Philosophy Thread: What?

edited March 2017 in General
General Philosophy Thread
Death to the Analytic School
Long Live Post-Structuralism
What's an East I Only Know West
Excellent resources for getting started with philosophy (assembled by yours truly and appropriately fallible):

The golden standard for access points into philosophy, written by my favorite writer of all time. Inspiration for the more famous, more bias, longer, less accessible and overall poorer history of western philosophy by Bertrand Russel.

A politicized reading of various philosophers that gives a great introduction to how philosophy is carried out in the field of cultural studies and bridges thousands of years old ideas to issues and questions fully relevant today. Rick Roderick is a bit of an idiot but he is by far the most interesting lecturer I've come across online.

Incredible project of a podcast attempting to render every important idea and every important thinker legible to the layman, proceeding in chronological order and as of yet unfinished. Absolutely invaluable coverage of the presocratics.

As much as I don't like listening to British accents tell me what to think, and as much as I dislike both the premise and the execution of The School of Life's philosophy videos, they're pretty great ways to familiarize yourself with a lot of thinkers fast, and as long as you are willing append and revise the lessons they're both applicable and enjoyable.

Classic first work of philosophy one should read. Explains important early ideas and implicitly contains themes that have shaped philosophy forever. An excellent first "primary work" to dive into without any pedantic terminology and presuming no prior reading (because at the time, there essentially was none). It can easily be read in a night and just might change ya life.
Banned Words: Pretentious, Pseudointellectual, Edgy
What experience do you have with Philosophy?
What have you read that you wanna talk about?
What are you reading right now?
What ideas have been floating around in that big old brain of yours?


  • edited March 2017
    I'm attempting a minor in philosophy right now, but the majority of the courses my school offers under the PHIL prefix needed to get the minor are in analytic shit or history of Philosophy, which I'm respectively uninterested in and already pretty knowledgeable about. The courses I want to take are all technically Cultural Studies :( I might drop the minor because of this and as a free prize graduate a semester early. We'll see.
  • Currently "reading" a thousand plateaus by Deleuze and Guattari with a group of my friends. We're all in far over our heads but it's tons of fun to dive into a work you're vastly unqualified for imo, makes ya a stronger reader.
  • edited March 2017
    very excited for this thread don't let me down ahote
  • so, an ethics class i took last year basically reoriented my whole view on life in that i became a hard determinist (everything is determined & we do not have free will). i've become a lot more forgiving and tolerant as a result.

    what are your guys' thoughts on free will? curious to hear.
  • I think I'm more of a compatibilist a la Dan Dennett, but I'm vastly underfamiliar with the topic to have a strong stance about it.
  • I've found the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy very useful for my readings on philosophy, particularly medieval philosophy.
  • I converted the Rick Roderick playlist to mp3, let me know if you want it planted.
  • edited March 2017
    experience with philosophy feels hard to quantify. i'd say it was mythology and structural writing that led me to philosophy. I'm a structuralists. but i think my zine (especially my cover-art) is an exercise in post-structuralism. I believe that the patterns of language, spoken and written, identify underlying elements common to the human experience and that these patterns are told through mythology < < < this is not full truth but I lack the language to put it in order to outsiders >>>>. (because some ideas are so rarified only the creation of a story around it can bring it to full comprehension)

    i read for patterns - philosophy is a tool that helps me explore those certain patterns and i expand and apply this ideology to content structure, grammar, rhetotical devices, most things. If i can construct it, I can deconstruct. If i can deconstruct it, I can reconstruct something new from it.

    I'm not heavily in philosophy 101. As far as the greeks go -I know some things- but I've enjoyed the reflection of those "things" in 20th century philosophers. and Joseph Campbell, and Alan Watts. (I took an ethics class in college and I debated so slightly with a class assigned partner who wanted to be high all the time).

    I've studied Western theology through the lens of mythos and comparative lit. And I enjoy Eastern philosophy the most.

    I'm currently reading "Publishing as Artistic Practice" by Sternberg Press (collection of essays)
    and i really enjoyed reading "What I Talk about When I talk about Running" by Murakami and Raymond Queneau's "Exercise in Style"

    Writing and storytelling are what I care about the most. I wouldn't care about philosophy if I were inept in comprehending its influence and reflection in written works.
  • love philosophy. maybe i'll try to dive into german idealism this year.
  • @geogadd1 I've got my own feelings about free will that I haven't been able to place within a mainstream category yet. I accept the (in my opinion essentially infallible) arguments in favor of determinism, but it runs contrary to the thing I experience literally every single moment of my conscious life which is something like free will. I can't bring myself to reject the constant undercurrent of my every experience as an illusion just because some premises and a few if this then thats.

    My theory is that there is that reality is something far more complex than the dichotomy of free will and determinism, and that question probably only has validity given our current norms of discourse and power.

    @yama yeah stanford encyclopedia is the bomb. Let me know what you think of those Rick Roderick Lectures, and if you like them be sure to check out the other two series he has on youtube (Self under Siege and Nietzsche and the Postmodern condition) they're equally intense.

    @demicat by all means use the language you would use conversing with outsiders! I'm relatively knowledgeable about structuralist discourse. What 20th century philosophers are you into who have interpreted the Greeks? That's a favorite subject of mine as well..
  • @shooty regarding free will, yes I also believe it's a radically complex idea that is beyond my comprehension to grasp.
  • Free will and determinism supposedly are in opposition, yet are inextricably intertwined. Don't ask me to explain myself, lol
  • I'm just full of shit mostly.
  • edited March 2017
    @shooty i hear that very much. i mean, i still fully accept that the experience/impression of free will is extremely powerful and cannot be ignored - in fact, i'd go crazy if i didn't feel like my choices are free. but in the end, i pretty much hold that it's "the mind's greatest trick," that free will (in the sense that my choices are not determined causally and that i could have chosen something other than what i did) just doesn't exist.
  • well, I'm thinking Camus and his essay the myth of sisyphus
    (then i thought: "o0o0 what if i'm confusing mythology for philosophy."

    then, "Candide" by Voltaire but I remembered that's 18th century (it's just that my book casing is fancy)

    and Phenomenology - but I was introduced to that through psychology first then worked my way back to philosophy. So another 20th philosopher (Heidegger) - but if had roots in a Greek philosopher - i actually don't know.

    i look forward to learning more!
  • edited March 2017
    Here's what I don't understand about the determinism argument.

    At some level, there are probabilistic quantum events that are not predetermined, correct? Wouldn't those quantum probabilities influence our brains in a way where, in some cases, we choose something else? In that sense, we aren't 100% predetermined to choose the same action in every "replay". There may be some distribution of distinct actions we, in reality, would've taken, due to the random nature of certain composite states within our brains.

    This doesn't imply that we suddenly have libertarian free will, but instead of being bound to perform a single action, I think we would say instead there is a set of possible choices within a given situation, and the choice that we go with is still chosen without our consciously choosing it.
  • edited March 2017
    @demi aww phenomenology is my blind spot, I think I can safely say it's the one big, important branch of philosophy I know absolutely nothing about lol (welllll I kinda know a bit just because of what I know about the cartesian tradition in general and the subject/object distinction, both of which I'm under the impression are somewhat relevant)

    I've read the Myth of Sisyphus! I actually really fuck the notion of Don Juanism and shit about writing fiction, but I'm either too young or otherwise too oddly constituted to feel any existential dread so a lot of Camus feels irrelevant to me.


    yo we all full of shit in the end it's all about taking the most compelling shit.

    @geo well continuing that line of thought, what does it mean the mind is playing a "trick"? Why does the intuition that makes me feel like I have free will have to be subordinate to the intuition that logical == true?

    @yama I've thought about that a lot myself. I think that even if there are non-predetermine events on the constant level, don't those still effect us in ways completely independent of our conscious decisions, making it irrelevant to free will?

    The whole empirical aspect of the question of free will is one of the many reasons I'm suspicious of the question itself. Just because we can construct a dichotomy between free will and not free will doesn't mean that either pertains to existence (see truth vs untruth, male vs female). Even if someone solved the question of free will once and for all, I'd consider it a linguistic discovery above all else.
  • edited March 2017
    @Shootymane "I think that even if there are non-predetermine events on the constant level, don't those still effect us in ways completely independent of our conscious decisions, making it irrelevant to free will?"

    I agree. It's what I was trying to say with my last statement, but you said it more clearly.

    I have a feeling that the question of free will will become more clear as we discover (or describe) more and more about the self. I view the self like an emergent property of the mind, just like the mind is an emergent property of the brain. Some people learn to disable the self-creating feature of the mind, but I don't think it's right to say that it doesn't exist in some manner. Just how and why it arises is a far more interesting question than the question of its ontology, in my opinion.

    I'm sure that's all the bullshit any thinking person can handle from in one sitting.
  • so, two points:

    1) i think there is significant thought against the "quantum" argument against determinism. for one thing, quantum-level physics is intrinsically unpredictable (by the uncertainty principle), but this doesn't mean it's not determined on some level, just that we are unable to measure things on a quantum scale properly. you have to be able to argue that a quantum event in the past could have happened some other way - yet, to me, this seems impossible - there was a causal chain of events leading up to that quantum event that ultimately realized it. then again, it does provide some complication, which leads us to:

    2) even if there is some stochastic nondeterminism in the universe, this has no impact on my conception that we lack free will. say some quantum events in my brain could indeed have gone this way or that - for example, maybe quantum events influenced the dispersion of a certain neurotransmitter in my head a certain way. even then, this affords me no greater free will; my choices might be nondeterministic, but i still have no control over them. for free will to exist, my actions have to be independent of some causal chain of events, and non-deterministic quantum events would still ultimately cause me to make certain choices - the cause would just be variable.
  • edited March 2017
    Free will more like free sleeping pill I-)

    Who wants to talk about capitalism? \m/
  • @geo - could you give an explicative paraphrase/a sum up in laymen terms/an analogy of your two points.

    reads like a motherboard installation. please toss me a bone.
  • sure, although involving quantum events in philosophy is just going to be difficult by its nature. yama's objection was basically that the uncertainty principle in quantum physics holds that we simply cannot predict certain things about very small particles. so the line of thought goes: if we can't predict something, is it really determined? and if it's not determined, then doesn't that open up the possibility that we have free will? my response was:

    1) that unpredictability doesn't mean it's not actually determined on some level that we cannot measure. it may not be physically possible to predict where, say, this electron will be at this moment. but that doesn't mean the electron didn't have a causally determined trajectory.

    2) even if these events were undetermined - that is, an electron that went left could have gone right even under the exact same circumstances - this fact would not afford us any more free will. randomness in how subatomic particles move is beyond our control, so even if those particles are not determined to go this way or that way, my choices are still unavoidable given where they did go. say an electron in my brain goes left but it could have gone right - in either case, my actual ability to choose is not any freer, as i'm helpless to the causal chemical forces in going on in my brain.
  • edited March 2017
    "and if it's not determined, then doesn't that open up the possibility that we have free will?"

    I wasn't trying to make the argument that we don't have free will. Sorry I was so sloppy with my words that it came across that way. I wholeheartedly agree with both points, but especially with your second point.

    I was trying to push back on the line of thinking that were we to repeatedly go back in time and "retry" a specific action, we would always make the exact same decision. I brought up the uncertainty principle in an attempt to demonstrate that we might not always make the same decision in every iteration of the action.

    But yes, even if we don't always make the same decision in each iteration, that doesn't mean we freely made any of those decisions.
  • Maybe I'm misunderstanding that particular contour of the argument for determinism.
  • edited March 2017
    oh, well that's okay, it was still good to explore non-determinism as it might relate to free will. i'm glad you agree!
  • it seems like some ways of understanding philosophy have sucked the human out of it and turn it into numbers.

    that's new to me, and definitely because I've only focused on phenomenlogy and german idealists from the late 18th through the 20th century.
  • i mean, i guess. a lot of modern thought about consciousness is rightly informed by neuroscience, for example, and i certainly don't think it's a bad thing that philosophy is incorporating the advancements of other disciplines. that said, a lot of philosophy has always been about "numbers" - physics and math have been integral part of philosophy since the golden age of greece. there's plenty of humanity left in philosophy; it's a huge, huge field.
  • edited March 2017
    I'd like to hear how you interpreted "The Myth of Sisyphus" @shoots.

    what did you come away thinking about?
  • edited March 2017
    also agree with @geogadd1. i just want to emphasize that much of modern neuroscience operates under the view that brains operate as a computer under the Turing model of computation, at some level.
  • edited September 2018
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