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

Why Philosophize?

  1. Jul 15, 2005 #1
    Umm, guys, i hope you could really enlighten me about this topic. Why do we philosophize? I mean, we know that philosophy is a journey of sorts and that in this field, we try to deal with metaphysical things. Also, we usually do not follow a system on how we carry this out. But we all know that ever since our birth, we have been under a system and this has shaped our thinking, and i might say have influenced even on how we regard philosophy. But philosophy and systems (being rigid and fixed) contradicts each other. So then, why do we still philosophize?

    I only thing i can think of right now is probably so that we can test our beliefs. In addition, since humans are born with the intuitive nature (keep on asking questions) they try to comprehend/know everything. That is why they (we) philosophize.

    So what is your opinion about it. Again, why philosophize.

    Umm, sorry if my grammar didn't make much any sense. :(
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 15, 2005 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    It has been said (I think it was Aristotle) that the chief virtue of philosophising lies in keeping our sense of wonderment alive.
    While I must say that science is perfectly suited to keep our sense of wonderment alive as well, among philosophers, I definitely prefer those who manage this rather than those more interested in building "systems" or finding "eternal truths" through their philosophising.
  4. Jul 15, 2005 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    we are just like children, we always want to know "why", and i think philosopizing is the "grown" up version of asking why.
  5. Jul 15, 2005 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    It is, however, not readily recognized within the humanities that speculation and wonderment is on a personal level probably the prime motivating factor within the "hard" sciences like physics as well (and not the least, maths).

    It is not as much that the humanities and sciences differ in their basic motivational approach, but (rather uncontroversially) that they have different domains of interest, and the necessary diffierences in methodologies as "dictated" by the particular domain.
  6. Jul 16, 2005 #5
    Philosophy adds a magestic effect on the things we r trying to say...
  7. Aug 5, 2005 #6
    I like philosophical discussion because it makes me think long and hard, so that in real life when my employers or someone tries to play me for a sucker and dominate my mind with their propoganda and what they want I can out think them and tell them what I really think about them and move ahead with my life instead of being bulldozed over or stooping to their level because of these idiots...it really helps to be a thinker, everyone's got an angle even you and you better believe in yourself because chances are no one else will. You know most people are trained to not question things, it's a good thing to question everything in one's life it increases one's curiosity and that gets people into trouble...well trouble for some good for you right... "the life unquestioned is not worth living", that's damn right.
  8. Aug 21, 2005 #7
    How to find out of there is any thought given to philosophical angle of the subject while formulating the syllabi?
  9. Aug 21, 2005 #8
    How to develop an ability to appreciate the role of philosophy underlining main concept and its impact in technological development?
  10. Aug 21, 2005 #9
    philosophy forum

    How to develop an ability to appreciate the role of philosophy underlining main concept and its impact in technological development?
  11. Aug 21, 2005 #10


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Q: Why philosophize?

    A: Why not?
  12. Aug 21, 2005 #11


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    I'm glad someone mentioned this. One of the chief virtues of philosophy as an academic discipline is that it teaches one, through thorough analysis and practice of both informal and formal logical structures and fallacies, to be an extremely critical thinker, moreso and especially more broadly than any other academic discipline. There is a joke that illustrates this pretty well:

    Three men, an engineer, an experimental physicist, a theoretical physicist, and a philosopher, all come to the peak of a hill in Scotland and see a black sheep. The engineer says "hey look, the sheep in Scotland are black." The experimental physicist says "some of the sheep in Scotland are black." The theoretical physicist says "at least one of the sheep in Scotland is black." The philosopher, standing at the front of the group with a furrowed brow, turns to them and says "well, on one side anyway."

    I suppose another virtue that rigorous philosophy can instill in a person is exacting precision and unambiguity in one's expository writing and speech.
  13. Aug 21, 2005 #12

    Les Sleeth

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    In addition to all the other good reasons people have cited here, I think exactly because we are shaped by the belief systems we are born into that philosophy is important.

    Of course, one has to differentiate between casual philosophizing which most people do sometime or another, and hardcore, disciplined thinking about reality with the purpose of gaining insight into it. Applying that to the idea that we are born into belief systems . . . how can we be sure what we believe corresponds to reality if we've unconsciously accepted beliefs simply because they were prevalent in the environment where we grew up? Neither can we trust a belief merely because it appeals to our personality, because that too was shaped by our environment.

    To get at the truth requires an almost brutal disregard for personal beliefs and tastes, particularly one's own, and philosophy can assist in achieving that state of objectivity if someone is dedicated enough.

    One of my favorite philosophers was Socrates because he exemplified (at least as he was presented by Plato) a man determined to question beliefs and belief systems. He was sentenced to death by Athenians for being gulity of "corrupting the minds of the young, and of believing in the deities of his own invention instead of the gods recognized by the state."

    In his defense (Apology) Socrates explains why even to save his life, he would not stop inquiring into the nature of reality. He says, "Perhaps somone may say, 'but surely Socrates, after youve left us you can spend the rest of your life quietly minding your business.' This is the hardest thing of all to make some of you understand. If I say that this would be disobedience to God, and that is why I cannot 'mind my own business,' you will not believe that I am serious. If on the other hand I tell you that to let no day pass without discussing goodness and all the other subjects about which you hear me talking and examining both myself and others is really the very best thing that a man can do, and that life without this sort of examination is not worth living, you will be even less inclined to believe me. Nevertheless that is how it is gentlemen . . . "

    Possibly it might seem that in these modern times we need less philosophical vigilance. After all, isn't science answering all the relevant questions? Well, I've been happy to be the fly on scientism's rump around here :cool: because I believe any total belief system, no matter how intelligently constructed, is a type of ignorance when it is substituted for an open, unbiased, inquiring mind.
  14. Aug 22, 2005 #13
    I believe philosophy is the humanistic science.
    Where science uses mathematics and formulas and experiments, philosophy uses humanistic language and concepts, both to explain the physical world we live in.
    But not only that, philosophy explains something that science never cannot; first person concepts.

    You can never explain for example, the feeling of listening to music, or even the music itself, without using humanistic language and concepts.
    How do you explain how you feel when you listen to beethoven with math?
    Philosophy is the subjective way of solving all the problems that arise in this system we call the universe.
    Why we have this ability can be any number of reasons, one could be that when we gained intelligence, our brains naturally evolved to question, another can be that we are the sum of the universe trying to solve itself. Although that's kind of far out.

    Personally for me, I philosophize to gain perspective, to understand what it is I'm in, how things function. Science and philosophy must go hand in hand, I believe without philosophy science would be pointless.
  15. Aug 22, 2005 #14
    Maybe we philosophize because we like it. Some people are great to make questions and then solve them. In that way we expand our knowledge, wisdom and the understunding of the world itself. Far we go less we know.
  16. Aug 24, 2005 #15
    This question gives me a rather sick feeling. You would not need to ask this question if you hadn't been brainwashed by schooling and/or religion into thinking that philosophy is something special, reserved for learning when you're "old enough."

    Every child is born asking questions and demanding exact answers, looking under the rocks that most people walk over and ignore... philosophizing. It's as natural to our species as making honey is for bees.

    To ask "why philosophize?" is to ask yourself why you asked that question. Well, why did you ask it? I already philosophized on why you did, but I bet you have a better answer. :)
  17. Aug 25, 2005 #16
    Read: "Philosophy: who needs it", 1982, Ayn Rand, New American Library
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook