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Does Reading Philosophy Makes Thinkers?

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Thinker13
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Posted 12/02/11 - 12:01 PM:
Subject: Does Reading Philosophy Makes Thinkers?
annaatkins wrote:

. I have studied philosophy for 5 years and I have been told that on and on, by all kinds of people who hadn't really read philosophy.


Welcome annaatkins. It's my pleasure to interact with you, because, I rarely find a chance to interact with someone-in a live (at least partially!) discussion, who has read Philosophy at length.

annaatkins wrote:

I am not sure I get exactly what you meant so correct me if I am wrong.
You said: I think, if you're gonna be a 'great thinker' you'll do that on your own...or not.

Well I m gonna have to disagree with that if by saying that you mean you can actually be a great thinker without necessarily having read the great thoughts of those before you. I have studied philosophy for 5 years and I have been told that on and on, by all kinds of people who hadn't really read philosophy. That's what all the people, that can't be bother to open a philosophy book, like to think. It's their way of finding excuses for their laziness. "I haven't read...but what can be written there that I can't figure out by myself." Well...quite a lot of things. Ignoring every 'great thought' of others is like being an inventor trying to invent the wheel and ignoring in the process every other invention before him. He might find out in the end that the thing he thought so unique has already been used for a while by others.


I disagree. Reading after an extent, becomes a hindrance to ‘original thinking’. Take for example, Einstein—he credited his revolutionizing discoveries to lack of ‘formal reading’. In a way you need to have a virgin mind in order to have originality. This doesn’t mean however, that reading is always a hindrance to thinking. More important than the process of reading is—‘how’ and ‘why’ of reading!


Reading philosophy is I think the best exercise you can use for your mind. Is it gonna be hard? Damn sure! Is it gonna be time consuming? Oh yeah! Is it gonna make you feel ignorant and little at times? Only if you understand the real difficulty of it.
Enjoy your reading!


Some 4-5 years ago, I used to suggest my colleagues that ‘Scribbling is, I think the best exercise you can use for your mind’. Now, I not only doubt that, but rather abhor the idea of suggesting any ‘best exercise’.
Thinker13
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Posted 12/02/11 - 12:05 PM:

henry quirk wrote:

A 'thinker' will educate him- or her-self...a 'philosopher' (today) will enroll in university and be indoctrinated.

If I read Mad Fred on my own and deem him a melodramatic narcissist: that's one thing.

If I'm forced to read Mad Fred and am told he was a fucking genius (despite my personal assessment) and that any other view of Mad Fred is wrong and I'll get a friggin' 'F' for the course if I don't view Mad Fred as a fucking genius: that's another.


Again: Very well put—I couldn’t have done it better smiling face
Thinker13
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Posted 12/02/11 - 12:12 PM:

annaatkins wrote:
As long as you can explain why YOU don't think Mad Fred is a genious I'm guessing no one will give you and F. At least they didn't give me one when I tried to bring down Heidegger...but maybe that because I had thoroughly read him and knew exaclty where to hit with my arguments smiling face



I very recently commented about Heidegger, in this very forum. I do not find his views very striking because eastern philosophy has always paid emphasis on 'being' and I found nothing new in Heidegger.
henry quirk
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Posted 12/02/11 - 1:07 PM:

‘Scribbling is, I think the best exercise you can use for your mind’

Bingo!

Speaking only for myself: as a writer, the first, best, way for me to figure out what the hell it is I'm trying to 'think' and 'say' is in the writing.

Writing imposes discipline (on the thinking, and the expression of that thinking).

Reading can expose a body to new ideas, but writing makes for the creation of one's own ideas (new, or, new takes on old).

Excellent observation, Thinker... wink
thedoc
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Posted 12/02/11 - 1:49 PM:

Thinker13 wrote:

Welcome annaatkins. I disagree. Reading after an extent, becomes a hindrance to ‘original thinking’. Take for example, Einstein—he credited his revolutionizing discoveries to lack of ‘formal reading’. In a way you need to have a virgin mind in order to have originality. This doesn’t mean however, that reading is always a hindrance to thinking. More important than the process of reading is—‘how’ and ‘why’ of reading!




A lot depends on the readers attitude toward the material, if it is being read with an uncritical acceptance then it is a hindrance to further thought. If on the other hand the material is viewed as possibly adding to the body of knowledge if it proves valid it would promote thought about the ideas being read.
annaatkins
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Posted 12/07/11 - 4:17 AM:

I disagree. Reading after an extent, becomes a hindrance to ‘original thinking’. Take for example, Einstein—he credited his revolutionizing discoveries to lack of ‘formal reading’. In a way you need to have a virgin mind in order to have originality. This doesn’t mean however, that reading is always a hindrance to thinking. More important than the process of reading is—‘how’ and ‘why’ of reading!


Hello there!
It's really nice to be here. I have finished studying a couple of years ago and grew a bit apart from Philosophy ever since. Coming back to it feels great. I am going to try organize my thoughts and not puzzle anyone.
Here we go:

1. What you were saying above doesn't necessarily contradict what I was saying or the other way around. I agree that in order to be original you have to distance youself from what has been written/said/created before. But the best way to do that starts with knowing what you have to distance yourself from.

2. Heidegger! Being and time was every Philosophy student's Bible so I must admitt it's very difficult for me to be objective when it comes to it. However I know I'll have to work on that in order to get some credibility around here. It might be that having just admitted that, doesn't help.smiling face Heidegger talks about Being, you will say, like everyone else before him. You are totally right. But that's philosophy! It an long, complicated, intricate discourse about Being (whether that is called God or Cat or Monkey) that has been going on since Plato. In fact one of my teacher used to tell us a semi-joke, if I can call it that: everything that has been written after Plato is just footnotes to his writings. That might be true depending on where you stand. The reason I appreciate Heidegger is the fact that he deals with the problem of Being in a different way and is able to construct his own system. That's where his originality can be found. The hardest thing a philosopher has to do is construct a system that has no loopholes. Heidegger does a pretty good job.

3. ‘Scribbling is, I think the best exercise you can use for your mind’
I do agree to that. In fact, I always read with a pencil in my hand. smiling face


Edited by annaatkins on 12/07/11 - 4:24 AM
annaatkins
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Posted 12/07/11 - 4:22 AM:

thedoc wrote:



A lot depends on the readers attitude toward the material, if it is being read with an uncritical acceptance then it is a hindrance to further thought. If on the other hand the material is viewed as possibly adding to the body of knowledge if it proves valid it would promote thought about the ideas being read.




Exactly. It's a bit what I was saying in the other thread: it's up to you if you let yourself indoctrinated or not!
smokinpristiformis
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Posted 12/07/11 - 8:13 AM:

Does Reading Philosophy Makes Thinkers?


What do you mean by thinkers? Does the thinking have to be productive? sticking out tongue
Philosophical works or philosophical stories usually put your mind at work, but on the other hand - so do a lot of things.

By the way, I am of the opinion that if you can't explain something clearly and briefly, there are one of two things going on:

- either you don't have a profound understanding of what you're trying to explain
- or you're just showing off and bugging people, taking up their time for no reason (ie. you're an ass)

wink
Thinker13
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Posted 12/07/11 - 8:49 AM:

smokinpristiformis wrote:


What do you mean by thinkers? Does the thinking have to be productive? sticking out tongue


Interpret as you want to!

Philosophical works or philosophical stories usually put your mind at work, but on the other hand - so do a lot of things.

Indeed.

By the way, I am of the opinion that if you can't explain something clearly and briefly, there are one of two things going on:

- either you don't have a profound understanding of what you're trying to explain
- or you're just showing off and bugging people, taking up their time for no reason (ie. you're an ass)

wink


Not necessarily true in each and every case. Your two scenarios given above might hold true in most of the cases, but, there might be certain theories or ideas, abstruse enough and so located at the boundary of semantics that in spite of having most profound understanding you would find it difficult to explain ‘briefly’ in a single attempt.
Explaining ‘clearly and briefly’ might as well be pseudo-humility as Sophistry is [I doubt if I have done this sentence briefly and clearly! Well, you might call me a show-off! sticking out tongue ]
thedoc
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Posted 12/07/11 - 11:35 AM:

smokinpristiformis wrote:


By the way, I am of the opinion that if you can't explain something clearly and briefly, there are one of two things going on:




This is true, Though for some subjects 'briefly' is not always possible. I have found that reading and knowing something in your head is not always enough, explaining it to others will really focus and crystalize that knowledge for you, This is something 'teaching' teaches you. Another very good method of understanding what you think you know, is to post it on a discussion forum, and when others tear it apart and hand it back to you, that is when you really put it together, or loose it. Deffending ideas makes you put them together in a rational order, and sometimes others will point out just how silly the idea is, and if you are lucky they will explain why. .
Thinker13
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Posted 12/07/11 - 11:47 AM:

thedoc wrote:



This is true, Though for some subjects 'briefly' is not always possible. I have found that reading and knowing something in your head is not always enough, explaining it to others will really focus and crystalize that knowledge for you, This is something 'teaching' teaches you. Another very good method of understanding what you think you know, is to post it on a discussion forum, and when others tear it apart and hand it back to you, that is when you really put it together, or loose it. Deffending ideas makes you put them together in a rational order, and sometimes others will point out just how silly the idea is, and if you are lucky they will explain why. .



To a T.
thedoc
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Posted 12/07/11 - 4:19 PM:

As per the thread title 'Does reading Philosophy make Thinkers?' Not necessarily but it might give you something to think about.
Thinker13
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Posted 12/08/11 - 3:24 AM:

thedoc wrote:
As per the thread title 'Does reading Philosophy make Thinkers?' Not necessarily but it might give you something to think about.



Indeed.
smokinpristiformis
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Posted 12/08/11 - 3:30 AM:

thedoc wrote:



This is true, Though for some subjects 'briefly' is not always possible. I have found that reading and knowing something in your head is not always enough, explaining it to others will really focus and crystalize that knowledge for you, This is something 'teaching' teaches you. Another very good method of understanding what you think you know, is to post it on a discussion forum, and when others tear it apart and hand it back to you, that is when you really put it together, or loose it. Deffending ideas makes you put them together in a rational order, and sometimes others will point out just how silly the idea is, and if you are lucky they will explain why. .


Well done. smiling face
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