Archive for November, 2017

Should the Study of Philosophy be Required of Science Students?

Monday, November 13th, 2017

I sympathise with the need of academic philosophers to promote their business, but am often annoyed by their claim that everyone needs their services. I don’t think that is true and I think we would all be better served if they based their recruitment on enjoyment rather than utility. Just like art, music, dance, advanced mathematics, and esoteric physics, even academic Philosophy can be a source of great enjoyment without having to be “useful”. The dismissive comments of Feynman, Weinberg, Hawking, et al are directed not at philosophy per se (though Weinberg correctly pointed out that, like any indulgence, it can become so addictive as to interfere with the pursuit of other pleasures). What they object to is the claim that a study of academic Philosophy is essential preparation for what they are already doing quite happily without it.

But here we go again.

The recent Aeon essay on Why philosophy is so important in science education poses the question “Is philosophy important to the study of science?” but for me the question is not well posed without some definition of what is meant by “philosophy”. If it means the study of Philosophy as an academic discipline, then for me the answer is no. In fact I would say that in my experience the study of Science has been much more important to my understanding of philosophy than the study of Philosophy has been to my understanding of science.

Stoics and Epicureans

Saturday, November 4th, 2017

There are many kinds of pleasure and pain, and pleasure in one dimension of experience may well entail pain in another. Also, sometimes present pain must be suffered in order to ensure an expectation of even greater future pleasure. It is even possible to seek one kind of pain in order to mask another kind, or to somehow take actual pleasure of one kind in pain of another kind. But no matter what reward we seek, we can never do anything other than whatever (partly random) processes in our brain have decided for us in that moment.It so happens that for the virtuous person, virtue is the highest pleasure and guilt is the greatest pain. By acting virtuously is that person being a Stoic or an Epicurean?

Source: A friendly salvo against modern Epicureans – How to Be a Stoic

Donald Trump Jr.’s Wonderful Idea

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

Dear Chloe,

You are so lucky to have a dad who wants to teach you about socialism. It is hard to imagine that some kids just like you have to miss all the fun of Halloween and get no candy. Some have to stay home because they are just sick on that day, but there are others who are sick all the time, and others who are well but don’t have parents to go out with them and keep them safe. I think it’s a great idea if you are willing to share your candy with one of those kids, and if you do find one to do that for it would be a great example of charity. But of course, as your dad will explain, socialism is more than that.

Once you find one poor child who had to stay home, you will probably also see that there are many others. And if you gave just one candy to each of them you would completely run out of candy with many still having nothing. But if all the kids in each street who got a lot of candy put some of it in a big box, and if some people got together and took those boxes around to give out candy to all of the kids who had to stay home, then that would be socialism. With socialism you can still go and visit one or two of the kids who couldn’t go out and maybe give them a bit extra, but you wouldn’t have to feel bad about all the others you couldn’t get to because you would know that the way things were set up would make sure that they all got at least a fair share.

Unfortunately we don’t yet have socialism in America, so no matter how hard you try there will be many who get no candy. But don’t feel bad. There is something you can do to ensure that one day there will be no kids left out. When you grow up you can help to make America really great at last by working hard to elect a socialist government.



Source: Donald Trump Jr.’s Very Bad Tweet – The Atlantic