Monday, November 21, 2011

Philosophy and occult philosophy according to Wikipedia

There's a bizarre discussion going on here on Wikipedia about what counts as philosophy. Someone removed the 'Philosophy' category from articles, for example from Anarky (comic book character) and The Illuminatus! Trilogy (not sure what that is), and from John Dee (renaissance magician or 'occult philosopher').

It really irritates philosophers when their subject gets confused with things that are entirely different from, indeed contrary to the strict and proper definition of the term. 'Metaphysics' does not mean sitting cross-legged and chanting 'om', yet Wikipedia classifies writers like Rhonda Byrne as 'metaphysical writers'. It irritates them in exactly the way that Patrick Moore used to get irritated when people would confuse astrology with astronomy.

 And while words change their meaning over time, that does not mean a comprehensive and reliable reference work should classify items according to their original meaning. As I pointed out here, the word 'astronomy' (astronomia) used to mean what the word 'astrology' now means, i.e. the superstitious and occult art. There were also proper astronomers, but they were called 'astrologers'. That does not mean that a comprehensive and reliable reference work would list medieval occultists under 'medieval astronomers', nor medieval scientific astronomers under 'medieval astrologers'. But then Wikipedia is not a comprehensive and reliable reference work, as I have argued here so many times.

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9 Comments:

Blogger J said...

The Illuminatus! Trilogy (not sure what that is).

Well, wiki away, Ock.
The Illuminatus! Trilogy is a hippie-anarchist novel, written by Wilson and Shea, IIRC. Robert A Wilson was not technically a philosopher---more like a new-age psychologist, and pal of...Leary, et al--somewhat sinister but not a complete moron ,and a bit of a comedian ala Carlin. There are a few philosophical moments--Korzybski material, zen, pop readings of quantum physics-(cozmic debris per...Zappa). RAW might have made it into purgatory (tho' I wouldn't have wagered on it).

Philosophy does often connote....occultist BS to the hive, rather than logic, or ethics, so forth. We are a long ways from early America when about every bright college boy had read a bit of Aristotle and Locke along with his latin and Newton, history et al

7:03 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>We are a long ways from early America when about every bright college boy had read a bit of Aristotle and Locke along with his latin and Newton, history et al
<<

Yes, now we are in the Wikipedia era.

7:15 pm  
Blogger J said...

Wiki's tend to be superficial but are helpful to get an overview of a topic--links at times ok. Are you claiming Objectivists run Wiki-land? That's a bit odd-- there may be ..a bias at times. Not exactly sure what it is.

Yo, where's Ant.? Mormon biz probably (you said Randian---ah say LDS. ...worse).

8:18 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

There is a massive objectivist bias on Wikipedia. Ayn Rand is mentioned exactly once in the Cambridge companion to philosophy, and disparagingly at that.

A lot of the people at Bomis were hired by Jimmy because he knew them from an objectivist newsgroup.

You can see from this list of articles in 2001 that there are many articles on the subject, many written by Tim Shell - friend of Wales and fellow objectivist.

8:25 pm  
Blogger J said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:05 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

The term "objectivist bias" is pretty amusing: A bias toward being unbiased!

1:56 am  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>The term "objectivist bias" is pretty amusing: A bias toward being unbiased!
<<

Apologies, I should have spelled 'Objectivism' with a capital 'O'. 'Objectivism is objective' is not necessarily true.

8:22 am  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> 'Objectivism is objective' is not necessarily true.

But is it contingently true? What is the bias?

I looked at the articles you linked to, and I don't see an objectivist (or Objectivist) bias. I do see an Objectivist interest, maybe even an Objectivist obsession (an article on "AtlasShrugged|PassengerNumber3"???). But I don't see any bias. In fact, there even seems to be a slight anti-Objectivist bias coming from Larry Sanger.

12:51 am  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> 'Objectivism is objective' is not necessarily true.

But is it contingently true? What is the bias? What do you even mean by "Objectivism"?

I looked at the articles you linked to, and I don't see an objectivist (or Objectivist) bias. I do see an an interest Ayn Rand, maybe even an Ayn Rand obsession (an article on "AtlasShrugged|PassengerNumber3"???). But I don't see any "Objectivist bias". In fact, there even seems to be a slight anti-Objectivist bias in the essays by Larry Sanger.

12:53 am  

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