Talk:Philosophy/Archive 2

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A matter of esthetics

Is it only me, or does this sentence:reacting to a tragedy "philosophically" commonly means abstaining from(..) sound as ugly as I think? How about: reacting to a tragedy "in a philosophical way" commonly means(...) instead? It's just that the first one, which is still present in the article, brings up Michael Palin's (from Monty Python) voice repeating "phillo-sophi-cally" in my head.. - 08:44, 26 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Sure, go ahead and change it! Adam Conover 19:51, Apr 8, 2004 (UTC)

WikiProject Philosophy

I have started WikiProject Philosophy, an attempt to coordinate the efforts of philosophically-inclined contributors. If you are so inclined, please consider dropping by the project page, or visit the talk page to share your thoughts. Adam Conover 19:51, Apr 8, 2004 (UTC)

Origins of "philosophy"

In fact the term "philosophy" was not in use long before Plato.

I removed this sentence because its meaning is unclear, and I do not know which meaning is the correct one. Does it means that the word originated with Plato? That it appeared just before his work? Is the word "not" simply a mistake? Adam Conover 17:37, May 12, 2004 (UTC)

Any Wikipedia Sentence that starts with in fact… is almost certainly wrong. Banno 20:42, May 12, 2004 (UTC)
all generalisations are inaccurate (including yours and this one):o) --(talk)BozMo 11:43, 13 May 2004 (UTC)
You are right, of course. In fact, all sentences in the Wikipedia that start with 'in fact' are certainly wrong. Banno 08:22, May 14, 2004 (UTC)

More seriously, can we have a note that the phrase "doctorate of philosophy" has nothing to do with philosophy and is just historical usage? --(talk)BozMo 10:23, 21 May 2004 (UTC)

Philosophy is Western Philosophy?

Quote: This article deals primarily with the Western philosophic tradition; for more information on Eastern philosophies, see Eastern philosophy. This is typically what shows a problem in Wikipedia : it is mostly oriented on the West (and even on English-speaking countries). I know that it's mostly fed by people from there and that it explains why western topics are more developed, but this sentence explicitly claims that "philosophy" is a western topic, what is annoying me (and is false). Would remove the sentence or move the article to something like "Western philosophy"... (As it is now, I understand that Western philosophy is the mother and Eastern the daughter, yet it may be historically the opposite if the elder Indian philosophy is to be considered) gbog 11:43, 28 May 2004 (UTC)

Well, it doesn't explicitly claim that "philosophy" is a "Western" topic; on the contrary, it implicitly associates philosophy as such (i.e., the unmarked form) with Western philosophy. There's probably too much material to justify integration of the Eastern and Western articles, but moving the bulk of the philosophy page to "Western Philosophy" and making "Philosophy" a disambiguation page would be a reasonable solution. -- कुक्कुरोवाच|Talk‽ 17:55, May 28, 2004 (UTC)
This discussion is vital for philosophy, but this page perhaps not the best place to conduct it. - 18:09, 28 May 2004 (UTC)
Wait, which discussion, and which page? -- कुक्कुरोवाच|Talk‽ 18:19, May 28, 2004 (UTC)
I just read fully the first parts of the article and quickly the rest. It seems to me that relatively few changes and additions would make the begining of the article really general (I mean including Eastern philosophy). Adding a little bit more about political thought, government, wisdom, and "how to be happy in this cruel world" could do the job. Then, the second part of the article (after "Western and Eastern Philosophy" paragraph) could be moved to a dedicated "Western Philosophy" article. What do you think ? gbog 04:41, 29 May 2004 (UTC)
I'm not sure it's so simple. First off, the whole article is written with a clearly western slant, and I'm not sure how easy it would be to really counter that slant. Second, as it stands the flag early in the article on this being about "western" philosophy is useful because not only is the content in philosophy itself western-slanted, the links to the subdivisions of philosophy, which are the most structurally important parts of the page, mostly deal with the western versions of disciplines that, properly speaking, should encompass eastern philosophy as well, but which would take considerable time investment and expertise to integrate. I think the simpler solution, at least for the short term, is to make "philosophy" a disambiguation page. We can work toward re-integration at a later date. -- कुक्कुरोवाच|Talk‽ 05:01, May 29, 2004 (UTC)
I'm afraid that I don't share your opinion on this. Rather, I think it's precisely as simple as Gbog suggests. It seems to me that the "clear western slant" is easy to correct through use of both Eastern and Western examples, and by eliminating the offending passage mentioned by Gbog (which I've just done). Everything besides that on the page seems to appeal to the philosophical categorization scheme, to which many eastern philosophies (all of the one's I've encountered, anyway) can fit into. Separate pages on Eastern and Western philosophical traditions can be and are used to go more in depth with each. Lucidish 22:16, 17 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Page moved.

Hello, I have moved the content of this page to Western Philosophy. Western philosophy (with a small p) should also lead to the latter page. This page is serving as a disamb. page for the moment, but please feel free to expand on it from a non-axial point of view. -- Simonides 23:36, 21 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Thanks. But I think that much of what was written - what's now in "Western Philosophy" - can be salvaged, overhauled, and put into this wiki. Then "The History of Western Philosophy" can take the place of the wiki that's currently called "Western Philosophy".

Lucidish 23:41, 21 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I wholeheartedly support the move; material can certainly be reintegrated, but a fresh start will provide the opporunity to re-integrate conscientiously and be a little less distracted by the urge to compromise with the past. -- कुक्कुरोवाच|Talk‽ 00:29, 22 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Buddha quotation

Anybody know the source for that? There's a certain amount of spurious quotation out there, and it would be good to have chapter and verse on this. -- कुक्कुरोवाच|Talk‽ 20:33, 22 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Thanks for keeping me on my toes. I'll replace it with a quote from Bartleby's list of quotations. Lucidish 23:51, 22 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Ooh, I like the new version. I note this, however, from the Bartleby page: "Attributed to BUDDHA.—Life, March 7, 1955, p. 102. Unverified in his writings." ::sigh:: I'm not saying it shouldn't be here, because I'm inclined to think it's real, just that Life is lazy. But if anyonen does come across an attribution... -- कुक्कुरोवाच|Talk‽ 00:05, 23 Jun 2004 (UTC)


Hello everyone. I don't like this article much, not because it is poor - it is fairly well-written and pares down its own areas of focus quite effectively - but because it is almost entirely an Anglo-American perspective, and there are too many presumptions I am uncomfortable with, such as the statement that different traditions will eventually merge, and that the books cited are good introductions (I have browsed some of them and they are very meagre on continental philosophy, not to mention non-Western traditions.) I am sorry if I sound too critical, I appreciate the work that has gone into it so far. I haven't contributed much myself. But if it's not a problem, I think we could overhaul the article as and when we find the time. -- Simonides 02:01, 23 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Thanks for the feedback. I'll take the project on, but I need you to be specific about your criticisms. I disagree in that I don't think it'll be necessary to scrap and rewrite the whole thing, and hope I can prove that to you by some fast and furious editing (cracks knuckles).
I added a few more user-friendly books to the list, if you have any other book ideas then shout them out here or go ahead and add 'em on, especially those on the topics you mentioned.
The claim on the page was that traditions "may" merge, not necessarily that they will or have merged (though for sure there are some philosophers who would argue exactly both of those positions).
My problem with the article right now is that it smacks of elitism and I'll try to sand that down in the next little while.
Lucidish 18:12, 23 Jun 2004 (UTC)
I finally carried out the long promised "overhaul", with minor corrections, many rewordings, and an avoidance of terms which, though not "wrong", sounded a bit pompous and arguable (like "fundamental"); I also extensively added or reworked the latter sections (links, reference, etc.) Since I spent a fair bit of time on it, I would appreciate it if anyone who objects to the corrections as a whole bring their objections to the Talk page rather than make a simple revert, if they are tempted to do so. Not that the article doesn't need some more work! -- Simonides 09:05, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Nice work. :) Two things caught my eye. First, many of the "beginners" books that were mentioned in the first article were tossed, and I was wondering why.
Second, I noticed your comments about the Eastern / Western distinction and Islamic, African, native American, etc., philosophy. It's not exactly clear what the academic norm is when considering them (the word "Orientalism", for example, seems to be used to describe middle eastern influences). But I don't think we should be afraid to demarcate them as traditions alongside the usual "East vs. West" divide, or even get rid of that divide altogether and just go by region and continent, because the clarity that would follow would encourage more popular study into them. Right now, many "Islamic" philosophers are lumped in on the timeline of Western philosophers, more out of convienience than anything else. That may be deserving of change. Lucidish 21:03, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
The beginner's books, well, the ones listed seemed a bit too much on the 'original' side, ie rather than provide relatively straight, brief accounts they overemphasized either accessibility or the author's approach, so I opted for books that were either very brief or provided a traditional overview of philosophical subjects, also adding brief introductory works to non-Western areas. And the East/West section, I just reworded it, so let me know what you think. My problem with geographical divisions is that either 1) a single geographical region has changed over the years and been host to more than one tradition, ex. Spain (Western/Islamic/etc); or 2) the tradition covers several regions, ex. Buddhist, which originated in India but spread to many other countries. So one may have to get too specific. As for Islamic - yes, they are usually lumped in, but I put in a word about that - ie either the tradition itself is ignored when it is seen distinctly, or minimized when it is classified under another. Thank you for the comments, let me know what you think. -- Simonides 00:18, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I tend to think that accessible books are great for introductory reads, so long as they're not inaccurate or misleading. "Sophie's World", for example, though admittedly a terrible novel, was a pretty good primer.
For numerous reasons, many non-Western traditions of philosophy sooner or later fell into decline. Emphasis on Western philosophy has been the dominant trend around the globe, and in mnay places has been accepted as functional and useful by peoples traditionally considered "Eastern".
I'm really not sure this paragraph is true. It seems to me that a steadily increasing amount of attention is being put into Buddhism and Eastern cultures.
As for the other stuff, like how to categorize traditions, I'll defer to your judgment. Just as long as all the traditions get their fair shake, I'm happy. If you have particular things you want to iron out in terms of a category scheme, it might be a good idea to cross-post at the Philosophy WikiProject. Lucidish 04:16, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Lucidish, I missed your reply in the flurry of posts yesterday, sorry. My only problem with material that is too accessible or original is that it may be unreliable; but if you feel it's worth adding to the list, go ahead. As for the paragraph you quoted, it was not written be me and I tried to revert it - please see my last version as of yesterday. Re: category schemes, I am open to suggestions and I merely changed the section title to "Western and non-Western etc" yesterday - of course, it suggests "Western" is a consistent block whereas even THAT is quite ill-defined, so maybe we can simplify even further to "Global philosophical traditions" or some such. -- Simonides 20:26, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Why don't you people just break them down to sub-parts. Have the main Philosophy page, as it is now, linking off to the different kinds of philosophy.

In other words, like this
North America
Ayn Rand

While it is now just a run down of different things, it tries to hard to show difference in the ideals (which should either be in each section, or left up to the reader). John Pliskin. 02:03PST 18 Jul 2004

If I'm understanding you right, I don't think that geography should be the prime and only criteria for the categorization of philosophers. Though it's more complicated and more work, admittedly, I think that indexing each philosopher into their a) associated movements, b) general geography with eras as subcategories, c) fields of interest, d) nationality, and e) any other characteristics of special interest (ie "women in philosophy") make it easier for the reader to find what they're looking for. Lucidish 18:38, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)

New edits

Hi Banno, I noticed you changed the text of the article from:

Philosophy usually refers to at least one of two things: 1) a broad collection of works by major thinkers in history, and more narrowly, academic fields which study, discuss and teach those works; 2) a certain way of thinking about or approaching questions and situations. Asking what philosophy is is itself a philosophical activity, though philosophers will more often use such specific questions as a starting point: ... What is really real?
to : Asking what is Philosophy is itself a philosophical activity, though philosophers will more often use such specific questions as a starting point: ... What things are real?

I partly reverted your edit, though not out of disrespect. I believe the working "definition" that other contributors and I provided could do with improvement, but it is required for the new reader as an intro, to differentiate between various uses of the word. As you may have noticed these differences are expounded on later in the article. Secondly, I think asking "What things are real" is different from asking "What is really real". The second question probes what the nature of reality is, as opposed to assuming a knowledge of reality and describing 'things' accordingly. I have tried to retain both questions in my edit, I hope this is not a problem. -- Simonides 02:22, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Perhaps I should come back when you are ready to have your work edited? Banno 02:35, Jul 15, 2004 (UTC)
Banno, as someone interested in philosophy, I am sure you are capable of logically arguing for or against editorial preferences instead of waiting for an opportunity to have the final word. Apologies if I'm mistaken, but that is what your remark suggests. -- Simonides 02:42, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Simonides should stop attacking Banno. Based on Simonides' remarks against many other people on other articles, he doesn't understand Wikipedia's NPOV policy, and is insistent on rewriting all articles he fancies to present his POV only. Steve Rubenstein also tried to reason with Simonides, but Simonides rebuffed all communication, and launched into ad homenim attacks such as "It is impossible to work with people who adopt such a juvenile approach. Slrubenstein, you don't seem to have the faintest idea of what is going on." Similarly, when Jayjg patiently explained for the tenth time what NPOV policy was, and why certain edits were made, Simonides angrilly replied "Do you even stop to consider what you're saying before typing a string of hot air remarks you can't even back up?" RK
Simonides simply makes no effort to work with anyone, and uses bullying to force POV edits to articles that otherwise have reached a wide consensus. That is a bad precedent. We need to find a way to protect the philosophy articles from his over-zealousness. RK 04:38, Jul 15, 2004 (UTC)

Gentlemen, I welcome you to take a look at RK's edits and past contributions to Wikipedia (or Nazipedia, to use his word for it). The arguments he is trying to remember but doesn't quite exactly manage to have to do with Anti-Semitism, where RK has long made himself a nuisance by accusing differing editors, including Jewish people, of anti-Semitism or prejudice. I have no idea why he has followed me here or what qualifies him to edit an article on philosophy, but I am going to have to request that this page be protected if he continues, much as I regret it. -- Simonides 04:47, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I tend to agree that RK's version is, on the whole, better, although perhaps more of the information lost could be re-incorporated. We should report on usage, not pass judgement on it, explicitly or implicitly. Words such as "bias" are problematic in this respect. VV 05:00, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Would some others please look at a comparison between the two edits, RK's and the last one I made, and explain how the former's "version is, on the whole, better." IMO it 1) oversimplifies, partly because it 2) omits crucial information, and 3) makes such POV and unverifiable, near hyperbolic claims like Emphasis on Western philosophy ... in mnay (sic) places has been accepted as functional and useful by peoples traditionally considered "Eastern", which goes far beyond merely saying it is dominant or emphasized; not to mention that 4) some material that has long been in the article is suddenly repeated, with unsuitable wording; and last, perhaps least 5) the spelling is quite bad.
Hm, "accepted as functional and useful" appears less extreme than "dominant or emphasized", although neither wording really pleases me. At any rate, calling non-Western philosophy "valuable" and referring to its "preservation" (as though it were an endangered species rather than ideas that are less accepted) is a bit more troubling to me. The typos are neither here nor there in evaluating edits, as they can be fixed readily. VV 05:41, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I am not sure how one goes about verifying that an entire population has "accepted as functional and useful" a batch of miscellaneous ideas. On the other hand, it is quite a simple matter to prove that the same batch is predominant or emphasized. It is like the difference between saying "company X is loved by many" and "company X has a dominant market share." Do you really believe the former is "less extreme" than the latter? Next, I did not call non-Western philosophy valuable, I said it had valuable works which are, in fact, endangered, and physically too, because of a lack of adequate resources or awareness about the proper preservation of manuscripts, the extent of loss, and so on. If the interest diminishes, so does the possibility of making sure texts are properly studied, or sought out, or salvaged, funding for research and studies is decreased, it becomes unfeasible, specialists disappear, the transmission of an abstract body of knowledge is lost, and so on. If you are not aware of a certain predicament I would caution you against making blanket pronouncements about it. -- Simonides 06:00, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)
As for bias, there is no problem with using the term when it portrays the reality that Anglo-American courses and departments are overwhelmingly specialized in or emphatic about analytic philosophy, and student coursebooks and most introductory books reflect this, including the "dictionaries" and "encyclopediae" written for the general reader (even the courses are commonly structured so that philosophy students are more often exposed to Anglo-American works, and Continental works are relegated to the Literature/ Languages/ etc departments), whereas the bulk of continental European philosophy has its own predominant clusters of research and criticism - hermeneutics, deconstruction, the Frankfurt school, etc. and their synoptic works reflect this too. -- Simonides 05:24, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I don't feel this constitutes "bias" in any of the normal senses of the word, anymore than the fact that Lithuanian history is more likely to be taught in Lithuanian schools than in Cambodian schools constitutes "bias". A non-loaded word such as emphasis would be much preferable. VV 05:42, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)
The reason I use the word "bias" is that the books, courses, etc go beyond emphasis and repeatedly make qualitative judgements such as calling some Analytic personality a "very influential philosopher" and skim over a Continental figure by repeating oversimplistic cliches, or making non-contextual criticism. Anyone who has adequate exposure to both sides will have noted this; some academics are even quite open about their preferences and judgements. -- Simonides 06:00, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)
While I generally prefer Simon's edit for stylistic reasons, I don't think RK's edit was "biased" in any way. They made the distinctions and provided the caveats. The only exception I have to Simon's edit is the removal of the paragraph about typical subcategories in Western philosophy. Lucidish 22:42, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)


My, my, what an interesting development. I can wear a bit of a lashing from Simonides over my joke, although he does seem to have rather missed its point. I had not expected to have such a simple edit simply reversed; considering that it was the first edit to the work Simonides had done, I was impressed with the speed with which it was undone. Apparently I hit a raw nerve by implying that Simonides does not like having his writing edited. Nor would I normally consider it worth defending such obvious points. But given that it seems to have become a part of a much bigger issue, I’ll explain my changes.Banno

Your point is neither "obvious" nor necessarily acceptable so some justification was indeed necessary and requested. If you wish to make the affair personal (ex. "raw nerve", irrelevant objections such as "speed with which it was undone") by all means, go ahead. But don't expect yourself to be taken seriously. -- Simonides 21:38, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I removed:

Philosophy usually refers to at least one of two things: 1) a broad collection of works by major thinkers in history, and more narrowly, academic fields which study, discuss and teach those works; 2) a certain way of thinking about or approaching questions and situations.

I find this inadequate as an introductory sentence. It has an odd phrasing, since it claims to give two referents, whilst actually giving three, vis:

  • Unidentified works by unidentified writers
  • The academic study of these works
  • An undisclosed methodology.

The sentence does not actually have much by way of content. It does not say what the works are, nor does it say what the method used is. In which case, its only purpose was as padding; so I removed it.Banno

This phrasing was changed further yesterday to:
  • Philosophy usually refers to one of several things: a broad collection of works by major thinkers in history, or more narrowly the academic fields which study, discuss and teach those works, or even a certain way of thinking about or approaching questions and situations.
I believe it could be improved, but an introduction 1) is not required to be specific and identify anything; 2) explain methodology. That's what the article is for - the introduction simply states the existence of one. In fact one might say introductions are deliberately vague to avoid throwing a reader too far in a single direction - similarly saying "science is usually either a consistent and systematic body of knowledge or a consistent and systematic means to verifying certain kinds of knowledge" or - to use the Wikipedia intro - "science is both a process of gaining knowledge, and the organized body of knowledge gained by this process" - tells us practically nothing about science but is sufficient as a hint of further explanation. -- Simonides 21:38, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I changed the construct “what is really real” to “What things are real”, simply because the repetition was a distraction. Neither construct is particularly good. Perhaps we might settle on “what is reality” or “what is existence”?Banno

A proposed wording: "What is reality, and what things are real?" (or) "What is reality, and what can be described as real?" -- Simonides 21:38, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)

As for the remainder of the article, it is rather amateurish in places. Weasel words abound – especially in the section on motives, goals and methods, were every second sentence starts with a ‘some…” or a “many…” or an “often…”. It is as if the author (whomever that was) is incapable of expressing an uncouched opinion, or was hiding something.Banno

The article does not use specific philosophical terms, if that is what you mean by amateurish. I think this is a good thing because getting too specific would automatically bring about a philosophical bias. Secondly, there have been several authors on this article and more of the page history can be found at Western philosophy, from which this one was derived, and you are welcome to add to their work, though I believe the "weasel words" serve a purpose - like the introduction they avoid committing to specific interpretations of philosophy which, again, would suggest a specific "nature" or "essence" of philosophy that no two people could agree on. -- Simonides 21:38, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I was responsible for editing much of that paragraph - and the one who didn't feel the appropriate levels of remorse over using "weasel words" - because, for an introduction, a detailed level of precision is just inappropriate. It makes the article harder to read for those who don't know about the subject, and it provides them with irrelevant information. And it doesn't help that, for philosophy, that section is nothing but state the obvious: philosophers ask questions (see the intro to Russell's "Wisdom of the West"), they frame them as puzzles (Wittgenstein) or problems (Popper), etc. It's like being compelled to suspicion when reading the sentence "Some say that most tomatoes are red". All of that said, I wouldn't object to unobtrusive citations. Lucidish 22:50, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Lucidish, I had thought that the edits I objected to were done by an IP address. I take your point, but why not just say 'most tomatoes are red'? Why bother with the quantifier at all? Which is to say, the section could be better worded. Banno 07:35, Jul 16, 2004 (UTC)
I don't honestly recall, but I did do some work on the paragraph a few weeks ago. But that approach that you mention is okay, too. Lucidish 19:01, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Analytic philosophy is not mentioned until half way through the article. This is inappropriate, given that it is the dominant tradition in the west, and has been for almost a century.

This is just the kind of rubbish I would prefer the article does not promote. There is no single "dominant" tradition in the West; analytic philosophy usually finds its home in Anglo-American academia, and is frequently disregarded by Continental philosophers who are also following (or disrupting) a very strong tradition; the traditions are not exclusive, but they usually fall back on irreconcilable approaches. One can easily argue the merits of either nebula, and I personally find a great deal of recent analytic philosophy puerile and not worthy of the name, but adding my POV or yours is not our task. Your sentence exemplifies what I said on bias earlier. Even the Wikipedia template called "Influential Western Philosphers" ignores at least a dozen extremely important names from the Continent (I intend to modify it, btw) and in no way do such portrayals reflect the breadth, profundity, or interested generated by the non-analytic philosophies, which are only mentioned in passing. That too needs to be corrected. -- Simonides 21:38, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)

When it is mentioned, it is misleadingly associated with natural science – much better to associate it with language. Banno

True. A lot of recent Anglo-American philosophy, analytic or not, does involve itself with questions of science and progress, but I agree that analytic philosophy is almost defined by its work on languages, and that needs mention. -- Simonides 21:38, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Perhaps a more historic approach would be better; or better still, although much more difficult, an approach that posed and left hanging a range of philosophical issues, with the intent of drawing the reader in. But perhaps this is beyond the scope of communal writing.

Not at all - do introduce any lenthy proposals you have, and suggest broader revisions. I think your idea is a good one and I sense Lucidish and other contributors are happy to go along with new stuff. Just don't expect unexplained edits and pontification to be always welcome. -- Simonides 21:38, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)

In any case, it will be interesting to see what develops. Banno 08:07, Jul 15, 2004 (UTC)

two structures

Please accept my apologies for my rudeness. Your editing of the article was generally helpful, and I do appreciate that there needs to be a balance between the various schools of thought, and thank you for providing a counterpoint to the analytic school. It is apparent that previous editing difficulties have spilt over into this article, which is a shame. Let’s start again, and see if we can come up with a suitable settlement. Banno

I still think the present introduction is better, because it is shorter and leads straight into sub-topics within philosophy. The introduction is usually the most difficult area to write. I’d rather focus on what the main sub-topics of the article should be. Banno

Writing introductions is indeed difficult, so let us leave the last version alone till we can agree on something better. Merely saying that "asking what philosophy is, is itself philosophy" begs the question. Secondly, as the article mentions, sub-topics are only relevant in certain approaches to philosophy. I hope you see why a little too much specification can easily imply a philosophical bias. -- Simonides 06:00, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I find the idea of leaving out philosophical terms rather puzzling. The aim of the article should be to introduce the reader to these terms, rather than to avoid them. I also agree with the general Wiki policy on weasel words. They can nearly always be replaced by more specific terms, to the improvement of the article. Naming the philosophers or philosophies that hold specific views permits the reader to seek further information. Banno

As above. If you want to define philosophical terms, you're obliged to balance the article by introducing philosophical terms from every major tradition and every branch of philosophy within that tradition; terms in Chinese (like chi) or in Sanskrit (like maya) which are not entirely translatable may need to be explained with more space than is necessary for an introduction; you will also have to differentiate between the use of the same words across more than one tradition, or its mutating usage even within the same tradition, from philosopher to philosopher, and it simply means unnecessary work. Not that terminology should be shunned, but that's what main articles are for. -- Simonides 06:00, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)

As for the position of the analytic tradition, I have not asked for it to dominate the article, as you imply. At present it is given a place below continental and eastern philosophy, and is associated with science instead of language. This is a misrepresentation of its status – surely you would agree with this? Banno

I don't know what you mean by misrepresentation because I don't understand why its relative position in an article somehow connotes its status. I didn't write this article from the first draft, merely began revising it a couple of days ago, and what I objected to, and still object to, is the tendency for contributors to write from an Anglo-American POV; in that respect spending a whole section or two on Analytic philosophy seems unbalanced to me, in favour of the Analytic stuff (I realise Analytic and Anglo-American philosphies are not equal, but I am generalizing for brevity). Another thing most contributors, including myself, often forget is what may be called "historical foreshortening" - some things appear more important to us simply because they are nearer to us, or we are more familiar with them, and we tend to assume the most recent perspectives as the most correct - but analytic philosophy occupies only a very small segment in the timeline of philosophy and using it to evaluate all other traditions is a bit of a stretch. -- Simonides 06:00, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Now to the structure of the article. At present the structure is somewhat ambiguous. There is a clear structural distinction between Eastern and Western philosophical traditions, and a less blatant distinction between the analytic and continental traditions. One way to proceed would be to create sections for each of these. I think the three distinctions are arbitrary. They disenfranchise eastern and continental philosophies. Also, the editors of the philosophy articles are predominantly in the analytic tradition, and inevitably the analytic tradition will dominate the article. But I suspect that this structure would facilitate future growth of the article without edit wars; Wiki articles tend to settle down to such compromised positions. Banno

Actually there is no structural distinction in the article between Eastern and Western, or Analytic and Continental, there is just a section surveying Western and non-Western traditions but the article doesn't split into two, three or more from there, so I am not sure what you mean. Yes, article editors are predominantly trained in analytic, which is why I'm offering at least a token resistance against it. -- Simonides 06:00, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)

For my money, I’d rather see an article that showed a range of philosophical methods at work, starting with Socratic Method and working through to Scientific method, analysis and deconstruction. Each could be given a brief explanation, with a referral to main articles and philosophers. It should be a simple matter to include content from the Eastern traditions in this. One might also include some notions from folk philosophy, all in separate sections so that we do not have to attempt to reconcile them. Banno

That's a very good idea and comprehensively running through a range of methods would make a great article, but it belongs more in History of Western philosophy or Western philosophy, at least as a long new section if contributors don't want to alter the current text, with Eastern/ other counterparts in their main articles. This article is an introduction for a complete beginner. If we want to make a sequential list of philosophical trends it would have to be extremely condensed, but I'm not opposed to the idea. -- Simonides 06:00, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Which of these two structures would you support, or what alternative would you propose? Banno 23:18, Jul 15, 2004 (UTC)

I like the current format because it is not too formal nor too thematic. I prefer an even looser and more ambiguous structure that allows one to freely make connections across different areas and periods of philosophy, emphasizing both similarities and differences between the various sources: ex. the similarities in the treament of ontology between phenomenologists and the writers of the Bhagavad Gita, while reminding the reader that the academic approach to philosophy is usually more structured, but also that questioning academic strictures allows philosophy to sustain itself, and that philosophy can be thrust in unforeseen directions because of new disciplines, or give rise to them - and so on. -- Simonides 06:00, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Banno, good points, but I have to go now with just a quick note: do you think some of your suggestions would be better implemented at Western philosophy, which also needs work and which I haven't gone over yet, where Analytic and Continental philosophies and terminology can be given more attention, while this remains relatively general and simplistic? -- Simonides 23:30, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)

No. Banno 00:33, Jul 16, 2004 (UTC)

That's too bad, because I still think so. -- Simonides 06:00, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)

It is not my intent to be rude, but that you cannot see a problem with the present presentation of analytic philosophy puts me in fear of your capacity to compromise. That you are blind to the obvious structural distinction between western and non-western (eastern) traditions is also bizarre. Banno 07:21, Jul 16, 2004 (UTC)

Let me clarify one more time: 1) this article does not make explicit any philosophy; it makes some loose generalisations about Analytic philosophy but does not go into it - you are welcome to change those generalisations, but remember this is not an article about specific philosophies; also please read/ reread what I said about foreshortening above. There is no reason to spend more time on analytic philosophy than on any other period/ school. 2) You talked about the structural distinction in the article - not between the philosophies. The article does not make branch off into two areas (which is what your sentence reads as); perhaps you are trying to say the article does not differentiate between the two philosophies as schools of thought. Yes, but that's why the main articles are linked. -- 19:29, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)

On generalities

Generalisation, in common usage, is now almost pejorative: you can't make broad statements because you risk offending or ignoring someone. This is true and should often be heeded, but in speaking of something so indefinite as philosophy, which often defines itself by transgressing what it has been claimed to be, I think respectfully generalizing is commendable and keeps writers of surveys and introductions on the safer side. Explaining what is conventionally considered philosophy is useful and required, but it is not the same as making broad statements about what philosophy is - I think this article tries its hand at both, instead of convincing the reader that those two questions mean the same thing, and we should perhaps continue on those lines. -- Simonides 06:17, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I don’t see how progress will be made with the article if it is expected not to be specific and analytic. I would much rather see the article state some biases and present relevant arguments and links than vacillate into incoherence. I don’t see much point in doing further work on this article until others have voiced their opinions, and some sort of consensus has been achieved. Banno 07:19, Jul 16, 2004 (UTC)
1)What do you mean by analytic? 2) Of course you can state biases. But the article should not be biased, as far as possible, and several of your propositions seem to invite bias rather than deflect it. Neither do I find the article incoherent. 3) I don't understand why you are so confrontational; there is plenty of room for consensus between the two of us, and we disagree more on presentation, perhaps, rather than content. In any case there is no point discussing this further until you make a draft and the rest of us can look at it.
Without getting too philosophical, I go by the rule that ambiguity is a monster in discussion that needs to be slain, but vagueness is omnipresent and needs to be accepted. IE: The word "animal" is more vague than the word "cat", because it has a bigger extension, and refers to all sorts of unique and different creatures with all kinds of different characteristics, just as the word "cat" is more vague than the phrase "my cat Max", which refers to an entity that is far easier for me to identify. General claims will always be more vague than particular claims, but I agree with you in that I don't think this really should be villified.
Besides, a dogged demand for lucidity can also be inadequate. If the standard for every clarification were to point to every particular thing or event that a phrase applies to, for example, then not only would be we have very long and boring conversations reminescent of Umberto Eco passages, we would stop talking altogether about the concept at hand - the large group - and instead focus on all the entities that are involved, and that would be misleading.
So the search for clarity for its own sake seems like a wild goose chase to me. In my opinion, it's only when the vagueness of an expression leads to ambiguity that we have problems, and even only then when the ambiguity is particularly relevant.
Lucidish 20:50, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)


In the discussion of "Non-Academic Uses of the Word" I was a bit puzzled to find the discussion of "philosophical" (in the sense of responses to tragedy) now reads:

To take another example, reacting to a tragedy "philosophically" might mean abstaining from passionate reactions in favor of intellectualized detachment. That particular definition arose from the example of Socrates, who calmly discussed the nature of the soul with his followers while the hemlock (used to execute him in accord with the decision of an Athenian jury) took effect. But the use of philosophically in this adverbial sense is only a distant relation of the contemporary academic usage.

The change is doubly unfortunate. First, because it factually misstates the events of Socrates' last day of life as portrayed in the Phaedo (he discusses the nature of the soul and immortality with his followers before he drinks the hemlock; the effect of the poison itself was relatively quick); and second because it deletes without any clear reason an earlier reference to the Stoic philosophers and their influence. The Hellenistic philosophers have a hard enough time getting heard about these days; they hardly need to be deleted from the discussion of word usages that originated in times when their influence was much more widespread. It was not merely the example of Socrates, but specifically the Stoic understanding, and development of that example--and the tremendous influence of Stoic thought on European thought, and English and American thought especially, in the past several centuries before our own--that played the decisive role in conceiving of the "philosophical" response to tragedy as one of intellectualized acceptance.

Wouldn't it be reasonable to reinstate the references to Stoicism and its influence in this paragraph?

Radgeek 21:16, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I'd noticed this, too. I agree, the stoics should be reinstated... Banno 22:23, Jul 16, 2004 (UTC)
I agree. Radgeek, do it up. Adam Conover 22:31, Jul 16, 2004 (UTC)
Yeah, so long as it's relevant to understanding the colloquial usage, I see no reason to keep Stoicism out of the picture. Lucidish 17:44, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Yup. -- Simonides 20:04, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)
OK, good to see some consensus on this question. The next question, then, is this: how does one go about adding the new (or restoring the old) text while the page is protected against edits? Radgeek 23:32, 23 Jul 2004 (UTC)


It is just about impossible to continue without being able to edit the article. RK appears no longer to be interested in this discussion; What reason is there for protecting the page? Banno 23:09, Jul 16, 2004 (UTC)

To feel empowered. Sam [Spade] 00:28, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Banno, I don't know whether any of us are admin (I'm not), but you have to ask an admin to unprotect it. -- Simonides 20:08, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)
But perhaps it would be best if you requested the page be unprotected, as an act of good will. Banno 08:03, Jul 18, 2004 (UTC)
I like your sense of humour. -- Simonides 08:35, 18 Jul 2004 (UTC)
You have reverted every edit to your work on the page, and apparently you requested that the page be protected. RK accuses you of an inability to allow others to edit your work. Allowing others to make changes would demonstrate your good will. But if you are not willing to allow others to edit your work, there is no point in any of us attempting to make changes. So there is no point in any one except you asking for the page to be unprotected. Essentially, any further development of the page is dependent on you. What will you do? Banno 09:19, Jul 18, 2004 (UTC)
There have only been two edits, yours, which I explained extensively despite your aggravated behaviour (and you have not provided any sufficient reply to my objections), and RK's which was made for the sake of being made. RK engages in very frequent edit wars and ad hominems and has been harrassing me of late, but don't take my word for it - see Wikipedia:Requests for comment/RK and Wikipedia:Requests for comment/RK2; the article was protected against him. Secondly, you proposed extensive changes here that both Lucidish and I tried to clarify, but which you haven't bothered to explain further; apparently you simply want us to take your word as final. I requested a tentative draft, and we didn't hear any more from you. Finally, it is YOUR last (unsatisfactory) version, with non-working links and all that I corrected later, that was protected; if I wanted "my article" and my apparent POV, I would seek unprotection right away. You've made this personal from the start, and have the nerve to make me appear difficult when you haven't replied to attentive remarks, and hinted that you intend a full revision to suit your lofty view of things. I would love to see some good will, but I'm not currently the one who owes any. -- Simonides 10:11, 18 Jul 2004 (UTC)
The history page speaks for itself, Simonides. I don’t wish to play silly games. I’ll come back when you are ready to allow others to edit the page. Banno 10:29, Jul 18, 2004 (UTC)
I.e. when no one will object to groundless edits. -- Simonides 10:59, 18 Jul 2004 (UTC)
On the contrary, I am still interested. However, on a number of articles Simonides has stated to a number of other people that he will not allow anyone to add or edit anything unless he approves. To back up his arrogant threat he uses non-stop reversions, and then he berates other users with harsh language. I don't see how anyone can make any productive contribution while the article is under such threat. If Simonides changes his mind, and follows NPOV policy in developing a consensus article, then that would be great news. RK 13:43, Jul 17, 2004 (UTC)
Please tell us on which "number of articles" the above has occurred. Also inform us of your credentials as a judge of NPOV material. -- Simonides 20:08, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I'm not involved in this dispute, but it seems to me that a Request for Comments would be more appropriate at this point. A good step would seem to be to agree to work with a third party opinion, then solicit one. Adam Conover 22:08, Jul 17, 2004 (UTC)


The "locked due to dispute" headline on this page is, IMO, a perfect introduction to philosophy. - Douglas Jul 23, 2004


I've unprotected the page. Obviously, please keep it civil.

Markalexander100 08:52, 25 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Recent edits

Banno and Sysops, please help. Simonides is again reverting every single change made by anyone other than him. As you may recall, Simonides previously made many threats that he would do this; sadly he is now carrying his threats out. He keeps deleting all references to branches of Western Philosophy (what kind of bizarre reasoning he has I can only imagine.) He also keeps shoving in an anti-Western diatribe that reminds me of the nonsense that EntmootsOfTrolls used to add. ( EoT was eventually banned for his behaviour.) Given his similar actions on many articles, we have little choices left. Simonides may need to be banned. RK

My two cents, re: the Simonides vs. RK edit slapstick
This is the latest one
  • I find RK's description of philosophy in paragraph 2 to be simpler and gets to the core of matters better. And themes of beauty etc are part of Eastern philosophy as well
I don't know if it's his description, it was there before and it's retained in my edit. What he deleted was necessary reference to labels - it should be noted that terms and thematic approaches are not universal. -- Simonides 04:50, 27 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  • Perhaps the "The term philosophy in a Euro-American academic context..." paragraph could be separated into multiple paragraphs, each with a short summary of traditions
Sure. I prefer listing to summarizing because it may get overly long, but you can write it up. -- Simonides 04:50, 27 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  • Re, the "For numerous reasons..." paragraph: I don't see any reason for the paragraph on the decline of one philosophical tradition or another, because it's just entirely debateable and doesn't really add anything of substance to the article anyway. I'd just scrap that paragraph altogether. Lucidish 04:26, 27 Jul 2004 (UTC)
It's in recognition of the fact Eastern philosophies have not had an uninterrupted tradition stretching to modern times, unlike Western Europe (maybe China has); a lot of primary or useful sources have been lost or are missing. I think that should be mentioned, even if the particular paragraph is changed or removed. -- Simonides 04:50, 27 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Play nice, kids. The page has only just been unprotected – don’t jump to protection just yet. Banno
Simonides, reverts are for vandalism. The page will grow best with vigorous editing, not if editing is curtailed by repeated reverting. There is no need to be afraid of other people’s editing of your work – just the opposite. It’s fun to see what folk make of what you have written. And you need to keep the three reverts rule in mind – if it really needs reverting, someone else will do it. Banno
Ah Banno! What would Wikipedia be without your gentle touch! -- Simonides 10:50, 27 Jul 2004 (UTC)
None of us – and there are more here than some might think – are obliged to explain our edits in talk before we make them, as Simonides comment at 11:45, Jul 27, 2004 implies. It is much better to have vigorous editing and a little discussion than a talk fest and no changes to the article. Banno 09:56, Jul 27, 2004 (UTC)
I hope you will be capable of repeating that to yourself before getting all indignant and personal over a minor edit. -- Simonides 10:50, 27 Jul 2004 (UTC)


The previous first paragraph had no content; it does not serve to separate philosophical thought from its relations. I suspect that S. was trying to say that philosophy covers (1) philosophical texts (2) the academic study of those texts and (3) certain methods or traditions.

I don’t think that the separation of the texts from their study can be maintained. The study of the text is in essence the production of new texts – philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato. Identifying a method, or series of methods, might be a more promising approach. I think that pointing out that defining philosophy is itself a philosophical activity is important. Banno 10:45, Jul 27, 2004 (UTC)

Whatever philosophy is, it isn't a platitude, even one spoken by another philosopher. -- Simonides 10:50, 27 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Just a note - the matter of separation was mentioned before you posted the above, and I was the one who added that defining philosophy was a philosophical activity. However, philosophy has uses in daily language that one is not obliged to be philosophical about, and this is an article for newcomers to the subject who require a clarification, not a mouthpiece for philosophizing. -- Simonides 22:22, 28 Jul 2004 (UTC)

The paragraph

There are no clear boundaries between these labels, which are a legacy of Ancient Greek philosophy. Eastern philosophy and recent continental philosophy usually approach philosophy differently, without relying on these labels, though they may address the same questions with equal rigour.

is rather misleading. The distinction between the categories is clear, and has the advantage of linking to the related articles for each topic. Nor is it quite right to say that they are used predominantly in the west. Foucault certainly used them; but then recent works by Searle, Dennett and others make few mentions of them. One of the frustrating things about locating arguments in the Philosophical Investigations is that it hardly uses these key terms at all. Banno 10:56, Jul 27, 2004 (UTC)

Banno - I thought you didn't like Talk fests, but I'll oblige. The distinction between the categories is only clear in fairly specific contexts - historical mention, or in the work of a certain philosopher, or perhaps when using their own definitions, and so on; it is neither clear nor particularly useful in critiquing the work of a host of mostly 20th century philosophers and many Eastern ones except for purposes of simplification - ex. you can break down Foucault's ideas into epistemology, ethics, and so on, as editors have done, but in approaching the main body of his work you will not find any deliberate division that makes it clear where logical, epistemological, ethical and other categories diverge - thematic reconstruction is actually one of the banes of philosophy, and that you engage in it comes as no surprise to me, seeing that you prefer the pseudo-scientific systematic approach common to most Anglo-American readers; further, some ideas of what metaphysics is, overall - like Heidegger's - can only be explained through a contextualization that breaks away from the traditional definition of metaphysics - ie for Heidegger most of Western metaphysics actually has been the forgetting of the original question of Being which is the true metaphysics etc etc all of which sounds pretty but means little next to the conventional definition; so better to stay vague than ambiguous, as Lucidish wrote earlier. -- Simonides 11:13, 27 Jul 2004 (UTC)
An attempt at an insult? I hope not. You are quite correct if you think I prefer analysis to doggerel, systematic discussion to disjointed verbiage, and coherence to inconsistency. To clarify, I do like a talkfest, if it has some purpose. I do not like to play silly games. I’m pleased with the progress this page has made in the last few days. May I congratulate you on the way you have accepted and modified many of the edits that have occurred on this page? Banno 11:36, Jul 28, 2004 (UTC)
Sigh. Silly games are played by people who make random edits, do not use the Talk page much, then act indignant when their modifications require explanation, and finally declare that edits do not need explanation. You haven't shown much capacity for analysis or comprehension of an elementary point by the way, just persistence; and you're welcome to congratulate me but I'm afraid you're still a long way off from receiving compliments on the same. -- Simonides 22:22, 28 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Banno, could you kindly stop meddling with the phrase "in the West" - as I explained the terms are not universal. They may be classified as metaphysical for ease of understanding by some, but they do not always exist as distinct concepts. -- Simonides 23:23, 27 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Meddling? A strange term to use. One can surely only meddle in something if one has no warrant to change it. Banno
Precisely -- Simonides 22:22, 28 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I’ve shortened the first paragraph, I hope without removing content. At the same time I introduced the verb 'philosophise' – I think it appropriate to emphasise that philosophy is also an activity. I've also re-inserted aesthetics. Banno 11:21, Jul 28, 2004 (UTC)

As for the West, my concern is to keep the text succinct, avoiding repetition. I understand that Simonides thinks it important to state that these are 'western' categories. Regardless of the validity of this desire, repeating the phrase Questions of this type are traditionally categorised as (whatever) in the West three or four time is either tedious or deliberately acerbic. Instead the point is now made in the first line, once. Banno 11:21, Jul 28, 2004 (UTC)

We can certainly do something about that (ie keeping it succinct.) But what you're doing is introducing readers to Western philosophy. Philosophy is not Western philosophy by default - that's what most of your edits are tantamount to and a viewpoint you can't seem to get out of - it's why we have split the articles. -- Simonides 20:50, 28 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Philosophy is as broad a field as art, and from what I think fair, I propose making Philosophy a short introduction to several "jumping points" to more specific areas (still keeping a mainstream aspect, tho). - 21:19, 28 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I agree, but for some reason Banno thinks an article on philosophy must be an elaborate philosophical piece. While philosophizing is inevitable to a small extent and I'm not against the idea, the particular POV he's stressing makes his introductions unsuitable. -- Simonides 22:22, 28 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Simonides has done an excellent job of implementing my suggestions. The introduction is now quite succinct, and actually says something worth saying. Repetition is avoided, and the content he has added re. Non-western philosophy is good. A few links to the relevant pages, and the job should be done. The article is much improved, and it has been improved because of the interplay of the editors. It is an excellent example of how the Wiki works – by exposing one’s writing to others, and allowing them to edit it, that writing is improved. It would have been nice to have been able to proceed without the personal acrimony; But it takes all sorts to make a Wiki. Banno 01:47, Jul 29, 2004 (UTC)


Very little of the analytic tradition sought to apply scientific methods to philosophy - hence my changes. Better to make an issue of language. Indeed, a section on language might be a good way to deal with the difference between analytic and continental philosophy. Banno 11:26, Jul 27, 2004 (UTC)