First define...
September 6, 2005 7:01 PM   Subscribe

Ask a philosopher.
posted by tellurian (32 comments total)
Kiernon asked:
Could a robot suffer From emergent depression?
Who knows? Which robot are you talking about. Please include a circuit diagram.
Shaun Williamson

posted by tellurian at 7:02 PM on September 6, 2005

The guys responding to these letters are almost as dumb as the guys writing them
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 7:08 PM on September 6, 2005

Or you could ask Earl. Or Mr. Ping. I hear they're nice.
posted by selfnoise at 7:09 PM on September 6, 2005

Kiernon asked:
Could a robot suffer From emergent depression?
Who knows? Which robot are you talking about. Please include a circuit diagram.
Shaun Williamson

posted by The Jesse Helms at 7:10 PM on September 6, 2005

Philosophy: "the systematic abuse of terms which were formed and defined for that very purpose" - Wolfgang Pauli
posted by fleetmouse at 8:04 PM on September 6, 2005

Wow, tough crowd here today. I found the site both informative and entertaining (mind you, I read some of them).
posted by tellurian at 9:08 PM on September 6, 2005

I kinda like the sitenow that I know it's there. (Thanks.) I also think I could do something very similar: I'd want to call it something like 'Ask the Autodidact (and wonder why your "formal" education that cost the taxpayers and/or your personal care-givers so much money did not teach you the answer already, or teach you how to find the answer in a better way than asking some strange geek on the Internet).'
posted by davy at 9:15 PM on September 6, 2005

psedo, care do explain your position?

I find them quite droll. (Except Nuno Hipolito, he's not even trying.)

These are priceless:
"Hey, no problem. In 10-20 years, you may get some answers, if you have a couple of PhDs under your belt."

"I think there is some confusion is your words. You can't be a pacifist and defend military action because "it would be quick". That's hypocritical. It would be like being against hunting, unless the birds didn't feel anything and died quickly. It's still shooting birds with a gun and seeing them explode."

On preview:
Don't feel bad Tellurian. For what it's worth, I liked it.
posted by oddman at 9:15 PM on September 6, 2005

"I kinda like the sitenow"

Bad space bar, bad!
posted by davy at 9:20 PM on September 6, 2005

what you'd expect: smug, cocksure and dull.
posted by ori at 9:32 PM on September 6, 2005

"what you'd expect: smug, cocksure and dull."

I know I am but what are you?

(Yeah, I been drinkin' again.)
posted by davy at 10:01 PM on September 6, 2005

"life without exams?" could merielle mean to ask if the unexamined life is worth living? Or did I just fall for a humor site that is not very funny?
Please pass the bottle, davy
posted by Cranberry at 10:17 PM on September 6, 2005

I liked it. Thanks! Anyway, what do you expect when you ask a philosopher - answers?
posted by carter at 10:17 PM on September 6, 2005

oddman> This comment is indicative of the depth of analysis the responding "philosophers" bring to the table:

"Having said all the above I must confess that I am only really interested in 20th Century philosophy and when I was at university I found it irritating that so much of the course was devoted to people like Kant etc..[sic]"

-Shaun Williamson

Ignoring the fact that this bespeaks an arrogance found only in the lower hells of Anglo-American analytic philosophy, the fucking idiot is by his own admission unable to see how important Kant's framing of the questions of epistemology and metaphysics are in philosophy, even Anglo-American analytic philosophy.

These people are undeservingly smug.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 10:19 PM on September 6, 2005

Aw, c'mon: This is gold:
(12) Rebecca asked:I need to buy a camera; which would you recommend out of a Fujifilm s5500[...] or a Nikon D70

Shaun Williamson:This is a website for asking questions about philosophy not photography but since I am interested in photography I will try to answer your question.
posted by birdsquared at 10:40 PM on September 6, 2005

I believe very deeply in the aim of making philosophy relevant and accessible to the general public, but I have to say that this website is a recipe for madness for its misguided philosophical hosts. It's like a pianist rolling his piano onto the sidewalk and inviting the public to put random dots on staff paper for him (or her) to play. Rather than cultivating real curiousity and interest, which surely exists on the web, it stands as a side of beef in a dark wilderness attracting semi-intellectual hyenas who will gnaw and tear until there is nothing left but a wire hanging from a tree, a chilly breeze and the sound of crickets. But then maybe not.
posted by Como Gomez at 10:48 PM on September 6, 2005

p.s. On the wesite Jugen's flip response to the sincere person's inquiry regarding the death of the great philosopher Aristotle reveals his weakening mental condition...the hyenas are breaking his spirit...

For that dear sincere inquirer, the great philosopher Aristotle died like all true philosophers do: he wrapped his Porsche around a telephone pole.
posted by Como Gomez at 11:01 PM on September 6, 2005

hey, I'm a philosopher! (phd candidate) Anyone want to ask me a question?? I'd guess not.

Philosophers are the kind of people who think the best way to really understand something is to work it out for yourself. So that must be why they don't give straight answers right?
posted by leibniz at 1:49 AM on September 7, 2005

"There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable... There is another theory which states that this has already happened."
-Douglas Adams
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:06 AM on September 7, 2005

I had Philosophy professor in college who made it a fun and interesting subject. This guy isn't him.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:52 AM on September 7, 2005

3. Is a life with no exams worth living?
3) Absolutely not.

He just pooped on one of my favorite philosophies, epicureanism, and therefore lost about 73 respectons. Our bodies make up a lot more of our mass and volume than our brains do, after all.
posted by Citizen Premier at 4:24 AM on September 7, 2005

"Darwin was a scientist not a philosopher so his ideas have no relevance to philosophy"

posted by Citizen Premier at 4:28 AM on September 7, 2005

My question:

"If human behavior and the basis for human desires could be explained in an evolutionary context, would you be out of a job?"
posted by Citizen Premier at 4:30 AM on September 7, 2005

psuedo, well sure that was a stupid answer (a lot of them are) but there were other answers to that question that were pretty good. The answers from Steven Ravett Brown and Jurgen Lawrenz were nicely done (I even thought Hipolito's was ok.)

I mean, if you can't stomach some bad thinking to get some decent (not great) ideas than philosophy just isn't for you.
Citizen, Williamson's answer (which you quote) was meant to express the idea that philosophy and science are different disciplines. You wouldn't go to a chemist if you had a problem mathematics would you? Why then would you ask a biologist about philosophy? If political theorists decide that government X is really the best kind of government, I do not think that said decision would have a relevant impact on any on-going problems in meteorology.

What makes you think that explaining human behavior and the basis for human desires is the goal of philosophy? Assuming science could do so, how would this resolve problems in ethical theory (why we do what we do does not, I don't think, suggest an answer to what we should do)? How would it resolve problems in metaphysics, in philosophy of science, in knowledge theory? How would it resolve the problems associated with the assumptions inherent in science?
posted by oddman at 5:44 AM on September 7, 2005

C_P, he's not alone in the rejection of Darwin's 'taint'. It's not at all clear that natural selection (which may be one of the fundamental principles of the universe that guides the evolution of all systems, not just biological ones) has any real relevance to philosophy in general. Just goes to show you how worthless philosophy really is.

The site isn't that entertaining but hey, most sites aren't.
posted by nixerman at 6:29 AM on September 7, 2005

Well I can't understand how someone could be so stupid as to say science and philosophy have no bearing on eachother. That's like saying gravity and car design have nothing to do with eachother.

Most of these guys sound like they're trying to defend their jobs. Way too cocky for my taste. I say fire them all.
posted by Citizen Premier at 6:39 AM on September 7, 2005

oddman> For the most part, the "answers" they provide aren't particularly impressive. Anyone who's taken philosophy past the first year of university and who has a decent reference library at hand can provide the sort of answers they are. I am unimpressed with their responses, I am unimpressed with the questions they chose to respond to, and I am unimpressed by the arrogance of at least one of the respondents.

As for the idea that philosophy is somehow the coprophagy of the intellectual world, I reject that entirely. As someone who takes philosophy seriously, I believe it is just the opposite. If one is willing to put up with bullshit just to reach some "neat" idea, one has no business in the discipline.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 2:05 PM on September 7, 2005

Pseudo, I think we can agree that a philosopher finds the majority of what he reads fairly objectionable (if not outright flawed). We can also agree that it is nevertheless worth reading. You are probably right that my tone was a bit too dismissive earlier but I'm certain you don't mean to imply that it is all good material.

As for the website, I found it amusing. Of course, the answers were shallow. It's a website! Did you expect Nous?

CP, what? No one said they are completely unrelated. (Heck, science as we know it sprang from philosophy. Though, many would argue that they are now at best distantly related. Interestingly I've heard at least one person claim that high level abstract physics is practically indistinguishable from metaphysics.) The claim on the table is that they have disparate interests and goals. The claim is that scientific investigation is unable to answer philosophy's questions. (To pick a random question: Do you think science can prove/disprove the existence of God? If so, explain.) Why is this so objectionable?
posted by oddman at 6:05 PM on September 7, 2005

On the mix of philosophy and science, I'm actually pretty suprised, I think philosophy increasingly relies on science. For instance, Philosophy of Mind, is basically worthless without empirical cognitive science, and neuroscience.

One of the best things I've heard was one guy (don't remember who) saying that the best thing you can do with a philosopher is to put them right smack in another field or area to help other people think about their problems, because one thing you get trained to do in philosophy is to figure out how to take tough questions, break them apart, and attack them.

It's a fun site though... just don't get put off by the random bitchiness of some philosophy professors... it comes with the territory.

I've had a bunch of philosophy professors who were exactly like this. Smart as hell, but really trained in the way of the snark, which was ultimately a shame because it put off kids from philosophy, who were there to learn from them... plus it made them unapproachable as hell (then again I suppose that keeps kids from annoying you with questions....)

I suppose it's part of the process of going through certain phil grad programs, you spend so much time in intellectual dogfight mode, that you can't turn it off. Not that I'm saying that it doesn't make them jackasses...
posted by stratastar at 7:19 PM on September 7, 2005

What I wonder, though, is if Confucious would be allowed to serve on the panel; after all, he doesn't have a degree in philosophy.

What really put me off was that the "philosopher" actually said that Darwin's work had no bearing on philosophy, presumedly because Darwin wasn't an official philosopher. In my opinion, having a degree makes one a philosopher the same way having a license makes one a good driver.

And yeah, science can't disprove anything when no evidence is considered acceptable.
posted by Citizen Premier at 1:02 AM on September 8, 2005

Darwin, by the way, actually made being an atheist easier, and that sure as hell is something to do with philosophy.
posted by Citizen Premier at 1:04 AM on September 8, 2005

Como Gomez, don't you mean Camus?

And leibniz, how you explain all the famous philosophers who've started schools, written books, and lobbied Emperors and Caliphs? Or maybe Confucius, Socrates, Hegel and all those similar loudmouths were not really philosophers, right?
posted by davy at 12:44 PM on September 8, 2005

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