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Orlando Hawkins


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Is it time for philosophy to do away with metaphysics?

I love philosophy but one of the main issues that I hear about it is that its impractical and serves no suitable purpose to the world. Although I believe this claim to be somewhat false I understand the point that is being made from those who criticize it.

Philosophy is capable of being pragmatic but the reason why it appears as though its not is because it deals too much with the abstract and concerns itself with metaphysics. If you want a real brain teaser metaphysical talk is the way to go but metaphysics really serves no purpose to the world. For a family who constantly have to work to feed their children and provide an education, contemplating the nature of reality or postulating weather or not consciousness exists outside the brain is probably not going to help the situation. One of my professors say that if we sit in meditation, we’ll understand the true harmonious nature and interconnectedness of the universe. We will understand how to act in each moment (similar to what Taoist believe). He may be right but we often forget that its a privilege to be able to do so. Nor are these concerns on everyone’s mind.

The philosophy department at my school is great but it is too indulged in metaphysics. From an epistomological standpoint this is problematic because most of the claims that are made is either in conflict with the way the natural world really is (scientific discoveries) and they are essentially not able to be proved which means we should not waste our time with such claims. When it comes to epistemology, I think this is where philosophy could utilize the methodology of science.

I"m a philosopher at heart but it concerns me that philosophy would lose it value if it cannot indulge in more empiricism and naturalism when making claims about the way the world is.

are we so concerned with value to the point that we'll negate truth? is science capable of establishing values?


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  • May 10 2013: Orlando, I agree with Fritzie, but would add a definition of philosophy that could aid you for the remainder of your life: Philosophy is a process of man to reconcile material and non-material realities. Humans cannot know all things and those realities that cannot be observed with eyes, hearing, touch, smell or by any uses of machines and observing equipment, must therefore be handled through thinking and imagination. A purposeful question for any problem could be 'what is real'?

    Philosophy helps mankind address challenges, some large, as Fritzie infers. What could humankind achieve without the ability to think? Not much, I suspect.

    You have the ability to think and I suspect you consider the topics selected by your professor is a waste of time. Could be very true for you at this time in your life. Pick a different topic in your private thinking or in concert with others and attempt to find explanation for what troubles you---the questions you have in life. Meditate on those problems and in time note the questions and ideas that come to mind related to your selected challenges or topics you wish to address.

    Philosophy has its purposes. You would be wise to attempt to reconcile what you can observe and learn by education and compare it to your ideals you would like to prevail in your life---be it small or large. After all is said, it is the good you can give to the world that matters most. Think of ways you could do the most good, no matter how large or small your personal world!

    Would there be any value for you and friends to encourage others to do the same?
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      May 10 2013: Mark raises an important issue that goes beyond the study of philosophy per se. "Pick a different topic for your private thinking or in concert with others..."

      When a teacher focuses on a topic, it is valuable for you to consider it, as you may not at first glance understand its importance. Education is meant to open your eyes to things you have not realized.

      On the other hand learning and education are about adding to what you are thinking about and find of value- not replacing it. You can fruitfully fold what you learn to consider in your education into what you already think about- your existing great interests and concerns.
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        May 10 2013: Thanks Fritzie

        but I'm not as ignorant as you think I am. I more than understand the reason's why metaphysics is valuable to many people. Reading Nietzsche and existential philosophy does give some insight on human the human condition.

        I have learned a great deal from my professors. They are more concerned about value as opposed to anything else and I do not think that is a bad thing. The only issue is that they find value in some other world. I find value in this world. I do not have to agree with them but I do like what they have to say. It has much benevolence.

        For me its no coincidence that the most prominent contemporary philosophers also have a contribution to the scientific community. I'm not saying science is the only way to find value but I think philosophy can use a bit of science and science could use a bit of philosophy.

        I don't need to agree with their metaphysics in order to have a valuable life. There are other ways of finding value. Its just a matter of figuring it out
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          May 18 2013: It is perfectly alright to disagree on academic issues. But make sure you master the basic subject matter first.
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      May 10 2013: Hi Mark, great comment. Thanks!

      For one I never mentioned that philosophy should go away nor do I think it ever will. I've stated metaphysics, which is one branch of philosophy. I just don't see how it can be useful in the modern world anymore, especially with advances in science.

      Does philosophy have a valuable history? Of course! Does it serve a purpose? Absolutely! Is it as dry as many people think it is? I don't think so..

      I do like what you mentioned in regards to philosophy dealing with the material and non material world...if your taking about your own personal life experiences and values and what is useful I agree with you if you consider this non-material. I think that is why existential philosophy is very important and existential philosophy does not always deal with metaphysics.

      As I've learned from Nietzsche, Sartre and other existentialist you can have much value to your life. The physical world is not the only thing that matters but I don't think metaphysics will provide much comfort. All I know is that I'm here, I'm living and I'm finding my own value in the world. Being concerned about an metaphysical after world that may or may not exists is not going to do me or most people (at least I think so) any justice.

      You mentioned that I should find a topic that troubles me, well this is one but I would hope that no one took it as me saying philosophy should go away unless you define philosophy as metaphysics, which it is not.

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