Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Grant MacEwan Philosophy Video

Insofar as I want to return to Canada in all honestly, I beset myself the challenge of reviewing all the philosophy programs in Western Canada--basically BC and Alberta. My goal was only to look at how they fare now, teaching expertise and the like. After a google search, I found this video on youtube. My hat is off to MacEwan for what honestly are all my reasons for studying philosophy on a personal level.

However, this brings me to another question. Will departments have to pitch these types of videos in the future as more and more university decisions about funding relate to the instrumental gain over the intrinsic value philosophy possesses on its own? Only time will tell.


Anonymous said...

The intrinsic value of philosophy is not real. You made it up. It doesn't have any value to many other people, therefore, it does not have intrinsic value.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I didn't know that non-philosophers couldn't think. Thanks!

Carbondale Chasmite said...

The assertion of a claim about value is not an argument for why we should think that philosophy doesn't have intrinsic value, let alone other things. By the same token, my asking the question presupposes it does without argument. So, let me just hint at my reasoning for why I asked the claim. Here's a thought experiment. Imagine that you have the choice between taking an entire picture album of all your memories growing up or taking a flashlight with some food during the aftermath of an earthquake in California. Like philosophy, the picture album has no value to others, yet does it hold that really means you wouldn't take the photo album documenting all the memories of your childhood? If you think about it, emergency services will be by and perhaps you won't be without for very long.

And well, it is not to say that non-philosophers cannot think. However, there is a lot of quantitative data to suggest that any major (not just philosophy) majors that engage in structural reasoning about abstract ideas (like physics, history, or philosophy) fare better in ways than the more popular career-relevant majors like business, finance or accounting. Moreover, anecdotal experience suggests that more undergraduate majors go on to postgraduate education than other majors, and to top it off, the social psychological data on things like confirmation bias about how people normally think indicates a huge lack in critical thinking skills normally emphasized in the most basic introductory philosophy classes. There is something to say about training one's mind to think deductively or reflectively about traditional big questions. So yeah, I'll bite the bullet and say that philosophy majors are usually better thinkers than their peers on average.

Anonymous said...

Sentimental value is not the same as intrinsic value. If something is genuinely intrinsically valuable, it will be valuable to everyone (i.e. pleasure).

Also, just b/c philosophers think better, this does not mean that this has anything to do with any courses but introductory logic/critical thinking.

Maybe everyone should take those courses. It's not clear that the others have a great influence on thinking in general.

So, it's not clear that being able to read Descartes and think about his arguments and ideas critically will help you figure out which stocks to buy.

Carbondale Chasmite said...

Well the benefit of all philosophy is in the idea of transferable skills. You must see that abstracting Descartes' arguments and symbolizing comes from logic and critical thinking courses. Its not like the skills are only practiced in the course that shares in their namesake.

I am not a value monist when it comes to subsuming all value into one type of conception (pleasure), and I'll not presuppose how it is that you are using the term sentimental value. If by sentimental value you mean the emotional connection I have with an object that makes it more than the sum of its parts, then why can't this sentimental value be agent-neutral intrinsic value. Might not a huge majority of people say that given their reasoning for taking the two objects in the thought experiment, they'd give utterances like "I wanted to remember the house we grew up in" or "I wanted memories of my now dead sister." All these instances vary but underneath them is the fact that pictures of one's life are intrinsically valuable. That's the source of reasons they'll give for taking the album over the food and flashlight.

To have intrinsic value, we need only have reasons that share in common appraisal of a practice.

Anonymous said...

The pictures aren't intrinsically valuable, the memories are. The pictures are by definition not intrinsically valuable because they are valuable by reference to something else (thus, not in and of themselves).

But even if you think the memories have intrinsic value, this does not mean they do, or at least that they have a lot of it. But instead of talking about childhood memories, how about philosophy.

Is the intrinsic value enough to justify years of study? Probably not. That's why you added the skills you get from it in justification of studying philosophy. If a cop pulls you over and you say you haven't been drinking, and then you add... "and I'm only going a few block", this latter reason seems to admit the lack of plausibility of your earlier reason (as it does in this case).

Abstract thinking skills may very well be transferable (though you present no evidence). My argument is, why not study the abstract things you actually plan on spending your life working on (i.e. business concepts, etc.)?

Why not cut the middle-discipline - so to speak?

Carbondale Chasmite said...

First, intrinsic value is not a property to be settled between being a property in the world as belonging to the picture, or a property in the mind as belonging to something called memory. For me, this division doesn't even exist between mind and world, subject and object (This stems from Husserl and Heidegger sharing that the starting point of describing the world follows from intentionality). And as I said, to have intrinsic value is to share in common appraisal of practice to the point that you and others have the same reason for acting the way you do. Intrinsic value is therefore a recognition of the reason why people value pictures inasmuch as people ought to value health in various ways.

Intrinsic value is, indeed, motivating. Ask a nun who prays on her needs till they bleed whether or not it was enough for her intrinsically valuable relationship with God to devote a life to Him. Ask a painter who is starving in the streets of Vancouver whether or not the sacrifice of living a destitute life for the intrinsic value of artistic pursuit is reason enough for acting? The point is that there are people, very much like me, that don't think in terms of business concepts or what I am going to get from X. Indeed, I adopt those reasons as to why I justify philosophical study to those type of people, but there are people in this world that are motivated by ideals that are practiced for their own reward. Sounds rather bizarre to the instrumental conception of value that underlies profit motives in the business world.

Well, I'm going to spend my life reading, writing, teaching and researching philosophy. I don't intend to have any other goal in mind, and I think of my reasons for choosing philosophy are nothing more than philosophizing being its own reward.

I should point out that by asking questions you aren't arguing anything in the strict philosophical sense. You're merely asking questions.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know a philosophical position was justified by you just stating it and where it came from. But okay.

I see what you mean by intrinsic value, but clearly it's not enough for most people (quite reasonably I think. They want to be happy, have time for leisure, etc.). You haven't said why the instrumental conception of value is wrong after all. You just presented it in a bad light. Also, there's no reason why a business person cannot value things intrinsically, perhaps even philosophy. They just don't waste their whole life on such an unproductive activity. They aren't as self-indulgent as others. That seems perfectly reasonable to me.

If you're talking about nuns and street performers, well, they're not well funded. There seems to me no reason why you deserve money they do not receive.

What percentage of your income do you plan on giving to charity. After all, it's not like you're not wealthy in intrinsic value.

Carbondale Chasmite said...

First, it is common to say where one's intellectual commitments are in either using a philosophical label or saying where one finds agreement with past authors. If that is what I am doing, it does not follow that I need an argument per se. For certain, there are arguments. Heidegger has a long sustained treatment in Being and Time of these issues, and I can explain both them and why I think they are true over other objections. However, for now, we've been talking about what my proposed conception of intrinsic value is, and whether or not this conception of intrinsic value is undermined by business-like instrumental rationality.

In a way, you've already indicated implicitly how threatening it is to think of intrinsic value. According to you, it is beyond the pale to even think that people might be motivated by ideals that are not "a waste" and "their whole life" would consist in "unproductive activity." You esteem business people as not "as self-indulgent as others" , which I can only gather that I am that "other."

Do you expect me to respond to an implicit ad hominem? I mean, perhaps, this is just one of those times where I can chalk up difference to socialization and hope that someday you might see things from my perspective. But that's just it. Philosophers are devoted to the possible search for truth that wants to move beyond thinking there are individuated perspectives, but that we can seek out a perspective common to both of us through a sustained dialogue about a problem or issue by providing reasons to each other that might hopefully convince us both. Many are incapable or unwilling to move beyond their own perspective for this type of dialogue. I don't know if your such a person. The world is filled with people that think their perspective is "perfectly reasonable" and get by on mere assertion alone.

If philosophy or the humanities, or a deep devotion to something that is unproductive strikes you as off beat, then stop talking to a philosopher or posting on a philosophy blog in a vain attempt at not being philosophical. Money was never an issue. But realize that life is filled with people that do things for reasons that do not presuppose the validity of how things are economically, but question it. For a good sustained piece on this, see Charles Taylor's "Malaise of Modernity."