Philosophy for humans



This is probably nothing new, but whatever. One of the reason why humans were so successful is that unlike most species (except crows apparently) we posess a theory of mind. In plain English: we're aware that we're thinking, so we can reason about our own thought processes; we know what we know and what we don't, and adjust our strategies accordingly. This proved so useful, some thousands of years ago we gave it a name: philosophy.

But what is philosophy, more exactly? Wiktionary offers several definitions, among which: a comprehensive system of belief; a general principle; an academic discipline that seeks truth through reasoning rather than empiricism.

This last one is relevant here, because as it turns out, a lot of useful truths are abstract, so you can't apply empiricism to them. Take for instance the concept of transitivity: if consolidation of capital creates poverty, and poverty creates crime, does that mean unbridled capitalism creates crime (then calls the cops to clean up its mess)?

Oh wait, that's not abstract. Or rather, poverty and crime aren't. Responsibility, now that's been a matter of debate for centuries. Likely because nobody wants to bear it, so we keep making up complicated ways to pass it around. Much like with money and debt, go figure.

By now self-driving cars have killed multiple people, and we still haven't figured out who should be held responsible.

It's easy to blame technocracy for that, too. The idea that only "hard" sciences are valid, and that political decisions can somehow be "objective". I was reading about it just the other day in fact, by pure coincidence.

But frankly, I blame 19th century philosophers: privileged white men who spent their time in ivory towers thinking of ways to justify genocide in-between teaching at some fancy European college. And that's a lot of damage to undo.


Tags: philosophy, education