JHAP online

Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy

Vol. 5, No. 5 (2017): Gilbert Ryle: Intelligence, Practice, Skill
Special issue edited by Juliet Floyd and Lydia Patton.
Table of Contents
Articles
Volume Introduction: Gilbert Ryle on Propositions, Propositional Attitudes, and Theoretical Knowledge
Julia Tanney

Ryle’s “Intellectualist Legend” in Historical Context
Michael Kremer

Skill, Drill, and Intelligent Performance: Ryle and Intellectualism
Stina Bäckström, Martin Gustafsson

Ryle on the Explanatory Role of Knowledge How
Will Small

ISSN: 2159-0303

SS: Is philosophy good for anything?

What is Philosophy good for?

Illustration of a "duckrabbit", disc...
Illustration of a “duckrabbit”, discussed in the Philosophical Investigations, section XI, part II (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Philosophy is quite unlike any other field. It is unique both in its methods and in the nature and breadth of its subject matter. Philosophy pursues questions in every dimension of human life, and its techniques apply to problems in any field of study or endeavor. No brief definition expresses the richness and variety of philosophy. It may be described in many ways. It is a reasoned pursuit of fundamental truths, a quest for understanding, a study of principles of conduct. It seeks to establish standards of evidence, to provide rational methods of resolving conflicts, and to create techniques for evaluating ideas and arguments. Philosophy develops the capacity to see the world from the perspective of other individuals and other cultures; it enhances one’s ability to perceive the relationships among the various fields of study; and it deepens one’s sense of the meaning and varieties of human experience.

 

Philosophy is the systematic study of ideas and issues, a reasoned pursuit of fundamental truths, a quest for a comprehensive understanding of the world, a study of principles of conduct, and much more. Every domain of human existence raises questions to which its techniques and theories apply, and its methods may be used in the study of any subject or the pursuit of any vocation. Indeed, philosophy is in a sense inescapable: life confronts every thoughtful person with some philosophical questions, and nearly everyone is often guided by philosophical assumptions, even if unconsciously. One need not be unprepared. To a large extent one can choose how reflective one will be in clarifying and developing one’s philosophical assumptions, and how well prepared one is for the philosophical questions life presents. Philosophical training enhances our problem-solving capacities, our abilities to understand and express ideas, and our persuasive powers. It also develops understanding and enjoyment of things whose absence impoverishes many lives: such things as aesthetic experience, communication with many different kinds of people, lively discussion of current issues, the discerning observation of human behavior, and intellectual zest. In these and other ways the study of philosophy contributes immeasurably in both academic and other pursuits.

 

Werner Erhard and Associates v. Christopher Co...
Werner Erhard and Associates v. Christopher Cox for Congress (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I would like to engage you in a conversation, a sort of interactive sermon. I’ll begin by asking you to respond to a few quotations. Something like this read from a printed book:

Assertion: Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.

Question: Why?

Answer: The Lord thy God is a jealous God.

No, not like that. That comes from my childhood memories of the Lutheran Church. The catechism had all the answers in a scripted text where even the questions were closed. So, today, unlike the old fashioned readings where the congregation’s responses are written down to be recited in unison, I’ll ask for individual responses, extemporaneous responses. I have every reason to believe that this approach will prove fruitful with a thoughtful group of Unitarians.

 

All men by nature desire to know… It is owing to their wonder that men both now begin and at first began to philosophize.

-Aristotle

In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.

Bertrand Arthur William Russell

 

Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.
– William James

 

Belief means not wanting to know what is true.
Nietzsche

All our dignity lies in thought. Let us strive, then, to think well.

-Blaise Pascal

I am uneasy to think I approve of one object, and disapprove of another; call one thing beautiful, and another deformed; decide concerning truth and falsehood, reason and folly, without knowing upon what principles I proceed.

-David Hume

Philosophic study means the habit of always seeing an alternative.

-William James

Philosophy recovers itself when it ceases to be a device for dealing with the problems of philosophers and becomes a method, cultivated by philosophers, for dealing with the problems of men. -John Dewey

 

What is the use of studying philosophy if all that it does for you is to enable you to talk with some plausibility about some abstruse questions of logic, etc., and if it does not improve your thinking about the important questions of everyday life…?

-Ludwig Wittgenstein

It is absolutely correct and proper to say that ‘You can’t do anything with philosophy.’…granted that we cannot anything with philosophy, might not philosophy, if we concern ourselves with it, do something with us?

-Martin Heidegger

There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.

-Albert Camus

Philosophy ought to question the basic assumptions of the age. Thinking through, critically and carefully, what most people take for granted is, I believe, the chief task of philosophy and it is this task that makes philosophy a worthwhile activity.

-Peter Singer

To teach how to live without certainty and yet without being paralysed by hesitation is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can do for those who study it.

-Bertrand Russell

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Review from NYRB

Illustration of a "duckrabbit", disc...
Illustration of a “duckrabbit”, discussed in the Philosophical Investigations, section XI, part II (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius

by Ray Monk
Free Press, 654 pp., $29.95

This is a wholly admirable biography. It is not easy to combine a continuous and intelligible story of a man’s life with a succinct account of his changing philosophical doctrines. Ray Monk succeeds both with the life and with the doctrines and he is the first person to make entirely clear the substantial interaction between them. He reports that he has had the full cooperation of Wittgenstein’s literary executors and he quotes freely from the more intimate and unphilosophical parts of Wittgenstein’s unpublished manuscripts. It is an odd fact about Wittgenstein that his peculiar nature as a person, and his true ambitions as a philosopher, have only been gradually revealed to an inquiring public, who for many years were provoked to ever-increasing curiosity by the mysteries and rumors surrounding his reputation, mysteries that even extended to the name itself. The step-by-step unraveling of the mysteries over the years has certainly contributed to his fame and perhaps also to the continuing enchantments of his philosophy.

More here.

SS: science and philosophy

The Nature of Philosophical Problems: Their Causes and Implications

John Kekes, The Nature of Philosophical Problems: Their Causes and Implications, Oxford University Press, 2014, 238pp., $55.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198712756.

Reviewed by Robert Almeder, Georgia State University

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Ludwig Wittgenstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The author’s Introduction begins with a quote from Ludwig Wittgenstein:

What is the use of studying philosophy if all it does for you is to enable you to talk with some plausibility about some abstruse questions of logic, etc., and if it does not improve your thinking about the important questions of everyday life. (vii)

Kekes then states that his aim is to explain why basic philosophical problems are perennial, why they are exceptionally difficult, and “why many centuries of hard work by excellent minds has not resulted in a generally acceptable solution of any of them” (vii). He believes that many excellent books and articles trading in ingenious counterexamples are, and have been, written with increasingly technical skill showing why contrary views cannot handle ever more ingenious counterexamples. But, he asserts, that their connection with the basic problems that prompted the highly skillful work “gets lost in the accumulation of increasingly complex detail whose significance only a handful of specialists working on that small segment of the basic problem can understand” (vii).

Kekes seeks further to explain why philosophical problems are, and will forever remain, perennial (i.e., without generally accepted solutions), and to say a little about how we might nevertheless cope with them reasonably in an effort to make our lives better and happier. He affirms also that in the modern world philosophy has changed; it has become an academic specialty. Research in it is a skill, with the sad consequence that philosophy has become increasingly remote from everyday life. Seldom, if ever, does philosophy seem to bear any relevance to basic problems about how to live in our complex and dangerous world.

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Sunday’s Sermon

Plato_knowledge_thumb.jpgSome time ago now I tried an interactive approach to a presentation I gave for the Unitarian fellowship. It took a bit of prodding, but soon the responses started coming and we had a good discussion. I hope we can discuss these ideas here too.

Here are the notes for the presentation:

What is Philosophy good for?

Philosophy is quite unlike any other field. It is unique both in its methods and in the nature and breadth of its subject matter. Philosophy pursues questions in every dimension of human life, and its techniques apply to problems in any field of study or endeavor. No brief definition expresses the richness and variety of philosophy. It may be described in many ways. It is a reasoned pursuit of fundamental truths, a quest for understanding, a study of principles of conduct. It seeks to establish standards of evidence, to provide rational methods of resolving conflicts, and to create techniques for evaluating ideas and arguments. Philosophy develops the capacity to see the world from the perspective of other individuals and other cultures; it enhances one’s ability to perceive the relationships among the various fields of study; and it deepens one’s sense of the meaning and varieties of human experience.

Philosophy is the systematic study of ideas and issues, a reasoned pursuit of fundamental truths, a quest for a comprehensive understanding of the world, a study of principles of conduct, and much more. Every domain of human existence raises questions to which its techniques and theories apply, and its methods may be used in the study of any subject or the pursuit of any vocation. Indeed, philosophy is in a sense inescapable: life confronts every thoughtful person with some philosophical questions, and nearly everyone is often guided by philosophical assumptions, even if unconsciously. One need not be unprepared. To a large extent one can choose how reflective one will be in clarifying and developing one’s philosophical assumptions, and how well prepared one is for the philosophical questions life presents. Philosophical training enhances our problem-solving capacities, our abilities to understand and express ideas, and our persuasive powers. It also develops understanding and enjoyment of things whose absence impoverishes many lives: such things as aesthetic experience, communication with many different kinds of people, lively discussion of current issues, the discerning observation of human behavior, and intellectual zest. In these and other ways the study of philosophy contributes immeasurably in both academic and other pursuits.

Today I would like to engage you in a conversation, a sort of interactive sermon. I’ll begin by asking you to respond to a few quotations. Something like this read from a printed book:

Assertion: Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.

Question: Why?

Answer: The Lord thy God is a jealous God.

No, not like that. That comes from my childhood memories of the Lutheran Church. (I remember asking the pastor what God could possibly be jealous of, and he responded “Just read the response; don’t ask questions!”)  The catechism had all the answers in a scripted text where even the questions were closed. So, today, unlike the old fashioned readings where the congregation’s responses are written down to be recited in unison, I’ll ask for individual responses, extemporaneous responses. I have every reason to believe that this approach will prove fruitful with a thoughtful group of Unitarians.

Continue reading