The Whichness Of The Why

Rene DesCartes

Philosophers have nothing to say, but will take all day (or all of their lives) to say it.

In my ongoing attempts to get psychological explanations for why people – often Christians, but also Atheists – believe what they do, I kept running into philosophers. I thought that Philosophers were deep-thinkers, who used the power of their intellect to uncover important social revelations.

The more I read though, the more I realized that this was not so. One of them, like René Descartes (above) might make a significant claim, like; “Cogito ergo sum – I think, therefore I am” then the rest of them would discuss and debate it. If only one Philosopher contended a theory, it was like mental masturbation. If a group of them worried it like a dog with a bone, it was more like a circle-jerk. It made them all feel good, without actually accomplishing anything.

Often, no-one really proved anything. They just kept arguing with one another until observed facts finally showed one of them to be the closest guesser. Then folks would congratulate him as if he’d discovered something.

Even the winner of a debate, or series of debates, did not reveal, or prove, any particular truth. The champion became the victor by looking the best, yelling the loudest, and waving his hands the most. One Philosopher had a mortal enemy, another debater. There was only one subject about which the two agreed. Mr. Ego challenged his opponent to a debate, and took the ‘anti’ side. He won the debate by disproving an opinion that he held.

Despite the fact that colleges and Universities teach Philosophy, we have no Philosophers any more. What we have today are authors, bloggers, podcasters, and Christian Apologetics. All of them are full of strongly-held opinions, but if you laid them all end-to-end, they wouldn’t reach a valid conclusion.

Gilileo Goes To Jail

Case in point, a book that I recently read, titled Galileo Goes To Jail, 25 myths about Science and Religion. Seldom have I seen hairs split so finely, with no purpose other than to make the contributors appear learned and impressive. All 25 writers tiptoed through the minefield of truth and logic, but I felt the worst among them was the jackass who set out to prove that

Giordano Bruno Was Not The First Martyr Of Modern Science

Now, the first of anything is going to look different from what has gone before. This genius wanted to play the “Own The Definition” game. He started by claiming that Bruno was not a scientist, or was not teaching science. Of course not! Back then, the words, the definitions, the very concepts of “science” and “scientist” did not exist. Everything was Natural Philosophy.

‘Science’ did not exist, and Bruno wasn’t ‘teaching’ it. He did however publicly express and debate his opinions and conclusions about reality. He openly held Galileo’s position, that the Earth moved, and the sun didn’t, contrary to the Church’s dogma of a fixed and unmoving Earth. His claims were heresy to The Holy Catholic Church, which owned the definition of heresy.

Heresy they might have been, but as the equivalents of modern Astronomy, Astrophysics, and Mathematics, they were a Hell of a lot more like science than say, if the Pope might not be infallible, God did not exist in three parts, or we had to eat fish on Friday.

I try not to be hidebound in my opinions, and not get caught in confirmation bias. I invite, and delight in, discussion and debate about anything I publish. If you prove me wrong about any claim I make, I will accept defeat Philosophically. 😉


Oops, I left a link to a 1949 Sci-Fi story at the end of this draft.  Rather than delete it –  anybody want to access and read it??

Edmond Hamilton – Alien Earth


7 thoughts on “The Whichness Of The Why

  1. Rivergirl says:

    I blog… therefore I am.
    I believe that says it all.


  2. Jim Wheeler says:

    In philosophical and political discourse, context and experience are paramount. Sources matter. Those who fail to understand this tend to vote badly. As the Fiddler on the Roof said, “When you’re rich, they think you really know!” Alas.


  3. Archon's Den says:

    I see this a lot when I watch the Atheist/Christian debates. It’s called the Argument From Authority. Rich people may only be smart about one thing – making money. The hoi polloi are more than willing to give them credit in areas where they’re dumb as a bowl of oatmeal. This explains the Kardashians. Their only talent is snake oil sales. Even Bernie Madoff looked good for a while. 😯


  4. Joe says:

    I think the more you learn about philosophers you will find they are indeed intellectual giants.

    “Isaac Newton remarked in a letter to his rival Robert Hooke dated February 5, 1676 [O.S.][7] (February 15, 1676 [N.S.]) that:

    What Des-Cartes [sic] did was a good step. You have added much several ways, & especially in taking the colours of thin plates into philosophical consideration. If I have seen further it is by standing on the sholders [sic] of Giants.”

    Here is a pretty good article about Descartes mathmatical advances including the Cartesian Coordinate system.

    The evidence that Bruno was a martyr for science is IMO clearly contradicted by the evidence.

    He was against science and using math to find out about the natural world. He just happened to agree with a single conclusion that happened to later be proven by science. But since he did not reach that conclusion by using science it is odd to say he was a martyr for science. It is like saying a Christian who was killed for believing the world had a beginning based on Genesis was a martyr for science because later we developed the big bang theory.

    But it is even worse in Brunos case because he likely would have been convicted of heresy even if he never expressed anything about his view on the movement of the earth. There were many views that he held and taught that the church found heretical. No sources discussing why he was convicted suggest that view played any role.

    Of course it was horrible that the church and other institutions of the time and since would kill people for merely expressing their beliefs. But to say the Bruno case somehow has to do with the church butting heads with science is contradicted by overwhelming evidence.


    • Archon's Den says:

      I stand corrected – or at least more fully informed while comfortably seated. While I agree with your references, the point of my rant was that Mr. Know-It-All didn’t mention any of it, and went ahead with trying to appear learned, while ignoring historical and etymological development. 🙂


  5. […] my Whichness Of The Why post, I had uncharitable things to say about philosophers, debates, and structured arguments.  It is […]


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