Jach's personal blog

(Largely containing a mind-dump to myselves: past, present, and future)
Current favorite quote: "Supposedly smart people are weirdly ignorant of Bayes' Rule." William B Vogt, 2010

Philosophy is Easy

I'd like to just stop there, because it's obvious to me. It should be obvious to any serious computer programmer, scientist, or mathematician.

But of course any philosophers would be offended... Still, this shouldn't be very long...

Okay. I'm too lazy to look up the actual numbers, but doesn't it seem reasonable that there are more philosophy majors than math majors, and more women in philosophy than women in math? (I am not implying that men are smarter than women; I am implying that men are more spread out to the extremes than women and that's why you see more brilliant men but also more men in prison.)

You can get a rough estimate of how hard something is by how many humans are doing it. Most humans walk, thus you can conclude walking is an easy thing to learn and perform (for humans). A lot of people speak English, but don't be too hasty to conclude English is easier than other languages. A lot of people speak Chinese too. No, your evidence for the ease of English is in how many people learn it as a second language, as opposed to learning other languages.

A more vague estimate of difficulty is how much "brain pain" initially looking at something induces. If you show someone the paragraphs of a philosopher, it doesn't immediately cause brain pain. They'll start reading and may even finish it. Show someone a math proof, however, and the moment they see the plus sign their brain goes off rather than try to deal with the pains of math.

My blog posts thus far have mostly been philosophical arguments presented in English. This goes for most blog posts above the level of relaying daily life. The guy over at Coding Horror doesn't even have all posts about math or programming, though programming is a major focus.

My dad didn't (doesn't?) see the degrees of difficulty a few years ago. I could do highish level math, my step-sister could do the duties of a radio station DJ, and he claimed that those were equal difficulty and that I couldn't perform the duties of a radio station DJ at the same level as she.

I didn't really have an answer back then, but I knew it was false. So my answer now is two-fold:

1: Socializing skills don't reside in the kidney. If you think I'm intelligent, that should also mean I have some socializing skills. If it doesn't, just say I'm good at math.

2: There are more DJs than upper-level mathematicians, and more importantly more potential DJs. If your job is so simple that you could be easily replaced, it doesn't seem like it's that hard a job. Hence robots that are simple to program replace the jobs that are simple to perform.

I believe philosophers get math-envy, or physics-envy, and start straying into fields they have no real right to be in. A mathematician solves a tough problem staring at humanity for decades, and a philosopher comes in with no idea about the math and says "Ah, but only because he held these opinions was this possible!" I don't disagree that certain mentalities will fare better than others, but the truth of the matter is his math skills won out, and someone of different mentality with equal math skills would have discovered the solution to the problem as well. Math and Science progress in humanity as a whole, not really at the individual level. We attribute Newton as the inventor of Calculus, the one who got it first, though this is not a certainty and regardless it is a fact others independently derived it around Newton's time.

Furthermore, there's that /(ranking of influential books taken some time ago. The Bible and Atlas Shrugged were at the top, which are both essentially philosophical fiction. (Sadly the Bible is probably more grounded in reality.) It can be easily shown that the fiction and writing quality in both are not that great, which leaves only the philosophical content to be of any interest. Both books are very readable to many people, so they can't be all that difficult to comprehend right? If physics were so simple, maybe Feynman would be on the list. Understanding how reality really works, instead of just theorizing about it, is one thing that can make physics so hard. When you're just theorizing instead of experimenting, you're less likely to go into the uncomfortable, unintuitive places reality itself lives in.

Debating whether to further your knowledge in math/science/computers vs. philosophy? Go with the former. The majority of all philosophy is bad and wrong; Plato is only useful for a historical note, not for anything relevant today. Challenge your brain: do math.

Posted on 2009-10-14 by Jach

Tags: philosophy


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