Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What is the Philosophical Life?

  1. Dec 19, 2005 #1
    what does it mean to live philosophically? to be a Philosopher?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 19, 2005 #2
    I don't believe it is possible to live literally "philosophically". It is possible to develop philosophical thought and possibly derive a course of action that one must take in order to uphold some principles that these thoughts imply, but these actions can be described otherwise (i.e. ethically, morally, truthfully). Thus, "living philosophically" would simply mean living in the way you find best.
  4. Dec 19, 2005 #3
    don't some people often find that they have no philosophical basis for acting otherwise? that they, perhaps, have never considered a different way?
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2005
  5. Dec 22, 2005 #4
    We all live in accord with our philosophy. The question is whether we have examined, or defined the philosophy we live by.
  6. Dec 26, 2005 #5
    The academic discipline we see today is the product of many generations of people. In do not belief those people had in mind what they were doing was a duty. They did not try to fit in any particular paradigm of a 'philosopher', because it did not exist. they must of try to strike a path for themselves
  7. Dec 27, 2005 #6
    to have a philosophical theory, is to judge it upon the notion of "soundness"; that is, to determine whether it is contradictry or incomplete.

    we call a theory, that is not contradictory or incomplete, a "philosophically sound" theory.

    of course, anyone's "philosophy" can be other than "philosophically sound", but can we really call that "Philosophy" (capital letter P), then?

    it appears not.

    so then, who leads the Philosophical Life?
    What does it mean to be "in the know"?
  8. Dec 28, 2005 #7
    The soundness of one’s philosophy depends (much like the quality of one’s moral code) on how well it corresponds to reality. Like any other realm of human knowledge and understanding, philosophy evolves by building on the foundations laid down by previous generations.

    The first task of those inheriting this previously obtained wisdom is to make it their own by determining for themselves whether it is indeed valid. This kind of understanding is necessary to insure any further developments made are resting on a firm foundation.

    If you accept this reasoning then does it follow that the soundness of one’s personal philosophy is proportional to how well it corresponds to reality, rather than whether it arrives at or crosses some threshold of validity? What would define such a threshold, how would one determine when it was reached and what action would then become necessary?

    Philosophically we have a choice; to be servants to a philosophy we do not understand or to learn to understand our philosophy so that our best interest and highest potential is served by our philosophy. Philosophy should not be a goal to be reached but rather a means to achieve goals that make life a worthwhile endeavor and a meaningful experience.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2005
  9. Dec 28, 2005 #8
    good point.

    but, how is one to determine whether their philosophy corresponds to reality?
    -they must first know what reality is, right?

    -if one Knows what the reality is, then the philosophy of reality is established, without doubt. what is left?
    -the issue, then, beomes a matter of abiding in the truth of reality, or living contrariwise.

    from this we can see that the highest kind of understanding, is the understanding one has of their own self. this quote points to the need to self-examine our own ideas, preconceptions and beliefs.

    further: the quote suggests that there is a need to know what the "self" is, so that one may know how to serve, to it, it's best interest and also know it's highest potential.

    [depending on the ability for one to, or degree to which one has, Realize/d the truth of Reality. (one could never know if they were in correspondence with reality, unless they knew the Reality to begin with.)]

    is it so, dmstifik8tion, that Knowledge of the self is, for the philosopher, the primary destination of "The Philosophical Examination?" (can we determine theory<->reality correspondance without self-Knowledge? if so, how?)
  10. Dec 30, 2005 #9
    I view philosophy as a means to an end rather that an end in itself. Because of our nature, our faculty of reason, (which is a product of our conceptual level of consciousness), and the choices which become available to us because of this, we need to develop an operating system which enables us to choose wisely.

    Our evolution has lead us down a different path, to a different way in which life sustains itself, and in the process we have lost the instinctual guidance provided to our evolutionary ancestors. Our success will determine if this new path develops further or if it is a dead end for our species. Philosophy is our operating system and, provided we learn and follow the programming that allows us to interface properly with reality, our road map to success.

    This philosophy itself must evolve with us. As we learn new technologies it is philosophy which must show us the proper way to use them so that we don’t end up burning foolishly in the fire we have bravely taken upon ourselves to control.

    I see the self primarily as the desire to live. This need not be questioned for the alternative is non-existence for the self. So in a way the desire to live, although it is a choice, is axiomatic; the first cause from which all other causes stem.

    Understanding the self implies discovering, learning and understanding what we need to sustain our life, including that which fuels our desire to live. Since reality is where we exist, and the source of what we need and for learning what we need, how to get it, use it and enjoy it, reality is what we must learn to understand.

    I would like to point out that reality has no concern or interest in our success; it has been here before for us and will go on with or without us and so our survival is our responsibility and privilege for as long as we do.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2005
  11. Dec 30, 2005 #10

    so, then, who are the Philosophers?
    i would like to say:

    "philosophy" is the base.
    from "philosophy" we have all of the sciences, religions, societies, etc. that we do. yes?

    does the increase of complexity, in the sciences and religions and societies, demand anything of philosophy? no.*

    *the demand is always on the particular forms of philosophy (sciences, religions, societies), to re-examine their connection with "Philosophy"; to re-integrate philosophical knowledge into their forms.

    philosophy is the idea. nay, Philosophy is The Idea. It is the highest idea. The Idea from which all ideas are extracted. The Idea of ideas. ideas are transient, temporal, evolving; subject to worldly favor/flatter or rejection/ostracism. The Idea, on the other hand, is eternal, true; not subject to worldly favor/flatter or rejection/ostracism.

    for example:
    an idea spawns mathematics and science
    an idea spawns art
    an idea spawns religion
    an idea spawns education
    [and thereby, we can have disciplines known as "philosophy of science", "philosophy of art", "philosophy of religion", etc.; by examining the idea of each discipline.]

    all of these disciplines arise, on account of Philosophy; the pinnacle of ideas; the polestar of ideology.

    so, in summation, i disagree with you dmstifik8tion.
    Philosophy need not evolve, because it is the polestar of evolution.
    Philosophy does not change, but all that is humanity (in the least) evolves in relation to it.
  12. Dec 31, 2005 #11
    Hey! What’s the big 'Idea'! (just a joke, har har.) But really, what is 'The Idea', 'The Philosophy' that "spawns" all other "philosophy"s?

    ‘Philosophy’, as you are describing it here, corresponds closely to what I call reality. Reality is the base from which we derive the sciences, ideas, knowledge and philosophy itself, that is if any of the aforementioned are to be validated with ‘truth’. We cannot find truth by examining the vacuum of a mind that has closed its eyes to the reality which must be integrated into it through perception, evaluation, and understanding.

    As I understand it philosophy is, the love of wisdom. We have discussed the meaning of love in another thread where you held to a belief that loves meaning is lost in any attempt to define it in terms of its application to human values.

    Wisdom is a product of experience with the use of knowledge and understanding. Therefore wisdom and the love of and for it, philosophy, must be preceded with knowledge and understanding.

    This brings us back full circle to reality; that which exists without regard to what we believe it to be, but must be perceived and understood through reason to be of use or value in our attempts to sustain and promote our existence. Philosophy is how we determine the reason why, and reason how to do this.

    When I accept a belief and stake my life on it, I need a high degree of certainty, in some cases, where my life is at stake, a certainty as certain as life itself. This is how carefully I go about and why I go to great extremes to arrive at the certainty I believe is required for living in accordance with a particular belief. There are a myriad of beliefs out there for me to choose from and I am quite certain about those I have adopted for myself. I have no one to blame for my failure to achieve this certainty and for my lack of understanding of the philosophy I live by but myself. Reality rewards me by allowing me to live a happier, healthier and a more meaningful and rewarding life. When I fail to do this it is reality, not philosophy, that informs me of my errors, so I alter my philosophy to adapt to what in reality will not be altered.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2005
  13. Dec 31, 2005 #12
    ok, last post may have seemed a little cryptic, but i hope to clarify, though words often seem to go on forever... although, we are very close, i feel, with our intuitions about this, dmstifik8tion. you say that reality informs you of your folly, and i will say that the actualization of the philosophy of reality is wisdom. first, some things concerning wisdom:
    by what method, though, do we come to wisdom?

    for example:
    -wisdom is ancient. (some may say it is timeless)
    -before there was science, there was wisdom.
    -is science to be the vehicle, by which, one attains to wisdom?

    •there is a difference between knowledge and wisdom.
    --knowledge, it seems, is an accumulation.
    --whereas, wisdom, it appears, is not.

    *knowledge is concerned with progress, complexity; advancement of itself, in general.
    *wisdom is concerned not with the heaps of knowledge, but, nonetheless, is "in the know".

    from what "knowing" comes wisdom? and from what "seeking" comes knowledge?

    Now, wisdom in relation to philosophies, sciences, religions, societies, moralities:

    in relation to the former post [about "The Idea"... as well as the post in "proving absolute morals exist" forum] (...which came out of a spontaneous "mind fart"...), all knowledge, then, would stand in relation to wisdom (which we might understand as the "perfection of knowledge").
    that is: all "philosophies" (science, religion, society, etc.) might be attempting to actualize the "perfection of knowledge", in their own respective ways. they (particular philosophies) may have sprung from an initial ignorace of the "perfect knowledge" and have, hence, been trying to re-capture it's essence, from their own individual perspectives, though fumbling and gracelessly falling ever-short.

    so, it would appear, to me, that Wisdom is the perfection of Philosophy and Morality, by virtue of it's being the "perfection of knowledge". all human endeavors must stand in relation to Wisdom (that is, if wisdom is Wisdom and is thereby Truth). in this way, all "knowledge", "morality" and "philosophy" are relative (to one another, as they all stand in relation to perfect wisdom.). wisdom, we might say, is the polestar of all human, intellectual and mental, endeavors; intellectual endeavors (morality, philosophy, science, religion, society) have their reality as a result of the existence of wisdom. (explained-->)

    The lack of awareness (read: ignorance) of wisdom leads humans to the development of increasingly complex intellectual structures/models, all in the attempt to capture the perfection of wisdom, in "definitive form".

    this is a very ideal explanation, as individual human desires play a large-role, and often times, lead the true search astray, for one's immediate pleasures, but i think, in the "long-run" all (individuals, philosophies, sciences, religions, societies) must face the "wisdom of truth" and thereby reconcile with it.

    lots of words.... o.k. i'm done... after this question:

    does our lack of harmony and peaceful co-existence point to the fact that the model of reality that we have devised to live by, and in, is not in accord with truth of reality, which it attempts to represent?
  14. Dec 31, 2005 #13
    Yes, as I hold. And that false "Model of Reality" derives from Plato, as known very well by Aristotle. And that False Model today is the teaching by philosophers that "reality out there does not exist", and then they justify the claim by saying that such has been "proved" by quantum mechanics--yet pure nonsense, since QM can make no such claim about Reality of existents bound via the strong force. Yet many other modes of the False Model, let us not forget to include most religions, where Reality is not of this universe of space-time. Thus, you are correct, humans will long for the needed harmony between self and other as long as they following the teachings of the False Model, e.g., that Existence does not Exist.
  15. Dec 31, 2005 #14
    ignorance is a crime, for sure.

    i think that it is infinitely valuable to examine who "I" is, as any assumption or ignorance, held in this respect, will form the basis of an equally False Model. no?

    where else to start the examination, if not with the "I" who examines?
  16. Dec 31, 2005 #15
    ...but your question assumes a priori a thing that must be "examined", which must be priori to the "I", since and "I" with nothing to examine but "I" is a contradiction, and logically impossible because the "I" is in constant motion and can never grasp itself. Thus we must "start the examination" as you say with that which is to be examined, e.g., Reality (that which exists). I have posted before that on this point I agree fully with Ayn Rand, all philosophy must "start examination" with the axiom, Existence Exists--it is not be argued, debated, etc.--it just is--and we move on with our thinking from that starting point. Of course, many folks on this forum with an Idealist philosophic bent will disagree completely--but such is the way of philosophy. And we see that we arrive once again to the root of the False Model, the rejection of this axiom. As an aside about the concept of the "I", I hold there to be two "I"s, what could be called the "i" (formed via consciousness--aka Ego) and the "me" (formed via unconsciousness--aka Id). Together they form a monism that we call the "I", with control a neutral dynamic of the two (the "me" with ultimate control, ultimately repudiated by the "i"). Thus I reject the concept of the "Superego", a type of unconscious "consciousness" that controls the Id, which for me is a contradiction of terms, and therefore I reject the terms Ego and Id as being misleading, hence "i" and "me" = "I".
  17. Dec 31, 2005 #16
    Living is philosophical, therefore everything we do is philosophical, it's called subjectivism. Everyones way of living and/or thought is a philosophy. We are all walking, living philosophies because we all hold a different perception on reality.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2005
  18. Jan 1, 2006 #17
    But, a living philosophy requires more than just having "different perceptions of reality", thus the bee has a different perception of the reality of the rose than you or me, and I think we all agree that the bee does not philosophise. So, you must take your argument forward a step, e.g., you must argue that a living philosophy not only holds a perception on reality, but then differentiates and integrates that perception to form a concept of reality.
  19. Jan 2, 2006 #18

    rade, on your post about "'a priori thing' to be examined, beyond the 'I'." this is not a direct quote, but this is your point i believe. i think that because you said that it was contradiction for the "I" to examine itself, as "I" and "me" = "I". (they are not 2; and it is not logical to say that there is an examiner and examinee, when there is only 1 entity and not 2).

    i would like to point out what i mean by the examination. i think that our coming to know the truth of a "thing" is done, partly, by recognizing what is not true about the "thing" in question.

    so, we all have very many ideas and notions about what it is that "I" am; these ideas and notions play an incredibly large role in our determining morality and "right morals". in fact, the ideas "i have" about what or who "I" am, may play the ultimate role in molding "my" definiton of morality and right morals, as it is in direct relation, to this "concept of self," that one determines the proper actions to be projected by "I" and towards "I". no?

    then, it becomes absolutely important that we examine what the "I" is, whom defines morality and expects particular actions (and re-actions) in particular situations.

    we must examine this point, philosophically, if we are to stay clear of assumptions and wrong beliefs. (such erroneous beliefs would instantly stain our concept of morality and reality, in general.)
    so, we must follow or perceptions of "I" from the most crude, to the most subtle, to see what is true about "I".

    this is a purely subjective examination (and must be and individual quest for self-knowledge)

    for starters:
    am "I" this body?
    --this body changes constantly, but the "'I' sense" seems to constant, throughout all changes. (though "I's" experience changes, "I" remains fundamentally "me"; "I" experience the changes, so "I" cannot be the changes, as "I" am aware of the changes occurring) do you see how this follows?
    how could "I" ever be aware of the changes of body or mind, over time, if "I" did not "stand apart" from them, observing the alterations, from past to present?

    this question is invaluable. i believe this is what Socrates was pointing to, when he said, "the unexamined life is not worth living." who's the one living? who is the liver?

    my thread on "who am 'I'?" was abruptly locked, although the importance of this question permeates all knowledge quests; is the seed.

    does anyone else know the value of this?
  20. Jan 2, 2006 #19
    sorry for my misunderstanding, what do you mean the bee does not philosophize? Now we enter the scary realm of questioning just what makes up the notion of philosophy? Which I would answer very vaguely as the ability to understand. All realities are philosophies, whether it is the bee or the rose. Without existence all things are natural. Existence and reality bring with them desires and needs, without these we have no philosophies. Imagine the universe a cold desolate place with no intelligent life of any type.(bee's, cockroaches, nothing at all) We are now at peace and synchronicity with nature. This is how we should live. Viewing things only in naturalness without judgements and desires. Just see through eyes with no brain attatched. Philosophi-less? ;) perfect existence. Everything just is because it is. Leave science up to science. You know what I'm saying? To get the answers that one desires, one must rewind to the beginning of the problem and never stop until the page is blank, only then will all be truly understood.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2006
  21. Jan 2, 2006 #20
    I am not aware of any human philosophy that allows for a bee to philosophize, using your definition of "understanding". Does the bee "understand" the reason why it flys to the red colored rose ? Once it gets there, does it take time out of a busy schedule to comprehend the atomic structure of the scent of the rose ? Clearly the bee perceives the rose, it can also teach other bees the location of the rose from the hive---but---my point is that "understanding" requires much more than perception if such understanding is to be taken as being an act of philosophy.
    I would disagree here. Without "existence" we have logically the opposite of existence which equals "nothing". Now, since you define philosophy as understanding, then it follows that without existence philosophy is not possible--that is, a "nothing" cannot understand "any thing". So, I would modify your comment to: Without existence NO things are natural. Thus your aguments about a state of nothingness being ideal do not hold.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook