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What is "The Friendly Philosophers Guide to Philosophy SE: A Framework and First Principles?"

(The intent of this question is to serve as a landing place for providing guidance to newbies to the site.)


Welcome to Philosophy StackExchange (PhilSE)!


My name is JD, and to answer your question, this guide is a hypertext document built from Stack Exchange questions & answers (Q&As). When I began participating in this community in late 2019, I wasn't entirely unaware of Stack Overflow which is very popular among computer folk: admins, programmers, coding enthusiasts, etc., but I hadn't a serious interest in studying philosophy. Sure, every now and then, I'd pick up a book that would be considered part of the canon of Western philosphy, but never engaged in a systematic study of it. About five years ago, a certain brouhaha had come to my attention between Bill Nye the Science Guy and a whole lot of people who wanted to let Bill know that his dismissal of philosophy was unwarranted. For years, I wondered how the Science Guy could reject philosophy, since philosophy gave birth to science, and it is common to wonder about the relationship between them. (See PhilSE: What is the relationship between philosophy and science?) Elsewhere, I had engaged in a debate on the accuracy of calling Bill Nye a scientist. And of course, the more I asked questions, the more people avoided me, and the more I realized I had no idea what science really was. I was actually surprised to find that this very question is a well-recognized problem in the philosophy of science: the demarcation problem. By the time I had found Quine's views on the naturalized epistemology, I was hooked! Now, I try to visit once a day and lend a hand to the community.


This Q&A represents the first of many to come to save you the work I did starting a year ago by suggesting a structure to the resources both here and on the Internet to engage in philosophical learning. As a former teacher, it is my belief that the individuation of education combined with the potentials of information and communication technology offer an unprecedented opportunity to engage life-long learners in critical thinking. To that requires both an understanding of what philosophy is and how to practice it, and understanding the role and benefits of dialoguing with subject-matter experts in philosophy. (See Friends, what exactly is the difference between 'being a philosopher' and 'being a philosophy SME'?) Unlike traditional books, this guide seeks to be adaptive, field community contributions, utilize links to resources here and in other places like the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and otherwise make it easier for you to derive benefit from this free, online resource. I have only a single disclaimer: I profess absolutely no expertise in philosophical techniques or the subject matter of philosophy, and any and all answers I provide which appear to be true are so only coincidentally. Let us remember Socrates as interpreted by some of our contemporaries Bill S. Preston, Esq., and Ted "Theodore" Logan:

Bill: Socrates - "The only true wisdom consists of knowing you know nothing".
Ted: That's us, dude.

Table of Contents

  1. What is "The Friendly Philosophers Guide to Philosophy SE: A Framework and First Principles?" - This is a recursive link for categorically theoretical completeness.
  2. PhilSE Community FAQ - This is the officially sanctioned FAQ maintained by the moderators.
  3. PhilSE Mission Statement - This is the consensus on why we are here. (Sort of.)
  4. Recent Dialogue regarding purposes and best practices - An attempt to revitalize discussion about how this platform can practice 看板 and 改善.
  5. REDIRECT q&a The Symposium, chat, etc.
  6. HOW-TOs - A list and discussion of how to do things on this forum. {pinging, tagging, searching, reporting,...}
  7. TOOLS such as BeefText; post importation files
  8. ADDITIONAL ENTRIES - {Explanation of tags, governance, parent organization, overview of all SE sites,formatting,...}
  9. What are the FPG's views on the psychology of contribution?
  10. Port over Roam structure and develop
  11. List of relevancy meta questions


This guide, much like any travel guide pertaining to the universe, is always in need of revisions. It encourages you to remember if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Philosophy StackExchange is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and confusing to use. It does not claim to be authoritative. It does not make you smarter unless you either use it or disregard it. And as to the accuracy of the answer "42", it simply is agnostic. (This language approved by the gadfly-in-chief, yours truly.)

(Interested in participating? I'd be more than willing to collaborate!)

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