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)

Citation 34[edit]

I'm not sure if citation 34 really supports its point - I clicked through and it seemed to be an unrelated portion of Plato's Symposium. --Nerd1a4i (talk)

Someone broke the Philosophy Game[edit]

You can't race to Philosophy anymore. I'm unsure as to when it happened or who did it, but I recently discovered that the first links on the Reality and Existence articles link to each other. Due to the fact that playing the game in reverse eventually links back to Reality, I know that there's no other way to reach Philosophy using only first links. It probably won't happen, but can either page be edited so as to make the game possible again? WikiSquirrel42 (talk) 00:25, 19 September 2018 (UTC)

somebody fixed it, try it now Tommy has a great username (talk) 23:52, 27 January 2019 (UTC)

Entry on the late Pamela Sue Anderson (PSA for short)[edit]

PSA was an Oxford academic who died last year at age 61. Wikipedia has a page on her with very limited information indeed. A warning is displayed that such entry shall be removed if nobody makes it more informative. PSA was specialized in I. Kant and a more recent French thinker and, in addition, she was active on the front of providing a feminist appreciation of the topics she researched. She was in touch with virtually all leading feminist philosophers both in Europe and North America. Due to my full time schedule and lack of experience with Wikipedia, I cannot do more than provide several URLs that can be used to improve on the current Wikipedia presentation of PSA. Those URLs that seemed relevant to me are now gathered in a section of the talk page on PSA, should anyone be interested at having a look at them.

Change first sentence[edit]

--Change first sentence from: Philosophy (from Greek φιλοσοφία, philosophia, literally "love of wisdom")[1][2][3][4] is the study of general and fundamental "problems" concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.

--Change first sentence to: Philosophy (from Greek φιλοσοφία, philosophia, literally "love of wisdom")[1][2][3][4] is the study of "fundamental-interactions" concerning "subjects" such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, language, observation, science and math.[1]

--The phrase "fundamental interactions" is more inclusive-comprehensive and modern as is also "subjects" and added subjects. As referenced by Wikipedia to Marcus Aurelius : "Observe always that everything is the result of a change, and get used to thinking that there is nothing Nature loves so well as to change existing forms and to make new ones like them." Arnlodg (talk) 17:43, 26 February 2019 (UTC)

From any normal reader of Wikipedia talking about interactions not problems would be largely meaningless. Adding subjects provides no value -----Snowded TALK 09:00, 28 February 2019 (UTC)

--then we could just leave it at 'love of wisdom pursuit of truth', thanks, Arnlodg (talk) 17:28, 28 February 2019 (UTC)

Lets just leave it as it is -----Snowded TALK 01:13, 1 March 2019 (UTC)

--Please see comments below and advise...thanksArnlodg (talk) 02:48, 5 March 2019 (UTC)

Where does this repeated objection to the word "problems" come from? Is this the same person over and over again, sockpuppets, meat puppets, or a bunch of real different people coming here from somewhere? --Pfhorrest (talk) 08:00, 1 March 2019 (UTC)
Not sure what the full background is, but there is indeed more discussion that will be in the archives by now. If we continue to get messages about it we can consider posting a header about the first sentence specifically to

-(open space deleted)- ensure that people address what has already been discussed if they really want a new discussion.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 08:23, 1 March 2019 (UTC)

--This/my request came from reading the many non-linked 'philosophy" references in Wikipedia, it is meant to be a update, as "fundamental-interactions" is more comprehensive than problems...thanksArnlodg (talk) 01:25, 5 March 2019 (UTC)

Proposed next is not more up to date and its confusing and obscurantist -----Snowded TALK 07:09, 5 March 2019 (UTC)
I agree; "fundamental interactions" does not seem to be either a common or clear term, nor one which captures the type of consensus positions we try to reflect on this project. Also, while I am not sure where in Wikipedia it is supposed to come from, we should not use Wikipedia as a source.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 08:15, 5 March 2019 (UTC)

--'Problems' solved, the word Problems has been changed by someone, to "Concerns", thanks...Arnlodg (talk) 22:48, 5 March 2019 (UTC)

Thank you for bringing my attention to that, I've reverted it to problems -----Snowded TALK 05:35, 6 March 2019 (UTC)

--Who changed it, not me..."Concerns" is a good compromise, covering many attitudes in problem solving, please check it out, thanks...Arnlodg (talk) 01:25, 7 March 2019 (UTC)

@Arnlodg: Are you calling "concerns" an improvement over "problems"? Liberty5651 (talk) 20:59, 6 March 2019 (UTC)

--Yes "Concerns" is a good compromise, covering many attitudes in problem solving , thanks..Arnlodg (talk) 01:25, 7 March 2019 (UTC)

>All the things listed after "matter" are not matter. They are immaterial things. The primary definition for matter is an object that has mass and takes up space. I know over the millennium that definition has changed in discussion to include virtual everything, but the basic definition for "matter" is always a material object. So, there are better words to use then "matter" when referring to ideas. It's use conflates many topics; it's simplification could improve comprehension (but that's just me). Plus, the sentence just reads like a lot for college buzz words and industry jargon. I get it though, I'm not the only one in the world; it's quite a diverse place with many different languages and dialects (and values and customs) explaining the same few things. Even if there were a valid consensus on this page, well, many others will disagree. Liberty5651 (talk) 23:47, 7 March 2019 (UTC)

I oppose Arnlodg's unsourced proposed change; the undefined term "fundamental-interactions" will be confusing for most readers, and misleading because it is used in nuclear physics. The existing wording is adequately supported by sources. --ChetvornoTALK 23:45, 6 March 2019 (UTC)
That philosophers interact with other philosophers towards, any and all fundamental meanings, of any and all interactions of any and all fundamental meanings, in our infinite cosmos, is what philosophy is about..."Concerns" is a good compromise to settle this, covering many attitudes and points of view, please check it out, thanks...Arnlodg (talk) 01:51, 7 March 2019 (UTC)
Wikipedia is not the place for you to pursue your own idiosyncratic ideas - we world from third party sources. You\re wasting editors time with these sort of comments over several articles -----Snowded TALK 07:06, 7 March 2019 (UTC)
I support Arnlodg's comment that 'concerns' is better than 'problems'. I took part in a discussion last year about this, and I took from it that some people had fixed views which they didn't want to change. If you google 'what is philosophy' the central term is 90% of the time something like 'questions' 'concerns', 'understanding', and these results come form universities who should have a fair idea of what the subject is. 'Problems' very seldom come up, so insisting on leaving it in is unsourced, and therefore POV. If reputable sources can be obtained which outnumber concerns or questions in favour of problems, I will change my mind. But I don't see any such sources which explicitly say that philosophy is about problems. I have a post grad degree in Philosophy.

TonyClarke (talk) 14:44, 7 March 2019 (UTC)

FWIW I don't have any objection to using another word like "concerns", "questions", "issues", "matters", or anything like that, though I also see no reason to object to "problems". "Fundamental-interactions" is obscurantist nonsense, though. --Pfhorrest (talk) 18:25, 7 March 2019 (UTC)

I'd like to leave my edit to the definition here, for reference:

... the study of general and fundamental concerns such as existence, knowledge, matter, values, reason, mind, and language.

In my opinion "concerns" is an improvement from "problems". It also recognizes "matter" as used to reference material objects rather then immaterial concepts. Liberty5651 (talk) 23:47, 7 March 2019 (UTC)

OK we seem to have two editors approaching this from a "matter" perspective which is of itself problematic :-) We have the " hard problem of consciousness" and that is before we do a simple good scholar search which reveals this. The reason philosophy is interesting is because these concerns are all problematic, they are difficult to resolve and today in the main have not been resolved. Concerns is a truly terrible word here. "Fundamental questions" is good and could be added to problems as an option -----Snowded TALK 06:57, 8 March 2019 (UTC)
Well, if you do a search for 'philosophy + problems', then of course you will get a list of problems. So that does not enlighten a definition of philosophy, it presupposes it. I wonder why 'concern' is seen as a 'truly terrible' word here? It has a perfectly relevant sense of a 'matter of interest or importance', interpreting 'matter' as 'topic' or similar. TonyClarke (talk) 08:47, 8 March 2019 (UTC)
It shows just how many people use the two words to define the field. Concern is far too weak a word -----Snowded TALK 15:46, 8 March 2019 (UTC)
I think we deserve more explicit statements than 'Far too weak', 'idiosyncratic', and 'truly terrible'. Otherwise you are just venting, not adding anything rational to the discussion. 'Concerns' are matters of interest, or importance, in the dictionary. Why is that too weak? Unless you can explain your point of view less emotionally, I feel I cannot seriously consider your contributions. TonyClarke (talk) 21:23, 8 March 2019 (UTC)
Oh me or my, you think that is emotional! I'll try and help you a little bit here (and your post-graduate degree of course). The search I mentioned above contains lots of lots of phrases like that name various problems that philosophy addresses. A similar search on Philosophy + concerns contains no such references, just phrases like "experimental philosophy concerns ...." and so on. I very much doubt if there were just concerns, the various problems of philosophy would have attracted so much controversy over the years. -----Snowded TALK 21:40, 8 March 2019 (UTC)
You compare two biased searches, one supposing philosophy to be about problems, the other about concerns. I originally proposed a neutral search, which comes up with terms which rarely include reference to problems. It's about questions of fundamental importance, i.e. concerns, seeking understanding or wisdom, or interests or some such synonym. That's what a neutral search reveals, and I can provide the results in citations which support a change from problems, to something like concerns, interest, seeking understanding, etc.. I don't think your last post supports any belief that problems are the fundamental content of philosophy, I think it merely reiterates your belief. TonyClarke (talk) 23:58, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
Not really, I've used two searches to shown common and uncommon use. If you have a citation that says Philosophy no longer deals with problems but with concerns I'm very curious to see it. -----Snowded TALK 08:18, 10 March 2019 (UTC)
Thank you for opening up about how Wiki editors seem to do business...Other Wiki editors in their responses here, to you, have not made this 'search' a waist of time, thanks again, Arnlodg (talk) 18:11, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
Arnlodg have you looked at the archives of this talk page yet? I think without that context it is not fair to be criticizing others for not putting time into it. Sometimes articles have questions which come up over and over. Concerning the normal "way of doing business" on Wikipedia an important norm to keep in mind is that if you make a proposal and it is resisted, you should be the one to provide good evidence for your position. Complaining about the lack of time spent by those resisting a new edit is not very convincing if you are spending no time on it yourself.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 08:49, 14 March 2019 (UTC)
Thank you, I am looking into citing philology positions in the future, again thank you...Arnlodg (talk) 20:14, 14 March 2019 (UTC)

TonyClarke, of course you are correct that the word should be chosen by searching neutrally. That would mean looking at what words are commonly used to define philosophy. But, that kind of search has been done before, as the archives of this talkpage show. The word "problems" has a clear and strong history and continuing use. I have never heard of the subject matter of philosophy being defined as a "concerns", and this is a case where the two words do not seem to me to have the overlap which they often have in casual English. A concern is in the end (or in the beginning?) referring to an emotional state, whereas a problem can be a puzzle that is for example posed even for pure entertainment, or in mathematics or physics. We do not say that Einstein posed some concerns about gravity, or that quantum theory presents us with concerns. (We could say those things, but they would mean something else than what a physics book would mean.) We also do not speak of resolving the concerns people have with Rubiks Cubes. --Andrew Lancaster (talk) 18:11, 11 March 2019 (UTC)

Thank you for your comments Andrew, I agree with most of them. I am not proposing replacing 'problems' with 'concerns'. There are philosophical problems of course, as there are economic problems, public health problems, economic problems. But these disciplines aren't defined by the problems which they deal with, they seek and often obtain understanding and productive ways to approach the problems or issues. Just so, philosophy is not defined by its problems although they are often prominent in its literature. Any dictionary or authoritative sources such as universities recognise this in their description of philosophy. They use terms such as reaching understanding on fundamental facts or areas of human experience. I fail to see why we have become stuck on this issue, which I see as straightforward. TonyClarke (talk) 08:33, 12 March 2019 (UTC)─────────────────────────

Philosophy supposes problems, as props towards critical thinking, and the purpose of understanding. "Philosophy is about understanding" gets 35,000 hits on a web search. Times Literary review[1]. Psychology Today[2]. It's a huge long list and in general, the use of the term is to describe philosophy out of hand. "If philosophy is about understanding..." type comments, "So-on and so forth, if philosophy is about understanding." Suggesting the reader be supposed to know, understanding to be, the most principle element, of philosophy. ~ R.T.G 20:23, 11 March 2019 (UTC)

"Philosophy is about problems" gets only 20,000 hits ~ R.T.G 20:26, 11 March 2019 (UTC)
Are you all really unaware of the sense of the word "problems" that means something like "questions or puzzles"? Think "math problems", not "social problems". In a math class you're often assigned homework which is solving "a set of problems", but not as in making bad situations good again, rather, as in finding answers to questions. Philosophical "problems" are like that; things in need of "solving" as in "answering", not as in "fixing". (see wikt:problem#Noun sense 2 and maybe 3). --Pfhorrest (talk) 21:06, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
Philosophy is an art of understanding. Math was my top subject. The sense you are implying is ambiguous. ~ R.T.G 00:01, 13 March 2019 (UTC)
Philosophy has understanding as a goal, but because it has long admitted that it might never achieve such understanding, it has long described itself in terms of the attempt rather than in terms of the achievement. You might say that all sciences and disciplines are like that, which raises an interesting point. Most such disciplines if not all, were once covered by the term philosophy. In fact, a situation has involved that as understandings are achieved they tend to be re-defined so that they are not philosophy anymore. Philosophy is now a term which is effectively reserved for unsolved problems? --Andrew Lancaster (talk) 08:01, 13 March 2019 (UTC)
Possibly, but then we have psychology and the philosophy of mind, so a science clearly has overlap with an area of philosophy. I think we have reached a point where we are now discussing the subject rather than considering how the article can be improved. That is the purpose of the talk pages. I think it can be improved by following dictionary and other authoritative sources, virtually all of which do not mention problems in their definition of philosophy. By my count, there there is a majority in this discussion who would support the change from 'problems' to something like 'understanding and study of fundamental questions...' I propose to make that change, quoting reliable authoritative sources. If anyone would be inclined to revert that change, please discuss here first, or give any other comments. Thank you. TonyClarke (talk) 22:17, 14 March 2019 (UTC)
Yes there is overlap still between the subject matter of philosophy and science (and maths and logic) but that is exactly relevant to the question of definition. When do you call a maths discussion philosophical? I think most sources and our own common sense are telling us very clearly that this is when there is an unresolved problem. In any case, from the standpoint of editing norms I see no consensus or good sourcing to justify changing yet, and that change was already rejected. So is there new sourcing to justify a new attempt to make a rejected change?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 08:21, 15 March 2019 (UTC)
And an unresolved problem calls for investigation, study and understanding, which is precisely how the reliable sources characterise philosophy, seeking understanding and answers to basic fundamental questions. The change was deleted because the subject was still under discussion, and I think that discussion appears to be ending. My rationale for the change would be that no, or very few, reputable sources include 'problems' in their definition, and so the entry is misleading as it stands. I would have no issue with some statement later in the article, treating 'problems' as a synonym for classical philosophical topics or questions, and about the major ones in philosophy. But as it stands, the definition gives undue and unsupported prominence to the word 'problems'. It is against our policy on reliable and authoritative sources. TonyClarke (talk) 13:58, 15 March 2019 (UTC)
Study, research etc, of questions is something every discipline does. Also see in the archives: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Philosophy/Archive_31 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Philosophy/Archive_30 --Andrew Lancaster (talk) 14:11, 15 March 2019 (UTC)
Thank you for this. I found the earlier archive seemed to cover other issues, and not really connected to the present discussion. In the later archive, the balance of opinion seems to favour the replacement of 'problems'. TonyClarke (talk) 23:30, 15 March 2019 (UTC)
There has never been a consensus to remove 'problems' and there isn't now. Your suggestion above that you cn make a change and others would not be able to revert is false. There are a range of processes in wikipedia to gain consensus and you need to follow them. Oh and your own reading of the archive is (sic) problematic :-). You might be better trying to find a new form of words that includes problems but handles some of your concerns -----Snowded TALK 06:45, 16 March 2019 (UTCod]]

─────────────────────────I was briefly home and had a look at a couple of reference books. Honderich in the Oxford Companion doesn't actually define philosophy but he taks about "ideas, arguments, theories, doctrines, world views, schools, movements and traditions" is respect of what he calls a dozen parts of philosophy. Kenny. Copleston and Blackborn all discuss without definition. -----Snowded TALK 06:38, 17 March 2019 (UTC)

'Consensus' means 'agreement', not 'unanimity'. If you hold out for the latter term, we are never going to reach consensus. That would justify repeated reversion of well intentioned and supported edits. But it is based on a false definition. More people here agree that something other than 'problems' define philosophy, rather than disagree, and for me that is consensus.
Concern with "problems" is not necessarily wrong, but it is unnecessarily ambiguous and should not appear to be definitive to the topic, which is obviously broad and covers aspects of the full range of knowledge, not least of all methodology and rationale. The acceptable sense of problems here, is the least recognisable outside specialised context (i.e. mathematics, philosophy itself) and is therefore jargonous, like as not. Mention the word yes, perhaps, but do not let it appear to define as in stricter terms it does not. Democracy and consensus can be used to control Wikipedia, but that is not how we define knowledge so much as how we take leave of the definition whether it is complete or accurate or not. If problems are not strictly definitive, it must be open to change and refinement because Wikipedia is not yet complete. ~^\\\.rT'{~ g 12:32, 17 March 2019 (UTC)
That it is difficult to explain philosophy is of course no surprise and so indeed we should be open to improvements. But surely what is most painfully missing from any of these discussions is a good rationale and good sourcing for any better alternative.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 13:40, 17 March 2019 (UTC)
Agree Andrew, but I am surprised by the notion that 'problems' is jargon - I would have use here was closer to common use. -----Snowded TALK 16:29, 17 March 2019 (UTC)
My apology, although I consider jargonous to be a word, I have taken it that nobody else does and it would be interchangeable with jargonesque but less of a letter scramble. ~^\\\.rT'{~ g 18:13, 17 March 2019 (UTC)
"Problems" is definitely not jargon specific to philosophy and math. Go click in the search box up there and start typing "list of unsolved p" in it; the suggestions will be a plethora of articles each listing unsolved problems in a wide variety of different fields. "Problem" is the usual and common term for a something-or-other in need of an answer in an academic field. Or just see articles like Lists of unsolved problems or open problems, all of which use the word in this perfectly normal sense that's used all over the damn place. --Pfhorrest (talk) 00:22, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
I agree, and what you say reduces the relevance of problems to defining philosophy, since it is not uniquely characterising the discipline. Other disciplines, as you point out, have problems, and so philosophy needs to be characterised in something other than 'problems'. 'What needs an answer' can also be defined more properly as a 'question', the more commonly used term in its non-Wikipedia definitions. Problems, on the other hand, require resolution. — Preceding unsigned comment added by TonyClarke (talkcontribs)
This makes me think you're not reading the existing lede sentence all the way through, and are just stopping at the word "problems" and not reading further. It doesn't just say that "problems" are what philosophy is about, it says which problems philosophy is about. Every field studies some set or another of problems, that is to say questions, puzzles, etc. The point of my comment above was that "problems" is a very common word used to describe the things that any field studies. Philosophy studies and tries to answer stuff about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language, and so on; those things are the kinds of problems that philosophy studies. Nobody is saying that philosophy is just about "studying problems" full stop. Every field is about studying some set of problems. Philosophy is about, as the article already says, those specific kinds of problems. --Pfhorrest (talk) 16:56, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
No. We are going to establish here over time what we all already know. That philosophy is the parent of all modern science and is based on the attempt to know and understand all things, the nature of existence as an exact phrase if we can manage it. Philosophy is not to remain enshrined as its source of derogatisation here on Wikipedia. I don't care who means well. This is an expression of outrage. Philosophy is a pursuit of understanding and wisdom, upon the nature of all things. No other description can match it to its use in description of individual methodology. The philosophy here is to produce reliable relevant resources. I don't care what schooling or side, any of you are on, if you do not consider philosophy to be the study and supposition of the nature of all things, beyond deference to individual application, you are actively involved with damaging this page. We should tell what the story of stories of knowledge is about. ~^\\\.rT'{~ g 16:03, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
Wikipedia seeks to give a balanced reflection of what published sources say. Every day, hundreds or perhaps thousands of good people point out that this aim is low, and a higher aim should be possible. But whether or not that is possible, no one has succeeded in making such a wiki and anyway, here we continue to compromise. Concerning the particular point you raise we have to (and in fact any author would have to) compromise between writing an essay about the history of the concept (which still certainly influences what philosophy is understood to be today) and modern definitions (which certainly tend towards the idea of a professional academic who is not a scientist). For the record I believe I have been a defender of a stronger mention of the history love of wisdom understanding, which encompasses science. But I also have a lot of experience in the rules and norms of Wikipedia.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 19:30, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
  • The above third bullet is not an individuals statements of philosophy but a compendium of statements of historical philosophers and introductions to manuscripts.
  • For anyone with real interest, don't let's get bogged down with continuing articulation. Nobody is stupid here. The above represents most of the first page of a Google search. ~^\\\.rT'{~ g 11:54, 18 March 2019 (UTC)

I share RTG's concerns, we are wasting time on a pedantic debate when we have a whole article which needs improved, and that is what the talk page is for. I find that all of the sources I can locate talk about 'study', 'understanding', and 'fundamental questions'. None that I have found put an emphasis or even mention of 'problems'. I have not seen a real defence of retaining 'problems' here, and can find no published reliable sources which put that term at the centre. So I think the page needs improvement by reflecting what the best sources say. I could give innumerable quotes, but will confine to three: the Oxford dictionary, University of Cambridge, and a quote from Wilfred Sellars. I am not being partial in this, but trying to give the best supported and respected sources. Before I edit the page, I'd like to hear people's views on what I have said.TonyClarke (talk) 12:50, 19 March 2019 (UTC)

Like any other editor you are free to propose amendments and we all have an obligation to discuss them, but you need consensus to make the changes. You are not the arbiter of what is included and if you make a change without consensus it will be reverted. Reading the above there is no current consensus to remove 'problems' but there is an openness to proposals for change. It's also worth noting that the lede summarises the article. If after you have made a proposal for change there is no consensus among the active editors then you call an RfC -----Snowded TALK 13:51, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
And there is also the policy statement: 'If an edit is challenged, or is likely to be challenged, editors should use talk pages to explain why an addition, change, or removal improves the article, and hence the encyclopedia. Consensus can be assumed if no editors object to a change.' RFCs are unlikely to resolve issues of content. So are there objections? If so, please give your reasons and suggestions. Let's get this done. TonyClarke (talk) 14:15, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
Tony I think we went through the phases of bold editing, revert, discussion, but now I am still not really seeing any clarity of what the sourcing and rationale would be for what would be a reasonably important edit, given that it involves the opening and definition. I just see the discussion as being on pause until someone puts that effort in. The article is certainly far from perfect.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 17:26, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
Tony you need to come up with a proposal and discuss it here. Assume that any arbitrary change by you will be reverted. RfCs frequently resolve content issues by the way and they are the agreed community process if you can't get agreement. But at the moment we are in a vacuum as you have made no specific proposal and there is no consensus to simply remove the word problems. It might be worth someone finding the archive discussion when Peter Damian was involved as I think there was a lot of material there and more editors involved than now. I've got limited bandwidth (physically and figuratively this week so can't until late next week at the earliest. -----Snowded TALK 06:49, 20 March 2019 (UTC)
Well I've read 3/4s of the previous discussion (busy now). However, Damien falls down by repeatedly confining the logic, critical thinking and clarity, to the observation of questions. Pretty much summing up my present objections in doing so. Snowded largely agreed (10 years hence) with my present outlook, except that I know that we can pull the sources out and agree the most prevalent terms and opinions, but only over time. ~^\\\.rTG'{~ 16:22, 25 March 2019 (UTC)

The phrase "... problems concerning matters ..." just seems redundant. Losing two from these three words wouldn't reduce understanding. It might make it a little more accessible. They all seem to hold the same context, they mean the same thing. I'd rather a word other then "problems" but that's just me, and people have made some solid arguments for "problems" applicability to the subject. Is it just me or does "Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language." seem easier to read? Liberty5651 (talk) 01:26, 21 March 2019 (UTC)

Ok, thanks everybody for above comments. Taking into account everyone's views, I suggest the following edit with citations (precise wording and reference formatting to be agreed) (bracketed a and b would be in line citations) How does this sound:


Philosophy seeks understanding (a) through the study of fundamental, important questions about life, existence and experience. Such questions are often posed as problems (b) to be studied or resolved.

References (a): https://www.phil.cam.ac.uk Cambridge University

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/philosophy Oxford dictionary definition

http://selfpace.uconn.edu/class/percep/SellarsPhilSciImage.pdf Wilfrid Sellars on philosophy, see first sentence.


References (b) http://www.consc.net/papers/facing.html Chalmers on the Problem of consciousness. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/induction-problem/#JusInd Stanford encyclopaedia on the problem of induction. TonyClarke (talk) 08:35, 21 March 2019 (UTC)

Not quite poetry :). But I suppose it is written in a modular way for drafting discussion? Some of the components seems more controversial than others to me.
Philosophy seeks understanding (a) through the study of fundamental, important questions about life, existence and experience. Such questions are often posed as problems (b) to be studied or resolved.
  • Not sure that "important" is uncontroversial and also whether, to the extent it is used, that it means anything other than fundamental (or general and fundamental) as we currently have.
  • Not sure that the first definition needs to explain what is "often" the case. I think we should start with what is "always" the case?
  • The current leads is a nice simple "is the study of" sentence. Isn't a seeking of understanding something pretty similar to that? Indeed isn't "the study of" a more common way to define an intellectual pursuit?
  • Isn't a seeking of understanding basically the same as the questioning in these sentences? So aren't they saying something like a seeking to understand the seeking to understand or a questioning of the questions?
  • Playing Devil's advocate I suppose that if we remove the bits I just mentioned the two sentences can be united. It really only comes down still to whether to say questions or problems (or some fudge combining the two? Just on a logical basis though, in the senses of the two words intended is there not always a question (seeking of understanding) and an object of that search, which we call a problem?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 14:55, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
thanks for the comments. I agree that 'fundamental' covers 'important' also, so will amend.

Your comment that 'I think we should start with what is "always" the case?' If that means that philosophical questions are always posed as problems, then I disagree. It is a problem that we do not have full answer for some of these questions, but that does not make the questions into problems. I am trying to follow the guidance from Wikipedia on compromising to reach consensus, so have to include both 'questions' and 'problems'. In fact there are some areas which are most often referred to as problems, e.g. consciousness and induction as in my citations. But not always the case, as the cited sources in (a)(and many more) do not refer to problems.

I agree that 'study of' conveys understanding, so will be amended. Also that seeking to understand is equivalent, or very similar to questioning.

Your last point that '(seeking of understanding) and an object of that search, which we call a problem?' doesn't ring true to me. The object of that search, its aim, is to reach understanding and knowledge about x, and the fact that the lack of understanding is a problem is incidental to, and doesn't define x as a problem. For example, in trying to understand moral reasons for action, moral reasons are not a problem, it is our lack of understanding or knowledge which can be so described. The citations I give in (a) do not mention 'problems', nor do most of searches made in this discussion above. I also noticed an archived discussion from 2007 giving ten researched definitions, only one of which mentions problems. In recognition of its occasional mention in definitions, I gave two citations in (b) of two areas of study which are usually referred to as problems. I also wanted to recognise the strength of feeling in our discussions that 'problems' should not be removed.

Thank you again, I'll try to be more poetic!! TonyClarke (talk) 15:59, 21 March 2019 (UTC)

Thank you for working on this Tony.
  • No I was just thinking that an opening definition should be a sentence which really gets to the pith of what all things called X have in common. OK, that does sound like Aristotle too but I just meant the standard way of writing a Wikipedia article.
  • According to the logic I proposed, problems are the object of the questions, and philosophy is a pursuit, search, study. So if that were correct no compromise would be necessary. Questions and problems are two sides of one coin? If it is not correct then I find it confusing to say that philosophy is the question about questions, so to speak.
  • Aren't problems more or less the same as questions without obvious answers, at least in context like philosophy or maths?
  • I think sometimes in philosophy and probably maths, investigating a problem is not necessarily useless just because the nominal question was not answerable. Often for example, people are proud of having proven that they say something about what any answer would have to be like.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 17:16, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
Tony, you wrote "It is a problem that we do not have full answer for some of these questions, but that does not make the questions into problems." That indicates to me that you are still seeing the word "problem" as meaning "something in need of fixing", rather than "something in need of answering", which is the sense meant here, and in all of those other examples of the word "problem" used throughout academia (and across Wikipedia) that I gave before. "Problem" means more or less the same thing as "question" in that sense. It really seems like lack of understanding that is the main motivator for this whole conversation. Nobody is saying that philosophy is about fixing things ("problems") about existence, knowledge, etc..., but that it's about answering' things ("problems") about existence, knowledge, etc. --Pfhorrest (talk) 05:21, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
Thank you both for the above comments, not sure who made the last? The general point about the equivalence of 'questions' and 'problems' doesn't seem right, otherwise there would be an equal distribution of the terms in the definitions used for philosophy. But 'problems' are very infrequently mentioned, whereas 'understanding' and 'fundamental questions' are more common by far. Yes, there is a case for your opinion that they are equivalents being correct. But that is not reflected in the majority of the reliable sources, which is what we need to observe, not our opinions on the matter. I welcome these open discussions, and hope we can reach consensus.
TonyClarke (talk) 00:03, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
FWIW I've said from the beginning that I have no objection to changing "problems" to a synonym like "questions" if that puts the matter to rest, though I don't think there is really any reason for objecting to the term "problems" either. A simple change like that seems far superior to any of the more elaborate rewrites being proposed. "Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental stuff concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language" seems like a great gist of it to me, and whatever more encyclopedic-tone word we use in place of "stuff" doesn't seem that important. "Problems" is fine, "questions" would be fine too, and I'm open to other suggestions so long as they aren't obscurantist nonsense like "fundamental-interactions". --Pfhorrest (talk) 05:29, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
If "problems" is "stuff", then "concerning" is also "stuff". Even if concerning isn't "stuff", "matters" is surely "stuff". So the sentence is essentially "Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental stuff stuff stuff such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language". That's how I read it. Funny, no? Liberty5651 (talk) 18:05, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
I would say "concerning" means more like "about" here, but yeah it is basically saying "...general and fundamental stuff about things such as existence, knowledge...". When we do stick "problems" or "questions" in for the first "stuff", that redundancy becomes semantically necessary, because existence, knowledge, etc, aren't themselves problems or questions per se, they're what the problems or questions philosophy studies are about. But I would be fine with trimming that part off completely and leaving just "...general and fundamental matters such as...". I don't think that's necessary, but I don't think anything would be lost if that makes everybody else happy. --Pfhorrest (talk) 20:16, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
More then any other semantics here I dislike "matters" being used in the sentence. I think about matter as a physical object. Here it refers to nonphysical concepts. If you look in the dictionaries it will have both definitions: physical objects and non physical concepts. In my (unreferenced and data less) opinion using the word "matter" for nonphysical objects had derived from confusing conversations about physical things. I think we humans try and try to point to matter as a real physical thing but are easily misunderstood in that reference, and thus many people have taken it to be a nonphysical concept. Like when we're talking about physical objects we're often talking about (around) them and trying to describe them with nonphysical language. It's easily confused. That's philosophy for you. At it's most basic though, "matter" seems to me a physical thing and all the other definitions are a confusion from that. Liberty5651 (talk) 16:48, 24 March 2019 (UTC)

Just found Metaphilosophy in Wikipedia; please read first lead paragraph; you (editors) could change the first two "philosophy" descriptions in this Philosophy article and the Metaphilosophy article, and make them the same-please, thanks...Arnlodg (talk) 22:07, 22 March 2019 (UTC)

There seems to be a developing consensus here on something like my earlier proposal for change. No-one has fundamentally objected, although some comments suggested edited changes are needed. So I suggest, for comment the following change to the opening for the article (obviously citations need to be properly formatted before finalisation):

Philosophy (from Greek φιλοσοφία, philosophia, literally "love of wisdom")[1][2][3][4] is the study of general and fundamental questions [2][3][4] about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems[5] [6]to be studied or resolved.The term was probably coined by Pythagoras (c. 570 – 495 BCE). Philosophical methods include…

I hope people see this as an improvement. The thinking is that 'questions' vastly out number 'problems' in published sources on definition, although 'problems', eg. the ones I cite have some prominence as being part of philosophy. TonyClarke (talk) 12:40, 25 March 2019 (UTC)

Ron Hubbard said, "“So my own philosophy is that one should share what wisdom he has, one should help others to help themselves and one should keep going despite heavy weather, for there is always a calm ahead.”" ... That is a philosophy. It is a cross between method and insight. It may provide answers to questions, but is not specifically intended to be an answer to a question.
A race car driver naturally becomes a mechanic, but a mechanic is not necessarily a race car driver, so it is questionable to describe a race car driver primarily as a mechanic, even though mechanics are often the main activity of a race car driver. The difference is in knowledge and understanding. ~^\\\.rTG'{~ 15:08, 25 March 2019 (UTC)
I have used my attempt at philosophising above to explain why philosophy is the study of answers primarily and before questions. The only way to have answers before questions are posed, is to have knowledge and understanding. ~^\\\.rTG'{~ 19:02, 25 March 2019 (UTC)
RTG there is a big difference between "a philosophy", a term which can refer to a persons principles or supposedly wise sayings, and "philosophy", which is the subject of this article. Arguably you can not ever be practicing philosophy if you are a person who spouts philosophies.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 08:39, 26 March 2019 (UTC)
I said, philosophy is the study of answers. Answers may exist in response to questions, or before the questions they answer have been posed. Philosophy relies more on answers than on questions, giving us a route of investigation. I did not say a memes worth of philosophising represents a composite academic field, and I will hold it, with a little lol in saying so, that philosophising is philosophy. As for quoting Hubbard in the lead section? Well, maybe later just. ~^\\\.rTG'{~ 14:04, 26 March 2019 (UTC)
But to be clear I think I and most people do not agree philosophy is about answers in this definitive way. Indeed the word was supposedly invented to distinguish people who loved wisdom people called sophists who clai,ed to have it for sale. See the Wittgenstein quote above just for example in order to show that this remains a common theme in recent generations.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 15:41, 26 March 2019 (UTC)
Wittgenstein above, "Philosophy does not result in 'philosophical propositions', but rather in the clarification of propositions." Translation, "Philosophy is not about finding questions, but it is about answers." -- Philosophy is about knowledge, and understanding it, which, in the absence of self harm or folly, can only produce wisdom. Questions, answers, all perhiphery, but answers are more important to what philosophy is. ~^\\\.rTG'{~ 16:32, 26 March 2019 (UTC)
Philosophy in any form is a study of nature(). The nature of philosophy is mainly, to study the various nature of other things, and conclude on the knowledge gained, to produce increasing shared wisdom. Apart from simple copy editing or expansion of the same expression, please explain to me where that description lacks. And if it does not, it seems obvious to me that it is not simply my own personal worldview opinion. It seems to me if any sentiment can be supported across almost all of the sources, it is the study of and conclusions regarding various nature. Problems, answers, questions, understanding, all have their nature, and philosophy studies and concludes on that nature, I believe. ~^\\\.rTG'{~ 19:31, 26 March 2019 (UTC)
TonyClarke, I have no objection to that phrasing. Liberty5651 (talk) 21:29, 25 March 2019 (UTC)
Thank you. There have been no objections to the proposed changes to the first sentence, which I posted above. So in accordance with policy, I assume there is consensus and will now edit the article on that basis. TonyClarke (talk) 12:03, 28 March 2019 (UTC)
Noting the change, a few comments:
  • I think we have not discussed this choice of the verbs "study" and "resolve" but to me this feel wrong. I get a feeling there is a bit of a desperation to make philosophy just another academic discipline. I think not everyone agrees with that. It could even be argued that it is what is left over apart from all the nice clear subjects that can be studied and resolved. For example, philosophy is possibly the only field where some/many academics studying and teaching it would find it pretentious to refer to themselves as a philosopher, just because they can teach it. Different from other fields right?
  • I think the idea of breaking into two sentences is an effort to compromise, by including the word problem there? But I am not sure that those of us who have been cautious of the proposals are really going to see this extra sentence as adding much if we are going with that first sentence anyway. Not sure if others agree.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 14:07, 28 March 2019 (UTC)
Describing philosophy as the study of questions or problems is not unlike describing astronomy as the study of mathematics. Without math, astronomers and navigators would be blind. So is it fair to say that astronomy and navigation are the study of mathematics? Astronomy is a field that studies and applies the mathematics of size, shape, distance and motion? Philosophy studies the nature of various forms of study, existence, methodology and thought. "Philosophy is the study of questions" doesn't ring a single one of those bells. ~^\\\.rTG'{~ 14:43, 28 March 2019 (UTC)
I think that has been covered in discussions already? This is why "general and fundamental" or some such words are used. On other hand I think it is worth saying once again that philosophy is not necessarily like academic disciplines. If you read philosophers from any period you will see that they see no boundaries on relevant subject matter. --Andrew Lancaster (talk) 14:57, 28 March 2019 (UTC)
Where in the discussions does it say philosophy can be described succinctly but we aren't going to do that? ~^\\\.rTG'{~ 23:50, 28 March 2019 (UTC)
We can describe what philosophy is, without giving up and listing what it does. Or why not? ~^\\\.rTG'{~ 03:55, 29 March 2019 (UTC)
Gorgias (dialogue) (a philosophical Plato fiction about Socrates) on Wikipedia quotes, an orator "guesses at what's pleasant with no consideration for what's best. And I say that it isn't a craft, but a knack, because it has no account of the nature of whatever things it applies by which it applies them, so that it's unable to state the cause of each thing". ~^\\\.rTG'{~ 08:34, 29 March 2019 (UTC)
@Andrew Lancaster:, I am not proposing an added boundary. I am proposing that anything short of "nature" as the leading category of thing, rather is going to be like a boundary. The place people are proposing to put the words questions and problems is the place of words like wonder and imperfection, i.e., what do we find before we invent philosophy. Refinement and understanding, i.e., what do we seek before we find philosophy. And questions and problems, i.e., what are the tests we apply before we conclude the nature we have observed. Journalism is an endless search through information and words, pictures, emails, phone calls, interviews, in-person disussion, conference calls etc. It is tough. Wikipedia says, "Journalism refers to the production and distribution of reports on recent events." It is easy to call a journalist a reporter. It is important to call a philosopher a student of concept and nature, is it not. ~^\\\.rTG'{~ 12:15, 29 March 2019 (UTC)
You still seem really hung up on "problem" meaning "bad thing", in that you suggest "imperfection" in place of "problem". A problem-like-the-kind-scholars-study isn't "imperfect", it's just a puzzle, a curiosity, a thing-in-need-of-figuring-out. --Pfhorrest (talk) 17:33, 29 March 2019 (UTC)
There are only so many verbs that can be had as a major aspect of philosophy. If they were evaluated here, there'd be a list.
Humans have not so much as set foot on the moon in almost fifty years, but to claim that space travel, is the activity of achieving various orbit, though it can be construed as such, and always involves that action, is misleading.
Problems may mean bad things or not. Does it really seem I have been trying to discuss the word problems itself in particular all along?
My "hang up" is the word nature and the obscurity of language and information. I assure you, I am sat cross legged in front of a 14 inch screen. Any apparent emotion is nothing more than passion. Let's discuss the implication of other words than problems and questions. Let us make a list of all descriptive words comprising the core of philosophy and related studies. There can't be much more than twenty notable enough to consider. Then let us discuss, with that list in view, what makes a good lead section, along with the value of each word and the whole. There isn't that much to discuss. What are the various ambiguities in a word. What is the point of the topic. Which words are required in some way. I am sure that problems and questions will turn out to be a primary basis of philosophy throughout, but not entire. Problems and questions are central to the basis of many studies. The philosopher studies consequence and learns answers, quite clearly, do they not? ~^\\\.rTG'{~ 19:28, 29 March 2019 (UTC)
RTG, "Let us make a list of all descriptive words comprising the core of philosophy and related studies. There can't be much more than twenty notable enough to consider. Then let us discuss, with that list in view, what makes a good lead section, along with the value of each word and the whole." is a good idea. It's like-scientific. Maybe it would be appropriate, though, to recognize that if there's 40 or more words people respond with, it'd be unwieldly and the effort get scrapped. Liberty5651 (talk) 22:54, 29 March 2019 (UTC)
I doubt there are as many as twenty core descriptive words and/or phrases which cannot be superceded. It may be that we sit down and study the words then simply can't agree to follow the findings. ~^\\\.rTG'{~ 12:25, 30 March 2019 (UTC)

--More about understanding; Metaphysics of presence is a short read; to get back to "change first sentence request"; go for the consensus; thanks...Arnlodg (talk) 21:44, 1 April 2019 (UTC)

Metaphysics of presence has relevance to everything in existence, but I'm not sure how it has any more relevance or specific relevance to this article's definition. I imagine I'm missing something. What are you thinking? (Cool topic; hadn't thought about time like that lately.) Liberty5651 (talk) 00:18, 2 April 2019 (UTC)
Your not missing anything, that's the point of this request; to update philosophy--as always towards fundamental understandings in nature; thanks...Arnlodg (talk) 20:38, 2 April 2019 (UTC)

─────────────────────────We've changed problem to question and I don't see any other concrete suggestions here. Considerable effort went into the lede some time ago with a lot of editors involved. Suddenly deciding to list key words and start from scratch is not really what wikipedia is about. If there is something wrong with the existing, or concrete proposals for something that will add value fine ut otherwise this thread is already far too long -----Snowded TALK 14:36, 11 April 2019 (UTC)