Month: April 2017

Analytical Vs. Continental Philosophy

Some people view analytic philosophy as superior to continental philosophy, perhaps because analytic philosophy is based on reason while continental philosophy is considered opinion or speculation.

But those people are looking for certainty in their beliefs, and insofar as analytic philosophy is certain it is merely tautology, in that all certain truths within it are merely isomorphisms or rearrangements of base axioms, such as those of the meanings of words and Aristotelian syllogisms, because insofar as one truth strictly derives from another truth without any further input from ontology/observation the latter is necessarily only a reflection of the former; and insofar as analytic philosophy is not certain it can easily mislead, because language is so dynamic that words can easily be put together to manipulate thought, producing one spin or another, depending on how one arranges words to create concepts. A concept can appear reasonable because the incompleteness of the definitiveness of the notion, or the other possibilities to the situation, are made subtle/covert by the craftiness of its articulation. As such, sometimes a contradicting concept to a compelling concept can appear equally compelling because of the crafty arrangement of the words of its expression in a different sequence.

So analytic philosophy reduces to uninteresting tautology and arguments that are compelling yet non-strict in a way that entails they could just as likely be sophistry as sound. By contrast, continental philosophy actually makes statements about the larger world and life, sometimes very deep/profound statements. While the author could be wrong or right and the text’s correctness can’t be determined purely analytically, it’s interesting, and you can apply judgement and evaluation to it on levels of sense beyond the merely logical, especially if you read many different continental philosophers and compare their views in order to gain perspective. Also, the statements of continental philosophy are not necessarily just speculation or opinion on the basis of their not being logically or empirically proven; they can be keen/apt/astute/insightful, even if still having an essential “subjectivity” to their (so-called) “claims.”

It is not strictly because of the dynamicism of language and its potential to lead or mislead thought that the incompleteness of an argument or the alternate possibilities involved are made covert; it is human intention and craftiness that result in this, even partly on unconscious levels, because the intention of the author is to convince the reader of his position and to look good, and the ability to wield words effectively comes naturally to us, so much so that we hardly even know how we do it. Of course, some authors may simply articulate their thoughts honestly without any clever use of phraseology to side-step the weaknesses of their positions, but the thought-elements of chains of reasoning themselves are somewhat analogous to words in how they can be dynamically arranged to lead or mislead someone (including the thinker himself). Both those things, the clever phraseology and potentially misleading chains of thought-elements, are semantical in nature.

As a side note, I think it’s more this chronic slipping of indefinitiveness through the seams in phraseology that makes certain philosophical positions more trendy or modern, or tearing down of or more compelling than other positions, than actual legitimacy or truth; so, contrary to popular opinion, I don’t believe that philosophy actually progresses over time; I think it merely changes its inclinations based on who made the last and more cleverly constructed argument. It’s much like debate in this respect, in that who wins the debate generally has little to do with who’s actually right and a lot more to do with who’s the stronger debater.

We are temporary caretakers of our children, not owners.

I was just reminded of the social phenomenon of parents who think it’s appropriate to give their children rules without bothering to explain their reasons, presumably to put an iron fist down and teach their children that all they have to do is listen and obey, thinking that giving their children the luxury of an explanation is too lenient, if not simply inconvenient.

Don’t do this. This kind of thinking is poisonous and authoritarian. It’s frustrating and makes your child resent you and creates and adversarial relationship between you and your child, which is neither healthy nor beneficial.

Children are not born to be ruled over. Freedom is the most basic desire and purpose for all humans, including children. Parents are meant to be their children’s caretakers, not their bosses. (In truth, children were meant to be raised by the entire community, where presumably they’d be able to choose whom they like to spend time with and accept as role models, but today’s society makes that impossible.)

Children should also be treated as largely autonomous beings who have their own paths in life and should be able to decide for themselves who and what they want to be and to make their own mistakes. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the parents’ job to mold them into the people that the parents think they should be.

It may be true that some guidelines should be set down just for the sake of protection in a dangerous world for children who do not yet sufficiently understand it, but it’s much more psychologically healthy for the child (and more generally productive for reasons related to the very purpose of the rule itself) if the child is made to understand the reasons for a given rule.

Speaking of role models, the natural way for a child to learn how to live life and what to do and not to do is by example, not by instruction and threat. Of course, while command via threat should be used as seldom as possible, setting an example is not the only healthy avenue for guidance. From National Institute of Mental Health, ‘a research sampler on families and children,’ regarding Native American culture, ‘scolding has been done by a stern look and correction often achieved by “teasing” rather than physical punishment.’

You may think that Native American culture is often idealized, while no human culture is or was actually perfect, but just the fact that they handled correction in this manner shows that it’s possible, and doesn’t it sound like a much more positive and less anti-social way of doing things?

While I’m on the subject of child-rearing, I should also mention that study after study has shown that corporal punishment (i.e., spanking) has many negative short- and long-term psychological ramifications (including a lowering of IQ, and longer-term behavioral problems which ultimately defeat the purpose), and hardly any positive ones. It’s simply violent, heavy-handed, anti-social and unnecessary.

The idea that corporal punishment is normal and healthy is just one of the many blights of our culture; particularly it’s one of those blights in the form of sins we commit against children, which are especially damaging. We think it’s normal and healthy just because it’s what our parents did to us, and “hey, we turned out fine.”

In many countries, spanking children is not only considered unacceptable behavior but is also illegal. Other countries aren’t automatically better by virtue of being foreign countries, of course, but again, this shows that corporal punishment simply isn’t as necessary an evil as we tend to think it is.

More of the article quoted above can be seen here:

Another webpage that’s tangentially related to this topic is this one:

Here is an excellent Quora answer on the subject of corporal punishment and parental discipline in general, by someone who was raised without rules.

For more information on studies showing the negative ramifications of corporal punishment of children, I’d suggest you do your own research; that way you know that what you find isn’t a result of my cherry-picking.