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Church of Disease

A church open to and inclusive of all entities
  [vote for,

According to the teachings of this church there is an infectious nature to everything. Morality is a way of measuring what would be otherwise immeasurable diseases. Retaining the word "disease" to describe church members and doctrine, is a way of embracing what was once thought of as a moral minority, but is now embraced as an identity. The aim of the church is to have all church members get along with eachother.

(Try 2)

This church teaches that everyone and everything acts as a disease to some other entity. Symbiosis is the way it all works. People are a disease to the world when there are too many of us. Embracing our disease-like identities and learning to moderate is the path toward compromise and overcoming the negative aspects of our relationships with our own diseases. Everyone in this church learns to live happily with Aids and Ebola and much worse nasties while also eating green and watching our carbon footprints.

(Try 3)

Morality is a historical, linguistic way of describing the infectious nature of reality. It's acurate but if you try to use it to make predictions you get standard religions and all of their problems. Everything from evolutionary change to disabilities to ideas have viral vectors. This church includes viruses and bad ideas as church members and prescribes learning to get along as a remedy. Church ritual include engaging in borderline activities mindfully and sacramentally and moderating the infection process.

JesusHChrist, Oct 31 2014

aids denialists exposed https://www.youtube...watch?v=3-XFeClWlWY
[pashute, Nov 04 2014]

Garth Brooks is the antichrist of the Church of Disease http://www.mrctv.or...brooks-concert-halt
"you go kick cancer's ass!" [JesusHChrist, Nov 13 2014]


MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 31 2014

       {Try 2] was here...   

RayfordSteele, Nov 01 2014

       I guess its about the changing relationship of churches to disease, and what was considered morally caused. Pastoralism has crossed into the materialist domain of medicine, but progress towards amorality may allow for a church to accept disease without any moral judgement and that advocates harmony amongst all things in the universe, morality being eliminated as causing disharmony. Ultimately the post infers that without moral judgement upon disease and the material etiology of transmission or reproduction of disease, pastoralism can continue with harmonious biopolitics despite alarming statistical demography.
rcarty, Nov 01 2014

       So, it's a medicalisation of Original Sin. Or possibly vice versa. Either way, it's surprisingly close to mainstream Christianity.
pertinax, Nov 01 2014

       What? Also, why isn't this in other:general?
normzone, Nov 01 2014

       This is completely out of the ordainary.   

       //Everyone in this church learns to live happily with Aids and Ebola and much worse nasties// Is that before or after they die? What part does the Ebola virus take in this learning-to-get-along?   

       //Morality is a historical, linguistic way of describing the infectious nature of reality.// That may mean something, but then again it may not. If I say "Agnosticism is a dialogue between the inexpressible and the overt.", does that mean anything?
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 01 2014

       In some ways his argument is a 'reduction to the absurd' about rejecting amorality by showing what results from morality's denial.   

       His definition of morality as historical and linguistic perhaps refers to Foucauldian or contemporary analytical thought, but using 'linguistic' instead of semiotic or discursive.
rcarty, Nov 01 2014

       // Foucauldian or contemporary analytical thought, but using 'linguistic' instead of semiotic or discursive.//   

       In English?
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 01 2014

       ~It's about the discursive regulation of madness by pathologists, madness hypothetically relating to logia and positivism through rationalization indicated by so-called cultural relativism or decolonization.   

       It's about being the most moral person, someone who rejects the bodily life and cultivates a contemporary form of madness through rejection of materiality as an important domain including text.
rcarty, Nov 01 2014

       //madness hypothetically relating to logia and positivism through rationalization indicated by so- called cultural relativism or decolonization.//   

       British English? The sort of level of language I'm hoping for is at the level of "He's saying that we're all sick, but should live with it and try to accept it" - or the equivalent.   

       And how does the colon enter into this?
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 01 2014

       You mentioned it.   

       Its about lying at all times and in all manners of meaninglessness and producing subjective inaccuracies of your own internal self to present to others. Basically you want to situate anyone who is at odds with you in as conflictual relation as possible so that they have no excusable altruistic bond (trying to help you converse persecution) and other strategic mediations that are difficult. For example a person who supports total institutionalization or totalitarianisms such as a mental institution, an English rooming house, residential school, increasing state nationalism, small-town people in a large city, and attraction to power of functionalist conformity, the internet as total institution by degrees of permissiveness of private life etc.   

       Of course this is about Foucault and George Orwell not in reference to my own personal life narrative. George Orwell wanting to get away to a place where he wasn't constantly being surveilled by fascist totalitarians, however at the same time obsessing over sword-pen at all times. Its about being alone but not being alone by actually living in a shared meaning in a long term conflict while smarty pantses blunder through conflictual relations.
rcarty, Nov 01 2014

       // If I say "Agnosticism is a dialogue between the inexpressible and the overt.", does that mean anything?//   

       Yes; it means you're taking the piss. If someone else says it, it might have a different meaning - probably that they're trying to fill an awkward lull in the conversation.
pertinax, Nov 02 2014

       // // Foucauldian or contemporary analytical thought, but using 'linguistic' instead of semiotic or discursive.//   

       In English?//   

       Well, Foucault's thought is largely about pretending that people's sensibilities are sort-of prior to any external reality. This is, of course, bollocks, and is why Uppsala University refused him a doctorate, and he had to get one back in France, where he had better social connections. It is no coincidence that his doctorate depended on social connections, because his thought only works in a clique-based world, where dealings with reality can be delegated to inadequate, uncool people outside the clique.   

       Fortunately, I don't think that [JesusHChrist]'s thinking here *is* Foucauldian. I think it's better than that - but I hesitate to second-guess his explanation of it.
pertinax, Nov 02 2014

       // Foucault's thought is largely about pretending that people's sensibilities are sort-of prior to any external reality.//   

       Are "sensibilities" = "perceptions" = "sensory data"?
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 02 2014

       (w.r.t. my facetious pseudo-babble): // it means you're taking the piss. If someone else says it, it might have a different meaning// If its meaning depends on who says it, then by definition it has no meaning. If I say "the density of water is about 1 gram per cc", that means something regardless of who says it - i.e. _it_ (the statement) has a meaning.   

       OK, I just checked the Wikipedia page on Foucault (not the pendulum guy, I guess).   

       It says NOTHING! It tells me he worked on theories concerning power, repression, and some other things; and it variously classifies him as various types of philosopher and cites his influences.   

       But it says NOTHING about what he discovered, or even whether he discovered anything. It doesn't even say what his theories were.   

       Is this normal for a philosopher? What did he actually do?
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 02 2014

       I think he philosophised a bit.
pocmloc, Nov 02 2014

       That is my point.   

       I just joined a philosophy forum to ask what philosophers do. I'll let you know how it turns out.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 02 2014

       //I just joined a philosophy forum to ask what philosophers do//   

       That should be a fascinating discussion.   

       I can't imagine anything more soul-draining than partaking in anonymous online amateur philosophy debate.   

       Keep (trying to) fighting the good fight.
Custardguts, Nov 02 2014

       I haven't had an answer to my question on the Philosophy forum yet.   

       But I suspect I have joined a pretty amateur forum. All the "big" topics there are either

       a) Quibbling over semantics
b) Long-since solved by biologists, physicists or (rarely) chemists or
c) Questions that can only be answered by biologists, physicists or (possibly) chemists, if only they didn't get sidetracked into frittering away their time on philosophy forums.

       Based on my representative sample of 1 philosophy forum, philosophy appears to be a form of hands-free masturbation.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 02 2014

       (Try 1)   


       (Try 2)   

       The redefining of organizational structures is confusingly convolved with the redefining of terminology. If I'm reading this correctly, this church would literally infect members with incurable diseases to help their spiritual journey. While this does have a certain satirical quality, it appears to, in this conception, have been Baked. by Warhammer 40,000 tabletop games. Look up the church of the "Chaos lord" "Nurgle". I recommend avoiding reading this mythology, because it provides a false sense of belonging that a certain kind of mind craves, but ultimately provides only a shared fiction to meet people with similar issues. Organizing a gaming club as a church was portrayed in a positive way in "The Quantum Thief", but in reality such organizations get very weird, and only their stupidity and insecure fecklessness mitigates their danger. If you're seeking a rush and a sense of belonging, save some money and do EMT training. Good luck.   

       (Try 3)   

       Ia! Ia! Cthulhu ftagn!
sninctown, Nov 02 2014

       //Are "sensibilities" = "perceptions" = "sensory data"?//   

       Sadly, no.   

       "Sensibility", in Foucault, is more like "way of looking at things common to a particular group of people at a particular time". For example, "I hate my dad; bourgeois dads are the worst!" Put together enough people who feel that way, give them publicly funded sinecures, and it's no longer a tantrum but a sensibility.   

       Ah, yes: Google says (of "sensibility" in general)   


       noun: sensibility   

       1. the quality of being able to appreciate and respond to complex emotional or aesthetic influences; sensitivity. "the study of literature leads to a growth of intelligence and sensibility" synonyms: sensitivity, sensitiveness, finer feelings, delicacy, subtlety, taste, discrimination, discernment; More understanding, insight, empathy, appreciation, awareness of the feelings of others; feeling, intuition, intuitiveness, responsiveness, receptivity, receptiveness, perceptiveness, awareness "the study of literature leads to a growth of intelligence and sensibility" a quality of delicate sensitivity that makes one liable to be offended or shocked. plural noun: sensibilities "the scale of the poverty revealed by the survey shocked people's sensibilities" synonyms: feelings, emotions, finer feelings, delicate sensitivity, sensitivities, susceptibilities, moral sense, sense of outrage "the wording was changed because it might offend people's sensibilities"
2. Zoology (dated) sensitivity to sensory stimuli.

       Origin late Middle English (denoting the power of sensation): from late Latin sensibilitas, from sensibilis ‘that can be perceived by the senses’ (see sensible).   


       So, in Foucault, we're looking exclusively at sense (1), not sense (2).
pertinax, Nov 02 2014

       //Is this normal for a philosopher? What did he actually do?//   

       Sadly, it is now normal for a philosopher. The philosopher Richard Rorty admitted out loud that the purpose of philosophy nowadays was just "to keep the conversation going".   

       However, it was not always so.   

       In the past, philosophy has served two functions (both of which, admittedly, are only visible with hindsight).   

       (1) It has acted as a sort of stem cell line from which other fields of knowledge have been propagated.   

       (2) It has helped autistic people to find their way from one day to the next without getting lost. (I mean "autistic" in quite a broad sense).   

       Function (2) has tended to support function (1), in so far as well-adjusted people are less likely to have interesting new thoughts in any field.   

       Both functions were repudiated, quite aggressively, in 1968. They are only kept going in a few niches by honourable amateurs such as [nineteenthly].
pertinax, Nov 02 2014

       //philosophy appears to be a form of hands-free masturbation//   

       Well it certainly seems to be used by some people as a kind of masturbatory aid.   

       I think there's still room for philosophy in the modern world, certainly in the relams of "should" we do something rahter than "can" we do it. What I would violently disagree with, however, is the making of philosopy into some kind of unobtianable jargon-locked speciality that only the anointed few can participate in.   

       I mean, astrophysics or genetic engineering are super complex fields that amateurs should only be expected to speak about in very generalised terms. And this is as it should be. But the philosophy of whether it's morally right or wrong or whether morals even come into the decision of whether to allow vivisection or genertic experimentation, space travel or development of neutron bombs should squarely sit in the public realm and discussion should be encouraged in as wide an audience as possible. Adopting special language or obfuscating concepts to the point that the average (or even some of the more educated) persons find the whole discourse unuintelligible, is not a good thing.   

       Perhaps, however, as a rather strong counterargument: much like masturbation, people should be discouraged from indulging themselves in amateur philosophy in public.
Custardguts, Nov 03 2014

       //Foucault's thought is largely about pretending that people's sensibilities are sort-of prior to any external reality.//   

       // "Sensibility", in Foucault, is more like "way of looking at things common to a particular group of people at a particular time". For example, "I hate my dad; bourgeois dads are the worst!" Put together enough people who feel that way, give them publicly funded sinecures, and it's no longer a tantrum but a sensibility.//   

       OK, so Foucault is saying that "People have a way of thinking about things which exists before they have any concrete examples of those things." - yes?   

       If so, then it's bollocks, n'est ce pas? I mean, I might grow up in a world without inequality and think "Inequality would be a bad thing if it existed". So what? In thinking that, I have formulated the idea of inequality in my head, so it 'exists'.   

       Equally, I might think "It would be bad if an asteroid hit London" - it hasn't happened, but what's so miraculous about my thinking that?   

       So, I presume (since Foucault was pretty well-known and did OK as a professional philosopher) that there is more to it than that. What?   

       And, assuming that there was more to this theory than the bleeding obvious, did he actually prove it, disprove it, or neither?
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 03 2014


       The idea isn't new, applying an analogy from one thing to another thing is as old as Plato's cave, and they did the disease thing way back in the Matrix, and that had Keanu Reeves in it.   

       Meh. Meh and triple meh. And yes, philosophy is often bollocks, though it does provide us with handy labels to hang on concepts that I suppose would take a lot longer to talk about if someone hadn't done that for us. So if some bourgeois father-annoyance concept gets labelled as a "Humptyfirstian Idea" (after Geronimo Humptyfirst, the famous Parisian who first came up with that particular bollocks) then it saves us having to go through all the effort of laying it all down in our own torturous language for others to opine about. In that sense, Philosophy is a fairly utilitarian process.
zen_tom, Nov 03 2014

       // "People have a way of thinking about things which exists before they have any concrete examples of those things." //   

       You're getting warm, but it's actually worse than that.   

       Foucault's main point is not of the form "X is the case", but rather "Let's do X". Specifically, "Let's use groupthink to control reality".   

       The assumption that groupthink *can* control reality is sort-of taken for granted.   

       The reason why Foucault did so well out of it at that particular point in history is this: there was a generation of people who,
on the one hand, wanted to see themselves as, at least, progressive and, if possible, revolutionary - because that was cool.
On the other hand, many of these people tended to recoil from the hard work of actual political change - because hard work is uncool.

       Therefore, they were easily sold on the idea of changing everything through groupthink. Basically, what it meant to them was that they could spend their time going to all the right parties, screwing the beautiful people and networking with the rich people, and *still* be revolutionaries.   

       In some cases, those drugs still haven't worn off.
pertinax, Nov 03 2014

       Good analysis, [pertinax]. Nicely highlights how mendacious this stuff is. But it doesn't really get to the depths of [max]'s point, which is how wrong it is as well.   

       I mean, stuff can be basically correct, and mendacious, or it can be uterly wrong but not mendacious at all. It's perhaps the combination that is so horrifying.
pocmloc, Nov 03 2014

       (w.r.t. philosophy giving convenient names to complex topics, to accelerate discussion):// In that sense, Philosophy is a fairly utilitarian process.//   

       Yeah but, no.   

       In science, scientists use a lot of jargon because it saves time. But it only saves time amongst themselves - they have to translate into normal English if they want to discuss with non-scientists.   

       In philosophy, jargon presumably saves time in discussions between philosophers. But if they want to discuss with non-philosophers they also need to translate into normal English.   

       So what's the difference between scientific jargon and philosophical jargon? The difference is that science has an output (a new polymer; a better vaccine) that can be used by non-specialists. Philosophy has no output.   

       So the internal jargon of philosophy is just like the moves in a computer game - valuable only within the game.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 03 2014

       I think that's fair enough - though we should try and figure out some fundamental reason why mathematics and philosophy are different - since otherwise, you could continue the same argument to suggest that maths is valuable only within maths, and that's obviously not the case.   

       Also, thanks again to [pertinax] for translating and providing an interesting, human and sensible perspective - If you wrote a book about all this stuff, I'd read it.
zen_tom, Nov 03 2014

       Thank you, [zen_tom]. Actually, I *am* writing a book about it, which is why it's front-of-mind just now. I don't yet know when it will be finished - there's a lot of material to cover.
pertinax, Nov 03 2014

       Haha - fantastic! - And in case anyone was wondering, no, [pertinax] has not paid me a bung, that was a genuine, unscripted comment (p.s. [pertinax] I'll send you my bank details later, it's the usual rate)
zen_tom, Nov 03 2014

       //we should try and figure out some fundamental reason why mathematics and philosophy are different//   

       In some cases they're not. Some aspects of number theory have few or no consequences outside number theory, and people work on them largely because of their beauty. Which is fine.   

       But a lot of mathematics has applications outside maths. Joe Smith can send his credit card details over the internet thanks to maths. Weather can be predicted more easily thanks to maths.   

       What I'm saying is that philosophy (and some areas of maths) are like computer games or crossword puzzles - interesting and enjoyable (which is a valid goal from a utilitarian perspective), but closed systems.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 03 2014

       Yes, I'm with you on most of that but what I'm wondering is whether we can find a better definition that allows us to formally classify all of maths as "good" and equally vast swathes of philosophy as "bollocks".   

       Our current definition, that looks at the output as a basis of performing this function is problematic on this basis, for the reasons you suggest.   

       I don't like the utility argument necessarily, though it may suit this purpose - so, how about saying that if there is no *possible* future output, then it's of the game-playing sort (for example lots of number theory was considered exactly this, until computers provided a viable application) and then on the other side, say that if there's some application that can be derived from philosophy, then actually, it's maths? If no current, or future application is deemed possible, then we can safely define it as philosophy, and hence, naturally, by definition, bollocks.   

       It's a kind of True Scotsman approach, but it may do the trick.
zen_tom, Nov 03 2014

       I don't think that philosophy is necessarily a closed system. I just think that the union of philosophers have circled the wagons in some fashion that resembles a closed system in order to protect their livelihood, or something.
RayfordSteele, Nov 03 2014

       // a better definition that allows us to formally classify all of maths as "good" and equally vast swathes of philosophy as "bollocks"// I don't think all maths is "good" - some of it is useful and some of it is elegant (not much of it is bollocks). For philosophy - I suspect a lot of it is elegant, a fair amount is probably bollocks, and as far as I can tell none of it is useful.   

       //how about saying that if there is no *possible* future output, then it's of the game-playing sort // Well, I think you have to put a time limit on it. Has philosophy had any tangible output (ie, out of philosophy) in the last, say, 250 years?   

       //if there's some application that can be derived from philosophy, then actually, it's maths?// It would depend on the application. I hate it when philosophy "claims" mathematics. I think if a philosopher is doing useful or elegant maths then (s)he's a mathematician. It's a bit like a poet building a bridge and saying how useful poets are.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 03 2014

       There should be a drinking game on how many times the words 'semiotic,' 'positivism,' or other nonsense words show up.
RayfordSteele, Nov 03 2014

       OK, I'm back from the philosophy forum. The discussion is still ongoing, but so far the only net outputs of philosophy that the philosophers have identified are:   

       (a) People who study philosophy are often good in other jobs - i.e. it trains the mind to do non- philosophical things. Not unreasonable, though not very encouraging.   

       (b) Philosophy teaches people to understand themselves. Very valuable, but it's not (yet) clear whether anyone outside philosophy benefits from this in practice.   

       It's also not (yet) clear how much progress has been made in self-understanding in the last 250 years of philosophy, or whether philosophy today is any better than it was 250 years ago.   

       I'll keep y'all posted.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 03 2014

       Would Buddha have been considered a philosopher?   

       It keeps the schizophrenics busy?
RayfordSteele, Nov 03 2014

       Does this concept of 'outputs' correspond to the idea of useful work? Not physical work, but perhaps social work?   

       How does art in general fit in here? What are typical outputs of skiffle music, or abstract video intallations, or paper-marbling?
pocmloc, Nov 03 2014

       Also if all this philosophy is bollox then shureley also angsting about whether philosopy is bollox or not is bollox too and the best answer is more like what?
pocmloc, Nov 03 2014

       [pocmloc] yes - I think you may have hit the nail on the head there.
zen_tom, Nov 03 2014

       //How does art in general fit in here? What are typical outputs of skiffle music, or abstract video intallations, or paper-marbling?// I'm not sure, but I believe they are skiffle music, video installations and marbled paper - probably in that order.   

       The point about art is that it expressly does have an output - it's generally intended to be accessed by non-artists (even if it sometimes fails to do so). It's not clear that philosophy has an output, though I expect some of it is written up in "popular philosophy" books.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 03 2014

       As a casual observer, I think the goal of philosophy is similar to one of the goals of theoretical physics, to have some kind of grand theory of unification, only with it being in the domain of rationality, logic, and the nature of our common experience. But I might be just misremembering that from THHGTTG.
RayfordSteele, Nov 03 2014

       That's reasonable. But two things worry me:   

       (a) Searches for unified theories in physics often lead to useful things. For instance, a lot of modern electronics wouldn't be possible without an understanding of quantum mechanics. That's not to say there's no value in understanding something that can't be applied, but it's a factor.   

       (b) In general, we have good reason to believe that physics (and cosmology, mathematics, biology...) makes incremental progress. Our understanding of the universe is better now than it was 50 years ago. We have proved theorems that were unproven 50 years ago. We can treat more cancers than we could 50 years ago. In philosophy, it's not clear that any questions have been answered, or that the arguments are any better than they were 50 years ago.   

       Philosophy looks, to me, very much like art (in the sense that there's no meaning to the word "progress"). This is OK, but its disappointing that it is so inaccessible as an art-form to the general public.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 03 2014

       //how mendacious this stuff is//   

       To be fair, [pocmloc], I wouldn't call it "mendacious" so much as mistaken. They begin by fooling themselves and, like software salesmen, they don't usually know they're lying. In particular, I don't doubt the good faith of our own [rcarty]; I just think he's wrong.
pertinax, Nov 03 2014

       FFFFFffffffffffffffffffttt! Disease, man. Man is just a disease.
nomocrow, Nov 03 2014

       //some of it is written up in "popular philosophy" books.//   

       Alain de Botton is quite a decent retailer of philosophy. If you want consumer-grade outputs from philosophy, you might look at his books.
pertinax, Nov 03 2014

       //some kind of grand theory of unification//   

       That *was* the goal up until the mid twentieth century. However, since the 1960s, many philosophers have made it their primary goal to prevent precisely that. That sounds like a joke, but it isn't. And the reason has to do with the way different people's brains are wired.
pertinax, Nov 03 2014

       The head of the church is called the Culture General. That's why.
pashute, Nov 04 2014

       I have to report that things are not going well over in the philosophy forum. However, I can make an interim report, as follows.   

       ====On professional accreditation and professional standards====
About 90-95% of the people who call themselves philosophers are not professionally accredited as such. It's not clear whether these unaccredited philosophers are allowed to practise philosophy on a professional basis. Given the immense power which philosophy claims to wield, this is concerning.

       ====On the Questions Addressed by Philosophers====
Of the topics discussed by philosophers (at least on philosophyforums.com), the breakdown is roughly:

       (a) 60% either semantic arguments; topics purely internal to philosophy; or questions which are by definition unanswerable. These can be collectively termed "pointless topics".   

       (b) 20% questions to which the answer is obvious to anyone outside of philosophy. There is money to be made, as a philosopher, by taking such a question and then reformulating in such a way that it requires further analysis. The most successful philosophers reformulate the question in such a way that it becomes unanswerable, thereby ensuring continued employment.   

       (c) 10% questions which are interesting to think about, but whose answer (which is never found) would not make any practical difference to anyone.   

       (d) 10% questions which are important and, in theory, answerable. However, most of these questions go back to Plato (who, as far as I can establish, invented professional philosophy). Answers to them are constantly being produced, but these answers change every few decades. There is normally a cyclical nature to the answers, such that one answer was right in the 1900s and in the 1700s, but another answer was right in the 1800s and 1600s. There does not seem to be any way to measure progress in philosophy, so this cyclical process is OK and nobody is ashamed of it.   

       Note that these percentages differ across different sub-genres, but I've tried to take a broad view.   

       ====On the Purpose of Philosophers====
I have tried, diplomatically and without causing offence, to determine what philosophy contributes (ie, what philosophers get paid for). After some rather unhelpful discussions, the outputs of philosophy seem to be:

       (a) Training people to think. It seems that training in philosophy is sufficient and helpful in careers such as politics or banking, which do not require the extremes of critical thought engendered by a scientific training. This is similar to the way in which military training is helpful in, for instance, a career in armed robbery. Philosophers are not apparently discouraged by the fact that the main aim of philosophical training is to get people out of philosophy.   

       (b) Informing public opinion and influencing politicians. This seems like the most significant contribution of philosophy. However, as far as I can establish, governments do not employ philosophers directly, which suggests that they are rather lukewarm about philosophy. There does not seem to be any formal system for allowing philosophical discoveries to influence government policy, in any major democracy. This may be because there is no measure of progress in philosophy, and hence no way to assign a value to it. There is also (and I was a little shocked at this) no formal system of quality control on philosophical discoveries. This may be the main reason why governments do not use them directly.   

       (c) Inventing Science. Almost all of my discussions on the philosophy forum led to people reminding my that modern science emerged from philosophy, much as chemistry emerged from alchemy, astromony from astrology, or the USA from the British Empire. However, the philosophers were not optimistic about repeating this success by inventing science again.   

       Note that Philosophy is also very enjoyable for philosophers (philosophy has the highest job satisfaction in the USA), but this is not strictly speaking an "output".   

       I'll bring further news as it emerges.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 04 2014

       That's pure gold.
Custardguts, Nov 04 2014

       Ha! I would say that attributing a discovery to philosophy is like attributing a discovery to breathing. And saying that philosophy is useless is akin to saying breathing is useless. Challenging, deconstructing, and synthesizing world models is what people do. I know I can run farther, and without fatigue, if I control and train my breathing. But I'm not to keen on hyperventilating for the sake of it. Do keep us informed of your amazing discoveries [Max].
LimpNotes, Nov 04 2014

       But that's only valid if your definition of philosophy is "thinking about things".
Custardguts, Nov 05 2014

       Yes indeed. Is it not? Maybe I'm missing something. Do illuminate.
LimpNotes, Nov 05 2014

       So what do "professional" philosophers produce? Does that output serve anyone (other than other philosophers) any purpose?
Custardguts, Nov 05 2014

       That's what I was trying to find out. I think my points (a)-(c) under "On the Purpose of Philosophers" address their net outputs.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 05 2014

       Update: There will be no further updates on this topic. I have been invited to leave the philosophy forum, chiefly by philosophers. I am philosophical about this.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 05 2014

       Shame [Max]. Seems like your asking of unanswerable questions would have fit right in.

I couldn't find any jobs for "professional philosopher" [Custard]. I did however find several fields where a philosophy degree would be useful. And of these "Member of Ethics Committee" and "Law" seemed most in line with pure philosophy practice. So I would say that "professional philosophers" produce arguments and decisions with a net production of policy.
LimpNotes, Nov 05 2014

       //I would say that "professional philosophers" produce arguments and decisions with a net production of policy//   

       Ah, but do they require a professional qualification in philosophy to do so? How do you assess their output? Is it measurably better if they are qualified in philosophy? Do you need to be a philosopher in order to answer these questions (in which case we've encountered a dangerous circular logic) -?   

       My work is assessable using objective measures. I could do what I do without my mechanical engineering degree - to a point. However my govenrment, in their (rare) wisdom, chose to legislate certain engineering activities such that it is illegal to provide certain services without a degree and then subsequent certification. This is to protect the public, and is a very good thing.   

       It seems that we can't make the same argument for philosophy.   

       I still don't understand how we can tell "good" philosophy from aimless drivel. I don't understand how it's vital to certain important processes. And I especially don't understand why philosophers have invented their own language and jargon with (what seems to me) the explicit intent of making philosphy "special" such that you need a whole lot of reading and translation done just to talk about it in simple terms. As [max] mentioned above - most fields can be summarised and simplified so they can be explained to the layperson. Philosophy, generally, is kept aloof and "practitioners" are loath to (or unable to) discuss their work in simple terms.   

       I think it was Einstein who said (although it probably wasn't) - you don't really understand something unless you can explain it in simple terms to a layperson.
Custardguts, Nov 05 2014

       //I still don't understand how we can tell "good" philosophy from aimless drivel.//

I would say the test is in the application. Just as someone who is a certified engineer cannot be counted on to be a good engineer, an accredited philosopher is not necessarily a good philosopher. Skill is tested through real-world application. And the merit of the philosopher's test is found not in a ruler or caliper but in happiness of those who live under the philosopher's system of conclusions. A fickle and changing benchmark.

This fuzzy metric cannot provide the certainty you are looking for, but general measurements can be made over time. Bad philosophy collapses the sample as people abandon it, and good retains and solicits increasing numbers.

I would say those who avoid simplicity are not necessarily conspiring to protect their field, but rather have not reached useful new conclusions (and are merely providing commentary in ultra-precise language similar to legalese for the purposes of discussion or explanation) or are afraid of having any conclusions tested against the real world. Their response to requests for clarity might be similar to someone asking you to teach them calculus. Would you take the time or would you tell them to take a class?

I find that conclusions when they are offered, are so simple as to be obvious, but only obvious after the telling. And being so, it sometimes appears as though no knowledge was conveyed. What generally is not said is the reasoning behind those conclusions, because it often involves considerable philoso-babble, and often isn't worth the time to explain. Except maybe in a few instances. There is hope for those philosophers who can make this easier by tying their conclusions and reasonings into widely understood metaphors and stories a la Aesope's Fables, Jesus' Parables, Confucius' analects, etc.

Einstein also said that "The man of science is a poor philosopher" so it may be reasonable to accept that some people just aren't made for some things.
LimpNotes, Nov 05 2014

       I wouldn't argue with most of what you said there.   

       //similar to someone asking you to teach them calculus. Would you take the time or would you tell them to take a class?// I disagree. I can, in simple terms, explain any and all of my work to laypeople - as that is my job to do so. Getting an accounting or HR qualified GM or MD to sign off on spending heaps of money to change assets, strategies or budgets against probability- based estimates of performance improvements requires you to be able to use very simple, but persuasive language. Likewise getting experienced maintainers to go outside their tradecraft and change how they do maintenance - you can't obfuscate your message, and it needs to be convincing.   

       //a certified engineer cannot be counted on to be a good engineer//   

       Again, I disagree. To get registered (here) you need to prove, in evidenciary form, sound engineering practice in a number of applicable areas, over a sufficient period of time (not less than 5 years, normally many more), to an appointed board of highly qualified engineers. if your judgement is called into question, you don't get registered. If you fuck something up later in your career, the board can and will repeal your registration.   

       The best indicator that registered engineers are "good" is the fact that they can get liability and indemnity insurance to carry out engineering.   

       I take your point that the word "good" is insufficient here, and in fact is sloppy communication on my behalf. I really mean "competent to a measurable standard" - which is the same standard I would have liked to apply to philosophers.
Custardguts, Nov 06 2014


       How can there be a measurable standard for something which can be learned without a teacher? I could not figure out engineering without someone teaching me everything which has been pieced together over many generations. Philosophy can be intuited or devil's advocate-ed in one's own head without either a teacher or even the words to explain the mental concepts gleaned.   

       It's like comparing apples to platypuses.   


       I don't understand the complaint.   

       Most schools of philosophy already provide this testing. As examples: In established religious philosophy there is training and testing in the knowledge of religious dogma before you can be ordained to teach others; In the philosophy of law, you must be knowledgeable in the dogma of law before you can practice; In the philosophy of science, you are tested in dogma of the scientific method. The presumption is that being grounded in the dogma, any further work will be in line with it.

With the scientific method, this adherence to dogma generally holds true, because its so simple and its very nature invites critical inquiry. In law deviations occur. The law is more complex, covering more than the scientific method, and there are plenty of loopholes and technicalities that allow one to operate contrary to the spirit of the law. In most religions, which generally strive to manage every facet of individual morality and purpose, there is even greater deviation possible.

So it stands to reason that pure philosophy, which covers everything and everything, should have so many deviations possible that even measuring dogma (philosophical history) will not provide an indication of future productivity. I just don't think its possible to measure it against a standard. It is either applied in the real world and found useful over time, or it is not.
LimpNotes, Nov 07 2014

       Ah, so philosopher = lawyer without a job that couldn't make it as a lobbyist.   

       Frankly I find it analogous to some weird form of exercise. Doesn't accomplish much work but burns calories. Probably beneficial for my body, but there are other types that I prefer.
RayfordSteele, Nov 07 2014

       Anyway I was simultaenously referring to both psychical and physical phenomenon. Philosophy is an epic story of verstehn the philosophical correspondence of action to philosophy and also the acceptance of material physics. Christianity plays an immense role in philosophy, and my particular area of interest has been schizophrenia and capitalism, namely connection to calvinism and the general connection between discursive regulation in comparison to glossolalia and cessationism as well as the interpretation or the semiotic of signs. Essentially how correspondence of charisma, and how tighter discursive regulation in all aspects of social-and political life is connected with these practices. But also on the level of materialist sociology and how neoliberalism has at once marginalized durkheimian and marxist discourses simply through economic policy, and how discursive regulation through economic adaption can marginalize discourses at the level of 'interpretive' or emergent social phenomena rather than structural. Neoliberalism simply can be compared to other 'iron cage' liberal paradigms including utilitarianism. So the connection between pathology which can be physical and psychical, and how that is moderated via infrastructure and a dominant psychology ie ethical egoism. The ongoing conflict between organized or political criminality, deviant criminality and statists, and the elusiveness of the ethical ego in any of these categories. It's about Kierkegaards existentialism and that which followed and the prominence of the discussion of schizophrenia, and whose work centered on existential angst, a now medicalised deviance. So its about secularization but also about religious conflict, its about schizophrenia and criminals, gay sex, fucking and gore, its about positivist control such as using economics to control 'social problems' and marginalizing the deviants as 'irrational' because they don't respond to classical economics. Its about saying somewhat associated words in somewhat understandable combinations and painting a sort of picture once someone reads each.
rcarty, Nov 07 2014

       You see, this is the problem with philosophy.   

       The question was pretty much sorted out in my earlier annotations, but the debate goes on and will, eventually, come full circle.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 07 2014

       So you asked a question, answered it to your own satisfaction, and are disappointed that not everyone climaxed with you. What were you saying about masturbation?

But seriously, the empirical evidence of your survey, while extremely useful and enlightening, provides little understanding of "why". It answers the question of "what". You are right that philosophy continues to debate empirical findings, as it should, because the question philosophers ask is subtly different. That they end up in the same place is essential. That they arrive there with greater understanding is not insignificant. And sometimes they do get there first.
LimpNotes, Nov 08 2014

       Yeah but, like, it's still just philosophy.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 08 2014

       Anywat the question asked at the top was 'what' and no amount of philosophy or natural science has made much progress in answering it.
pocmloc, Nov 08 2014

       My brother says philosophy passes the time before you die.
nineteenthly, Nov 08 2014

       How could he possibly know that?
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 08 2014

       //What?// I think it means: You are a disease and will make me sick, but I'm a disease and will make you sick back, so lets accept it, appreciate it even, and find out how to mitigate the damage so we can move on and manage other diseases together. Gotta collect em all.
LimpNotes, Nov 09 2014

       Ah. Well, I'm glad we answered the "what".   

       So, what the original idea boils down to is "Listen, nobody's perfect so let's just live and let live."?   

       I think this is a great idea, but I'm not sure calling this thing a "church" is the best starting point. Part of the qualification for being a church is a statement to the effect "Nobody's perfect except us, so let's just eradicate the opposition".   

       Also, organisations with "disease" in the title have a PR issue.   

       It might be better to call this the "Let's just all try and get along society."
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 09 2014

       Well it doesn't pass the time afterwards does it?
nineteenthly, Nov 11 2014

       //Its about saying somewhat associated words in somewhat understandable combinations and painting a sort of picture once someone reads each.//   

       Add random smatterings of modern art paint, and this summarizes any attempt I've ever made at understanding what you're saying.   

       In the meantime, I'll sleep peacefully knowing that Philosopher Man is out there, fearlessly defending us from existential crises, errors in meta-belief, unclear modes of supposition, and improper use-mention distinctions.
RayfordSteele, Nov 13 2014

       I have to admit that, after my brief foray into the philosophy forum, I am a little more tolerant of philosophers.   

       Part of their problem is that anyone can call themselves a philosopher. "Always check the doors are locked after you leave - that's my philosophy" - is it? Really? Your _philosophy_? Puts Plato in the shade a bit.   

       When you filter out all the pretentious twats who aren't really philosophers, and some of the pretentious twats who are, you're left with a few people thinking quite hard about questions that cannot be answered.   

       On balance, I'd say that philosophy is about 1% as important as science, and about 1% as important as engineering, and maybe 3% as important as art. And there are probably 100 times as many people making a living as scientists or engineers (and maybe 30 times as many professional artists) as there are philosophers, so that's all OK then.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 13 2014

       There are many people with official philosophy credentials. I have a friend who went to the same university as me who studied for his doctorate in the field of electrical engineering. When he was done, at the graduation ceremony they declared that he was a doctor of philosophy, even though he hadn't taken any (or at least very few) classes in the subject. [Max] I thought I remembered that you had a PhD as well.   

       Wikipedia says that this title stems from the fact that all of the scientific disciplines used to be grouped under philosophy which apparently meant "love of wisdom". So it appears that all useful aspect of love of philosophy got branched off into separate areas of study, leaving philosophy itself with an empty box. Funny that I think of current philosophy as being very close to religion, yet religion was transitionally considered to be a separate field of study.
scad mientist, Nov 13 2014

       //[Max] I thought I remembered that you had a PhD as well.//   

       Strangely enough, mine's a D. Phil (same thing, different name). Even perverselier, my science degree is a Bachelor of Arts, despite the fact that I can't draw anything but conclusions.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 13 2014

       'Science' as in knowing stuff, 'art' as in making stuff?
pocmloc, Nov 14 2014


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