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Interview with Theaetetus

 
 
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 12:30 am
Today's interviewee is Theaetetus, who has been a member on the forum since June 2008.

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So what about you? Most of the forum knows you through the profile at the top of every post you make. Tell us about your profile.
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Q1: So tell us a little about your name, why you chose it, what it means, etc.
Quote:
I chose the user name because it was Plato's dialogue I was reading at the time, and my next semester in school I was to begin studying ancient Greek. If I could, I would change it because it is a total pain in the ass to type. I would change it to Queue because it is the first letter of my name and it seems that life is all about waiting in a queue line.


Q2: Tell us a little about your avatar. Does it mean anything special to you?
Quote:
I like brains! Mmmm....brrrainssss


Q3: Explain to us the significance of your user title (if you have one) and/or signature. Where does it come from? What can this small tidbit of info tell us about you?
Quote:
My user title came from the can of the Oskar Blues Gubna beer I was drinking. It had disestablishmentarian written on the top of the can. It reminded me that the longest word that I knew was antidisestablishmentarianism.

As to my quote, I love Alan Watts, and the quote sums up much of my life philosophy. If you want to plan for a better future, you must be able to live in the present. Otherwise, future plans are little more than wishful thinking. And just in case I change my quote, which I will eventually, here is the quote --"No valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now." ~ Alan Watts


Q4: What made you join the forum?
Quote:
I had gotten totally fed up with this other stupid philosophy forum that degraded into retardedness that I used to be a member of, thus, I needed to find a new place to stretch out my inner philosophy beyond myself. Other forums I tried out were o.k., but from day one, this one seemed to be headed in the right direction even if it was rather young.


Q5: Can you tell us anything more about your stats, like the volume of posts, your thanks/thanked ratio, and your rep power?
Quote:
I used to post more, but that was when I was actually taking philosophy classes for my undergrad philosophy degree. Now I tend to participate in the forum more as just a moderator and sometimes I will interject something that has not been said yet on a thread. I will probably post more book reviews in the near future of some of the excellent works related to, but not in the field of philosophy. I also plan to go on an Emerson kick over the summer so I will probably expand that subforum greatly.

I have always tried to thank posts that have either started a good discussion or added to one in some substantive way. I have also tried to thank posts that add substance to the threads I have started. I have no set guidelines, but I usually only thank posts in threads I participate in other wise I would reach my limit daily due to the large volumes of posts I read as a function of my moderation.


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Tell us a little bit more about you in general.
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Q6: If you could describe yourself in one short sentence, what would it be and why?
Quote:
I am an improvement waiting to happen. This is fitting because I am never totally satisfied with myself in any aspect in life, so I always strive to improve.


Q7: Do you have any other interests other than philosophy (i.e. hobbies, work, etc.)?
Quote:
I am a musician that sings and plays guitar. I am not as ambitious with music as I would like, but as I free up more time, I will pursue it more with a bit more passion. I am also a cook by trade and love. I also try to write frequently, although I do less than I would like outside of this forum. I also love to bike. I just bought a new Gary Fisher Zebrano that I am currently in the process of breaking in.


Q8: Do those interests coincide with your affinity for philosophy?
Quote:
My lyrics tend to be philosophical, and cooking to me is very much an expression of being.


Q9: Can you tell us anything more about yourself?
Quote:
I graduate with an undergrad in philosophy in December. I plan to go to school for either grant writing or head off to law school depending on how ambition I feel. Either way, I will probably end up writing grants and/or lobbying for non-profit organizations.


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Tell us about philosophy forum and you.
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Q10: What are your favorite areas of the forum? If you have more than one, give us your top five.
Quote:
Social and political philosophy, ethics, book reviews, creative writing (I need to do more!), philosophers forums


Q11: Do you blog? What are some of the topics you discuss?
Quote:
Sometimes, and when I do, I try to critique society in aphorisms. They are fun to write, and they allow me to use my creative writing a bit more than a dry passage or essay would.


Q12: If you could describe philosophyforum.com in one word, what would that word be?
Quote:
Growing


Q13: How would you describe your posts and the style/structure you use?
Quote:
I just write. I don't edit my posts much, so I usually forget a comma here and there. I just try to be both clear and creative when possible, or academic when appropriate.


Q14: What would you do to make philosophy forum a better/more interesting place?
Quote:
As a moderator, I continually try and usually help make this a better place by donating my time. Maybe I should harass Robert (the new owner) to accelerate the adoption of the new software that he has mentioned. I think it will do wonders around here in improving the community by empowering members. Then, maybe I would get fewer emails of unnecessarily reported posts.

I would also get rid of some of the unused forums littering the main screen, and do a better job of grouping forums together in a more coherent structure. I would also add a literature forum. Sure, the book review forum exists, but that suggests that the only thing that can be talked about pertaining to books is the review of them, and the response to the reviews. I would love to see more discussion about novel that deal with philosophical themes. The General Discussion forum is not a good place to discuss stuff of this nature because the discussions would be buried too easily.


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Tell us a little about your perspective of philosophy in general.
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Q15: What first got you interested in philosophy?
Quote:
Can't remember. As long as my memories go back, I have always asked the question why.


Q16: Explain how philosophy is important to you.
Quote:
It is the backbone of my existence. I am not religious, but I am philosophical. It is what helps keep me grounded and continuously improving into the future.


Q17: What keeps you interested in philosophy?
Quote:
Definitely not academic philosophy.


Q18: If you could define you own particular philosophy in one short sentence, what would it be?
Quote:
Philosophy is not about who is right, but who is best at synthesizing a world view from different vantage points.


Q19: What do you think the benefits of philosophy are?
Quote:
Sanity, disestablishmentarianism, bullshit detector


Q20: What do you think the drawbacks to philosophy are?
Quote:
Academia, professionals, collective societal views on philosophy, sometimes its annoyingly easy to see bullshit that others miss.


Q21: What is your favorite subject in philosophy (i.e. ethics, logic, etc.)?
Quote:
social and political philosophy, ethics, philosophy of literature


Q22: What is your least favorite subject in philosophy?
Quote:
metaphysics


Q23: Who is your favorite philosopher and why?
Quote:
Plato - I love his style, and I love that I can translate the texts in their original language with a dictionary and grammar for myself. As for philosophers that wrote in my native tongue of English I have to go with Ralph Waldo Emerson. I think the world would be a much better place if they read and seriously considered his work.


Q24: Who is your least favorite philosopher and why?
Quote:
Thomas Aquinas. History's greatest plagiarist. All he did was rip off Aristotle and align him with the Catholic Church by bastardizing his philosophy.


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Lightning Round!!! Answer either or!
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Q25: Global warming or Global fooling?
Quote:
warming


Q26: Conservative or liberal?
Quote:
Liberal


Q27: Formal or informal?
Quote:
Informal


Q28: Smart or ignorant?
Quote:
Neither - Intelligent. Smart is often what ignorant people think they are.


Q29: Mac or PC?
Quote:
Mac if I could build my own, so by default, PC


Q30: Awesome or Phenomenal?
Quote:
Neither - Excellent
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VideCorSpoon
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 09:05 am
@Theaetetus,
Great interview! To tell the truth, I've always wanted to pick up the guitar and learn at least a few small songs. I would think it would be a little too hard for me though.
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 09:56 am
@VideCorSpoon,
So how often are you tempted to cry out B.S. in a thread but don't?

In RL do people ever find it annoying that you can pick their arguments apart so easily?

Do you ever pick an argument apart just for the fun of it, even when you agree with their general point?
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 10:04 am
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead;154510 wrote:


Do you ever pick an argument apart just for the fun of it, even when you agree with their general point?


It seems to me that a conclusion isn't worth much without the argument to support it. Most philosophical conclusions are pretty much commonsense. It is the arguments that count.
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 10:07 am
@kennethamy,
Ken it may seem that way, to people who argue as a hobby, however most people use the argument as a means to an end. The end being proving themselves right.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 10:11 am
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead;154516 wrote:
Ken it may seem that way, to people who argue as a hobby, however most people use the argument as a means to an end. The end being proving themselves right.


So, you must agree with me. It is the argument that counts. And if people are right, and can present an argument which establishes that they are right, what is the matter with that? Isn't that the point?
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 10:17 am
@kennethamy,
Ken you and I, much like the answer here to Q18, synthesize almost everything from a different vantage point. We are not likely to agree on much. I normally work things from an agent's functional vantage point, which often works as (what was the motivation and subsequent behavior), You are much more formally logical. So if you would like to assume that I am agreeing with you, feel free.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 10:22 am
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead;154520 wrote:
Ken you and I, much like the answer here to Q18, synthesize almost everything from a different vantage point. We are not likely to agree on much. I normally work things from an agent's functional vantage point, which often works as (what was the motivation and subsequent behavior), You are much more formally logical. So if you would like to assume that I am agreeing with you, feel free.


Are those two ways of thinking incompatible? I would hope they complement each other. A person's motivation for his view is one thing, and can be worth knowing. But his argument for his view is a different thing, and also worth knowing. Especially if you are interested in whether his view is true or false. I did not see that you were disagreeing with me, at any rate. Remember, there are incompatible world views, like materialism and idealism. So you cannot avoid being confronted with the question, which is right. Does the Moon exist independently of the mind, or will it vanish when people vanish? Don't tell me you have no opinion on this matter.
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 10:40 am
@kennethamy,
An argument is woth knowing indeed. however an argument is simply a method for legitimizing an agenda. The argument itself has only need of being as good as the people listening to/reading it. Thus the motive which instigates a specific argument, its style, direction, tangent, and formal logic is of paramount importance. The argument itself simply serves a function. It can be a hammer or a feather depending upon the motive's function which it serves.

I indeed do have a materialist/idealist opinion. My opinion is that it doesn't matter if the moon dissapears when I close my eyes because I will act as if it is still there. My belief in the moon takes precedence over its actual being.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 11:03 am
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead;154528 wrote:
An argument is woth knowing indeed. however an argument is simply a method for legitimizing an agenda. The argument itself has only need of being as good as the people listening to/reading it. Thus the motive which instigates a specific argument, its style, direction, tangent, and formal logic is of paramount importance. The argument itself simply serves a function. It can be a hammer or a feather depending upon the motive's function which it serves.

I indeed do have a materialist/idealist opinion. My opinion is that it doesn't matter if the moon dissapears when I close my eyes because I will act as if it is still there. My belief in the moon takes precedence over its actual being.


But if you believe in the Moon, then don't you believe that it exists even when you close your eyes.How you your both believe in the Moon, and think it is not there when you close your eyes? My three year old granddaughter used to believe that when she put her hands in front of her eyes, that I would disappear. That is called, peekaboo. But no adult (I hope) believes that.

Galileo's argument for the conclusion that the rate at which bodies fall is not affected by the weight of the falling body caused a paradigm shift in physics. I don't think it would have done so if it had not been a sound argument. Do you?
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 11:15 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;154532 wrote:
But if you believe in the Moon, then don't you believe that it exists even when you close your eyes.How you your both believe in the Moon, and think it is not there when you close your eyes? My three year old granddaughter used to believe that when she put her hands in front of her eyes, that I would disappear. That is called, peekaboo. But no adult (I hope) believes that.

Galileo's argument for the conclusion that the rate at which bodies fall is not affected by the weight of the falling body caused a paradigm shift in physics. I don't think it would have done so if it had not been a sound argument. Do you?


See again, what you hope adults do is neither here nor there, what they do is what they do, and no amount of hoping can change it. And not so subtly putting people down who may assume that the moon disapears by equating them with a three year old's peek-a-booing, and aluding to the "educated adult average person by exclusion of the idealist" is one of the reasons that I don't think the argument is as important as its function in regards to the motive. The motive here being that you have an agenda to push and are not ashamed of using potentially belittling analogies and veiled references to the weird people who believe weird stuff to achieve it.

Refering back to galileo's argument, cool, the argument is sound. Its soundness is neither here nor there, its soundess would never have mattered if the rest of the world were not ready to hear it. There are masses of people who see anything a Pope says as sound simply because the papal decree has an argument that they are ready to believe. Again the argument a Pope uses is a means taylored for an end. What is important is the belief structure and functiaonal motive that the argument, and not the method it is put together. papal decree is a valid argument because it uses the method best suited for its function.
Theaetetus
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 11:32 am
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead;154510 wrote:
So how often are you tempted to cry out B.S. in a thread but don't?

In RL do people ever find it annoying that you can pick their arguments apart so easily?

Do you ever pick an argument apart just for the fun of it, even when you agree with their general point?


In real life, I find it maddeningly irritating that I can pick apart people's arguments and see through their bullshit. Especially at work. It almost seems a work place is not complete without bullshit--and lots of it.

I disagree with people all the time just to make things a bit more interesting. Many friends of mine have become good arguers through my constant harassment.

On the forum, I don't really care so much. Members could make a career out of calling out people that are full of sh!t, but it wouldn't do any good. People are generally full of sh!t, myself included, especially when it comes to philosophy and religion--and more so that members can pretty much be full of sh!t anonymously. That is just the nature of the beast.
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 11:34 am
@Theaetetus,
I too have found it irritating not to be able to call someone on a silly argument out of simple decorum. I learned the hard way after my ex-wife told me that she didn't introduce me to her friends because I made them feel dumb. LOL to which I responded, maybe make some more intelligent friends.
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 11:40 am
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead;154535 wrote:
See again, what you hope adults do is neither here nor there, what they do is what they do, and no amount of hoping can change it. And not so subtly putting people down who may assume that the moon disapears by equating them with a three year old's peek-a-booing, and aluding to the "educated adult average person by exclusion of the idealist" is one of the reasons that I don't think the argument is as important as its function in regards to the motive. The motive here being that you have an agenda to push and are not ashamed of using potentially belittling analogies and veiled references to the weird people who believe weird stuff to achieve it.

Refering back to galileo's argument, cool, the argument is sound. Its soundness is neither here nor there, its soundess would never have mattered if the rest of the world were not ready to hear it. There are masses of people who see anything a Pope says as sound simply because the papal decree has an argument that they are ready to believe. Again the argument a Pope uses is a means taylored for an end. What is important is the belief structure and functiaonal motive that the argument, and not the method it is put together. papal decree is a valid argument because it uses the method best suited for its function.


But if it had not been sound, people would not have paid attention to it. That the world was ready to hear it was, perhaps, a necessary condition for its influence, but certainly not a sufficient condition. It would never have had the kind of effect it had, had those who examined it seen it was fallacious.

And, isn't it true that if you do " believe in the Moon" as you say you do, then it follows that you do not believe the Moon vanishes when you close your eyes, unless you are three years old? As an adult, you believe that objects persist even when not observed. That is a part of the adult view of the world, I should think.
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 11:44 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;154547 wrote:

And, isn't it true that if you do " believe in the Moon" as you say you do, then it follows that you do not believe the Moon vanishes when you close your eyes, unless you are three years old? As an adult, you believe that objects persist even when not observed. That is a part of the adult view of the world, I should think.


If this were uniformly true we would never had had the idealist school.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Apr, 2010 05:32 am
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;154543 wrote:
On the forum, I don't really care so much. Members could make a career out of calling out people that are full of sh!t, but it wouldn't do any good. People are generally full of sh!t, myself included, especially when it comes to philosophy and religion--and more so that members can pretty much be full of sh!t anonymously. That is just the nature of the beast.


This is a really good point that I'm not sure we've talked about much here.

Just this morning, as I sipped coffee and perused the latest threads and responses, again I came across probably a half dozen threads that have half-baked ideas and are thus either phrased badly or contain thoughts not thought through. Like you, I generally don't address these. The thing is, we ought to keep in mind that if our objective is to communicate, then if a reply is likely to be rejected, nitpicked or derailed then more damage is done with no quantifiable good. I suppose its akin to the "Pick your Battles Carefully"-thought.

And you're also right about the anonymous factor. This is a very pervasive aspect of the online culture - that of anonymity and lack of repercussions (as well as more coporeal 'rewards'). It leaves us disconnected and without the inevitability of reciprocity, since you neither see my face nor interact with me. I'm a ghost that bears no responsibility and can just move on, not respond or even ignore, all which combine together to remove any sense of responsibility. For the trolls that frequent these waters, anonymity enables them while lack of repercussion encourages it. Bleh - I suppose that too's the nature of the beast; the downside to the goodness we do enjoy.

Good thoughts, thanks
salima
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Apr, 2010 09:07 am
@Khethil,
Khethil;154804 wrote:
This is a really good point that I'm not sure we've talked about much here.

Just this morning, as I sipped coffee and perused the latest threads and responses, again I came across probably a half dozen threads that have half-baked ideas and are thus either phrased badly or contain thoughts not thought through. Like you, I generally don't address these. The thing is, we ought to keep in mind that if our objective is to communicate, then if a reply is likely to be rejected, nitpicked or derailed then more damage is done with no quantifiable good. I suppose its akin to the "Pick your Battles Carefully"-thought.

And you're also right about the anonymous factor. This is a very pervasive aspect of the online culture - that of anonymity and lack of repercussions (as well as more coporeal 'rewards'). It leaves us disconnected and without the inevitability of reciprocity, since you neither see my face nor interact with me. I'm a ghost that bears no responsibility and can just move on, not respond or even ignore, all which combine together to remove any sense of responsibility. For the trolls that frequent these waters, anonymity enables them while lack of repercussion encourages it. Bleh - I suppose that too's the nature of the beast; the downside to the goodness we do enjoy.

Good thoughts, thanks


for some reason, the anonymity doesnt bother me-i know we are all anonymous, assuming we dont know each other outside of this forum, so that makes us equal. we all choose whether to lie or tell the truth, just like people do when they meet face to face and know each other's names. and anonymity isnt a requirement for stupidity or thoughtlessness or frivolity, arrogance or rudeness and lack of responsibility.

concerning trolls, lack of repercussion is a bit sad-they can be thrown off a forum or have their posts deleted, but just move on and get replaced or rejoin under another name. unfortunately, the biggest problem i see is not the trolls themselves, but the way we react to them which in turn feeds their needs and encourages them to continue.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Apr, 2010 09:52 am
@salima,
salima;154869 wrote:
for some reason, the anonymity doesnt bother me-i know we are all anonymous, assuming we dont know each other outside of this forum, so that makes us equal. we all choose whether to lie or tell the truth, just like people do when they meet face to face and know each other's names. and anonymity isnt a requirement for stupidity or thoughtlessness or frivolity, arrogance or rudeness and lack of responsibility.


Hey Sal,

Yes, there are some distinct benefits to this anonymity - I shouldn't cloak it to be the monster of all mankind. It does reduce our 'presense' to the words and ideas we put out and erases other caste factors (everything from wealth to appearance to manner of talk, etc.). I do fear it though - this "you're anonymous so you need take no responsibility"-factor, to the extent that this is true.

Good point
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Apr, 2010 10:20 am
@Khethil,
Anonymity only goes so far as an excuse for bad behavior once a presence has been established in an online community. Just as in a real life community a person works to establish a persona of sorts and works to maintain it thereafter. S/he understand her place in the social pecking order and strives to heighten it through various methods, and even though online a person can just disapear s/he still often has a real problem doing it. S/he has regrets, a sense of guilt for abandoning people etc... The same sense of identity and belonging gets placed into the constant work of building a persona and a presence on-line and most of the same feelings work in conjunction.

It is the anonymity that frees people to build an alternate persona, a persona that they may not be able to pull of in RL for various reasons. One after a considerable amount of time, however, that almost always lets their 'real self' slip into the posts. Often I really do think that the on-line persona people craft is the 'real self' simply because they do not have to fear immediate retribution in a manner that could hurt their health or livelyhood. Sometimes this makes me sad for humanity because so many people are so mean about how they say things that could be said without vitriol and derision. Myself included sometimes.
0 Replies
 
Jebediah
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 07:21 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil;154804 wrote:
This is a really good point that I'm not sure we've talked about much here.

Just this morning, as I sipped coffee and perused the latest threads and responses, again I came across probably a half dozen threads that have half-baked ideas and are thus either phrased badly or contain thoughts not thought through. Like you, I generally don't address these. The thing is, we ought to keep in mind that if our objective is to communicate, then if a reply is likely to be rejected, nitpicked or derailed then more damage is done with no quantifiable good. I suppose its akin to the "Pick your Battles Carefully"-thought.



Yeah, I think you have to keep in mind that every reply to a half-baked thread is a bump to a half baked thread.

Thaetaetus, I agree, I think a literature forum would be nice.
0 Replies
 
 

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