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Richard4 comments on Zombies: The Movie - Less Wrong

72 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 20 April 2008 05:53AM

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Comment author: Richard4 25 April 2008 05:19:02PM 2 points [-]

"Richard has credentials. I have competency."

Funny. Again, just out of curiosity, what is your basis for thinking yourself philosophically competent? A self-gratifying intuition, perhaps? (Credentialing by acknowledged experts, though an imperfect guide, is at least some protection against quackery.) I haven't even seen you make an argument, let alone a good one; all you do is make unsupported assertions and attempt to ridicule people who know more than you do. You appear to suffer delusions about your own abilities and the extent of your understanding. (As you say, "the inability... to perceive the wrongness with their arguments is generally insurmountable" -- what puzzles me is why this doesn't make you more humble about your own intuited greatness, given that nobody else is nearly so impressed.)

Now, you change the subject by shifting the burden to others, asking them to list the accomplishments of academic philosophy. (It's beyond dispute that our understanding of thousands of philosophical problems has advanced significantly in the past century -- just browse through any entry of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, or my own dozen favourite 'Examples of Solved Philosophy' -- though of course philosophical progress does not readily translate into technological progress the way that progress in other disciplines can.)

The question HA is raising (and that I can readily confirm) is that you do not seem to know what you are talking about. From what I can tell, you are completely ignorant of the field of philosophy and the work that goes on in it; so there is no reason for anyone to take seriously the unargued denunciations you offer from on high. You don't even know what it is that you're denouncing. You are to philosophy what young earth creationists are to biology.

Of course, if you offer a reasoned argument then others may consider it on its merits. (Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and all that.) But you lack the authority to make mere assertions and expect anyone to take your ignorant pontificating seriously. That's all.

Comment author: bigjeff5 03 February 2011 09:27:00PM 0 points [-]

If the twelve examples of solved philosophy you link to are actually your favorite, then I really, really don't understand why anybody bothers with it at all.

All twelve seem completely useless to me.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 03 February 2011 09:52:53PM *  1 point [-]

I understand why you might think that for most of his list, but I'm confused as to why one would have that attitude about some of them, such as number 7, the Bayesian solution to the raven paradox. A more substantive critique seems to be that many philosophers who are taken very seriously don't consider many of these problems to be solved.

Comment author: bigjeff5 04 February 2011 12:08:22AM 1 point [-]

Upon reflection, I suppose I was not considering all of what philosophy can entail, particularly since Richard's list was incredibly underwhelming. I was also thinking of metaphysics when I wrote that, and I over-generalized. Logic, for one thing, I think is very useful when it is applied, and that is considered a philosophical discipline.

So, I take back my statement, somewhat. Philosophy just seems mostly useless, but I'll concede that I could be wrong.

Comment author: Perplexed 03 February 2011 10:11:32PM 0 points [-]

They strike me as useful enough to practicing philosophers (to the extent that they are correct, that is!). But it appears that you are looking for something more immediately useful to ordinary people.

Sorry. Just ain't going to happen. But you did get something useful from that list. The realization that you are probably not cut out to be a philosopher (at least not in the English-speaking world).

Comment author: bigjeff5 03 February 2011 11:29:09PM 1 point [-]

It just seems to me that philosophy itself, as a separate discipline, isn't particularly useful for anything outside of philosophy.

Perhaps that is a little clearer.

And actually I think I would be pretty good at philosophy - I love to argue, and often quite accidentally take absolutely useless positions. ;) (I'm kidding! Sort of.)

Comment author: Perplexed 04 February 2011 01:49:37AM 9 points [-]

Everytime a philosopher does something useful outside philosophy, they kick him out of the philosopher's guild, name a new scientific or mathematical discipline after him, and make him work for a living as a scientist or mathematician. (I'm kidding too! Sort of.)

The real reason to knock philosophy as a discipline is that when they finally do solve a problem, and the solution is actually useful (as with, believe-it-or-not, that black raven / red herring thing), most philosophers don't accept the solution, even though the solution is in use out there in the real world (if AI research counts as the real world).