Friday, June 06, 2008

The Failure(s) of Philosophy


Philosophy has never provided answers to anything.

The conjectures have always been convoluted, obscurant, and even senseless.

For instance, a Professor (D. Moore) at Indiana-Purdue University (IPFW) in Fort Wayne, Indiana had a lecture recently wherein he provided the usual canard that Plato was a realist and Leibniz was an idealist.


The actuality is that Plato was an idealist, as is obvious from his writings, and Leibniz was a realist, as accounts of his life and studies show.

But philosophy instructors and advocates always turn reality on its head.

Anselm’s ontological argument for the existence of God – that than which nothing is greater – convolutes the simple question “Is there a God?”

Hume and all other philosophers have beat the dead horse of God’s existence, with no denouement.


From the beginning of philosophical thought – Thales, Anaximander, et al. – the ruminations pertaining to the meaning of life have made the examination complex and confusing.

In an effort to appear wise and/or erudite, philosophers encrusted their arguments with questions that perplex but do not answer anything – have not answered anything.

Three thousand years of philosophical queries have produced not one iota of information or thought that has been helpful or beneficial to mankind.

Theologians, such as Aquinas or, more recently, Barth, haven’t helped either, and both (among others) were brilliant.


Philosophical conundrums posed by Aristotle, Boethius, Descartes, Vico, Nietzsche, and everyone else, have fallen flat when it comes to human destiny.

The Existentialists – Heidegger, Sartre, Jaspers, et al. -- recognize(d) the silliness of the philosophical pursuit but actively engaged in it themselves.


The great literary master, Herman Melville, provided an entertaining look at the nature of God (Moby Dick), good and evil (Billy Budd, Foretopman), and the existential dilemma (Bartleby the Scrivener) that settles (arguably) most of the philosophical questions posited before and after him.


Melville provided, in three works, the whole of philosophical questioning, and offered answers, of a kind, to all of it.

Socrates’ maxim – Know thyself – is pithy and not recondite but it tells us nothing.

Descartes’ offer – I think therefore I am – is also a concise statement of reality but it takes us nowhere.

More recently Gramsci tried to flesh out Marxist thought, but that time has passed.


The meaning of mankind’s purpose is still up for grabs.

Politicians can’t help. Theologians are up against a denial of God’s existence, in light of the absolute absence of God in the lives of humankind.


And philosophers are as defunct as the Roc, which makes us wonder why anyone would take up that educational mantle.


Philosophy is an arcane methodology, no better than alchemy, and more confusing actually.

So, please, let us move on to things more intellectually productive…whatever that might be.


Epinoia said...

Leibniz is a "rationalist" idealist, while George Berkeley is an "empiricist" idealist.

And Plato was, indeed, a realist. Objective reality wouldn't be possible without some appeal to what is real, now would it?

These are merely terms to describe a progression of philosophical thought across the centuries. For you to hang your hat on this Jargon, rather than delving into the 'why' of the categories, says more about you than it does about Plato and Leibniz.

RRRGroup said...


You actually confirm our contention that philosophy is an amalgam of crock.


Epinoia said...

If philosophy has taught me anything at all, it has taught me how to detect and analyze logical arguments. And, ipso facto, how to detect non-arguments posing as arguments.

You provided no argumentation -- no logical progression from premises to conclusion. That is, by definition, crockery.

RRRGroup said...

As a Jungian, I put more faith in intuition than logic, especially when I see how the methodologies of logic are perverted by those who would make argumentation a matter of ego rather than truth.

(This doesn't apply to you particularly.)


Epinoia said...

And as a philosopher, I can tell you that I would prefer cold/hard logic to your intuition. Yes, logic can be twisted -- but for those who are trained in logic, such twistings can be detected and shown for the fallacies they are.

Intuition, on the other hand, is barely a step above pure raw emotion -- you might confuse your 'gut' reaction with the effect that last meal is having on your stomach.

Of course, by the context of your posting, I can see you are using the modern-day use of the word 'intuit'. It didn't always mean 'gut' or 'feeling'. It merely meant "a looking at".

RRRGroup said...


I'm using the Jungian concept of Intuition, which is a bit more complex than what you perceive it to be.


Epinoia said...

So complex that you won't explain further. I see... All too well.

RRRGroup said...


You can Google Jung and find a specific, accurate account of his Intuition thesis.

That would be better than having me try to encapsulate the great man's idea.


Epinoia said...

"Intuition refers to a deeper perception of inherent possibilities and inner meanings. Intuitive perception ignores the details and focuses instead upon the general context or atmosphere. It perceives (without clear evidence or proof) the direction in which things are moving, the subtle inner relationships and underlying processes involved, or the latent potentialities of a situation. Intuition never directly reflects reality but actively, creatively, insightfully and imaginatively adds meaning by reading things into the situation that are not immediately apparent to a purely objective observer."

That's what I found. And as a starting point, I have no problem with it. But it's a starting point -- not something one runs with, while rejecting logic. Indeed, it's complementary to logic -- one takes one's intuition, and THEN places it before logical analysis.

RRRGroup said...


Logic doesn't explain quantum, and can't.

It also doesn't explain life (the meaning of) or God.

So, logic is not a panacea for some very important things.


Epinoia said...

"Logic doesn't explain quantum, and can't."

Logic wasn't able to explain retrograde motion of planets back when the majority of people believed in a geocentric universe. The problem wasn't with logic, the problem was with the assumption that the earth was the center of the universe. When we were able to shed our preconceived notions (intuitions), the logic worked quite well. In other words, when we figure out what's wrong with our model of quantum physics, logic will work quite well.

"It also doesn't explain life (the meaning of) or God."

The meaning of life? Are you serious? Such value judgments are not the sorts of things that logic is meant to address. For you, it could be eating as many twinkies as you can while you're alive. For me, it may be drinking as many cups of coffee as I can consume. Better still, there may not be ANY meaning of life, just as there may not be any God.

But let's assume that there is -- despite all the evidence to the contrary (murders, famines, etc.)... As a Catholic, surely you recognize the importance that Catholicism places upon the teaching of logic. Why do you suppose that is? And better still, why do you think the Protestants have such animosity toward the intellect?

RRRGroup said...


"As a Catholic, surely you recognize the importance that Catholicism places upon the teaching of logic."

Surely you jest.

Catholicism is premised upon Faith.

There is no syllogistic reasoning within Catholicism at all.

Protestantism is premised upon the shenanigans of Martin Luther, an anti-Semite nut.

Everything that follows from either religion is faulty, for many reasons.

As for God -- or whatever you wish to deny -- creation seems patterned to me, even with all the irrationalities that we experience, but that's because creation is premised upon a flawed creator or flawed (intrinsically irrational) set of physical laws, as quantum indicates.

Now you would wish to drag me into a redundant discussion about basic matters of life, and I'm taking the Bartleby way out -- "I prefer not to."


Epinoia said...

Perhaps you would show me a single Catholic seminary which graduates its members without taking logic and philosophy courses?

You obviously believe in some sort of Creator entity -- when a far more simple explanation works. Sure, nature looks 'patterned' -- anyone who inherits traits from parents understands this. The fact that you attribute this 'patterning' to a Creator, rather than a direct consequence of evolution, shows how prejudicial your mind actually is.

RRRGroup said...


The Church surely provides courses in philosophy, but the premise (again) of the Faith has nothing to do with that discipline or anything else mundane.

A "creator' for me can be any thing or mechanism that set lfe here in motion.

If that's evolution, fine.

But I'm really an advocate for a First Cause, which generates from an ongoing, eternal something -- God, physical law, Pi, whatever.

Now I'm off to things sensual...


Epinoia said...

The Church doesn't provide the logic and philosophy courses as mere electives. They are REQUIRED for seminary students.

Since Augustine, Catholicism has placed a high emphasis on logic. Indeed, with John 1's statement about the Logos, one can hardly imagine how they could do otherwise.

Enjoy your sensual pursuits...

RRRGroup said...

Those of us, E, who were taught by the Jesuits know full well the academic discipline provided by the Church.

But the theological teachings were are bit more esoteric, and less worldly than the curriculum you cite.

Read Schillebeeckx.

(I'm outta here.)