Friday, April 8, 2016

Philosophy

I mentioned Bill Nye the Science Guy yesterday. There has been some minor buzzing in my circle, because Bill made a video about philosophy recently. I haven't seen the video myself, but I've heard it summarized like this:

"Science is the best, most important topic for study. In general, studying non-science is not as good and useful as science. Philosophy can be interesting, but it's not particularly useful. At best, philosophy teaches a bunch of common sense stuff that everyone already knows. At worst, it teaches a bunch of pie-in-the-sky nonsense that has no connection to reality. If you have to pick between a philosophy degree and a science degree, get a science degree."

As a (kind of) philosophy major, I feel inclined to defend philosophy! Let me just give a simple response: logic, argumentation and morality are the three types of philosophy worth studying. Those are useful and help make you a better person.

As for the more pie-in-the-sky philosophy topics like epistemology and metaphysics...yes, Bill is right, they're not very useful in everyday life. I wonder if philosophy departments are going to phase out those traditional classes, in favor of more legal-style classes. In my college, philosophy was basically the pre-law degree.

Interestingly enough, science has caused a minor resurgence in epistemology. Advances in artificial intelligence and robotics are prompting philosophical questions like, "What is knowledge? What is intelligence? How do people think? What does it mean to be human?".

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