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Post Reply Nature of majority of philosophical disputes
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Posted 2/16/15
(What happened to the "in depth discussion" sub forum? Did it get folded into General Discussion?)

Through the years I've found Wittgenstein (if it's not him then someone could correct me) to be absolutely right in that philosophical disputes are pretty much about semantics as well as definitions, and as soon as those are straightened out there wouldn't be much of anything to argue/de-bait about anymore.

People talk past each other because even though they use the same terms they mean different things by those terms.

My meta-philosophical point: What needs to be done first in a discussion is clarify the terms and agree on what each of them mean. Actually, the entire discussion needs to be what's under discussion in the first place before going into any disputes regarding the subject. Skipping past that would mean wasting time.
Posted 2/16/15
What are you talking about?
Posted 2/16/15 , edited 2/16/15
Have yoou been eating too much Bird's Eye food OP?
Posted 2/16/15
there wouldn't be any dispute if everyone was thinking on the same wavelength...
Posted 2/16/15
K.
Posted 2/16/15
Yes, exactly.

Discuss the discussion before discussing anything first.
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Posted 2/16/15
The problem herein lies that ultimately meaning is subjective to the individual. While the majority can of course adopt meanings (which is where we get technical definitions from in the first place) we need to keep in mind that each person is varied and different. No one will be able to fully agree on the meaning of the word because their connotation with it depends on their psychological state, their experiences throughout life, and overall their perspective. Now, is it possible to convince people to agree with your classification of the issue or subject at hand? Of course. If it wasn't change would only exist through force when we've clearly observed a pattern of societal and personal viewpoints changing over human history without the usage of violence being required. However, just because something can happen doesn't mean it will; let alone that everyone will conform to the majority's new way of thought.

With that in mind meaning becomes subjective; which is why philosophical points would argue on that basis. Your solution wouldn't work as it would require a common ground that perhaps couldn't be reached. And even if the two sides can't agree on a meaning, is that really a problem? I think we need to analyze matters situationally in accordance with that; as in some cases it can be whereas in others it's not. Even then, that's another matter of perspective. Thus what matters most in any philosophical debate is not necessarily the issue itself but rather how people view it.

Thus you're right in one way: the nature of philosophical disputes, at least from my own experience and perspective, is as you've clarified. However, I don't believe that solution would work in all cases. Furthermore, is this even an issue? Does it need a solution?

When it comes down to it everything relates back to the person themselves and their thoughts on the subject matter.
Posted 2/16/15 , edited 2/16/15
That's why I only talk about fun things.

We all talk on the same wavelength about that
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Posted 2/16/15
No, I don't think that's the case. I've disagreed with and debated anarchist capitalists on their own terms. I reject the non-aggression principle itself, not their definition of aggression. It's their characterization of aggression as, save for in defense of an individual's body or private property, unethical and unjustified even if its effects are to one's benefit which I reject. As for Objectivists, it's not their definition of altruism which is at issue, nor is it the nature of the word's use in Objectivist writing. It's their ethical code itself I reject. I see no strength in the argument that there's a moral imperative to put oneself above all others.
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Posted 2/16/15
I don't study philosophy and generally try to avoid discussing, much less debating the subject.

However, what you say is true of any academic discussion. If you don't agree on the meaning of relevant terms, you're not going to get anywhere.
Posted 2/16/15 , edited 2/16/15
For anyone who is thinking what the fuck, here's a short clip on Wittgenstein's private language argument. I'm sure that if there's one thing philosophers can agree on, it's that he was a bit of a nutcase but no less brilliant.

I agree that to be practical, definitions with context do need to be laid out if we're to avoid a pointless discussion about semantics. But if you're suggesting that nothing can be discussed or known because of the subjective nature of language, then you're running head first into self-defeating relativism.
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Posted 2/16/15

nanikore2 wrote:

(What happened to the "in depth discussion" sub forum? Did it get folded into General Discussion?)

Through the years I've found Wittgenstein (if it's not him then someone could correct me) to be absolutely right in that philosophical disputes are pretty much about semantics as well as definitions, and as soon as those are straightened out there wouldn't be much of anything to argue/de-bait about anymore.

People talk past each other because even though they use the same terms they mean different things by those terms.

My meta-philosophical point: What needs to be done first in a discussion is clarify the terms and agree on what each of them mean. Actually, the entire discussion needs to be what's under discussion in the first place before going into any disputes regarding the subject. Skipping past that would mean wasting time.


I totally disagree and find that definition and semantics are typically a dead end. It's like the sand pile paradox... (precisely how many grains of sand does it take to make it a "pile" of sand? And does one less diminish it's "pile-ness"?) Granted, without adhering to definitions somewhat, you fall often into the "no true scotsmen" fallacy but still...

And I'll even be generous and say that linguistics and words themselves are all about making distinctions, but you can never define something precisely enough. eventually you'll run out of words to describe your words and need to make up new ones. And then you'll need to make up even newer words to define (give distinctions) between your newly created words, ad infinitum.

It also totally disregards context. Language also works because context is important. the same word can have multiple meanings [b]because of context. I mean think of the alphabet. With 26 letters we make words in ways it takes asiatic languages thousands of character sets (of which nobody learns all) to create a myriad of words (and creating more each day!). Then among those words, we create a truly countless number of sentences and permutations with their own complex meaning, and even THAT doesn't begin to account for context, tone, the person speaking, etc which would only further multiply the exact meanings to a number that truly cannot be even conceived.

And THAT is all with a mere 26 symbols... The pursuance of "true" definitions (which, I forgot, the temporal element, in which the same context and speaker may use the same words but into something different than before but mean different based on knowledge that was not present in the original statement) is utterly pointless. I take a stand and say that if philosophy is going to be about semantics and definitions it will never get anything done, and it's primarily either a fool's errand or a calculated method of avoiding the questions.

Personally, I also think that despite all we think we know, we truly cannot discern truth from non-truth except perhaps as a pragmatic truth through experience and probability to point to a likely chance something working in the future.

All of this reminds me of an old philosophy joke:

A philosopher once had the following dream.

First Aristotle appeared, and the philosopher said to him, "Could you give me a fifteen-minute capsule sketch of your entire philosophy?" To the philosopher's surprise, Aristotle gave him an excellent exposition in which he compressed an enormous amount of material into a mere fifteen minutes. But then the philosopher raised a certain objection which Aristotle couldn't answer. Confounded, Aristotle disappeared.

Then Plato appeared. The same thing happened again, and the philosophers' objection to Plato was the same as his objection to Aristotle. Plato also couldn't answer it and disappeared.

Then all the famous philosophers of history appeared one-by-one and our philosopher refuted every one with the same objection.

After the last philosopher vanished, our philosopher said to himself, "I know I'm asleep and dreaming all this. Yet I've found a universal refutation for all philosophical systems! Tomorrow when I wake up, I will probably have forgotten it, and the world will really miss something!" With an iron effort, the philosopher forced himself to wake up, rush over to his desk, and write down his universal refutation. Then he jumped back into bed with a sigh of relief.

The next morning when he awoke, he went over to the desk to see what he had written. It was, "That's what you say."

[From Raymond Smullyan, 5000 B.C. and Other Philosophical Fantasies. St. Martin's Press, 1983]


http://consc.net/misc/univ-joke.html
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Posted 2/16/15

BlueOni wrote:

No, I don't think that's the case. I've disagreed with and debated anarchist capitalists on their own terms. I reject the non-aggression principle itself, not their definition of aggression. It's their characterization of aggression as, save for in defense of an individual's body or private property, unethical and unjustified even if its effects are to one's benefit which I reject. As for Objectivists, it's not their definition of altruism which is at issue, nor is it the nature of the word's use in Objectivist writing. It's their ethical code itself I reject. I see no strength in the argument that there's a moral imperative to put oneself above all others.


Objectivism should be laughed at because it assumes that people are "logical" and aren't in any way short sighted...


Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.- David Hume
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Posted 2/16/15 , edited 2/16/15

nanikore2 wrote:

(What happened to the "in depth discussion" sub forum? Did it get folded into General Discussion?)

Through the years I've found Wittgenstein (if it's not him then someone could correct me) to be absolutely right in that philosophical disputes are pretty much about semantics as well as definitions, and as soon as those are straightened out there wouldn't be much of anything to argue/de-bait about anymore.

People talk past each other because even though they use the same terms they mean different things by those terms.

My meta-philosophical point: What needs to be done first in a discussion is clarify the terms and agree on what each of them mean. Actually, the entire discussion needs to be what's under discussion in the first place before going into any disputes regarding the subject. Skipping past that would mean wasting time.

Philosophy is one thing, but I think if you left philosophy to a realm like politics or morality, you'd really quickly find that people can genuinely agree on all the facts and terms of a particular discussion and still disagree. Cause values color those discussions. And more often than not, values color how people choose to start and frame those discussions.

Plus, charity is a principle of philosophical discussion that everyone learns early on, which I'm guessing is not the case in other fields. Although it should be. But it requires a level of non-commitment most people aren't prepared for.
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Posted 2/16/15 , edited 2/16/15

serifsansserif wrote:

It also totally disregards context. Language also works because context is important. the same word can have multiple meanings because of context. I mean think of the alphabet. With 26 letters we make words in ways it takes asiatic languages thousands of character sets (of which nobody learns all) to create a myriad of words (and creating more each day!). Then among those words, we create a truly countless number of sentences and permutations with their own complex meaning, and even THAT doesn't begin to account for context, tone, the person speaking, etc which would only further multiply the exact meanings to a number that truly cannot be even conceived.


You're making context an all-or-nothing slippery slope. Definition isn't about absolute precision but about clarity. See? Now there's an example already... I'm clarifying to you right now that the objective is clarification and not absolute precision which of course doesn't exist.
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