3
   

Is philosophy useless?

 
 
Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 10:26 am
Why is philosophy useful, or useless. I will argue the latter.


Case 1:
Philosophy is useless, because there is no labor demand for philosophers( except of course academics). This view assumes that the value of a set of skills is more, or less determined by the labor market.

A possible objection to the view is that what is useful( or useless) is not necessary determined by the labor market. e.g: Taking showers have no obvious labor demand, but no one will doubt it is useless. A reply to this objection is the following: Working life makes up a large part of our life. At least 8 hours a day, and 5 days a week. It is a long time for doing something that is not related to philosophy. Since a large part of our life will not be using philosophy, it follows that such set of skills is useless.


Case 2: Philosophy is useless, because people doing philosophy is useless. In economic theory, and much of decision theory, the foundation assumption is that people are act on their own self-interest. The second assumption is that there is an opportunity cost that is loss from take whatever action. Philosophers read/write philosophy books that takes time( time to read/write the books), and energy( the energy consumption from reading/writing). This is a huge opportunity cost, with no obvious benefits. One possible benefit is a more interesting view of reality/morality. Your more interesting perspective don 't actually contribute anything to the society. No one really read philosophers work( except philosophers). No one will hire you because you are more enlightened.



Possible objection to my thread is: How can I maintain philosophy is useless while engage in philosophy in this thread?
My answer is that philosophy is useless, but still fun.
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 11:31 am
@TuringEquivalent,
There are a million possible objections Turing but I will go for the most simple possible one...
Philosophy is so useful that in all areas and fields of study happens almost spontaneously, thus being so intrinsically related with the conceptual constructions in them that it is actually hard to account for the "work" they can produce without the help of Philosophy...the labour market expects you to have the minimum amount of common sense and reasoning to perform accordingly adapting your specialized learned skills to each circumstance and its needs...the failure to do so necessarily comes as one of the main reasons for getting the boot or being sacked...

What you should have learned by now is that you cannot box Philosophy in a corner of a library while pointing and happelly say, its there !...
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 11:35 am
Quote:
Is philosophy useless?


Yes.

Next question . . .
0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 11:42 am
There are in fact some linear savages around that think otherwise but hardly anyone actually gives a f### to what they say anyway...
0 Replies
 
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 11:45 am
i rank it right up there with religion, politics and sports, if you have the constitution to really care about have at it, but in the end it's not that important
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 11:48 am
I think maybe the Portugee boy was trying to insult me . . . funny, ain't he?
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 12:04 pm
TE, good question. But the real point of this post is an examination of the complexity of the notion of utility or value. A zen master I use to know said that enlightenment is totally useless but it is the most valuable thing in life. Spinoza's work as a philosopher made him no money, but it was the raison d'etre of his being. I detest the way value is determined in the professional art world. The commodification of art is monstruous. I see works in galleries that are, in my mind, priceless. I also see works promoted by the art industry that go for millions of dollars, and I would only own them for their resale value. Grotesque.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  3  
Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 12:04 pm
@TuringEquivalent,
TuringEquivalent wrote:
Case 1:
Philosophy is useless, because there is no labor demand for philosophers( except of course academics). This view assumes that the value of a set of skills is more, or less determined by the labor market.

It also assumes that "useless" is defined as "of no economic value." At best, that's an idiosyncratic definition of "useless." At worst, that's begging the question.

TuringEquivalent wrote:
Case 2: Philosophy is useless, because people doing philosophy is useless.

See above.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 12:05 pm
@djjd62,
I rather think that its importance is not self evident because its a given at the starting point...now what actually can be questioned are certain levels of in depth Philosophy with very little practical use...but in a more closer to the surface daily life reasoning, Philosophy is essential, and its absence disastrous...

0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 12:09 pm
@Setanta,
Set, eventually Fil A will learn that you don't give a f***.
0 Replies
 
G H
 
  2  
Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 12:11 pm
@TuringEquivalent,
Being adept at thinking is of no value? Is that sort of like pure or unapplied mathematics being useless -- the pursuit of mathematics for its own sake is useless -- but almost every damn engineering and science project under the sun requires it as a tool? Because someone also has a different job description, that means he had no background in philosophy, that his having better success at the job than the muddled-thinking idiot across from him owes no debt to having a philosophical background? Or are you just another passing urchin who actually believes that most internet forums devoted to the subject are an example of the practice?

I see philosophers getting paid to do circuit lectures, concoct new ideas, review media, write their own books, or straighten various issues out just like any other variety of critics, writers, and disambigulators. It might not pay as much as some cosmetically-augmented bimbo gurgling out lyrical nonsense on stage while performing inane patterns of body motion, but I seriously doubt the art of thinking would be detracting from the evolution of the species in a negative way any less than the former.

Nick Bostrum: The tasks of philosophy have changed over time. Physics and psychology were once part of philosophy but have since been outsourced as independent scientific disciplines. Likewise for logic, which has become a branch of mathematics. Yet, philosophy of physics, for example, is a flourishing specialization in philosophy, in which physicists and philosophers come together to address foundational matters in physical theories. Some traditional concerns remain central in philosophy - epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, and so forth. But new philosophical tasks also arise over time, sometimes as a result of scientific advances: bioethics and neuroethics are examples of specializations that have been added in recent decades thanks to scientific and technological advances.

Jerry Fodor: I think that philosophy consists mostly of criticism. What philosophers do is take more or less informal and unformulated systems of beliefs that are in use or that have been proposed, and try to make them articulate, to figure out whether they are consistent, and, in general, to help reduce the level of ambient confusion; which, in practice, is generally pretty high. (BTW, I think that doing that sort of thing is a main component of what philosophy has ALWAYS been about). On this view, philosophy is mostly a meta-level activity. Other people (typically, but by no means always, empirical scientists) try to say what's going on. Philosophers look over their shoulders and, when possible, try to figure out exactly what it is that they'e saying.

I guess that, from time to time, philosophers have actually helped advance the discussion in one or other of the empirical sciences; most recently in linguistics, psychology and some of the wilder parts of physics. This has been partly a matter of trying to figure out what the theories currently on offer actually amount to (see above); but it's also by way of characterizing empirical investigation as such, including such topics as the nature of confirmation, explanation, observation and the like. Much the same might be said about philosophical work in areas like ethics and the philosophy of law where there are, I suppose, problems of interpretation and reconstruction not disimilar to those that arise about science: What do the things people say and believe (about--as it might be--the relation between someone's intentions and the evaluation of his actions) fit together. Are these beliefs consistent? What general principles do they illustrate? And so forth. (I should also say philosophers have often enough contributed by muddying the waters. [Like] The disasterous impact of behaviorism, operationalism and pragmatism on 20th century social science...




fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 12:17 pm
@TuringEquivalent,
I think I would agree that there are no "useful findings" in philosophy, but the activity itself can be useful in promoting "healthy" social discourse by comparing and contrasting alternative world views.
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 04:12 pm
@fresco,
I suspect that philosophy (I'm thinking of Philosophy of Social Science at the moment) does not contribute much of empirical value to the conversation of sociological development, but it certainly helps to refine the terms of that conversation.
0 Replies
 
TuringEquivalent
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 05:13 pm
@G H,
G H wrote:

Being adept at thinking is of no value? Is that sort of like pure or unapplied mathematics being useless -- the pursuit of mathematics for its own sake is useless -- but almost every damn engineering and science project under the sun requires it as a tool? Because someone also has a different job description, that means he had no background in philosophy, that his having better success at the job than the muddled-thinking idiot across from him owes no debt to having a philosophical background? Or are you just another passing urchin who actually believes that most internet forums devoted to the subject are an example of the practice?

I see philosophers getting paid to do circuit lectures, concoct new ideas, review media, write their own books, or straighten various issues out just like any other variety of critics, writers, and disambigulators. It might not pay as much as some cosmetically-augmented bimbo gurgling out lyrical nonsense on stage while performing inane patterns of body motion, but I seriously doubt the art of thinking would be detracting from the evolution of the species in a negative way any less than the former.

Nick Bostrum: The tasks of philosophy have changed over time. Physics and psychology were once part of philosophy but have since been outsourced as independent scientific disciplines. Likewise for logic, which has become a branch of mathematics. Yet, philosophy of physics, for example, is a flourishing specialization in philosophy, in which physicists and philosophers come together to address foundational matters in physical theories. Some traditional concerns remain central in philosophy - epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, and so forth. But new philosophical tasks also arise over time, sometimes as a result of scientific advances: bioethics and neuroethics are examples of specializations that have been added in recent decades thanks to scientific and technological advances.

Jerry Fodor: I think that philosophy consists mostly of criticism. What philosophers do is take more or less informal and unformulated systems of beliefs that are in use or that have been proposed, and try to make them articulate, to figure out whether they are consistent, and, in general, to help reduce the level of ambient confusion; which, in practice, is generally pretty high. (BTW, I think that doing that sort of thing is a main component of what philosophy has ALWAYS been about). On this view, philosophy is mostly a meta-level activity. Other people (typically, but by no means always, empirical scientists) try to say what's going on. Philosophers look over their shoulders and, when possible, try to figure out exactly what it is that they'e saying.

I guess that, from time to time, philosophers have actually helped advance the discussion in one or other of the empirical sciences; most recently in linguistics, psychology and some of the wilder parts of physics. This has been partly a matter of trying to figure out what the theories currently on offer actually amount to (see above); but it's also by way of characterizing empirical investigation as such, including such topics as the nature of confirmation, explanation, observation and the like. Much the same might be said about philosophical work in areas like ethics and the philosophy of law where there are, I suppose, problems of interpretation and reconstruction not disimilar to those that arise about science: What do the things people say and believe (about--as it might be--the relation between someone's intentions and the evaluation of his actions) fit together. Are these beliefs consistent? What general principles do they illustrate? And so forth. (I should also say philosophers have often enough contributed by muddying the waters. [Like] The disasterous impact of behaviorism, operationalism and pragmatism on 20th century social science...







Let 's be clear, since some action can be beneficial for society as a whole. This is distinct from being beneficial from a personal point of view. Garbage collection is pretty good for the society, but each individual garbage man are not high pay people, and they have crap job.

For some people, philosophy will be very useless. If you are fortunate enough to get a research job as a philosopher, that is great( better at a top 20 university), but for the majority of undergraduates, they are not employable, and nobody read their works.
0 Replies
 
TuringEquivalent
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 05:15 pm
@fresco,
This is really general. One of the point I made is that most people will not use their philosophy skills at their job. This is a big problem.
TuringEquivalent
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 05:21 pm
@joefromchicago,
Is their a standard definition of usefulness? No. In general, when there is no standard definition for A, some people will argue that "A is B" using a book.





See above. lol
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 05:50 pm
@TuringEquivalent,
TuringEquivalent wrote:

Is their a standard definition of usefulness? No.

Sure there is. "Useful" describes something that has a use. If you want to adopt a different definition, such as "having economic value," then you have to justify it. You can't simply assume that everything that is "useful" has economic value.
TuringEquivalent
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 06:13 pm
@joefromchicago,
There are? In everyday use of the the word "useful", it is situational. What is useful for an accountant might not be useful for a pilot. There is no fixed definition, criterion for useful.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 06:24 pm
@TuringEquivalent,
TuringEquivalent wrote:

There are? In everyday use of the the word "useful", it is situational. What is useful for an accountant might not be useful for a pilot. There is no fixed definition, criterion for useful.

You confuse the definition of the term and the things it describes. A spoon is useful if you want to eat soup, but, as Alanis Morisette pointed out, ten thousand spoons aren't very useful if all you really need is a knife. That doesn't mean, however, that the word "useful" has a different definition in each situation. The definition remains the same even though the circumstances might vary.
vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 06:43 pm
@TuringEquivalent,
Quote:
Why is philosophy useful, or useless. I will argue the latter.
The answer is 'It is useful when it produces a useful outcome'. A generic 'yes' or 'no' answer will always be, as a generalisation, wrong. The answer is specific to the situation.
 

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