Friday, May 22, 2009

on the value of Philosophy

On Philosophy: Non Binary

Many issues/problems in life are not a matter or binary type, "right or wrong". Eg trying to find an as near optimal as possible solution to an aircraft assignment problem. There are ways to assign the aircraft that are far from the best possible one and there are ways near that elusive optimal. Knowing you are somewhere near the optimal, even though you do not know where that optimal is exactly or how to go from where you are to it, is very often good enough ("right" enough). So bother to look further when you know that the assignment you have found and know how to implement is only 1% away from the elusive "globally optimal"?

Plus: There is a different between "mathematical way of thinking" and using Maths per se. Eg in logic, we use mathematical thinking but not maths per se (to structure thought "algorithms"). One does not always have in one's disposal all the data needed to use a math model to solve the problem and we are a problem solving based society, the western one, in our "Philosophy". Should we not?

A "problem" is not a "problem" per se, it is merely an opportunity for finding a solution and the fun of the process looking for it!

Philosophy for All!

Philosophy means the pursuit of wisdom
And wisdom is applications oriented

The Socratic method to ask questions to his pupils rather than preach? But they were his pupils.

Some philosophers pose questions instead of theories because in their brand of philosophy, but the idea is for one to reach one's own philosophical conclusions rather than theologise others'.

Does a philosopher need a PhD in Philosophy to be a Philosopher? Does a painter or poet need a PhD in Arts to be one? Some people produce/create philosophy, some other quote the philosophy of those and others. Who are the Philosophers?

Let us philosophise on that!

What is your Philosophy?

Quantifying everything and turning any decision into a mathematical model (function) to be optimised is what I actually studied (2 degrees) and it is called "Decisions Science", it is IMO not Philosophy per se. Philosophy can and should use Decision Science techniques to aid a person reach "better" decisions in his/her life, airlines allocate aircraft to flights, companies optimise the production and distribution of the products or services (logistics), governments design and formulate public policy, etc.

"What is the "philosophy" of this company, policy, "system", person (his/her life)" is a question made at least in Greek. Or to be "philosophised" ie to be aware "why" you are doing something, how it fits with one's own "living philosophy" and/or the Society - "system" one lives in.

But IME many problems are too complex or large to be turned into one mathematical model and "globally" optimised (find the best possible "solution"). Thus one usually combines quantitative AND qualitative techniques to analyse problems and formulate them into a problem to be solved. But IMO Philosophy is not pure mathematics or decision sciences, even the concepts of "optimality" and "efficiency" need Philosophical analysis. Science, in general, shows us the "how" and Philosophy searches the "why".

Eg in dating, Philosophy helps reply to the question "why should I date her/him" and other disciplines the "how". lol The same with "should I make love with her/him", lol.

Eros is one area where decisions are not rational at all and can hardly be put into mathematical formulas. On the contrary, "LT partner selection" can. Eros not only defies logic, it also defies Philosophy, true Eros that is.

Originally written: November 11, 2007
Updated: May 22, 2009

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