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Philosophy of commonality

an aggregated approach to philosophy
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Philosophy is the art of taking a premise and following it to its logical conclusion.

This works well, and lots of interesting branches of philosophy results from it. The problem is, if you want people to subscribe to your philosophy you need to find a premise (or set of premises) that everyone agrees upon. But it's hard to know what premises people agree on. What might seem sensible and obvious to one person may be completely insane and arbitrary to another.

So I propose a method of 'group philosophy'. This is a sort of warmer, softer version of philosophizing. Basically, a group of individuals are asked their opinion about a particular topic. These opinions are then analyzed to find themes or ideas that are common to the opinions. The analysis would look for the underlying concepts rather than merely the superficial similarities. From this a philosophy that all people involved agree upon could be developed.

The person performing the analysis would endeavor to minimize their own opinions/biases which will inevitably creep into the analysis.

This approach probably wouldn't come up with anything groundbreaking. However, it might make philosophy a bit more human and approachable (philosophy can tend to be sterile, alienating and imposed-on).

xaviergisz, Feb 13 2010

When they find an universal answer, these people will be put out of business... 1-800-MINDFUK
Great, more out-of-work call-center employees... [RayfordSteele, Feb 14 2010]

Bernard-Henri Levy http://www.timesonl.../article7019866.ece
Botulism [rcarty, Feb 15 2010]

Collision http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/sl9/
with Jupiter [Ian Tindale, Feb 15 2010]


       It's not that i'm against this idea, more that i don't see Philosophy that way. To me, Philosophy is just stuff i think about, possibly most of what i think about. I'll try to say more when i've digested this a bit.
nineteenthly, Feb 13 2010

       // These opinions are then analyzed // // The person performing the analysis //   

       How ?   

       How do you prevent the analysis process from modifying the expressed opinions ? The process needs parameters with which to operate, which can only be set externally. Thus you have introduced a fundamental bias into the process which nullifes its "consensus" nature. The person performing the analysis operates within a defined cultural and social ethos, not in a vacuum (However, putting sociologists in a sealed chamber and pumping all the air out is an idea not entirely lacking in merit, and more than worthy of further practical investigation) and will ipso facto inject bias, at a fundamental level because they must use a language to express the results.   

       + for trying.   

       - for bad philosophy.   

       Result: electric herring soap.
8th of 7, Feb 13 2010

       I'm going to plod through the text of your idea fairly mechanically now.   

       Philosophy is an attempt to find fundamentals and work forward from them rigorously. What you describe sounds more like logic to me, which can be closely connected to Philosophy, particularly of the analytic variety.   

       I'd prefer people to think rigorously than agree with me. That might in itself be a Philosophy, but i'm not sure how i feel about people disagreeing with that. It's probably OK and it interests me when people do that. I tend to think of psychodynamic explanations for it, which may be quite patronising.   

       So, you're looking for common ground between people? That sounds promising. It would get past entrenched camps, it seems to me, and would be particularly useful in political debate, though not in Parliament because the big parties share most assumptions.   

       I don't think the person doing the analysis could be objective because i think neutrality is illusory.   

       I don't know what you mean by "imposed-on", but Philosophy can be the opposite of sterile and alienating. It's more of a playground than anything else, i think, unless you take it seriously, in which case it can guide your life and lead to wisdom.   

       Now for electric herring soap [ of ], do you mean soap made from electric herrings or soap which is electric and made from herring? How electric must herring be to be included in this product? Can you introduce electric eel genes before you start? Is the electrical activity of their nervous systems enough? I think the best approach would probably be to combine fish oils from herring with cations of some kind and combine it with a saturated solution of some kind of salt, then pass an electric current through it. Alternatively, i suppose you could statically charge herring oil soap. Hmm...
nineteenthly, Feb 13 2010

       [ninteenthly] Everyone knows it's used for washing electric herrings.   

       [xaviergisz] This sounds a lot like an undergraduate philosophy seminar. But [+] for the idea that the product might have some value.
mouseposture, Feb 13 2010

       Structural functionalism?
rcarty, Feb 13 2010

       Value is important. The problem is getting people to perceive that there is a value in a monetary sense. Also, i must now smite myself on the forehead with a slipperier- than-usual fish.
nineteenthly, Feb 13 2010

       But at least you will subsequently have a clean (if fishy-smelling) forehead.
8th of 7, Feb 13 2010

       If you made all words blunter and less sharp, everyone would trend toward agreement. Therefore this philosophy should adopt less precise wordage.
Ian Tindale, Feb 13 2010

       Won't ever work. Philosophy depends upon conflicts to overcome; borders to push against, walls to exercise your muscles with. Besides, you'll put the philosophers all out of work. You could even have a national philosopher's strike on your hands. You know what happens then? Chaos. The quality of manufactured goods goes down as they slowly have to take on actual jobs in the workforce. Philosophy did a nice job of minimizing the potential hairdressers, middle managers, and telephone sanitizers.   

       "I mean what's the use of our sitting up half the night arguing that there may or may not be a God if this machine only goes and gives us his bleeding phone number the next morning?"   

       "We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!"
RayfordSteele, Feb 13 2010

       //I don't know what you mean by "imposed-on"//   

       I meant that philosophy is sometimes presented in an agree-with-this-or-you're- an-idiot manner. There's probably a word that captures this better than "imposed-on".
xaviergisz, Feb 13 2010

       //national philosopher's strike\\ Who will that inconvenience?   

       Sorry I hate this idea, I think this is precisely what philosophy has become and there is a list of people I blame for this: most people that lived after Zeno and Parmenides. Philosophy has become salonfahig and that makes me sad.
zeno, Feb 13 2010

       //This approach probably wouldn't come up with anything groundbreaking//   

       Or noteworthy at all, for that matter. This idea is implemented in pretty much every social gathering.   

       Einstein's theory of relativity, the assertion that the earth revolved around the sun, the notion that the earth was not flat ... point being: Popular opinion has no correlation to truth.
MikeD, Feb 14 2010

       Philosophy is not about Truth.
WcW, Feb 14 2010

       'Can' there be anything that everyone agrees on?
'Should' there be?

       when I said everyone I didn't mean absolutely everyone. I meant everyone in the surveyed group.   

       This idea isn't about discovering universal truth, just about getting philosophers to listen to people.
xaviergisz, Feb 14 2010

       // getting philosophers to listen to people //   

       Which "people" ? You have to prove they exist, first.
8th of 7, Feb 14 2010

       Define “prove”.
Ian Tindale, Feb 14 2010

       //Popular opinion has no correlation to truth// A very popular opinion indeed. Comforting for flat-earthers.   

       //implemented in pretty much every social gathering.// That's why [xaviergisz] specified an "analyst" (discussion leader, facilitator ...): to keep it from becoming a bull session.   

       Godwin's law for bull sessions: someone will eventually respond with "define your terms." And someone else will argue the solipsist position.
mouseposture, Feb 14 2010

       Not going to engage with all of that, but you have a point with the "imposed on", namely that whereas the scientific method has been examined by philosophers in terms of the social pressures on it, the same has not been done to the same extent with Philosophy itself, and it does need to set its house in order rather urgently.
nineteenthly, Feb 14 2010

       //Philosophy is not about Truth.//   

       Never in my life have I encountered a more asinine statement.   

       What makes a notion wise is said notions' esoteric truthfulness. Philosophy, being the love of wisdom, would be naught for lack of the aspect of truthfulness. Maybe you are thinking of sophistry? In which case both I and Socrates disapprove, [WcW].
MikeD, Feb 14 2010

       Philosophy, right. There is definitely a subjectivity bias in contemporary philosophy. Something about Kant and noumenon and our faculties and senses and phenomenon. I'm not sure Kant conculded accurately in that regard, but his CI end in itself thinking is atleast pragmatic. That's ultimately how I see philosophy, an end in itself, a literal love of wisdom; a preoccupation with life until death. In that sense philosophy is about truth, if you can accept philosphy is found in man and truth in the world of phenomenon; then it really is like the man about town finding truth in the fullfillment of his desires; his love of wisdom.
rcarty, Feb 14 2010

       So, it appears that the Friends of Jean-Baptiste Botul Society must be correct. "Philosophy," says the group's website, "is something far too serious to be abandoned to professional philosophers." Just ask Bernard-Henri Levy.
jurist, Feb 15 2010

       Didn’t he make shoes?
Ian Tindale, Feb 15 2010

       No, just recent headlines...
jurist, Feb 15 2010

rcarty, Feb 15 2010

       [xaviergisz] said: "...(philosophy can tend to be sterile, alienating and imposed-on)."
[bernard-henri levy] said: "“It’s the role of the philosopher to land blows.”

Shoemaker-Levy decided to land a blow on Jupiter.
jurist, Feb 15 2010

       //Philosophy is the art of taking a premise and following it to its logical conclusion.//

       Therefore, that comet is a philosopher.   

       Therefore, this is philosophy.   

       --However, I don't think the stipulated definitions of philosophy or philosphers are necessarily correct and that the have been imposed upon us.   

       Therefore, they are philosophy.
rcarty, Feb 15 2010

       I'll never forget my first work-in-progress seminar at Warwick. The tutor asked us to outline areas of interest. The first student said something like the death of the author, and i thought, fine, sounds quite interesting. Then i basically heard the same thing said over and over again in slightly different ways about thirty times, and i thought, OK, it's one aspect, but it's not the only area of concern. The rest of the MA consisted of that being said in various ways several hundred times. And surely, the point of Philosophy, to quote the journal 'Radical Philosophy', is to think "athwart the times"? Bloody sheep!   

       That's what i mean about Philosophy needing to set its own house in order while being very ready to outline the social forces in the practice of science. Fingers pointing at the self and all that.
nineteenthly, Feb 15 2010

       That would have got laughs in my seminars today; was humor the intent when the first student said it?   

       Although it's not what, was it Derrida?, the author meant (snicker), most students take it as a cop-out from reading.
rcarty, Feb 15 2010

       Yes, it was, but not an attempt at humour. It was what i hope was the zenith of post-modernism and critical theory. I say "hope" because i fervently desire for it to be in decline. What annoys me is that whereas post-structuralist stuff is an important issue, it was like that was all there was, and i think the reason for that was that focussing on post-structuralism was a good career move and meant you weren't sticking your head above the parapet. If Philosophy is practiced in an academic environment, that's a risk, just as entrenched opinion is problematic in other academic disciplines. So, if you're serious about Philosophy you have to practice it outside academia to avoid those pressures. There would still be pressures, but of a different kind. The other thing is, suppose Philosophy is dead. In that case, why let an academic institution pay you for something which is debunked?
nineteenthly, Feb 15 2010

       Well, because it's all debunked then. Everything from the Enlightenment on. The whole freedom through reason thing gone, so that means the institution of Education, and its every discipline.   

       You are critical of critical theory?
rcarty, Feb 15 2010

       Oh yes! I see it as an attempt to make excuses for or merely describe the current social and political situation rather than make recommendations for its improvement. It's like engineering which criticises bridges which fall down and aircraft whose wings come off but is useless for designing bridges and aircraft which are actually any good.   

       And if it is all debunked, what indeed are those academics doing cynically drawing salaries? But then cynicism is deconstructed. Nice little earner that, innit?
nineteenthly, Feb 15 2010

       Fishbone from me. As far as I am concerned, philosophy is not about understanding what other people think but about understanding what you think. When you start getting other people involved in the process then you have moved into the realm of politics rather than philosophy.
DrBob, Feb 15 2010

       Philosophy is political. It's an illusion that we as people can exist or come into existence without a social context, and thoughts are not necessarily inside the mind. They're sort of "out there", at least in some philosophical views.   

       An example of how it's political would be the concept of ownership. Intellectual property, property and inalienable property are all controversial. Property in the sense of ownership is the basis of the disagreement between libertarian capitalism and social anarchism. To what extent are my thoughts mine? Do i own them or are they received opinion which i adopt? Can i make them mine? Are my ideas mine? If mental events aren't owned, what constitutes identity? And so on.   

       Another one would be whether rights and duties are coherent notions.
nineteenthly, Feb 15 2010

       Have you ever noticed that when it is an ideas time to be made real, several people will concieve of it simultaneously and the best positioned or fastest person to the draw gets credit?
Would this not seem to imply that the ideas themselves already exist and are in fact 'out there' just waiting for a conduit capable of accepting them so that they can be?

       It's like words.
Concepts already exist before we give them a name. To think otherwise may appear logical, but that seems backwards to my way of thinking.

       Before people existed, it would still have been true that there was, for example, a specific number of leaves on a tree, that some dinosaurs had five toes on each foot and that they were a particular colour and so forth. Those are all concepts, but they're out there and don't depend on our existence to be true, in a sort of Cartesian sense. At the same time, it's just as true to say that our consciousness reaches back into that past and makes them true, and that the past itself belongs to us, being our own past and the time before we existed. Sort that mess out.
nineteenthly, Feb 15 2010

       Ooh, there's lint in my navel today.
RayfordSteele, Feb 15 2010

       I love it when that happens.
rcarty, Feb 15 2010

       //Sort that mess out//   

       Yikes. Nothin like bungee jumping from the tightrope but ok here goes...   

       I don't pretend to understand algebra let alone quantum mechanics and navels make me think of Klein bottles, but if the premise that reality isn't locked into place until observed is true, then I don't see why both singular and plurality of perception can not be valid at the same time if the number of universes and the number of consciousnesses are infinite.   

       Each lifespan of each universe would be a macroscopic metaphor for a single spark of consciousness contained at some point in time within it.
The birth of the Universe would begin long before and end long after the life of that one being because of the scope of the scale of time between this beings conception and the attainment of consciousness, and the loss of consciousness prior to its death.
In all other existences but one, this single conscious being would in essence be just part of the scenery for every other being.
Their overlapping observations would define the common reality and the sum of these consciousnesses and the tapestry of their interweaving would be that which we call God.

       Would that one being be aware of its place as a single nexus within the one mind of such a being?
I mean, it's one thing to accept that your actions have consequences, it would be quite another to accept that every hurt done to every other being and by every other being within that one universe fell squarely on ones own shoulders.

       Talk about morally bound.   

       I think jutta will soon step in a tell y'all to take this discussion to a different forum. So on-topic annos only.
xaviergisz, Feb 15 2010

       //the post proposes a way of seeing the world//   

       nope, the post proposes a novel approach to philosophy. It is agnostic as to what philosophy actually results from this process.   

       EDIT: this anno was in response to mfd. The mfd has been deleted (by the marker, not by me). I'll leave this anno up because it looks like 19thly is going to respond to it.
xaviergisz, Feb 15 2010

       So little time!   

       OK, by "our consciousness", i could have said consciousness. There are several problems here. One view is that the consciousness of the Universe is collective and an innate property of reality or an important part thereof, but another is that each individual has their own consciousness. A third view is that the mind-body problem is an illusion created by a mistaken way of viewing the world where being based on the attitude of care is mixed up with existence based on analysis in quasi-scientific terms. For consciousness, there is a "hole" where the other subject is - you can't experience their consciousness at first hand.   

       So, [xaviergisz], i'll have to get back to you on that one because i have to buy some milk!
nineteenthly, Feb 16 2010

       //Philosophy is political//

Well, there is a considerable amount of overlap between the two, I agree, but I see a distinction betweeen them. To me, politics is the mechanics of how I interact with other people. Philosophy is the rationale that I use to justify my politics. Politics is the symptom and Philosophy is the disease - to choose an analogy that's bound to cause an argument!

Of course, our philosophy is often modified by political feedback. For example, if I adhere to a rigidly solipsist philosophy I will probably soon find that nobody talks to me anymore so I am forced to either abandon my philosophy or be miserable and lonely for the rest of my life. That doesn't mean that the philosophy of solipsism is wrong, just that it is inconvenient and unhelpful when you apply it to politics.
DrBob, Feb 16 2010

       Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
RayfordSteele, Feb 16 2010

       Politics is about power relationships. Philosophical opinion is liable to be determined by those power relationships. Philosophy is political but not necessarily politics, i suppose.
nineteenthly, Feb 16 2010


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