How do I get 'into' philosophy? Watch

falling
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#21
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#21
One of my favourite thought experiments is the 'brain in the vat'. It's an interesting read/makes you think about the concept of the 'self'.
http://www.smokewriting.co.uk/philos...e%20Am%20I.pdf
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somethingbeautiful
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#22
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There are so many branches of Philosophy that it's best to start off with an introductory book and see which branch interests you the most first. From that point you can start reading original texts.

Some original texts can be pretty mind-boggling without any prior knowledge of the subject but some (I personally think) don't require any prior knowledge of the subject. Plato's works, for example - you can jump straight into them,
In first year of Philosophy at university we read 'The Phaedo' (Plato) - I would highly recommend it. It is dialogue so you feel like you're observing the conversation. I don't think you can come away from The Phaedo without having sharper analytical skills. Other people prefer the more maths-esque side to Philosophy, if you're more into the sciences than the arts then Logic or Metaphysics might be more to your tastes but again I'd start on an introductory text rather than jumping into Logic and trying to get your head around truth tables.

My suggestions for getting a general idea:

To get snippets of a broad range of ideas, this is the best one to look at primarily:

1. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/like/36081...13=80&ff14=108

It'll give you a lot to think about but in small manageable doses and you can pick it up and put it down whenever it suits you. If I remember correctly each different philosophical idea is on about 2 pages each.


Then look at these:

2.http://www.biblio.com/book/little-bo...FQPHtAodhVoAcA

3.http://www.amazon.co.uk/Think-Compel...8225540&sr=1-3

These will give you a more in depth look into some of the ideas discussed in book (1) but it's nothing too heavy - it's a step up from book (1) but it's understandable.

After you've done that you can start exploring some original texts now that you have some general background knowledge of the different branches and what they cover.

My first suggestion would be Plato or Aristotle. This is subjective, but I found Plato easier to follow when I was in 1st year. I got more into Aristotle in 2nd year.
Look into Plato's Dialogues - I personally read The Phaedo to begin with - you can jump into the dialogues without needing knowledge of the others.
They're all here (with some background info): http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/plato/

Finally, I know some people can be quite snobby about Wikipedia but I used it during my degree to get a general idea about things before I read any books/articles. So for example, before reading any Plato you might want to go over to wiki and read the Plato page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plato). I personally don't think it's a bad place to start - it gives you a foundation to build on with primary texts and then journals/articles.
JSTOR was my go to webpage for online journals - I accessed it through my uni library, I don't know how much you can read from it without membership but it's worth having a little look.

Have fun, Philosophy is awesome .
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DErasmus
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#23
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(Original post by TorpidPhil)
I didn't say it was meta-physics did I? This is your arrogance. You assume that anything under the label "meta-physics" is bad yet anything under the label "physics" or "mathematics" is good. You don't know why, you just do. If you knew why then you would understand why following the logic necessary for claiming that all meta-physical claims are faulty would lead to saying the same about much of natural science (including theoretical physics) and mathematics.

Meta-physics proceeds from hypothetical generalisations of experience too. It doesn't proceed from anecdote, it takes the data of physics and hypotheses further from that. Hence theoretical physics IS a type of meta-physics.
I know exactly why, metaphysics is the art of making assumptions that have no basis in prediction, mathematics makes assumptions that are useful for practical application, in so far as it is a branch of knowledge it is a science, although not in the contingent sense. Theoretical physics today is nothing like traditional metaphysics... have you studied Kant?
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TorpidPhil
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#24
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#24
(Original post by DErasmus)
I know exactly why, metaphysics is the art of making assumptions that have no basis in prediction, mathematics makes assumptions that are useful for practical application, in so far as it is a branch of knowledge it is a science, although not in the contingent sense. Theoretical physics today is nothing like traditional metaphysics... have you studied Kant?
And Aristotle's physics is nothing like modern physics. Disciplines evolve.
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DErasmus
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#25
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#25
(Original post by TorpidPhil)
And Aristotle's physics is nothing like modern physics. Disciplines evolve.
Yeah and some die.
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TorpidPhil
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#26
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Name one discipline that has died. Even theology hasn't died and it openly acknowledges that it is based on something other than logic since it assumes the existence of something for no reason. If theology isn't going to die I highly doubt any other discipline will or even should. A discipline would only die if its methodology were totally useless in arriving at knowledge. By the way, knowledge is not synonymous with predictions. Just because something makes better predictions about the phenomena that doesn't make it true because "better" is always relative to the other theories and that which we are making predictions on is subjectively based on that which we observe which is not necessarily all phenomena. Hence the theories which make the most accurate predictions are more likely to be true, but that alone doesn't make the theories true.
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DErasmus
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#27
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(Original post by TorpidPhil)
Name one discipline that has died. Even theology hasn't died and it openly acknowledges that it is based on something other than logic since it assumes the existence of something for no reason. If theology isn't going to die I highly doubt any other discipline will or even should. A discipline would only die if its methodology were totally useless in arriving at knowledge. By the way, knowledge is not synonymous with predictions. Just because something makes better predictions about the phenomena that doesn't make it true because "better" is always relative to the other theories and that which we are making predictions on is subjectively based on that which we observe which is not necessarily all phenomena. Hence the theories which make the most accurate predictions are more likely to be true, but that alone doesn't make the theories true.
Theology is dead because its methodology is totally useless in arriving at actual conclusions, it's good for textual and historical understanding of religions yes, for example you can know about the theory, history and practice of religions but these aren't claims to knowledge. You're right that the predictive power of a theory doesn't mean it is true, however it does mean it can be tested, you're right there are many assumptions that cannot be tested and are at the basis of our reasoning but the difference between science and metaphysics is science proceeds from a non dogmatic inference of axioms based on close observation, metaphysics makes claim that simply cannot be tested and at lot of the time doesn't actually say anything (notice how the vast majority of metaphysicians disagree with one another, scientists might disagree on some things but evolution, gravity, relativity etc they don't). Science infers from observation and tests those it can, metaphysics simply cannot do so and therefore has no claim to knowledge.
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TorpidPhil
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#28
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Well I agree would agree with you that theology as a discipline ought to die. Any historical aspect of it can be took up via religious studies. Of course a lot of modern religious studies is really theology and vice versa which is a different debate...

Theories of gravity, evolution, relativity and so on were not always the absolute consensus though. Similarly we didn't reject plato's theory of forms immediately upon seeing it because the methodology behind his reasoning was overtly flawed. Now everyone agrees they don't exist.

There are consensus's on meta-physical claims that do exist though, the biggest one would be electrons. To say that electrons exist is definitely a meta-physical claim since we don't ever observe an the entity of an electron. Electrons are posited entities the effects of which we observe and it from the effects that we derive a belief in electrons. We have no visual proof that those effects result in what we call electrons though; there could be a different particle causing them or something different altogether that we are just unaware of.

Similarly in mathematics there are multiple ways of formulating proofs because proofs are based on logics and logics, well, there are many different logics that all successfully predict phenomena in the exact same way. Look up the whole school of intuitionist mathematics. Heck, it's even possible to be a flat-earther (or more specifically a disc-earther) and you will get exactly the same predictions as you do with all the modern beliefs you have in contemporary natural science and meta-physics. My point is then that what seems to determine belief here is mental heuristics - what is the most useful kind of theory practically; what theory requires the belief in the least number of distinct entities; which theory best fits in with our incumbent theories etc. But heuristics have no bearing on truth, which really is why knowledge (taken to be defined as certainty about the truth of something) is impossible about any claim regarding the world. Science and meta-physics shouldn't aim for knowledge. They aim for identifying what beliefs we should have. Where what we should have is the most correct belief and the most correct belief is the one that is the most reliable with regards to predictions; the most practical and so on...

And the point of all that is to say that really scientific claims are not of a different sort of meta-physical claims rather they are just more likely to be true assuming good science was the basis of them and that's because there will always be more evidence to back them up - "objective evidence" gained from experiments and not just mathematical/logical predictions - mathematics and logic here failing to give us objective proofs because we have no way of identifying whether our axioms are true or not while science goes a bit further in that department.

That's great, but that doesn't make meta-physics useless as studying it nevertheless allows to have a more correct view about meta-physical claims and ultimately having beliefs that are more correct about meta-physics doesn't in any way prevent you from having correct beliefs about science, in fact, the correct belief about meta-physics necessarily must correlate with the correct beliefs about science because the two go completely hand in hand by justifying one another. Put it this way if a god was real then all secular theories of science would be incorrect. If a god was not real then all theological theories of science would be incorrect. If your science is incorrect then your meta-physics will be incorrect or ill-informed and vice versa. Of course the question of a god's reality is hardly an important meta-physical question these days as over 80% (at least) of scientists and meta-physicians would agree It doesn't exist but it was the best example I could think of at the time...
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DErasmus
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#29
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Well I don't think mathematics or logic refer to reality for one, the famous Einstein quote comes to mind:
"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."
Metaphysics makes claims that go beyond experience, and indeed you're quite right about electrons, however before it was confirmed that these things appear to exist there were many philosophers of science who did doubt that they did, in fact i'd argue they did the right thing, electrons could have simply been a hack job we used to describe some phenomena similiar to the way theologians have used God for centuries. It's not that I think claims that go beyond experience are useless, but that unless one can test them in some way they are simply hypothetical, and when it comes to questions about the existence of things and so forth it appears futile to debate because reality is far more complex then any logic we use. The best we can do is ask 'Does it work?'

(Original post by TorpidPhil)
Well I agree would agree with you that theology as a discipline ought to die. Any historical aspect of it can be took up via religious studies. Of course a lot of modern religious studies is really theology and vice versa which is a different debate...

Theories of gravity, evolution, relativity and so on were not always the absolute consensus though. Similarly we didn't reject plato's theory of forms immediately upon seeing it because the methodology behind his reasoning was overtly flawed. Now everyone agrees they don't exist.

There are consensus's on meta-physical claims that do exist though, the biggest one would be electrons. To say that electrons exist is definitely a meta-physical claim since we don't ever observe an the entity of an electron. Electrons are posited entities the effects of which we observe and it from the effects that we derive a belief in electrons. We have no visual proof that those effects result in what we call electrons though; there could be a different particle causing them or something different altogether that we are just unaware of.

Similarly in mathematics there are multiple ways of formulating proofs because proofs are based on logics and logics, well, there are many different logics that all successfully predict phenomena in the exact same way. Look up the whole school of intuitionist mathematics. Heck, it's even possible to be a flat-earther (or more specifically a disc-earther) and you will get exactly the same predictions as you do with all the modern beliefs you have in contemporary natural science and meta-physics. My point is then that what seems to determine belief here is mental heuristics - what is the most useful kind of theory practically; what theory requires the belief in the least number of distinct entities; which theory best fits in with our incumbent theories etc. But heuristics have no bearing on truth, which really is why knowledge (taken to be defined as certainty about the truth of something) is impossible about any claim regarding the world. Science and meta-physics shouldn't aim for knowledge. They aim for identifying what beliefs we should have. Where what we should have is the most correct belief and the most correct belief is the one that is the most reliable with regards to predictions; the most practical and so on...

And the point of all that is to say that really scientific claims are not of a different sort of meta-physical claims rather they are just more likely to be true assuming good science was the basis of them and that's because there will always be more evidence to back them up - "objective evidence" gained from experiments and not just mathematical/logical predictions - mathematics and logic here failing to give us objective proofs because we have no way of identifying whether our axioms are true or not while science goes a bit further in that department.

That's great, but that doesn't make meta-physics useless as studying it nevertheless allows to have a more correct view about meta-physical claims and ultimately having beliefs that are more correct about meta-physics doesn't in any way prevent you from having correct beliefs about science, in fact, the correct belief about meta-physics necessarily must correlate with the correct beliefs about science because the two go completely hand in hand by justifying one another. Put it this way if a god was real then all secular theories of science would be incorrect. If a god was not real then all theological theories of science would be incorrect. If your science is incorrect then your meta-physics will be incorrect or ill-informed and vice versa. Of course the question of a god's reality is hardly an important meta-physical question these days as over 80% (at least) of scientists and meta-physicians would agree It doesn't exist but it was the best example I could think of at the time...
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