Philosophy in 10 easy steps

  1. First, decide on whether you are an atheist or a believer in a god. If you are the latter, you might want to decide which god, but the most important thing is to decide if you are a believer in any god.

  2. Decide between three basic theories of human nature. Are we entirely physical, are we entirely mental (is our essence our “mind”, whatever the fuck that is) or are we essentially “spiritual”. Or, some combination thereof. If it’s a combination, god help you. If you believe in a god. If not, you’re screwed.

  3. Try to decide this issue: Are you going to think scientifically - seeking ever-closer approximations to close descriptions of the world - or religiously/rationalistically - looking for absolutely correct answers.

  4. Try hard to recognize that most written philosophy is political science, however crude.

  5. Also try to recognize that every political philosophy supports a morality. No matter what you read, this is the ultimate goal of most philosophers. If you know what morality the philosopher is supporting, you understand him. If you don’t know what morality he supports, you don’t understand him.

  6. Accept that philosophy is a special study of language. You MUST master your language before you will ever be a good philosopher.

  7. Master the process of abstraction. Understand it. Well. If you cannot do this well, you’re even more screwed than if you screw up 2).

  8. Read Kant and Hegel for fun, but never, ever read Heidegger without adult supervision.

  9. Read the Bible.

  10. Read all of Hume, Nietzsche, Russell and Dr. Seuss.

Hope this is helpful.

I got a little Russell and Seuss to polish off, and I have arrived!

Russell is the only one on your list that I can manage to stick with. I did start reading Kant, once, but it wasn’t much fun.

I don’t need a book to teach me how to be a dummy, I’ve already worked it out for myself.

I enjoyed your list. I could see a philosophy web test. In the test each field presents one of the questions and whatever array of answers. It would function a bit like one of those mental health diagnosis websites or medical websites, but instead of symptoms (or perhaps a different kind of symptom) you answer related to philosopical beliefs. At the end it spits out your type with some recommendations, for reading or investigation.

In fact it would be rather fun to keep at bay the more sweeping generalized categories - like those you start with - and ask more specific questions about philosophical symptoms.

From here I will put in more specific responses.

I don’t fine beliefs to be binary, even people, for example who believe in God will have periods or situations where they clearly do not think God is there or effective or eixsts. And on the other side people who officially believe there is no God may at the same time avoid certain actions, not realizing they are doing this because on some level they feel they can be seen by some sort of transcendent judge.

I am assuming you mean decide as in investigate what you are, what you already believe and label it.

So only monisms with words which do not fit all of our experiences or even scientific models. IOW physicalism is a word with baggage that does not fit much of what science considers real. Like say massless particles or that everything in in superposition, etc. Whatever the fuck ‘physical’ means also. When one defines ‘physical’ which will entail using a word that does not have phys in its root, we will find a better term to tack -ism on. This may help clarify differences with people who choose mind or spirituality.

Can on not move through intuitions (rationalisms) and then stick with those that fit better with experience? Can we not mix - since we all do mix -rationalism and empiricism? (this is not quite the same point as the first one) Where is the 'I decide much of my knowledge on the basis of experts category? And then in some metacategory, by what system do I decide which experts to follow?

Or are we supposed to work everything out on our own?

I am not sure what ‘thinking scientifically’ means for us laypeople. It certainly doesn’t mean approaching all (some) scientific knowledge as scientists at work, replicating the protocols etc.

What is the role of intuition in deciding which experts to depend on? The role of deduction? If I read number three I might think you have used deduction and model building in relation to all scientific beliefs you, FAust, have and I am skeptical about that.

I love having this kind of generalization, it’s like a trope. And tropes bring out certain facets, but then they also hide others. I can see an argument being made for ontology or epistemology also.


Damn right.

Could you elaborate with a concrete example (enjoying the irony of asking for a concrete example, but I do mean it as a real request)-

I would throw in the Presocratics and Plato. In the same spirit as the Bible being included, but also to see philosophy arising of the mist in a clunky form. I think a child would be good to have with you when reading Plato however. Someone to keep the forms and other BS in check and also someone who will demand some fucking at least provisional answers, like where the ice pops are, right now, not where would be the ideal place to keep them, son. Shift up from the priorities of the child to other questions and give at least your answer to the ideal, platonic kid, who does not want chains of questions to seem like sound deduction.

Moreno -

I think theist/atheist this is one where you really got to make up your mind. Anyone aspiring to be a philosopher should be able to do this. In other words, if you can’t make up your mind about this and stick to it, you’ll probably suck as a philosopher. It’s not about the label. It’s about a modicum of discipline.

We should philosophize in ways that fit our experiences, as we interpret them. I have never seen it done - effective philosophy that tries to account for some mishmash of paradigms. Go for it, brother, if you think you can pull it off.

Your comment on 3) I do not understand.

Epistemology is where they all used to start. They still wound up in the same spot.

An example of how people screw up abstraction is, conveniently, in Plato’s Forms. Which is one reason I do not include Plato on my list. Everyone reads him and a lot of people are fooled by him - including professional philosophers to this day. He’s just a political scientist.

I have a dog. Which is not to say I have anything like dogness or that anything like dogness exists except as a convenience.

You know, I take it back. Our friend Dan~ seems to use a paradigm wherein human nature is a hybrid. This is definitely not for beginners or for people of greatly less linguistic skill than Dan~. It is not good general advice to recommend such a technique.

Your “Ten Commandments” can mostly be accepted, although the 8th, the 9th, the 10th are the most “Biased Commandments”. The 6th Commandment is the best.

I would say there is only one main step (with many subordinated steps - of course):

Try to think in a similar way as you speak, because you always speak in a similar way as you think.

Short explanation: The cooperation of thinking and speaking puts a spiral in motion that inevitably leads to philosophy.

So a three years old child is already capable of a philosophising (regardless how primitive is is).

Thinking without any linguistic reference is onesided, thus without any chance to get beyond the status of a thinker (according to ILP: less than 500 posts :slight_smile: ) and to get on the other side: the status of a philosopher (according to ILP: more than 500 posts :slight_smile: ).

People in general do tend to act as if they were unities, especially in conversation, and even more so in essays and arguments. They take a position, they identify with what they mostly believe, or think they should believe, or want to believe. I am not sure this is a good thing.

But I like the way you are approaching the topic. Clear values, generalizations. And coming at it as a practical issue is different.

Not here’s way you should believe X, but here’s a choice chain, get to work on it.

Writing a book like that is problematic, though it would be interesting. You would have to have meta chapters that explained the various paradigms and how they were playing out in the regular chapters, or some other method for keeping people clear about what was going on. But here we are in a more personal, interactive discussion forum. And here if one is mixed, and I do not meet people who are not mixed, it seems like it is avoiding something valuable to all act as if we are just, for example, a monist physicalist - a bit redundant but I want to follow the format in your OP - atheist, period. If you follow someone’s speech, the way they self-reference and so on, they tend to stray. And I think, given that one tries not to stray is important.

It is mainly a gut feeling, though I think I could mount an argument, but I do think the presentation of the self as a monad causes a lot of problems.

It seems to me the former must include some of the latter, though at the level of epistemology (and likely views of perception, object subject relations, realism). IOW intuited axioms not simply about methodology but about why that methodology and not others, so ontology. I don’t see anyone as either fully rationalistic or fully empiricist. Also it seems like you are focusing on a portion of scientific thinking, that having to do with models. One could work primarily rationalistically to come up with models, ontology, then only give them up or modify/adjust them when empirical contradictions arise. IOW not like the scientists, who in the ideal only accept things that seem very probable - are more enamoured of putting Occam’s Razor up front. What I am saying here is that mainly Rationalist person could mix in some empirical checks, but have an innocent until proven guilty heuristic regarding what is come upon intuitively. (something most of us do regardless of system. We don’t clean house completely at 18 and move forward listeing to God inwardly or learning through empirical research only. We work with the mixed batch of ideas and beliefs we have at that point we begin trying to be consistent.) The Rationalist need not conclude that their models are absolute. Even they could have revision, but the source of their ideas is different. I see R vs. E as a methodological dispute rather than the dispute between approximation and fixed. Rationalists change their minds, sometimes and can remain primarily rationalists.

I suppose I was also bring up the idea that we base a lot of our beliefs on authority, E people and R people. both groups use intuition about which experts to believe and how provisionally, how much doubt they must have to begin questioning and how they go about that, when they decide they are satisfied that the experts in question should continue to be believed, how much a relevent idea of set of data could possibly be marginalized, if there might be paradigmatic reasons why a phenomenon was considered impossible and so on.

The science vs Rationalist/religious, makes it seem like third parties are not involved. But the individual waking up today or waking up at 20 and wondering if what they believe is right or fairly approximately right, is coming from ideas of experts, likely to consider methodologies for investigating because of authorities already accepted, and if challenging going to utilize other authorities at least in part to challenge the first ones.

They will not be tabula rasa thinking scientifically or tabula rasa thinking rationalistically and without using some received ideas moving forward.

To find a real atheist is as difficult as to find a real God.

The last two sentences are biased comments.

Science is not free of religion and rationalism.

Political science”? You - the one who says “philosophy is not science but art” - are saying that philosophy is “political science”? You contradict yourself.

Yes, you must master your language and also know at least two foreign languages that are not much related with each other.

A biased comment again (see also: 2)

And again:

So 8, 9, and 10 are also the most biased comments (compare them with 2 and 7).

No. It is not helpful, because it is either too vague (see 1 and 3), self-contradictory (see 4), and too much biased (see 2, 7, and especially 8, 9, 10). Only two (see 5 and 6) “steps” are good, although not good enough.


Try again.

Or ask Mephistopheles.


So what?

No shit.

Hamburger is not free of rat shit. Should we prefer the rat shit?

I take it that nuanced use of language is not your thing. Did I claim that political science was science?

I’m going to take a crazy guess and say that you have done that. I take it that English is not one of them. Which is fine. Not a criticism.

I hope everything I say is biased. It’s supposed to be. You don’t seem to get much about this philosophy thing. That’s okay - we’re all still learning.

By the way, I use “Faust” because it’s my name.

What “so what?”? Your “1st step” is pretty nonsensical.

What are you talking about? It seems that you are again slightly off-topic. If you want someone to take your “philosophy in 10 easy steps” seriously, then vour biased comments are the wrong means, unless they are meant rhetorically or satirically (but just not seriously in the sense of the topic of your thread). It seem that you are a comedian who does not know much about philosophy.

I did not know that you were only a cynic. So sorry for taking you seriously.

Your “nuanced use of language” is just the opposite of nuanced use of language. You seem to know nothing about language.

Faust is saying that philosophy is “not science” and “political science”. =D> :blush:

Did you claim anything at all?

Q.E.D… You are the one who does not seem to get much about this philosophy thing.

This seems to be a typical statement of a politically correct hypocrite, thus again a cynic.

And I use “Arminius”, because it is my name.

“Army” is quite another matter.


By the way: I love Faust - and Mephistopheles too. :smiley:


Army - You mean that your parents named you Arminius?

BTW, why are you so afraid of bias? Embracing your bias sure beats embracing your fear.

For those who may think the Dr Seuss recommendation was a joke, well this is no joke…

Now, the Star-Belly Sneetches-
Had bellies with stars.
The Plain-Belly Sneetches-Had none upon thars.

Those stars weren’t so big. They were really so small.
You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all.

But, because they had stars, all the Star-Belly Sneetches
Would brag, “We’re the best kind of Sneetch on the beaches.
With their snoots in the air, they would sniff and they’d snort
“We’ll have nothing to do with the Plain-Belly sort!”
And whenever they met some, when they were out walking,
They’d hike right on past them without even talking.

When the Star-Belly children went out to play ball,
Could a Plain- Belly get in the game…? Not at all.
You only could play if your bellies had stars
And the Plain-Belly children had none upon thars.

When the Star-Belly Sneetches had frankfurter roasts
Or picnics or parties or marshmallow toasts,
They never invited the Plain-Belly Sneetches.
They left them out cold, in the dark of the beaches.
They kept them away. Never let them come near.
And that’s how they treated them year after year.

Then ONE day, seems…while the Plain-Belly Sneetches
Were moping and doping alone on the beaches,
Just sitting there wishing their bellies had stars…
A stranger zipped up in the strangest of cars!

“My friends,” he announced in a voice clear and keen,
“My name is Sylvester McMonkey McBean.
And I’ve heard of your troubles. I’ve heard you’re unhappy.
But I can fix that. I’m the Fix-it-Up Chappie.
I’ve come here to help you. I have what you need.
And my prices are low. And I work at great speed.
And my work is one hundred per cent guaranteed!

Then, quickly Sylvester McMonkey McBean
Put together a very peculiar machine.
And he said, “You want stars like a Star-Belly Sneetch…?
My friends, you can have them for three dollars each!”

“Just pay me your money and hop right aboard!”
So they clambered inside. Then the big machine roared
And it klonked. And it bonked. And it jerked. And it berked
And it bopped them about. But the thing really worked!
When the Plain-Belly Sneetches popped out, they had stars!
They actually did. They had stars upon thars!

Then they yelled at the ones who had stars at the start,
“We’re exactly like you! You can’t tell us apart.
We’re all just the same, now, you snooty old smarties!
And now we can go to your frankfurter parties.”

“Good grief!” groaned the ones who had stars at the first.
“We’re still the best Sneetches and they are the worst.
But, now, how in the world will we know,” they all frowned,
“If which kind is what, or the other way round?”

Then came McBean with a very sly wink.
And he said, “Things are not quite as bad as you think.
So you don’t know who’s who. That is perfectly true.
But come with me, friends. Do you know what I’ll do?
I’ll make you, again, the best Sneetches on beaches
And all it will cost you is ten dollars eaches.”

“Belly stars are no longer in style,” said McBean.
“What you need is a trip through my Star-off Machine.
This wondrous contraption will take off your stars
So you won’t look like Sneetches who have them on thars.”
And that handy machine Working very precisely
Removed all the stars from their tummies quite nicely.

Then, with snoots in the air, they paraded about

And they opened their beaks and they let out a shout,
“We know who is who! Now there isn’t a doubt.
The best kind of Sneetches are Sneetches without!”

Then, of course, those with stars all got frightfully mad.
To be wearing a star now was frightfully bad.
Then, of course, old Sylvester McMonkey McBean
Invited them into his star-off machine.

Then, of course from THEN on, as you probably guess,
Things really got into a horrible mess.
All the rest of that day, on those wild screaming beaches,
The fix-it-up Chappie kept fixing up Sneetches.
Off again! On Again! In again! Out again!
Through the machines they raced round and about again,
Changing their stars every minute or two.
They kept paying money. They kept running through
Until neither the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew
Whether this one was that one…or that one was this one
Or which one was what one …or what one was who.

Then, when every last cent
Of their money was spent,
The Fix-it-Up Chappie packed up
And he went.

And he laughed as he drove
In his car up the beach,
“They never will learn.
No. You can’t teach a Sneetch!”

But McBean was quite wrong. I’m quite happy to say
That the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day,
The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches
And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches
That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars
And whether they had one, or not, upon thars.

I agree about Suess. A very important person often overlooked.
But, I am a person who does not care about the creator of a work. Who did it has zero importance. It is the work that counts. Quite likely because I have read so many works that I cannot keep track of who wrote what. That confusion set me down a path of content and comprehension rather than ability to quote or use titles and names. The works of humans come from one entity and that simply is the species. The whole over individual. This includes all art and sciences. Think about not identifying works , think about just the work. Remove category, it is an interesting difficult perspective. Communicating this way is rather impossible to do. But, it can be done and can give an interesting view. I might need more coffee, I must be off to take care of a chicken raised by Lovebirds and cats… Very interesting behaviors showing up in Avery.

The Sneetches may be Seuss’ best work, from a philosophical point of view.

I may have confused a couple of people, however. People are, of course, free to take my list as seriously as they please. My point about Seuss is that it’s not so important how seriously you might take me (it’s not important at all, in fact) but it’s important how seriously you take yourself.

Geisel was a talented writer and a fair philosopher. The Sneetches is, among other things, about what is truly important and about how people often forget to even try to prioritize values.

We are all biased. We all make value judgments all the time. We need to. We’re supposed to. The prejudices of philosophers aren’t necessarily bad. It depends upon what they are, how well we know them (our own and others’), what we “do” with them.

Intelligence is not so much having a large vocabulary; it’s the ability to learn. It’s a skill that can be practiced.

I enjoyed your list and liked the above one the most. Though, i would have liked to see Nietzsche’s name before Heidegger there.

On the serious note, philosophy starts and depends basically on only one very simple thing, and that is being able to observe keenly, minutely and honestly. If one has that quality, most of the rest would follow automatically.

with love,

Why are you so paranoid?

I never said that I was “afraid of bias”.

[tab]The same example:

A.: “You are white”.
F.: “Why are you afraid of whites?”.[/tab]