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About Philosophy

Ram Bhakt
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Joined: Dec 02, 2005
Posts: 145
I can understand how and why they might teach engineering, medicine, arts, history, psychology, or even religion. But I don't understand what can they possibly teach in philosophy? I mean, can there be a fixed curriculam or is everything just an open ended discussion? What do the students finally do once they are philosophy major (or minor, whatever)? What is its significance? I am really curious.

Anybody got any idea?
Paul Clapham
Bartender

Joined: Oct 14, 2005
Posts: 18987
    
    8

Here's the curriculum of the Philosophy department of one university:

http://www.philosophy.ubc.ca/cgi-bin/dis/dis_courses.cgi

Pick other university websites and I am sure you will find the same sort of thing.
marc weber
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 31, 2004
Posts: 11343

Philosophy (my girlfriend's major) is actually very similar to mathematics (my major). The foundation is really logic and critical thinking skills.


"We're kind of on the level of crossword puzzle writers... And no one ever goes to them and gives them an award." ~Joe Strummer
sscce.org
stara szkapa
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Joined: Mar 27, 2003
Posts: 321
Find out what Ph.D stands for. If you specialize in logic then you become excelent candidate for a carrier in computer science.
Ram Bhakt
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Joined: Dec 02, 2005
Posts: 145
Originally posted by stara szkapa:
Find out what Ph.D stands for.

I know that. But it is not the same philosophy that I am talking about. Do you think you can get a PhD in Electronics by studying Plato??? I don't think so.


If you specialize in logic then you become excelent candidate for a carrier in computer science.

Logic is pretty much the basic ingradient for any career. So yes, one could study computer science after majoring in philosophy. But would one study philosophy if he really want's to study computer science? It is not a necessary requirement. Not all computer scientists are philosophers. You can find doctors and artists who are philosophers (again, not necessarily).

ALso, I read found some articles such as http://www.focusing.org/philosophy.html and I don't think it will help much in computer science.
Ram Bhakt
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Joined: Dec 02, 2005
Posts: 145
Originally posted by marc weber:
Philosophy (my girlfriend's major) is actually very similar to mathematics (my major). The foundation is really logic and critical thinking skills.


I agree that there is logic involved in pholosophy and mathematics. But I think that is at a very basic level. I don't know but I don't think they would be teaching differential equations in philosophy classes or aristotle in Math clasess ( except his theorms, if he had any ).

So saying that both are based on logic probably saying the obvious. I mean, isn't it just common sense?
Ram Bhakt
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Joined: Dec 02, 2005
Posts: 145
Originally posted by Paul Clapham:
Here's the curriculum of the Philosophy department of one university:

http://www.philosophy.ubc.ca/cgi-bin/dis/dis_courses.cgi

Pick other university websites and I am sure you will find the same sort of thing.


Thanks Paul. That helps. I am trying to find out what do they talk about in these course. Some of the courses (such as Symbolic Logic ) seem to be kind of "mathematical logic".
Some are really weird ( Sex, Gender, and Philosophy , Introduction to Moral Theory). I wonder what is the significance of these. Primarily, what would one be good for, once he/she majors in Philosophy (other than teaching philosophy, of course
Alan Wanwierd
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Joined: Jun 30, 2004
Posts: 624
The benefits of study are not limited to the curriculum studied!!

In the UK (certainly back in the 80's and 90's) Kids planning to go off to university were generally advised along these lines:

"If you want to be a doctor, study medicine
If you want to be a lawyer, study law
..If you dont want to be either of those, then IT DOESNT MATTER what you study - so study something that you find interesting..."

We were even told: "If you want to work in IT - DONT study Computer Science."

The logic here was that large IT firms such as IBM, EDS etc etc liked to take on board intelligent graduates and mold them into good corporate clones. Graduates already with specific ideas about how things should be done had to have academic pricipals 'unlearnt' before they could start learning the 'corporate' way. Hence a graduate with a Sociology degree and ability to think critically, communicate effectively and learn fast was a better corporate investment than an graduate with a Computer Science degree.

I have tried many times to explain the concept of non-vocational education to my peers here in Australia (where a degree is seen much more as pre-job training rather than an academic life-skills excercise) - but people are constantly amazed that I, with my degree in Music and Politics managed to flourish in the IT world. I would argue that time spent intellectually critiqueing the ideas of anyone on ANY subject has great value far and above the actual specifics of what we learn. It is the process of learning that is taught in a non-vocational academic degree.

To that end why *not* learn Philosophy? Surely its as a good a base topic as any for learning how to think about stuff, asses the validity of peoples ideas, learning how to write formal presentations and speak on a topic infornt of audiences... Why should "Platos Republic" be any LESS useful a subject matter than discussing say..."Turing Machines" ??? Neither contain any information that is likely to be useful in later life - it the the experience of GETTING the information and presnting it that gives us the valuable lessons.

I could summarise with a mis-quote:
"Give someone a skill - you give him a job for a year(or two). Teach someone how to learn a skill and you give him a job for life."
marc weber
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 31, 2004
Posts: 11343

Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:
...a degree is seen much more as pre-job training rather than an academic life-skills excercise...

That's exactly the problem.
marc weber
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 31, 2004
Posts: 11343

Originally posted by Ram Bhakt:
... Logic is pretty much the basic ingradient for any career...



In my experience, very few people have true logic skills -- especially in corporate settings.
Manish Hatwalne
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Joined: Sep 22, 2001
Posts: 2581

Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:
The benefits of study are not limited to the curriculum studied!!

In the UK (certainly back in the 80's and 90's) Kids planning to go off to university were generally advised along these lines:

"If you want to be a doctor, study medicine
If you want to be a lawyer, study law
..If you dont want to be either of those, then IT DOESNT MATTER what you study - so study something that you find interesting..."

We were even told: "If you want to work in IT - DONT study Computer Science."

The logic here was that large IT firms such as IBM, EDS etc etc liked to take on board intelligent graduates and mold them into good corporate clones. Graduates already with specific ideas about how things should be done had to have academic pricipals 'unlearnt' before they could start learning the 'corporate' way. Hence a graduate with a Sociology degree and ability to think critically, communicate effectively and learn fast was a better corporate investment than an graduate with a Computer Science degree.

I have tried many times to explain the concept of non-vocational education to my peers here in Australia (where a degree is seen much more as pre-job training rather than an academic life-skills excercise) - but people are constantly amazed that I, with my degree in Music and Politics managed to flourish in the IT world. I would argue that time spent intellectually critiqueing the ideas of anyone on ANY subject has great value far and above the actual specifics of what we learn. It is the process of learning that is taught in a non-vocational academic degree.

To that end why *not* learn Philosophy? Surely its as a good a base topic as any for learning how to think about stuff, asses the validity of peoples ideas, learning how to write formal presentations and speak on a topic infornt of audiences... Why should "Platos Republic" be any LESS useful a subject matter than discussing say..."Turing Machines" ??? Neither contain any information that is likely to be useful in later life - it the the experience of GETTING the information and presnting it that gives us the valuable lessons.

I could summarise with a mis-quote:
"Give someone a skill - you give him a job for a year(or two). Teach someone how to learn a skill and you give him a job for life."


EXACTLY!!!

That's what our direcor told us during induction of our PG course - he said, "More than anything else, you should learn here how to learn things" and for some of us it stayed and became way of life. Once you learn that -- one can excell in any field if he/she applies himself/herself.

Would love to write a long comment on this one, but for now just take a bow!!!

- Manish
Stuart Ash
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Joined: Oct 07, 2005
Posts: 637
Good points Adrian!


ASCII silly question, Get a silly ANSI.
Ram Bhakt
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Joined: Dec 02, 2005
Posts: 145
Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:
"If you want to be a doctor, study medicine
If you want to be a lawyer, study law
..If you dont want to be either of those, then IT DOESNT MATTER what you study - so study something that you find interesting..."


After years of experience in the industry, I can understand that it makes a lot of sense. I never got that kind of advice. On the other hand, even if I had gotten that kind of advice, I am not sure how useful it would have been in Indian education set up.

Unfortunately, in India, all the course are stacked in the order of "job opportunities". Students prefer courses that have good job prospects, so Medical and Engineering are on the top of the stack, pure science (BSc) are in the middle, and BA (Arts, History, Lit, & Philosophy etc) are at the bottom. This is a truely vicious cycle. Good students (please don't flame me, there are exceptions, but I haven't seen any) go to top courses, and so companies prefer to recruit people from these courses thus even diminishing prospects for others. But I digress...may be in some other thread.

What I am saying is that ideally, yes, probably a course (Philosophy, say) is as good as any other if some one is really interested in it. I also agree that studying Philosophy will not necessarily hinder a person from taking a career in any other area. At the same time does it not defeat the purpose of studying philosophy ( and not, say, computer science), if the person actually gets a job in Coumputer science area? I mean, you studied philosophy because you liked it but you "had to" take a job in computer because there are no prospects in philosophy area. Then why study philosophy in the first place? Shouldn't you be studing computer science?

So that brings me back to my original question (with enhancement), what do philosophy majors do other than teaching philosophy and changing their line of work? What is that course good for?

Yes, Logic is tought in philosophy, but philosophy != just logic. So a Music major would play music, perform, direct etc, a history major would probably rewrite some history and they all require logic. So potentially, they could change their career and work in computers, but they don't have to. They can earn a living by doing what they really like to do. But do philosophy majors have such option? If they have, that is what I am curious about. What do they do?

I am NOT trying to look down upon that course (which is what some of the replies above seem to be assuming), I am just curious as to what they do.
marc weber
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 31, 2004
Posts: 11343

I think there's a difference between "knowledge" (a memory function) and "intelligence" (an ability to process knowledge). My view is that a college education should refine intelligence -- not simply impart knowledge.

Ultimately, learning to differentiate complex functions has little to do with true mathematics, just as learning to spell has little to do with interpreting fine literature.
Ram Bhakt
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Joined: Dec 02, 2005
Posts: 145
Originally posted by marc weber:
I think there's a difference between "knowledge" (a memory function) and "intelligence" (an ability to process knowledge).

True.



My view is that a college education should refine intelligence -- not simply impart knowledge.

Is it even possible to refine intelligence? I think intelligence is an ability that cannot be changed. It's probably akin to the CPU power of a computer. You can make up lack of intelligence by increasing your information base, but that too only up to a certain extent.

My view is that college education should channalize that intelligence with appropriate information base so that it can do great things. Intelligence is like raw CPU power which in itself can't do much without a good software.

Anyway, this has nothing to do with philosophy though.
Jayesh Lalwani
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Joined: Nov 05, 2004
Posts: 502
Originally posted by Ram Bhakt:

Is it even possible to refine intelligence? I think intelligence is an ability that cannot be changed. It's probably akin to the CPU power of a computer. You can make up lack of intelligence by increasing your information base, but that too only up to a certain extent.


No, what you are talking about is the physical capacity of the brain to handle information. Intelligence does depend on that but it also depends on whether you have learnt the correct tools that help you process information.

For example, early Homo sapiens had roughly the same brain size and number of interconnections in the brain as current Homo Sapiens. Actually, number of interconnections might have increased but not radically. So, the brain capacity of a human 80,000 years ago was about the same as a a 18th century human, which is also the same as a 21st century human. However, early humans couldn't read or write, and a 18th century human could compute how heavenly bodies move but couldn't invent space rockets, but 21st century humans can read/write and some can perfectly understand rocket science. The differrence is that a 18th century human had more tools available to him that made processing of information easier. Tools like algorithmic charts and telescopes and such. 21st century human could go into space because 21st century human has more tools like computers and such.

The point I'm making is that knowing how to process and analyze information, and learning tools that helps us process information is big factor in determining "intelligence". Normal healthy humans have variations in brain size and processing power, but the variations are so slight that being able to use the correct tools accounts for your intelligence more than brain size.
Ram Bhakt
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Joined: Dec 02, 2005
Posts: 145
Originally posted by Jayesh Lalwani:

No, what you are talking about is the physical capacity of the brain to handle information. Intelligence does depend on that but it also depends on whether you have learnt the correct tools that help you process information.

Learning the correct tools is nothing but adding more to your information base. It has nothing to do with intelligence. Guitar is a tool that can make musical notes. Anybody can store that information in their brain. But can everybody make good music? No. There are people who can type faster than anybody else ie. they have learnt the tool. Can they all write a poem? No. There are tons of MBA churning out of B schools. Can they all become Jack Welch. No. I hope you get the point.




For example, early Homo sapiens had roughly the same brain size and number of interconnections in the brain as current Homo Sapiens. Actually, number of interconnections might have increased but not radically. So, the brain capacity of a human 80,000 years ago was about the same as a a 18th century human, which is also the same as a 21st century human. However, early humans couldn't read or write, and a 18th century human could compute how heavenly bodies move but couldn't invent space rockets, but 21st century humans can read/write and some can perfectly understand rocket science. The differrence is that a 18th century human had more tools available to him that made processing of information easier. Tools like algorithmic charts and telescopes and such. 21st century human could go into space because 21st century human has more tools like computers and such.

The point I'm making is that knowing how to process and analyze information, and learning tools that helps us process information is big factor in determining "intelligence". Normal healthy humans have variations in brain size and processing power, but the variations are so slight that being able to use the correct tools accounts for your intelligence more than brain size.


Variations might be slight but they cause a great deal in intelligence. Given a set of people of the same era, why was there only one Newton? Everybody during his time had the access to the same tools that he had access to. So only difference between him and other was "cpu power"...intelligence. Same goes for Einstein.

So again, tools are nothing but information, not intellegence.
marc weber
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 31, 2004
Posts: 11343

Originally posted by Ram Bhakt:
... Intelligence is like raw CPU power which in itself can't do much without a good software.

Anyway, this has nothing to do with philosophy though.

A college education should impart the ability to write and modify one's own software as needed -- not simply load programs to run later. To that end, philosophy is an ideal pursuit, because it develops those abstract skills.
Ram Bhakt
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Joined: Dec 02, 2005
Posts: 145
Originally posted by marc weber:

A college education should impart the ability to write and modify one's own software as needed -- not simply load programs to run later. To that end, philosophy is an ideal pursuit, because it develops those abstract skills.


I think it is getting repeatative now. If you read my post again, you will see that do not deny that studying philosophy may enable you to have a career in computers. But that is not the point. Let me quote my post again


So that brings me back to my original question (with enhancement), what do philosophy majors do other than teaching philosophy and changing their line of work? What is that course good for?

Yes, Logic is tought in philosophy, but philosophy != just logic. So a Music major would play music, perform, direct etc, a history major would probably rewrite some history and they all require logic. So potentially, they could change their career and work in computers, but they don't have to. They can earn a living by doing what they really like to do. But do philosophy majors have such option? If they have, that is what I am curious about. What do they do?

I am NOT trying to look down upon that course (which is what some of the replies above seem to be assuming), I am just curious as to what they do.
Alan Wanwierd
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Joined: Jun 30, 2004
Posts: 624
Originally posted by Ram Bhakt:
... So a Music major would play music, perform, direct etc, a history major would probably rewrite some history and they all require logic. So potentially, they could change their career and work in computers, but they don't have to....


I did NOT 'change' my career... let me try to explain again.

I think you missed my point (and the backing up by several others)- If graduate education is more concerned with information gathering, validation, processing and presenting of information rather than with the information content itself, then the subject studied is a totaly moot point.

I know many people with Music degrees (having been a music student) and *even* whilst studying, there were very few who believed they would pursue a career in music. They chose to study music because they believed it would be a fun and interestic topic upon which to hone their academic skills (whilst hanging out in uni 'funtown' for 3 or 4 years! ). I also have a number of friends who are now history graduates - but dont think I have *EVER* met someone who believed they would and wanted to work as a historian - again they chose to study history becuase it was a topic that could hold their interest whilst they learnt to how to research, evaluate and discuss academic arguments.

At university we (at least my peers) all learnt essentially the same skills regardless of course studied. We learnt how to critically assess what we read, we learnt how to discuss differing points of view and we learnt how to summarise our findings in both a formal written style and in a presentational manner in front of a critica live audience.

To that end a career in computing, accountancy, retail management, surfing instructor etc etc (anyything!) CANNOT be considered a 'change' from studying Music, History, Philosophy etc etc - its merely finding a viable pathway to use those skills.

You tell me a career where communication skills arent important and where the ability to read and critically assess information isnt useful and you *might* find a job where my education was redundant - but in most careers those skills are *extremely* valuable - far more so than any subject specific techniques!
Ram Bhakt
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Joined: Dec 02, 2005
Posts: 145
Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:

I think you missed my point (and the backing up by several others)- If graduate education is more concerned with information gathering, validation, processing and presenting of information rather than with the information content itself, then the subject studied is a totaly moot point.


But in reality, it is not. graduation is concerned with both the things - learning process as well as information pertaining to that particular stream. Otherwise, why have multiple streams in the first place. Why not just have one B. Of Logic degree, and that's it. You can get the information on the job, right?

All the streams let you go though the learning process (just like the philosophy course would). But there is a whole lot of subject matter involved too. You just can't have a philosophy major design a CPU. You have to have a Computer Science or a Electronics major for that. You can't have a music major perform brain surgery. No doubt, a hisotry major or music major can go through Engineering or Medical course and design a CPU or perform a brain surgery. But if that is what they want to do, then why study philosophy or history or music??? Either because they didn't know what they really want to do so they took some course they found interesing...which is fine, or they are indeed changing their career because of lack of opportunities in their chosen stream.


I know many people with Music degrees (having been a music student) and *even* whilst studying, there were very few who believed they would pursue a career in music. They chose to study music because they believed it would be a fun and interestic topic upon which to hone their academic skills (whilst hanging out in uni 'funtown' for 3 or 4 years! ).

They fall in the first category. They didn't know what they really want to do at that time. Again, it is perfectly fine and it does make sense. I would have loved to do that had I had such kind of an option after high school. But alas, they won't be hired to design CPU or architect buildings if that is what they wanted to do later on.

Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:

I also have a number of friends who are now history graduates - but dont think I have *EVER* met someone who believed they would and wanted to work as a historian - again they chose to study history becuase it was a topic that could hold their interest whilst they learnt to how to research, evaluate and discuss academic arguments.

Again, they fall in the first category.


Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:

At university we (at least my peers) all learnt essentially the same skills regardless of course studied. We learnt how to critically assess what we read, we learnt how to discuss differing points of view and we learnt how to summarise our findings in both a formal written style and in a presentational manner in front of a critica live audience.

To that end a career in computing, accountancy, retail management, surfing instructor etc etc (anyything!) CANNOT be considered a 'change' from studying Music, History, Philosophy etc etc - its merely finding a viable pathway to use those skills.

Only case when I don't conisider it a change in career is if the person didn't know what to do and he/she chose what seemed to be most interesting at that time. So if a person really wants to do accountancy, it doesn't make sense to enroll in history course just to learn "critically assess what we read, how to discuss differing points of view, and how to summarise our findings in both a formal written style", because as you yourself have said any course will teach all that anyway.

Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:

You tell me a career where communication skills arent important and where the ability to read and critically assess information isnt useful and you *might* find a job where my education was redundant - but in most careers those skills are *extremely* valuable - far more so than any subject specific techniques!

If you read my previous posts, I have already stated that these skills are important/required for pretty much every kind of job. So no argument there but it is irrelevent to what I am asking, which is, "what is what do philosophy majors do?"
Alan Wanwierd
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Joined: Jun 30, 2004
Posts: 624
So no argument there but it is irrelevent to what I am asking, which is, "what is what do philosophy majors do?"


Ok - We'll have to agree to disagree on a few points. But I'll try and answer this question with a bit of researchless conjecture!:

I dont know particularly about Philosophy graduates - but since the majority of my peers at university were studying arts subjects (Classics, History, Sociology, Philosophy, Politics, Music, English Literature etc etc etc) I would be hugely surprised if the career choices varied between subject divisions.

Amongst my generation (graduates of late mid 90's) it would seem that arts graduates in the UK were employed in a wide variety of roles but strangely enough it seems around 40% (of those I know) ended up working in IT I suspect this is more to do with the ratio of IT jobs to other jobs in the early 90's!! (I know that I.T. was the ONLY field where I could find a job - and suspect the same is true for many of my peers!)

A few years before me my sister and her generation of graduates would have a very different distribution of career choices - I suspect that Sales/Marketing and Accountancy would be stronger represented in that demographic (I'm not sure why - thats just my impression based on the experiences of meeting her uni peers).

For todays arts graduates I have no idea what the career path would be - certainly IT is no longer the open choice it was 10-15 years ago. Perhaps todays UK graduates will return to the traditional big employers of arts graduates - 'Civil Service' where a broad educational grounding has always been favoured (most common degree for top civil servants has historically been "Classics" from Oxford or Cambridge).

I would imagine that non-vocational degree holders perform a valuable function in society in that they fill any 'skills gap' and provide an intelligent educated workforce in areas of growth where specific vocational degree holders do not exist. In areas where demand for graduates outstrips supply - its those with the generic skillsets that step up and fill the positions.

If we accept this hypotheises then surely a Philosophy degree can be seen as perhaps one of the most useful degree subjects! Do you know what profession will be in demand in 4 years time? If you cant predict it - then isnt it a safer option to chose to study something generic and leave the decision about what work to do until you know what work is out there?
Jayesh Lalwani
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Joined: Nov 05, 2004
Posts: 502
Originally posted by Ram Bhakt:

Learning the correct tools is nothing but adding more to your information base. It has nothing to do with intelligence. Guitar is a tool that can make musical notes. Anybody can store that information in their brain. But can everybody make good music? No. There are people who can type faster than anybody else ie. they have learnt the tool. Can they all write a poem? No. There are tons of MBA churning out of B schools. Can they all become Jack Welch. No. I hope you get the point.


But, "learning how to use tools" is much more than mere "knowledge". A person could have memorized all the notes to Mozart's symphonies, but he may not be able to play the piano, yet a master pianist who has practiced and refined his brain to move his fingers in time will be able to play Mozart much better by reading the notes on the sheet. Clearly the pianist who knows how to read the sheet is better than the person who has memorized the notes. One Java programmer might have learnt the entire JDK API by heart, but another Java programmer is better at using google to find the correct API, and is better at analyzing the problem and determining which API is the best API to use. Clearly, the programmer who doesn't bother memorizing all the APIs but knows how to select and find the correct API is the better programmer than one who merely "knows" the API

A bigger brain doesn't neccescary mean that the person is smarter. I agree with you that knowing how to use a tool is just another kind of knowledge, but when we analyze intelligence we have to draw distinctions between kinds of knowledge, because, clearly having one type of knowledge is clearly superior than having another kind. One type of knowledge comes from rote memorization of information, and another from knowledge and practice of the tools at hand.



Variations might be slight but they cause a great deal in intelligence. Given a set of people of the same era, why was there only one Newton? Everybody during his time had the access to the same tools that he had access to. So only difference between him and other was "cpu power"...intelligence. Same goes for Einstein.

And there is no indication that any inventor has a bigger brain than a lay person. Einstein might have trained their brains through sheer practice to handle physics problems faster. Newton might have access to better education and more time on his hand to think about physics problems. There is no indication that the intelligence of both of these individuals came from genetic factors that increased the size of their brains at birth.


So again, tools are nothing but information, not intellegence.


We might be having differrent understanding of the word intelligence, and I don't want to get into a semantic discussion. I define intelligence as the capacity of a person to solve a given problem, not the capacity of his brain to store information. Capacity of the brain can determine how much information the person can store in their brain, but it ultimately comes down to what kind of information is stored in the brain. A person of average brain capacity with the knowledge and practice of the correct tools can solve a problem much faster than a person of more than average brain capacity who has memorized all information relevant to the problem. So, in this case I would consider the person with average brain capacity to be much more intelligent than the person with higher brain capacity
Ram Bhakt
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Joined: Dec 02, 2005
Posts: 145
Originally posted by Jayesh Lalwani:

And there is no indication that any inventor has a bigger brain than a lay person.

Please....please read before you start commenting on other people's posts. When did I say that intelligence is necessarily == difference in brain size??? Did I say that Newton or Eintein has more brain size than other people???
All I was try to explain to you was that some people are more intelligent (smart, whatever you want to call it) than others, just like Newton and Einstein were smarter than others. That's just how it is. Some people are taller than others, some are physically stronger than others....similarly some are smarter than others. What's the complexity here??? Why there are smarter is different issue, which we are not discussing here. (But research has shown that it has something to do with number of neural interconnections, which is turn may be linked to brain size.)




Originally posted by Jayesh Lalwani:

We might be having differrent understanding of the word intelligence, and I don't want to get into a semantic discussion. I define intelligence as the capacity of a person to solve a given problem, not the capacity of his brain to store information. Capacity of the brain can determine how much information the person can store in their brain, but it ultimately comes down to what kind of information is stored in the brain. A person of average brain capacity with the knowledge and practice of the correct tools can solve a problem much faster than a person of more than average brain capacity who has memorized all information relevant to the problem. So, in this case I would consider the person with average brain capacity to be much more intelligent than the person with higher brain capacity


Also, please...please read what you are posting. The whole para above is full of contracdictions. I have no idea what you are trying to say.

If you want to discuss about what is intelligence, please start a new thread.
Ram Bhakt
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Joined: Dec 02, 2005
Posts: 145
Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:


I would imagine that non-vocational degree holders perform a valuable function in society in that they fill any 'skills gap' and provide an intelligent educated workforce in areas of growth where specific vocational degree holders do not exist. In areas where demand for graduates outstrips supply - its those with the generic skillsets that step up and fill the positions.

If we accept this hypotheises then surely a Philosophy degree can be seen as perhaps one of the most useful degree subjects! Do you know what profession will be in demand in 4 years time? If you cant predict it - then isnt it a safer option to chose to study something generic and leave the decision about what work to do until you know what work is out there?


I definitely agree with that.

So basically, here is what I understand from all this discussion:
Philosophy majors are probably like "wild card", they can fit anywhere with futher training in any area. Looking from another angle, philosophy is not a prefession. I mean, one cannot just be a philosopher and make a living (except teaching philosophy, probably). Is that correct? If so, they are pretty much good for nothing without further training in a specific subject area I know it sounds horrible that way but it is just a double negation of (they are good for everything with further training in any area).
marc weber
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Joined: Aug 31, 2004
Posts: 11343

But again... When you say "good for," you seem to be looking for some direct translation from major to profession. From that perspective, you might be stating a valid conclusion. But you need to recognize that there are other views. In fact, there is a perspective that profession-specific majors are actually less valuable than core disciplines. In fact, I've often heard it said that people majoring in business or communications should either go to a "trade school" or get a "real degree." I'm not expressing this viewpoint myself -- I'm just saying it's another perspective. So to those who don't place the same value on a direct translation from major to profession, your question of what a degree is "good for" is something of a foreign concept.
Alan Wanwierd
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Joined: Jun 30, 2004
Posts: 624
Originally posted by marc weber:
But again... When you say "good for," you seem to be looking for some direct translation from major to profession. From that perspective, you might be stating a valid conclusion. But you need to recognize that there are other views. In fact, there is a perspective that profession-specific majors are actually less valuable than core disciplines. In fact, I've often heard it said that people majoring in business or communications should either go to a "trade school" or get a "real degree." I'm not expressing this viewpoint myself -- I'm just saying it's another perspective. So to those who don't place the same value on a direct translation from major to profession, your question of what a degree is "good for" is something of a foreign concept.



University of Queensland Medical faculty here in Brisbane seem to subscribe to this point of view. They recently scrapped undergraduate entry to medicine believing that the quality of doctors would be massively improved by *insisting* that all medical students first have a degree in an unrelated discipline. (So perhaps then - Philosphy is an ideal choice of degree if you want to become a doctor? )
marc weber
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Joined: Aug 31, 2004
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Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:
...University of Queensland Medical faculty here in Brisbane seem to subscribe to this point of view. They recently scrapped undergraduate entry to medicine believing that the quality of doctors would be massively improved by *insisting* that all medical students first have a degree in an unrelated discipline. (So perhaps then - Philosphy is an ideal choice of degree if you want to become a doctor? )

A friend of mine is a medical doctor. His BA was in fine art.
Dave Lenton
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Joined: Jan 20, 2005
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Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:
Why should "Platos Republic" be any LESS useful a subject matter than discussing say..."Turing Machines" ??? Neither contain any information that is likely to be useful in later life

I don't know. If I wanted to become an oligarch in a ruling elite then I may find The Republic a rather useful read
- it the the experience of GETTING the information and presnting it that gives us the valuable lessons.
Its also quite useful for students to experience areas of discussion where there isn't a right answer. Many other subjects (particularly the sciences) studied will have correct and incorrect answers to questions. Students will, for example, learn the correct way of solving a particular mathematical formula. Philosophy offer something a bit different - subjects which are not black/white, true/false, right/wrong. It will help them learn that there are things without a definitive answer, and its worth listening to all sides of the story. This is a very useful lesson to take into later life where almost nothing is clear cut.


There will be glitches in my transition from being a saloon bar sage to a world statesman. - Tony Banks
marc weber
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Joined: Aug 31, 2004
Posts: 11343

Originally posted by Dave Lenton:
... Students will, for example, learn the correct way of solving a particular mathematical formula. Philosophy offer something a bit different - subjects which are not black/white, true/false, right/wrong...

Actually, it wasn't until I was introduced to the gray areas of mathematics that I became really interested -- the unanswered (or even unanswerable) questions, the differing schools of thought, the "era of uncertainty"... Before that, I thought math was just a tool to be applied to other disciplines like engineering, physics, chemistry, etc. But I came to understand that learning to solve black and white problems in mathematics is much like learning to spell in English literature: It only lays the foundation for real study.
Dave Lenton
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Originally posted by marc weber:
Actually, it wasn't until I was introduced to the gray areas of mathematics that I became really interested -- the unanswered (or even unanswerable) questions, the differing schools of thought, the "era of uncertainty"
I guess when you get to this kind of maths there isn't much of a clear distinction between it and philosophy. Both are dealing with immaterial artefacts, and both are at the same time highly confusing, debatable and interesting.

Unfortunately I don't think I'd ever get to grips with that level of maths. I'm sure my A-level maths exam (UK exam taken when about 18 years old) was a lot harder then any exam I did on my computing degree. Still, that's not a bad thing - like A.C.Clarke (I think) said, people should always aim to be educated just beyond their abilities.
 
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subject: About Philosophy