4th November 2007 - 07:55 AM
Where does philosophy come from?
Western philosophy emerged in the sixth century BC along the Ionian coast. A small group of scientist-philosophers began writing about their attempts to develop “rational” accounts regarding human experience. These early Pre-Socratic thinkers thought that they were dealing with fundamental elements of nature.
It is natural for humans to seek knowledge. In the “Metaphysics” Aristotle wrote “All men by nature desire to know”.
The attempt to seek knowledge presupposes that the world unfolds in a systematic pattern and that we can gain knowledge of that unfolding. Cognitive science identifies several ideas that seem to come naturally to us and labels such ideas as “Folk Theories”.
The Folk Theory of the Intelligibility of the World
The world makes systematic sense, and we can gain knowledge of it.
The Folk Theory of General Kinds
Every particular thing is a kind of thing.
The Folk Theory of Essences
Every entity has an “essence” or “nature,” that is, a collection of properties that makes it the kind of thing it is and that is the causal source of its natural behavior.
The consequences of the two theories of kinds and essences is:
The Foundational Assumption of Metaphysics
Kinds exist and are defined by essences.
We may not want our friends to know this fact but we are all metaphysicians. We, in fact, assume that things have a nature thereby we are led by the metaphysical impulse to seek knowledge at various levels of reality.
Cognitive science has uncovered these ideas they have labeled as Folk Theories. Such theories when compared to sophisticated philosophical theories are like comparing mountain music with classical music. Such theories seem to come naturally to human consciousness.
The information comes primarily from “Philosophy in the Flesh” by Lakoff and Johnson.
4th November 2007 - 08:08 AM
5th November 2007 - 08:23 AM
First you ask about Philosophy, then you respond about Western Philosophy.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_philosophy
covers more than the Western brand. (nice top level survey)
But, my favorite for the basics of the western brand is Bertrand Russellhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertrand_Russell
His "History of Western Philosophy"http://www.archive.org/details/westernphilosoph035502mbp
His "Problems of Philosophy"http://www.ditext.com/russell/russell.html
Not sure what the point of the thread is, though.
5th November 2007 - 08:27 AM
We have in our Western philosophy a traditional theory of faculty psychology wherein our reasoning is a faculty completely separate from the body. “Reason is seen as independent of perception and bodily movement.” It is this capacity of autonomous reason that makes us different in kind from all other animals. I suspect that many fundamental aspects of philosophy and psychology are focused upon declaring, whenever possible, the separateness of our species from all other animals.
This tradition of an autonomous reason began long before evolutionary theory and has held strongly since then without consideration, it seems to me, of the theories of Darwin and of biological science. Cognitive science has in the last three decades developed considerable empirical evidence supporting Darwin and not supporting the traditional theories of philosophy and psychology regarding the autonomy of reason. Cognitive science has focused a great deal of empirical science toward discovering the nature of the embodied mind.
The three major findings of cognitive science are:
The mind is inherently embodied.
Thought is mostly unconscious.
Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical.
“These findings of cognitive science are profoundly disquieting [for traditional thinking] in two respects. First, they tell us that human reason is a form of animal reason, a reason inextricably tied to our bodies and the peculiarities of our brains. Second, these results tell us that our bodies, brains, and interactions with our environment provide the mostly unconscious basis for our everyday metaphysics, that is, our sense of what is real.”
All living creatures categorize. All creatures, as a minimum, separate eat from no eat and friend from foe. As neural creatures tadpole and wo/man categorize. There are trillions of synaptic connections taking place in the least sophisticated of creatures and this multiple synapses must be organized in some way to facilitate passage through a small number of interconnections and thus categorization takes place. Great numbers of different synapses take place in an experience and these are subsumed in some fashion to provide the category eat or foe perhaps.
Our categories are what we consider to be real in the world: tree, rock, animal…Our concepts are what we use to structure our reasoning about these categories. Concepts are neural structures that are the fundamental means by which we reason about categories.
Quotes from “Philosophy in the Flesh”.
P.S If we take a big bite out of reality we will, I think, find that it is multilayered like the onion. There are many domains of knowledge available to us for penetrating those layers of reality. Cognitive science is one that I find to be very interesting.