The Poverty of Philosophy

A view from social psychology

Photo by Carl Cervantes on Unsplash


Two English-speaking anthropologists visit an insular tribe that is purported to have its own unique language. In order to learn the tribal language, one anthropologist joins the tribe. The other camps outside, but finds she is unable to learn anything about the tribe’s ‘language’ (other than what it sounds like) by observing their behavior, which is entirely visible and audible to her through surveillance equipment. The tribe members appear to ‘talk’ a great deal, but nothing they ‘say’ seems to relate to the external world. They only ‘talk’ when sitting around doing nothing else, and go about other activities silently (using only crude gestures such as pointing). Some years pass, and the two anthropologists compare notes.

Photo by Leonardo Toshiro Okubo on Unsplash
Photo by Soragrit Wongsa on Unsplash
Photo by Mario Purisic on Unsplash
Figure 1: Chart of cognitive biases, arranged and designed by John Manoogian III (jm3). Categories and descriptions originally by Buster Benson. License: CC BY-SA 4.0 Source: Wikimedia
Figure 2: The cards used in the Asch conformity experiments. The reference card is on the left. The card on the right has the three comparison lines. Image by Fred the Oyster. License: CC BY-SA 4.0 Source: Wikimedia
Figure 3: The Milgram experiment. The experimenter (V) convinces the subject (L) to give what the subject believes are painful electric shocks to another subject, who is really an actor (S). Originally by Wapcaplet. License: (CC BY-SA 3.0) Source: Wikimedia
Photo by Carlos Arthur M.R on Unsplash

Ben writes on the theory and social science of communication, and anything else that comes to mind

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