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Why the hostility toward philosophy?

Discussion in 'Christian Apologetics' started by Archaeopteryx, Mar 23, 2019.

  1. Archaeopteryx

    Archaeopteryx Wanderer

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    This piece, recently published in PNAS, alludes to the fact that some scientists are either suspicious of or hostile toward philosophy. It's been my experience that many nonbelievers are similarly suspicious and, on some occasions, perhaps even believers too (it's my opinion that the Philosophy subforum was closed mostly due to such suspicions). So my question here is why?—why is philosophy so often cast as something we no longer need, as something pointless, as a distraction?

    In case you are wondering why this topic would be relevant to the Christian Apologetics subforum, it's worth noting that apologetics has long drawn upon philosophy for its best source material and that many of the discussions that go on here are themselves philosophical in character. Yet even some apologists turn their nose up at philosophy, at least implicitly, when they insist that "science can prove" God exists. Not all apologists do this, obviously, but a significant minority seem to take science as the primary starting point for the apologetic endeavour, so it's not a moot point.
     
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  2. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Another perspective about the Risen Son! Supporter

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    Maybe it's due to the emotional trends that come about as opposing political camps become entrenched into their respective corners? Philosophy tends to undercut the social agendas that each camp has, whether they are Left or Right, Skeptical/Ultra-Liberal or "Christian." Do you think this might play into some of it?
     
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  3. Neogaia777

    Neogaia777 Apprentice Supporter

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    Ignorant people seem to hate knowledge for some reason... Maybe that's why they are ignorant... Hate being challenged, even and especially in their minds, or especially in their thinking or thinking process...

    Like your picture, I remember that Star Trek TNG episode and moment...

    God Bless!
     
  4. Archaeopteryx

    Archaeopteryx Wanderer

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    I'm not sure that the problem is not wanting to be challenged. Many of the people who seem to turn their nose up at philosophy are in fact very smart and willing to engage with criticism on a whole host of issues. But they tend to react with either suspicion or dismissal when it comes to philosophy. So they are "critical thinkers", for lack of a better word; they just aren't so enthused by philosophy, for whatever reason.
     
  5. Archaeopteryx

    Archaeopteryx Wanderer

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    It may. Some atheists seem to think that philosophy is necessarily connected with religion or that it is driven primarily by religious motivations. And this may, depending on how they view religion, lead them to be suspicious of it. This is not only unfortunate, but inaccurate—many philosophers are non-religious.
     
  6. dzheremi

    dzheremi Coptic Orthodox non-Egyptian

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    Do you measure it while stereotypically wearing a lab coat and carrying a clipboard? If not, then a certain type of neo-atheist has no use for it.

    Do you find it explicitly argued in the Bible, particularly in the red letters? If not, then a certain type of neo-fundamentalist Christian has no use of it.

    And unfortunately it's apparently not enough that they personally don't like it/find it convincing or useful. Many people these days cannot handle even having to engage with opposing worldviews, hence preferring closing or censuring over discussion.
     
  7. com7fy8

    com7fy8 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I didn't know it has been cast aside. But I can see why certain Bible believers might be suspicious of philosophy > we might find that the Bible gives us enough, and so human ways of thinking are not going to be able to improve on what the Bible gives.

    This might be in Catholic and mainstream Protestant groups.

    But if ones more basically by the Bible study philosophy, we might be doing this only so we know what others are thinking, but then we might try to steer someone to "simple faith" > God says it, that's enough for me.

    My personal experience is that a number of apologists are being wishful that their logic and science proves God, when I don't think it does.

    I personally have trusted God to do what He wants with me, according to what He knows; so I take any knowledge I think I have, with a grain of salt, since I'm not perfect and I can easily fool my own self and not know it. My own character can have a lot to do with what I am ready to believe and trust!

    Well, God is God, and I think He can prove Himself. And our use of material things to prove God, to me, is wishful. You have to have faith in whatever logic you are using. But it's maybe like proving there are elephants in existence > an Eskimo might think you are talking about a walrus which also has tusks and thick skin and is heavy, and no amount of logic and reporting by itself really proves the existence of elephants; but if you meet one and experience one, the elephant, really, is the only proof.

    And God does want to personally share with us; so why accept less as proof? :) Logic and knowledge might make Him seem to be distant and only or mainly theoretical.
     
  8. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Another perspective about the Risen Son! Supporter

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    Yep, you're right, Arch! One of the professors I learned from, who was a fan of Hume, was asked by a student in class one evening about how many philosophers these days are non-religious and/or non-Christians, and he responded by saying to her, "Approximately 95%."

    But regardless of this approximated fact, it seems to me that many people today, of all backgrounds, keep hemlock on hand just for the rare occasion that a philosopher will show up and cause trouble ... :rolleyes:
     
  9. Silmarien

    Silmarien Existentialist

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    I suspect that the problem is mostly historical, and not entirely one-sided. I've heard that the Hegelian dialectic played a role in the hostilities between science and philosophy, and from what little I know of dialectical thinking, it does seem to be set up as an alternative method of knowing to empirical science. Once we get to dialectical materialism, we've got two warring atheistic worldviews, one of which is trying to weaponize science for its own political agenda, so I'm not sure to what extent that particular issue poisoned things further. I would assume it did.

    (I've also heard that there was a movement against genuine philosophical skepticism--if you're asking questions about the nature of knowledge and whether it is even possible, those questions can easily be perceived as a threat by committed empiricists. And thus scientific skepticism was born, which is actually the opposite of older forms of skepticism, but people like the label. Any form of dogma, even if it calls itself skepticism, is going to have serious tension with philosophical endeavor.)

    Other potential factors: We're kind of the victims of our own success, and the increased specialization in the sciences has led to the loss of the sort of big-picture mentality necessary to appreciate philosophy. The fact that words mean different things causes problems as well: a conversation between the average atheistic physicist and an Aristotelian over causality is basically a lost cause, since the meaning of the word "cause" has shifted in physics. Certain modern trends in analytic philosophy probably haven't helped--if the philosophers like the Vienna Circle are effectively championing scientific empiricism and saying that everything else is pointless, then that is a sentiment that is going to spread.

    On the religious side of things, it all goes back to the old Tertullian quote: What has Athens to do with Jerusalem? There's a long tradition of tension between faith and reason in all of the Abrahamic religions--Catholicism eventually managed a healthy meld of the two, though even there the actual history is super complicated. The Reformers in some ways really went after reason (though in other ways were kind of frighteningly super-rational), so I think really reawakened the old debate between faith and reason, and what can and cannot be questioned. Not that it ever entirely died down in the first place.

    I have noticed that certain types of apologists (particularly of the ID and Creationist variety) are very quick to jump on and incorporate all of the work that various anti-materialist philosophers have been doing, theist and non-theist alike. I think this further exacerbates the problem, since the well is effectively poisoned against anything that is not the prevailing scientific materialist orthodoxy.

    I obviously have many thoughts about this issue, haha.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2019
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  10. Neogaia777

    Neogaia777 Apprentice Supporter

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    Could be all the endless arguments/debates that seem to never be resolved or come to any, especially "for sure", conclusions, or conclusions ever...

    Can be frustrating and seem like a waste of time, effort and energy, ect, in many of the philosophical arguments, or within the schools of philosophy...

    It deals in a lot of hypothetical's that seemed to be designed to have "no end ever in sight" to the debates or whatever, which can make people very frustrated and seem like a big waste of time, as it basically "produces" "nothing at all" ever really, especially nothing very "useful" or practical at all...

    Now I like it anyway, but understand why many people do not... Cause unless people are up for some endless debates, and like that kind of thing, they are just not going to like it period...

    And all that you have to learn (terms, definitions, concepts, and ideas) (of the philosophies, or all the "philosophies" basically) anyway, all of "that", that you have to learn just to participate in one of those debates, for something that, most of the time, doesn't even produce fruit at all hardly, and seems pretty pointless (endless, fruitless) much of the time, well, like I said, unless you like and are up for that kind of thing, your probably not going to be up for and/or like that kind of thing....

    Many people don't like working hard for nothing basically...

    God Bless!
     
  11. HitchSlap

    HitchSlap Burn the torch!

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    IMO, Christian apologists use “philosophy” as a shell game to brow beat unbelievers to prove god exists.
    Philosophical discussions are nice to have, but at the end of the day, takes a back seat to actual evidence.
     
  12. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    Without repeating points made by others, I would say that an important variable in this equation is the autonomy of 'science' and particularly Empiricism. Philosophy has the capacity to challenge basic assumptions and paradigms, and it tends to do so in an analytic rather than empirical manner. As a potential challenger that plays by different rules, Philosophy threatens the autonomy of Empiricism and Empiricism therefore responds with disdain. This clinging to the autonomy of Empiricism seems particularly strong in the English-speaking world for largely historical reasons. The conclusion of the article talks about the problems of "splintering scientific subdisciplines" and "shallower and shallower training of students." It is precisely that lack of breadth and methodology that philosophy is ever-ready to challenge.

    In the religious realm the same thing can happen, but it should be noted that in the past philosophy was seen as the handmaiden of theology, for God is the author of reason. This inevitably means that even among traditions like Catholicism that embrace reason, there will be a complicated relationship between faith and reason.
     
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  13. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    True and famous, but you also have folks like Justin Martyr and Irenaeus on the other side of things--not to mention the prologue to St. John's gospel--, stressing the presence of the (divine) Logos in the well-developed philosophical traditions of the time. Indeed among the Fathers some form of philosophy is often integrated while the pagan religions are discarded.
     
  14. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic

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    Your really looking at multiple reasons. Every group has at least one reason, and some of the reasons are unique to them.

    1) Non-Christian folks can see philosophy as "ivory towers" stuff, and see it as not pertaining to everyday life.


    2) Fundamentalists don't like it because things should be "just about the Bible", and they take note of bible passages about "Worldly wisdom". Even a few church Fathers like Tertullian had attitudes like that "What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?"

    and so on.


    But I do get you, and I do like to reference Stoicism, and Platonism as far as Christianity is concerned, and even more modern Philosophies like Existentialism can be good references when talking about certain ideas. I also have gotten some good mileage from Marcus Aurelius' Meditations as far as self help advice is concerned. Philosophy seems to be a great means to discuss the nature of Judaism and how Christianity evolved into a Faith that encompasses the whole world.
     
  15. dzheremi

    dzheremi Coptic Orthodox non-Egyptian

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    I am tempted to say that this is almost an exclusively western Christian phenomenon (though I'm sure if I were to just out and out claim that it is, someone would be quick to provide counterexamples). From what I have been able to gather, anyway, in the Christian East the question is/was not ever "Does God exist", but rather "What can and cannot be said about God". Thus, while the West was writing brilliant philosophical treatises regarding the existence of God, in the East we have things like "On the Incarnation of the Word of God" by Athanasius of Alexandria, or a bit later "On the Triune Nature of God" (a.k.a. "That God is Triune", depending on which translation you read), the very first Christian Arabic apologetic text that we know of, written in a recently Islamic environment (c. 788 AD).

    I know I wouldn't waste anyone's time trying to 'prove' that God exists. For one thing, one party's proof is another's unfounded supposition, and for another thing the type of proof that would be accepted by the non-believer is not the type that the believer can muster, and he or she ought to know that from the outset. But maybe that's my own academic training coming through (in Linguistics, not Philosophy).
     
  16. Silmarien

    Silmarien Existentialist

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    Oh, I agree. I didn't mean to imply that his was the only or even prevailing view; just that it succinctly sums up the anti-philosophical side of the debate.
     
  17. Archaeopteryx

    Archaeopteryx Wanderer

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    I think such frustration is unavoidable for thinking people because thinking is hard. This is no less true of science than it is of philosophy, although with science there is perhaps a more immediate sense of grasping "the answer". But even in science there is disagreement over the methods and results needed to resolve this or that particular dispute.
    I wouldn't say they are "working hard for nothing," even if the answers they reach aren't as definitive as they would like. They still would have learned something and hopefully also cultivated good habits of thought—knowledge and skills that will serve them well in other areas of life, including in science if that is what they decide to pursue.
     
  18. Archaeopteryx

    Archaeopteryx Wanderer

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    I think I have seen this play out in two ways: those who hold that philosophy is autonomous and that science has little or no bearing on significant philosophical questions; and those who hold that science is an autonomous and even superior alternative to philosophy.
     
  19. durangodawood

    durangodawood Dis Member

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    How does radical skepticism or the nature of causality or theories of mind put food on the table?

    Now science and its spinoffs really do hit us where we live.

    Thats enough for most people to relegate philosophy to the drafty old brokedown building on the neglected end the mental campus, while science gets shiny new labs every year.
     
  20. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    Which do you think is more autonomous, objectively speaking?
     
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