How to learn philosophy [Fallible Ideas podcast] [curi video]

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How to learn philosophy notes

  • Why should I learn philosophy?
    • Thinking methods, how to learn, how to reason, how to evaluate ideas correctly
    • You will do better if you have some ideas about what methods to use and how to organize activities.
    • Be able to consciously analyze vs just using intuition and having only one way of doing things
    • All goals involve using thinking methods
    • Succeeding on purpose and by design
    • Know how to debate ideas with yourself and others
  • How to make progress?
    • Just reading, and listening, without practicing and discussing doesn’t lead to much change
  • Most popular philosophy ideas are bad.
  • Why don’t Deutsch, Popper, or Rand have a big effect on people’s lives who do like their books?
  • Only reading a book leads to understanding < 10% of the content.
  • Note taking helps
  • Take more time to think, ask questions, and try to see what problems are being addressed.
  • Get help from others who already understand or are also trying to learn.
  • Can’t correct all your own mistakes unless you are as good as the author.
  • Popper had help from associates
  • Ask questions about confusing parts and try to get answers from those who understand it.
  • Talk to the author, the author’s associates, or others in the living tradition
  • A lot the best ideas are semi-recent and have living traditions
  • Deutsch reinvented Popper’s ideas to an extent and made some improvements
  • Good to know what the author actually meant.
  • Get more feedback early on in the learning process.
  • Every few paragraphs is a reasonable amount to seek feedback.
  • Reading without feedback is less threatening, less challenging, seems successful because there’s no negative feedback.
    • Hiding mistakes from criticism just delays learning
    • Leads to a vicious cycle of hiding weakness which leads to more weakness
    • Appearance of weakness and making mistakes is kind of the opposite of whether you are actually getting stronger by getting weaknesses addressed
  • Massive underestimation of the number of mistakes that will need correction (e.g. thousands when learning Popper).
  • Compare multiple schools of thought
  • Learn to debate objectively and state in an evenhanded way
  • Don’t have really high discussion standards at first
  • Write informally as you go along
  • Take advantage asynchronous discussion and review past writing/feedback
  • Need to be able to quickly and casually not make important mistakes
  • Need ideas that work fast and easily, so I should practice in that style
  • Analyze writing, just looking for the meaning of words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters, etc.
    • Catch author’s lying, manipulation, and bias
    • Question the authors perspective after understanding
  • Books don’t challenge the reader enough
    • You have to test your own understanding
    • Be able to create your own examples, that are very different from the author’s
    • Answers keys can be useful for more basic practice
    • Fill in the gaps in books with extracurricular activities
    • Look for the things you probably still don’t understand after reading books and articles
    • Apply this to all books and article because this problem is prevalent
    • Just try to correct one mistake at time, as you read, based on feedback
    • Just see how hard it is to get something correct in one 500-word essay
  • Most people aren’t that interested in critical discussion
    • Rejecting someone due to an impasse is significant
    • Another perspective is that you need to filter for the best discussions/ideas
    • Expose your discussion methodology and priorities to criticism
    • Learn from people who understand ideas you’re learning and those who disagree with ideas you’re learning
    • Need to know the opponent arguments and proponent arguments
    • Good to go back and forth looking for resolutions
    • Organize debate to avoid getting stuck
    • Favor writing to avoid social manipulations
  • Examine your life thoroughly instead of just going with the first ideas you hear, or going with the crowd
  • Bad ideas are widespread so it’s easy to go along with errors
  • Most people’s lives don’t amount to much, they only contribute a little bit
  • The quality of someone’s thinking is what makes the difference in having a great life
  • Anyone can become great because anyone can learn and improve
  • Being smart is not something your born with, and it’s not genetics
    • The biggest thing is honesty
    • Don’t hide flaws and make an honest effort
    • Seek out the best criticism from others
    • Look for the best books
    • Spend a lot of time on learning with care and focus
  • Changing the world should not be primary motivation but it is notable and worth considering
  • Primary motivation should be you want to know things, you care what’s right, you want a better life
  • Errors are a threat to my own life
    • Errors threaten projects, businesses, hobbies, and other goals
    • Bad ideas lead to the failures
    • Being smarter allows you to succeed at more of your own goals and projects
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