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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 12 2013: I would argue that metaphysics as a branch of philosophy is for the most part considered dead in most continental philosophy circles today. Mostly due to the french theorists to come about after the student revolution in france in may 1967. As far as how philosophy itself can be used to help every day situations or life, have you considered the political realm of philosophy as a starting point. If it were not for philosophy we would not have the set up of our government in the United States. Another area where I would suggest that philosophy is used in daily life and not just some sort of arm chair or academic style could be seen in psychoanalytic philosophy such as the current lacanian movement, which is used to evaluate everything from film and books down to current world events and how our relationships with our own unconscious are involved in world events, see Slavoj Zizek for such arguments. The problem with the idea of returning philosophy to the scientific method is that the concepts that are to be examined by philosophy are not always concrete ideas. I would actually argue that science itself could learn from the deconstructionists as well as post structuralists such as Deleuze when talking about the flux of life. Science tends to approach the world as though, just as in history, you can stop things and explain them fully. The problem with this concept is that life is not stationary, there is nothing in the world that is not in the flux.
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      May 12 2013: What was the title of work that is considered, the founding of science? Also you are creating a fallacy of concreteness. I would recommend looking into some Quantum Physics, my friend. Then we can philosophize about your concrete material world
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      May 14 2013: Hi Cary, Thanks for you response,

      Political philosophy is actually what I'm most interested in personally. As far as Deleuze, I don't understand what he's talking about half the time. For me he is so impossible to read but I do like his ideas about Nietzsche.

      I'm not saying that philosophy should become totally scientific. There are some questions that science could not answer that would be best answered by philosophy or something else. Of course this depends on the question being asked.

      I still hold to my idea that philosophy could use a bit of scientific methodology and science could use a bit of philosophy itself (which I believe it does already).

      I know philosophy deals a lot with the subjective, which ok depending on what your talking about but claims in regards to the physical universe should be in accordance with the evidence.

      In regards to political philosophy a purely naturalistic approach to politics was considered during the Enlightenment period and it is starting to see a revival today with scientist like George Lackoff who is attempting to explain politics at the level of the brain. (read his book the political mind).

      Personally I do not agree that political issues can be explained purely by science but when we take into account neuroplasticity and how idea influence our minds and behaviors I think science can shed some light on some political issues. But ultimately I think politics come down to values and that is where I think we need philosophy when talking about politics

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