Is Philosophy Made Irrelevant by Science?
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11-11-2010, 10:20 AM
 
Is Philosophy Made Irrelevant by Science?
After browsing through the Determinators vs Free Willies thread, and reading Unbeliever explain so well how everything is really just a chemical reaction etc etc and so free will is an illusion, it hit me.

Is philosophy outside of ethics irrelevant? What does your personal opinion about reality matter if we now can show what reality really is, factually? Empiricism and science don't care about your opinions about what is out there, they simply discover what is actually out there.

Take for example materialism. Whether or not you subscribe to materialism doesn't really matter anymore. It may have been a point of debate in the 18th century, but today we have ultra powerful telescopes and instruments that observe and view the universe. If we ignore human intellectual debate prior to the advent of these instruments, and use the inductive method, we must conclude that the universe is made of only matter and energy. All the candidates for dark matter fit within this category as well.

Existence, as far as we define it to be, can be explained scientifically. 300 years of relentless progress that have delivered us from 35 years of pestilence ridden life to what most of us enjoy today have proven this.

This carries over into practical things as well. Your opinion about evolution or your opinion about climate change (other than a new hypothesis that will be tested) is completely irrelevant. It is what it is.

I know that is a notion that will be rejected by subjectivists and I look forward to what Ghost has to say about this, unless I misunderstand something.

And beyond all of this (and slightly unrelated), anyone's opinion on anything is the result of a certain arrangement of neurons in their brain from reactions to certain stimuli, genetic predispositions, and environmental conditions, so can I ever really say that what I think and believe in are ever truly "me." If I have no free will, then what is the entity defined as "I"? Is it simply this arrangement of atoms? Should anyone really take their opinions seriously since if slightly different environmental conditions had persisted, they could potentially be completely different? Am I making any sense? It is just hard to express in words what I am thinking right now.
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11-11-2010, 11:44 AM
RE: Is Philosophy Made Irrelevant by Science?
(11-11-2010 10:20 AM)TruthAddict Wrote:  Is philosophy outside of ethics irrelevant? What does your personal opinion about reality matter if we now can show what reality really is, factually? Empiricism and science don't care about your opinions about what is out there, they simply discover what is actually out there.

Well, that's the thing; when you get right down to it, science is philosophy. Science is simply applied empirical skepticism. Empiricism and skepticism are both schools of philosophy.

Quote:Take for example materialism. Whether or not you subscribe to materialism doesn't really matter anymore. It may have been a point of debate in the 18th century, but today we have ultra powerful telescopes and instruments that observe and view the universe. If we ignore human intellectual debate prior to the advent of these instruments, and use the inductive method, we must conclude that the universe is made of only matter and energy. All the candidates for dark matter fit within this category as well.

Existence, as far as we define it to be, can be explained scientifically. 300 years of relentless progress that have delivered us from 35 years of pestilence ridden life to what most of us enjoy today have proven this.

This carries over into practical things as well. Your opinion about evolution or your opinion about climate change (other than a new hypothesis that will be tested) is completely irrelevant. It is what it is.

I think what you're actually asking here is whether or not the questions raised by philosophies opposed to empiricism have been totally addressed. The answer is "no", but since empiricism is the only philosophy that demonstrably works, we use it as a standard to judge the other philosophies. While they have not been strictly disproven, they fail to meet the standards required by empiricism. They have no case as of yet, and likely won't build one in future, but it's not impossible, so they're not entirely irrelevant.

Quote:And beyond all of this (and slightly unrelated), anyone's opinion on anything is the result of a certain arrangement of neurons in their brain from reactions to certain stimuli, genetic predispositions, and environmental conditions, so can I ever really say that what I think and believe in are ever truly "me."

Why not?

Quote:If I have no free will, then what is the entity defined as "I"? Is it simply this arrangement of atoms?

The atoms and the interactions taking place between them, yes.

Quote:Should anyone really take their opinions seriously since if slightly different environmental conditions had persisted, they could potentially be completely different?

I don't see why you shouldn't. That's like saying that, if I had been born as Elvis Presley rather than Ryan V., I might be a different person, so I shouldn't take what Ryan V. says seriously since he could have been Elvis instead.

"Sometimes it is better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness."
- Terry Pratchett
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12-11-2010, 12:00 AM
RE: Is Philosophy Made Irrelevant by Science?
philosophy (fɪˈlɒsəfɪ)

— n , pl -phies
1. the academic discipline concerned with making explicit the nature and significance of ordinary and scientific beliefs and investigating the intelligibility of concepts by means of rational argument concerning their presuppositions, implications, and interrelationships; in particular, the rational investigation of the nature and structure of reality (metaphysics), the resources and limits of knowledge (epistemology), the principles and import of moral judgment (ethics), and the relationship between language and reality (semantics)
2. the particular doctrines relating to these issues of some specific individual or school: the philosophy of Descartes
3. the critical study of the basic principles and concepts of a discipline: the philosophy of law
4. archaic , literary or the investigation of natural phenomena, esp alchemy, astrology, and astronomy
5. any system of belief, values, or tenets
6. a personal outlook or viewpoint
7. serenity of temper

[C13: from Old French filosofie, from Latin philosophia, from Greek, from philosophos lover of wisdom]

Philosophy has enough variety in its definitions to mean several things. I don't take the concept of philosophy seriously and haven't for many years. It has always seemed to me to be too open to interpretation to be reliable as a tool of true understanding.
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18-08-2011, 12:00 PM
RE: Is Philosophy Made Irrelevant by Science?
I just stumbeld on this post and I find it quite interesting. After all I come to this end:
There are 2 Possible answers. Both lead to the point that philosophy isn't irrelevant:
1. We HAVE a free will. That makes philosophy an extremly important point for using our free will in a logical way.
2. We DON'T have a free will, cause lifes all about destinity and contingency. Then we won't really have a choice, philosophy exists and is part of our world.
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18-08-2011, 12:16 PM
 
RE: Is Philosophy Made Irrelevant by Science?
A word of caution against too much cockiness on the Science field (I am a scientist, so I can say these things):

Think about it. We humans live on a planet orbiting a star that is just one among billions of other stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, which is just one of billions of galaxies in the known universe, which may be just one of billions of universes. Our recorded civilization goes back a few thousand years on this planet which was formed about 4.6 billion years ago, in a universe which is 15 billion years old (give or take a year). And it may be just one of billions of Big Bang - Big Crunch cycles. And we know it, for a fact, that we are equipped to understand everything?!

Admitting the possibility that we may not be able to understand everything does not require us to give up science or the scientific method. It only means that we keep an open mind and do not reject any reasonable suggestion out of hand, just because it lies outside the currently recognized boundaries of science.

On the other hand, as Carl Sagan said: "It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out".

PS. Much of today's established science started out as philosophical speculation -- some of today's philosophical speculation may become established science some day.
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19-08-2011, 06:18 PM
RE: Is Philosophy Made Irrelevant by Science?
(18-08-2011 12:16 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  PS. Much of today's established science started out as philosophical speculation -- some of today's philosophical speculation may become established science some day.

Yeah, that. Philosophy leads science.

I am us and we is me. ... bitches.
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22-08-2011, 05:10 PM (This post was last modified: 22-08-2011 05:13 PM by Peterkin.)
RE: Is Philosophy Made Irrelevant by Science?
Originally, philosophy was the pursuit of all knowledge, speculation, debate and investigation of all natural and human phenomena.

Then knowledge increased in both quantity and complexity beyond the ability of one person to hold it all, and then more and more. So philosophers began to specialize in various branches of knowledge and gradually diverged into the various sciences and sub-sciences, the humanities and their off-shoots, leaving the two least tangible subjects - the working of human and divine minds. But theology didn't want to identify with people like Socrates and Sappho, so it went off on its own. Then, even the human mind was co-opted as fodder for scientific investigation, with psychology and neurology fighting over it.

Then came Edward O. Wilson and Consilience - a method of uniting knowledge from different sciences and humanities, so that we can use it for the solving large problems affecting human populations.
I think only under the umbrella of Philosophy can this convergence take place.

It's not the mean god I have trouble with - it's the people who worship a mean god.
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22-08-2011, 05:29 PM
 
RE: Is Philosophy Made Irrelevant by Science?
(22-08-2011 05:10 PM)Peterkin Wrote:  Then came Edward O. Wilson and Consilience - a method of uniting knowledge from different sciences and humanities

Maybe we have come full circle where the task of ‘taking things apart’ is almost completed and the task of ‘putting it all back together’ has just begun? In my view, any major progress in science will come from synthesis and integration of all we have learned from taking it apart

Richard Feynman (Nobel Laureate, Physics, 1965) said: “The age in which we live is the age in which we are discovering the fundamental laws of nature, and that day will never come again. ..There will be the interest of the connection of one level of phenomena to another”.
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