Sunday, August 14, 2011

David Hume's "Of the Different Species of Philosophy": A Summary

Okay, so recently there's been this fucking incredible surge in philosophy, which is sweet, but no one is making sure that it's done properly; everyone is just sort of saying shit all willy-nilly, without any attempt at real understanding of exactly how philosophy is supposed to work. We should probably have a framework for all this before we go on, wouldn't you say?

I mean, there are two different kinds of philosophy, and you probably don't even know the difference. First, there's the easy, obvious shit that's written all poetically to guide the man on-the-go. You know what I mean - the exhortations to "be excellent to each other" and "give it our all" and all that fun bullshit. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it, I'm just saying, you know, how hard can it be to tell people not a be a dick? None of the great orators were ever like, "The children? Feed 'em to wolves!" because if they said that, they wouldn't be great orators, they'd be just be eloquent fuckwads, and we all know plenty of those. I'm just saying it's hard to fuck up the easy stuff. That's all.


On the other hand, and this is the stuff we've been working on, you've got more difficult philosophy that's precise and abstract, and the man on-the-go can't necessarily handle this. You've got to slow down, be a bit more thoughtful, but I'd say it's worth it. It's not all, "Do this! Don't do this! Okay lesson over!" Instead, bros doing this stuff want to know why we do stuff like that, to discover the reasons behind the shit we do. And then once they've discovered that, answered those abstract questions, then they go into how we should act, what the particular applications are.

Now, here's the problem. Sometimes, this shit gets really abstract and doesn't have any applications. Have you read The Categories? "Everything is one of thirteen types of thing." Uh, cool story bro. So what? And even the stuff that seems practical, because it doesn't start with common sense, gets rejected. At one point, Aristotle suggests that it's possible for a man to become more happy even after he dies. And people were like, "Uh, what the fuck?" Except it makes perfect sense if you take a sec to understand what he means by "happiness," because he doesn't just run with the fuzzy, messy "common sense" definition that people like to throw around. But because people don't know that this sort of philosophy can't just be thrown around, they make dumb fucking mistakes and then people just forget about it.



Still, we can't just throw it out, even if mistakes do get made. It's fucking important to pursue. I know we shouldn't be locked in our ivory towers all the time, hunched over chalkboard and calculators and shit, but we also shouldn't just run around all the time doing shit without stopping to think. Intelligence what makes humans so fucking sweet, and we should make use of that from time to time. And if we don't take the time to practice the tough stuff, then people will treat the easy stuff like it's all we have to do, like it's enough reflection to listen to some guy who meditates a whole bunch say, "The earth is conscious! God is all of us! Eating meat is ingesting suffering!" Those motherfuckers exist because people get lazy and think, "Well that was kind of reflective. Back to bustling about!" when if they took half a second they'd be like, "How the fuck does one ingest suffering? That... that doesn't even make sense."


And that, my friends, is why we need to be sure to engage in the nitty-gritty difficult parts of philosophy; learning to be precise in thought leads to precision in other areas of life; besides that, it cah help us discover actual truth.


Yeah, I know it's not scientific, and as precise as we want to be, at bottom we're all like, "Well I think this! Why? Because fuck you, that's why." Seriously, we're just getting more precise and careful with the fuck you's, but don't pretend for a second that we have the sort of foundation that science has. But that doesn't mean we should abandon this forever - it just means we should be careful. Let's endeavor to understand the rules of reasoning, so we know which 'fuck you's' work and which ones don't. We're always going to be doing reasoning in one form or another; shit's unavoidable. If we can figure out the way reasoning works, then we can avoid the bullshit reasoning that leads people to do idiotic shit. Even better, we can more carefully discuss how the world really is.
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You can read the original text of the Enquiry online. If you prefer the paper, you can get it online at Amazon:  An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.

5 comments:

  1. I really like you :3 I think I have a crush.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bro,

    I did nine semester hours of listening to boring professors droning on about deep philosophic concepts. I wish you had been around to save me the trouble of trying to stay awake. I might have really gotten into the subject matter.

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  3. Just a few corrections, I might add discussion material later:

    Intelligence what makes humans so fucking sweet
    Missing an is.

    it cah help us discover actual truth.
    Should be can.

    at bottom we're all like
    Missing a the



    Love all of your posts keep them coming!

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  4. Tahnk you Xaq, if it wouldnt hadnt been not for you, we wouldnt havent understood anything that shit.

    Ups, i thinks i was missing a of

    ReplyDelete