Do philosophers ever create philosophical fictions akin to legal fictions in order to refute an argument? If so, how pervasive is this practice?

Yes-- all the time. Take for example Robert Nozick's idea of the pleasure machine. Nozick asks - if there were a machine that you could just to be hooked up to that would guarantee that you have an entire life of the highest pleasure - but which would take you out of the hurly burly of everyday existence -- would you want to be hooked up? The vast majority of people say NO - which Nozick takes to prove that most of us believe there is more to happiness than pleasure. But yes, philosophers frequently use fictions/ thought experiments to either make or refute an argument.

philosophy is a mind opener to me personally, thats is talking in respect as subject in school. but i would like to know if their reasons why other people think this subject is foolish?, please be sincere

I applaud Charles Taliaferro's answer but might add that many people have the sense that there is no progress with philosophical questions. As CT noted, the brilliant philosopher Wittgenstein held that many philosophical questions are pseudo-questions. Grammatically they seem like questions but that is just mirage. Also, as CT hinted there is a feeling that philosophers are all talk and no action. Like Marx but from a Christian perspective, Kierkegaard certainly expressed this view. You asked for sincerity in your question and I will admit that there have been times when I felt as though philosophy profs (which is not necessarily to say, philosophers)were like a bunch of adolescent stamp collectors who just liked sitting in their office or rooms and playing around with puzzles that had nothing to do with wisdom or life.

I am a humanities teacher teaching Philosophy around the question of what does it mean to be human? I am hoping to find some age appropriate readings/ videos that discuss the basics of the philosophical movement. Can anyone help me? Thanks

I teach existentialism and find Sartre 's essay Existentialism to be helpful with the question that you are dealing with but also Tolstoy's DEATH OF IVAN ILYICH. Kierkegaard's SICKNESS UNTO DEATH is also responsive to this issue but it is very challenging.

I'm just getting into philosophy, thanks in no small part to this site! I was discussing it with a friend recently - a friend I admire as hard-working, intelligent and someone who challenges himself - and found out that he was actually a philosophy major in college (now he's a businessman). Naturally I was excited, but I was quickly discouraged as he explained that he had given up doing philosophy long ago and had no interest in it. When I asked him why, I received the following explanation, which confused me and I'm hoping to gain some clarity on it from this site. I hope it's not offensive to any of the professional philosophers who read this site, though it is of course anti-philosophy, since it was his reason for abandoning it. In any case, he said that he gave up reading/doing/thinking about philosophy - and he specified "analytic philosophy" as the culprit - saying that, although he found that the material he read was highly intelligent, he was nagged by a persistent feeling (one he ultimately...

I'd have to say that I'm sympathetic to your friend's view. Kierkegaard was too. I would distinguish between philosophy professors and philosophers. Philosophers have a love of wisdom and some success in accruing it. One can indulge in the puzzles that are the fare of academic philosophy and be devoid of that love of wisdom which is to say an urgent need for a knowledge about how to live. There are people who make their living doing philosophy who are really into it because they enjoy unlocking intellectual puzzles and building models. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that but your friend (and maybe you) are right about some people in the field living more or less entirely in their heads, who don't really worry too much about how their lives connect to their theories about life. But abuse is not argument against use- don't let the abuse or misuse of philosophy put you off from the real thing.

All human activities seem to have dramatic, defining, pivotal moments. Take basketball : 1987 Game 5 Celtics v. Pistons. Dennis Rodman rejects Larry Bird with 5 seconds left. Pistons take the ball. All they need to do is inbound the ball and hold it and they take a 3-2 series lead home. Instead, Larry steals Isiah's inbound pass and the Celtics win. Wow. Of course there are many such moments in sports. What are the equivalent moments in Philosophy? What Philosopher, finally, in what paper, knocked down a prevalent theory held for 1,000 years? That kind of thing. Can a few of you contribute your favorite moments in the history of philosophy?

Descartes ""cogito" ( I think, therefore, I am ) was certainly a walk off home run. It provided the foundation for a new approach to philosophy based purely on the examination of consciousness. This, however, was certainly not an uncontroversial move. Kant's transcendental approach was also a half court shot. That is, the idea of responding to problems in epistemology with the strategy of thinking - what must the cosmos be like in order for knowledge to be possible? There are actually quite a few moments like this in the history of philosophy. But few, I suppose, in which something was established in some incontrovertible fashion.

Should we teach philosophy to younger children? Would it help them in anyway, or would it be harmful in later life?

Children are natural philosophers in that they are naturally filled with wonder. And very early on in life, they have all kinds of pressing issues about justice. In that sense, I don't think it could hurt to talk with them about philosophy. It depends on where the child is calling from, where he or she is at. But it seems to me that some people (often philosophers) imagine that if we just got them going a little earlier on the likes of Plato and Aristotle they would be better, more moral people. I don't see any reason for believing that - which, is to sigh, that I'm not as confident as some in the power of philosophy to convey wisdom. As Nietzsche was well aware, for some folks it just feeds into an unhealthy kind of obsessiveness and a need to be in control.

How does a philosopher become popular? Why do we teach the writings of some philosophers, but not others if all philosophers work from a common history, or work within a common tradition or set of ideas that include logic? Is there a social construction to philosophical ideas?

Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and a few others aside, the stocks of philosophers does seem to go up and down. In the late forties and fifties, for example, Kierkegaard was quite popular. Then analytic philosophy developed a strangle hold and he was dubbed to be too obscure. Then in the late eighties, with the emergence of deconstructionism/ postmoderninsm, analytic philosophy ceased to dominate and Kierkegaard was back in the club. There is a social dimension - a kind of market force at work. I direct a research Library on Kierkegaard and we have many international scholars come to the Library and their take on Kierkegaard, what they find important, differs according to the their political and economic situation. As you hint, difficulty is also a factor. I can't teach Husserl in my Existentialism class because it would just go over everyone's head. Thanks.

Why philosophy? Mindful of truly urgent issues like climate change and the gulf oil gusher, if the question is existence or extinction, doesn't merely thinking about either seem a dubious luxury?

It depends on how you think of philosophy. If we think of it as an abstruse set of problems - then yes it does seem a luxury. Like doing crossword puzzles. On the other hand, philosophy is about the love of wisdom, which has much to do with a knowledge of how to live. And there can be no doubt that wisdom would be helpful in solving the world's problems. Of course, degrees and publications in philosophy are no guarantee that a person has wisdom.