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Old 07-08-2016, 02:28 PM   #1
johndallman
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Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Philosophy

Philosophy is the IQ/H study of fundamental problems, such as the nature of knowledge, ethics, and the existence of the universe, by means of reasoning. Many fields that were once part of philosophy have become parts of science, as means have developed to measure them and perform experiments. The only default is IQ-6, and the skill seems to have appeared in GURPS in Martial Arts for 3e.

Specialisation in a particular school of philosophy is required, and religious philosophies come under Theology. Expert Skill (Natural Philosophy) is a bridge between Philosophy and science, rather than a school of Philosophy. Philosophy skill doesn't have many practical uses in a game, although a successful roll may suggest the correct course of action according to the school you have studied, or offer insight into the motivations of someone who subscribes to the same school. The skill may also be a prerequisite for Trained by a Master, or something to be Fanatical about.

Philosophy occurs in GURPS books as a general indicator of intellectual study and wisdom (DF), the skill of knowledge about an ideology (After the End, Social Engineering), or as a way of characterising an approach to learning (Banestorm). Casey and Andy has thumbnail descriptions of (Enlightenment) and (Epistemology), which can be quite useful in that setting. City Stats has an example philosopher in its write-up of ancient Athens, and Dragons are often philosophical. Fantasy can use Philosophy for a general theory of the mind, or a core skill for magic, and the great men of Hot Spots: Renaissance Florence study the skill. Infinite Worlds offers a Time Viewer that requires Philosophy (Pythagorean), and the Radicals of Britannica-6 sometimes try to use Philosophy to overturn the British Empire. Worminghall teaches (Scholastic), and LTC1 has more on classical education. Philosophies are important in many Martial Arts, as part of routes to enlightenment, and Powers: The Weird offers some more direct paths. Power-Ups 3, 6 and 7 have philosophical examples, and Space reminds us that the desire to live by a set of ideas is a reason why people start colonies. Thaumatology: Age of Gold uses (Taoism) and Alchemical Baroque offers Ritual Magic (Esoteric Philosophy).

There's a character in my Infinite Cabal campaign who is French, and started with a reasonable knowledge of Philosophy (Hermetic). Once he was exposed to modern France, he decided to synthesise that philosophy with Philosophy (Existentialism). This is a bit like being a jazz bagpiper: most people's immediate reaction is that you're mad, but that's pretty normal for senior Cabalist magicians' projects, and did not deter him. The inventions rules did not seem like a good fit for this job, so I created something different. First, study both schools of philosophy to a high skill level. Then, study the parallel aspects of the philosophies, buying up the techniques Existentialism (Philosophy (Hermetic)) and Hermeticism (Philosophy (Existentialism)). Having done that, he's now engaged in a Long Task of synthesis, needing successes by large margins on one or the other technique to make progress. This may seem harsh, but it's an extremely hard job. So far, these mechanics seem to work, and should give him the ability to confuse almost anyone who has the results explained to them or who reads the book he's writing.

What have you done with Philosophy?
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Old 07-08-2016, 08:56 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Philosophy

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What have you done with Philosophy?
I have created magical styles which have a philosophy as a required skill and act as an expression of the philophy.
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Old 07-09-2016, 01:01 AM   #3
Phil Masters
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Philosophy

As the player of the Hermetic Existentialist in John's game... That's partly a matter of taking that character to the limit, but it's also about playing a long game in the Cabalistic quest for apotheosis. Once he has a working synthesis, he's going to publish - on multiple timelines. And then, he reckons he'll have a unique place in the human collective unconscious. He's going for a kind of godhood, but being worshipped would be tacky when you can be revered (by a small but select audience).

The fact that Philosophy (Hermeticism) and Philosophy (Existentialism) mostly illustrate that it's possible to mean two completely, fundamentally different things by the word "Philosophy" just makes this interesting to him.
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Old 07-09-2016, 02:32 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Philosophy

I've needed to use Philosophy a lot for my Psi-Wars game. Because the magic power of the setting requires you to behave in a specific way, understanding the underlying principles of how you have to behave to gain a certain power is critical, and I use Philosophy for that.

But I use it for more than just telling a player "Yes/No/Why", but I'd allow a player to roll at a penalty to find a way to justify (or make appropriate) an action that generally would not be appropriate.

"Thou shalt not kill"
"But thou shalt not stand aside and let wickedness act! If someone is going to murder someone else, is it not permissible, even necessary to stop them?"
"Yes, of course!"
"And if the only way is to kill them, is that not acceptable?"
"Yes, but only if it's the only way."
"What if I knew this guy was planning on committing a great crime that would kill hundreds, and I could find no other way to stop him, but I had him here at my mercy..."
"Hmmm, Philosophy -5"

I personally think it's also applicable to justifying actions consistent with a code of honor, a vow or a discipline of faith and not just for yourself, but for someone else. If you want to talk someone into something, and keeping their actions logically consistent with a specific set of beliefs, I'd argue that Philosophy can justify unlikely actions, and grant a bonus to doing actions obviously consistent with their belief system ("I don't think you should date that girl, because you're married and claim to be a good catholic!" "+1 to your influence roll." though I would note you'd only need the philosophy skill to make more tenuous connections)
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Old 07-09-2016, 05:06 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Philosophy

For Eastern atheistic religions like Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, would you use Philosophy or Theology? (ISTR Confucianism being one of the example Philosophies, but I'm unsure about the other two.)
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Old 07-09-2016, 05:44 AM   #6
johndallman
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Philosophy

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Originally Posted by Phantasm View Post
For Eastern atheistic religions like Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, would you use Philosophy or Theology? (ISTR Confucianism being one of the example Philosophies, but I'm unsure about the other two.)
Martial Arts has Buddhism and Taoism as Philosophies. I don't know enough about them to meaningfully disagree.
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Old 07-09-2016, 08:36 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Philosophy

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For Eastern atheistic religions like Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, would you use Philosophy or Theology? (ISTR Confucianism being one of the example Philosophies, but I'm unsure about the other two.)
I don't know that there is a functional difference.

In principle I suppose a philosophy could be studied without knowing anything personal about the philosophers who first stated its principles while a theology would include some information about the personalities of the gods. But in reality all philosophy students will know something about the philosophers (and theologians!) lives and the historical and social environment they lived in - which everyone admits have at least some impact on their thoughts, and most theologies here in a universe where the gods don't show themselves much will include at least a little awareness of fringe groups with really different ideas of what the gods are like.

If I had to draw a distinction between Philosophy (Confucian) and Theology (Confucian), I'd probably call it one of focus. Somebody with Theology (Confucian) would put more emphasis on the rituals, songs and poems (the I Ching, Classic of Poetry and Book of Rites) and less on the aphorisms of the Annals, Documents and Analects. Not very many people would actually have Theology (Confucian) though, anybody interested in this sort of stuff would almost inevitably have Theology (Chinese Traditional) and know a lot about rituals, divinations and hymns Confucius didn't actually mention too.
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Old 07-10-2016, 08:01 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Philosophy

I once played a mage in a modern Hidden Magic setting who learned/accessed Path magic through semiotics. His two skills for this were Philosophy and Sociology.
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Old 07-10-2016, 09:06 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Philosophy

A lot of "religions" have both a Philosophy skill and a Theology skill, with varied relationships between them. Buddhism is primarily Philosophy, in that Siddhartha put forth a set of inductive generalizations from experience and recommended a method for solving the problems they posed; it took on an accretion of something like Theology when people started thinking of Siddhartha as an extraordinary being with transhuman powers, and especially when they started saying things like, "Recite this formula and you will be reborn in a cosmos where everyone gains enlightenment in a single lifespan." In contrast, Catholicism is primarily Theology; but when people like Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas started saying things like "you can know there is a God by these arguments," or "you can see by reason that prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice are virtues," that was Philosophy (Scholastic). On the other hand, there are belief systems that have only one or the other: There's very little Philosophy to Biblical literalism and very little Theology to logical positivism (though its antecedent, Comte's positivism, had something called the Religion of Humanity attached to it).
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Old 07-10-2016, 09:35 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Philosophy

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On the other hand, there are belief systems that have only one or the other: There's very little Philosophy to Biblical literalism and very little Theology to logical positivism (though its antecedent, Comte's positivism, had something called the Religion of Humanity attached to it).
I'd tend to call Biblical literalism on the philosophy side - there's often quite a lot of semantic hairsplitting and subtle analogy involved in going from the actual words to a particular "literalist" interpretation.

To the degree there is a difference, theology covers the stuff that involves emotion, pageantry and just-so stories that might be left out of the philosophical version of a religion, but there's lots of overlap.
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