Where Do We Go Next? — IV

Polling survey[for a brief explanation of this ongoing series, as well as a full table of contents, go here. Note: this is the last entry in this 27-part series]

What do philosophers think of philosophy?

I am about to wrap up my tour of what philosophy is and how it works, which has taken us throughout these seven chapters to examine subjects as disparate as the Kyoto School and Quineian webs of beliefs, the history of progress in mathematics and the various theories of truth as they apply to the explanation of scientific progress. Before some concluding remarks on the current status and foreseeable future of the discipline, however, it seems advisable to pause and reflect on what philosophers themselves think of a number of issues characterizing their own profession.

As we have seen, we are often accused of endlessly posing the same questions, and of having more opinions floating around than the number of available philosophers. I have dealt somewhat with the first accusation above; as far as the second one goes, we actually have empirical data to falsify it, or at the least to question its alleged sweeping reach. Such data come from a rare survey of professional philosophers’ take on a number of philosophical questions, conducted by David Bourget and David Chalmers (2013). I think it is important for every profession to have a pulse of itself, so to speak, i.e., for its practitioners — at the least from time to time — to get a sense of where their field is and where it may be going, and in that respect, this whole book is one author’s contribution to precisely that sort of exercise. The Bourget and Chalmers’ paper, however, is quantitative in nature, and despite a number of possible reservations about its methodology (e.g., concerning the sampling protocol, or the fact that the multivariate analyses presented in it are rather preliminary and should really have been much more the focus of attention) it presents an uncommon chance to systematically assess the views of an entire profession. This is the sort of thing that would probably be useful also in other disciplines, from the humanities to the natural sciences, but is all too seldom actually done.

I will focus here on a number of interesting findings that bear directly or indirectly on my overall project of exploring whether and how philosophy makes progress in the conceptual space defined by its own questions and methods. To begin with, is there something to the above mentioned quip, that if there are x philosophers in a room, they are bound to have x+1 opinions (or thereabout) concerning whatever subject matter happens to be under discussion? The data definitely disprove anything like that popular caricature. Consider some of the main findings of the Bourget-Chalmers survey:

71% of respondents thought that a priori knowledge is possible, while only 18% didn’t think so (the remainder, here and in the other cases, falls under the usual heterogeneous category of “other”). There is a clear majority here, despite ongoing discussions on the subject.

However, things are more equally divided when it comes to views on the nature of abstract objects: Platonism gets 39% while nominalism is barely behind, at 38%. Superficially, this may seem an instance of precisely what’s wrong with philosophy, but is in fact perfectly congruent with my model of multiple peaks in conceptual space. Notice that philosophers seem to have settled on two “aporetic clusters,” to use Rescher’s terminology from the Introduction, and have eliminated a number of unacceptable alternatives. There may very well not be an ascertainable fact of the matter about whether Platonism or nominalism is “true.” They are both reasonable ways of thinking about the ontology of abstract objects, with each position subject to further refinement and criticism.

The reader will remember that Quine thought he had demolished once and for all the distinction between analytic and synthetic propositions (one of the famous “two dogmas” of empiricism, see Chapter 3). Well, the bad news for Quine is that about 65% of philosophers disagree, and only 27% agree that such demise has in fact taken place.

One of the most lopsided outcomes of the survey concerns what epistemic attitude is more reasonable to hold about the existence and characteristics of the external world: 82% of respondents qualified themselves as realists, followed by only 5% skeptics and 4% idealists.
Most philosophers are atheists (73%), which, by the way, is a significantly higher percentage than most categories of scientists (Larson and Whitam 1997).

Classical logic, for all the newer developments in that field, still holds sway at 52%, followed by non-classical logic at 15% (though there is a good number of “other” positions being debated, in this case).

Physicalism is dominant in philosophy of mind (57%), while cognitivism seems the way to go concerning moral judgment (66%).

In terms of ethical frameworks, things are much more evenly split, with deontology barely leading at 26%, followed by consequentialism at 24% and virtue ethics at 18%. Here too, as in the case of Platonism vs nominalism, the result makes perfect sense to me, as it is hard to imagine what it would mean to say that deontology, for instance, is the “true” approach to ethics. These three (and a number of others) are reasonable, alternative ways of approaching ethics — and there are a number of unreasonable ones that have been considered and discarded over time.

In philosophy of science, realism beats anti-realism by a large margin, 75% to 12%, which is consistent with my own view that, although anti-realists do have good arguments, the preponderance of considerations clearly favors realism.

And finally (although there are several other entries in the survey worth paying attention to), it turns out that correspondence theories of truth (Chapter 4) win out (51%) over deflationary (25%) and epistemic (7%) accounts.

Bourget and Chalmers then move on to consider the correlations between the answers their colleagues provided to the questions exemplified above and other, possibly influential, factors. Here too, the results are illuminating, and comforting for the profession, I would say. For instance, there was practically no correlation at all between philosophical views and gender, with the glaring (and predictable, and still relatively small) exception of a 0.22 correlation (which corresponds to barely 5% of the variance explained) between gender and one’s views on Philosophy of Gender, Race, and Sexuality. Although the authors report statistically significant correlations between philosophical views and “UK affiliation, continental European nationality, USA PhD, identification with Lewis, and analytic tradition … [and] … USA affiliation and nationality, identification with Aristotle and Wittgenstein, and a specialization in Continental Philosophy,” these are all below 0.15 in absolute value, which means we are talking about 2% or less of the variance in the sample. There just doesn’t seem to be much reason to worry that philosophers are characterized by wildly different views depending on their gender, age, or country of origin — as it should be if philosophy is a type of rational inquiry, rather than just a reflection of the cultural idiosyncrasies of its practitioners. The opposite finding would have been somewhat worrisome, though not unknown even in the natural sciences: for instance in the case of Russian vs Western geneticists for most of the 20th century, even independently of the infamous Lisenko affair (Graham 1993).

More interesting are what Bourget and Chalmers call “specialization correlations.” Again, the full article is well worth reading and pondering, but here are some highlights that picked my interest:

Philosophy of religion (a somewhat embattled subfield) is more likely to include people who accept theism and who are libertarian (i.e., reject determinism) in matters of free will. The same people are also (slightly) less likely to embrace physicalism in philosophy of mind, or to accept naturalism as a metaphilosophy. None of this, it should be clear, is at all surprising.

Indeed, most of the strongest correlations between philosophical views and subfields are due to philosophers of religion, with a few others attributable to philosophers of science (who tend to be empiricist rather than rationalists) and scholars interested in ancient philosophy (who tend to adopt virtue ethics rather than deontology or utilitarianism).

Even more fascinating — and congruent with my general thesis in this book — are the pairwise correlations between philosophical views, which hint at the conclusion that philosophers tend to develop fairly internally coherent positions across fields. For instance:

If one thinks that the distinction between analytic and synthetic truths is solid, then one also tends to accept the idea of a priori knowledge — naturally enough.

If a philosopher is a moral realist, she is also likely to be an objectivist about aesthetic value. Interestingly, moral realists also tend to be realists in philosophy of science, and Platonists about abstract objects. It is perfectly sensible to reject moral realism in meta-ethics (44% of philosophers do), but — if one is a moral realist — then one’s reflective equilibrium should consistently lead her to also embrace realism in other areas of philosophy as well, which is exactly what happens according to the data.

If one thinks that Star Trek’s Kirk survives teleportation (rather than being killed and replaced by a copy), one also — coherently — often adopts a psychological view of personal identity.

As one would find in the natural sciences, there are also interesting differences on a given question in the opinions of philosophers who do vs those who do not specialize in the subfield that usually deals with that question. As a scientist, I can certainly have opinions about evolution, climate change and quantum mechanics, but only the first one will be truly informed, since I’m an evolutionary biologist, not an atmospheric or fundamental physicist. So too in philosophy. For instance:

Many more philosophers of science adopt a Humean view of natural laws when compared to average philosophers from other disciplines.

More metaphysicians are Platonists, though that particular differential is not very high (15%).
More epistemologists accept a correspondence theory of truth (again, however, the differential is not high: 12%).

Bourget and Chalmers even explored the relationship between one’s identification with a major philosophical figure and one’s views about certain topics. The results are consistent and not surprising, again demonstrating that philosophy is not the Wild West of intellectual inquiries:

If a philosopher admires Quine, he is less likely to accept the analytic-synthetic distinction (and more likely to reject the possibility of a priori knowledge).

Someone who finds kinship with Aristotle is also probably a virtue ethicist.

In political philosophy, if John Rawls is your guy, you are less likely to be a communitarian.

And it really ought not to be surprising at all that philosophers who like Plato are, well, Platonists about abstract objects.

Once more: looking at this data and asking “yes, yes, but which one is the true view of things?” is missing the point entirely.

Perhaps the most interesting and nuanced approach that Bourget and Chalmers take to their data unfolds when they move from uni- and bi-variate to multi-variate statistics, in this case factor and principal components analyses. This allows them to examine the many-to-many relationships among variables in their data set. The first principal component they identify, i.e., the one that explains most of the variance in the sample, they label “Anti-naturalism,” as it groups a number of responses that coherently fall under that position: libertarianism concerning free will, non-physicalism about the mind, theism, non-naturalism as a metaphilosophy, metaphysical possibility of p-zombies, and so-called “further fact” view of personal identity. If one were to plot individual responses along this dimension (which Bourget and Chalmers don’t do, unfortunately), one would see anti-naturalist philosophers clustering at the positive end of it, and naturalist philosophers clustering at the negative end. It would be interesting to see the actual scatter of data points, to get a better sense of the variation in the sample.

The second-ranked principal component is labeled “Objectivism / Platonism” by the authors, and features positive loadings (i.e., multivariate correlations) of cognitivism in moral judgment, realism in meta-ethics, objectivism about aesthetic value, and of course Platonism about abstract objects. The third component is about Rationalism, with positive loadings for the possibility of a priori knowledge, the analytic-synthetic distinction, and rationalism about knowledge. Two more interesting components (ranked fourth and fifth respectively) concern “Anti-realism” (epistemic conception of truth, anti-realism about scientific theories, idealism or skepticism about the external world, Humean conception of laws of nature, and a Fregean take on proper names) and “Externalism” (externalism about mental content, epistemic justification, and moral motivation, as well as disjunctivism concerning perceptual experience). Finally we get two additional components that summarize a scatter of other positions.

The overall picture that emerges, again, is very much that of a conceptual landscape with a number of alternative peaks, which are internally coherent and well refined by centuries of philosophical inquiry. I suspect that historically many more “peaks” have been explored and eventually discarded, and that the height of the current peaks (as reflected by the consensus gathered within the relevant epistemic communities) is itself heterogeneous and dynamic, with some in the process of becoming more prominent in the landscape and others on their way to secondary status or destined to disappear altogether.

The evolution of philosophy

It has been a long excursion across the intellectual landscapes that characterize the general practice that goes under the name of “philosophy,” a practice that has been carried out in many forms throughout the world across millennia. I have put forth the proposition that, broadly speaking and with a number of caveats and exceptions, what we call “philosophy” hangs in a series of empirically informed conceptual spaces. At times, it has a tendency to veer too far from empirical background (both folk and science-based), in which case it begins to lose relevance, and sometimes it even manages to look somewhat silly. The chief reason, I maintain, is that logical constraints are simply too broad, not “constraining” enough: logic is compatible with too many possibilities, and logical coherence is necessary but not sufficient for good philosophy. One needs a science-informed and science-compatible (though certainly not science-deferring) philosophy.

So, does philosophy, construed in the way suggested above, make progress? I think it does, in the sense of exploring and refining the sort of conceptual spaces that I have tried to describe especially in Chapter 6, and in a way that lies somewhere between science (Chapter 4) and mathematics and logic (Chapter 5), but closer to the latter two. As for the future of the discipline — qua form of intellectual inquiry, and quite aside from the politics of academia — I am optimistic, as I see it rather bright. So long as there will be people interested in thoughtful, critical assessments of broad swaths of what counts as human understanding, there will be philosophy, its current loud scientistic detractors (Chapter 1) notwithstanding.

Often philosophers themselves have advanced a model of their discipline as a “placeholder” for the development of eventually independent fields of inquiry, presenting philosophy as the business of conducting the initial conceptual exploration (and, hopefully, clarification) of a given problem or set of problems, handing it then to a special science as soon as that problem becomes empirically tractable. There are quite a few historical examples to back up this view, from the emergence of the natural sciences to that of psychology and linguistics, to mention a few. Philosophy of mind is arguably currently in the midst of this very process, interfacing with the nascent cognitive sciences.

Predictably, this very same model is often twisted by detractors of philosophy to show that the field has been in a slow process of disintegrating itself, with a hard core (represented by metaphysics, ethics, epistemology, logic, aesthetics, and the like) that is the last holdout, and which has shown increasing signs of itself yielding to the triumphal march of Science (with a capital “S”). If that is the case, of course, so be it. But I seriously doubt it. What we have seen over the last few centuries, and especially the last one or so, is simply a transformation of what it means to do philosophy, a transformation that I think is part of the continuous rejuvenation of the field. This should be neither surprising nor assumed to be unique to philosophy. Although we use the general word “science” to indicate — depending on whom one asks — everything from Aristotle’s forays into biology to what modern physicists are doing with the Large Hadron Collider, the very nature of science has evolved throughout the centuries, and keeps evolving still. What counts as good scientific methodology, sound scientific theorizing, or interesting scientific problems has changed dramatically from Aristotle to Bacon to Darwin to Stephen Hawking. Why should it be any different for philosophy?

One of the most obvious indications that philosophy has been reinventing itself over the past century or so is the dramatic onset of a panoply of “philosophies of.” While — bizarrely — I know a number of colleagues who think that philosophy of science, or philosophy of language, or any other philosophy of X barely qualify as philosophy, one can argue that the majority of the modern philosophical literature falls into those areas, rather than the core ones enumerated above. “Philosophies of” are the way the field has been responding to the progressive emancipation of some of its former branches: science is no longer natural philosophy, but that simply means that now philosophers are free to philosophize about science (and, more specifically, about biology, quantum mechanics, etc.) without having to actually do science. The same idea applies to linguistics (and philosophy of language), psychology (and philosophy of the social sciences), economics (and philosophy of economics), and so on and so forth.

Is this sort of transformation also about to affect philosophy’s core areas of metaphysics, ethics, epistemology, logic and aesthetics? It depends on how one looks at things. On the one hand, to a larger or lesser extent it certainly has become increasingly difficult to engage in any of the above without also taking on board results from the natural and social sciences. While logic is perhaps the most shielded of all core philosophical areas in this respect (indeed, it has contributed to the sciences broadly construed significantly more than it has received), it is certainly a good idea to do metaphysics while knowing something about physics (and biology); ethics while interfacing with political and social sciences, and even biology and neuroscience; epistemology while being aware of the findings of the cognitive sciences; and aesthetics with an eye toward biology and social science. Nonetheless, all the core areas of philosophy are still very much recognizable as philosophy, and will likely remain so for quite some time. But should they finally spawn their own independent disciplines, then there will immediately arise in turn a need for more “philosophies of,” and the process will keep continuing, the field adapting and regenerating.

Ultimately, philosophy is here to stay for the same reason that other humanities (and the arts) will stay, regardless of how much science improves and expands, or how much narrow minded politicians and administrators will keep cutting their funding in universities: human beings need more than facts and formulas, more than experiment and observation. They need to experience in the first person, and they need to critically reflect on all aspects of their existence. They need to understand, in the broadest possible terms, which means they need to philosophize.


Bourget, D. and Chalmers, D.J. (2013) What do philosophers believe? Philosophical Studies 3:1-36.

Graham, L.R. (1993) Science in Russia and the Soviet Union: A Short History. Cambridge University Press.

Larson, E.J. and Whitam, L. (1997) Scientists are still keeping the faith. Nature 386:435-436.

110 thoughts on “Where Do We Go Next? — IV

  1. Philosopher Eric

    Hi Michael,

    I agree with your disdain for agreement in some regards. We surely don’t require agreement about what’s “beautiful” for example. Furthermore, what if everyone agrees about something which is dead wrong? We surely don’t need that either. Nevertheless if philosophy is to provide humanity with various answers regarding epistemology, ethics, and so on, then consensuses among its professionals will be required. Because I consider some if the field’s questions to be amazingly important, I find the “maybe this, maybe that” status quo, quite troubling.

    Yes Massimo has shown us a form of progress which occurs in the field. But are the young being moulded in the image of the old, and so being hindered from seeking a form of progress that humanity could effectively use? These vicious turf wars and battles for respect surely harm progression more than any individual participant can know.


  2. brodix


    Having been told too many times, “On the other hand……,” Harry Truman once said, “Just give me a one armed economist.”

    Information is discrete and static, but not all of reality is, so we have to deal with a fragmentary description of reality.

    As a product of billions of years of evolution, you have a central nervous system to process information and the digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems to process energy. When you learn to think at the speed of light, then it will all tie together.


  3. synred

    Hi Coel:

    I once gave a talk at the Canadian Physical Society on B-physics at Cornell that I cutely subtitled ‘Beautiful Physics’. before we settled on the dull names top and bottom. It was a bad talk though!

    Now we have puns! E.g., ‘topless models’ (before the top quark was found) and the dolly parton.

    We’re lucky Sen. Proxmire didn’t give us a ‘Golden Fleece’ … that may even be why top and bottom won out …


    Liked by 1 person

  4. synred


    Maybe Coel doesn’t have free will and Robin just ‘pushed his buttons’.

    Blogs in general seem to be a big positive feedback loop of ‘button pushing’





  5. Robin Herbert

    Hi Coel,

    The article http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/newton-philosophy/ doesn’t say anything about Cartesian ideas delaying the reception of Newtonian physics in France, rather it is talking about a philosophical approach.

    I had never heard of there being any greater push back on Newton’s phyiics in France than there was in England (Hooke for example) so I did a bit of digging.

    I can see, for example, in “The Mathematical Papers of Isaac Newton, volume VIII, ed. D.T Whiteside” that the discussion around Newton’s Physics in Continental Europe, including France in the late 17th and early 18th century concerned details of the calculations in it and whether it could be better formulated in Leibniz notation, rather than any general failure to accept it. This refers to actual documents and correspondence from the time and this seems to me more reliable.

    (See, for example, pp 49 50 of above mentioned text.)

    I can see that relations between continental Europe and Britain were anything but easy, Niklaus Bernoulli expressing surprise at the hospitality and courtesy that he received from the English and in particular Newton himself,

    So if there was any slightly greater delay in accepting Newtonian physics in France than there was in England or anywhere else, (and I can see no reliable evidence that this is the case) it can perhaps be better explained by enduring political hostilities that existed then.

    But then nothing in history is simple, especially not the history of science. I think that I would have to see some evidence that Descartes writings on method had any effect in delaying acceptance of Newtonian physics in France.


  6. michaelfugate

    I am wondering how Coel views the collaboration between biologists and historians he mentioned – if it is anything like how views the relationship between philosophy and science, then it is not going to be much of a collaboration. Are biologists going to tell historians what happened while the historians merely watch and learn? If the historians have nothing to offer, then how is it a collaboration? I am thinking Coel missed all those earlier posts where we pointed out the collaborations between philosophers and scientists – he did ask for examples and we complied. Do we need to repeat them?


  7. SocraticGadfly

    Tosh on actual principles of logic, or math as an actual discipline, coming from shepherds in the fields, Coel….

    Oh, wait, I’m sorry, there”s Euclid, being a good Hellenistic pederast shepherd and figuring out the proper angle of approach to capture a sub-adult sheep to bugger it.

    And, now, like Dan, I shall stop responding further.


  8. Coel

    Hi Robin,

    The article … doesn’t say anything about Cartesian ideas delaying the reception of Newtonian physics in France, rather it is talking about a philosophical approach.

    But the whole point is that philosophy and physics were then combined in “natural philosophy” and philosophical objections to Newton’s way of doing things affected acceptance of his work.

    Anyhow, the book “The Newton Wars and the Beginning of the French Enlightenment”, J. B. Shank, Univ Chicago, 2008, seems to support Weinberg’s statement (see from about p44 and the next 30 pages, which can be read on Google books).

    Hi michaelfulgate,

    I am wondering how Coel views the collaboration between biologists and historians he mentioned …

    As a collaboration with both bringing relevant knowledge and expertise to the topic.

    I am thinking Coel missed all those earlier posts where we pointed out the collaborations between philosophers and scientists – he did ask for examples and we complied. Do we need to repeat them?

    Which particular of the many previous discussions on this blog are you referring to? Anyhow, all along I’ve emphasized the role that conceptual thinking plays in science (whether done by scientists or philosophers or whoever).

    Hi Dan,

    Lol. You are, as always, quite predictable.

    I think that most of the regulars here could reliably predict the approach of most of the other regulars. (Though I was a bit surprised — entirely pleasantly surprised — by Massimo’s statement that distinguishing between moral realism and anti-realism was an empirical matter, and thus a job for science.)

    Liked by 2 people

  9. synred

    War of the Spanish succession, 1701-14

    Louis XIV of France attempts to take the Spanish throne, opposed by England, the Netherlands, Austria and Bavaria. The Treaty of Utrecht concludes the fighting, giving Gibraltar, Minorca and French colonial possessions to Britain.

    Seven years war, 1750s-1763

    France and Britain go to war. It lasts seven years in Europe but goes on for more than 15 in India, where the French are defeated by Robert Clive, and nine years in North America as James Wolfe wins Canada for Britain.

    Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Latin for Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy ),[1] often referred to as simply the Principia, is a work in three books by Isaac Newton , in Latin, first published 5 July 1687.[2] [3]


  10. brodix


    “Blogs in general seem to be a big positive feedback loop of ‘button pushing’”

    Maybe that while rationality is sequential, in terms of drawing connections, emotion is circular and reactive, thus having the effect of amplifying ones inclinations and responses, in positive and negative feedback loops.

    So that while Coel might be compelled to react in a particular way, it is not so much “determinism,” as how much he is emotionally attached(strong feedback loop) to his particular rational/rationalized thoughts/beliefs (connections proven or believed), rather than being able to more objectively judge them. So reacts emotionally, while perceiving it as rational.

    I realize I’m starting to push the thermodynamic meme a bit here and I don’t want to draw anyone’s emotional blowback/ire, but I do see it as a useful analogy/basis for explaining how emotions interact with the sequential thought process. (That we experience as time.)


  11. brodix

    Think of it as two atoms bouncing against one another and then build out the realm of consequences of multitudes of such interactions.


  12. Robin Herbert

    Hi Coel,

    Your source seems to support what I said, not what Weinberg said. It says that at the time Principia was published it was accepted and lauded by French scientists and mathematicians. It says that the Newton wars were unheard of before 1715 and that the main sally to try to re establish Cartesian primacy (something Descartes himself would probably have rejected ) was in 1728 onwards and proved ultimately ineffective. It also says the same thing that I said, that the motivation for this was nationalistic.

    The fact remains that Newton’s physics were accepted by French science upon their publications and the criticisms in the late 17th and early 18th century were of mathematical details, as my source showed and your source supports.

    I seem to recall that some of the most important work on Newtonian mechanics occurred in 18th century France, although I don’t have time at the moment to confirm that recollection.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. marc levesque

    Philosopher Eric,

    # if philosophy is to provide humanity with various answers regarding epistemology, ethics, and so on, then consensuses among its professionals will be required … I find the “maybe this, maybe that” status quo, quite troubling … are the young being moulded in the image of the old, and so being hindered from seeking a form of progress that humanity could effectively use? #

    I don’t think so. Some topics in philosophy are not consensual but I don’t think it is out of a lack of a wish for agreement, it’s simply the state of things, and it doesn’t rule out further progress on these topics. For example be it about science or morality, I don’t think the issues divide neatly between realist or anti-realist, or subjective or objective, positions so I don’t expect consensus at this time. But that doesn’t preclude new information, further clarification or new perspectives evolving, and it surely doesn’t imply the issues are no longer open for debate, or the current framing of the topics won’t change.

    And of course like with all controversial topics people will regularly try to tackle the problems, but as far as I can tell there currently aren’t any solutions because once fleshed out it becomes clear they’re either based on a misunderstanding of the issues, they don’t clear up the controversies or help us progress, or they add in new controversies of their own.


  14. marc levesque


    Playing devil’s advocate, wouldn’t it be more coherent, and better satisfy Occam and an evolutionary perspective, if you held a philosotismist rather than a scientismist position. You could have philosophy as the main category, with science and other practices as subfields of philosophy, and if you want one term to cover more everyday uses of good inquiry, good observation, and good reasoning you could simply call that doing good philosophy.


  15. Coel

    Hi Marc,

    Playing devil’s advocate, wouldn’t it be more coherent, and better satisfy Occam and an evolutionary perspective, if you held a philosotismist rather than a scientismist position.

    Sure, I’d be happy with that. We could go back to the old terms and call everything “natural philosophy”. As someone with a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) I’d be ok with that. 🙂

    My stance is a “unity of knowledge” stance about epistemology, seeing fields such as science, maths, history, logic, as all being connected, and all rooted in empiricism (rejecting a priori knowledge). The semantics matter less.

    The term “scientism” was really invented by those who oppose people who think like me. I adopted the term because the ideas that they were calling scientism seemed to me very sensible. So blame them! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  16. michaelfugate

    So philosophy and history are equals to sciences such as biology or physics as ways of obtaining knowledge? It is all one, no?

    In your unitary world, philosophy could inform science and science could inform philosophy – something you denied has ever happened a day or so ago? I must admit I am confused.


  17. Philosopher Eric

    Well Marc Levesque, you might be wrong, but I certainly hope that you’re right about the educations of our future philosopher. If the domain of philosophy happens to be as important as I believe it is, then these people will need to inherent far better than turf wars and inferiority complexes.


  18. synred

    Story #2: Hidden Variables

    Despite how tidy the decoherence story seems, there are some people for whom it remains unsatisfying. One reason is that the decoherence story had to bring in a lot of assumptions seemingly extraneous to quantum mechanics itself: about the behavior of typical physical systems, the classicality of the brain, and even the nature of subjective experience. A second reason is that the decoherence story never did answer our question about the probability you see the dot change color — instead the story simply

    “pulled a Wittgenstein” :_)

    that is, tried to convince us the question was meaningless)!


  19. brodix

    Maybe diversity is more fundamental to the nature of knowledge than unity.

    Connections, relationships, networks, etc, exist and can be described, yet often the process raises further questions and issues. Knowledge is not monistic.

    “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.”

    We generally, as expressed by Coel and Eric, like a singular frame from which to view knowledge.

    Is the issue with nature, or the nature of knowledge?

    Consciousness is singular. Knowledge is not.


  20. Daniel Kaufman

    these people will need to inherent far better than turf wars and inferiority complexes.


    Could you be specific? Which philosophers, specifically, are suffering “inferiority complexes”? And how and in what sense? Between whom are the “turf wars” and over what are they being fought?

    Again, *specifically*. We’ve had plenty of generalities and assertions about a discipline consisting of thousands, upon thousands of professionals. You obviously have some special insight into their psychologies — or some inside information, as to what they are thinking and feeling and plotting. Could you please share it?


  21. SocraticGadfly

    Massimo, I bought two jars of rapini “pesto” on sale for half off at World Market today, to get us back to food aesthetics. (It also has capers and anchovies, among other things.) Cooking suggestions from you?


  22. SocraticGadfly

    Ahh, yes, you’re enough of a foodie, too, Daniel … I was thinking, if I didn’t want to be TOO adventurous, I could cut it by 1/3 or so with “regular pesto” as a pasta sauce.

    Thought B? I was toying with adding it to quiche.


  23. Daniel Kaufman

    I wouldn’t cut it for a pasta sauce. The anchovies and capers make it almost a white puttanesca. The flavor will be fantastic and doesn’t need to be watered down. Just toss the pasta with it and don’t use to much. Add it to taste.

    I still think it would be best for a white pizza though. Especially if you can pull off a real, homemade pizza dough.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. SocraticGadfly

    I make homemade bread … and have made pizza dough before, though it’s been a while. … never made a white pizza, but I’ll think about that.

    What about the quiche angle? I was thinking it would “stand up” to the eggs (along with a little butter and asiago, as other seasonings).

    And, I’ll run it straight on the pasta … I do like anchovies, so, that’s all good. Been a while since I’ve had capers, but I at least somewhat like them in cooking.


  25. Daniel Kaufman

    I don’t know about the quiche. For some reason and strikes me as being off. Maybe because quiche has a buttery crust and the pesto is olive oil based.

    I will admit that I am a bit of a Quiche Lorraine purist, so I don’t go for very funky quiches.

    If you can make a pizza crust and use high quality mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, with fresh, crushed garlic it will be amazing.


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