2 jun. 2011

Pretty Good Fields (2)


Philosophy. I know you are going to say that there is a lot bullshit in philosophy too, but the difference is that philosophers themselves have to argue for the validity of what they say. There's always going to be someone raising their hand and calling bullshit on you, so you have to be able to defend what you say. It is highly factional, that is true, but there is no single founder or authority figure. You can't just say "because Kant said so." You can't appeal to a sacred text beyond all question, because then you would be doing theology, not philosophy, where you have to argue from first principles. I think a good philosopher would be perfectly fine if you disagreed with 90% of existing philosophy, because he (or she) probably does too. Nobody spots a fallacy faster in a philosophy text than another philosopher does.

So most philosophy is probably nonsense, but it is still a good field because you have to show why it's nonsense. It teaches intellectual humility because some of the smartest people who ever lived often came up with spectacular nonsense.

(If there is a part of philosophy that is bullshit, it has to do with discussing whether it is ethically ok to push a fat man in front of trolley, thus stopping the trolley from running into three other people tied to the track in its path.)

3 comentarios:

Andrew Shields dijo...

The *content* of philosophy may often be a bunch of bullshit, but the *field* of philosophy is not a bullshit field.

Elisa dijo...

Ha! It's true, you have to back up your baloney in philosophy, but what you're backing it up with is usually more baloney. (It's turtles all the way down.) Don't get me wrong, I love philosophy, but I'm not sure it's not bullshit.

Professor Zero dijo...

Philosophy is good for the LSAT which is *all* about formal logic and tearing apart arguments. Students should really know this and I now think certain philosophy courses should be prereqs to all graduate programs.

This having been said, I think the content of much philosophy is complete b.s. Also, look at most faculty and students in this dept.: would you buy a used car from these guys?