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[Wittrs] On Why Philosophy is Not Argument or Debate [message #663] Tue, 01 September 2009 17:58 Go to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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Registered: August 2009
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Here's what I would say. The mistake is to think that debate or logic is unto itself. All that these things are, are ways for the mind to structure its meaning (its world). There are more efficient ways to behold something. An artist understands without debate. So does anyone else who, with age, gathers wisdom and experience. Logic or debate might be helpful with certain things, of course. But too often the ritual of "debate" involves only the contestants trying to win. In other words, debate itself is really about the combat of allegiance. And so if what the brain is doing is fortifying a premise, hedging it and so forth -- if what it does is similar to what a race car driver does around the track -- then the activity is not likely to enhance an exchange of meaning. It is more likely to engender feelings of loss if the person "loses." 

So you have to change the model. Instead of debate, you discuss. Instead of logic, you exchange. And that is really what it boils down to: "here's my idea ... how do you like the taste?" (metaphor: food). Some say interesting, some say "nah." Some might say: information deficits. Poor context or perspective. Some might say "I never thought of that before."

If I am right that understanding ideas is a cognitive phenomenon (process), I think I would also be right in saying it is not equal in all (like math abilities). It also may be the case that beholding and exchanging ideas might be difficult across particular brains suited more for other mental tasks. Why is it that so many people had trouble understanding Wittgenstein both in his day and now, many years later? Why does he need expositors along the lines of people like Jesus? Because not all minds can behold exemplary thoughts with the same ease. In the case of Wittgenstein, the energy in the head was an outlier probably for that whole century of human life.

So it's not a debate. It's a showing.  I show, and you show back. If at the start of the play one doesn't really want a showing, you have all sorts of problems. Hence the problems on analytic, where the goal is not to show, but to: (a) persevere; (b) preach; (c) declare; (d) hit and swipe; (e) convert; and (f) leave your mark upon any assertion the way a dog urines the territory.    
Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
Redesigned Website: http://seanwilson.org/
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[Wittrs] Argument in Philosophy and Otherwise [message #664 is a reply to message #663] Tue, 01 September 2009 17:59 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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... a quick reply Stuart.


Consider the plasticity model of the brain. What does it say? It says that certain cognitive tasks performed over and over again cause changes to the physical locations of the brain thought responsible for the tasks. In other words, the brain capacity gets better. All you have to do is plug this into another question: what happens cognitively when the brain synthesizes or integrates ideas, or when it pontificates? The mere fact that you have "creative people" as opposed to people born to mathematical advantages is proof that the brain understands its world through different paths or traits not equal in all people. And so if you spend life -- as Ludwig did -- thinking and thinking (philosophically) , one has assume that this brain capacity grows. You'll note most good philosophy comes in the ages around 40 - 55 (as opposed to math, which is 20s). I have seen this as an educator. I've seen students predisposed to "digesting" ideas while others
prone to absorbing information (sponges) or good at engineering (using mathematical skills and so forth). It is a gift to understand philosophy well. Kids in their 20s become better at it in their 40s.

And so, if this is the way that it is, we must accept that some have better philosophic abilities, which means, better capacity to relate and synthesize ideas. Better capacity to understand deeply. Wittgenstein, I have always said, "lived" ideas.

But we often dismiss these people or abilities as being "just creative." People quantitatively inclined like to treat creativity like juggling or something. "Oh this person can paint. Gosh." But in fact it is the opposite. For the person who can conjugate an idea and whose mind is a mill for understanding surely has at least as much intellectual standing as those who are predisposed for writing encyclopedias or doing mathematics. So the cultural prejudice, I think, is against the insightful. (People wrongly thing that insight is equal and that, therefore, information or math-ability should be the key barometer). 

And I think therein lies the problem you have identified, Stuart, with one who is arrogant or celebratory in having certain creative gifts. You would take as offense one who said "the others can't get it as well." But if we said against this person, "he can't read as fast" or "He can't do math" or "he can't store as much memory"  -- this is all thought to be proper observation. Look, I am terrible at everything except insight. In any competition, my memory, math and reading speed is going to be lesser than many people I discuss with. And so when an information hound comes in and says "you don't read enough philosophy, what do you know," -- all there is to say back is, "you wouldn't get it if you saw it anyway." So what I am trying to say is that "understanding" is not a conclusion, it is a path and a trait the same as number crunching.    

Wittgensteinians ARE more insightful, Stuart. They have to be to have gotten Ludwig. But that's ok, because as you say, that doesn't make any of them "smarter" in any overall sense. To a large extent, "being smart" is problematic because you cannot commensurate brain traits. What of one who has social and emotive intelligence? This is extremely important as well. What I really represent as an ideal is for the Walter types to learn to accept the confines their own gift when speaking with one who may possess a comparative advantage in other cognitive sectors.  But this is not what they do. Hence the adoption of "debate" as their model. 

Regards. 
Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
Redesigned Website: http://seanwilson.org/
SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
Twitter: http://twitter.com/seanwilsonorg
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/seanwilsonorg
New Discussion Group: http://seanwilson.org/wittgenstein.discussion.html



On Why Philosophy Can't Be Argument or Debate [message #675 is a reply to message #663] Tue, 01 September 2009 18:13 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
Messages: 793
Registered: August 2009
Location: Form of Life
Senior Member



Here's what I would say. The mistake is to think that debate or logic is unto itself. All that these things are, are ways for the mind to structure its meaning (its world). There are more efficient ways to behold something. An artist understands without debate. So does anyone else who, with age, gathers wisdom and experience. Logic or debate might be helpful with certain things, of course. But too often the ritual of "debate" involves only the contestants trying to win. In other words, debate itself is really about the combat of allegiance. And so if what the brain is doing is fortifying a premise, hedging it and so forth -- if what it does is similar to what a race car driver does around the track -- then the activity is not likely to enhance an exchange of meaning. It is more likely to engender feelings of loss if the person "loses." 

So you have to change the model. Instead of debate, you discuss. Instead of logic, you exchange. And that is really what it boils down to: "here's my idea ... how do you like the taste?" (metaphor: food). Some say interesting, some say "nah." Some might say: information deficits. Poor context or perspective. Some might say "I never thought of that before."

If I am right that understanding ideas is a cognitive phenomenon (process), I think I would also be right in saying it is not equal in all (like math abilities). It also may be the case that beholding and exchanging ideas might be difficult across particular brains suited more for other mental tasks. Why is it that so many people had trouble understanding Wittgenstein both in his day and now, many years later? Why does he need expositors along the lines of people like Jesus? Because not all minds can behold exemplary thoughts with the same ease. In the case of Wittgenstein, the energy in the head was an outlier probably for that whole century of human life.

So it's not a debate. It's a showing.  I show, and you show back. If at the start of the play one doesn't really want a showing, you have all sorts of problems. Hence the problems on analytic, where the goal is not to show, but to: (a) persevere; (b) preach; (c) declare; (d) hit and swipe; (e) convert; and (f) leave your mark upon any assertion the way a dog urinates the territory.   

Regards and thanks.
 
Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
Redesigned Website: http://seanwilson.org/
SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
Twitter: http://twitter.com/seanwilsonorg
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/seanwilsonorg
New Discussion Group: http://seanwilson.org/wittgenstein.discussion.html



Re: [Wittrs] On Why Philosophy is Not Argument or Debate [message #1089 is a reply to message #663] Thu, 17 September 2009 20:51 Go to previous message
nobul savage is currently offline  nobul savage
Messages: 21
Registered: September 2009
Location: Australia
Junior Member
I disagree on philosophy is not argument. it hinges on ones conception of agrument. yes people argue but that is not what philosophical argument is about. Humans have the unique ability to assert something i.e. something that is true or false, this is called a propositional statement. a philosophical argument is comprised of premises and a conclusion that can be true or false, valid or not valid, sound or unsound. your example "how do you like the taste?" is not a statement capable of being true or false, it assets nothing. and in some circles is not a subject of philosophy except in postmodernism. technically we don't argue against people but construct conceptual arguments.
There is a vast array of possible statements available to us. Do we refuse to study certain types of statements because someone doesnt like the flavour? Meaning is use and we can break conventional rules of language i.e. we can call a cat a mouse. Now lets move on...
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