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RedDeerGuy1's avatar

What problems from the far past to now has philosophy solved?

Asked by RedDeerGuy1 (18790points) 4 weeks ago

Or are philosophers just stringing us along to look cool, and get money selling books?

I was a philosophy/psychology major 20 years ago, and I don’t know if It has been helpful to society?

Humor welcome.

Also please let me know if I was helpful in the 12 years that I have been on Fluther, as TallJasperMan and RedDeerGuy1?

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12 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

The study of philosophy is to help us to use critical thinking to solve our own problems and reach our own goals in life. Critical thinking helps us to recognize the difference between things that are true and not true.
My personal opinion is that very few people even have the ability to understand these concepts.

rebbel's avatar

Let me think about this.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It would be more apt to ask which great philosophical questions have been settled regardless or in spite of philosophical considerations. As for the intrinsic and piratical uses for the discipline, it is in my opinion indispensable in driving the other fields and disciplines which define us. And and when it comes to any empirical judgement on whether you are helpful or helpless here, the answer is “I couldn’t give a fk” beyond the fact that you are VALUABLE and USEFUL. That’ certainly helpful enough for ME.

SavoirFaire's avatar

“What problems from the far past to now has philosophy solved?”

There are a lot of problems that philosophers have solved over time, but most of them aren’t familiar to us anymore since the solutions typically allow the problems to fade from our collective interests.

To start relatively early, Zeno’s paradoxes (which raised questions about how change was possible, including basic things like motion or the passage of time) were resolved (or perhaps dissolved) by Aristotle in his Physics and Posterior Analytics. The Prior Analytics and Posterior Analytics also introduced syllogistic logic (the earliest formal system of logic), which solved both a procedural problem (by creating a shared language going forward) and revealed certain underlying relationships between sentence types that exposed certain problems with common preexisting methods of argumentation.

In fact, paradoxes in general are a good example of problems philosophy has solved. As popular as the unsolved ones are for getting people thinking, a large number of problems once considered to be paradoxes have been thoroughly dissolved.

The early modern philosophers solved an important methodological and epistemological problem regarding the acquisition of non-axiomatic knowledge by developing a method of investigating the world based on observation, measurement, experimentation, and duplication currently known as “science.” That’s turned out to be pretty useful. And Descartes’ Meditations refuted a particular form of radical skepticism that threatened to delay the development and proliferation of science and the scientific mindset.

Berkeley solved some very obscure theoretical problems concerning vision—none of which are relevant anymore, but all of which were hotly contested at the time.

Some would bring up Leibniz inventing calculus as another example of a philosopher creating an important problem-solving tool. But Leibniz was also a mathematician, so I tend to consider this one of his contributions to the world via mathematics (despite his view that calculus had philosophical implications). Nevertheless, he did contribute greatly to the basics of modern formal logic (which is a major advancement on Aristotle’s original syllogistic logic). This would be the beginning of a solution to the problem of how to map out claims and relationships too complicated for Aristotle’s syllogistic method to capture.

Bertrand Russell solved some of the basic problems of empty names (i.e., how we can refer to things that don’t exist).

Karl Popper overcame the limits of inductivist approaches to science by developing the falsification approach (which itself has limits, but is nevertheless an important step forward).

These are just a few off the top of my head. There are also a lot of internal problems that have been solved (Gettier’s refutation of the once-popular “justified true belief” model of knowledge; the refutation of verificationism), but many of those will be even less familiar to most than the ones already mentioned. And of course, much will depend on how we understand a problem to be “solved” (absolute proof? universal agreement? something else?).

“Or are philosophers just stringing us along to look cool, and get money selling books?”

I have never know a philosopher who got rich selling books, nor do I think most people consider philosophers to be people who “look cool.”

“I was a philosophy/psychology major 20 years ago, and I don’t know if It has been helpful to society?”

The question of whether it has been helpful to society is, I think, a much different question that what problems it has solved (though again, that depends on what we mean by “solved”). One of the most underappreciated contributions of philosophy over time has been the slow progress made with regard to moral and political questions. Though the general public is often 40 – 50 years behind the philosophical consensus—which itself is an evolving thing—philosophers are behind many of the principles that we now consider self-evident (and therefore tend to think of as not having been the product of intellectual labor). Things like democracy, human rights, and the equality of persons are all philosophical ideas that have embedded themselves so deeply into the mainstream that we don’t even think of them as such.

And of course, there is the function @YARNLADY mentioned of helping us navigate life through the use of critical thinking skills—something increasingly relevant in a world where we are constantly bombarded by arguments attempting to convince us of one thing or another (often with the most dubious of justifications). The development of this capacity in us is far more valuable than whether or not we agree on any particular solution to the liar paradox or mereological theory.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I apologize for the word piratical, a word I didn’t type.
In my answer above as well as for the endless misplaced or missing letter typos engineered by my piece of shit LG tablet against which I urgently advise you all to banish from any consideration for acquisition. If you find one brand new in the box and lying in the street, save yourself some frustration and toss it in the dumpster.

kritiper's avatar

I don’t think philosophy is meant to solve problems. To me it is a way of putting things into poetic perspective.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

You help me, @RedDeerGuy1. In the past number of months, you’ve been asking superb questions. This is a good example of one.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Philosophy defines problems and systemizes methods for their solution. There is nothing you can name, the explanation for which does not originate from a question. The formulation of the question is a matter of philosophy. Thus the discipline foots logic itself and is the bedrock for all the other disciplines

flutherother's avatar

There are three fundamental questions that come to mind and which have concerned man since the dawn of time. What am I? How should we live with each other? and how should we live with Nature?

Despite the invention of writing and books, which give us a head start when thinking about these things, these questions have not been resolved. Religion at least tries to deal with these topics but ends up becoming fossilised and dictatorial.

I don’t expect there will ever be answers to these questions, they will be recast in different forms generation after generation and place after place. They lie at the heart of what it means to be human and so there will always be philosophers as there will always be people who want to look cool but they are quite different. One is concerned with the surface and the other the depths.

Jaxk's avatar

Philosophy is the art of asking stupid questions without sounding stupid.

stanleybmanly's avatar

There are no profound questions? You just gotta LOVE conservatives. It is the philosophers who first asked such questions as what is time, what is matter, why are we here, how does the sun work? Such concepts as justice or honor, integrity or cowardice, right or wrong——ALL OF IT——begins as philosophical exercise.

Inspired_2write's avatar

When one undertakes to learn Philosophy it is the learning to “think” and understand ones role in this life and with that understanding to go live a life of happiness and contentment without hurting others or oneself in the process.

Thus philosophy serves it purpose to make us “think” , which is why we humans have this capability in the first place. And from this ability great things will be invented, changed, because of it.

One thing that this pandemic taught us is that intrinsic values are far more beneficial than material goods only.

And thus in this pandemic times many have learned and are still learning what is more important to have lived a good life and possibly impact others through thought or deed in a positive way.

Everyone of us here on Fluther has impacted an other , by helping in some small way through encouragement, whether acknowledged or not .

To be acknowledged is nice but not important as in aiding another .

Make the best of it and know that you are valued for just being here in this lifetime.

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