22 Comments

  1. “Should We Cancel Aristotle?” A NYT op/Ed page guest essay from July 2020 (sorry if you have trouble accessing it) by Agnes Callard, University of Chicago Philosophy Professor.

  2. Is it fair to give philosophy credit for all that? Sure, why not? If it’s fair to give “science” credit for every single piece of human technology, then it seems fair to give philosophy credit for every societal development.

  3. I think of philosophy as considering issues beyond basic survival, so I’ll accept that conceptual thinking is a pre-cursor to actually making cool stuff, plus figuring out whether the cool stuff is actually beneficial. Like, basis of human civilization, dude.

  4. And yet another pontificator shows how woke they are with an attack on rich, white men. Because we all KNOW they’re bad. As a (not rich) white man with a progressive mindset, it’s rather annoying to be vilified by movements I support.

    If philosophy is thinking about the fundamentals of things, it has a relationship to things good and bad. But that’s like saying that Italian is fascist language because fascists spoke Italian. An interesting question, though, is at what point something stops being “philosophy” and becomes something else. Thinking about what is human nature, that’s philosophy. Having slaves because some people deserve to be slaves, maybe that’s something else? Or is it?

    And, to be pedantic, what the guy calls “science” used to be called “natural philosophy.”

  5. Modern democracy is certainly sourced from Locke and the European Enlightenment, so they have that one.

  6. “Is it fair to give “philosophy” credit for all this? ”

    Of course. If not philosophy, than what?

    Okay. The first six panels definitely. Panels 7 is too existential and philosophy does the examination of them but not the existence of them and panel 8 is too vague.

    We can “blame” philosophy for nationalism. And for justifying existing racism and slavery (panel 7 existentialism again).

    But “blaming” philosophy seems a bit heavy handed as its only a bad branch of weak philosophy that justifies post hoc bad ideas.

  7. “Success has a thousand fathers. Failure is an orphan.” — well known business maxim.

    Philosophers have had some good ideas. And some bad ideas. I note the cartoon philosopher only lists what they consider good ones.

  8. It seems weird to treat philosophy and science (or really, technology) as opposites. Like saying we don’t need economics, only commerce.

  9. woozy: Not all bad concepts are post hoc justification of existing ideas. Why not blame philosophy for the cultural revolution, or imperialism and “white man’s burden”?

  10. MJSR says: It seems weird to treat philosophy and science (or really, technology) as opposites

    Indeed (as SingaporeBill reminds us) “natural philosophy” was a term for what later we started calling “science”.

  11. It’s fundamentally backwards to try and credit philosophy for “coming up” with some concept; philosophy tries to understand, classify, and otherwise examine existing things. A perfect example I think is the study of grammar, or more generally, linguistics. It does not create or even in any meaningful way improve or modify language. Yet the early grammar texts were a great achievement in classifying, categorizing, and understanding language.
    Reading Christakis’ Blue Print, I would argue most if not all the things listed in the comic exist, just like language, as a result of humanity’s social networking.
    The fallacy here, and shame on the philosopher for falling into it, is to accept the framing that any study must be for producing something — really, that is a very small sub-domain of natural philosophy called engineering. Philosophy has evolved and grown in the 2 or 3 thousand years we’ve been messing with it; take mathematics: most mathematicians are absolutely not interested in doing something with real world applications — some of them go out of their way to try and deal with esoteric, abstract concepts that can have no possible practical, “real world” applications, and yet, inevitably, some physicist comes along and realizes that the techniques that have been discovered for this esoteric exercise actually mesh really well with this real world problem physicists have been trying to solve, and they appropriate the beautiful, pure math to make it describe and predict some real world thing….

  12. I read the philosopher as getting increasingly frustrated and having a hard time coming up with good responses.

    The philosophy v. science debate is about as useful as religion (or sorcery) v. science as portrayed in popular culture.

    Now, on the other hand I suppose school boards can be forced to chose one discipline over another when funding is cut, but that would be a different debate for a comic to cover. 🙂

  13. It is said that if you go to any Wikipedia page, click the first link that isn’t in italics or between parentheses, and keep doing that with each new page, you will eventually reach the Philosophy page. I’ve tried it a few times and it has always worked. So I suppose there’s some justification for the claim.

  14. Wow! It works! I started with the (English) Wikipedia page on the Norwegian show Okkupert, and after 12 links I ended up on Philosophy. Interestingly, I got to the Science page after 5 links…

  15. Works for penguins… But it’s reasonable. The standard page is “X is a Y” where Y is a broader generalization. This will lead eventually the highest classification which leads the the classifications of a specific discipline which leads to areas of knowlege which leads to the arts and sciences which lead to knowledge and epistemology in general, and philosophy.

    Krazy Kat:
    American (newspaper comic strip):
    (United States is a country) primarily located:
    sub-anchor: Contigenous United States– Alaska:
    U.S. State (hmmm… will this be a loop?):
    United States:

    hah…. an exception! (And I really wasn’t looking for one).

  16. I tried two cases, and neither of them worked for me. Although I did get to very general concepts, so I can see how this would usually work.

    In one case, I got to a very small cycle: “language” “spoken language”

  17. Some advice for that philosopher: “Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level, then beat you with experience.”

  18. You’re supposed to ignore italicized and parenthesized links. So the first to click in “language” should be “sign”, I believe.

  19. If you define philosophy as the study of big ideas about how to live, then yes, you’d have to include Nazism and the inquisition as products of philosophy. Thinking gets us into, and out of, trouble as a species.

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