Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Chemistry vs. Philosphy

Chemistry test question:
True or False: Vitamins can be called macronutrients.

True. Vitamins are macronutrients. Except that if I answered that on the test, I'd get it wrong. Why? Because Vitamins aren't macronutrients, they're micronutrients. But that's not what the question was asking, it was asking if they have the potential to be called macronutriens. And I just proved that they did, by calling them that.

But it goes even deeper than that, because in order to call Vitamins macronutrients, I have to exist to call them that, the vitamins have to exist, and macronutriens have to exist. Not to mention that the test question has to exist before I can answer it.

Why, philosophy, why do you make answering simple true/false questions so hard?

Gah, the only legitimate answer to any question is "I don't know" or "I'm not sure" or "I think so" or "I don't think so"... but if you answer like that, you don't pass the test. How then can we apply philosophy if the world in which we live functions in a way which largely ignores philosophy (which is not to say that it lives without it, only that it doesn't think about it)


  1. The true/false question could be easier if they just worded it differently, like "Vitamins are macronutrients." Then you can discuss what is, not what could be.

    And aren't there some things about which we can say, "I know this exists"? "I'm not sure...I think so."


    Does philosophy truly force us to always be questioning our existence? I don't think that applying philosophy to the world necessitates us to know nothing- I'm still thinking about what applied philosophy looks like though...Ethics? New ways of thinking about the universe, and hence new discoveries? Hm.

  2. We know we don't know anything. We know there are things we must assume, must believe. Philosophy is only useful if it helps us to live, operate and understand.

    I'd say...don't give them the right answer, give them the answer they're looking for ;)

    Word verification: bistiona (sounds like an organism)

  3. The question becomes, if I value truth, will I give the honest philosophical answer?

    I think I'm blowing this whole thing out of proportion, but it does make you wonder where philosophy is being applied in life. Is it everywhere, or only in some places?

    The other thing is, if philosophy tells us that we can't truly know anything, than how should our philosophy influence us when asked for a statement of fact. Obviously, I made the logical assumption that they wanted to know whether or not Vitamins are macronutrients... and the assumption of existence. So where was the philosophy?