people who claim philosophy is intentionally obscurantist very rarely seem to level the same criticism to, say, physics. try reading a physics paper and a philosophy paper with no background in either and see which is easier to understand

obviously i have my own horse in the race here but, in the first place, 'this field uses its own terminology' is the shallowest criticism possible, and in the second, where you think its appropriate to use non-ordinary language & where it becomes obscurantism tells heavily on what your background assumptions are

to use philosophical terminology: the language-games of philosophy are not the same as those of day-to-day life. if philosophical concepts could be easily and unambiguously communicated in ordinary language, they would be trivial — communicating something beyond the usual levels of analysis we apply requires language different from the one we usually apply

there is an element of obscurantism to all academia in that 'science' is a social activity, and the ability to use scientific language (of whatever field) marks one as an initiated participant in said activity; and, as a matter of fact, natural science is far more exclusivist than are the humanities

if you're willing to allow physicists to use terms like 'strangeness' or 'spontaneous electroweak symmetry breaking', but not tolerate terms like 'private language', 'monad', or 'différance' from philosophers, that speaks to your willingness to accept the underlying value systems of western natural science — which, to a large extent, are those of capitalism and colonialism — over the possibility of highlighting or criticising those systems

of course philosophy can be colonialist too, but the point is that natural science is incapable of describing its own values: they're implicit; whereas philosophy is precisely the field that makes them explicit

and, ultimately, the fact remains that philosophy is one of the few fields that are accessible without special training. you can just pick up a book of plato or descartes or wittgenstein and come away with at least some understanding of what they're on about

accessibility is a real and valid concern, and there are huge structural problems in western research and academia engineered to keep them exclusive; but 'words hard' is not a way of addressing that. if words are difficult, you teach people the words, you don't take the words away

to wrap this up: if i see you claiming philosophy as a monolith is obscurantist, i will beat you up with my battered copy of the tractatus logico-philosophicus. you will cry and it will be pitiful

@esvrld YES. I teach political theory and breaking down jargon and the students always say that having a word like 'grievability' or even 'governmentality' is helpful.
I find that a lot of my students get excited as they learn new words to help them name the world and engage with it more thoughtfully.

@esvrld there is another layer to this - in the social sciences, we speak about phenomena we encounter in everyday life. in order to make meaningful hypotheses and meaningfully communicate findings, we cannot use the same language we use *within* those fields of everyday life. e.g. we all have an idea or other of what an "institution" is. a sociologist has a very specific definition of "institutions", written down in dictionaries, shared by the humanities, that differs from the one we use in the day-to-day. it has to be that way because otherwise, it would become arbitraty - imagine physicists using a term like "particle" in the same arbitrary sense as in normal conversation, where a particle can, for example, be a piece of dust that gets in your lungs and causes a cough.

@anarchiv yea this is about what i was trying to say in the post just before the one you're replying to

@esvrld hm, I did not mean to splain or anything, I just felt like going into a little more detail might help elucidate the point you were making

@esvrld That's so much of a real thing, and scientists are victim of it too:

for instance, my PhDon't was in Computer Science (long story), and at some point I ended up doing research that was relevant in a subsubfield adjacent to “mine”, essentially concerned with automatically solving instances of the (logic) problem “Foo”.

Of course, that involved reading the literature first, so I had to be socialised into that field (can't read the papers if you don't speak the language).

It was a fairly painful process, even though I had access to experts in that field: “Foo” can be viewed as a 2-players game, and the game-theoretic viewpoint is very powerful for doing theory about Foo's semantic, but utterly inadequate for discussing algorithms that solve Foo.

Yet, every paper I've read about Foo solvers was written in the game-theoretic formalism, and the main content (the algorithm itself) would be obfuscated as a strategy for each player.

Essentially, I had to translate every single paper into a more adequate formalism to be able to understand it. And talking with field experts, they all do it, though actually considering it translation and writing it down was unusual (and I gathered quite a few favours just sending around copies of my “translations”)

[continued in thread]

@esvrld [continued, first message in reply]

Of course, when my turn came to write a paper, I didn't want to make it exclusivist, so I did not write it in the game-theoretic formalism, and actually spent a lot of effort making it as accessible as I could.

I first dropped a “pre-print” version in open-access (kinda standard in this field) and sought to publish it in a journal or at a conference.

The pre-print soon attracted a lot of positive attention; a couple of world-experts in Foo solvers even wrote to me personally, within a few weeks, to comment on how “approachable and insightful” it was.

At the same time, I was getting attacked and harassed by reviewers at every single venue I submitted the paper to: it was “trivial”, “obvious plagiarism” (often of work I was already citing and explaining the difference to), or I was accused of fabricating our experimental results outright.

I had dared to refuse speaking the secret language of the tribe, and I was damn well going to pay for it.

very dense and obscure philosophical musing 

@esvrld pee pee poo poo

@esvrld i think a lot of philosophy IS trivial, because anyone alive is thinking Hard about this shit like a Lot. i think that's why people especially pick on philosophy for making the trivial inaccessible. but certainly i don't reserve the criticism for philosophy only. in other words,

@esvrld I am still not over people claiming computers are intentionally obscuranist because computer languages don't read like natural languages

@silverwizard wait is this a new account or how come i wasn't following you?

@esvrld I don't know, I did change my URL?

Also - as someone in psych, I also feel this, so much of psych is trying to differentiate a problem, and then realizing it doesn't match natural language at all

@silverwizard yea i talk about philosophy because it's my field, so it's what i'm familiar with, but this applies to all social sciences i think

@esvrld i think philosophy is intuitive and a waste of a discipline. i don't need folks telling me how to think lol

I love love love reading the armchair philosophy stuff that some of the greatest physicists have written. Including Randall Munroe of XKCD

@esvrld But you can test the physics paper, and it usually does something or carefully measures and describes a real thing. You can do the math (well, maybe not if you have a philosophy degree, but some people can!)

When philosophers really build their trolley accelerators and prove their theories, then it'll be a science instead of "getting paid to lie".

@mdhughes @esvrld have you considered testing whether or not you can shove a trolley up your ass hole?

@cuttlefish @esvrld Math tells me a trolley is 2-3 orders of magnitude bigger, just as I don't need to test jumping to the Moon, need booster engines to exceed 11km/s.

@esvrld its funny that i see "i dont get philosophy it seems overcomplicated and pointless" posts when i shitpost about monadology or whatever but nobody ever does that when i am blathering about linear memory allocators

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