Well, as to progress, I’d disagree with you there. I think that good philosophy does progress along with progress in the sciences. I mean, yeah, we have in a sense always had the debate about mind/body or free will, but nowadays brain science has really refined those questions to where we can say quite a bit more.
You might say that the progress therefore is just due to the sciences. But after all, historically the sciences sprung from “natural philosophy”; as questions get nailed down and people can think of ways to quantify them and gather facts, etc., they get science-ized. It will not happen that all questions get such treatment, because at the end there will always be questions as to what constitutes “science”, what constitutes “evidence”, “knowledge”, etc.
So to an extent philosophy does have some quantifiable facts to gather and measure: it just looks over at the sciences and uses their facts when appropriate. It also looks at logic and math when appropriate (two clearly valid, useful studies that are purely rational, without really ‘measurable’ facts).
As to endless, circling debate: again, that depends on where you sit. Yeah, debate does go on, but that’s just because some people are stubborn and refuse to see reality. There are also some physicists who don’t believe in the constant speed of light. So one might just as well say there is endless, circling debate in science as well.
I think one can say that in philosophy there’s less of a sense of ‘consensus’ than in science; though that’s just a guess on my part. It certainly seemed to me in a good, science centered, analytic philosophy department that (e.g.) most people were atheistic and compatibilistic, to take two examples. Maybe that overly constrains what counts as philosophy, but then I don’t consider a lot of so-called “post-modernism” to be real philosophy, since it lacks clarity and rigor.
Hmm. I get you. I don’t know. There just seems to be something about philosophical debates (or at least most of them) that just irks me on some basic, knee-jerk level. Maybe it’s because most of the ones I’ve read/seen/heard were from bloviating dimwits trying to sound smart or crap like the old Free Will farce. Or I’m just an irritable ass. Could be anything.
I find the 2nd Question interessting, not how it was meant but in another way:
Is Existence really real the way we think it is, could it be possible that the universe just exist because people “believe” in it, that it came to existence through that because it was more absurd to not exist?
I know that sounds awfully stupid and more like sometghing people ask after Drug Abuse, but what do you think?
Sorry, but as a strong pragmatist, I think most of those questions are designed for mental masturbation, and not real “philosophical questions”. GdB did a great job of shooting them all down in an earlier post.
Philosophy goes where hard science can’t, or won’t. Philosophers have a license to speculate about everything from metaphysics to morality, and this means they can shed light on some of the basic questions of existence. The bad news? These are questions that may always lay just beyond the limits of our comprehension.
I dont think so, at last it was science which solved old philosophical questions about the world which have been asked in ancient times (not much all those questions about ethics and so on), may be we just have the wrong “language” to answer all those questions properly, maybe on day we will build an AI besides which the most capable and intelligent of us look like microbes, an this “thing” may be able to solve these questions, some maybe* with advanced mathematics we were unable to develop.
It seems you did not read my description of philosophy here.
If philosophy just goes where hard science can’t, or won’t, then it would be a cognitive empty discipline, and better compared with art: you like it or you don’t. The criterion for good philosophy would be appreciation by the people (or a subculture thereof), but not correctness.
No, but some people on this forum seem to be suggesting that there are right and wrong answers in philosophy. I started my original reply in a different way but it was getting too convoluted so I decided to put it into the form of a simple question.
I’d really like to know whether people here think that there are right and wrong philosophical positions. There can, of course, be logical and illogical positions on any question. But considering those that do not break the rules of logic, but are in opposition to each other, how can a critical thinker decide which are right and which are wrong?
First, I think there were a fair number of philosophical ideas in the earlier centuries that could only be discussed, but without any empirical evidence. However, as science progressed many of them have been answered. As such, they are now only of interest historically.
Second, some areas are mainly to help us think about our lives and behavior - ethics, for example. If one is oriented toward helping others and working cooperatively, some ethical views can help clarify that person’s thinking. Conversely, if one is oriented toward self-interest and competition, other “ethical philosophers” (my bias is showing with the quotation marks) like Ayn Rand, Palumbo, Libertarians, etc. would clarify that person’s thinking. And, in both cases, I’m sure the person could say their ethical ideas have been tested empirically.