What would you like to see from Philosophy?

    • Thread Starter

    Good morning, folks!

    For those of you who already post in the section, what do you like about it, and what don't you like, and why? And for people who don't post here, why not?

    Please reply here with your answers, and tell us what you'd like to see more of, less of, or what you'd like to see done differently, any feedback would be much appreciated

    (Original post by shadowdweller)
    Good morning, folks!

    For those of you who already post in the section, what do you like about it, and what don't you like, and why? And for people who don't post here, why not?

    Please reply here with your answers, and tell us what you'd like to see more of, less of, or what you'd like to see done differently, any feedback would be much appreciated
    I used to be a very active poster on TSR about a billion years ago. Now I check back maybe three times a year. I was mostly active in Fitness and Philosophy.

    What the philosophy section needs most of all is good threads (ie. good questions/discussion points) and people who are well-read enough to address them. Now, I'm not saying that everyone needs a PHD in philosophy to add value, but that some formal study would be nice. Or an attitude of intellectual humility. Let's look at the front page of threads. I shall just look at the first 10.

    1. To people who believe in God, could you answer my questions?
    Just a survey thread. None of the asked questions in the OP are philosophical. Asking what religious experiences people have had is not philosophy of religion. Conclusion. Bad question, but I admit it could be a lot worse.

    2. To all Atheists...
    Spam thread. Zero interesting philosophical content.

    3. Stop with the "who created God" argument it's bloody horrendous.
    This is at least philosophical and tries to address one of the objections to the cosmological argument. Could be a decent springing off point for discussion, but the tone is of someone who isn't interested to learn. If I was a subject matter expert (and compared to the OP, I will be), I wouldn't bother responding.

    4. I believe God does NOT exist. Someone who does, please explain why you do?
    Survey thread. Not specific at all. Likely to lead to scattergun type discussions. If I was a subject matter expert, my reply would be at most a drive by "I believe that religious experience provides defeasible reason to believe in God, and that the attempted defeaters of this defeasible reason do not work" with no extended discussion.

    5. Are men human?
    This could be a decent springing off point for discussing philosophical ideas around gender. The OP raises some interesting examples. Thread title is bad and unclear, and gives the (mistaken) impression that the OP is just asking about natural kinds.

    6. Why do you think there's so much pain in the world?
    Too broad. Is this asking about theodicy? Zero philosophical argument in the OP, basically just a survey thread.

    7. What is the point in humanity?
    Supremely dull question about the meaning of life. No actual contemporary philosopher talks about this.

    8. There is no evidence for God
    Ill formed question that could form the basis of an interesting discussion about evidentialism. The probability of it just becoming a dull theist vs atheist penis measuring competition much higher though. Subject matter experts could at least contribute here, talking about reformed epistemology, or disputing the question's premise.

    9. make a living to be creative
    This is nonsense. It ain't philosophy. OP needs to put the bong down. If you squint a bit you could say that it's a question about artistic authenticity maybe.

    10. interesting psychological views
    Survey thread. Not philosophy of mind.

    So, the vast majority of those threads are terrible and don't invite value-adding content.

    Compare to a better philosophy thread. I searched for a thread I made a billion years ago:

    Here you have a tightly defined problem, explained in a way that an educated layperson could understand. You have a link to a paper for more detail, and so on. Multiple people, who clearly have some idea of what they're talking about, comment.

    How do you fix the problem of poor quality threads that scare away able contributors? Genuinely have no idea. But if I wanted to increase the time I spent on the internet thinking about philosophy, TSR would not be where I'd spend it. You need a very aggressive tool for enabling good content to rise to the top. I don't think that can be achieved without significantly changing the TSR product (making it something very different, like Quora).

    I think the main problem is that most philosophers who have studied philosophy as a discipline (and therefore are likely to be more deeply interested and well-read on subject matters) prefer a very tight essay question that can be debated narrowly and intelligently, but the average Joe interprets philosophy to be "does God exist?" or some sort of Buddhist crap, or some other sort of general discussion about artificial intelligence. The thread becomes too general, everyone throws in their 2 cents, and the overall thread lacks coherence.

    Most popular philosophy is continental philosophy rather than analytic, because it's easy to read a paragraph of, say, Nietsche, and write a half-baked interpretation about his ideas in a very vague generalising manner, where it's hard to grip onto any tight interestingly argued content.

    When the Philosophy section becomes a dumping ground for this sort of ****, it deters good posters from coming back, re-enforcing the cycle of only ever having **** threads, which further deters good posters.

    A thread is usually only as good as the OP's initial argument, and that argument is usually only as good as the regular people who post. I don't think there is a community of regular good posters like there was in the past, therefore there are less good threads.

    This is not easily fixed, and is caused by a changing tone in the whole website - perhaps try moving the forum to the University section?
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