Question proper: Serious answers are mostly not liked. And those most like the Wikipedia articles are highly-favored. Is this so?

How this statement is to be understood is, underneath, indicated or sketched: An expressionistic general question concerning Stack Exchange Philosophy as memory and as the annihilation of thought:

It seems to me that this site has a prejudice towards memory, that of articles and the, so to say, World English Speaking University textbook, by which I mean what is taught in introductory university classes and tends to correspond to the Wikipedia articles on the subject.

By and large, I have observed, serious questions produced by naive writers, who know nothing of philosophy, are remorselessly crushed and generally ultimately removed from the site. So that all real philosophic sense is stifled, and one is instead recommended to ask about the Wikipedia articles, in all effect. For instance when one is told not to ask about things a dictionary could deal with, and in many other cases where questions are put on "hold".

So, the result is that philosophy becomes the same as the newspaper, as Hegel put it, or, what is the same, Wikipedia articles. Memory replaces philosophic sense, and the real character of any philosophy is removed from discussion in order to get to what one can memorize from the Wiki pages.

Should we not, therefore, say that here we mainly have in mind the production of a reference database, concerned with memorization about comments on philosophy, rather than any questions about philosophizing? Which, one, here, mainly wishes to destroy as a form of obscurantism which is inappropriate to the scientific, the welt-frei, or worth free, age. Wikipedia is a kind of worth-free wissenschaft, for it is a matter of memory and not thought.

A sort of buyer beware warning should accompany the Philosophy Stack Exchange pages. To allow newcomers not to be squelched in the bud. Perhaps the following:

We have a particular bias, do not think that because your remarks are ill-treated it is a sign of a lack of philosophic merit. Rather, it is a sign that each web sight has its own bent or bias, and your question, likely of serious merit, has not fit ours.

So, the simple question, about which what is above informs us through indication as to its bent, might be stated as follows: Does this site concern memory and memorization, or thinking and thought? Thought on memorized articles, or thought about thought and what thought is?

  • 5
    Shouldn't this be a meta question? Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 18:35
  • Yes this should be a meta question; it is not about philosophy, it's a question about the quality of answers on this site. As an aside, something that always baffles me when people have issues like this about the content of the site is that they equate what people write as answers here to being "the current state of academic philosophy." Most people who use this site are not PhD holding philosophers and this site is not an actual piece of philosophy as you allude to by stating "So, the result is that philosophy becomes the same as the newspaper"
    – Not_Here
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 18:53
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    The Stackexchange ecosystem is for questions that have answers. Philosophy is about answers that lead to more questions. Stackexchange and Philosophy are incompatible. This site is a highly imperfect compromise. "Remorseless crusher" is a badge of honor among some of the self-appointed guardians of purity around here.
    – user4894
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 19:06
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    Yes, SE is just a place for questions which have, or seem to have, answers. For better and worse, SE is not a place for long discussions. There is a separate issue about exaggerated intolerance towards some types of questions. Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 22:47
  • 'culture' i suppose, tho my memory seems to have gone
    – user25714
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 23:17
  • I think this is a good question. Either the SE's rule is Q6A, the fate to go to discussion is inevitable here or at least unproductive.
    – user13955
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 0:48
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    @user4894 Can't agree more than yours. SE's rule fits with software questions, or languages, or travelling etc etc, but not compatible with human thoughts.
    – user13955
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 0:53
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    Minus the negative connotation, we are not doing philosophy here is explicitly the motto. This is not even entirely up to users, "questions that are not answerable — discussions, debates, opinions — should be closed as subjective" reflects the wishes of the site's creators. Site can be useful for philosophizing proper, through exposure to new ideas and references, say, it is just not done here.
    – Conifold
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 1:05
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    if you google 'philosophy' on scholar, you have a mere 4 and a half million hits. i think you're mistaken supposing you think any of this site is publishable. at worst it's a vanity exercise, while at best it encourages learning. i would argue that isn't limited to general knowledge, but then i don't care, as my questions rarely get good answers, yet seem pretty interesting. perhaps that's down to a different understanding of what's good for the site,or perhaps people simply can't read what i ask. i'm not sure, and don't at all expect an answer
    – user25714
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 2:02
  • @Conifold. I understand the "motto". I am saying almost always it tends to be "inevitable".
    – user13955
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 2:08
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    @KentaroTomono i think part of the problem is this odd mystical quality that "philosophy" seems to have for many here. if there's no viable basis for agreement on what answers are correct, besides what can be referenced, then sure. but i don't think that's the case, nor that the alternative is "inevitable", as no-one needs to cover new ground in an answer. i probably think that the main issue with the site can be summed up in my 1st sentence here, that it leads to double think. we're not "doing philosophy" in the same way the coding sites aren't "doing code"?
    – user25714
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 2:17
  • @user3293056 May be I am just doing a wordplay. But if Q&A is the rule that "must" be applied to Philosophy, then you are already invited to "doing philosophy", which is a dialogue.
    – user13955
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 2:21
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    @KentaroTomono well, ofc it depends on what 'doing philosophy' means. to answer a question you i assume need basic reading comprehension, but you definitely don't need to break new ground in scholarship. exactly at what point does it become "doing philosophy"? i think the term is unhelpful. that e.g. this site is not for debate would be better
    – user25714
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 2:30
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    sorry to go on but i suppose the confusion comes from the idea of vrtuous living, that i don't need to be writing philosphy in order to be living philosophically. who seriously thinks they're doing (good) philosophy, in the forner sense, on this site, producing material that may someday be published either for specialists or for the general public? i just think that 'not doing philosophy' is obscurantism, and should be replaced with a mantra against disucssion, or even a criteria for what is good practice
    – user25714
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 3:04
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    Though Dwarf sometimes maunders a bit cloudy, it is nevertheless NO question that inherently he is the most eminent of all philosophers and amateur-philosopher assembled in here. While he should be voted into the chair, they reduced his reputation temporarily to 1, for 7 days.
    – user26880
    Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 1:50

2 Answers 2


The encylopedia may be said to be more concerned with the history of terms, as opposed to the dictionary; the former is used for the means of accessing culture, "where one may learn without cost of research what things are generally known" (James Russell Lowell).

I suppose that "philosophers" of all sorts want, primarily, to be believed, and that the encylopedia is actually a good symbol for that. People tend to believe what is generally known. You're not getting philosophical 'points' for citing etymology, anymore than you do for thinking about your opinions on what is not known.

As to Wikipedia, it actually does take some skill, to read it 'seriously', in the same way as spotting a good answer on stackexchange.

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    The separation of philosophy from history of philosophy is part of the issue. It is a mistake to regard etymology as chiefly a matter of the former. Philophers use words to direct themselves to the substance or essence of issues. Etymology, like making definitions, isn't mainly semantic, in the deprecatory sense of verbal or rhetorical.
    – user26700
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 23:27
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    The idea that philosophers want to be "believed" is not helpful.They try to show the way one can direct one's thought to matters, etymology, like definition, is one tool they have for pointing subtle or unusual things not currently widely thought. Keep in mind: Not everything thinkable is in the dictionary already. The definition in the dictionary of a word may not suit the philosopher's technical usage of the same word, what a great philosopher struggles to bring out is usually peculiar to their thought.
    – user26700
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 23:27

Here is the question:

So, the simple question, about which what is above informs us through indication as to its bent, might be stated as follows: Does this site concern memory and memorization, or thinking and thought?

Stack exchange sites are question and answer sites. Anyone may participate regardless of whether they are experts in the subject matter or not as long as past behavior has not banned them in some way and they have played the site's game long enough to earn the required reputation and privileges.

The OP suggests that the following "buyer beware warning" be posted:

We have a particular bias, do not think that because your remarks are ill-treated it is a sign of a lack of philosophic merit. Rather, it is a sign that each web sight has its own bent or bias, and your question, likely of serious merit, has not fit ours.

A "buyer beware warning" suggests there is a basic misunderstanding that someone is getting paid or paying others for something. There is no monetary exchange going on that I am aware of.

A second misunderstand is that the site represents professional philosophers. The site is self-managed by whomever happens to choose to participate at the current moment. It will reflect the biases of those current participants.

A third misunderstanding, which may be a red herring, is that the site is mainly about memorization. A more accurate description would claim the site is motivated by a game structure using reputation and badges if the topics do not motivate the participants. There are no badges awarded for memorization.

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