Which is First?

Half-formed posts, inchoate philosophies, and the germs of deep thought.

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Re: Which is First?

Postby felix dakat » Thu Jun 09, 2011 10:46 pm

statiktech wrote:
felix dakat wrote:We may not have a representative sample of ethicists or epistemologists either, but based on the historical record we do have, ontology came first when men departed from religion and began philosophical speculation.


Is this supposed to pertain to the whole of humanity as well as the whole of philosophical thought?


To the best of my knowledge and in general, yes. Before that, philosophy was usually not distinct from religion.
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Re: Which is First?

Postby statiktech » Fri Jun 10, 2011 4:38 pm

Why are religion and philosophical speculation necessarily distinct?

Also, there were quite a few pre-socratics and ancient Eastern philosophers who concerned themselves with things like ethics, epistemology, politics, phenomenology, natural sciences, and even mathematics. I'm not saying ontology wasn't a significant part, just that we have no real grounds to assert which came first, on the whole.

Chronologically, it makes sense that we would start with "what is", but that might also suggest that primacy was given to "how we know".
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Re: Which is First?

Postby joekoba » Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:41 am

Ontology first
the "How's" later
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Re: Which is First?

Postby Xunzian » Sat Jun 11, 2011 4:53 am

I'll go with ethics. The other ones are all fraught with the problem of intellectual masturbation. What do I perceive, what do I know, how can I know? All those questions can quickly be turned into anti-intellectual weapons, to stupid nihilism. Absent some conception of the good, those other questions become pretty meaningless pretty quickly. Let's start with "how should I live?" Once we've got a rough idea as to how that question goes, then we can proceed to the others. That doesn't mean that information we gain along the way oughtn't inform us and lead us to revise that initial perspective. That always needs to happen. Let the next level inform those below it.

So:

How should I live? (ethics) --> Do the various aspects of how I feel I ought live actually make sense? (logic) --> What am I basing this whole system off of? (epistemology) --> am I reliable in doing this? (phenomenology) --> Synthesizing these elements: what is actually going on? (ontology).

That's how I'd order it. Think of it like the Greater Learning. It isn't a strict chain-logic, you don't do them in a strict sequential manner. You need to be working at all elements at the same time. But it is a kind of chain-logic: your progress is limited in order of how well you answer those questions. A really good ontological philosophy is meaningless without a good ethical philosophy (see: Heidigger). Heck, a great logical system devoid of ethics is worthless (see: Industrial Revolution era rationalism). Naturally, ethics also requires the other elements to grow, that is the point of the Perelandra parable. But it is the foundation from which the others are built.
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Re: Which is First?

Postby Moreno » Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:19 am

Xunzian wrote:How should I live? (ethics) --> Do the various aspects of how I feel I ought live actually make sense? (logic) --> What am I basing this whole system off of? (epistemology) --> am I reliable in doing this? (phenomenology) --> Synthesizing these elements: what is actually going on? (ontology).
How does one know how one should live? iow epistemology before ethics in any process. Can one truly decide how one should live without knowing what is going on? iow ontology before ethics in process. (and also what is? before how should I live). And heck, I put phenomenology before the whole bunch because if you don't know your own process of experiencing you just got words.
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Re: Which is First?

Postby Xunzian » Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:12 am

I don't actually think it matters that much where you start. Given practice as well as the other elements, ethical systems will necessarily develop and refine themselves. Absent ethics, though, I'm not terribly sure how the others advance.
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Re: Which is First?

Postby statiktech » Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:09 pm

See, I agree with you, Xun, insofar as all philosophy ultimately speaks to a morality. However, actually understanding that morality, in a detailed philosophic sense, seems to come much later for most [...if ever].

I don't think we can really examine an ethical proposition without first asking "how do we know?".
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Re: Which is First?

Postby statiktech » Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:15 pm

And heck, I put phenomenology before the whole bunch because if you don't know your own process of experiencing you just got words.


Even still -- how do we know [what/how] we experience?
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Re: Which is First?

Postby Arcturus Descending » Sat Jun 18, 2011 8:16 pm

Faust wrote:Was reading an article in the SEP and came upon this:

Ontology is the study of beings or their being — what is.
Epistemology is the study of knowledge — how we know.
Logic is the study of valid reasoning — how to reason.
Ethics is the study of right and wrong — how we should act.
Phenomenology is the study of our experience — how we experience.

Philosophers have sometimes argued that one of these fields is “first philosophy”, the most fundamental discipline, on which all philosophy or all knowledge or wisdom rests. Historically (it may be argued), Socrates and Plato put ethics first, then Aristotle put metaphysics or ontology first, then Descartes put epistemology first, then Russell put logic first, and then Husserl (in his later transcendental phase) put phenomenology first.

Which one would you put first?

'Being' that ontology's definition is.......

Ontology (from the Greek ὄν, genitive ὄντος: "of that which is", and -λογία, -logia: science, study, theory) is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or can be said to exist, and how such entities can be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.

that says and includes all of the others in a nutshell...ontology goes first.
Aside from which, without "Being" itself...nothing comes after.
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Re: Which is First?

Postby Moreno » Sun Jun 19, 2011 2:43 am

statiktech wrote:
And heck, I put phenomenology before the whole bunch because if you don't know your own process of experiencing you just got words.


Even still -- how do we know [what/how] we experience?
By most accounts of 'knowing' we don't know. We rise up in our culture and also with the gestalts our senses make. We have a kind of realism and then we either start examining that, noticing exceptions, noticing contradictions, exploring, etc., and this base changes.

We find ourselves with some given philosophy or really philosophies - some partially contradictory set of beliefs and move from there.
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Re: Which is First?

Postby Xunzian » Sun Jun 19, 2011 5:02 pm

statiktech wrote:See, I agree with you, Xun, insofar as all philosophy ultimately speaks to a morality. However, actually understanding that morality, in a detailed philosophic sense, seems to come much later for most [...if ever].

I don't think we can really examine an ethical proposition without first asking "how do we know?".


I still think the question: why should we know? comes before that one. I had a discussion with Ucci a while back and his basic position was that it all comes back down to values. We could count all the grains of sand in the Sahara, but what does such an approach accomplish?
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Re: Which is First?

Postby joekoba » Wed Aug 17, 2011 12:57 am

Xunzian wrote:
statiktech wrote:See, I agree with you, Xun, insofar as all philosophy ultimately speaks to a morality. However, actually understanding that morality, in a detailed philosophic sense, seems to come much later for most [...if ever].

I don't think we can really examine an ethical proposition without first asking "how do we know?".


I still think the question: why should we know? comes before that one. I had a discussion with Ucci a while back and his basic position was that it all comes back down to values. We could count all the grains of sand in the Sahara, but what does such an approach accomplish?

But doesn't what is it to know come prior to why? Defining what it is to question come before the question? If we ask why should we value questioning, this would lead to what does it mean to value questioning, no?
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Re: Which is First?

Postby mr reasonable » Wed Aug 17, 2011 5:36 pm

Epistemology gets my vote.
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Re: Which is First?

Postby without-music » Wed Aug 17, 2011 7:01 pm

Ethics, for almost the same reasons Xunzian has already enumerated. I'm not so much concerned with notions of the Good, as I am with how one ought to live -- that is, why one ought to pursue knowledge, if one is to pursue it at all. However, my ideal First would be an encompassing of most of the approaches: an onto-ethico-phenomenological epistemology. Ideally.
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Re: Which is First?

Postby Faust » Wed Aug 17, 2011 7:05 pm

Based on my experience, i know that is cheating.
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Re: Which is First?

Postby without-music » Wed Aug 17, 2011 7:29 pm

Faust wrote:Based on my experience, i know that is cheating.

You're right. Of course, my ethic does not prohibit cheating.
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Re: Which is First?

Postby Fixed Cross » Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:05 pm

Faust wrote:Was reading an article in the SEP and came upon this:

Ontology is the study of beings or their being — what is.
Epistemology is the study of knowledge — how we know.
Logic is the study of valid reasoning — how to reason.
Ethics is the study of right and wrong — how we should act.
Phenomenology is the study of our experience — how we experience.

Philosophers have sometimes argued that one of these fields is “first philosophy”, the most fundamental discipline, on which all philosophy or all knowledge or wisdom rests. Historically (it may be argued), Socrates and Plato put ethics first, then Aristotle put metaphysics or ontology first, then Descartes put epistemology first, then Russell put logic first, and then Husserl (in his later transcendental phase) put phenomenology first.

Which one would you put first?

Of these five, logic seems to be the one enabling the most general statements.

I do not really understand the difference between epistemology, ontology and phenomenology. Knowledge is knowledge of what is; What is said to be is what is known; Both are dependent on our conception of phenomena as reality. There seems to be no real difference between the three.

Ethics is the only one on the list with a clearly outlined purpose, it aims to improve life. But I happen to think that a good ethics relies on logic, or at least that any "god-given" realizations or spontaneously arising values have to be justified by a logical drawing of consequences in order to be an ethics in the philosophical sense.

For me then ethics is the most important, but it relies on logic, so logic would be the first philosophy. This unfortunately places me in the same corner as Bertrand Russell.
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Re: Which is First?

Postby Silhouette » Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:35 pm

Fixed Cross wrote:Of these five, logic seems to be the one enabling the most general statements.

But of course there has always been room for illogical philosophies, or pre-logical philosophies that describe phenomena without logical analysis and/or without any strict logic to tie together any subject matter.

Fixed Cross wrote:I do not really understand the difference between epistemology, ontology and phenomenology. Knowledge is knowledge of what is; What is said to be is what is known; Both are dependent on our conception of phenomena as reality. There seems to be no real difference between the three.

Unfortunately the problem of induction plagues philosophy, assuming realms of ontology that aren't yet part of our knowledge - and this has been taken a step further on the introduction of areas of existence that can never be subject to epistemology. Herein lies the birth of faith in the unworldly etc.

Logic and phenomenology can save us from this - but only if one has ears for it.

Fixed Cross wrote:Ethics is the only one on the list with a clearly outlined purpose, it aims to improve life. But I happen to think that a good ethics relies on logic, or at least that any "god-given" realizations or spontaneously arising values have to be justified by a logical drawing of consequences in order to be an ethics in the philosophical sense.

I would regard it as perverse to cover any or all of these 5 areas of philosophy for the sake of refining logic for logic's sake as an end point, or for the sake of studying being, knowing or how we experience as one's end point. I think ethics is quite clearly the "last" of the 5 - and one would be remissed to neglect any of the other 4 in arriving at ethical conclusions. As such, solid, consistent ethics would rely on logic - though also the study of what the "raw materials" were that logic must be applied to, how you can go about experiencing these things, and how that translates into knowledge.

_________________


But then it might be questions of ethics that lead you through all these areas to finally arrive at a more complete ethics.
Logic needs application, requiring the other areas to precede it, but then one can only do the other areas justice by using logic.
Ontology is dependent on phenomenology, but phenomenology can only apply to "what is".
And to say anything at all about anything, one has to have knowledge of it.

Basically this thread is a wild goose chase.

It posits a false question that presupposes there is an order at all.
Quite clearly they are all interlinked and interdependent.
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Re: Which is First?

Postby Moreno » Fri Aug 19, 2011 11:13 pm

Xunzian wrote:
statiktech wrote:See, I agree with you, Xun, insofar as all philosophy ultimately speaks to a morality. However, actually understanding that morality, in a detailed philosophic sense, seems to come much later for most [...if ever].

I don't think we can really examine an ethical proposition without first asking "how do we know?".


I still think the question: why should we know? comes before that one. I had a discussion with Ucci a while back and his basic position was that it all comes back down to values. We could count all the grains of sand in the Sahara, but what does such an approach accomplish?
Wouldn't we however have no way of answering the question 'why should we know' if we do not know 'how do we know'? How do we know what we should know? It seems like most people came up with an implicit epistemology - often 'the gods tell some people and knowledge comes from listening to them' - before the why should we know which these experts answered. Though some it seems said that we shouldn't know a lot of stuff.
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