Philosophy

Philosophy is good. Sophistry is bad. At what point does philosophy degenerate into sophistry? This is an important question. The answer defends philosophy from erroneous or malicious misclassification, i.e strawman attacks. Philosophy and sophistry do not mark opposing ends of a spectrum, so you must dispense with that supposition upfront.

Introduction to Indian Philosophy: A Free Online Course | Open Culture

Philosophy is not evasive. Philosophy is methodical, and transparent. The more rational the philosophy, the more methodical and transparent its processes, and the more it relies on objective, impartial evidence to support its conclusions. Less rational philosophies are more subjective, favour intuitive or traditional patterns, and present assumptions as premises.

Sophistry however is non-philosophy. It is evasive, attempts to distort or obfuscate, employs rhetoric in place of reason, and commits the many sins of poor philosophers (confirmation bias, ad hominem attacks, circular/faux reasoning, etc.). The sophist practices these methods purposefully, in order to avoid loss of face, deflect criticism, conceal error, or escape embarrassment. The sophist refuses to answer directly and refuses to provide explicit terms and comply with the standards of genuine debate. The sophist knows he can never win in the arena of philosophy so spoils the protocols and fouls the game.

Now consider your beliefs: are they philosophically supportable? Would you need sophistry to defend them?

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This I believe, based on my own experience and that of native speakers of other languages who have cracked tonal languages. After about two years of stumbling and fumbling idiotically with Chinese on a daily basis, something weird occurred inside my head. I can liken it only to the impression conveyed by the Buddha statues that show the Buddha manually splitting his head apart to reveal another, true self beneath.

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In Buddhism, striving is considered a cause of suffering so is best avoided. If a society observed this recommendation, its progress would be zero. Should people pursue progress and embrace the suffering allegedly caused thereby? Or should the benefits of progress be weighed against the suffering, in an objective sense? In other words, should the claims of belief be put through the crucible of practice and accepted or rejected based on the test? Or is that just too sensible?

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This movie shows metempsychosis according to the Buddhistic model. The only point of difference is the dog’s cross-incarnation retention of memories. In the Buddhist model, there is no self to retain memories. All else is compliant. Don’t you recall your earliest life memory being “oh, this again? Been here before.” Etc.? I do.

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You might have noticed: many recent TV series are set in the 1980s.

It’s no wonder people want to live in the past and nostalgia - even imagined - is present in so much pop culture. The past is psychologically safer. Its problems and shortcomings can be forgotten and its comforts and certainties trump the challenges and constant uncertainty that mark the present.

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I recently read Walden Two, Skinner's novel about an independent, experimental social value-centred community.

The possibility and appeal of real-life communities comprised solely of volunteer members united by shared interests or values fascinates me. There have also been numerous real-life attempts at such communities.

In this attempt at a real-life Walden Two, gender experiments and environmental friendliness were strong motivators behind the creation and continuation of the community. The recent and fashionable notion of sustainability was very present.

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