Describing Philosophy to the layman

Details Discussion (39) Print Report
Describing Philosophy to the layman
Deified Cupcake
Sauce.
Avatar

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Mar 17, 2011

Total Topics: 14
Total Posts: 68
#1 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jul 20, 2011 - 11:18 AM:
Subject: Describing Philosophy to the layman
Often times if I meet someone for the first time and try to explain what I study, I find it hard to describe it to them. What kinds of questions or examples do you think help illustrate the nature/relevance of philosophy? The average person, I don't think, especially teenagers, understand exactly what is meant by the term philosophy.

There was a topic similar to this about a year ago but I don't feel I should be necrobumping.
ciceronianus
An Other Mind
Avatar

Usergroup: Sponsors
Joined: Sep 20, 2008
Location: Where ignorant armies clash by night

Total Topics: 87
Total Posts: 5026

Last Blog: The Ceremony of Innocence

#2 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jul 20, 2011 - 11:39 AM:

 Just tell them you're doing liberal arts.  That usually quiets them, and they're all the same, in any case.
To Mega Therion
Marxist-Kwalishkidist

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Oct 11, 2009
Location: Zagreb, Croatia

Total Topics: 104
Total Posts: 4329
#3 - Quote - Permalink
1 of 1 people found this post helpful
Posted Jul 20, 2011 - 11:40 AM:

Deified Cupcake wrote:
...but I don't feel I should be necrobumping.


As long as the relatives or the gravediggers don't catch you...

Ahem. It would depend on what field you're interested in, I think, but a "quick and dirty" explanation might be that philosophy investigates the general framework we use to guide our actions in the world - the most general structures and features of the world (metaphysics), methodologies for acquiring truth (epistemology), behavioural norms (ethics) etc.
Hypothesis
Unmoderated Member

Usergroup: Unmoderated Member
Joined: Jul 30, 2004
Location: England

Total Topics: 60
Total Posts: 374
#4 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jul 20, 2011 - 11:42 AM:

Explain it to them in terms of popular phenomena (such as matrix, inception etc) or explain to them the cave allegory.
To Mega Therion
Marxist-Kwalishkidist

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Oct 11, 2009
Location: Zagreb, Croatia

Total Topics: 104
Total Posts: 4329
#5 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jul 20, 2011 - 11:55 AM:

Hypothesis wrote:
Explain it to them in terms of popular phenomena (such as matrix, inception etc) or explain to them the cave allegory.


...and turn them into solipsists. sticking out tongue Or Heaven forbid internal realists.
180 Proof
entropist
Avatar

Usergroup: Sponsors
Joined: Apr 27, 2003
Location: [virgo supercluster [local group [milky way [sol III [northern hemisphere [-7/8hrs gmt]]]]]]

Total Topics: 151
Total Posts: 2387
#6 - Quote - Permalink
2 of 2 people found this post helpful
Posted Jul 20, 2011 - 12:44 PM:

"Philosophy is in the business of examining unexamined beliefs." -- Owen Flanagan, The Problem of the Soul, p. 166

cool - Works for me.



Edited by 180 Proof on Jul 20, 2011 - 12:50 PM. Reason: It thinks, therefore thinking happens.
Schlitz
Hulkamaniac
Avatar

Usergroup: Moderators
Joined: Feb 09, 2009
Location: Sunny California

Total Topics: 8
Total Posts: 889
#7 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jul 20, 2011 - 1:27 PM:

To Mega Therion wrote:


...and turn them into solipsists. sticking out tongue Or Heaven forbid internal realists.


What's so bad about internal realism?
To Mega Therion
Marxist-Kwalishkidist

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Oct 11, 2009
Location: Zagreb, Croatia

Total Topics: 104
Total Posts: 4329
#8 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jul 20, 2011 - 1:31 PM:

Schlitz wrote:

What's so bad about internal realism?


I might be misinterpreting Putnam's position since I've read him quite some time ago but internal realism as I recall it is the equivalent of the crudest interpretation of Kantian idealism - the notion that human minds dictate the structure of nature.
Villon
Resident

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Jan 31, 2009

Total Topics: 3
Total Posts: 186
#9 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jul 20, 2011 - 1:40 PM:

You might tell them that philosophy is an inquiry without a specified field of inquiry. As soon as we specify the field it ceases to be a philosophy.
Schlitz
Hulkamaniac
Avatar

Usergroup: Moderators
Joined: Feb 09, 2009
Location: Sunny California

Total Topics: 8
Total Posts: 889
#10 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jul 20, 2011 - 1:54 PM:


To Mega Therion wrote:


I might be misinterpreting Putnam's position since I've read him quite some time ago but internal realism as I recall it is the equivalent of the crudest interpretation of Kantian idealism - the notion that human minds dictate the structure of nature.


Right.  I know what you mean-  it's clearly related to Kantian idealism, but I think it's more of a 2nd-cousin-by-marriage-type relation than it is an honest family resemblance.  Or maybe a better metaphor is that it resembles Kantian idealism as a result of convergent evolution.  As far as I understand it, the position's motivation is supposing that a moral of the total theory-infusion of language is that there is no unique, true description of how the world is, or one unique, true list of all the objects there are.  The point isn't that our minds magically shape reality, but it is that the only way to talk about what there is is to deploy a theory (and why not prefer best current theory?), and "the world" is, like every other term of use, infused with theory, ergo theory affects the world.  

And thus, idealism, grown from only the seed of the inescapability of theory-  except, I think there's another way to understand the issue.  "Theory affects the world" is liable to some funny business-- by equivocation--, I think, and sorting out exactly how it can be equivocal is a job I just don't feel up to now; but--  I think the heart of the issue is that there is no principled a priori way to sort out the objects that constitute the blooming, buzzing confusion, and so no metaphysical moral can be drawn from supposing there is.  This point is more or less Quine's inscrutability of reference put a little differently, by my reckoning.

locked


This thread is closed, so you cannot post a reply.