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What is the topic (object of study) of Philosophy?

  1. Jun 2, 2003 #1
    This forum says that the topic of Philosophy is:
    "The Mind and Soul. What is the meaning of life? How should we live our lives?"

    But isn't Philo-sophy (from Greek, meaning love for knowledge) a much broader field of study then just the mind and soul (and in the case of the last, it is not believed by everyone that there in fact exists a soul, so how can one study it?), or the meaning of life and how we should live it?

    I would argue, the description of this forum, should reflect better on what Philosophy in fact is, in it's broadest sense.

    And it would make sense also to restrict the forum topics to that of physics (at least to devote a subforum the the Philosophy of science, and the philosophical foundations for physics/science theories).
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2003
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  3. Jun 2, 2003 #2
    In its broadest sense, philosophy is the love of wisdom. As far as I am concerned, the meaning of life and the human soul are both equally speculative and vague, but certainly traditionally viewed as paths to wisdom. Because wisdom itself is a vague concept, these two make for a good description of the field, but one that can be expanded upon. For example, metaphysics, existence, and reality are other common pursuits in philosophy.
  4. Jun 2, 2003 #3


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    isn't that what the theoretical physics forum is for?
  5. Jun 2, 2003 #4
    Well, yes and no. Heusdens has a good point, but he fails to recognize that these forums are arranged according to practical realities rather than merely theoretical ones. It might be a good idea to try creating a seperate subforum here specifically for discussing the philosophy of science and see if it gets much attention, but if it doesn't it is just another distraction and waste of programming.

    Because the vast majority of posters here tend to have western values, clear distinctions in bulletin boards according to demand and tastes are possible. Some posters tend to avoid general philosophy like the plague, but can occationally feel compelled to discuss the philosophical foundations of the sciences in order to clarify their personal theories.

    For this website, the mandate is to promote serious discussion despite any reluctance on the part of posters here. Thus you have a variety of inter-related forums which shift emphasis from time to time, as happened recently when discussions of God were explicitely approved in the philosophy forum rather than merely being relegated to the religion sub-forum. If creating a seperate subforum for the philosophy of science justified its existence by promoting serious discussion, especially among people who otherwise would not do so, then that is the paramount concern rather than any particular idiology of how these forums "should" be organized.
  6. Jun 2, 2003 #5


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    these forums are more intended for "science" then a breakdown of the philosphical discussions, the philosophy forum i think is "broken" down as far as it needs to go...i can recommend another forum set up exactly as this one that does go into deep philosophical discussions and they do have a philosophy of science forum:


    i am a member there as well...
  7. Jun 2, 2003 #6
    This forum is obviously not dedicated to science alone, but more generally to scholarly discussion with a special emphasis on physics and closely related topics. That is why, for example, there are special sections on chemistry, philosophy, and cosmology which are all closely related to physics.

    I'm not seriously suggesting the philosophy forum be broken down any further, just that the possibility exists and that the mandate of the forum dictates its structure must change with the times. :smile:
  8. Jun 3, 2003 #7
    I was just suggesting that:
    1. The description of the Philosophy forum is not reflecting on what Philosophy is.
    2. There should be a forum (being the general Philosophy forum or as a dedicated subforum) dedicated to the Philosophy of science.
  9. Jun 3, 2003 #8
    Why am I here? What is the nature of being? That pretty much sums it up to me. And yet it would seem each one of us needs to develop our own philosophy in order to answer that. Which leads me to ask why is it necessary to put a label on it and study it in a formal sense? Isn't it something that occurs naturally? Or, is it something which only "scholars" can approach?

    Seems like another trick of Academia, that ol' serpent of knowledge, by which to create another institution and usurp the power of the people.
  10. Jun 3, 2003 #9
    1. I agree. The description is not accurate, but this is something that you should perhaps bring up to Greg (or post in the PhysicsForums Feedback and Announcement Forum).

    2. Well, the Philosophy Forum can be used to discuss the Philosophy of science (if I understand "philosophy of science" correctly). If you wish to discuss one of the branches of Science (which, in turn, is a branch of Philosophy), then there are plenty of scientific forums (on the PFs) - as I'm sure you know.
  11. Jun 4, 2003 #10
    science, to me, adresses the questions "what?", "how?", "when?", "where?", or "who?". philosophy is the only arena in which one can ask "why?".
  12. Jun 4, 2003 #11
    Re: Re: What is the topic (object of study) of Philosophy?

    A very good/important point, maximus. This point, coupled with the definition of philosophy (given here), points to the limits of Science. Science is a branch of Philosophy, and is very useful, but it cannot be used to answer "why" questions, and is thus not as perfect as Philosophy itself.
  13. Jun 4, 2003 #12


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    Re: Re: What is the topic (object of study) of Philosophy?

    exactly what this philosophy forum is intended to do...
  14. Jun 4, 2003 #13

    Les Sleeth

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    I disagree with segmenting the philosophy forum unless some element is distracting things to the point of rendering the situation untenable. Synergy is a worthy goal, and it depends on unity, tolerance, inclusion and a broad constituency.

    Exactly what is not working? The philosophy section of PF is its most robust area, so why should anyone feel the need to mess with it rather than simply appreciating such a conscientiously managed site?

    Possibly before suggesting something so radical as reconstructive surgery on the format, people might ask themselves if they are recommending what's best for PF or what's merely along the lines of their personal interests.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2003
  15. Jun 4, 2003 #14
    Well I agree that as a description it is not completely accurate. But to be honest I never thought it was intended to be an precise theretical description. I've always considered that text to be a small listing of some of the more sensational topics covered by philosphy to quickly give people an idea of what the forum is all about and draw them in. It's a small matter, leave it alone I say.

    And as far as the discussion of changing the way the philosophy forum is arranged, LWSleeth stole the words from my mouth. I just don't think you can have the well rounded discussions that occur here if you dissect philosophy up. I just don't believe philosphical issues are so simple that they can be categorized and dealt with in the neat reductive way that is being implied. At least not without being messy. I would not want to have to discuss a topic that defines knowledge, for example, only to have to shift in mid stream over to another forum to discuss its implications on another philosophy issue such as Materalism/Idealism. Leave it alone I say.

    (oh and if the real intention for this thread is to try to split out topics that you have no respect for from the forum that you want to participate in, then shame on you! )
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2003
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