12
   

The best 500 words of philosophy you know of

 
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 09:26 pm
@Victor Eremita,
I just meant that Donne, as a poet, is not in the business of philosophizing. And most poets who try philosophizing do an awful job of it, although they may come up with philosophical insights of with what can be turned into philosophical insights (like the Shakespearean principle). But even having a philosophical insight is not philosophizing. No more that when the early atomists came up with the notion of the atom were they engaging in physics. And yes, that is what I said: Donne was just saying that men should show more concern for their fellows, and that he hoped they would. And he said that poetically. Good poetry is still not philosophy, although a lot of what some people think is philosophy is just terrible poetry.
Victor Eremita
 
  2  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 09:41 pm
@kennethamy,
I agree that Donne isn't intending to philosophize. And I agree that once in a while, poets may come up with philosophical insights. I didn't say Donne was a philosopher, merely that that one poetic quote can be used as a philosophical insight as Mill used it as a possible angle against the harm principle. Just as other writers like Dante, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky and Kafka can be and are used in the service for philosophy.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 09:43 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
1. Is Donne's famous line true? I would not understand what Donne writes as a statement of fact about the interconnectedness of people, since it is too vague, and clearly it is not true, that whatever someone does affects everyone else. I would understand Donne rather as expressing both a hope about how people will behave, and a value judgment about how they ought to behave, than as a statement about how they do behave. As the latter, it is clearly false.


I agree that he's expressing an ideal but don't think that makes it untrue unless it's unideal. I guess I don't see it as not being true unless he was attempting to be descriptive rather than prescriptive and I don't see why what is indicts the veracity of what ought to be.

Quote:
2. Of course, whether what Donne wrote is philosophy depends on how vaguely you understand that term. Very general remarks about people and about how people do act, and how they ought to act, often come under the general heading of philosophy. So, in the way, I guess it is philosophy. But in a somewhat stricter sense of "philosophy" , say the sense in which Wittgenstein said that philosophy is an activity, not a theory. what Donne wrote does not qualify.


I think philosophy encompasses ethics and values by most definitions and I think he made a powerful statement about the valuation of the lives of those around us. He may not have been trying to philosophize himself but his statement can influence the philosophy of others in regard to ethics and values (especially regarding social contracts).
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 09:46 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita wrote:

I agree that Donne isn't intending to philosophize. And I agree that once in a while, poets may come up with philosophical insights. I didn't say Donne was a philosopher, merely that that one poetic quote can be used as a philosophical insight as Mill used it as a possible angle against the harm principle. Just as other writers like Dante, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky and Kafka can be and are used in the service for philosophy.


I agree. But many people confuse poetry with philosophy. And "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die" is, I suppose, a philosophical insight, and, for all I know, true one. But it is not philosophy.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 09:50 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

kennethamy wrote:
1. Is Donne's famous line true? I would not understand what Donne writes as a statement of fact about the interconnectedness of people, since it is too vague, and clearly it is not true, that whatever someone does affects everyone else. I would understand Donne rather as expressing both a hope about how people will behave, and a value judgment about how they ought to behave, than as a statement about how they do behave. As the latter, it is clearly false.


I agree that he's expressing an ideal but don't think that makes it untrue unless it's unideal. I guess I don't see it as not being true unless he was attempting to be descriptive rather than prescriptive and I don't see why what is indicts the veracity of what ought to be.

Quote:
2. Of course, whether what Donne wrote is philosophy depends on how vaguely you understand that term. Very general remarks about people and about how people do act, and how they ought to act, often come under the general heading of philosophy. So, in the way, I guess it is philosophy. But in a somewhat stricter sense of "philosophy" , say the sense in which Wittgenstein said that philosophy is an activity, not a theory. what Donne wrote does not qualify.


I think philosophy encompasses ethics and values by most definitions and I think he made a powerful statement about the valuation of the lives of those around us. He may not have been trying to philosophize himself but his statement can influence the philosophy of others in regard to ethics and values (especially regarding social contracts).


I agree that Donne is "expressing an ideal" if that means, he is saying what he believes ought to be true rather than what is true. But I think I said that. And I think also that he expressed that belief in a very persuasive and lovely way. But I think I said that too.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 09:53 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
I agree that Donne is "expressing an ideal" if that means, he is saying what he believes ought to be true rather than what is true. But I think I said that. And I think also that he expressed that belief in a very persuasive and lovely way. But I think I said that too.


You did, but you also implied that it was untrue, which is only the case if you deliberately read it as being a descriptive passage, while you clearly see that it is prescriptive.

We don't have any disagreements on the prescriptive nature of the passage, just the notion that it is "untrue" just because it is not descriptively so. He can be stating a fact about an ideal.
Victor Eremita
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 09:53 pm
@kennethamy,
I guess it depends on what you do with that phrase, like construct a philosophical school around it, say hedonism.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 10:02 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

kennethamy wrote:
I agree that Donne is "expressing an ideal" if that means, he is saying what he believes ought to be true rather than what is true. But I think I said that. And I think also that he expressed that belief in a very persuasive and lovely way. But I think I said that too.


You did, but you also implied that it was untrue, which is only the case if you deliberately read it as being a descriptive passage, while you clearly see that it is prescriptive.

We don't have any disagreements on the prescriptive nature of the passage, just the notion that it is "untrue" just because it is not descriptively so. He can be stating a fact about an ideal.


A "fact about an ideal" means, I suppose, that it is a fact that something is an ideal. And I did not deny that it is a fact (it is true) that a greater concern for others would be a good thing.
Victor Eremita
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 10:03 pm
@kennethamy,
Besides, wasn't it Wittgenstein who wrote "Philosophy ought really to be written only as a poetic composition" in Culture and Value Wink
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 10:04 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita wrote:

I guess it depends on what you do with that phrase, like construct a philosophical school around it, say hedonism.


What depends on what you do?
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 10:06 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita wrote:

Besides, wasn't it Wittgenstein who wrote "Philosophy ought really to be written only as a poetic composition" in Culture and Value Wink


I expect that was while he still was suffering from his Tractatus hangover.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 10:08 pm
@kennethamy,
I think we may be on the same page then. His statement clearly isn't descriptively true but we both seem to think it isn't prescriptively false.
Victor Eremita
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 10:12 pm
@kennethamy,
"eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die"
and
"the unexamined life is not worth living"
seems to me two different ways of saying how one should live. One of them is not philosophical?
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 10:12 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

I think we may be on the same page then. His statement clearly isn't descriptively true but we both seem to think it isn't prescriptively false.


No, what would have made you think I thought that people should not be concerned for each other? But that is something quite distant from your original contention that the passage from Donne was a great philosophical passage.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 10:13 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita wrote:

"eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die"
and
"the unexamined life is not worth living"
seems to me two different way of saying how one should live.


I suppose so. And?
Victor Eremita
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 10:15 pm
@kennethamy,
one of them is philosophy and one isn't?
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 10:17 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita wrote:

"eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die"
and
"the unexamined life is not worth living"
seems to me two different ways of saying how one should live. One of them is not philosophical?


I suppose both of them are supposed to be philosophical insights. But what is your point? I know you like Kierkegaard (as I do) but we can get on faster if we dispense with all this indirect talk, and you simply make your point.
Victor Eremita
 
  2  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 10:20 pm
@kennethamy,
Is Socrates/Plato's motto about the unexamined life philosophy? If so, why isn't the eat drink merry motto considered philosophy.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 10:27 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
No, what would have made you think I thought that people should not be concerned for each other? But that is something quite distant from your original contention that the passage from Donne was a great philosophical passage.


You had two objections, one was that it wasn't philosophy the other was that it was not true. We have just been discussing the objection about whether it was not true, which is indeed quite distant from the objection about whether or not it's philosophy (and which is why this is moving the goal posts to switch to from the objection about the statement's truth).

As for the objection to it being philosophy you seem to be narrowly defining it and arbitrarily excluding philosophical insight if it were not part of the act of philosophizing but that part of your objection just isn't something I have tremendous nits to pick with (just because I don't really think what particular insights we consider to be philosophy is as interesting as contributions you might be able to make that you do consider philosophy).
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 11:09 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita wrote:

Is Socrates/Plato's motto about the unexamined life philosophy? If so, why isn't the eat drink merry motto considered philosophy.


Both are philosophical insights. I have already said that anyone can have a philosophical insight. Socrates' (or as some on this board would insist, "Sokrates") insight is imbedded in a philosophical argument that supports it, and makes it philosophy. The other is not. As Aristotle famously pointed out, one swallow does not make a summer.
 

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