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Why bother studying philosophy?

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I am convinced that philosophy is a biological function of human beings. The brain would not be as efficacious as it is without the power of philosophy. It integrates what you got inside their. It also can disintegrate it but then you have a bad philosophy.

The subconscious never forgets. But you can't access everything. And it is hard to access what you ask for. Philosophy organizes it so you can access your "files" quicker and better. Hence, the importance of epistemology. Ethics evaluates what confronts you in you long range life.

That's it.

For your own sake, don't underestimate the need for a fundamtal system of ideas.

Americo.

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Ethics is a branch of philosophy.
Yes, that is true...but philosophy is not ethics.

It is quite interesting you should call it an ethical question since ethics is one of the five main branches of philosophy (metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, and asthetics). You truly can defend a system of ethics without having studied metaphysics and epistemology. The subjects are tied together.
Several things come to mind:

First, isn't the five branches: epistemology, metaphysics, theology, ethics, and aesthetics? I don't know, I'm not an expert in philosophy, I just thought those were the five...

Second, How can you defend ethics without studying metaphysics & epistemology?

Full text of "Philosophy: Who Needs It?" by Ayn Rand:

http://gos.sbc.edu/r/rand.html

Thank you, I shall read it imediately.

I am convinced that philosophy is a biological function of human beings. The brain would not be as efficacious as it is without the power of philosophy. It integrates what you got inside their. It also can disintegrate it but then you have a bad philosophy.
I don't quite agree here....philosophy was more of a discussion(originally) on certain concepts, topics, etc. :)
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I don't quite agree here....philosophy was more of a discussion(originally) on certain concepts, topics, etc.  :)

Philosophy is only the "discussion" if one fails to integrate the concepts learned into their life. Philosophy is therefore, more than the mere discussion of topics, concepts, etc. One discusses ideas, topics and concepts so as to get a better grasp of their meaning and in some cases to concretize them. A better understanding of these concepts allows a person to either integrate them into their behavior or dismiss them. For those that do adhere to a philosophy (or at the very least to Objectivism), this discussion is important and is not simply mental acrobatics.

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I hope no one would find offense with my post, but why bother with philosophy? Isn't it just mental/intellectual acrobatics?

Bad philosophy is. The bad rap that philosophy has in many people's minds is because so much of it is totally useless as a guide for living (or is plain destructive). But simply because some of it is bad does not mean that philosophy itself is useless; quite the opposite. It is critical, and in fact everyone has adopted a philosophy, whether they realize it or not, and it shapes their beliefs and actions. The only question is: will it be a rational philosophy that benefits your life, or not? Ayn Rand can speak to this much better than I can, and "Philosophy: Who Needs It?" is a great place to start.

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Ayn Rand can speak to this much bettter than I can, and "Philosophy: Who Needs It?" is a great place to start.

Plato: it is ironic that your Avatar is the current cover art for the book Philosophy: Who Needs it? (the first essay of which is what everyone is rightly referring you to).

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I hope no one would find offense with my post, but why bother with philosophy? Isn't it just mental/intellectual acrobatics?

Philosohpy is not a luxury, but a life-and-death issue -- literally. We could not live at all if we consistently applied anti-life premises and principles.

If we believed, for instance, that eternal happiness was ours after death -- why not commit suicide? Too far-fetched? Ask a suicide bomber.

If science tells us human life requires certain things, do we acknowledge that and act accordingly -- or do we consult the arbitrary scribblings of an ancient text? Can we do both?

If we really believe that consciousness creates reality, do we need to step out of the way of a speeding truck -- or just wish it out of existence?

If we reject the law of identity, can we spend all of our savings on a wild party tonight, take on credit beyond our means to buy a Ferrari -- and not be bankrupt in the morning?

If we reject the need for principles and thinking long-term, what will our situation be tomorrow? Next week? In five years? Will retirement be possible? Will America be free?

I could go on, but you get the idea. Philosophy fulfills certain needs of human beings. As volitional beings, we need principles to guide our actions (ethics). As conceptual beings, with no means of automatic knowledge, we need to validate our knowledge (epistemology). We need to know what is real (metaphysics). As social beings, we need to identify the proper basis for society (political philosophy).

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Several things come to mind:

First, isn't the five branches: epistemology, metaphysics, theology, ethics, and aesthetics? I don't know, I'm not an expert in philosophy, I just thought those were the five...

Theology is not a branch of philosophy. Rather, it is a primitive attempt at a substitute for philosophy. Many philosophies, including Objectivism, are atheistic in nature.

Politics, the study of the proper form of government, on the other hand, has been a branch of philosophy since Plato and Aristotle. If you're interested, Objectivism's stance on politics is detailed in Ayn Rand's book Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.

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Second, How can you defend ethics without studying metaphysics & epistemology?

You can't. Metaphysics & epistemology provide the base on which all of philosophy rests, including ethics.

I must reinforce what others have said and recommend Philosophy: Who Needs it? It’s the perfect answer to your question.

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Isn't that more of an ethical question, though? How should one live? How should one conduct oneself?

All ethical questions are philosophical questions

All questions of how to conduct oneself are ethical questions

All questions of how to conduct oneself are philosophical questions

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All questions of how to conduct oneself are ethical questions

I disagree. The distinction lies with the level of abstraction involved. Not all issues of behavior rise to the level of ethics. They should be consistent, but they are not equivalent.

For example: what should I have for dinner? Ethics CANNOT tell me whether to have lobster or steak. It can tell me that a certain range of food will benefit me, that eating in certain locations is immoral (e.g., a restaurant owned by a mobster), that I should respect the rights of the restaurant owner, and so on.

But a proper code of ethics is not in the business of handing down concrete decrees. Leave that to religion ("eat only kosher food", "don't eat meat on Fridays", etc.).

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Yes, that is true...but philosophy is not ethics.

Biology is not medicine. So why study biology if we can just discuss questions of medicine without knowing biology? (Note that the obvious fallacy is intentional. I'm being sarcastic.)

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Second, How can you defend ethics without studying metaphysics & epistemology?

From context, I can tell that that was a typo and that he meant to say "can't"

Also, how is it that you know that metaphysics and epistemology are needed as a base for ethics and at the same time are able to say that something is ethical and NOT philosophical?

Are you just messing with us?

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Are you just messing with us?

Really, I thought this was a joke when I first saw it. I mean, they guy claims not to have read PWNI, yet his avatar is the very cover of the same book! (Perhaps he got it somewhere online, though, without realizing its origin.)

Plato: Was your question "Why do we need the branches of philosophy besides ethics" (e.g. Metaphysics and Epistemology, as it is easy for a student of philosophy to get fed up with these as mere "intellectual acrobatics" as you said. That happened to me when I was studying things like Analytic Philosophy, Kant, Hume, etc. prior to reading Ayn Rand, so in this case I can definitely sympathize with your frustration. But don't give up on it just yet.)

Or is your question more along the lines of "Why is Eithics necessary?"

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I'm not through with it but...

I just noticed a typo in my original reply that may have contributed to some of the confusion. I meant to tell him he can't defend a system of ethics without a knowledge of metaphysics and epistemology.
I thought you might have meant that, but I thought it could have gone either way. :D

Really, I thought this was a joke when I first saw it. I mean, they guy claims not to have read PWNI, yet his avatar is the very cover of the same book! (Perhaps he got it somewhere online, though, without realizing its origin.)
Yeah, I found it on google images search...I didn't pay any attention whatsoever to its origins though...

(e.g. Metaphysics and Epistemology, as it is easy for a student of philosophy to get fed up with these as mere "intellectual acrobatics" as you said. That happened to me when I was studying things like Analytic Philosophy, Kant, Hume, etc. prior to reading Ayn Rand, so in this case I can definitely sympathize with your frustration. But don't give up on it just yet.)
No, I think its interesting. I've read some of the works of Kant, Wittgenstein, etc. and it's rather remarkable how they could have come up with their respective ideas...really, quite ingenius(no sarcasm, I mean it) even if it is "wrong" per se.

Or is your question more along the lines of "Why is Eithics necessary?"
No, 'why is philosophy necessary' is the questions I'm asking.

Biology is not medicine. So why study biology if we can just discuss questions of medicine without knowing biology?
Uhmm...I'm not sure that's a proper analogy. A better one would be: science is not chemistry, so why study science if we can just discuss questions of medicine without knowing science?

Are you just messing with us?
Who? He or me? Neither of us, I believe, is "messing".

I meant to tell him he can't defend a system of ethics without a knowledge of metaphysics and epistemology.
Pardon my asking, but why?
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I disagree.  The distinction lies with the level of abstraction involved.  Not all issues of behavior rise to the level of ethics.  They should be consistent, but they are not equivalent.

For example: what should I have for dinner?  Ethics CANNOT tell me whether to have lobster or steak.  It can tell me that a certain range of food will benefit me, that eating in certain locations is immoral (e.g., a restaurant owned by a mobster), that I should respect the rights of the restaurant owner, and so on.

But a proper code of ethics is not in the business of handing down concrete decrees.  Leave that to religion ("eat only kosher food", "don't eat meat on Fridays", etc.).

Sorry, don't really have time to debate the issue at much length – finals week. :D

I think that all of one's actions ought to be integrated to one's central purpose in life, which may differ from person to person. However, making sure your choices all further your central purpose rather than hinder it is a matter of ethics. So I still think ethics applies to all choices, not just some.

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Pardon my asking, but why?

One can't defend a system of ethics without knowledge of metaphysics and epistemology because knowledge is organized in a hierarchy. How can you prescribe what is the good (ethics) if you do not first know what is the nature of man? How can you know the nature of man if you do not first know the nature of knowledge (epistemology)? How can you know the nature of knowledge if you do not first know the nature of reality (metaphysics?)

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I think that all of one's actions ought to be integrated to one's central purpose in life [...]

I agree, but I would like to elaborate this point.

Integration is desirable not only between one's actions and one's central purpose in life, but also between one's actions and all of one's purposes. All those purposes (central purpose [career], friendship, leisure) should lead to one's ultimate purpose, which should be the same for everyone: happiness.

In other words, all of one's actions should be consistent with one's ultimate purpose in life, happiness. Saying that implies that secondary (supportive) purposes, leading up to happiness, will then also be consistent with each other and with one's actions.

Why is integration important? Because our knowledge should be a reflection of reality. There are no gaps in reality, so there should be no gaps in our ideas.

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