From a discussion on Google+

 

Opening post:

Massimo Pigliucci

28. okt. 2012  –  Offentlig

Philosophy lost its bite, says another physicist who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

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Emil Ole William Kirkegaard29. okt. 2012Rediger+1

Dyson might not know what he is talking about, but the LW article linked in the beginning is right on mark. so is http://www.paulgraham.com/philosophy.html

philosophy really is a diseased discipline. most of it is not very useful aside from intellectual masturbation, much of it is literally nonsense. some of it is interesting.

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Massimo Pigliucci29. okt. 2012

+1

Emil, forgive me, but I think that’s anti-intellectual baloney. You obviously have never read a technical paper in philosophy. cheers.

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Emil Ole William Kirkegaard29. okt. 2012Rediger

+2

You are very wrong. The fact that you think it is “obvious” should make you rethink things.

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Miao Yu, Goh29. okt. 2012

As a current post-graduate student in analytic philosophy, I agree with Emil, and I think you responded to his disagreement very poorly.

Philosophy should only concern itself with questions on which science cannot adjudicate (e.g., “Is it morally acceptable to forcefully take $1 billion from a very wealthy man if it means that millions of African children will receive vaccinations?”), and even then it must take into account realpolitik instead of just placing emphasis on theories that sound nice. (I am sure that many people thought that communism sounded very nice on paper too.) The problem with philosophers, in my own experience, is that many of them confine themselves to their own little circle with no consideration of how the outside world actually works.

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Alexander Kruel29. okt. 2012

+1

+Emil Ole William Kirkegaard If you judge philosophy by its usefulness then what exactly do you mean? What percentage of philosophy would have to be useful and in what sense?

Do you believe that mathematics is also a diseased discipline? If not, then in what sense are most of the 3,000 categories of mathematical writing useful compared to most of philosophy?

Further, what is your definition of “philosophy”? Where do you draw the line? If you call philosophy a diseased discipline then what exactly is lesswrong.com if not philosophy? What exactly are you doing when you talk about what philosophy should do and what should be left to science? Epistemology? Philosophy of science?

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Alexander Kruel29. okt. 2012

+3

And looking at what people associated with lesswrong.com are doing, it rather seems like an offense to accuse academic philosophy of engaging in nonsense and relying on intuition. They do nothing else.

They worry about simulation shutdown, distant superintelligences blackmailing them acausally, post-singularity hells and galactic civilizations.

They talk about how uncomputable methods should guide us yet dismiss their absurd consequences based on intuition. They rely on fundamentally different methods and pretend they are really “approximations”. It’s complete handwaving.

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Matt Perryman29. okt. 2012

+1

+Alexander Kruel exactly that. If they actually engaged with real philosophy instead of writing the whole domain off as “diseased and inferior” (in favor of some bizarre ideas on “rationality” which they accept on the grounds of self-serving justifications, no less) they might not be so ridiculous.

As it stands they’re in a mighty large glass mansion while trying to calculate the best reason to throw stones.

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Emil Ole William Kirkegaard29. okt. 2012Rediger

They (LWians) don’t “write off the whole domain as diseased”. What they are doing is philosophy. Criticism of philosophy from within philosophy is a recurrent theme in the history of philosophy.

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I didn’t think it wud be of much use to respond to Alexander Kruel and others. But ill do it here, just for others who might be interested.

 

Questions 1a+b:

+Emil Ole William Kirkegaard If you judge philosophy by its usefulness then what exactly do you mean? What percentage of philosophy would have to be useful and in what sense?

 

I mean exactly what i wrote. Whatever the goal is aside from mental masturbation, filosofy is not very good at getting to that goal. If one wants to undertstand the world, one is better off reading science than filosofy. Not to say that there is nothing to be gained from reading filosofy, just that the noise-to-signal ratio is much higher in filosofy than in science. If one doesnt know what to look for, just stay with science.

 

i decline to offer any percentages besides that the noise-to-signal ratio shud be much lower. Its difficult to say how low, since whether its worth reading filosofy also depends on other factors, especially how useful the information is that one acquires. It shud be possible to work out some equations for that.

 

 

Questions 2a+b

Do you believe that mathematics is also a diseased discipline? If not, then in what sense are most of the 3,000 categories of mathematical writing useful compared to most of philosophy? 

 

No.

 

Supposing those numbers are true (i have no idea). I didnt say most of them are useful. I dont need to believe that. I only need to believe that they are much more useful than most filosofy, and they are.

 

 

Questions 3a-f

Further, what is your definition of “philosophy”? Where do you draw the line? If you call philosophy a diseased discipline then what exactly is lesswrong.com if not philosophy? What exactly are you doing when you talk about what philosophy should do and what should be left to science? Epistemology? Philosophy of science?

 

a) i dont use any special definition.

 

b) its fuzzy. one cannot draw a line precisely.

 

c) LW is a mixture of filosofy and other stuff, mostly math and science. that filosofy is a diseased disipline is consistent with there being some good in it. i did not state that all filosofy is useless. i explicitly stated that some of it is useful.

 

d-f) dont understand the question(s).

 

 

as for the LW criticism. i dont need to defend them.

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