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Atheists vs Philosophy

unitedandy
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12/26/2014 11:44:51 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
It seems to a trend, certainly amongst high-profile atheist popularisers (Dawkins, Atkins, Krauss, Harris, etc) to promote something along the lines of scientism - roughly speaking, the view that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge that there is, to the exclusion of other areas of inquiry. In particular, this antagonism for other disciplines seems to have been directed at philosophy. Atkins, for example, makes the general statement that philosophy is waste of time.

Assuming this represent a large section of atheist views, has mainstream atheism basically conceded even the veneer of reasonableness, or are Dawkins et. al correct to attack philosophy as a worthless enterprise?
bladerunner060
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12/27/2014 1:01:06 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/26/2014 11:44:51 PM, unitedandy wrote:
It seems to a trend, certainly amongst high-profile atheist popularisers (Dawkins, Atkins, Krauss, Harris, etc) to promote something along the lines of scientism - roughly speaking, the view that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge that there is, to the exclusion of other areas of inquiry. In particular, this antagonism for other disciplines seems to have been directed at philosophy. Atkins, for example, makes the general statement that philosophy is waste of time.

Assuming this represent a large section of atheist views, has mainstream atheism basically conceded even the veneer of reasonableness, or are Dawkins et. al correct to attack philosophy as a worthless enterprise?

I think some of the more vocal atheists who are scientists reject philosophy. Which is understandable, if unfortunate--the hard sciences often look down on the softer ones.

But not all atheists are anti-philosophy. While I don't pretend to be a Hitchens expert, he did say:

"Philosophy begins where religion ends, just as by analogy chemistry begins where alchemy runs out, and astronomy takes the place of astrology."

An indictment of religion, to be sure, but certainly not an indictment of philosophy.

Part of the problem with philosophy is that unlike with the "real" sciences, it's generally impossible to truly PROVE one philosophical system superior to another. Utilitarianism or Deontology? You can appeal to people's sensibilities, but you can't point to a rock and say "Well, see, that falls at 32f/s/s, therefore Utilitarianism".

Philosophy is incredibly important, to my mind. But I think they're more of the mind that Johnson had a better point than Berkeley:

"After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, 'I refute it thus.'"

(http://en.wikipedia.org...)
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Danielle
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12/27/2014 1:04:26 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/26/2014 11:44:51 PM, unitedandy wrote:
It seems to a trend, certainly amongst high-profile atheist popularisers (Dawkins, Atkins, Krauss, Harris, etc) to promote something along the lines of scientism - roughly speaking, the view that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge that there is, to the exclusion of other areas of inquiry. In particular, this antagonism for other disciplines seems to have been directed at philosophy. Atkins, for example, makes the general statement that philosophy is waste of time.

Assuming this represent a large section of atheist views, has mainstream atheism basically conceded even the veneer of reasonableness, or are Dawkins et. al correct to attack philosophy as a worthless enterprise?

Philosophy is intrinsic to almost every other discipline. I think the difference between philosophical inquiries and the sciences is that the latter emphasizes what you can prove while philosophy focuses on what is possible. For instance a logical argument in philosophy can be valid but not sound. That's helpful but incredibly limited in terms of describing reality. Whereas philosophy is not only useful but imperative to figuring out the way the world works, the hard sciences attempt to go further by using process of elimination and the scientific method to verify particular philosophical claims. I think they are equally paramount to each other. Without the philosophical inquiry, the search or analytics of the scientific research would probably be moot.
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sdavio
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12/27/2014 2:06:44 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/26/2014 11:44:51 PM, unitedandy wrote:
It seems to a trend, certainly amongst high-profile atheist popularisers (Dawkins, Atkins, Krauss, Harris, etc) to promote something along the lines of scientism - roughly speaking, the view that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge that there is, to the exclusion of other areas of inquiry. In particular, this antagonism for other disciplines seems to have been directed at philosophy. Atkins, for example, makes the general statement that philosophy is waste of time.

Assuming this represent a large section of atheist views, has mainstream atheism basically conceded even the veneer of reasonableness, or are Dawkins et. al correct to attack philosophy as a worthless enterprise?

Before an investigation, we need to decide what to investigate and how to go about it, and this is a philosophical task. Those who devalue this simply want to universalize their own particular method without it being questioned. A government-funded scientist has no interest in the basis of their entire enterprise being questioned; they would rather 'scientism' be accepted as valid by default. Science itself is at best useless without a thoroughly non-scientific basis which guides where it is headed.
"Logic is the money of the mind." - Karl Marx
sdavio
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12/27/2014 2:24:54 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/27/2014 1:01:06 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:
Part of the problem with philosophy is that unlike with the "real" sciences, it's generally impossible to truly PROVE one philosophical system superior to another. Utilitarianism or Deontology? You can appeal to people's sensibilities, but you can't point to a rock and say "Well, see, that falls at 32f/s/s, therefore Utilitarianism".

The fact that people continue to talk about these things, and even believe them, does not mean that they're not dis-proven, or worse, impossible to disprove. The fact that there is no basis for utilitarianism in the world; that is, that it is an arbitrary standard which is imposed upon people without basis which simultaneously claims to be thoroughly rooted in objective fact, is precisely the reason that it is an invalid 'theory' which is disprovable and disproved. Deontology is an even more flagrant example. I don't say this based on my 'sensibilities', but a basic recognition of a contradiction between the theory and both rationality and itself.

Philosophy is incredibly important, to my mind. But I think they're more of the mind that Johnson had a better point than Berkeley:

"After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, 'I refute it thus.'"

(http://en.wikipedia.org...)

I agree that generally atheists tend to react emotionally rather than respond with arguments when presented with philosophical arguments which challenge their presuppositions. What relevance does kicking a rock have to the existence of an underlying substance of the universe? It is nothing but a display of emotion, which is surely only convincing to those who have not considered or properly listened to the opposing opinion, but rather rejected it right away.
"Logic is the money of the mind." - Karl Marx
unitedandy
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12/27/2014 5:24:43 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/27/2014 1:01:06 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 12/26/2014 11:44:51 PM, unitedandy wrote:
It seems to a trend, certainly amongst high-profile atheist popularisers (Dawkins, Atkins, Krauss, Harris, etc) to promote something along the lines of scientism - roughly speaking, the view that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge that there is, to the exclusion of other areas of inquiry. In particular, this antagonism for other disciplines seems to have been directed at philosophy. Atkins, for example, makes the general statement that philosophy is waste of time.

Assuming this represent a large section of atheist views, has mainstream atheism basically conceded even the veneer of reasonableness, or are Dawkins et. al correct to attack philosophy as a worthless enterprise?

I think some of the more vocal atheists who are scientists reject philosophy. Which is understandable, if unfortunate--the hard sciences often look down on the softer ones.

I'm not sure it is understandable at all, tbh. The Atkins statement above, for example, is just white noise to me. He might as well be saying rationality is a waste of time, to my ears.

But not all atheists are anti-philosophy. While I don't pretend to be a Hitchens expert, he did say:

"Philosophy begins where religion ends, just as by analogy chemistry begins where alchemy runs out, and astronomy takes the place of astrology."

Sure. Hitchens is one example (as far as I can remember), although probably not the best example, given his treatment of philosophical arguments for God is literally worse than first-year undergrad philosophy in his book. But atheists like Bill Rowe or JL Schellenberg are certainly cases of gold-standard atheist philosophers.

I guess the question is do atheists see this scientism as extremely irrational (as I do, or are they quite happy to standard shoulder to shoulder with such a view, even if, as in your case, they don't share it.


An indictment of religion, to be sure, but certainly not an indictment of philosophy.

Part of the problem with philosophy is that unlike with the "real" sciences, it's generally impossible to truly PROVE one philosophical system superior to another. Utilitarianism or Deontology? You can appeal to people's sensibilities, but you can't point to a rock and say "Well, see, that falls at 32f/s/s, therefore Utilitarianism".

I dunno if this is even true. I'll grant you that much of the time, there is no data to remove the thinking, as it were, and demand answer A as opposed to B. But there are clearly examples of devastating objections to PoV which convince the vast majority. The decline of positivism as incoherent for example, or the Gettier problem.

Moreover, I don't see how one can avoid doing philosophy at all, especially when it comes to science. Hawking's declaration that "philosophy is dead", for example, emanates from a book littered with highly contentious philosophical assumptions about philosophy of science (such as his rejection of scientific realism and so forth).

Philosophy is incredibly important, to my mind. But I think they're more of the mind that Johnson had a better point than Berkeley:

"After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, 'I refute it thus.'"

(http://en.wikipedia.org...)
bladerunner060
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12/27/2014 8:11:16 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/27/2014 5:24:43 PM, unitedandy wrote:
At 12/27/2014 1:01:06 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 12/26/2014 11:44:51 PM, unitedandy wrote:
It seems to a trend, certainly amongst high-profile atheist popularisers (Dawkins, Atkins, Krauss, Harris, etc) to promote something along the lines of scientism - roughly speaking, the view that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge that there is, to the exclusion of other areas of inquiry. In particular, this antagonism for other disciplines seems to have been directed at philosophy. Atkins, for example, makes the general statement that philosophy is waste of time.

Assuming this represent a large section of atheist views, has mainstream atheism basically conceded even the veneer of reasonableness, or are Dawkins et. al correct to attack philosophy as a worthless enterprise?

I think some of the more vocal atheists who are scientists reject philosophy. Which is understandable, if unfortunate--the hard sciences often look down on the softer ones.

I'm not sure it is understandable at all, tbh. The Atkins statement above, for example, is just white noise to me. He might as well be saying rationality is a waste of time, to my ears.

Well, I think that he'd likely differentiating between practical philosophy (the general application of reason), and Philosophy as, say, a department.

Few people realize that they use things which can be said to rely on philosophy pretty much every day. They don't think that "counts" as philosophy--they're thinking of things like treatises and the like. It's a naive view...but I think there's value in recognizing that such a view exists when people are talking about it.

But not all atheists are anti-philosophy. While I don't pretend to be a Hitchens expert, he did say:

"Philosophy begins where religion ends, just as by analogy chemistry begins where alchemy runs out, and astronomy takes the place of astrology."

Sure. Hitchens is one example (as far as I can remember), although probably not the best example, given his treatment of philosophical arguments for God is literally worse than first-year undergrad philosophy in his book. But atheists like Bill Rowe or JL Schellenberg are certainly cases of gold-standard atheist philosophers.

I guess the question is do atheists see this scientism as extremely irrational (as I do, or are they quite happy to standard shoulder to shoulder with such a view, even if, as in your case, they don't share it.

I'm not sure, of course. Personally, I LOVE philosophy.

An indictment of religion, to be sure, but certainly not an indictment of philosophy.

Part of the problem with philosophy is that unlike with the "real" sciences, it's generally impossible to truly PROVE one philosophical system superior to another. Utilitarianism or Deontology? You can appeal to people's sensibilities, but you can't point to a rock and say "Well, see, that falls at 32f/s/s, therefore Utilitarianism".

I dunno if this is even true. I'll grant you that much of the time, there is no data to remove the thinking, as it were, and demand answer A as opposed to B. But there are clearly examples of devastating objections to PoV which convince the vast majority. The decline of positivism as incoherent for example, or the Gettier problem.

Moreover, I don't see how one can avoid doing philosophy at all, especially when it comes to science. Hawking's declaration that "philosophy is dead", for example, emanates from a book littered with highly contentious philosophical assumptions about philosophy of science (such as his rejection of scientific realism and so forth).

I largely agree with you. Like I said, I'm of the opinion that a lot of this stems from a (naive, perhaps) distinction between philosophy and Philosophy, if that makes sense--there's the day to day things that I mean, c'mon, we clearly use philosophy to think about, and then there's Philosophy, with its big capital P, and it's weird theoretical trolleys.

Philosophy is incredibly important, to my mind. But I think they're more of the mind that Johnson had a better point than Berkeley:

"After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, 'I refute it thus.'"

(http://en.wikipedia.org...)

I was trying to get at that distinction with the above--I've probably still failed to get my point across.
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unitedandy
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12/28/2014 3:19:52 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/27/2014 8:11:16 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 12/27/2014 5:24:43 PM, unitedandy wrote:
At 12/27/2014 1:01:06 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 12/26/2014 11:44:51 PM, unitedandy wrote:
It seems to a trend, certainly amongst high-profile atheist popularisers (Dawkins, Atkins, Krauss, Harris, etc) to promote something along the lines of scientism - roughly speaking, the view that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge that there is, to the exclusion of other areas of inquiry. In particular, this antagonism for other disciplines seems to have been directed at philosophy. Atkins, for example, makes the general statement that philosophy is waste of time.

Assuming this represent a large section of atheist views, has mainstream atheism basically conceded even the veneer of reasonableness, or are Dawkins et. al correct to attack philosophy as a worthless enterprise?

I think some of the more vocal atheists who are scientists reject philosophy. Which is understandable, if unfortunate--the hard sciences often look down on the softer ones.

I'm not sure it is understandable at all, tbh. The Atkins statement above, for example, is just white noise to me. He might as well be saying rationality is a waste of time, to my ears.

Well, I think that he'd likely differentiating between practical philosophy (the general application of reason), and Philosophy as, say, a department.

Few people realize that they use things which can be said to rely on philosophy pretty much every day. They don't think that "counts" as philosophy--they're thinking of things like treatises and the like. It's a naive view...but I think there's value in recognizing that such a view exists when people are talking about it.

Sure, but even with your distinction, Atkins' statement (or Hawking's, Dawkins, etc) is mind-numbingly silly. Just to take 3 areas - Epistemology, Logic and Ethics. In what way are these not worthwhile intellectual pursuits? This is every bit as silly as science denial - creationism and so forth. And none of it even points out that very single person I've mentioned write on overtly philosophical topics (i.e. God). And given the breathtaking ignorance in doing so is routinely shown up, it strikes me that the above, at least in this respect are anti-intellectual.


But not all atheists are anti-philosophy. While I don't pretend to be a Hitchens expert, he did say:

"Philosophy begins where religion ends, just as by analogy chemistry begins where alchemy runs out, and astronomy takes the place of astrology."

Sure. Hitchens is one example (as far as I can remember), although probably not the best example, given his treatment of philosophical arguments for God is literally worse than first-year undergrad philosophy in his book. But atheists like Bill Rowe or JL Schellenberg are certainly cases of gold-standard atheist philosophers.

I guess the question is do atheists see this scientism as extremely irrational (as I do, or are they quite happy to standard shoulder to shoulder with such a view, even if, as in your case, they don't share it.

I'm not sure, of course. Personally, I LOVE philosophy.

An indictment of religion, to be sure, but certainly not an indictment of philosophy.

Part of the problem with philosophy is that unlike with the "real" sciences, it's generally impossible to truly PROVE one philosophical system superior to another. Utilitarianism or Deontology? You can appeal to people's sensibilities, but you can't point to a rock and say "Well, see, that falls at 32f/s/s, therefore Utilitarianism".

I dunno if this is even true. I'll grant you that much of the time, there is no data to remove the thinking, as it were, and demand answer A as opposed to B. But there are clearly examples of devastating objections to PoV which convince the vast majority. The decline of positivism as incoherent for example, or the Gettier problem.

Moreover, I don't see how one can avoid doing philosophy at all, especially when it comes to science. Hawking's declaration that "philosophy is dead", for example, emanates from a book littered with highly contentious philosophical assumptions about philosophy of science (such as his rejection of scientific realism and so forth).

I largely agree with you. Like I said, I'm of the opinion that a lot of this stems from a (naive, perhaps) distinction between philosophy and Philosophy, if that makes sense--there's the day to day things that I mean, c'mon, we clearly use philosophy to think about, and then there's Philosophy, with its big capital P, and it's weird theoretical trolleys.

Sure. I think we probably do largely agree. Conceptual cases like the trolly problem are not only vitally important, they're also shared by science in some respect (Dawkins' selfish gene comes to mind).

As for your distinction, I think if a non-scientist done the same thing, they'd be ridiculed - "sure, gravity is useful (the thing that I experience) but Gravity (its theoretical implications and so forth) plays no part in my life, or in the lives of most people". I think we'd regard this as silly, and I'm not sure we should regard these thinkers as any more reasonable, particularly given there repeated foray into philosophical territory and the ridiculous treatment of serious topics, like God or ethics, for example.

To be fair, this is entirely directed at them though. As you said, you're philosophically inclined.

Philosophy is incredibly important, to my mind. But I think they're more of the mind that Johnson had a better point than Berkeley:

"After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, 'I refute it thus.'"

(http://en.wikipedia.org...)

I was trying to get at that distinction with the above--I've probably still failed to get my point across.

This is a helpful illustration of my point, in many ways. Take the view expressed above that idealism is false. Such a view is implicit in every single one of the above thinkers. Yet, none of them have the slightest idea what reasons could be given to accept it. It boils down to this: it seems to me there are 2 options when we bring our philosophical assumptions to the table: we can be aware of them and make a concerted effort to navigate them, justify them, tease out their logical implications and so forth. Or we can be blissfully unaware, expressing uncritical and overtly unsound logic (Who designed the designer?) and so forth. The thing we can't out is opt out of philosophy - especially when discussing science, ethics, knowledge or God.
Envisage
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12/28/2014 12:46:01 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/26/2014 11:44:51 PM, unitedandy wrote:
It seems to a trend, certainly amongst high-profile atheist popularisers (Dawkins, Atkins, Krauss, Harris, etc) to promote something along the lines of scientism - roughly speaking, the view that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge that there is, to the exclusion of other areas of inquiry. In particular, this antagonism for other disciplines seems to have been directed at philosophy. Atkins, for example, makes the general statement that philosophy is waste of time.

Assuming this represent a large section of atheist views, has mainstream atheism basically conceded even the veneer of reasonableness, or are Dawkins et. al correct to attack philosophy as a worthless enterprise?

This thread should be renamed "Atheist Popularisers vs Philosophy". Shoehorning in all atheists into this bucket is quite frankly absurd. Given that "mainstream atheism" hardly reads anything written by these people and are simply atheists because they have not accepted religious beliefs then this whole topic is a joke.

It's like trying to generalise all theists by the virtue of what the handful of the most popular apologists say.

Other populat atheist writers, such as Dennet and Stephen Law are themselves philosophers, and my favorite "atheist populariser" Sean Carroll acknowledges the role philosophy plays extensively. Even Stephen Hawking who wrote "philosophy is dead" has made some philosophical concessions, such as on the notion of a theory of everything being possible.
unitedandy
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12/28/2014 2:29:21 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/28/2014 12:46:01 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 12/26/2014 11:44:51 PM, unitedandy wrote:
It seems to a trend, certainly amongst high-profile atheist popularisers (Dawkins, Atkins, Krauss, Harris, etc) to promote something along the lines of scientism - roughly speaking, the view that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge that there is, to the exclusion of other areas of inquiry. In particular, this antagonism for other disciplines seems to have been directed at philosophy. Atkins, for example, makes the general statement that philosophy is waste of time.

Assuming this represent a large section of atheist views, has mainstream atheism basically conceded even the veneer of reasonableness, or are Dawkins et. al correct to attack philosophy as a worthless enterprise?

This thread should be renamed "Atheist Popularisers vs Philosophy". Shoehorning in all atheists into this bucket is quite frankly absurd. Given that "mainstream atheism" hardly reads anything written by these people and are simply atheists because they have not accepted religious beliefs then this whole topic is a joke.

Well, a few things. First, I do explicitly mention that the post isn't directed towards all atheists (note words like "trend", for example, or you could, y'know, check my profile to see how absurd this misreading is). Also, I mention (again explicitly) that atheist popularisers are my target in the post (although if one were to be as pedantic, one could claim Dennett, for example is such a populariser who doesn't buy into this). Atheist popularisers of a certain stripe vs most philosophers would be a pretty clunky title, especially when the target of my post couldn't be any clearer when you read what I said.

As for me mischaracterising mainstream atheism, this seems ridiculous. If the majority of atheists don't read these authors regarding atheism (or any other), why would I be engaging them? They (at least as you describe them) have no interest in academic atheism, and probably nothing much to engage with from this perspective anyway. Indeed, if I were to engage these people and criticise atheism, I'd probably be accused of straw-manning atheism. I'm attacking the most intellectually respectable brand of this kind of atheism, as well as the most vocal members of the atheist community in general.

As for people actually interested, Dawkins and Harris are bestsellers, while typical traditional atheist books (including very good ones, like Oppy or Schellenberg) reach almost nowhere outside universities. So, yeah, in terms of relevant, interested atheists, Dawkins et. al are mainstream.


It's like trying to generalise all theists by the virtue of what the handful of the most popular apologists say.

Attacking Christianity (or some prevalent belief in the movement) by attacking WLC, Plantinga and Moreland for example would be fair game, especially if one were to qualify this in the post the way I have in this post.

Other populat atheist writers, such as Dennet and Stephen Law are themselves philosophers, and my favorite "atheist populariser" Sean Carroll acknowledges the role philosophy plays extensively. Even Stephen Hawking who wrote "philosophy is dead" has made some philosophical concessions, such as on the notion of a theory of everything being possible.

The irony is Stephen Law, for example, completely agrees with me. He debated Atkins on this. Afterwards, he noted in his blog that while Atkins may be competent in the chemistry lab, outside of it, he's not that bright (if not an exact quote from Law, it's pretty close). Sean Carroll has also written blog posts making pretty much the same point - scientism is absurd.

As for Hawking, I agree he makes philosophical concessions. So does every single one of these authors when pressed. That's the problem. That they make these absurd, sweeping statements at all is pretty bad. Doing so in some cases, after repeatedly being called on them, is just psuedo-intellectualism. By all means, disagree/disavow them. If you as are atheist, and find this position absurd, fair enough (I do). That, after all, was my whole point.
Envisage
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12/28/2014 2:59:45 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/28/2014 2:29:21 PM, unitedandy wrote:
At 12/28/2014 12:46:01 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 12/26/2014 11:44:51 PM, unitedandy wrote:
It seems to a trend, certainly amongst high-profile atheist popularisers (Dawkins, Atkins, Krauss, Harris, etc) to promote something along the lines of scientism - roughly speaking, the view that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge that there is, to the exclusion of other areas of inquiry. In particular, this antagonism for other disciplines seems to have been directed at philosophy. Atkins, for example, makes the general statement that philosophy is waste of time.

Assuming this represent a large section of atheist views, has mainstream atheism basically conceded even the veneer of reasonableness, or are Dawkins et. al correct to attack philosophy as a worthless enterprise?

This thread should be renamed "Atheist Popularisers vs Philosophy". Shoehorning in all atheists into this bucket is quite frankly absurd. Given that "mainstream atheism" hardly reads anything written by these people and are simply atheists because they have not accepted religious beliefs then this whole topic is a joke.

Well, a few things. First, I do explicitly mention that the post isn't directed towards all atheists (note words like "trend", for example, or you could, y'know, check my profile to see how absurd this misreading is). Also, I mention (again explicitly) that atheist popularisers are my target in the post (although if one were to be as pedantic, one could claim Dennett, for example is such a populariser who doesn't buy into this). Atheist popularisers of a certain stripe vs most philosophers would be a pretty clunky title, especially when the target of my post couldn't be any clearer when you read what I said.

Barbed & Provocative title to save clunkiness, fair enough. I personally don't care much what your profile says, I myself reserve harsh criticisms for the majority of "mainstream atheists" (as you have defined), such as the notion of moral realism, etc. Thus my reading of the topic's intentions isn't prima facie absurd.

As for me mischaracterising mainstream atheism, this seems ridiculous. If the majority of atheists don't read these authors regarding atheism (or any other), why would I be engaging them?

Because the topic directly engages all atheists... The topic is general, and no you do not attempt to narrow it down within your post, as you only make it an observation when you regard the "trend". Note that I hadn't read a single popular atheism book when I first joined DDO, for whatever that anecdote is worth.

They (at least as you describe them) have no interest in academic atheism, and probably nothing much to engage with from this perspective anyway.

Yet the topic addresses them...

Indeed, if I were to engage these people and criticise atheism, I'd probably be accused of straw-manning atheism. I'm attacking the most intellectually respectable brand of this kind of atheism, as well as the most vocal members of the atheist community in general.

I am not convinced "reading popular atheist books" qualifies one as "most intellectually respectable". But fair enough, given that the same can be said of virtually any topic.

As for people actually interested, Dawkins and Harris are bestsellers, while typical traditional atheist books (including very good ones, like Oppy or Schellenberg) reach almost nowhere outside universities. So, yeah, in terms of relevant, interested atheists, Dawkins et. al are mainstream.

Been meaning to read Oppy... I came across a couple of his papers when reading about modal cosmological arguments... Any recommendations?

It's like trying to generalise all theists by the virtue of what the handful of the most popular apologists say.

Attacking Christianity (or some prevalent belief in the movement) by attacking WLC, Plantinga and Moreland for example would be fair game, especially if one were to qualify this in the post the way I have in this post.

Couldn't disagree more. You have to directly attack the reasons why people believe what they believe to change their minds, and to my mind very, very few theists believe in God because of what these authors wrote. Perhaps the same isn't true for atheism because it's pretty clear the writings of Dawkins et al. have certainly had some influence on the decline on religiosity (although how much of a contribution I am not sure).

Other populat atheist writers, such as Dennet and Stephen Law are themselves philosophers, and my favorite "atheist populariser" Sean Carroll acknowledges the role philosophy plays extensively. Even Stephen Hawking who wrote "philosophy is dead" has made some philosophical concessions, such as on the notion of a theory of everything being possible.

The irony is Stephen Law, for example, completely agrees with me. He debated Atkins on this. Afterwards, he noted in his blog that while Atkins may be competent in the chemistry lab, outside of it, he's not that bright (if not an exact quote from Law, it's pretty close). Sean Carroll has also written blog posts making pretty much the same point - scientism is absurd.

Can't find much to disagree with here.

As for Hawking, I agree he makes philosophical concessions. So does every single one of these authors when pressed. That's the problem. That they make these absurd, sweeping statements at all is pretty bad. Doing so in some cases, after repeatedly being called on them, is just psuedo-intellectualism. By all means, disagree/disavow them. If you as are atheist, and find this position absurd, fair enough (I do). That, after all, was my whole point.

I only disagreed with shoehorning atheists into an absurd topic. There is a reason why II no longer make general sweeping topics anymore. It may be good for rhetoric (there is a reason why Dawkins et al. Are best sellers while other, much more sound anti-religious writings are nowhere near as impactful), but it doesn't seem very honest.
Wocambs
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12/29/2014 5:34:35 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/26/2014 11:44:51 PM, unitedandy wrote:
It seems to a trend, certainly amongst high-profile atheist popularisers (Dawkins, Atkins, Krauss, Harris, etc) to promote something along the lines of scientism - roughly speaking, the view that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge that there is, to the exclusion of other areas of inquiry. In particular, this antagonism for other disciplines seems to have been directed at philosophy. Atkins, for example, makes the general statement that philosophy is waste of time.

Assuming this represent a large section of atheist views, has mainstream atheism basically conceded even the veneer of reasonableness, or are Dawkins et. al correct to attack philosophy as a worthless enterprise?

The reason they attack philosophy is because it appears to be metaphysical, I think. Plenty of philosophers have concluded that philosophy does nothing more than clarify what experience gives us, which such atheists would hardly oppose, if only they would bother to read some Hume, Ayer, etc.
johnlubba
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12/29/2014 8:02:34 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/27/2014 5:24:43 PM, unitedandy wrote:
At 12/27/2014 1:01:06 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 12/26/2014 11:44:51 PM, unitedandy wrote:
It seems to a trend, certainly amongst high-profile atheist popularisers (Dawkins, Atkins, Krauss, Harris, etc) to promote something along the lines of scientism - roughly speaking, the view that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge that there is, to the exclusion of other areas of inquiry. In particular, this antagonism for other disciplines seems to have been directed at philosophy. Atkins, for example, makes the general statement that philosophy is waste of time.

Assuming this represent a large section of atheist views, has mainstream atheism basically conceded even the veneer of reasonableness, or are Dawkins et. al correct to attack philosophy as a worthless enterprise?

I think some of the more vocal atheists who are scientists reject philosophy. Which is understandable, if unfortunate--the hard sciences often look down on the softer ones.

I'm not sure it is understandable at all, tbh. The Atkins statement above, for example, is just white noise to me. He might as well be saying rationality is a waste of time, to my ears.

I am a theist and have respect for atheists such as Hitchens, Harris, and others, but Atkins has to be one of the most pompous and most ridiculous of all lest we forget Dawkins.

But not all atheists are anti-philosophy. While I don't pretend to be a Hitchens expert, he did say:

"Philosophy begins where religion ends, just as by analogy chemistry begins where alchemy runs out, and astronomy takes the place of astrology."

Sure. Hitchens is one example (as far as I can remember), although probably not the best example, given his treatment of philosophical arguments for God is literally worse than first-year undergrad philosophy in his book. But atheists like Bill Rowe or JL Schellenberg are certainly cases of gold-standard atheist philosophers.

I guess the question is do atheists see this scientism as extremely irrational (as I do, or are they quite happy to standard shoulder to shoulder with such a view, even if, as in your case, they don't share it.



An indictment of religion, to be sure, but certainly not an indictment of philosophy.

Part of the problem with philosophy is that unlike with the "real" sciences, it's generally impossible to truly PROVE one philosophical system superior to another. Utilitarianism or Deontology? You can appeal to people's sensibilities, but you can't point to a rock and say "Well, see, that falls at 32f/s/s, therefore Utilitarianism".

I dunno if this is even true. I'll grant you that much of the time, there is no data to remove the thinking, as it were, and demand answer A as opposed to B. But there are clearly examples of devastating objections to PoV which convince the vast majority. The decline of positivism as incoherent for example, or the Gettier problem.

Moreover, I don't see how one can avoid doing philosophy at all, especially when it comes to science. Hawking's declaration that "philosophy is dead", for example, emanates from a book littered with highly contentious philosophical assumptions about philosophy of science (such as his rejection of scientific realism and so forth).

Philosophy is incredibly important, to my mind. But I think they're more of the mind that Johnson had a better point than Berkeley:

"After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, 'I refute it thus.'"

(http://en.wikipedia.org...)
wrichcirw
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12/29/2014 11:44:38 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/27/2014 1:04:26 PM, Danielle wrote:
At 12/26/2014 11:44:51 PM, unitedandy wrote:
It seems to a trend, certainly amongst high-profile atheist popularisers (Dawkins, Atkins, Krauss, Harris, etc) to promote something along the lines of scientism - roughly speaking, the view that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge that there is, to the exclusion of other areas of inquiry. In particular, this antagonism for other disciplines seems to have been directed at philosophy. Atkins, for example, makes the general statement that philosophy is waste of time.

Assuming this represent a large section of atheist views, has mainstream atheism basically conceded even the veneer of reasonableness, or are Dawkins et. al correct to attack philosophy as a worthless enterprise?

Philosophy is intrinsic to almost every other discipline. I think the difference between philosophical inquiries and the sciences is that the latter emphasizes what you can prove while philosophy focuses on what is possible. For instance a logical argument in philosophy can be valid but not sound. That's helpful but incredibly limited in terms of describing reality. Whereas philosophy is not only useful but imperative to figuring out the way the world works, the hard sciences attempt to go further by using process of elimination and the scientific method to verify particular philosophical claims. I think they are equally paramount to each other. Without the philosophical inquiry, the search or analytics of the scientific research would probably be moot.

This is really close to an answer I would have given.

I think another way to state it is that philosophy asks the questions, and science attempts to answer them.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
wrichcirw
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12/29/2014 11:50:25 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/27/2014 1:01:06 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:

Part of the problem with philosophy is that unlike with the "real" sciences, it's generally impossible to truly PROVE one philosophical system superior to another. Utilitarianism or Deontology? You can appeal to people's sensibilities, but you can't point to a rock and say "Well, see, that falls at 32f/s/s, therefore Utilitarianism".

I don't think science aims to prove anything either...there are no concrete assertions in science. You really can't point to a rock and say that it "falls" 32f/s/s...you can't even say the rock is "falling" at all...

Science, like philosophy, works at a certain level and provides an operating explanation or methodology for whatever task requires one. That level has superseded religion as you pointed out, but is by no means definitive...indeed a principle tenant of science is that no scientific principle is definitive.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
unitedandy
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12/30/2014 3:08:19 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/28/2014 2:59:45 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 12/28/2014 2:29:21 PM, unitedandy wrote:
At 12/28/2014 12:46:01 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 12/26/2014 11:44:51 PM, unitedandy wrote:
It seems to a trend, certainly amongst high-profile atheist popularisers (Dawkins, Atkins, Krauss, Harris, etc) to promote something along the lines of scientism - roughly speaking, the view that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge that there is, to the exclusion of other areas of inquiry. In particular, this antagonism for other disciplines seems to have been directed at philosophy. Atkins, for example, makes the general statement that philosophy is waste of time.

Assuming this represent a large section of atheist views, has mainstream atheism basically conceded even the veneer of reasonableness, or are Dawkins et. al correct to attack philosophy as a worthless enterprise?

This thread should be renamed "Atheist Popularisers vs Philosophy". Shoehorning in all atheists into this bucket is quite frankly absurd. Given that "mainstream atheism" hardly reads anything written by these people and are simply atheists because they have not accepted religious beliefs then this whole topic is a joke.

Well, a few things. First, I do explicitly mention that the post isn't directed towards all atheists (note words like "trend", for example, or you could, y'know, check my profile to see how absurd this misreading is). Also, I mention (again explicitly) that atheist popularisers are my target in the post (although if one were to be as pedantic, one could claim Dennett, for example is such a populariser who doesn't buy into this). Atheist popularisers of a certain stripe vs most philosophers would be a pretty clunky title, especially when the target of my post couldn't be any clearer when you read what I said.

Barbed & Provocative title to save clunkiness, fair enough. I personally don't care much what your profile says, I myself reserve harsh criticisms for the majority of "mainstream atheists" (as you have defined), such as the notion of moral realism, etc. Thus my reading of the topic's intentions isn't prima facie absurd.

Provocative? Meh, not really. Barbed? Just no.

Your reading ignores the initial post, where I closely define who I'm talking about (i.e. those atheists who do have antipathy towards philosophy).

As for me mischaracterising mainstream atheism, this seems ridiculous. If the majority of atheists don't read these authors regarding atheism (or any other), why would I be engaging them?

Because the topic directly engages all atheists... The topic is general, and no you do not attempt to narrow it down within your post, as you only make it an observation when you regard the "trend". Note that I hadn't read a single popular atheism book when I first joined DDO, for whatever that anecdote is worth.

I specifically mention scientism as my target. If that represents almost no-one within the atheist community, good. Although it does represent the most popular authors. There's also very popular skeptical blogs which run along similar lines. So, I think it is worth engaging with for the that reason alone.

They (at least as you describe them) have no interest in academic atheism, and probably nothing much to engage with from this perspective anyway.

Yet the topic addresses them...

Indeed, if I were to engage these people and criticise atheism, I'd probably be accused of straw-manning atheism. I'm attacking the most intellectually respectable brand of this kind of atheism, as well as the most vocal members of the atheist community in general.

I am not convinced "reading popular atheist books" qualifies one as "most intellectually respectable". But fair enough, given that the same can be said of virtually any topic.

I'm not attacking people reading the books per se (although if they agree with scientism, then sure). I'm more interested in the authors.

As for people actually interested, Dawkins and Harris are bestsellers, while typical traditional atheist books (including very good ones, like Oppy or Schellenberg) reach almost nowhere outside universities. So, yeah, in terms of relevant, interested atheists, Dawkins et. al are mainstream.

Been meaning to read Oppy... I came across a couple of his papers when reading about modal cosmological arguments... Any recommendations?

Arguing against Gods is really interesting from what I've read. He's supposed to be somewhat of an authority on the ontological argument, but I've not read his stuff on that yet.

It's like trying to generalise all theists by the virtue of what the handful of the most popular apologists say.

Attacking Christianity (or some prevalent belief in the movement) by attacking WLC, Plantinga and Moreland for example would be fair game, especially if one were to qualify this in the post the way I have in this post.

Couldn't disagree more. You have to directly attack the reasons why people believe what they believe to change their minds, and to my mind very, very few theists believe in God because of what these authors wrote. Perhaps the same isn't true for atheism because it's pretty clear the writings of Dawkins et al. have certainly had some influence on the decline on religiosity (although how much of a contribution I am not sure).


Well, the reasons given by WLC et. al is what I meant, at least if the intellectual case for theism is the target.
Other populat atheist writers, such as Dennet and Stephen Law are themselves philosophers, and my favorite "atheist populariser" Sean Carroll acknowledges the role philosophy plays extensively. Even Stephen Hawking who wrote "philosophy is dead" has made some philosophical concessions, such as on the notion of a theory of everything being possible.

The irony is Stephen Law, for example, completely agrees with me. He debated Atkins on this. Afterwards, he noted in his blog that while Atkins may be competent in the chemistry lab, outside of it, he's not that bright (if not an exact quote from Law, it's pretty close). Sean Carroll has also written blog posts making pretty much the same point - scientism is absurd.

Can't find much to disagree with here.

As for Hawking, I agree he makes philosophical concessions. So does every single one of these authors when pressed. That's the problem. That they make these absurd, sweeping statements at all is pretty bad. Doing so in some cases, after repeatedly being called on them, is just psuedo-intellectualism. By all means, disagree/disavow them. If you as are atheist, and find this position absurd, fair enough (I do). That, after all, was my whole point.

I only disagreed with shoehorning atheists into an absurd topic. There is a reason why II no longer make general sweeping topics anymore. It may be good for rhetoric (there is a reason why Dawkins et al. Are best sellers while other, much more sound anti-religious writings are nowhere near as impactful), but it doesn't seem very honest.

Sure, I did clarify which atheists (those advocating some kind of scientism), but yeah, agree.
unitedandy
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12/30/2014 3:11:08 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/27/2014 1:04:26 PM, Danielle wrote:
At 12/26/2014 11:44:51 PM, unitedandy wrote:
It seems to a trend, certainly amongst high-profile atheist popularisers (Dawkins, Atkins, Krauss, Harris, etc) to promote something along the lines of scientism - roughly speaking, the view that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge that there is, to the exclusion of other areas of inquiry. In particular, this antagonism for other disciplines seems to have been directed at philosophy. Atkins, for example, makes the general statement that philosophy is waste of time.

Assuming this represent a large section of atheist views, has mainstream atheism basically conceded even the veneer of reasonableness, or are Dawkins et. al correct to attack philosophy as a worthless enterprise?

Philosophy is intrinsic to almost every other discipline. I think the difference between philosophical inquiries and the sciences is that the latter emphasizes what you can prove while philosophy focuses on what is possible. For instance a logical argument in philosophy can be valid but not sound. That's helpful but incredibly limited in terms of describing reality. Whereas philosophy is not only useful but imperative to figuring out the way the world works, the hard sciences attempt to go further by using process of elimination and the scientific method to verify particular philosophical claims. I think they are equally paramount to each other. Without the philosophical inquiry, the search or analytics of the scientific research would probably be moot.

I'd probably be slightly more dogmatic about philosophy ( I think there are usual projects one could entertain without science, while I'd completely dispute the reverse is true), but generally, I totally agree.
Mhykiel
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1/1/2015 9:37:30 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/27/2014 1:04:26 PM, Danielle wrote:
At 12/26/2014 11:44:51 PM, unitedandy wrote:
It seems to a trend, certainly amongst high-profile atheist popularisers (Dawkins, Atkins, Krauss, Harris, etc) to promote something along the lines of scientism - roughly speaking, the view that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge that there is, to the exclusion of other areas of inquiry. In particular, this antagonism for other disciplines seems to have been directed at philosophy. Atkins, for example, makes the general statement that philosophy is waste of time.

Assuming this represent a large section of atheist views, has mainstream atheism basically conceded even the veneer of reasonableness, or are Dawkins et. al correct to attack philosophy as a worthless enterprise?

Philosophy is intrinsic to almost every other discipline. I think the difference between philosophical inquiries and the sciences is that the latter emphasizes what you can prove while philosophy focuses on what is possible. For instance a logical argument in philosophy can be valid but not sound. That's helpful but incredibly limited in terms of describing reality. Whereas philosophy is not only useful but imperative to figuring out the way the world works, the hard sciences attempt to go further by using process of elimination and the scientific method to verify particular philosophical claims. I think they are equally paramount to each other. Without the philosophical inquiry, the search or analytics of the scientific research would probably be moot.

But science is not a deductive technique. It takes highly controlled experiments of limited variables to conclude universal truths. The specific to the general. It is an inductive technique.

induction can't prove anything. Hence why Science changes it's descriptions of reality all the time. How can Science "prove" one thing in the 1800's and then say it's over turned in the 1900's because Science now "proves" something else. Sounds like a great system to build a solid world view on.

But I digress. Philosophy is the root to these disciplines. Militant Atheist just want to get rid of any definition, any argument, any philosophy, anything and everything that could lead to supporting a belief in God/s. Even if it means shooting themselves in the foot.
TheAnonymousTipster
Posts: 97
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1/2/2015 12:20:49 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
I personally feel philosophy is treated way too seriously by most. I think of it more like a combination of insight and poetry... A brain exercise of sorts... It makes me laugh that it's a professional field and you can be 'taught' philosophy, or rather that anyone should even feel the need to learn it. Nope, never seem any real complexity to it, maybe I just get it?

I consider myself a philosopher, just based on the amount of times I've caught myself thinking deeply about all sorts of issues and world views and trying to come up with specific ways to treat them that work well... But then I remember it doesn't really matter because philosophy is kinda hard to share with stupid people...
socialpinko
Posts: 10,458
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1/4/2015 5:07:22 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/26/2014 11:44:51 PM, unitedandy wrote:
It seems to a trend, certainly amongst high-profile atheist popularisers (Dawkins, Atkins, Krauss, Harris, etc) to promote something along the lines of scientism - roughly speaking, the view that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge that there is, to the exclusion of other areas of inquiry. In particular, this antagonism for other disciplines seems to have been directed at philosophy. Atkins, for example, makes the general statement that philosophy is waste of time.

Assuming this represent a large section of atheist views, has mainstream atheism basically conceded even the veneer of reasonableness, or are Dawkins et. al correct to attack philosophy as a worthless enterprise?

I don't think it represents a large section of these views, but even if it did- to take that as a concession that any real ideological or structural antagonism exists between the two would be an overstatement. Lightly surveying the field of contemporary (or even as far back as post-WWII) philosophy reveals that atheism (or better stated: lack of transcendental religious ideology) is taken basically as a given in many domains. There's little reference to religion in analytic philosophy of mind, Anglo-American (professional) political philosophy, poststructuralist (or postmodern) philosophy, even the vaguely self-help style of Socratic therapeutic philosophy. It's just not there unless one is explicitly dealing with philosophy of religion (which is boring anyways so who cares).

The problem is not atheism vs. philosophy but a specific type of atheist philosophy that is as loud as it is ignorant. It puts non-philosophers (Dawkins a scientist, Harris a Fox News-esque neoconservative writer, Krauss a scientist, Hitchens a journalist and former activist, etc.) in a position to comment on philosophy from the standpoint of an already-existing polemic (atheism vs. religion or whatever). Philosophy (or philosophies at odds with their particular brand of positivist-populist-anti-theology) as a discipline is simply roped into the fight. And the same goes true for philosophies more grounded in opposition to the racism, Islamophobia, and imperialistic discourses propagated by these people. Atheism isn't opposed to the weak-asss philosophy of Dawkins and company, nor is it supportive. It's too broad of an idea to concern itself with smaller issues like humanism/anti-humanism, neo-conservatism/leftist liberation, or positivism/poststructuralism. New Atheists are just too dense to be philosophically rigorous and too loud in propagating their intellectually lazy doctrines.

But as to yer last question (whether philosophy is a waste of time measured against Dawkins-esque neo-positivism), it depends on what ideological camp you consider yerself a part of. I personally see that type of philosophy as a complete joke which maintains itself in ignorance of contemporary (or even textbook historical) developments in philosophy and in world history. I distance myself from some types of philosophy (and to be sure the "New Atheists" propensity to draw up a picture of philosophy as academically monolithic is flawed and against symptomatic of their own ignorance) but philosophy as an enterprise has more worth than these people bother themselves to see.
: At 9/29/2014 10:55:59 AM, imabench wrote:
: : At 9/29/2014 9:43:46 AM, kbub wrote:
: :
: : DDO should discredit support of sexual violence at any time and in every way.
:
: I disagree.
socialpinko
Posts: 10,458
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1/4/2015 5:23:28 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/27/2014 1:01:06 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:

Part of the problem with philosophy is that unlike with the "real" sciences, it's generally impossible to truly PROVE one philosophical system superior to another. Utilitarianism or Deontology? You can appeal to people's sensibilities, but you can't point to a rock and say "Well, see, that falls at 32f/s/s, therefore Utilitarianism".

The problem is that people go into philosophy expecting it to replicate the hard sciences. And to be sure there are philosophical doctrines compatible with the principles which modern science regulates itself by. But those ones are boring and you shouldn't bother yerself with them. Proving stuff is pretty much way overrated. Much lame philosophy has been written around trying to prove syllogystically *why* we shouldn't kill each other or why we it's better to push the fat guy. But beyond either reinforcing our own moral principles or fancying hypothetical situations that will never happen and will never be used as inputs in our personal moral calculus', they don't mean much. The best philosophy is the philosophy which isn't trying to prove anything. Whether it's up front about it's moral, political, or ideological background and affiliation (Foucault and Deleuze not only admit of their biases but situate their philosophies as attempts to construct and realize them) or simply incorporates a vaguely systematic analysis of social relations and trends (Lyotard is great here), philosophy is best and most insightful when it treats the reader like an actual person. Philosophy is best when instead of proving things you already believe or bellying in the pits of intellectual masturbation it draws connection, incites synapses- when instead of trying to build a tower of knowledge it allows itself to have fun simply observing the towers we've already built.
: At 9/29/2014 10:55:59 AM, imabench wrote:
: : At 9/29/2014 9:43:46 AM, kbub wrote:
: :
: : DDO should discredit support of sexual violence at any time and in every way.
:
: I disagree.
Accipiter
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1/5/2015 4:33:20 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/26/2014 11:44:51 PM, unitedandy wrote:
It seems to a trend, certainly amongst high-profile atheist popularisers (Dawkins, Atkins, Krauss, Harris, etc) to promote something along the lines of scientism - roughly speaking, the view that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge that there is, to the exclusion of other areas of inquiry. In particular, this antagonism for other disciplines seems to have been directed at philosophy. Atkins, for example, makes the general statement that philosophy is waste of time.

Assuming this represent a large section of atheist views, has mainstream atheism basically conceded even the veneer of reasonableness, or are Dawkins et. al correct to attack philosophy as a worthless enterprise?

Do you have a link to the article where you read this?

I would be surprised if scientists and or atheists were anti-philosophy as a resultant characteristic, in fact my experience has been completely the opposite.
TrueScotsman
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1/5/2015 7:46:38 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/26/2014 11:44:51 PM, unitedandy wrote:
It seems to a trend, certainly amongst high-profile atheist popularisers (Dawkins, Atkins, Krauss, Harris, etc) to promote something along the lines of scientism - roughly speaking, the view that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge that there is, to the exclusion of other areas of inquiry. In particular, this antagonism for other disciplines seems to have been directed at philosophy. Atkins, for example, makes the general statement that philosophy is waste of time.

Assuming this represent a large section of atheist views, has mainstream atheism basically conceded even the veneer of reasonableness, or are Dawkins et. al correct to attack philosophy as a worthless enterprise?

It's basically logical positivism, often expressed in this way. When we were children, we needed religion, growing up we needed philosophy and now that we are grown we use science.

This strong form of scientism is indeed pervasive amongst anti-theists (these people regard themselves more by this label). It is a form of empiricism, that has been pretty much refuted, but of course these men don't have any real education when it comes to philosophy. It seems ironic that they use their assumed philosophy of science to attack philosophy, as if philosophy only dealt with metaphysics. Epistemology is necessary in order to do science.