Steve Patterson: Against Academia | Who Shaves the Barber? #25

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Against Academia
Steve Patterson

Is academia the best place to do philosophy?

Independent philosopher Steve Patterson became disillusioned with academia during his time in college and has since decided to pursue philosophy full time outside the academy. He doesn’t mince words when it comes to his views on academic philosophy. For Steve, the university system is perverted by poor incentives, which has resulted in badly written, dogmatic work on irrelevant subject matter with unexamined premises. After recounting his journey to becoming an independent philosopher (which starts with discovering the Santa lie), he lays out his arguments against academia, citing economics, “fandom”, false axioms, religiosity, and arguing over strands of leaves without first settling on the trunk of the philosophical tree.

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Next week: Steve Patterson: Certainty and Logic
Special thanks to Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.
Click here for the full list of episodes!

Topics discussed

0:20 – Intro to Steve Patterson
2:30 – Roots of doubt: Santa, religion, libertarianism, economics
14:20 – Experience w/ university and professors
20:44 – Economics of academia
23:49 – Quality of academic work
28:32 – Philosophy of mathematics (Euclid v. ZFC)
32:40 – Missing the philosophical forest for the trees?
40:23 – Alternatives to peer review and the market for alternatives to academia

Sources

What’s the Big Deal about Bitcoin? by Steve Patterson
Square One: The Foundations of Knowledge by Steve Patterson…

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Why (I) Do Philosophy | Who Shaves the Barber? #21

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Philosophy’s an odd practice. It can be abstract, technical, and complicated to the point of appearing incomprehensible; and the generality of the subject matter can make it seem like it isn’t really about anything at all. It certainly doesn’t seem to make a great deal of progress over time. So why the hell does anyone do it?

Here I propose three main reasons I think people do philosophy: competitive craftsmanship, scientific inquiry, and spirituality. The first breaks down into two subcategories – craftsmanship and competition – as does the second – curiosity and improving the world. Just how does philosophy satisfy each of these needs? Do people really pursue philosophy in order to satisfy them? And can they actually be satisfied by philosophy? I conclude with some words about how these apply to why I’m pursuing philosophy (eg, doing this podcast), and specifically why I’m not pursuing academic philosophy.

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Next week: Michael Zigismund: Philosophy of Law
Special thanks to Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.

Topics discussed

0:20 – Intro: why do I do philosophy?
3:44 – What is philosophy?
9:03 – What sort of question is “why do philosophy?”?
14:04 – Three reasons: competitive craftsmanship, scientific inquiry, spirituality
14:26 – Competitive craftsmanship: philosophy as art or game
15:51 – Arguments
18:30 – Virtues of competition
25:08 – Carry-over benefits
26:46 – The rules of the game applied to the rules of the game: self-reference, regress, form become content, grounding
34:12 – Creation v.…

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Objection to the Psychedelics Challenge

A friend replied to my post challenging philosophers to try psychedelics. Here’s the proposed counterargument:

There are plenty of good reasons to not do drugs. For me, my lack of interest is chief among them. As an autistic person I already experience the world in different ways than most people. In fact, most people in general interact and experience the world differently than other people.

So I don’t see the need for everyone to converge around certain experiences because they’ve been enlightening for others or helped with their mental health issues. There are many ways to get perspective on the world and feel better about your mental health without taking drugs.

What is enlightening for some may seem dull for others. I could just as easily see people who have gone to space arguing a similar argument: If you haven’t gone to space then you’re not serious about philosophical inquiry because seeing the world from the outside is a great moment in perspectives.

But you could easily counter that we can view the world from the outside via satellite feed or pictures or get a taste of it from people’s experiences. There’s no need to subject everyone to space travel just for the *chance* that maybe they’ll gain some new and profound perspective.

Similarly with drugs we can see how these affect people via studies, people’s stories, audio files, video files, second-hand experience of our friends doing drugs, etc. There’s also no need here to subject everyone to drugs or pressuring them to try them because we can already find out what chemically and mentally is happening, at least to an extent.

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