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'True Philosophers' pushing Science forwards

  1. Sep 16, 2003 #1

    Another God

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    I started a thread not too long ago called The Greatest Scientists are True Philosophers in which I claimed that any scientist which has pushed science forwards has been the sort of person who thinks outside the box, questions what they are told to believe, and ponder meaningful questions etc.

    I have recently been exposed to another more recent example of this, and I jsut wanted to post it because it was a really interesting read. http://www.nyu.edu/classes/neimark/margulis.html [Broken] was the first person to really push the hypothesis that Mitochondria in cells actually came from a symbiotic relationship between several cells (ie: Eukaryotes are a collection of prokaryotes working together (well, at least, the mitochondrion was a prokaryote which joined the eukaryotic ride).

    Anyway, reading the article I really enjoyed the following few tidbits:

    And this point most importantly:

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  3. Sep 17, 2003 #2
    Nobody likes a know it all-even if it's just microbes. That reminds me, not many people refer to Benjamin Franklin and George Washington as those damn radical anarchists anymore, had England won that's what we would call them. The communication and use of philosophical ideas from one person to another can be one of the most taxing mental exercises it seems and draws the minds of such people like a lighthouse in a stormy sea of bad information, not simply learning philosophy but it's application and discussion is real philosophy, it's practicing thinking for oneself and practice brings perfection or at least some enlightenment. Odds are going to favor scientists who are in the habit of thinking for themselves and questioning everything and other philosophical ways of thinking and those are fundamentals in philosophy not typically found in formal educational systems that base understanding on ability to memorize information.
  4. Sep 19, 2003 #3
    Na, I change my mind, philosophy is nothing but a lot of words constructed in various ways to confuse other people thereby making the philospher look superior. Let me explain, throughtout human history philosophers have done mostly nothing but talk and in so doing they get out of real work or enforcing the law with fist and sword, it's almost always might that changes the world not talk and words. Of all the philosophers that actually contributed some little bit of wisdom there are thousand who did nothing but rant and make things worse with what they thought was wisdom. Because ultimately actions speak louder than words and so words are merely ways to confuse ourselves and others into getting out of work or making the philosopher look so superior to others that they think they are in control. Socrates was a specialist in confusing people when they thought they understood something he was artful and making them think they didn't and so he looked superior to them because he was tearing them down with words, really just an advanced form of name calling and lying. Mostly the relationship between philosphy and scientist if there is one is mere chance because a good scientist will have pursued all kinds of ways to figure things out and it's actually that same kind of just trying lots of things that leads to discovery.
    After all if Socrates was so smart then why wasn't he able to convince the masses that he was right? It's all just a bunch of trial and error word combinations that philosophers do to eventually get to some bit of truthful saying that is by chance, they just need something to believe in in order to try all kinds of things for so long. In fact every new idea is merely some crackpot madman just throwing around words with arrogance until something sticks, usually even that something is worthless.
    When I read Nietzsche all I really get is a headache and more cynical about the world, what good is that? What kind of philosphy is that supposed to be? If something doesn't make things better than it is foolish. I think that in fact smart people are so dumb that they trick everyone and themselves into years or a lifetime of trial and error that only very seldomly leads to some bit of wisdom we can actually use, after all we never hear about all the philosphers who made things worse right? Philosophy is just another one of the many ways humans try to decieve each other and blind the masses to their own doctrines and rules so they can feel in control.
    A philosopher is just a fancy magician who uses concepts to conjure feelings of awe and admiration in his captive audience and thereby is among the more sinister of barbarians.
    How can the secrets to happiness be a lifetime of pursuing morals and knowledge? It would take so much arduous effort to pursue that by the time we attained so called real morals and virtues we wouldn't remeber what being really happy was and probably be so confused by words that we don't know what morals are anymore, it's merely the training of the mind to love confusion, after all if philosophy makes one confused honestly and we trick ourselves into believing that confusion leads to learning then in time we learn by forcing ourselves to get confused to love confusion! And this is love of wisdom?

    An antilogical argument.
  5. Sep 19, 2003 #4

    Another God

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    strange. I don't get the final line at all. Are you saying that you think your own argument is not logical?

    Anyway, I'm not sure what to say, your cynical appraisal of philosophy seems to me to be rather unfair, and your Caricature seems very much like a straw man.

    Am I confusing you? Perhaps. Is that the aim? No. The aim is to speak very specifically so that you know precisely what my words mean and understand me. Unfortunately though, sometimes the readers/listeners don't understand everyword used by philosophers.

    I'll need to think about this more to have something relevent to say other than this: Presenting bad philosophy as evidence that Philosophy is bad, is not a god argument. It is a logical fallacy, commonly known as Counting the Hits and not the misses. Just because You got a headache reading Nietzsche, does not mean that Philosophy is bad. It either means that you can't understand neitzche, or that you aren't someone who can enjoy reading philosophy, or it means that neitzche is a bad philosopher. The actions of one, or a few can not be translated into the meaning of the classification they come under.
  6. Sep 19, 2003 #5
    Ok Jammieg, you obviously have a grip with philosophy, and I can honestly understand why. But let me show you how your popular misconception of philosophy is so utterly misplaced.
    Yes of course... and these actions of fist and sword, this might that changes the world just happened out of its own accord, did it? The communist Revolution had nothing to do with Marx or Leninism, the Spanish inquiry had nothing to do with philosophical religious conflict and the Arab Israeli conflict has nothing to do with the holy land. Might might change the world, but it is philosophy and these useless 'words' that instigate the need for change.

    Yes, those thousands are not philosophers. those who pretend to be philosophers, when they are actually bull**** artists cannot be used as an attack on philosophy. unfortunately people often listen to the rhetoric of BS instead of the calm logic of the philosopher. that’s when we get a change for the worse. As for Philosophers being elitist... well, if they’re trying to get people to think and they refuse to, they are entitled to get annoyed. if people are constantly misrepresenting their view, why can’t they tell them they are wrong. They don’t usually pretend to be better then the people that they aren’t better then. It’s not their fault if idiots surround them.

    Agreed, Soc often missed the point in the dialogues and confused his other searcher of wisdom into saying things they do not mean. But that is not the point. what he was trying to do is to get people to think about what they know and their basis for this. even Soc was fallible.

    Does this include the questioning and testing of modern scientific belief? you mean, they will test things even if they are against what they already supposedly know? sounds like philosophy to me...

    Soc wasn’t able to convince them as they need to be taken into these things carefully. the masses can’t just change something like this over night cause of one man, the masses need to be ready for it. the authorities killed them cause some rich guys saw him as a threat. but the others in the society took it in, and we had the basis of western philosophy, which ended up being the basis of science. that is, curiosity about the world we are in, skepticism in the results you get. finding ways to explain our data. Those crack pots find new ways cause they dare to think in lines that others haven’t before. that’s why we get wonderful new invention, they may be entirely by accident, but they are thinking outside the square as it were, and revolutionizing thought and science in the mean time. Arrogance has nothing to do with philosophy. they again are the BS artists. and if it is worthless then a philosopher will have nothing to do with it.

    really? well, you don’t read much late Nietzsche then. What Nietzsche and Shopenhaugher were trying to do is show you what the state of the world is. How can you change the world, and move on to something that is supposedly better when you are not even aware of what state it is currently in? it is trying top make a change for the better, but you have to start somewhere.

    Of course you don’t hear of philosophers who made things worse. they are not interested in worse, they are interested in what is. deceive each other for their own doctrines? sounds like the sophists and the dictators my friend, not the real philosophers. that’s not what real philosophy is about.

    yes. yes of course. we evil non-violent barbarians will take over the world...

    Philosophy isn’t necessarily about happiness, but it is about wisdom. if it does turn out that we can know nothing, there is nothing to be confused about. and a philosopher wouldn’t find themselves in the head confusion and ramble you have gotten yourself in. as you said, this is an antilogocal argument. philosophers generally work on logic, there by not really finding themselves in your position. Ditch the happiness thing, and keep the search for wisdom, even if we never get the answer.
  7. Sep 19, 2003 #6
    Good job, an antilogical argument is an antiquity term for a combative argument with reckless disregard for truth, and it makes people mad. What is a strawman? My objective was to find little bits of truth against philosophy that are plausible and probably minutely true yet exaggerate them and compile them and never consider the antithesis of my argument for my own hidden agendas.
    I think there is value in it if one can really argue against the common understanding well, I don't think I did it very well, but it seems to reveal some methods of lying doesn't it? Also I tried to just throw out lots of tidbits against philosophy with no careful consideration or detailed look at it and since it's not a conversation people don't have the same degree of being able to say hold on what do you mean by this thing or that.
  8. Sep 19, 2003 #7
    LOL that’s brilliant. Yes, lets find bits of the truth through Absurdity. A straw man argument is where you produce an inaccurate character of an argument, and attack that although all your premises are false due to misrepresentation.

    now, if you were to actually put up the real philosophy, and then tear it apart in the fashion as above, then maybe through absurdity we might be able to gain some more insight into why we believe what we believe in the philosophical realm. So, occasionally it can really be helpful (living in a contingent world it just might be the case that the most absurd solution just simply is the case no matter how unlikely it seems to us at the time)

    So, yeah, as a brain storming exercise to further indulge our philosophical inquiry, I guess you hecklers are exactly what we need... the gad fly for the gad fly if you will... pull us up when we do get arrogant, bring us back to earth and make us act like philosophers again.

    But i cant say it made me angrey, if that was also part of your plan... In fact, i spent most of the time laughing with tears in my eyes...
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2003
  9. Oct 14, 2003 #8
    I think Ted Kazynsky makes a too convincing anitlogical argument, so much so that it's really not funny although after reading some of his manifesto it's clear he is profoundly intelligent, it's difficult to tell someone that smart that they are wrong and basically finding all the ways and compilings of how a certain type of people are the source of all problems or "leftists" he fails to look the other way as vigourously with those powers of observation, he has overgeneralized society into two groups, probably the most blinding thing one can do is make an assumtion and then only search to prove it and not disprove it, I mean if one starts by assuming that only one type of people in this world are the source of all problems then they are sure to find how this is true and the longer they look the more convincing it grows because if a is 80% true and a is correlated to b is 80% true and b to c is 80% true then the total truth of all three that form some theory should grow and that is true but what about all the things that are -a and -b and -c to correspond to the anti-argument and synthesis of the two? Of course if everyone did that a lot of books would never be written.
  10. Nov 16, 2003 #9


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    AG, this is a great topic, I wished I had seen it before...

    Unfortunately, this happens quite a bit, at least from what i have read and seen...
  11. Nov 16, 2003 #10

    Another God

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    *bump* huh? :wink:

    Oh yeah, it is about all that happens. The second the controversial new theory is accepted as somewhat reasonable, the new generations readily lap it up as the new dogma that they need to memorise. People don't seem to like thinking about things for themselves. People like to be told the answers.

    UNfortunately School and universities tend to help this more than they should by basing their entire educational systems on rote memorisation, giving the best marks to those who can best regurgitate the information that they are supposed to know.

    Side point: Can anyone tell me what the relevence of a 1, 2 or 3 hour exam has to do with being a scientist? I mean, sure, you are trying to show your knowledge of something, but why the need to isolate the students from all resources and force them to answer x questions within a set timeframe of a few hours? How does this have anything to do with science, a profession based entirely on research, talking to other people, figuring things out etc.

    Maybe i should start a new thread on this....
  12. Nov 16, 2003 #11


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    yep, a "bump" because i feel this topic you brought up is important, especially here in PF...i won't name any names, however i see some of our (highly educated) members here regurgitating memorized facts (they acquired in school most likely) against those who are willing to question science...

    in reference to your question, i cannot think of any relevance to an hours long exam in being a scientist...

    by the way AG, i think you are a great co-mentor
  13. Nov 16, 2003 #12


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    I can. In order to do physics, to get results, you have be able to work all the levers an dials on the huge existing physics "results machine"; you have to have an enormous and accurate memory for all those levers and dials. When you see a certain integral you have to say "Ah! Fermi propagator! And I can do thus and so with it". And so forth for literally tens of thusands of other facts. This is what you need to have in order to get results or create new theories that will interface to the great results machine.

    The three hour exam tests how well you can do this.

    And that's what all the fancy made-up theories don't have. They don't fit anywhere on the results machine because their inventors were never willing to submit themselves to the discpline of learning what's there.
  14. Nov 16, 2003 #13


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    i am sure that many physicists and scientists have an extensive library that hold many formulas, equations, and necessary "dials" to help in the real world of applying physics as a scientist...

    as AG stated:

  15. Nov 16, 2003 #14

    Another God

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    i understand that scientists need to 'know' stuff, but a take home exam, or a report, or a literature review etc are better ways of showing that they understand and know these things than an exam ever will be.

    If there is stuff which you do need to know from rote memorization, then perhaps you have grounds for an exam, but I am sure you can fit all of that stuff into one exam, not four major exams every year.

    An example of a profession where I can understand exams is something like a LAW degree. If you want to be a lawyer, you need to be able to stand in a court, infront of many people, and sprout all sorts of laws, cases, examples etc off the top of your head. Exams may make sense there, but Science is completely different.

    kerrie: You think? I don't feel like I have actually done anything as a mentor yet...I haven't been here too much lately...you know .. I've been 'Studying' for my exams
  16. Nov 16, 2003 #15

    Another God

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    Getting a little more back on topic: I have noticed something recently which may exist (it is based on very little evidence)

    But it seems to me as if there are two types of philosophers in the world of philosophy.
    I call them Natural Philosophers, and Academic Philosophers. The natural philosophers are the people who think about things, question everything, aren't sure, can't stop thinking etc... The academic philosophers are the people who read everything and quote a lot. They know every philosopher who has ever existed, they know the basis of everything they all said, and they can quote pretty much anyone.

    The academic philosophers tend to have the most power in any given situation. They sound convincing, they use big names and big words. They sound smart, they are hard to disagree with etc. They seem to have an answer for everything (from someone elses mouth)...but in my experience so far, they aren't always the most well thought philosophers.

    As I said though: this is based on very little evidence. Its a theory in progress... I'm sure it isn't as cut and dried as two classes, buit setting it up like that makes it look so nice...
  17. Nov 27, 2003 #16
    quote: When I read Nietzsche all I really get is a headache and more cynical about the world, what good is that?quote

    I feel Nietzsche's life was almost helpless in a way. I don't believe he wrote for himself, but for truth. such a perfect thinker like that needed no control over it. Later going insane. Philosophy is a question. But it seems to question only thought. I think philosophy to the future will start to begin questioning feeling and thought relationship related to internal and external world. I think Nietzsche did this type of philosophy in a sense. He was way before his time but we treat his views as if their old and don't relate to our time. Philosophy is hardly dead as you can see by this website.

  18. Jan 29, 2004 #17
    True philosphers do it with their noodle.
    It takes a special kind of idiot to fly a kite in a storm just to prove to those nonbelievers that lightining is electricity.
    The educational system is better than nothing, but far worse than someone left to their own curiosity in a library.
    Philosophy is the art of self inflicted confusion.
    Ok maybe I should give Nietzche another try.
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