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May 20, 2013
me+ME: About philosophy
Sections
Introduction   
1. About philosophy
2. My explanatory notes of 2013
3. A very brief note
About ME/CFS


Introduction:

I am still paying back my walk of over three weeks ago, so I am still not feeling very well. But it may be improving some.

The evidence for the last statement is that I had a little energy, and used it to look into my old administration, of before the computer, which in my case was 1987-8, and found several interesting things.

One of the things I found are two essays I published in 1977. Here is the first, in my translation. Of course, the links are from today.

1. About philosophy

Philosophy is important in at least three respects:

Intellectual: 'Speculative philosophy is the endeavor to frame a coherent, logical, necessary system of general ideas in terms of which every element of our experience can be interpreted.' (Whitehead) [1] This is a conscious intellectual activity. Its results are regularly of social importannce:

Cultural: Everybody has at least one ideology - which is to say a system of ideas about (i) what or how reality is, and (ii) what or how reality should be. Ideologies are (derivatives of) philosophies, though mostly not '
coherent, logical, necessary': the ideology of most people is to them as evident and as subconscious as the operation of their intestines. Seen more broadly: A culture is a system of ideas, traditions and ways of using things, that has been incorporated into manners of feeling, thinking and acting. The understanding of existing and past ways of reasoning, criterions and priorities leads to better understanding and more sensible appreciation of cultures.

Scientific: Scientific knowledge is a set of statements (proposed facts and their explanations) that have been won with the help of certain methods and assumptions. Philosophy (of science) is concerned with the investigation and clarification of these methods and assumptions.

About a study that is important in these ways (other than ordinary sciences, that are only relevant for (i) who is interested in them and (ii) in their applications) one would hope and expect that it would be taught in a good, thorough and enthusiastic way.

But no. The 'education' that I have received the last four years is very bad (on average). It doesn't make sense to extensively consider the reasons why the education given in the Central Interfaculty [2] is so bad (because it probably will not change anything) but I do want to provide a list of points that, in my opinion, need improvements [3]:
  • a part of the staff is lowly qualified, intellectually non-productive and, it seems, uninterested;
  • the salaries are too high, which is to say: the chance is considerable that people want to keep being employed not for having an interest in the trade, but for having an interest in the payment;
  • a part of the students is lowly qyalified (no scientific knowledge; no foreign languages other than English); is intellectually non-productive (in passing examinations); and is, apparently, not interested in large parts of their study;
  • there is an almost complete lack of maintained standards, both as regards the demands for students and for staff;
  • the structure of the Central Interfaculty is of the kind that students who are only interested in some (political) forms of philosophy get too much power [4];
  • and finally the university as a whole seems to tilt on two quite different thoughts as regards the alpha- and gamma-faculties [5]: on the one hand the tendency of a popular university: easily accessible, levelled, and with diplomas in 'cultural education'; on the other hand there is a tendency towards strongly unlevelled academic education, with considerable standards. The result is education of a low level with academic status.
Consequences: levelled diplomas, that is, masters of art and bachelors who know and can do little, unless they have themselves learned extra (and that will not be mentioned in their diplomas) and extensive cultural corruption because of the allotment of jobs/positions to persons who only formally qualify. [6]

Other than giving voice to my anger, I cannot change the situation. It remains a fact that much that is being offered by the Central Interfaculty doesn't interest me (usually because the way it is offered is very bad: interminablle bullshitting in work groups [7]; very bad lectures, usually without any syllabus; utter bullshit that is being offered as if it were wisdom, etc.), while what does interest me is not or hardly on offer. In this and coming papers I want to register a number of subjects that (i) are of interest to me, (ii) are related to philosophy and that in my opinion (iii) are not, not well or insufficiently being taught in the Central Interfaculty. [8] In most cases, I will give rather extensive references to literature: an important part of intellectual communication is, after all, the mentioning and praising of your sources.

2. My explanatory notes of 2013

[1] I quoted and still mostly agree, but now want to insist that "necessary" may be asking too much.

[2] At that time, mainly because of E.W. Beth's efforts (who had died in 1964), the faculty of philosophy was called "Central Interfaculty", which was all based on quite wide and far going ideals, that were not realized in any sense, and since then the whole idea has been given up. Incidentally "the last four years" is nonsense (false) if indeed this is from 1977. But I think it is, and anyway only have a photocopy that contains no dates.

[3] Everything I am saying was and is true, but it was quite unwise of me to say it. But then when I wrote this I was healthy.

[4] Actually, this was too kind: Twenty years later I learned people got to be doctorandus (M.A.) in philosophy by getting points for squatting and taking part in demonstrations.

[5] "Alpha- and gamma-universities": The faculties that teach languages or social sciences. I do not know whether this is current language, but then it was.

[6] Quite so - but quite unwise to have said so, seeing that I would be ill from 1.1.1979, and never get better. In any case... apart from Evert W. Beth, who lived from 1908-1964, and was very asthmatic; Peter Wesley, who went into music, circa 1980; and myself I would not know of any good student of philosophy.

[7] "Work groups" again was a Dutch technical term, factually without any precise meaning.

[8] Actually, I had to remove myself on 1.1.1978 from studying, because I got no money anymore. So all I seem to have done in this respect is "On philosophical language", that will follow later.

3. A very brief note

As I've said, section 1 was published in 1977 - I think, thiugh I am not fully certain - and so is 36 years old. It is not very important, though it is quite cogent, and shows I have been both thinking and writing the same things ever since I started to study.

That also is my reason of translating and publishing it. The other one, about philosophical uses of language, will be more interesting.

---------------------------------

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)


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