Philosophy's finest definition

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Philosophy's finest definition

Postby BMW-Guy » Mon Aug 09, 2004 7:19 pm

I found this while reading Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico Philosophicus:

4.111 Philosophy is not one of the natural sciences. (The word 'philosophy' must mean
something whose place is above or below the natural sciences, not beside them.)
4.112 Philosophy aims at the logical clarification of thoughts. Philosophy is not a body of
doctrine but an activity. A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations.
Philosophy does not result in 'philosophical propositions', but rather in the clarification of
propositions. Without philosophy thoughts are, as it were, cloudy and indistinct: its task is
to make them clear and to give them sharp boundaries.


I honestly feel this is one of the clearest definitions of what philosophy is that I've ever seen.

anyone care to offer another definition? :wink:
Philosophy aims at the logical clarification of thoughts. Philosophy is not a body of
doctrine but an activity. A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations.
Philosophy does not result in 'philosophical propositions', but rather in the clarification of
propositions. Without philosophy thoughts are, as it were, cloudy and indistinct: its task is
to make them clear and to give them sharp boundaries.
(Tractatus Logico Philosophicus; Wittgenstein)
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Postby tentative » Mon Aug 09, 2004 8:03 pm

Well, given the sloppiness I see in many of the "philisophical" discussions in this forum, I'll be happy to give Wittgenstein the nod. There are other definitions, some by other learned philosophers, but all basically say the same thing: philosophy is a disciplined way of constructing a clear and careful observation of human thought.

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Postby DarkMagus » Mon Aug 09, 2004 11:21 pm

i've always liked that. i don't think i've come across a better definition in the contemporary period.
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Postby Gamer » Tue Aug 10, 2004 3:35 am

IMHO, I think philosophy, at it's best, is reasoning that yields well-reasoned reasons to be, do and think in ways consistent with the natural needs and limitations of sentient beings on Earth. If one were to replace the word philosophy with the word reason, you'd get no complaints from me. I think, also, philosophy can certainly be a noun. One can have a "philosophy" as in a reasoned tractate that yields a certain behavior or belief. And certainly there can be a body of doctrines in this fashion. And certainly the sum total of all "lettings of flies of bottles" can be described as a body of doctrine.
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Postby Impenitent » Tue Aug 10, 2004 4:53 am

please... philosophy, from the greek, love of wisdom...

simple...

now if you want to change the meaning along some word game, that's on you...

-Imp
cogito ergo cogito
sum ergo sum...

Λογοκρισία και σιωπή

What's the difference between a liberal and Al Qaeda?
Oh, you don't know either?

"False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils, except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes....Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." (Thomas Jefferson)

"Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus" -Eco
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Postby hermes the thrice great » Tue Aug 10, 2004 5:15 am

Impenitent wrote:please... philosophy, from the greek, love of wisdom...

simple...

now if you want to change the meaning along some word game, that's on you...

-Imp


Not to get whitelotus on you, but how do you know that the Greeks used philia as we use love and sophia as we use wisdom? Word games are so important as we have to get some idea as to what the original intention was of the labelers. Especially with sophia what kind of wisdom/knowledge are we talking about here? Saber - to know something innately, to know how to do something or Conocer to learn by experience, by being introduced to it. English used to make this difference - to know and to ken, but we no longer use the distinction
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Postby Impenitent » Tue Aug 10, 2004 5:49 am

hermes the thrice great wrote:
Impenitent wrote:please... philosophy, from the greek, love of wisdom...

simple...

now if you want to change the meaning along some word game, that's on you...

-Imp


Not to get whitelotus on you, but how do you know that the Greeks used philia as we use love and sophia as we use wisdom?

[I know nothing, but that's what my professors always told me...]

Word games are so important as we have to get some idea as to what the original intention was of the labelers.

[there is no original text- Nietzsche]

Especially with sophia what kind of wisdom/knowledge are we talking about here? Saber - to know something innately, to know how to do something or Conocer to learn by experience, by being introduced to it. English used to make this difference - to know and to ken, but we no longer use the distinction

[perhaps we should, but it would be futile... not everyone plays the same language game... as I said, if you want to play with the meaning, that's on you...]

-Imp
cogito ergo cogito
sum ergo sum...

Λογοκρισία και σιωπή

What's the difference between a liberal and Al Qaeda?
Oh, you don't know either?

"False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils, except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes....Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." (Thomas Jefferson)

"Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus" -Eco
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Postby hermes the thrice great » Tue Aug 10, 2004 6:00 am

Impenitent wrote:
hermes the thrice great wrote:
Impenitent wrote:please... philosophy, from the greek, love of wisdom...

simple...

now if you want to change the meaning along some word game, that's on you...

-Imp


Not to get whitelotus on you, but how do you know that the Greeks used philia as we use love and sophia as we use wisdom?

[I know nothing, but that's what my professors always told me...]

Word games are so important as we have to get some idea as to what the original intention was of the labelers.

[there is no original text- Nietzsche]

Especially with sophia what kind of wisdom/knowledge are we talking about here? Saber - to know something innately, to know how to do something or Conocer to learn by experience, by being introduced to it. English used to make this difference - to know and to ken, but we no longer use the distinction

[perhaps we should, but it would be futile... not everyone plays the same language game... as I said, if you want to play with the meaning, that's on you...]

-Imp



ohhh no...

1. "I know nothing" is a philosophical cliche, man. I know you know something or you wouldn't have responded to the post
2. I never claimed an original text. However there is a hermeneutic gap between the Attic Greek speakers of c. 400 bc and ourselves. We must try to close that gap to understand this thing philosophy
3.What language game would you like to Play?
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Postby BMW-Guy » Tue Aug 10, 2004 3:19 pm

Good responses. It has been quite some time since I've had a decent philosophical-post here. The primary reason that Wittgenstein's definition caught my attention is/was that, I know too many people who try to tell me that Philosophy is "the pursuit of truth and nothing more than that".

While I agree that truth-pursuing is one of the things that philosophy may be usefull for, I must say that I feel as though much of my philosophizing brings me not truth, but rather, "dead-ends" or things that I already know to be false.

Hence, I feel that philosophy must be more than just the pursuit of that which is only true. Philosophy's purpose is determined by any given individual who decides to use it (philosophy).

For some, philosophy may be a tool to help find truth; but for others it may be tool to merely clarify what is already known to be true. It really all depends. :wink:
Philosophy aims at the logical clarification of thoughts. Philosophy is not a body of
doctrine but an activity. A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations.
Philosophy does not result in 'philosophical propositions', but rather in the clarification of
propositions. Without philosophy thoughts are, as it were, cloudy and indistinct: its task is
to make them clear and to give them sharp boundaries.
(Tractatus Logico Philosophicus; Wittgenstein)
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Postby Gamer » Tue Aug 10, 2004 5:22 pm

I'll buy that BMW guy. Sometimes I think philosophy MIGHT be the only thing satan could think of that would be an effective and subtle enough torture for the wisest among us. The sum total of material brain matter plus temporal brain activities mapped out that constitue "blind faith" is actually the material and temporal body of God, and any attempt to destroy or turn away from this mass of bad faith is an inevitable road to solipsistic hell. God = belief. Ultimate belief = union with God. Philosophy = doubt. Ultimate philosophy = hell. Have a nice day!
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Postby BMW-Guy » Tue Aug 10, 2004 7:51 pm

thanks. :wink:

Okay, anyone else want to contribute a definition to philosophy? :-? :wink:
Philosophy aims at the logical clarification of thoughts. Philosophy is not a body of
doctrine but an activity. A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations.
Philosophy does not result in 'philosophical propositions', but rather in the clarification of
propositions. Without philosophy thoughts are, as it were, cloudy and indistinct: its task is
to make them clear and to give them sharp boundaries.
(Tractatus Logico Philosophicus; Wittgenstein)
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Postby Impenitent » Tue Aug 10, 2004 8:11 pm

hermes the thrice great wrote:
Impenitent wrote:
hermes the thrice great wrote:
Impenitent wrote:please... philosophy, from the greek, love of wisdom...

simple...

now if you want to change the meaning along some word game, that's on you...

-Imp


Not to get whitelotus on you, but how do you know that the Greeks used philia as we use love and sophia as we use wisdom?

[I know nothing, but that's what my professors always told me...]

Word games are so important as we have to get some idea as to what the original intention was of the labelers.

[there is no original text- Nietzsche]

Especially with sophia what kind of wisdom/knowledge are we talking about here? Saber - to know something innately, to know how to do something or Conocer to learn by experience, by being introduced to it. English used to make this difference - to know and to ken, but we no longer use the distinction

[perhaps we should, but it would be futile... not everyone plays the same language game... as I said, if you want to play with the meaning, that's on you...]

-Imp



ohhh no...

1. "I know nothing" is a philosophical cliche, man. I know you know something or you wouldn't have responded to the post
2. I never claimed an original text. However there is a hermeneutic gap between the Attic Greek speakers of c. 400 bc and ourselves. We must try to close that gap to understand this thing philosophy
3.What language game would you like to Play?


1. no, "knowledge" is a loaded term... I don't believe knowledge is possible and not for socratic reasons but humean and nietzschean reasons... besides the fact that justified true beliefs are not justified often and when they are justified they are justified by definition so they don't tell one anything about the world...

2. you did ask about original intent which is impossible to know as the original text remains absent.

3. none, I have no use for language games... they are as futile as metaphysics...

-Imp
cogito ergo cogito
sum ergo sum...

Λογοκρισία και σιωπή

What's the difference between a liberal and Al Qaeda?
Oh, you don't know either?

"False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils, except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes....Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." (Thomas Jefferson)

"Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus" -Eco
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Postby LostGuy » Tue Aug 10, 2004 10:14 pm

Tell me what futility is and why futility is that without getting into Phil of Language or Metaphyisics.
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Postby BMW-Guy » Tue Aug 10, 2004 11:30 pm

LostGuy:

Um, I "lost" (no pun intended) you on that last post their. :-? :wink:
Philosophy aims at the logical clarification of thoughts. Philosophy is not a body of
doctrine but an activity. A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations.
Philosophy does not result in 'philosophical propositions', but rather in the clarification of
propositions. Without philosophy thoughts are, as it were, cloudy and indistinct: its task is
to make them clear and to give them sharp boundaries.
(Tractatus Logico Philosophicus; Wittgenstein)
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Postby Magius » Wed Aug 11, 2004 12:03 am

What the best definition of philosophy is, is unknown to me at present, but one of the best definitions is what one of my university professors thinks is the best definition: "What is A?"

Very often people associate "WHY?" with philosophy. However, truly knowing WHAT an A (variable) is will also disclose WHY it is.

Hermes stated:
1. "I know nothing" is a philosophical cliche, man. I know you know something or you wouldn't have responded to the post


I think that Plato's phrase you mention above is likely the most misunderstood phrase of all philosophical insights in all time. It isn't true that one wouldn't answer your post if they knew nothing. Atleast not if we understand 'KNOW' in terms of Plato's explanation. The phrase is simply suppose to imply a way of dealing with life and knowledge. As soon as you attain, what you think is, knowledge you must at the same time be just as ready to withdraw it as knowledge. Only in this way can you truly be said to be living a virtuous life. You may notice throughout Plato's dialogues that he very often will talk on for pages proving a point, he'll finally prove it, and then say "But whether [enter philosophical point proven] is true or not only the Gods know". In fact, in some parts of his works he is even open to the idea that possibly God doesn't exist.

This "I know nothing" philosophy is incredibly important in life. It leads a person to realize that there are no real absolutes which leads one to live life understanding that life is lead by the best that we have at the moment. Furthermore, it leads people to be incredibly open minded to new ideas. Too often people have emotional responses to the things they learn, they look forward to moments where they will be able to show someone up with their new found knowledge, to show how wise they are. More importantly, people don't see how numerous other beliefs are built upon ALL already existing beliefs in your head. Hence, if you learn something and cling to it for dear life you will soon find that certain conversations make you feel incredibly uncomfortable. You will also find yourself hating people, especially those who don't agree with your viewpoint. Someone who isn't clinging to ANY knowledge they have as absolute has no reason to be emotional at all about someone who disagrees with them. They know that they will think about what was said, and if it should seem that they agree then they will, and if not then they simply won't agree with the other person. But there is no reason to get upset.

Knowledge to Plato was an absolute thing, yet contradictingly, he was ready to drop it all in view of any better argument.

In conclusion, if what I respond to your post I don't consider as absolute, then I can spend my entire life responding to you will also claiming "I know nothing"

What's your take?
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Postby LostGuy » Wed Aug 11, 2004 12:41 am

BMW-Guy:

Oh, I'm just trying to call out the skeptic. To claim "knowledge is impossible," in an unqualified way is to also claim that it is impossilbe to know what knowledge means or what it means to be impossible. Consequently, the statment 'knowledge is impossible' is little more than a grunt.
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Postby Impenitent » Wed Aug 11, 2004 3:23 am

LostGuy wrote:BMW-Guy:

Oh, I'm just trying to call out the skeptic. To claim "knowledge is impossible," in an unqualified way is to also claim that it is impossilbe to know what knowledge means or what it means to be impossible. Consequently, the statment 'knowledge is impossible' is little more than a grunt.


ANY statement is little more than a grunt.

-Imp
cogito ergo cogito
sum ergo sum...

Λογοκρισία και σιωπή

What's the difference between a liberal and Al Qaeda?
Oh, you don't know either?

"False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils, except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes....Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." (Thomas Jefferson)

"Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus" -Eco
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Postby nevskey1 » Wed Aug 11, 2004 3:39 am

BMW Guy, I admire your Wittgenstein quote, but it seems awfuly close to a definition of Epistimology, a bracnch of philosophy, but not the whole thing altogether.

The definition I've been working with for a long time now comes from Bertand Russell's introduction to "A History of Western Philosophy." His definition picks up from 4.111, but goes off in a little different direction. He says:

"Philosophy, as I shall understand the word, is something intermediate between theology and science. Like theology, it consists of speculations on matters as to which definite knowledge has, so far, been unascertainable; nut like science, it appeals to human reason rather than to authority, whether that of tradition or of revelation. All "definite" knowledge - so I should contend - belongs to science; all "dogma" as to what surpasses definite knowledge belongs to theology. But between theology and science there is a No Man's Land, exposed to attack from both sides; this No Man's Land is philosophy."
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Postby BMW-Guy » Wed Aug 11, 2004 1:10 pm

Oh, I'm just trying to call out the skeptic. To claim "knowledge is impossible," in an unqualified way is to also claim that it is impossilbe to know what knowledge means or what it means to be impossible. Consequently, the statment 'knowledge is impossible' is little more than a grunt.


Ahh, now I understand. thanks. :wink:


"Philosophy, as I shall understand the word, is something intermediate between theology and science. Like theology, it consists of speculations on matters as to which definite knowledge has, so far, been unascertainable; nut like science, it appeals to human reason rather than to authority, whether that of tradition or of revelation. All "definite" knowledge - so I should contend - belongs to science; all "dogma" as to what surpasses definite knowledge belongs to theology. But between theology and science there is a No Man's Land, exposed to attack from both sides; this No Man's Land is philosophy."


ooh.....now here's a definition I really like! Very well-stated. Russels definition doesn't seem to be as clear-cut as Wittgenstein's, but it seems to give even a deeper explanation of what philosophy is. :wink:

BTW:
Many of you probably already know the Russell and Wittgenstein knew each other (at least, that is what I've been told). :wink:
Philosophy aims at the logical clarification of thoughts. Philosophy is not a body of
doctrine but an activity. A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations.
Philosophy does not result in 'philosophical propositions', but rather in the clarification of
propositions. Without philosophy thoughts are, as it were, cloudy and indistinct: its task is
to make them clear and to give them sharp boundaries.
(Tractatus Logico Philosophicus; Wittgenstein)
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Postby LostGuy » Wed Aug 11, 2004 10:54 pm

Impenitent wrote:ANY statement is little more than a grunt.

-Imp


I was kinda hopeing you would say that. That statement is also tuatualogically a grunt. Whereas, other statements such at these, are not grunts tuatualically, even if its possilbe that they are grunts in truth.

If you want to convince anyone of that particular grunts, you will have to use non-tuatualogical grunts- although I'm aware that you probably don't accpet the distinction. After all their are few distinctions in grunts, thats the whole point. Although for me, this is where things start to become really untennable. Obviously there is a mechanism for disinguish these two types of grunts, isn't that at least the begining of meaning?
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Postby Impenitent » Wed Aug 11, 2004 11:37 pm

the meaning of grunts...

is it the thing in itself? never...

is it an arbitrary representation? yep...

arbitrary... grunt grunt grunt... the understanding of grunts...

could you translate that please?

which language of grunt? ...

-Imp
cogito ergo cogito
sum ergo sum...

Λογοκρισία και σιωπή

What's the difference between a liberal and Al Qaeda?
Oh, you don't know either?

"False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils, except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes....Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." (Thomas Jefferson)

"Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus" -Eco
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Postby LostGuy » Thu Aug 12, 2004 12:01 am

Hmm, I thinkest that I have peggedth thou wrongly and am pleased in the discovery. Please allow me to beseach your continuted explination.
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Postby Philosophic Caveman » Thu Aug 12, 2004 5:19 am

the statement "Knowledge is impossible" is false if it is true and true if it is false. It a statement of the same sort as the satement "Everything I say is a lie".
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Postby LostGuy » Thu Aug 12, 2004 12:30 pm

Philosophic Caveman wrote:the statement "Knowledge is impossible" is false if it is true and true if it is false. It a statement of the same sort as the satement "Everything I say is a lie".


Close. The statement your thinking of is "This statement is a lie."

"Everything I say is a lie," can be false with no problem, explicity when the speaker has made a least one true statement that is obviously not this one. However, it cannot be true for fairly obvious reasons.

The same goes for "Knowledge is impossible." If its true, it seems to break down language and cause an impossibility in the truth of any statement, but if it is false rather then there is no problem. We can for instance know what the statement means. In fact, if we beleive that we know what the stament says, thats reason enough to beleive it false.
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Re: Philosophy's finest definition

Postby xanderman » Fri Aug 13, 2004 9:07 pm

BMW-Guy wrote:anyone care to offer another definition? :wink:


The quest for the vision of the world's unity in totality.
-paraphrasing William James

A singular vision of the world, the complete world, the whole world, and everything in the world.

As opposed to more specialized fields of inquiry. Most fields of science are interesting only with their little part of the world. Social sciences only focus on social matters. Historians concern themselves with history. etc.

The philosopher looks at the entire world and seeks to find its unity.
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