# Philosophy Hates Science Too

WarPhalange
When studying logic in a philosophy setting you don't declare what is it your terms, such as "p" or "q", are. In math they have limits such as being a number or whatnot. You can't use math to say whether an argument is valid or not, you have to use logic.

Have you ever studied any logic?

When studying logic in a philosophy setting you don't declare what is it your terms, such as "p" or "q", are. In math they have limits such as being a number or whatnot.
I don't know what you mean here. In math statements need to be well defined. Then we can talk about their truth value.

You can't use math to say whether an argument is valid or not, you have to use logic.
Can you explain what you mean here?

Have you ever studied any logic?
Yes. Logic in math and philosophical logic are not the same.

Yes. Logic in math and philosophical logic are not the same.
That is correct.

Hurkyl
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Yes. Logic in math and philosophical logic are not the same.
However, deductive logic is a subset of the logic studied by philosophers. (And I tend to equate mathematics with the study of deductive logic)

WarPhalange
Whenever I do math I am forced to think in terms or something that in the end equates to numbers. You can't evaluate someone's political stance with math.

You can with "philosophical logic", and from what I've seen, math derives from "philosophical logic". You have your ands and ors, you have your "is not"s and whatnot, and you use the same rules, except that math is more specialized.

loseyourname
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Honestly, man, you're showing a hostility to something while also showing an extremely shallow understanding, or rather, misunderstanding of it. Ironically enough, in making these arguments (however poor they may be), you're engaging in philosophy. People with PhDs in philosophy engage in these same disputes.

I don't agree with his definition of knowledge, either, but it's not inconsistent with the definition he gives of belief. As to your question of how knowledge can be subjective, what else could it be? That doesn't mean it isn't right, or even that it isn't tied to some universal facts about empirical reality. I think he fails to distinguish between knowledge as a noun and knowing as a verb, but knowing as a verb is inherently a mental state; it requires the existence of a mind capable of holding beliefs. You seem to take that statement as an attempt to discredit the usefulness or veracity of human knowledge, but that isn't what it is at all. The philosophical use of the word "subjective" is nothing at all like your layman's use. It only means that "knowing" does not exist in the absence of minds that know. Facts still exist, but without anyone to believe them, knowledge does not.

Honestly, man, you're showing a hostility to something while also showing an extremely shallow understanding, or rather, misunderstanding of it. Ironically enough, in making these arguments (however poor they may be), you're engaging in philosophy. People with PhDs in philosophy engage in these same disputes.
I am not philosophizing. I never understood why people think that whenever you contemplate something then that automatically means you're doing philosophy. As an analogy, this is like saying that throwing is the same thing as pitching in baseball. While on the surface they may share some similar characteristic, they are distinctly different if you dig further.

I don't agree with his definition of knowledge, either, but it's not inconsistent with the definition he gives of belief.
I don't think using an antonym in a definition makes it consistent. You can't say a belief is distinct from knowledge, and then follow with saying knowledge is a true belief.

As to your question of how knowledge can be subjective, what else could it be?
If you're regarding knowledge as purely sensory, then I disagree with you.

I think he fails to distinguish between knowledge as a noun and knowing as a verb, but knowing as a verb is inherently a mental state; it requires the existence of a mind capable of holding beliefs. You seem to take that statement as an attempt to discredit the usefulness or veracity of human knowledge, but that isn't what it is at all. The philosophical use of the word "subjective" is nothing at all like your layman's use. It only means that "knowing" does not exist in the absence of minds that know. Facts still exist, but without anyone to believe them, knowledge does not.
Facts don't rely on minds, as much as we want to think the opposite. They still exist regardless of whether we're here or not.

Whenever I do math I am forced to think in terms or something that in the end equates to numbers.
I don't know if this is always true.

You can't evaluate someone's political stance with math.

You can with "philosophical logic", and from what I've seen, math derives from "philosophical logic".
How on earth can you evaluate someone's political stance with "philosophical logic" -- this all sounds pretty dubious to me. The notion that math grew out of anything that... haphazard is pretty wild too.

You have your ands and ors, you have your "is not"s and whatnot, and you use the same rules, except that math is more specialized.
And you apply this political ideas? So what can you do with it. Tell me if a law is right or wrong using "logic" ?

loseyourname
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
I am not philosophizing. I never understood why people think that whenever you contemplate something then that automatically means you're doing philosophy. As an analogy, this is like saying that throwing is the same thing as pitching in baseball. While on the surface they may share some similar characteristic, they are distinctly different if you dig further.
You're refuting an argument about the nature of knowledge and putting forth your own argument. What exactly do you think the practice of philosophy is? It isn't contemplation; that's closer to meditation than philosophy.

I don't think using an antonym in a definition makes it consistent. You can't say a belief is distinct from knowledge, and then follow with saying knowledge is a true belief.
A set isn't distinct from its proper subsets? There is no mention of an antonym anywhere in that definition.

If you're regarding knowledge as purely sensory, then I disagree with you.
I'm not, and there is no indication anywhere in what I said that I am. This is what I'm talking about when I say "shallow understanding." Cognition of any type, regardless of its content, is subjective due to the nature of cognition. This has nothing to do whatsoever with the truth value or universality of the contents of thought, but rather simply with the fact that they are being thought.

Chances are, your professor attempted to explain this, but you were too busy getting pissed off at the notion that knowledge is subjective, thinking that meant something it does not, to listen.

Facts don't rely on minds, as much as we want to think the opposite. They still exist regardless of whether we're here or not.
Who wants to think the opposite? Read what I just said, for Christ's sake! Of course facts can exist in absence of minds. Thinking cannot, and hence knowing cannot.

As for knowledge? I tend to lean toward it not requiring the existence of minds. I think an encyclopedia contains knowledge whether or not anyone reads and knows it. Other philosophers might think differently, but the truth is, it's an argument to be settled by investigation, as the meaning of a word is determined by something approaching a consensus of speakers of a particular language. The job of philosophy isn't to define these words for the general population. Depending on the type of philosophy being conducted, it's either to define words for the sake of a particular exposition, or to investigate and uncover common definitions from common usage. Without having read the book you're referring to in your video, I don't know which the author is engaging in, but as an entry level text book, it probably never goes into that level of depth anyway. Naturally, some of the concepts presented are going to appear strange when you have no knowledge of the discipline or its history. Keep reading and keep learning, and quit acting like an expert about something you know next to nothing about.

As for knowledge? I tend to lean toward it not requiring the existence of minds. I think an encyclopedia contains knowledge whether or not anyone reads and knows it.
Ok. That makes no sense to me. How can you have knowledge without a person who is doing the "knowing." You can have "facts" perhaps... but knowledge... not so much.

Other philosophers might think differently, but the truth is, it's an argument to be settled by investigation, as the meaning of a word is determined by something approaching a consensus of speakers of a particular language.
In other words, it's contextual. I agree with you there.

The job of philosophy isn't to define these words for the general population. Depending on the type of philosophy being conducted, it's either to define words for the sake of a particular exposition, or to investigate and uncover common definitions from common usage.
The latter activity seems to be the only one with real value-- and isn't that linguistics not philosophy?

Naturally, some of the concepts presented are going to appear strange when you have no knowledge of the discipline or its history.
For, me it's the history of philosophy that turned me against it.

WarPhalange
How on earth can you evaluate someone's political stance with "philosophical logic" -- this all sounds pretty dubious to me. The notion that math grew out of anything that... haphazard is pretty wild too.
Have you taken "philosophical logic"? It uses symbolic logic like math and has the same rules. The difference is math specializes in numbers, and I guess things like lines and shapes. Where do you think "logical fallacies" come from? Hint: It's not math.

The were discovered using logic from philosophy.

And you apply this political ideas? So what can you do with it. Tell me if a law is right or wrong using "logic" ?
If you formulate it correctly, which is the hardest part. That's really the whole point. You start out with propositions, and use logic to determine an outcome, i.e. if your conclusion is valid or not.

The difference being your symbols can stand for anything, not just a number or shape or whatever.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-order_logic

For a brief overview of what I mean with an example.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-order_logic

For a brief overview of what I mean with an example.
Yeah, that was what I was thinking about. It seems like a bad idea as human affairs are too complex for such a simple system. Working deductively in the social sciences is a recipe for brutalism. For example:

$$\exists x (\mathit{Person}(x) \and \forall y (\mathit{time}(y) \rightarrow \mathit{Canfool}(x,y)))$$

Are you kidding me? This makes me want to scream it's so stupid. Language looses it's meaning when you break it down in this manner and attempt to construct a universal context. The meaning of words is dependent on who says them how they are said, when they are said, why they are said and what was said directly before and directly after. That's the whole point. Remove that and you aren't doing anything that is even remotly related to the human communication.

What you can prove with certainty using this kind of logic is useless since it is so god-damed obvious. And the questions that really matter defy proof. This is why I think of it as "pretend mathematics." All of the sexy symbols with none of the depth. It uses the veneer of mathematics to try to have more credibility. It's pathetic.

Did I touch a nerve with you?

You're refuting an argument about the nature of knowledge and putting forth your own argument. What exactly do you think the practice of philosophy is? It isn't contemplation; that's closer to meditation than philosophy.
contemplate (v): 1. to think deeply about; 2. to consider as a possibility; 3. to look at thoughtfully; 4. to meditate.
Unless you want to broaden the branch of philosophy to just mean thinking, then you're probably going to want to retract your statement.

A set isn't distinct from its proper subsets? There is no mention of an antonym anywhere in that definition.
Knowledge and belief are antonymous. That's my point.

I'm not, and there is no indication anywhere in what I said that I am. This is what I'm talking about when I say "shallow understanding." Cognition of any type, regardless of its content, is subjective due to the nature of cognition. This has nothing to do whatsoever with the truth value or universality of the contents of thought, but rather simply with the fact that they are being thought.
Yeah, no ****. You don't need philosophy to realize this.

Naturally, some of the concepts presented are going to appear strange when you have no knowledge of the discipline or its history. Keep reading and keep learning, and quit acting like an expert about something you know next to nothing about.
I don't claim to be an expert in anything. Why are you being so hostile?

loseyourname
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Did I touch a nerve with you?
Yes, you did. Depending upon how long you've been here, you'll either have found or will find that you often touch nerves with people who are experts in a particular field when you pretend to be an expert and in fact show a complete misunderstanding of the most basic concepts.

I'm not sorry if my hostility bothers you.

Unless you want to broaden the branch of philosophy to just mean thinking, then you're probably going to want to retract your statement.
I have no idea what it is you're getting at with quoting the definition of the word "contemplate," so I'll just point out again that putting forth, analyzing, constructing, and deconstructing arguments is exactly what the academic discipline of philosophy is, in addition to scholarship and historical studies. The former is exactly what you're doing here. It's exactly what I'm doing here. It's exactly what a great deal of discussions on academic message boards are, albeit on a far less sophisticated level than you'd find in a typical journal of philosophy. In a similar vein, a man stuck without his watch trying to figure out what time it is from the position of the sun is engaging in a rather basic form of astronomy. The difference is that amateurs in other fields don't nearly as often insist that the pros are wrong or even useless idiots like armchair philosophers seem to think of professional philosophers.

The truth is, philosophers are like any other people doing a job. Some are great and some suck. Some contribute tremendously to the advancement of human thinking, and some are glorified sage wannabes that spout vacuous tripe to crowds of sycophants that probably don't even understand what they're hearing.

Knowledge and belief are antonymous. That's my point.
Knowledge and ignorance are antonyms. Belief and disbelief are antonyms.

Yeah, no ****. You don't need philosophy to realize this.
And yet you got up in arms about it. I never claimed it was a particularly mindblowing or unobvious idea.

loseyourname
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Ok. That makes no sense to me. How can you have knowledge without a person who is doing the "knowing." You can have "facts" perhaps... but knowledge... not so much.
You might disagree with me, but I highly doubt you are honestly unable to make sense of what I'm asserting.

As I was getting at earlier, the way the word "knowledge" is used is itself an empirical fact about speakers of the English language. I've not studied in depth the speech patterns of all two billion of them or however many there are, but it seems to me that in common usage knowledge is more often equated with the body of known facts than with the act of knowing.

As a little thought experiment, let's say all humans died, but one male and one female survived in suspended animation for two thousand years, then revived and repopulated the planet. During those two thousand years every fact of science and history compiled by mankind to that point was also preserved, and this new population simply picked up technologically and intellectually where we left off. In the interim, did the knowledge exist or not? If so, then knowledge can be contained elsewhere than in a mind. If not, then knowledge can only be contained within a mind.

It's not like it's really the most important and substantive of differences anyway. The only impact it has is on the way we talk to each other about relatively esoteric topics that are not often talked about.

In other words, it's contextual. I agree with you there.
Yes, both contextual and dynamic, particularly when it comes to regional colloquialisms, idioms, and slang.

The latter activity seems to be the only one with real value-- and isn't that linguistics not philosophy?
Real value? Do you mean this in the economic sense, the way food has real value and money only has exchange value? If you ask me, any activity valued by the person engaging in it has as much real value as I could ever hope an activity might have. An economist would agree as well. Philosophers even boost GDP as long as people are willing to pay them to do it.

For, me it's the history of philosophy that turned me against it.
The history of philosophy has turned many philosophers against it. Men have made careers out of railing against the legacies of Descartes and Hegel especially.

As a little thought experiment, let's say all humans died, but one male and one female survived in suspended animation for two thousand years, then revived and repopulated the planet. During those two thousand years every fact of science and history compiled by mankind to that point was also preserved, and this new population simply picked up technologically and intellectually where we left off. In the interim, did the knowledge exist or not?
Well, I'd have to say no. It didn't exist since during that time nobody knew about any of that stuff. It had to be rediscovered reinterpreted and brought back to life. And, frankly, when that kind of thing happens it never comes back in quite the same way-- It's not just revived, but rather reincarnated in a new form. Until some person knows a thing it is unknown. In the dark ages people "lost the knowledge" that the people before them had-- then it was rediscovered.

It is quite easy for something ideas to get written down with the intention of it being used later, then language changes and generations pass and no one can understand it anymore. Then it's gone forever unless someone else discovers the idea again. It happens all the time.

I mean, that's why people need to study science and math, not just to find new things but to keep the knowledge alive. If nobody actively "knows" of an idea it can die so quickly.

If so, then knowledge can be contained elsewhere than in a mind. If not, then knowledge can only be contained within a mind.
Isn't knowledge a human construct? It's about our ability to articulate concepts about how the world works. So knowledge is dependent on the human mind and a creation of the human mind.

Real value? Do you mean this in the economic sense, the way food has real value and money only has exchange value?
Economic? Not just economic, but also spiritual, social and artistic value.

If you ask me, any activity valued by the person engaging in it has as much real value as I could ever hope an activity might have. An economist would agree as well. Philosophers even boost GDP as long as people are willing to pay them to do it.
Often they seem to do this by defining what they do to be "real philosophy" and the thinking of mere layperson to be... well... "just thinking."

The history of philosophy has turned many philosophers against it. Men have made careers out of railing against the legacies of Descartes and Hegel especially.
What about just railing against people having legacies in general? Ha. I could get in to that.

Yes, you did. Depending upon how long you've been here, you'll either have found or will find that you often touch nerves with people who are experts in a particular field when you pretend to be an expert and in fact show a complete misunderstanding of the most basic concepts.

I'm not sorry if my hostility bothers you.
Hmmm....you claim to be an expert, yet you just created a strawman against me. Again, I NEVER SAID I WAS AN EXPERT IN ANYTHING! If you can point to where I said this, then I'd be more than happy to accept this fact.

I have no idea what it is you're getting at with quoting the definition of the word
I was replying to what you previously said, which was the following:

You're refuting an argument about the nature of knowledge and putting forth your own argument. What exactly do you think the practice of philosophy is? It isn't contemplation; that's closer to meditation than philosophy.

so I'll just point out again that putting forth, analyzing, constructing, and deconstructing arguments is exactly what the academic discipline of philosophy is, in addition to scholarship and historical studies. The former is exactly what you're doing here. It's exactly what I'm doing here. It's exactly what a great deal of discussions on academic message boards are, albeit on a far less sophisticated level than you'd find in a typical journal of philosophy. In a similar vein, a man stuck without his watch trying to figure out what time it is from the position of the sun is engaging in a rather basic form of astronomy. The difference is that amateurs in other fields don't nearly as often insist that the pros are wrong or even useless idiots like armchair philosophers seem to think of professional philosophers.
1. I wasn't putting forth an argument. I was thinking deeply about what was being said, which is contemplation. That is different from philosophy.

2. I am not a philosopher.

Knowledge and ignorance are antonyms. Belief and disbelief are antonyms.
I agree. So would you accept that knowledge and belief are antonyms too?

And yet you got up in arms about it. I never claimed it was a particularly mindblowing or unobvious idea.
I get up in arms about it because it's a waste of time to play captain obvious. Just like I get up in arms about someone saying "you can't prove that the sun will rise tomorrow." Wow, really? It's not useful in any sense. It's just a waste of time and paper to point this out to everyone.

Well, I'd have to say no. It didn't exist since during that time nobody knew about any of that stuff. It had to be rediscovered reinterpreted and brought back to life.
So are you saying that chemical reactions, particle discharges and physical phenomena in general would cease to exist until we rediscovered it again?

So are you saying that chemical reactions, particle discharges and physical phenomena in general would cease to exist until we rediscovered it again?
No, silly, of course not. But, there would be no knowledge of such things. Just as there are many as-yet undiscovered things that humankind has no knowledge of right now.

And there are some things that are unknowable. But, that isn't enough to rule out that those things might still exist or be true. We just can't have any knowledge of them.

loseyourname
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Well, I'd have to say no. It didn't exist since during that time nobody knew about any of that stuff. It had to be rediscovered reinterpreted and brought back to life. And, frankly, when that kind of thing happens it never comes back in quite the same way-- It's not just revived, but rather reincarnated in a new form. Until some person knows a thing it is unknown. In the dark ages people "lost the knowledge" that the people before them had-- then it was rediscovered.
Those are all good arguments and I don't necessarily disagree, hence the "leaning toward" caveat. I just feel like the reference of the word is to the facts known, not the fact that they are known, if that makes any sense.

I think you make a great point further on which I didn't quote, though. Knowledge is lost at the point when every mind capable in principle of comprehending it and resurrecting active study is lost. That does seem to point to some type of inextricable tie between knowledge and subjectivity.

Isn't knowledge a human construct? It's about our ability to articulate concepts about how the world works. So knowledge is dependent on the human mind and a creation of the human mind.
A creation, to be certain. I just don't think that all creations of the mind depend upon the mind for their continued existence. When you order matter to store information, the traces remain there, and I think that in principle that information can be recovered until entropy reaches a local maximum. Whether or not it is still possible for anything useful to be made of it, though, is another question.

Economic? Not just economic, but also spiritual, social and artistic value.
All of those things have economic value. Any object or activity that a person can derive utility from has real value in the economic sense.

Often they seem to do this by defining what they do to be "real philosophy" and the thinking of mere layperson to be... well... "just thinking."
I've not known of many philosophers who ever attempted to demarcate exactly what does and does not constitute philosophy, though to get paid for it, you usually need a PhD. If you can write and self-publish and get people to buy it, though, that isn't necessarily the case. That isn't so much different from other academic fields of study, really. You may or may not have a degree in engineering, but if you can build a better mousetrap and sell it on the open market, does that make any difference to you?

loseyourname
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Hmmm....you claim to be an expert, yet you just created a strawman against me. Again, I NEVER SAID I WAS AN EXPERT IN ANYTHING! If you can point to where I said this, then I'd be more than happy to accept this fact.
I never said you made an overt claim to being an expert.

1. I wasn't putting forth an argument. I was thinking deeply about what was being said, which is contemplation. That is different from philosophy.

2. I am not a philosopher.
Do you have any idea what an argument is? You're asserting a conclusion, and drawing upon various types of evidence and premises to demonstrate the truth of it. That isn't contemplation; that's argument.

I'd also counter that you're not thinking deeply at all. You're thinking rather shallowly.

I agree. So would you accept that knowledge and belief are antonyms too?
Are knowledge and disbelief synonyms? Are belief and ignorance?

I get up in arms about it because it's a waste of time to play captain obvious. Just like I get up in arms about someone saying "you can't prove that the sun will rise tomorrow." Wow, really? It's not useful in any sense. It's just a waste of time and paper to point this out to everyone.
When you're building a system, you need to start somewhere. Have you ever seen the axioms of foundational systems of logic and mathematics? They tend to be extremely simple, probably even obvious. You move from there. You're probably the first person I've ever come across to get pissed off at the obviousness and lack of depth found in the glossary of a book.

I never said you made an overt claim to being an expert.
Well then why did you say this?

loseyourname said:
Keep reading and keep learning, and quit acting like an expert about something you know next to nothing about.

Do you have any idea what an argument is? You're asserting a conclusion, and drawing upon various types of evidence and premises to demonstrate the truth of it. That isn't contemplation; that's argument.
What conclusion am I asserting exactly?

Would you consider philosophizing and discussing to be synonymous?

I'd also counter that you're not thinking deeply at all. You're thinking rather shallowly.

Are knowledge and disbelief synonyms? Are belief and ignorance?
Double yes.

When you're building a system, you need to start somewhere. Have you ever seen the axioms of foundational systems of logic and mathematics? They tend to be extremely simple, probably even obvious. You move from there. You're probably the first person I've ever come across to get pissed off at the obviousness and lack of depth found in the glossary of a book.
Yes, it's useful to point out the obvious as a refresher if you're trying to build something. It's useless to take the obvious and throw it out there in every single argument.