Talk:Philosophy

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High traffic

On 24 May 2011, Philosophy was mentioned in the mouseover text on xkcd, a high-traffic website. (See visitor traffic)

A motion to revise the lead... and some other things[edit]

This article needs work.

It is rated #1 vital and a "C" in quality. I agree on both counts.

With an M.A. in philosophy and PhD in the works, I am doing my part. (I'm studying ethics, metaethics, philosophy of mind, among others, and doing what I can on those articles and sub-topics.)

When I need to learn something about philosophy, I rarely use Wikipedia. I use Stanford regularly and (in a pinch) the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Wikipedia has notoriously bad philosophy articles. But lots of nonphilosophers use WP.

We can do better. Drawing from books, encyclopedias, and articles from established philosophy journals, those of us who care enough about WP to make it visitable and informative can do so.

Is this about 'philosophy' in its broadest and most historical meaning or 'philosophy' in its varied contemporary meanings? WP is not supposed to be cutting edge, but encyclopedic. So I move that we discuss more of how philosophically has been historically understood (especially in the western philosophy sections) than how (some) moderns understand it.


This article has multiple issues:

1. The opening line says philosophy is the "study of ... problems." Plato, Augustine, Marcus Aurelius, Boethius, Scotus, Kant, Hume, Russell, Moore, etc. were not studying "problems." They took themselves to be studying reality, existence, knowledge, etc. -- the things themselves. Philosophers study their own concepts, study history, but also study "being qua being." 2. The lead calls philosophy a "study" when it might include words like "questioning" "exploring" etc. 3. The first link is to the "reality" article which is, frankly, a not so good article. The ontology article is much more philosophical and less... garbled. 4. In the list of topics is "Values". Value is a loaded word that implies all evaluative concepts are subjective concepts. There is no clear and undisputed definition between facts and values (for instance, "farmer" as a concept includes evaluative content, since someone who claimed to be a farmer but killed all his crops would not be such. See (Foot 2003). Better would be to discuss particular evaluative terms like the good, beauty, excellence, veridicality, etc. 5. The first topical section is epistemology. Why not metaphysics? Why not ethics? Socrates (for instance) was more concerned with the good than he was with knowledge, relatively speaking. This Florida State Philosophy page has metaphysics first as well. 6. There is no discussion of conceptual analysis, which is what Frank Jackson, Robert Brandom and others think philosophy is all about. 7. There is no discussion of metaphilosophy, which is sort of what this article is about. 8. The distinction between historical and topical is very half-heartedly carried out. There is a a ton of historical stubs and only a few topical stubs -- and they are mostly stubs. 9. Ethics and political philosophy fly under the same heading. They should be distinguished (and they need citations). 10. There is no discussion of the relation between (historical) science and (historical) theology. Questions about what is real overlap with scientific questions (are electrons real? quarks?) and theological questions (are miracles real? angels?) -- and these are different from "specialized" fields like philosophy of science and philosophy of religion.

I am trying to work on each of these in time. My goal is to make it noncontroversial (impossible-- how about not too controversial) and clear enough for non-philosopher Wikipedia readers to glean something and keep reading.

Right now, just the new lead. that reads as thus:

"Philosophy is the general study of being, thinking, speaking, and life." With clarification, of course, these broad (and easily understandible) terms can introduce metaphysics, causality, epistemology, logic, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, ethics, politics.

I even prefer this to the current: "In a broad sense, philosophy is an activity people undertake when they seek to understand fundamental truths about themselves, the world in which they live, and their relationships to the world and to each other." (Florida State)

Just a few thoughts. I need comments from editors with M.A. and PhD in philosophy. That's all for now.

CircularReason (talk) 01:32, 9 May 2015 (UTC)

More on the first bullet point above: The opening line says philosophy is the "study of ... problems." This is a bad first sentence.

According to [English Dictionary], philosophers study "the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline." Philosophers indeed study their own concepts, and study history, and "problems" but the traditional definition of philosophy is that we study the fundamental nature of reality and knowledge.

I move to update the lead with a quotation and reference to the Oxford Dictionary. A much better sentence would be this: Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental nature of reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind and language.[1][2][3]

All opposed? All in favor? Thanks

CircularReason (talk) 13:56, 13 July 2015 (UTC)

Moving forward with the edit since no one objects. Thanks.

CircularReason (talk) 12:02, 5 August 2015 (UTC)

personal identity[edit]

I added the topic of identity in the lead because it is one of philosophy's fundamental and enduring questions. Snowded demurred.

While I appreciate the pushback, the question of identity is indeed fundamental.

  • The question of identity is a species of metaphysics, which is arguably the most fundamental.
  • The question of identity is, specifically, the question of how any particular entity is just that entity through time and through changes -- i.e., what is a substance? what is a thing at all?
  • The question of identity is the question] of what it means for me to be a person. I appear to be one thing through time and through change. Am I?
  • The question of identity is enduring -- it is asked by the earliest and most recent philosophers. It is asked by Socrates (in Phaedrus 230a) ("As I was saying just now, I investigate not these things, but myself, to know whether I am a monster more complicated and more furious than Typhon or a gentler and simpler creature, to whom a divine and quiet lot is given by nature.") by Kant in his discussion of the transcendental ego, by Hume in his Treatise of Human Nature, and many contemporaries like Thomas Nagel (View from Nowhere) and others.


So yeah, it is a fundamental of philosophy by any account. Any reason to think it's not?

Pragmatically, it's smart to include the question of identity early in a philosophy article that gets lots of readers, because it is a very accessible introduction for nonphilosophers to some of the fundamentals of philosophy, like what makes a substance, what is time, what causes change, first-person consciousness, mind, introspective knowledge, and knowledge in general.

CircularReason (talk) 02:11, 9 May 2015 (UTC)

It falls within the other areas and there are overlaps with Anthropology and other disciplines. I'm the last person to disagree its important, but it is not one of the main divisions of the disciplines per University Course descriptions and the major encyclopaedia/dictionaries as far as I know, The same applies to causality which I have also removed. Its not a matter of our opinion however, you need to work from third party sources which summarise the field not from primary sources such as Nagel. This is particularly true for the lede which has to be properly sourced. I also made the point in my last edit summary that a lot of collaborative effort went into agreeing the current lede. So please bring proposals here first and get agreement. Why insert causality rather than Free Will for example, but Free Will would not be listed one of the major divisions, in part because it is a subject in all those divisions. If you include Identity and Causality there are a dozen other subjects that could be added in. The lede is about the major divisions of philosophy ----Snowded TALK 12:12, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Agree with Snowded. We should describe the topic the way most mainstream sources do. TFD (talk) 15:36, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, Four Deuces. Can you elaborate on what you mean by "most mainstream sources"? I am indexing the sources currently listed as "introductory" and most of them list "Mind" or "Mind-Body" as a main issue. CircularReason (talk) 23:09, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
You talked above above about "personal identity." Now you are talking about "mind" and "mind-body." If you want to change the subject, set up a new discussion thread. TFD (talk) 00:07, 10 May 2015 (UTC)

"Introductory texts"[edit]

I motion to remove this link from the "External Links" * Think: philosophy for everyone Lively and accessible articles written by philosophers pre-eminent in their fields, for a broad audience. Free articles are available online" It is a journal -- albeit an accessible one -- with ongoing and rotating topics and not a dedicated introduction to philosophy.

CircularReason (talk) 23:07, 9 May 2015 (UTC)

What do you mean? It is not a Wikipedia article, therefore we cannot move it. TFD (talk) 00:10, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
The point seems to be that the link in question, which currently exists in the 'further reading: introductions' section of this article, seems inappropriate in that position, and should be either relocated elsewhere in this article, or removed from this article. Endovior (talk) 18:25, 12 June 2015 (UTC)
Yes, thanks for clarifying Endovior. Sorry Four Deuces. I re-phrased the above motion. CircularReason (talk) 13:49, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
If it belongs then it is in further reading, but I don't think it is especially notable so I would remove it ----Snowded TALK 16:05, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
I also see no reason to keep it (anywhere).--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 16:35, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
OK, it's gone. If anyone has a dissenting opinion, feel free to voice it.CircularReason (talk) 06:52, 6 August 2015 (UTC)

Philosophy of a Modern day Zombie[edit]

Is it money you want? Yes ofcourse it is!

Because society dictates it is absolutely necessary. What is money? Paper in your pocket? Credit with a bank? 0's on a page? It is nothing... But we make it everything. We build it up in our minds that it is absolutely necessary. That we can't survive without it. It's worth more than human relationships to some. It's worth more than human life to some. WHY??

Because that's what the society we've been born into, and that we continually feed, dictates... It's what's expected. Money is nothing, and yet it controls us. Why? Because we let it. We adhere to it. We let it control the course of our lives.

And yes, I'm no different. It's an illusion that I too still have to... No... Need to ... Free myself from.

Written by A zombie created by a sick society. — Preceding unsigned comment added by LifeOverSociety (talkcontribs) 21:24, 20 August 2015 (UTC)

End of introduction entry[edit]

I made a minor contribution to the introduction of this page. My edit was reverted and claimed "looks like vandalism". If you have a contention with my edit please think about the context of that sentence. It adds an accurate description of what philosophy is to regular people. So if you disagree based on the grounds that it doesn't sound "academic/pedantic" enough try and think about how this could help spread a fundamental understanding of what philosophy entails. Think about all the negative criticism of philosophy. The quote adds real world context. Void burn (talk) 23:23, 26 August 2015 (UTC)

No, it wasn't vandalism. However, I've also removed it as not based on a WP:reliable source. The quote you added was a quote on a webpage of someone offering counseling services for a fee. Please read WP:BRD as that essay suggests that if your edit is reverted, you should discuss prior to re-adding the edit to gain consensus for the content. Vsmith (talk) 02:23, 27 August 2015 (UTC)