If a equals a (A=A) and a equals b (A=B), how come A=A ≠ A=B. What informs A through B which A doesn't inform itself?

Picked from: Conversations with History - John Perry on YouTube. (Link button does not work)


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I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Equality is usually considered to be transitive, so if A=B and B=C it follows that A=C

I have tortured myself by watching the video until I got to the part you were referring to. What was said was "why is A=B telling us something new that A=A isn't telling us"


It is telling me for one thing that philosophers really are horribly pointless people who add nothing to the field of knowledge.


One is a tautology, that an object is equal to itself. The other is comparing two objects and saying that on some level they are the same. The first is mere repetition while the other is stating something about the relationship between two separate objects. Obviously the second statement is adding knowledge while the first isn't


That philosopher was saying that other philosophers have spent two centuries or more discussing this, which just tells me that the entire field of philosophy should be abandoned. We have carved of natural philosophy and renamed it science. The the rest die in peace.


"It is telling me for one thing that philosophers really are horribly pointless people who add nothing to the field of knowledge."

Yea, philosophers have given us such useless things like the field science itself. And one of the people pondering this very question was Descartes, which gave the field of mathematics called (des)Cartesian. Surely, nothing good can come of that. ;)

It doesn't quite become repetitions. If 2 is 2 and 2 is a number, then 2 is two things at the same time. It's not a question of what it is, I want to know why we can think that. It doesn't seem logical yet we can all easily grasp that it is like that.. The questions which arise for me are '2=what exactly?' and 'Why does 2 occupy at least two states in my mind simultaneously (and how does it do that)?'.

I already said we ripped out natural philosophy and renamed it science. That was the only useful part of it. The useful philosophers went along and started calling themselves scientists, the people who couldn't do anything stayed and wasted everybody's time


2 is 2 is a repetition. A tautological description of a thing in terms of itself.

2 is a number is not repetition, it adds knowledge by describing a relationship between two concepts.


Why one is different from the other is trivial and it does not require two centuries to discuss it.


I understand you are a philosopher who wants to defend his field, but I'm sorry: you fail, and so does philosophy. When the natural philosophers left, you were left with a field of study with no content

Incidentally, a philosopher may engage in useful activities as well. Saying that just because Descartes produced useful mathematics, his philosophy is valid too is not really a justified conclusion. Not in logic, not even in philosophy


I would have chosen Bertrand Russel as a better example of a philosopher who also did useful work

So on one hand you are saying that philosophy is useless while at the same time saying Bertrand Russel is a philopher who did something useful.  Am I missing something?

Also, what about the field of political philosophy?  Do you think all questions regarding fairness, how we should live as a society, and who we are as individuals have been completely solved for every situation possible?

You are missing that there is a difference between "philosophy" and "someone who happens to also have written something on philosophy". In the specific case of Russel, he did a lot of valuable things in the field of mathematics


No, I don't think all such questions have been solved. I also don't think philosophers have anything useful to add by virtue of being philosophers. They are as welcome as anyone else to field an opinion, but the fact that they have wasted 4 years of university/college on a worthless subject does not imbue them with any particular insight that others don't have

Rawls is pretty much a philosophers philosopher. He didn't exactly directly contribute a lot outside the field of philosophy. However, his insights are now part of the modern economics run by governments. You feel that particular philosopher's impact every time you pay taxes.

Philosophy comes before all the other sciences. At one point, someone looked at the stars and asked the philosophical question "What is that?!". They founded the natural sciences. Some time before or after, someone saw someone else doing something and asked the philosophical question "Why did he do that?!". They founded the behavioral sciences.



Philosophers apparently also can't read. I have already addressed that. We took the useful bits and renamed it science. The useful practitioners were renamed scientists. What is left are the people who don't know anything about anything but pretend they are experts who should be asked


As for economists, don't get me started

OK.  Try this as a demonstration- http://imgur.com/mqlKD

Secondly- I dont understand the distinction you have drawn between Descartes and Bertrand Russel.  Both are mathematicians/scientists and philosophers.  So what is the difference?  Also, why is it that you can see that philosophy is so pointless so clearly but they cannot?


Thirdly- think about every time a law is changed, or a politician changes a policy, or an economist comes up with a theory, or a scientist is thinking about whether he is being ethical or not... ALL of those things are founded on philosophy.

Finally- think about the history of ideas, political movements and societal change.  Do you not think it is important to know, study and understand our past?  Or do you think that now that we live in the 'age of science' we can completely forget our history and where we came from?


And please, I would love to know what you think of economists, but maybe thats a topic for another thread :)

Philosophizing is what I did every time I had Christianity in school.. omfg I hated Christianity class. ;)

"Zoned out" as the kids in America call it.

As for Economists...


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