Saturday, September 30, 2017

Why value Philosophy?

Meditations of a 21st century incarnation of Socrates as composed by Brent Silby

I have been reading this article on the value of the humanities: How The Humanities Can Train Entrepreneurs. The article's author appears to place an instrumental value on the humanities -- they are valuable because they make people better at their jobs. Philosophy is on their list as a subject in the general field they call "humanities". It seems that the love of wisdom is valued because it makes people better at their jobs.

I am clearly foolish in my thinking because I always considered the love of wisdom to be valuable for non-employment reasons; for example, coming to understand the nature of happiness. Still, even if it is valuable because it makes people better at their jobs, it could still have value for other reasons. As an examiner of life, I am compelled to look more closely at the instrumental value of philosophy.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Krauss on Philosophy

Meditations of a 21st century incarnation of Socrates as composed by Brent Silby

Today I watched an interview with a natural philosopher named Lawrence Krauss. These days people prefer the term "scientist", so I will use that term. In fact, he is a physicist.

In the interview he talks about philosophy. He claims that science has "killed" philosophy. I was shocked to hear him make this suggestion. I didn't think the love of wisdom could be killed. I would be certainly worried if science could kill the love of wisdom.

But I think he is actually trying to say is that since philosophy does not involve empirical investigation, it is therefore not relevant to our understanding of the world. He suggests, on the other hand, that because physics involves empirical investigation, and only empirical investigation is able to contribute to our understanding of the world, physics is relevant in a way that philosophy is not.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Extending human life

Meditations of a 21st century incarnation of Socrates as composed by Brent Silby

This short article (read it here) presents arguments in support of life extension. It also presents arguments against. I was intrigued by the arguments supporting life extension—not because of their philosophical brilliance, but because they are based on unconvincing premises. I am a lover of wisdom, but I do not pretend to be wise. So I learn by analyzing the gaps in these arguments.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Challenge accepted thinking

I found the following passage in the article (Challenging accepted thinking):
"The reason behind the achievements of Bohr’s institute is something business schools and students would do well to note. It was not the amount of money that secured success. What made the difference was the belief that accepted thinking must be questioned"

The last sentence in the passage is important to me. This is precisely what I spent my life doing. And I am fortunate to find myself continuing to do the very same thing, just as I had hoped before drinking that cup of poison. I use a method of elenchus to target premises which are poorly supported. In doing so, I question accepted thinking and I do so to test it for truth.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Socialism, Capitalism, is there anything in between?

There is an election campaign underway in New Zealand. People familiar with my history will know my views on democracy. My student, Plato, built on my views and constructed an extensive criticism of the democracy of Athens. Democracy in New Zealand is different, but perhaps still suffers from the same problems I saw in Athens. Much of the campaigning is based on rhetorical tricks of language rather than rationally presented argument. There are some exceptions to this statement, of course. But overall, the person most clever with language wins the popular vote. They are sophists. They make bad arguments look good, and good arguments look bad.