful than spending a huge amount of energy on improving their characters"

So, what, aekiy, no Silver RavenWolf for you? *ducks for cover*
[User Picture]
Date:March 2nd, 2009 11:28 am (UTC)
I find things like philosophy of science, ontology and epistemology fascinating. Definitely useful things to have in your mental toolkit.
[User Picture]
Date:March 2nd, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC)

from the article:

"Would you rather have people be helpful or not? It turns out that having little nice things happen to them is a much better way of making them helpful than spending a huge amount of energy on improving their characters."

The implications of this are rather amazing. Doing little nice things for others would mean that they would, in turn, be nicer to you in the long run.

Even bigger thought: it means I should spend my time making sure nice little things happen to me instead of struggling so much to be morally correct.

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