Monday, March 14, 2011

Coal for Diamonds: Why Philosophy is (Pretty) Useless

In the previous few days, I had come across an interesting topic - that which is very much controversial in the realm of reasoned and seasoned Scientists and those of advanced fields of study... That of Philosophy, and of Philosophers - and how useless they both are in the long-run mill of Knowledge.
Do not get me wrong. Philosophy is a wonderful thing, and serves it's purposes. There's certain magic to questioning the entirety of the universe as a whole, and even your own very existence. It was philosophy that has given us so many wonderful things, such as Democracy, Freedom of Thought, and the rest of the wonderful ideas that have made this modern world...
My problem is that of Philosophers claiming that a shabby bit of tact can supplement for actual knowledge of the subject at hand, and that those who have studied must sit around and listen to them rambling nonsense about matters which they have had no formal education in.

In olden times of history, Philosophers are seen as the first thinkers and scientists. Through thought and a vivid desire for knowledge, they actively pondered upon many things - God, Life, the Planet, Why things work the way that they do, and so on and so forth. They had given the basis of Science, and had set the stage for future generations. (I have included a list of notable philosophers in time [ref])
The word Philosophy is derived from two main words: Philo- (or Lover[1] and -osophy (or Knowledge / Wisdom/ Study) [2] ([ref]) - this is a noble title, to say the least. If we didn't love philosophy, or philosophers, we wouldn't be keeping witty quotes by obscure chuckle-fucks pinned to everything we own and written down as some quoted header or footer to everything we can possibly think of writing. We all have some writer that has managed to write out a statement that has struck a chord with our very existence.

However wonderful and beautiful an art this is - Philosophy is no substitute for actual learning, and education in any field. It holds no promise for advancement in the realms of technology, or education. Philosophy today is, for what it's worth, a metaphysical science. It operates within the realms without testable and verifyable evidence, asking questions such as what if?, how come? and, of course, why? (Not the Why? that scientists work on - regarding the mechanics of an event or a happening - but why? in the sense of just perpetually compiling on why? for the sake of why?).

This became subperbly evident several days ago, when I was discussing things of a scientific nature with a stranger on the internet. This man (Nytmare8) was very intelligent, and managed for the most part to understand the conversation and carry it along quite nicely, even into the realms of higher mathematics and science... That is, until he made the statement that hot and cold were subjective.
Now, if you are aware of science to the 6th grade level, you'll remember when your teachers told you about how Energy works, and it's definition - Energy is a quantity that is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems [ref]. Any movement in the Universe, and any subsequent movement by any other system, is transferred energy. Heat is Thermal energy, and, as such, is the result of energy in a mass to create movement, that generates heat. [ref] - This is not something subjective. Heat is Thermal Energy, and the lack of thermal energy is a state we call "Cold."
Needless to say, I was confused for a moment ... And there was the fact that "Subjective" didn't exist except in the realm of motion in physics, and that is only to the two people's experience of time and space.
He then goes on to make the statement: "-like light and darkness."
Light and Darkness are not subjective at all ... Light is made of Photons - an electromagnetic particle that can travel through a vacuum [ref]. Darkness is simply the description of a lack of these photons.

After a few bouts of mental exchange with this user, it becamse more and more evident that he was missing some of the most basic concepts of Scientific structure. He certainly had a grasp of what I was talking about on the conceptual level, but when it got down to the actual knowledge on the subject he had no clue about the physics concept of work, and he even denied the fundamentals of Quantum Mechanics - the only system where causality and order submits to chaos as time and space tear and overwrite each other.

When I pointed this out, and coreected him, his statements danced around in a circle for an hour until we got to the boilng point of it all - semantics and irrational what if? mumbo jumbo that had no bearings on what the actual facts where. And, when I made the statement that Philosophy is not the backbone of knowledge, and can not gain anything in terms of practicallity or facts, he got really antsy...


We must remember, however, that I am not against philosophy... Hell, I can swing a quote and think outside the box with the best of them. If you are into Philosophy - allow myself ring you a new one for the books:
Philosophy is to Science is as Diamonds are to Coal ... Sure, Diamonds are lovely to have around, and are certainly lovely to flash around to show off. But, when it gets down to it, which one is of more utility?
Coal has many uses. Mainly, the implimentation of the chemical reactions that result in fire. We can use this to power anything, from trains to boats. We can use it to cook our foods - and even disappoint a delinquent on Christmas morning.
But what good are Diamonds?

Just as I would prefer the utilities of coal over the shine of a well-cut diamond, I prefer the Knowledge through the scientific processes and study to the ramblings of a philosopher.


  1. Diamonds has lots of industrial uses too, but that's not the point

  2. Diamonds also can be burnt :-)

  3. So can Iron - but I'm not going to be able to light it up with a series of prayers and 20 matches...

    Diamonds cannot keep a flame without being dumped in Liquid Oxygen after being set aflame by a blow torch, and that is assuming no air impurities.

  4. Anon Jack is right, but i don't think impurities in the air would matter when talking about liquid oxygen.

  5. Very informative and interesting, thanks a lot!