What defines the philosopher is firstly his commitment to logicking with words as the path to Wisdom; and secondly, a lack of Human Sensibility to Human Life (which I shall go into in my next post.) These are the two concepts that are the nearest I have yet got to understanding my exasperation with Philosophy. Philosophers have another kind of mind, directed towards logicking and even mathematicking.
Philosophy consists of problems entirely created by words, and then of words to try and solve them. One can simply ignore it all as some kind of fussy nitpicking that the human mind is heir to, and go straight to Dean Swift or Jane Austen or Anthony Trollope, or lead a life of one’s own on the high seas of life.
What eager enquirers after Wisdom have to get into their heads from the very beginning is that Philosophy has always been in the hands of logickers and mathematickers.
Philosophy uses a form of intelligence in the realm of the nerds and boffins, their eye-view of human life.
Many people come to Philosophy expecting something high and deep, from the depths of human experience and self-knowledge, something to rival and supersede Religion, but what they get is logicking! They were right in their original expectations of what Philosophy should be.
Philosophy’s problems are created by the inexactitudes of words in natural language, and it then uses language to try and solve them. We should just crunch over them.
Philosophy is a term of high approbation. But what does it actually do exactly? Someone said it is just informal logic. I am ashamed to say that I don’t know exactly whether that is true. It sounds about right. Philosophers are very good at it but it’s not wisdom.
‘Philosophy’ isn’t about anything real. Its problems don’t really exist; they are fictional and self-created. And it also consists of logicking, even formal logicking with symbols as if it were mathematics, and even in places with real mathematics too. When it comes to questions of human life, it’s of the quality you would expect from the logico-mathematical mind.
What is of great interest in it for me is that it has always been considered ‘Philosophy’, a term of high approbation: the love of wisdom, the search for Wisdom, the foundation of Western civilization, of the uniqueness of the Western mind.
I wouldn’t mind if Philosophy were truly named for what it actually is, for what is actually done by a certain kind of mind: I am astonished at the work done by accountants, economists and actuaries, but this isn’t called Wisdom.
It is a dehumanized intelligence, an absence of that special faculty of intelligence that human beings have. It is replaced by a mechanical intelligence of logic and maths, with the human quality of intelligence wiped away.
The logico-mathematical intelligence of philosophy has simply contributed nothing, except occasionally for finding obvious flaws of previous philosophy, as in the case of Bertrand Russell (see 4 other posts on this site).
Part of what is missing from Philosophy and Philosophers is human self-knowledge. It is something that doesn’t come by way of logicking, mathematicking or scientificking. One doesn’t come to know oneself and others by means of the kind of logicking that philosophers do, but it’s still being rational.
I am sorry to use the word ‘nerd’ but can’t presently find anything better for their logicking, mathematics and science, and for their lack of human sensibility. It is too disrespectful a word for a lineage of people going back to 580 BC, whose thinking is of a highly rigorous standard, of being honest with themselves in this area of mind, and of not letting anything sloppy past them. They are impartial and tolerant, and able to appreciate other world views.
But, but, but…they don’t deal in Wisdom.
Their mentality is in the realm of the young Sheldons, those infuriatingly bright schoolboys who are brilliant at mental arithmetic and at undoing puzzles made of bits of stiff bent wire, and who keep asking Why? Oi!
Aside from the verbal conundrums, there are perhaps some conundrums that are part of the mystery of being human, which philosophers then try to solve by logicking. But these kind of mysteries are not ponderable by logic.
I feel that philosophers deal in a nitpicking of logic with logic, a bending backwards to eat their own tails, some kind of weakness for obsessive logical certainty and completion that the human mind is prey to. When I feel myself slipping down that path, I pull myself up. It took me a long time to realize that this is the path that philosophers continue down into the world of silly verbal puzzlings. I wanted to say to them, ‘Stop ! stop! there’s no advance towards knowledge down this road. When you feel yourself slipping down this path, just break through and use language for what it was invented for!’
(No, I am wrong. There is eventually knowledge of the material world by way of scientific method.)
Descartes for example couldn’t convince himself he existed till it occurred to him that he was thinking! Therefore he must exist! Cogito ergo sum! Did he really think as an adult person that he couldn’t believe he existed until the logic of words proved it? But this being led by the logicking of words to say absurdities, is what Philosophy has always been,
(Descartes later changed his mind and said he could after all trust his senses that he does exist, and discarded Cogito ergo sum!)
Philosophers follow where their logic leads them, regardless of sensory perception of the concrete, regardless of human sensibility, regardless of adult sophistication, like schoolboys.
Philosophers unscramble the wisdoms we already have, such as that we exist and that there is a world out there that we appreciate with our senses, and start again from the bottom, going back to a beginning that we never previously had even as infants. They start all over again from the bottom with the tool of logicking with words.
They are then misled by the logic of words into a maze of abstractions winding upwards into nonsense, the very opposite of rationality. An intelligent, reasonable, rational stopping before that point is required. What they call rationality is a putting aside of the human intelligence already present in our words, and ending up with something silly instead.
[‘Abstract’ is an uninformative term. It just means that the thought or statement isn’t one of sensory perception. Abstract thinking turns the sensory perception into a generalization or concept and then goes on from there, making it more and more distant from the original sensory experience. (No, I’m sure that analysis isn’t up to philosopher’s standards.)]
Also, how on earth can one get wisdom about oneself and other people and humanity through logicking, and mathematicking, and scientificking? It is absurd that this was called ‘Philosophy’. It has been a stupidity for 2500 years. It is amazing that no-one has objected.
How can people with minds similar to those of scientists give us Wisdom on human life? It is absurd, a gigantic Category Mistake. (What I mean by this big philosophical term is the application of mental methods appropriate to one field to others where they aren’t.)
Knowledge of this kind isn’t wisdom. Philosophers and scientists are prodigies of thinking, but it is of the kind that one can well believe that Artificial Intelligence will one day be its equal.
Logic, mathematics and science have been the extent to which the minds of philosophers work. They take these as comprising Reason, and then use it as a basis for step-by-step logicking into ‘abstractions’ which impress people as Wisdom on human life for which they retain a really facile understanding. To me, it is a mechanical kind of intelligence No wonder it is said that Artificial Intelligence will one day emulate it.
Language was created by Homo sapiens on the savannahs, in the caves by the fire, and later in the streets and market-places. Language has already taken these problems of its own imperfections into account with a nod and a wink. Language already contained some wisdom before philosophers wiped it away with contempt and started logicking from the beginning.