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Posted: 11 April 2007 04:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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[quote author=“homunculus”]Walter, if you know, How is philosophy defined today that’s different from how it used to be defined? My understanding is that people who earn a Ph.D. today do not necessarily know much of anything about the philosophy of their field. Is today’s Ph.D. degree a farce?

Well, if you asked 20 different philosophers what philosophy is, you’d probably get 40 different answers.

There are certainly people who work in philosophy departments who do things that I would consider only loosely connected to philosophy.  Some “philosophers” are really cognitive scientists, for example.

I’m not sure why you express such skepticism about the PhD.

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 11 April 2007 05:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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[quote author=“waltercat”][quote author=“homunculus”]Walter, if you know, How is philosophy defined today that’s different from how it used to be defined? My understanding is that people who earn a Ph.D. today do not necessarily know much of anything about the philosophy of their field. Is today’s Ph.D. degree a farce?

Well, if you asked 20 different philosophers what philosophy is, you’d probably get 40 different answers.

There are certainly people who work in philosophy departments who do things that I would consider only loosely connected to philosophy.  Some “philosophers” are really cognitive scientists, for example.

I’m not sure why you express such skepticism about the PhD.

In the beginning, philosophy was a way of life.  Then it became talking about ways of life.  Then, talking about how to talk about ways of life.  Then, talking about how to talk.  Now, it is talking for the sake of talking.

Unfortunately, too often the case.  smile

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Posted: 11 April 2007 05:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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[quote author=“waltercat”]. . . I’m not sure why you express such skepticism about the PhD.

I’m not skeptical about their knowledge/expertise about their current fields, but rather about philosophy as it relates to their fields. Obviously I’m hoping for too much from those two letters, Ph. Today’s Ph.D. grads have a lot of work to do.

I’m old fashioned, I guess. If the title of your degree says something unrelated to what you actually know, I see either fraud or ignorance.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Posted: 11 April 2007 06:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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[quote author=“homunculus”][quote author=“waltercat”]. . . I’m not sure why you express such skepticism about the PhD.

I’m not skeptical about their knowledge/expertise about their current fields, but rather about philosophy as it relates to their fields. Obviously I’m hoping for too much from those two letters, Ph. Today’s Ph.D. grads have a lot of work to do.

I’m old fashioned, I guess. If the title of your degree says something unrelated to what you actually know, I see either fraud or ignorance.


I do think that the PhD does not mean what its name suggests.  Biology PhDs, for example, don’t necessarily have any knowledge about the philosophy of biology.  So if you expect all PhDs to know something about philosophy (at least as it relates to their own field of expertise), then you are going to be disappointed.  However, I think that your own interpretation of the degree is probably atypical.  The PhD degree is awarded to scholars who have expertise in their chosen field and who have demonstrated the ability to contribute to the growth of knowledge within the field. My own opinion is that most people who are awarded the degree deserve it.

The reason for the name ‘Doctor of Philosophy’, by the way, has to do with the Greek understanding of Philosophy.  The word is Greek after all, and it means “love of wisdom.”  The Greeks did not distinguish between what today we think of as philosophy and other sciences; all pursuit of knowledge was called Philosophy.  Thus anyone who devotes his life and career to the pursuit and advancement of knowledge is, upon demonstrating skill and expertise, awarded the PhD degree.

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 11 April 2007 07:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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“The PhD degree is awarded to scholars who have expertise in their chosen field and who have demonstrated the ability to contribute to the growth of knowledge within the field. My own opinion is that most people who are awarded the degree deserve it.”

I don’t disagree.  However, I question the standard by which the candidates are judged.  I can’t speak for Ph.D., but I have a J.D., and it consistently frustrated me that the “scholars of the class” were really the ones who best argued inside traditional theories.  There was no value given for new approaches.  So new lawyers were judged by how well they could conform to traditional notions, rather than their ability to blaze new paths. 

Off subject kind of, but still a decent example:  Law school doesn’t teach people the law, it teaches the philosophy of the law.  There is no practical aspect left.  We basically have to figure out everything on our own if we want to hang our own shingle.  The consequence of this is that law schools have changed their curriculum to instead of furthering a students education and understanding of all subjects, students instead are run through a mill designed to create a usefull product:  defense lawyers.  This over-emphasis on “employability” has slanted the entire experience.  Also students are evaluated on their worth, as defense lawyers, instead of what they can truly bring to the profession. 

People like myself, who have no intention of ever joining a large firm, are placed at a distinct disadvantage when we graduate.  Of course we are.  We are the enemy of defense firms.

It would appear to me that these same types of problems, if you substitute terms, are the same problems affecting most intellectual fields.  Would you agree?

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Posted: 11 April 2007 08:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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[quote author=“waltercat”]. . .  Biology PhDs, for example, don’t necessarily have any knowledge about the philosophy of biology. . . .

I honestly don’t mean to disparage someone with a Ph.D. Earning one is a major accomplishment, in my opinion. I’m just pointing out and asking about something I find a bit peculiar. I think it would be nice if biology Ph.D.s were well versed on the philosophy of science. Many of them of course are.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Posted: 27 April 2007 02:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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Isn’t it more productive to avoid academic titles altogether and instead, measure the person’s contribution by the substance of what he/she has to say? Credentials color perception and just get in the way of objective evaluation.

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Posted: 27 April 2007 06:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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Thanks, burt and willowind for reminding us how simple philosophy can be, and how bloated it has become.  I prefer the ancient philosophers, both East and West, because for the most part, they kept their message simple.  I’m leery this forum may become full of “-isms” and “-ologies” bent more to confuse than enlighten.

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“All extremists should be killed!” - neighbor’s bumper sticker

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