There is Philosophy and there is “detail” Work

I would only add that the other point worthy of note here is that scientism is itself a philosophy so we not only have the issue of people asserting that only “science” can give us true objective knowledge, but that in the very asserting they are espousing a philosophy, namely scientism.  That some seem to be completely unaware they are doing so makes it that much more pathetic.  
“The intellectual culture of scientism clouds our understanding of science itself. What’s more, it eclipses alternative ways of knowing — chiefly the philosophical — that can actually yield greater certainty than the scientific.”
“Does this mean these fields do not yield objective knowledge? The question is frankly absurd. Indeed if any of their findings count as genuine knowledge, they may actually be more enduring. For unlike empirical observations, which may be mistaken or incomplete, philosophical findings depend primarily on rational and logical principles. As such, whereas science tends to alter and update its findings day to day through trial and error, logical deductions are timeless. This is why Einstein pompously called attempts to empirically confirm his special theory of relativity “the detail work.” 
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4 Responses to There is Philosophy and there is “detail” Work

  1. Burk Braun says:


    You would have a case here if (professional) philosophy were doing us much good. But it isn't. Quite the opposite- from Plato onwards, it has led us terribly astray. First Plato with the we-are-not-in-the-real-world, then the neoplatonists/gnostics, then the Christians.. it just went from bad to worse.

    The situation was only saved when some people got their noses out of their navels long enough to look around them and deal with reality. And that is true both in the objective sciences and in morals, where humanism led the way out of the dark ages.

    I realize that some has to do it.. we are driven to make sense of countless questions. So let there be philosophy, especially as a historical discipline. It is a follower, not a leader.


    “Yet philosophy differs in a fundamental way from art, literature or religion, as its etymological meaning is “the love of wisdom,” which implies a significant degree of objective knowledge. And this knowledge must be attained on its own terms. Or else it would be but another branch of science.”

    “Must be attained on its own terms”? That doesn't make sense. Indeed, it betrays exactly what is going on, which is navel-gazing, for good or ill.

    “What’s more, it eclipses alternative ways of knowing — chiefly the philosophical — that can actually yield greater certainty than the scientific.”

    Oh? How so? As I have pointed out above, just the opposite is the case. Logic and math are a different matter, surely not what you have mind generally.

    And to posit that jurisprudence is an objective body of knowledge strikes me as simply false. It is empirical and logical in places, but it is just as often a humanity, working with the prejudices and blindnesses of the age. Its end result is a cobbled-together mess of compromises and fossilized practices that most people want to stay as far away from as they possibly can.

    “For how we should aspire to be is a conceptual question, namely, of how we ought to act, as opposed to an empirical question of how we do act. “

    No, it isn't even that.. while concepts and logic can inform how we should get to where we want to go, where that is is fundamentally driven by our desires, which exist outside all philosophy and science- as human nature.

    “So if we philosophers want to restore philosophy’s authority in the wider culture, we should not change its name but engage more often with issues of contemporary concern — not so much as scientists but as guardians of reason.”

    Well, to judge by your and Eric's performance on this front, it isn't doing very much good. Fronting for antiscientific ideas, expired intuitions and the social institution of religion doesn't make the philosophical brand of “reason” look very good.


  2. Darrell says:


    “So let there be philosophy, especially as a historical discipline. It is a follower, not a leader.”

    As you tell us from your scientism-a philosophy! Philosophy has always led, is leading now (even you), and will always lead.

    Your entire response comes from and is informed by a philosophy. Hello.


  3. Burk Braun says:

    I was speaking of professional philosophy and philosophers, theologians, etc.

    I realize that everyone does philosophy, and every popular song expresses philosophy. I don't think that is what your article had in mind. I guess it is the old saw that one really has to go to school to be so out of touch with common sense, sometimes.


  4. Darrell says:


    In case no one has told you (sorry to ruin the notion you were doing anything original), but philosophical naturalism/materialism/scientism are recognized philosophies with bodies of literature, histories, and held by professional philosophers.

    You are doing philosophy here and of the sort that rises above what is found in popular songs, although it seems to carry the same weight.

    What is funnier than a person pontificating philosophically about how negligible or unimportant philosophy is?

    You sound like a secret service agent telling the rest of us to be virtuous.


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