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How Deep Is Your Interest In Philosophy?

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softwareNerd
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How deep is your interest in philosophy?  

62 members have voted

  1. 1. How deep is your interest in philosophy?

    • I want to know just enough of Objectivism for my own life
      5
    • I have an amateur's interest in knowing more than I really "need"
      25
    • I seek a deep and detailed Philosopher's understanding of philosophy
      27
    • Other
      0
  2. 2. Do you have or plan a career in Philosophy?

    • In Philosophy, yes
      7
    • Another subject in the Humanities
      6
    • In the arts
      7
    • Other / No
      37


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There's been some discussion of the different levels of interests in philosophy. Some Objectivists are interested in "Philosophy for Ragnar" while others are interested in "Philosophy for Rearden". There are degrees of interest in between those two. I wondered why members of the forum are interested in philosophy.

I am including a quote from another thread. It gives an explanation of the Ragnar/Rearden levels of interest...

I'll take a crack at that. Rearden and Ragnar are references to the characters of those names in Atlas Shrugged. Rearden is an intelligent non-philosopher. Ragnar is (by the end of the book) a professional philosopher. Because philosophy is Ragnar's career focus, he needs to understand it in a level of technical detail that is not relevant or necessary for Rearden.

For example, Ragnar would have to have a detailed understanding of how perception works and how to answer technical arguments that attempt to undermine the validity of the senses. He has to know about things like perceptual relativity, the concept of perceptual form, what theory-ladenness consists of and why it's wrong, etc. Rearden doesn't need to know any of these things, because his central goal in life isn't built around philosophy. All Rearden needs to know is that the senses are valid, and he can go on from there to make Rearden Metal and be a great industrialist.

The term "philosophy for Rearden" thus refers to a grasp of philosophy at a lower level of detail that is appropriate for people whose career focus is not directly philosophical. "Philosophy for Ragnar" is a much more detailed and technical grasp of philosophy, necessary if one is pursuing a career as a professional intellectual (especially a professional philosopher).

Edited by softwareNerd
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Well, in my own case, I fall somewhere in between "more than an amateur" and "enough to be a philosopher." Since my goal is to be an innovator in the field of psychology, I need a very detailed, rich understanding of Objectivism to act as a foundation. But I do not need to grasp all (or even most) of the various ways in which philosophers can go wrong, nor be able to answer every kind of crazy objection philosophers would raise against Objectivism.

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My primary interests lie in Metaphysics & Epistemology, specifically as applied in the realm of Philosophy of Science (which is why I'm currently studying Physics), especially the Foundations of Mathematics, but I seek knowledge of all areas. Since I plan to teach at the University level, I'm definitely looking for Philosophy for Ragnar.

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Well, in my own case, I fall somewhere in between "more than an amateur" and "enough to be a philosopher." Since my goal is to be an innovator in the field of psychology, I need a very detailed, rich understanding of Objectivism to act as a foundation. But I do not need to grasp all (or even most) of the various ways in which philosophers can go wrong, nor be able to answer every kind of crazy objection philosophers would raise against Objectivism.

My interest is similar, since I want to be an innovator in the field of robotics. This necessitates knowledge of psychology, philosophy, biology etc. so I don't waste my time on projects that are already proven to be doomed to failure by someone else. My goal is not to be a full-blown philosopher, but I need quite a deep understanding, so I don't mind becoming one if necessary. :thumbsup:

I guess the second question was meant to ask if one needs it for professional reasons. Well, I do, but I don't work in the humanities. I am an engineer.

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I kind of fell into philosophy when I was younger and it has been a helpful tool in studying neuroscience. I want to go into research and "find consciousness" if you know what I mean, and study the mechanics of the brain. Philosophy helps in the realm of volition and seeing how that affects the physical properties of the brain.

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I selected "I have an amateur's interest in knowing more than I really "need", but probably fall between that and the choice which follows it.

Objectivism mostly appeals to me as a result of my politics. I have a strong sense in the moral rightness of capitalism, limited government aind individual rights and Objectivism was a philosophy which could make moral arguments for such a system.

My area of study is Political Science.

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I'm strictly an amateur: my interest in philosophy is in understanding what I think so I can write about it. I have zero interest in studying other philosophies, especially where they are wrong.

I don't think there's any such thing as knowing more than you "need" about anything. Need for what? At worst, it makes good story fodder.

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I don't think there's any such thing as knowing more than you "need" about anything. Need for what? At worst, it makes good story fodder.

That's a good point. That statement is imprecise. I believe it was intended to mean, "Necessary for your career goals." But strictly speaking, no knowledge is useless. It depends on what goal you have in obtaining it.

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I chose the last choice, but I also probably fall in between the last two. Also like Jennifer I have no interest in learning other "wrong" philosophies and think there is knowing more than you "need".

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If you want to validate Objectivism for yourself, why do you need to know what anyone else thinks at all? You should compare Objectivism to reality, not other philosophies, to determine its truth/falsehood.

True enough, but grasping which philosophical errors Rand was responding to in certain passages sheds a lot of light on your understanding of Objectivism.

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While my work interests aren't particularly philosophical and I don't see myself ever seeking tenure, I am extremely interested in certain fields of philosophy, especially ethics and metaphysics. I think I'm more Ragnar :yarr: than Rearden when it comes to general philosophical interest, but I usually only have Rearden interest in epistemology.

I'm the type that when I learn something I have to make sure it's right. When I moved beyond doubting god to being atheist, I searched for every possible pro-religion argument I could find, not because I wasn't sure of my position, but because I wanted to test my ideas against the best available. I'm pretty much the same for any aspect of philosophy, so I tend to both study philosophy that I agree with and traverse into the Dark Sides of philosophy :P

Since I probably pose more crazy questions than anyone, it only makes sense that I prepare myself to answer them :D

If you want to validate Objectivism for yourself, why do you need to know what anyone else thinks at all? You should compare Objectivism to reality, not other philosophies, to determine its truth/falsehood.

While I agree with that to an extent, studying other philosophies can often be beneficial. Course, that might be Ragnar talking.

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If you want to validate Objectivism for yourself, why do you need to know what anyone else thinks at all? You should compare Objectivism to reality, not other philosophies, to determine its truth/falsehood.

It's not a question of being concerned what about what other people think of Objectivism (if that's what you mean), but about learning the context on which Rand based her philosophic system. For instance, Rand (and consequently Objectivists) always say that modern philosophy has been a "concerted attack on man's mind". What does that mean? How did she arrive at such a broad and sweeping damnation of modern philosophy? Should I take it on faith? Or, should I investigate some modern philosophy, perhaps read some Kant, Logical positivism, Post-modern writing etc...?

For the record, I do find that Ayn Rand was right and my understanding of Objectivism has only deepened as a consequence (especially at a technical level).

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Should I take it on faith? Or, should I investigate some modern philosophy, perhaps read some Kant, Logical positivism, Post-modern writing etc...?

You shouldn't take anything on faith, but whether or not you should pursue this particular knowledge depends on context. If you plan to have a career in philosophy, then you should absolutely investigate further! But, if you are just concerned with Philosophy for Rearden, then the cost would probably outweigh the benefit. If someone hasn't verified it for yourself (in some way, on some level), I don't think they have any place claiming knowledge, unless prefaced by something to the effect of, "Ayn Rand said..."

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I have a lot of interest in philosophy and quite a compelling reason to be learn as much as I can about it. Not only do I find it an interesting subject (maybe I am more of a Ragnar in terms of desire, if not yet knowledge), and given that I intend to champion Objectivist philosophy, I really should understand it in great depth so that I am more convincing and so I am able to defend it if I warrant it worthwhile.

I intend to write multiple books dealing with key philosophical issues such as individual rights according to the Objectivist philosophy. I feel that if I was to do this with anything less than an intimate knowledge of the philosophy that I would be doing my readers, and more importantly myself the diservice of not giving such endeavours my very best.

I also [mostly] agree with Megan, I do not wish to learn too much about other incorrect philosophies. I am however a little curious as to what some of them say, so I am looking into some of them. It is also easier to argue against such philsophies if you know a little bit about them. I do not want an intimate knowledge of them, just enough so that when they are mentioned I have a reasonable idea what is being talked about.

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I chose an amature's need to know more. I have actually been reading books about other philosophers. Nothing too deep just "beginner's guide to philosophy" and things like that. Like the others I find it deepening my understanding of Objectivism and when I explain my views to others (who don't know a thing about philosophy) I'm much better at it than say...a year ago when I only knew of Objectivism.

Edited by Dagny
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True enough, but grasping which philosophical errors Rand was responding to in certain passages sheds a lot of light on your understanding of Objectivism.

This is true, but what I was trying to indicate was that some consensus of other philosophies has no bearing on whether Objectivism is accurate or not. So, if you want to validate Objectivism, you need to check it against reality. Seeing where other philosophies are different may help you to understand particular points, and you can't check them until you understand them, that's for sure.

If you want to study other philosophies, study 'em! I've been reading a little Plato and Aristotle et al occasionally, largely because I like to understand the historical context. If you're like me, when you study a particular something you learn at least something about other instances of it (other philosophies in this case) because you wind up having a mental framework to address them.

I, for instance, had no idea what metaphysics and epistemology were before I started reading more about Objectivism. Just like I really didn't understand grammar until I studied Latin.

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