Thoughts on Philosophy

I have hopes of being both a scientist and a philosopher. In my opinion, both subjects are an attempt to understand this world and how we stand in relation to it. Although humanity has yet to adopt the world view, it can at least expand our world view. This non-objective world view is the closest thing to reality or truth that we have, and I fervently wish to jump into the journey.

I’ve been met with a lot of praise for my interest in science, but not so much for my interest in philosophy. I was having a conversation with a friend of mine the other day on the subject of philosophy and its importance. This friend of mine is an aspiring physicist, and criticized the school of philosophy for not being very useful, as opposed to the school of science which has practical applications. He admitted that philosophy is interesting, but he claimed that was all there was to it. “It’s only food for thought,” he said. As I listened to him go on, I noticed how well reasoned his argument was and how much he reminded me of a philosopher.

In response I said, “Would you agree with me if I defined philosophy as a system in which one is very meticulous with both semantics and logic? If so, then you are as of right now philosophizing. You may find the work of some philosophers to be nothing more than word games (I sometimes do too), but you are in fact forming a critique of philosophy which is in itself a philosophy. And in the same way you tell creationists the only way to discredit science is with more science, I say unto you, the only way to discredit philosophy is with more philosophy.”

The conversation then led to the question of which is more useful; science or philosophy? We both agreed science is more useful if it is utility that is being measured, but that doesn’t render anything of lesser utility useless.

Philosophy is how we understand (or fail to understand) the nature of our existence. Like science, it tries to find an explanation for the tidbits of knowledge we’ve discovered. How we think shapes our condition, and if we have a vision for this world in mind, it only follows that we go about changing it to meet our desired goal in an effective way; by understanding our condition.

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  5 comments for “Thoughts on Philosophy

  1. Randstein
    April 5, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    A scientist that is not first and foremost a philosopher is no scientist at all, merely a modern technician. There is a big difference between real science and just serving technology with the use of scientific principles for objective study or to produce something. Basic research, which uses pure science to answer questions never asked and to solve problems without solutions must start with the the philosophical questions that govern the need to pursue an answer. Philosophy paves the way for humanity to learn and science is the tool that strives to prove an answer right or wrong. In both there must always be an error budget. When we fail to realize we might be wrong, we don’t ask those questions that lead us to new discoveries about ourselves and our physical world. We go down a dangerous path when we claim we are scientists and scoff at philosophy. Do both and you will leave your peers in the dust tinkering with some little widget for the next smartphone and calling it science.

  2. bethmoulder
    April 7, 2015 at 1:59 am

    There wouldn’t be science without philosophy (can there be science without ‘food for thought’? Don’t we need to philosophize to figure out what questions to ask and how to intelligently run experiments? Weren’t the first scientists philosophers? (logical fallacy)) and there couldn’t be philosophy without science (that’s blatant religion and/or faith). I’ve read scientific opinions of the uselessness of what the writer believes to be philosophy, but questions and dialogue matter. Philosophy is a means of theorizing and testing ideas (i.e., experimenting) via words to see what seems to be true. The point is -in both cases- to pursue and study the truth. There is a serious degree of questioning and imagination that goes into science, and an equally serious degree of experimentation that goes into philosophizing. I think they need each other (a continuum?), and to see otherwise is to argue over syntax, which is an extremely philosophical thing for a scientist to do. Both want the facts though, yes?I err on the side of science, and I understand very little, if not nothing, but I’d guess studying both will give you an interesting and very useful role in the world.

  3. Matthew Chiglinsky
    April 10, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Major in science. Take philosophy courses as electives.

    Science is a job. Philosophy is a hobby.

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