Initial questions in philosophy/Selected answers

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I have a basic understanding of philosophy, and have a great interest. What would be some good areas to go to? I would like to start off with the Greecian philosophers, to get a base and work from there. But, I am not interested in limiting myself by style or subject.

Any suggestions would be great.

Does human experience reveal reality or a shadow of reality?
A fundamental tool that we all bring to philosophy is our mind. Should we take that tool for granted or should we carefully examine its abilty to both serve our investigations and mislead us? --JWSchmidt 14:54, 24 September 2006 (UTC)
I'll go out on a limb and say that equally foundational is our capacity as social beings. I'm suspicious of the monological mind and temptations to reduce the world to it. To answer your questions, yes, we should carefully examine, but not just the mind. --executivezen 22:11, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

On the Mind

The mind has the power to easily mislead us, and take us in a path of ignorance, but at the same time enlighten us with knowledge. Does a certain amount of knowledge bring on ignorance? Or does it bring on apathy. What is the difference? (Plato's Allegory of the Cave?)

Other Initial questions

What is real?[edit]

What exists when no one is watching? anything? Everything we KNOW by direct experience seems to be the product of our own mentations, that is, we appear to be receiving data from a source outside ourself and then converting that data into an experienced universe. Does this experienced universe match the hypothesized "real" one that it seems to be modelling or are we all just, am I just, dreaming? Popular movies such as the Matrix and THE 13th FLOOR explore this inability to tell which is real and which is virtual in a dramatic style, but the question seems as old as history itself. The buddhist concept of maya or the illusory world comes to "mind". Plato's shadow world is another ancient version of this same conundrom. It seems to me that whatever is REAL has, at least in part, the ability to dream and think about its dreams. The dream of reality may be accurate to reality or may be completely alien, but without the ability to verify which is which, we seem forever destined to be tormented by this question. So far I am only sure that experiences are facts, items of perception, but beliefs about them are never more than speculations and guesses. Jiohdi 21:26, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

"Outside our heads there is freestanding reality. Only madmen and a scattering of constructivist philosophers doubts its existence." - Edward O. Wilson

The question of what is REAL seems to boil down to what MATTERS, what is important, what counts, etc. In that respect, the Meaning one finds in the world of experiences seems to be predictated on the expectation and living experiences in relation to peace of mind. Some experiences cause pain, some pleasure and some peace of mind and the beliefs about them seem to amplify or dampen those feelings. Learning which options lead to which experiences seems to be the only reality that matters in the final analysis. Jiohdi 16:01, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

Paradoxes
What we find in experience that matches our expectations will bring us joy and peace, however need not be true nor accurate to reality. When our beliefs match with our experiences we find no cognative dissonance and so feel at peace, yet science has time and again shown that accuracy to reality is not required for this mental state to be sustainable. An example would be classical physics which seemed to match measurable reality for several hundred years until better measuring devices evolved and started to show significant flaws between belief, or theory, and measurement or expectations. Relativity theory matches the measured reality far better than classical physics yet still has gaps that do not match Quantum physics for example, indicating some part of the theory is flawed or incomplete as well. All this points to the very likely possibility of finding peace of mind without finding reality or truth in the process which may be why so many religions persist even though they contradict each other and cannot all be right when it comes to accuracy to reality. Jiohdi 17:16, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

Reality is what you can get away with Robert Anton Wilson

What is Justice?[edit]

See John Rawlsw:John_Rawls and his Principles of Justice. AndrewJesseBrown 21:26, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

What makes something beautiful?[edit]

A study performed in the 1980s by Omni Magazine for its parent company PENTHOUSE, which is very interested for financial reasons in the answer to this question, found that we, [males were studied], all have an inner ideal which does not vary much across cultural or racial boundries and it is the reflexive, unconscious comparison of what we experience to this ideal that causes us to find someone or thing beautiful or ugly. The ideal seems to be based primarily on Symmetry and proportions which do not vary significantly from those drawn by Da Vinci in one of his famous sketch books, which showed a man within a circle, defining the bodies prportions and symmetries.
Jiohdi 17:22, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

--Isma2012 13:52, 2 October 2006 (UTC)


One of the great dangers we face in making use of our minds is getting trapped in only being able to see the world in one way rather than being open to seeing multiple aspects.

"Way is obscured when men understand only one of a pair of opposites, or concentrate only a partial aspect of being. Then clear expression also becomes muddied by mere wordplay, affirming this one apsect and denying the rest." - Zhuangzi

"Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language." - Wittgenstein

Human minds and cultures have evolved so as to provide us with particular intuitions about the nature of reality, justice and beauty. Western philosophy took an interesting diversion into exploration of the idea that people might be able to deduce the essential natures of reality, justice and beauty just by carefully thinking about these topics. However, human minds and cultures arise from the biological substrate of our species. Attention has now turned to study of the biology and sociology and philosophical views of the nature of reality, justice and beauty can now be informed by scientific results. Daniel Dennett is a philosopher who has examined traditional philosophical issues from the perspective of what we now know about human biology and how cultures develop and ideas compete for existence in the memosphere.

Edward Wilson has proposed that all branches of human knowledge can be unified using an approach called consilience (see also: Consilience). Such a view invites interdisciplinary cooperation. Other philosophers seem sure that philosophy has nothing to do with scientific observations. --JWSchmidt 16:57, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

See also[edit]