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Is philosophy a waste of time?

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    What do you think of people who say things like the following:

    'Philosophy is waste of time.'

    'It's just people sitting on their arse all day having pointless discussions.'

    'You're never going to find the answers, so there's no point in asking the questions.'

    'Philosophy is for people who want to talk about the questions that science will find the answers to; they just don't have what it takes to pursue science directly.'

    'Philosophy will never get you a job - it's a waste of three years.'

    What do you think of people who say these things? I've heard it around lately and, personally, I think it shows a level of ignorance which I simply didn't expect to find at university.
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    These are just the kinds of things said by people who have no experience of the subject or even philosophical discussion. I didn't really get the whole idea until I had a few deep discussions with my girlfriend who's studying Philosophy. I'm sure different subjects carry their own prototypical students, if you know what I mean, e.g. the idea that computer science students lack social skills..
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    yes it is. im doing a module in history at uni and its the most pointless piece of **** that i have ever experienced
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    (Original post by HappinessHappening)
    For goodness sake, the title is obviously supposed to read 'Is philosophy a waste of time?'

    Anyway . . .

    What do you think of people who say things like the following:

    'Philosophy is waste of time.'

    'It's just people sitting on their arse all day having pointless discussions.'

    'You're never going to find the answers, so there's no point in asking the questions.'

    'Philosophy is for people who want to talk about the questions that science will find the answers to; they just don't have what it takes to pursue science directly.'

    'Philosophy will never get you a job - it's a waste of three years.'

    What do you think of people who say these things? I've heard it around lately and, personally, I think it shows a level of ignorance which I simply didn't expect to find at university.
    I'm doing half philosophy at uni.

    I guess it isn't as vocationally useful as other things, fair enough, but it teaches you to think logically and critically.....

    The guy who wrote 'the pig that wants to be eaten' whos name I can't remember said that philosophy makes you 'a human b***s** detector' which I thought was quite funny.

    Also the thing in bold, the point is, it discusses things science WONT find the answer to... science can't tell you what is morally right/wrong.... neither can philosophy, it just explores it.

    I'm sure there's also some cheesy overused quote from The Times that is in my uni's prospectus "philosophy teaches you not what to think, but how to think".
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    Philosophy graduates are highly employable, (my teacher proudly placed a study showing this on the wall).
    Also, philosophy can be useful for the 1st order disciplines (e.g metaphysics aiding physics). However, philosophy is strictly an academic pursuit, so it's true to say it doesn't help other humans much. But that's a close minded way of valuing a subject/career.
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    Everything is a waste of time.....
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    peoples priorities are different, im sure the people that slag off philosophy are the kinds of people who worship maths/science :rolleyes:
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    Where do most scientists get their 'knowledge' from? From experiments, past experiences, laws that up to this point in time have always held. Now, how on earth can they be so absolutely, dogmatically certain that these laws will continue to hold true? Just because something happened 100 times in the past doesn't necessarily mean it will happen again.

    I'm not saying that because of this all scientific pursuit should be abandoned, because obviously the majority of the time scientific laws DO continue to hold true. However, it does shock me a bit that most people who study science haven't even thought to consider this question, or if they have they've dismissed it.

    It might be one of those problems that can never have a completely satisfactory answer, but at least Philosophy's having a go rather than just ignoring it. You can still get something from a question without finding a concrete answer, a fact which I think is lost on a lot of mathematicians in particular.
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    (Original post by MichaelG)
    peoples priorities are different, im sure the people that slag off philosophy are the kinds of people who worship maths/science :rolleyes:
    :ditto: I've found that quite alot at my uni and on TSR. I do psychology and alot of people I've met who do science subjects always slag off subjects like philosophy and think they're somehow superior because they do maths or biology or something.
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    (Original post by LOCI)
    Everything is a waste of time.....
    How depressing.
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    (Original post by oldrafiki)
    Where do most scientists get their 'knowledge' from? From experiments, past experiences, laws that up to this point in time have always held. Now, how on earth can they be so absolutely, dogmatically certain that these laws will continue to hold true? Just because something happened 100 times in the past doesn't necessarily mean it will happen again.

    I'm not saying that because of this all scientific pursuit should be abandoned, because obviously the majority of the time scientific laws DO continue to hold true. However, it does shock me a bit that most people who study science haven't even thought to consider this question, or if they have they've dismissed it.

    It might be one of those problems that can never have a completely satisfactory answer, but at least Philosophy's having a go rather than just ignoring it. You can still get something from a question without finding a concrete answer, a fact which I think is lost on a lot of mathematicians in particular.
    Well said! I was speaking to a mathematician the other day and he just dismissed philosophy as 'waffle'.

    I just find that so sickeningly ignorant.
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    In the case of physics and mathematics philosophical concerns actually DIRECTLY dictate the way forward for the discipline.

    For example, if we have philosophical concerns (which some philosophers do) over the nature of the law of excluded middle then we need to develop a whole new intuisitionist logic and a new mathematics based on this logic.

    In physics and mathematics this is often known as 'philosophy first' Indeed, some physical/mathematical theories are entirely constructed in ways to avoid metaphysical problems which philosophers raise. A good example of this would be the Hilbert Programme.

    Some of the best philosophers have often been mathematicians (Wittgenstein) and some of the best mathematicians often philosophers (Frege)
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    I do the IB so I take theory of Knowledge which is quite philosophical a lot of the time! I really like talking about stuff like that actually - it really seems to round off your education!

    Some people don't get it because you can't really find definite answers and sometimes that can be weird for people -- but that doesn't mean it's a waste of time! It's a really good thing to debate about and you can learn to try and pursuade people to see your views. It sounds kind of weird, but it's always a good feeling when you suddenly see a different view point (ie. "if a tree falls in a forest...") and it feels good when you've managed to make someone see your point of view.

    If you're the kind of person who really needs there to be a definite answer to reach then maybe you should avoid philosophy -- but if you enjoy a mental challenge and aren't too proud to question and change your own beliefs then philosophical debate and stuff is really a lot of fun!

    XxxxX
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    Philosophy is not pointless. After seeing the content of friends' courses, I really wish that I'd studied it.
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    (Original post by Oddjob39A)
    In the case of physics and mathematics philosophical concerns actually DIRECTLY dictate the way forward for the discipline.

    For example, if we have philosophical concerns (which some philosophers do) over the nature of the law of excluded middle then we need to develop a whole new intuisitionist logic and a new mathematics based on this logic.

    In physics and mathematics this is often known as 'philosophy first' Indeed, some physical/mathematical theories are entirely constructed in ways to avoid metaphysical problems which philosophers raise. A good example of this would be the Hilbert Programme.

    Some of the best philosophers have often been mathematicians (Wittgenstein) and some of the best mathematicians often philosophers (Frege)
    :ditto: Couldn't have said it better myself.

    Anyway, as far as I'm concerned, if you are enjoying doing what you are doing then it isn't a waste of time.

    I'm moving this to the philosophy subforum. Should be fun.
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    Well they have a point. Philosophy isn't a vocationally oriented degree, and because of it the direct uses of the study are quite limited. There aren't any graduate training schemes for philosophy, after all. I wouldn't really call them ignorant, but I would disagree about the characterization of philosophy as worthless.

    It's a great liberal education. Such a grasp of logic and conceptual thinking, the ability to develop an argument and grasp complex and abstract ideas and debate and discuss them articulately is, rightly so I believe, a highly prized achievements. I think very highly of philosophers and philosophy students, it's something I wish I had a better head for.
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    Yeah, stop thinking and start living, thats the only philosophy you need.
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    (Original post by Caspar David Friedrich)
    Well they have a point. Philosophy isn't a vocationally oriented degree, and because of it the direct uses of the study are quite limited. There aren't any graduate training schemes for philosophy, after all. I wouldn't really call them ignorant, but I would disagree about the characterization of philosophy as worthless.

    It's a great liberal education. Such a grasp of logic and conceptual thinking, the ability to develop an argument and grasp complex and abstract ideas and debate and discuss them articulately is, rightly so I believe, a highly prized achievements. I think very highly of philosophers and philosophy students, it's something I wish I had a better head for.
    Agreed; nobody is saying that you are going to find a job related to philosophy very easily, I just think it's wrong to disregard it in itself.
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    (Original post by Mr_Steve_Stifler)
    Yeah, stop thinking and start living, thats the only philosophy you need.
    That's a philosophical position.

    :p:
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    (Original post by Oddjob39A)
    In the case of physics and mathematics philosophical concerns actually DIRECTLY dictate the way forward for the discipline.

    For example, if we have philosophical concerns (which some philosophers do) over the nature of the law of excluded middle then we need to develop a whole new intuisitionist logic and a new mathematics based on this logic.

    In physics and mathematics this is often known as 'philosophy first' Indeed, some physical/mathematical theories are entirely constructed in ways to avoid metaphysical problems which philosophers raise. A good example of this would be the Hilbert Programme.

    Some of the best philosophers have often been mathematicians (Wittgenstein) and some of the best mathematicians often philosophers (Frege)
    I often find myself wishing I'd continued with maths and maybe even physics, as so much philosophical material feels completely inaccessible to me. I study 2 languages, and always thought 'Well, this is a lot more useful than studying maths, this is language which I'll actually use'. How ironic that now a whole area of study is all but closed off to me because of a language I don't understand!

    The pure logic involved in mathematics and the openness of mind needed for broader philosophical study make a fantastic combination. The problem comes when people are either all logic or all open; the stereotypical stuffy mathematicians and woolly arts students.

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Updated: December 15, 2008
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