Why I hate philosophy

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by rpenner, Apr 26, 2012.

  1. rpenner Fully Wired Valued Senior Member

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    Maybe I don't have a problem with philosophy. Maybe it's just because I run into about one poster a year who thinks their "mastery" of philosophy somehow trumps my understanding of logic, math and physics.

    To begin with, the present user tries to distinguish time from whatever it is that clocks measure.
    Except we aren't talking about some clocks in special relativity -- we are talking about all clocks. Specifically, if A and B were in relative motion and each carry a clock both would be correct to say the other's clock is ticking slowly. It is solipsism for A to insist to B that only A's clock is really tracking time. It is solipsism (which I think is an intellectually sterile point of view) in that should A treat A and A's clock alone as real, all other clocks are just wrong instead of there being some great principle at work. The principle of relativity allows us to say A's clock measures A's proper time and B's clock measures B's proper time and comparing the two is comparing apples and oranges when A's clock likes apples precisely as much as B's clock likes oranges.

    Special relativity addresses this also. When A tries to apply the time shown on A's clock to the universe about him, he is talking about a 3-dimensional spatial slice of space-time where everything that exists or happens in that slice exists or happens with a coordinate time matching A's clock. By the principle of relativity, B and B's clock are welcome to slice up space-time as well, but experiment informs us that A's and B's slices of the universe don't mutually agree. Apples and Oranges again.

    The nature of time in relativity is personal, but there is a simple relationship between B's proper time as a function of B's movement as expressed with A's coordinate time and a measure of B's speed with A's clocks and rulers. So some time-like quantities are universally knowable in special relativity, which I believe obliviates further need to argue about whether time is real or not. Proper time for a time-like world-path between events is real, but this is not the intuitive concept of time, but rather an educated concept.

    We go back and forth on the geometry of space time, on the Poincaré transform, on the derivation of length contraction, on the geometry of space-time implied by the universality of light-cones and proper time associated with a segment of a world-line. We discuss presentism versus eternalism, and I argue that trying to say those are the only two possible viewpoints amounts to a fallacy of false dilemma. Finally, the user gets hung up on one particular definition of the shape of a rigid object but can't wrap his head around the notion that shape is concept within the study of geometry and if the geometry of the universe is not Euclidean then that concept of shape as it applies to the universe has to be a concept that robustly works in the geometry of the universe -- a shape defined in terms of proper length and proper angles and not just coordinate length and coordinate angles for one special viewpoint.

    I'm largely at the end of my patience (120 days of pain and sleeping poorly for other reasons) and wonder if I am going at this wrong or if this user is as self-satisfied, parochial and inarticulate as I believe. I don't think I've challenged him to operate beyond the limits of a sophomore philosophy student, even if he does find my high-school algebra to be outside his scope.

    So do I hate philosophy, do I hate just this poster's philosophy or is this poster misusing philosophy? Is it even appropriate to solicit opinions here?

    http://www.physforum.com/index.php?showtopic=39358&view=findpost&p=516233
     
  2. rpenner Fully Wired Valued Senior Member

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    Oops -- I see there is another thread with a similar title -- this is "Why I hate Philosophy -- essentialism and presentism versus relativity"
     
  3. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

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    Denying empirical evidence is beyond the scope of philosophy. If anything, philosophy should work to reconcile itself with advancements in science. Otherwise it is more religion than philosophy.
     
  4. Believe Happy medium Valued Senior Member

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    I always hated the how do you know the world is still there when you close your eyes crap. I wanted to tell my teacher to stand close to me, then close my eyes and slap them in the face and ask them if the world is still there or not ;)
     
  5. Emil Valued Senior Member

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    The word "philosophy" comes from the Greek φιλοσοφία (philosophia), which literally means "love of wisdom"
    Philosophy teaches you a lot, such as the logic ("the philosophical study of valid reasoning")
    For example about paradox.("A paradox is a statement or group of statements that lead to a contradiction or a situation which (if true) defies logic or reason, similar to circular reasoning.")
     
  6. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Maybe you're just frustrated and angry. That's what this thread of yours seems to really be about.

    Sometimes it might, other times it might not. Depends on what you were arguing about, I guess. The technical details of science and math aren't particularly relevant to most philosophical problems, and vice versa.

    Even in the philosophy of science, knowledge of math and physics doesn't mean that somebody will be good at the subject without knowing any philosophy. Nor is it likely that a philospher will be good in the philosophy of science without knowing any science.

    The philosophy of science is one of those interdisciplinary areas of inquiry where productive thinkers will have to have a grasp of more than one area of scholarship.
     
  7. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    rpenner:

    The argument your are having with the poster you mention doesn't seem to me to be a philosophical one, but one about science - specifically, you are having a dispute about special relativity. The poster doesn't seem to understand the subject very well. The fact that he claims to be knowledable about philosophy is a secondary issue.
     
  8. Trooper Secular Sanity Valued Senior Member

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    I hate philosophy, too, the long words and seemingly circular arguments, yuck! This was always one of my favorite quotes.
    However, I must admit that “Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science” by Werner Heisenberg was a good read.

    Well, anyway, I enjoyed this link that you posted.

    http://www.science20.com/theory_just_about_anything/what_geometry_spacetime_—_introduction-89410

    But, RP, just because an observer is not allowed to know of absolute time, does this positively mean that an absolute time cannot exist? :shrug:
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2012
  9. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    I believe that's exactly what it means, Trooper. Since everything in the cosmos IS in motion relative to everything else, there's no stationary point/frame of reference where absolute time could exist.

    And going back to the topic of the thread, I hate it also! A huge part of philosophy is nothing but conjecture, another big part is just wishful thinking, and another slice is produced by people that are just like politicians - they love to hear the sound of their own voice, regardless of what it's saying. In short, philosophy for the FAR greater part is totally useless and a tremendous distraction to actually accomplishing anything!!!!
     
  10. rpenner Fully Wired Valued Senior Member

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    Trooper,
    While in SR, one can envision that there is potentially a master framework and, like Escher's hyperbolic tilings, physics just gets more distorted as ones absolute speed approaches the limit of c (such a postulated master framework is untestable and a violation of parsimony and thus unscientific), in General Relativity it is much harder to conceptualize such a universal master clock, especially with regard to cosmology and black holes. It seems certain that such a master clock would be unable to work with space-time outside of the visible universe or beyond the event horizon. But I lack the math and communication skills to quickly demonstrate that to you.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniform_tilings_in_hyperbolic_plane
    http://euler.slu.edu/escher/index.php/Escher's_Circle_Limit_Exploration
     
  11. Trooper Secular Sanity Valued Senior Member

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    Thanks, guys.

    I don’t recall which book it was, but I do remember that it was just one little paragraph that finally made it click. You want to hear something dumb. I don’t know why, but it really bothered me, and it even made me a little sad. It was a rather eerie feeling, I suppose. I looked in the phone book for a Relativity Therapist - no such luck. ;)
    I think we all start out feeling this way, don’t you?
     
  12. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    The long words in philosophy serve the same role as the long words in science - they have concise, technical meanings and provide a useful shortcut when you want to talk about something complicated. Every technical field has its own jargon and philosophy is no exception.

    As for circular arguments, philosophers are among the people most finely attuned to such things. Philosophy is, above all, a logical exercise.

    On the contrary, philosophy underpins virtually every other academic study, including science.

    Also, I think you'd be hard pressed to argue that subjects such as moral philosophy are totally useless.
     
  13. Trooper Secular Sanity Valued Senior Member

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    Ya, you’re right. Perhaps, I find it so annoying because what comes to mind are people like William Lane Craig.

    Do you agree here with Pandaemoni, James?
    http://www.sciforums.com/showpost.php?p=2484645&postcount=20
    Oh crap! I have to say it again, don’t I? You’re right.

    I watched all the episodes, followed all the discussions, and learned quite a bit about myself.

    http://www.justiceharvard.org/
     
  14. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    OK, I'll buy into moral philosophy as an exception to my objections. And you should also keep in mind that I'm talking about MODERN philosophy - AFTER science split off from it long ago.
     
  15. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    There are also a lot of philosophical questions that are very relevant to science, Just a few:

    • How do we know something is true?
    • What is knowledge?
    • What makes something science?
     
  16. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    Pardon my having to point this out to you - but we do NOT need philosophy in order to address ANY of those questions.

    1. We determine if something is true by repeatedly testing it to see if it can be falsified;

    2. Knowledge, in simple yet accurate terms.is nothing more than the accumulation of data that we eventually come to label "facts." Where could modern philosophy possibly have a place in that? The scientific method fits that role and does the job VERY well.

    3. Seriously, do I really need to define science for you????
     
  17. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    1. Falsification as as a criterion for a scientific theory is a philosophical idea - in this case introduced by the philosopher Karl Popper.

    2. Do you really think that knowledge is just a collection of facts? Where does Einstein's theory of relativity sit under that definition? What about photons of light? What about electric fields? What makes something a fact, anyway?

    3. I'd love to see you try to define science without some kind of philosophical assumptions underpinning your definition.
     
  18. keith1 Guest


    "...Traveling sophists or "wise men" were important in Classical Greece,
    often earning money as teachers, whereas philosophers are "lovers of
    wisdom" and not professionals..."

    Courtesy: Wikipedia

    Which of the following are examples of Philosophy?:

    "...We will approach the study of trees only on Saturday, as was handed down by the elders to do so..."
    "...Trees remind us how insignificant we are in the universe..."
    "...Trees pass electrical signals in flowing water through their cores, like antennae, communicating with other trees, and as signals for space-bound seeds..."
     
  19. Trooper Secular Sanity Valued Senior Member

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    Oh well, you're in good company, Read.

    Has Physics Made Philosophy and Religion Obsolete?

     
  20. Ripley Valued Senior Member

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    Academia and especially the scientifically minded simply demolish philosophy primarily by categorizing every fucking nut and bolt—and screw you too. Lol.
     

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