Skepticism

Spontaneous Philosophical Tea Party™

I am currently taking a philosophy of mind class. There’s some VERY bizarre philosophy out there to think about. For example: the idea that we have no free will, that the perception of a unified self is an illusion, that computers may be said to have minds or consciousness, and that societies or organizations could be said to have collective minds.

Like I said. Some weeeeird arguments. Sometimes it seems like all the arguing never resolves anything–philosophers make arbitrary decisions about how to define things, think about what that might mean, and then realize some years later that their definitions were completely wrong. My question is this:

Do you think philosophy is useful? Insofar as it comes to some conclusions about religion, science, and skeptical positions, is it important?

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Vy is a recent graduate working in a neuroscience lab with children and monkeys. She likes sewing, knitting, lifting weights, and reading in her free time. Especially reading about science!

4 Comments

  1. December 7, 2009 at 3:08 pm —

    Yes. It’s what we would have if there were no religion. It might _seem_ like they don’t resolve anything and is arbitrary, but further reading will show you that there is actually a lot of consensus on many issues. I especially like Science philosphers like Dan Dennett and Massimo Pigliucci. Thanks.

  2. BenjaminB
    December 7, 2009 at 8:30 pm —

    At its best, philosophy is an excellent tool. I’m not in any philosophy courses, but I read books about it (I’m planning to read Consciousness Explained by Dan Dennett) and, in my experience, philosophy works best when it’s paired with critical thinking and evidence from the real world, as with scientific and mathematical philosophy, and philosophy of mind.

  3. December 8, 2009 at 3:07 pm —

    Philosophy has been useful in the development of math and science. The scientific method, the logic behind certain reasonings, and the belief that mathematics is able to describe nature is all due to initial philosophical thoughts.

    In math, when certain branches came out, like non-eucledian geometry, mathematicians realized that they can pick and choose certain axioms and make a new type of math as long as they were self consistent. They realized that math does not necessarily come from a certain mathematical universe. Axioms are what we make of it. After that, a whole host of problems could be made and solved.

  4. December 8, 2009 at 3:10 pm —

    Although I agree, some philosophy is bull, completely unknowable. Although I guess the fun comes in thinking about them, not knowing about them.

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