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Old 06-07-2010, 01:43 PM   #61
GeoffC
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by crikey, I'm thick, anyone got a Philosophy for Dummies or an Idiot's Guide to Philosophy ?

I've read Siddartha (copy from MR) ... Bible many decades ago .... plus odds and sods during PD proofing ...
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Old 06-07-2010, 02:01 PM   #62
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by crikey, I'm thick, anyone got a Philosophy for Dummies or an Idiot's Guide to Philosophy ?

I've read Siddartha (copy from MR) ... Bible many decades ago .... plus odds and sods during PD proofing ...
???

And you have so much in your head. Check that link I posted. If you are not understating too much I have books for you. PM

Did you see what a swell thread. It's a creature of Florence.

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Old 06-07-2010, 02:06 PM   #63
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by crikey, I'm thick, anyone got a Philosophy for Dummies or an Idiot's Guide to Philosophy ?

I've read Siddartha (copy from MR) ... Bible many decades ago .... plus odds and sods during PD proofing ...
There was a terrific series on the telly years ago called 'The Great Philosophers'; the host, Bryan Magee, discussed a notable philosopher with a contemporary expert.

There is a book of the dialogues called 'The Great Philosophers' by Bryan Magee which is a very good read - each section can be read quite quickly as it is basically the TV transcript.
Google Books has a preview version if anyone is interested (actually, they have it whether anyone is interested or not, the existence of the Google Book is not dependent on the putative interest of a hypothetical peruser, just to be clear about it).

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Old 06-07-2010, 02:26 PM   #64
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I like very much the screen. It is the metaphor of the impossibility of obtaining a faithful image of reality. BTW about this impossibility there are no privileged chosen to be remembered.

It is a very actual and realistic thought. Reality is so complex that, even in its simplest manifestations, it eludes a representation that is more than limited to a particular and highly simplified abstraction.

It is a central thought for those who are interested in the search for what is this?

There is one of the British Empirist, Hume if I remember correctly, that warns us. If you put on tainted glasses you will see everything green. This very useful thought comes right from the screen.
Hi Beppe, welcome

I agree that we can never see reality directly. But in my opinion, as a daughter of the 20th century informed, among other things, by the Enlightenment (les lumières), is that if we want to understand reality, we have to start with what we can see and feel, build a theory around it, and then confront that theory with facts, preferably through experiment (since facts, as we perceive them, can be untrustworthy). Our perception is incomplete, we must challenge it and put it to the test continuously, but it's our only entrance point to reality.

Plato's conclusion from the same premise, as I understand it, is to drop the perceived reality completely in favor of an imagined higher reality, that cannot be tested or proved. The only proof Plato ever offers is something along the line of "if most men think it is so, then it must be so", or even worse, a proof by analogy.

Of course, Plato didn't have access to our scientific bag of tools. His only tool to understand reality was his mind, and the minds of people around him. This is true of all his contemporaries. But they at least tried to work with their perceptions and build theories around them, although many of these perceptions and theories were incorrect. But not Plato. Facts were too low for his notice. He was above facts, he only dealt with ideals. His conclusions may not be any worse than those of other philosophers of his time, but his approach was all wrong.

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by crikey, I'm thick, anyone got a Philosophy for Dummies or an Idiot's Guide to Philosophy ?

I've read Siddartha (copy from MR) ... Bible many decades ago .... plus odds and sods during PD proofing ...
Hello Geoff, welcome

Good question, I don't know of any "philosophy for dummies" book, but I'm sure there must be one. I have "meditation for dummies" and I found it very useful. Someone mentioned Bertrand Russel's History of Western Philosophy, but I haven't read it.
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Old 06-07-2010, 02:34 PM   #65
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I forgot, here is a link to the text of the allegory of the cave (which I haven't read myself I'm afraid).
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Old 06-07-2010, 02:47 PM   #66
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Although the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, to which Beppe and I linked, is a wonderful ressource, it works best if you already know what you are looking for I think. For a general introduction to philosophy, I would start with the Wikipedia portal. It may not be perfect (this is not from personal observation my nothing is ever perfect, lol), but I think it's a good start and can lead to some high quality links.
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Old 06-07-2010, 03:17 PM   #67
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Of course, Plato didn't have access to our scientific bag of tools. His only tool to understand reality was his mind, and the minds of people around him. This is true of all his contemporaries. But they at least tried to work with their perceptions and build theories around them, although many of these perceptions and theories were incorrect. But not Plato. Facts were too low for his notice. He was above facts, he only dealt with ideals. His conclusions may not be any worse than those of other philosophers of his time, but his approach was all wrong.
But isn't quantum physics showing that science can't pin down reality; and what scientists believe exists has very little relationship to what we perceive?
E.g. the keyboard I'm typing this on is largely nothingness, with only a tiny amount of matter - I don't perceive it that way at all.

Also, Einstein's famous thought experiments seem like a similar process to Plato's ponderings - products of a mind rather than perception.
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Old 06-07-2010, 03:28 PM   #68
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If it hasn't been mentioned yet, I would like to recommend "The Book of Dead Philosophers" by Simon Critchley. It is at once a wonderful historical introduction to philosophy and a splendid meditation on the biggest question of all: How should I live my life, knowing that I will die? I can't recommend it too highly.
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Old 06-07-2010, 03:32 PM   #69
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But isn't quantum physics showing that science can't pin down reality; and what scientists believe exists has very little relationship to what we perceive?
E.g. the keyboard I'm typing this on is largely nothingness, with only a tiny amount of matter - I don't perceive it that way at all.

Also, Einstein's famous thought experiments seem like a similar process to Plato's ponderings - products of a mind rather than perception.
Of course, science needs theories. Facts alone don't tell us anything. But those theories must make sense of facts, not deny them. Quantum physics wasn't invented in ancient Greece, and it's not pure thought either. It was built on the inheritance of theories built on and with facts over centuries. And it was built because somewhere, there was always a tiny little fact that resisted theory, and some people kept trying to make it fit. Not bend it to fit, but build a new theory that would include all the previously accepted facts, plus that tiny rebellious fact.

Many of the findings of science go against our perceptions, but they can always be traced back to experimentally reproduceable facts, and the theories that go with them. Pure theory with no facts may be a beautiful mental construction, but it's useless, and often worse than useless.
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Old 06-07-2010, 03:34 PM   #70
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If it hasn't been mentioned yet, I would like to recommend "The Book of Dead Philosophers" by Simon Critchley. It is at once a wonderful historical introduction to philosophy and a splendid meditation on the biggest question of all: How should I live my life, knowing that I will die? I can't recommend it too highly.
Thank you! I had never heard of that book, I will check it out.
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Old 06-07-2010, 04:23 PM   #71
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Pure theory with no facts may be a beautiful mental construction, but it's useless, and often worse than useless.
Beauty can never be useless imho .
I think what you say about science is, broadly, true - but philosophy is a different matter.
Philosophy can question what science takes on trust.
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Old 06-07-2010, 04:57 PM   #72
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Beauty can never be useless imho .
I think what you say about science is, broadly, true - but philosophy is a different matter.
Philosophy can question what science takes on trust.


Could you explain what you think science takes "on trust"?
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Old 06-07-2010, 05:17 PM   #73
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Could you explain what you think science takes "on trust"?
I'm guessing here but science is built on theories. When a theory is proved wrong then it's discarded and another, hopefully better, theory replaces it. Science can't actually prove a theory to be true but it can prove one false. All the current scientific theories are therefore "trusted" to be true until proved otherwise.

Just my 2c
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Old 06-07-2010, 05:22 PM   #74
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Hi Beppe, welcome

I agree that we can never see reality directly.
directly or indirectly, there is no way we can perceive (describe, represent,...) it completely as it is ever changing and undefinable complex.

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But in my opinion, as a daughter of the 20th century informed, among other things, by the Enlightenment (les lumières), is that if we want to understand reality, we have to start with what we can see and feel, build a theory around it, and then confront that theory with facts, preferably through experiment (since facts, as we perceive them, can be untrustworthy).
What you obtain is just the assessment of some limits of the theory in question. Very little to do with reality

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Our perception is incomplete, we must challenge it and put it to the test continuously, but it's our only entrance point to reality.
that's for sure

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Plato's conclusion from the same premise, as I understand it, is to drop the perceived reality completely in favor of an imagined higher reality, that cannot be tested or proved. The only proof Plato ever offers is something along the line of "if most men think it is so, then it must be so", or even worse, a proof by analogy.
I am not really interested in discussing Plato as such, here and now, but in recognizing the actuality of the screen tale.

Great stuff ! I am so happy! It is a great pleasure for me, adept of Francis Bacon to cross horns with the French school.
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Old 06-07-2010, 05:42 PM   #75
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This got me thinking, maybe I should go for the real thing and read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. From the professional reviews I can see, its philosophical content may be a bit questionable but it's an enjoyable read. Though not everyone agrees on that at Librarything.

Any of you guys read it?
I read it a couple of times. At different ages. There is no philosophical content as such.

It is a Zen story, in a western contest, western images and western language.

But, (and I really don't like to use but that has a negative connotation) it is full of Zen mood if not Zen spirit. I am just a motherless child for what concerns Zen, and it would be advisable to have the word of a certified Zen expert; my intuition is that it is a good Zen story. Very pleasant to read. It would help to know something about motorcycles, which I know.

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