MY FIRST ANNUAL (well…maybe annual) PHILOSOPHICAL HALLOWEEN SPOOKTACULAR

HI.

It’s Halloween time again, and that means it’s that time of year when we forget there’s a November and go straight to playing Christmas music 24/7.

Personally, I’m not much into Christmas (yuletide only reminds me of how poor I am — but hey, I chose a career in philosophy — what did I expect?), but Halloween has always been my kind of thing. For some folks, Halloween is the unnecessary evil between the return of pumpkin spice lattes and blasting “All I Want For Christmas Is You” , but for me, Halloween means:

The spookiness.

Black cats and witches.

AMC’s Monsterfest©

…and all the candy I can eat.

Except for candy corn.

The fact that candy corn is an actual thing is definitive proof that the devil exists.

Now, I’m way past the age that is acceptable to go out trick-or-treating, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like dressing up for Halloween.

My usual costume is “person who never goes out anymore and just sits at home and overthinks about everything” (the scariest costume of all), but from time to time I try to find a costume that’s not only spooky, but also philosophically appropriate. Unfortunately, I have to say that I haven’t found a spooky, yet philosophically correct Halloween costume.

This disappoints me.

I was really hoping to dress up as sexy Diogenes this year.

SERIOUSLY. What do philosophers do at Halloweentime? What’s a philosophical ghost story? What do poo philosophers do — tell each other spooky stories about logical positivism?

Still…despite the lack of philosophically-themed Halloween costumes, there’s still plenty of scary things that keep this lover of wisdom up at night:

  • Re-reading Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.
  • Discovering there’s a whole section of Pornhub devoted to “Jeremy Bentham” and “head”.
  • A weekend film festival on the philosophical analysis of the films on Michael Bay.
  • Sketches of Schopenhauer based in the style of Tom of Finland.
  • Hegel.
  • A world where everyone is a utilitarian (or, the possibility that utilitarianism is the only correct moral theory).
  • A series of films based on popular philosophical thought experiments, including a feature-length film based on Kant’s ax murderer scenario, directed by Zach Snyder.

…actually, that last one might not be so horrifying. Maybe swap out Zach Snyder for Eli Roth…it’ll be the PCU — the Philosophical Cinematic Universe..

Picture it: a saga of Nietzsche-based flicks starring Dwayne Johnson as the Ubermensch.

Hey! Nobody steal my idea!!!

Who am I kidding. There ain’t gonna be a PCU.

Although I am kind of surprised that hasn’t been a major motion picture based on the life and tragic death of Camus.

Sure, it’s not Halloween, but how can anyone look at a picture of Camus in the trench with a cigarette and not immediately think that image alone demands a movie starring James Franco as the novelist/philosopher.

Any of this frighten you yet?

No? Maybe you should listen to “All i Want For Christmas Is You”.

I swear, that song scares the hell out of me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Don’t) Mark it FAB

IF YOU DIDN’T KNOW already, Paul McCartney wrote a children’s book.

It’s called Hey Grandude.

91QxCRaeALL

THIS IS THE BOOK. 

The title is a play on “Hey, Jude”.

You know that song, right? It’s a pretty famous song… By the Beatles…that band from the sixties….

I’m not going to read McCartney’s book (because I’m not six years old, but especially because I don’t want to), but seeing Sir Paul on late-night TV plugging his new venture into literature has got me thinking about and listening to The Beatles.

You know the Beatles, right? That band…from the sixties…..

I’ve been listening to their album Abbey Road in particular.

Beatles-Abby-Road

The 50th anniversary edition of Abbey Road is out this year.

It’s remixed by Giles Martin.

Giles Martin is the son of the late George Martin.

You know who George Martin is, right? George Martin was the record producer for the Beatles…that band from the sixties…

The remix is pretty good.

You should all listen to it.

Anyway, I was listening to Abbey Road, enjoying the fantastic remixes of the first couple of tracks, when  the song “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” came on.

It’s not a song a lot of people like.

The story goes even John Lennon hated it. Really hated it.

He called it Paul’s “granny music”.

Maybe the song sucked because Faul actually wrote it.

Paul is dead, folks.

stream_img

EYES CLOSED, BAREFOOT, OUT OF STEP… YEP. PAUL IS DEAD, FOLKS.

28 IF….

Anyway…

John Lennon called “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” (along with a few more songs) Paul’s “granny music”.

Not trying to be a dick or anything, but John Lennon was kind of a hater.

It’s also kind of an odd thing for Lennon to say, considering that the song is about a serial killer.

I don’t know what kind of grandma John Lennon had, but I can absolutely declare with utmost certainty that my own memaw would not be entertained by a song about a guy going Jeff Dahmer on people.

Within a span of three and a half  minutes, Maxwell Edison (majoring in medicine) bludgeons three people to death — including murdering a judge during his trial in the judge’s own courtroom.

….just like Jeffrey Grant did.

I freaking hate Jeffrey Grant.

God, there I go again.

So…..

Despite the fact that many people (especially John Lennon) despise “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”, Paul McCartney insisted that “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” is a good song.

I think he still does.

You gotta smoke a lot of weed to think that.

Or you think it is because you’re actually FAUL.

Now, the Beatlemaniac in me wants to believe Paul’s claim that Maxwell’s etc. etc. is a good song.

But, as a person who knows a shit song when I hear one, I’m inclined to say John Lennon was right about “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”.

The song is shite.

41d

But the philosopher that dwells within me can’t stop thinking philosophically when I hear the word “good”. You see, whenever I hear the word “good” I start thinking about philosophy stuff like, ethics and ideal forms and utilitarian calculuses and all that jazz.

When I hear the word “good”, the philosopher in me wants to know if “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” isn’t just a good song, but a GOOD song.

Because we already know it isn’t a good song.

… sometimes, good songs aren’t GOOD songs and some GOOD songs aren’t good songs.

You see, whenever a philosopher says a word like “good” they usually don’t just mean a simple statement of one’s taste like, it’s got a good beat amd you can dance to it. It’s the natural inclination of the philosophers to complicate things by getting all Platonic about what’s good.

You read that right. I said Platonic.

Yes. I’m gonna be talking about Plato.

Well, actually Socrates.

But it’s really Plato.

He just wants us to think he’s writing about Socrates.

Because he writes as Socrates.

Well, actually as other people writing about Socrates.

Because Plato is Socrates.

Anyway

And if you’re gonna do some talking about Socrates, you know you’re gonna do some talking about Plato’s Republic.

30290

In particular, Book III…and also in  Book V.

Just in case you felt like reading along.

Socrates tells us that — wait. I gotta clearify a term, here.

When we use the term “music”, we’re generally referring to songs — lyrics set to instrumentation. This is the kind of music I’m referring to when I talk about a song like “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”. However, Socrates uses “music” to describe the arts, including poetry. The purpose of music, according to Socrates, isn’t merely recreational. Music isn’t meant to just entertain or to provide the s soundtrack for a work-out or a romantic encounter.

downloadfile

IF YOU’RE GONNA BE HAVING SEXUAL RELATIONS, YOU BETTER PLAY SOME MILITARY MARCHES… seriously, that’s the right kind of music Socrates says we should listen to    

Socrates says music is important because it is an essential element in the (philosophically correct) development of the citizen. Socrates describes music as “a moral law” and that music is “the essence of order and lends to all that is good, just, and beautiful.” Socrates also says this about music:

Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful.

So…what Socrates means, is music is important because it is a tool of civilization. We must be mindful, Socrates says, of what kind of music we listen to. We must listen to the right kind of music. Listening to the right kind of music produces the right effects.

The right effect is we’re closer to TRUTH.

In case you didn’t know, TRUTH is a GOOD thing.

…or at the very least, listening to the right kind of music will re-enforce the natural hierarchy and guarantee that the people will obey the ruling class without question.

Because noble lies.

Anyway, like Socrates, Aristotle says the type of music we listen to is important. Aristotle says music has the power to stir “ignoble passions”. Repeated exposure to passion-inflaming music (according to Aristotle) influences our disposition.

That is to say, listening to music that stirs the “ignoble passions” makes us ignobelly  passionate people.

According to Aristotle, people governed by their passions can’t be GOOD people.

And a city full if people who aren’t GOOD can’t successfully maintain a city conducive to philosophical living.

So what does this have to do with The Beatles and “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”?

Well, let’s first look at the song’s subject matter: serial murder.

“Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” is a song about a man who gleefully and unrepentantly murders three people, culminating in Maxwell murdering a judge while he’s presiding over Maxwell Edison’s murder trial.

You see, for dudes like Socrates and Aristotle, the guys in charge — the people that run things — are put there by NATURE.

They’re born that way

giphy

Flip side, the folks who aren’t naturally predisposed to rule (i.e. you and me), are supposed to follow the leaders.

Because we’re too dumb to rule ourselves.

Kings and presidents are kings and presidents because they possess the innate qualities required to be presidents and kings — namely, kings and presidents possess a higher degree of wisdom (and philosophical insight) than you and me.

Socrates would call the wise, philosopher leader-type the Philosopher-King.

Socrates says that obedience to our rulers is not only vital to the survival of society, but to defy their rule is UNATURAL.

SO! Long story short (too late) a society’s leaders primary function is to make and protect the law. If we assume that the administrative state is a product of the natural order, we might also assume that average-guy Maxwell Edison’s murder of a law-giving magistrate’s is a flagrant act of anti-philosopher-king violence.

That ain’t natural.

Mother Nature’s Son my ass.

I think it’s reasonable to assume that Maxwell’s murderous rampage is driven by his “ignoble passions”.

Actually, McCartney never tells us the reason why Maxwell Edison commits triple homicide.

Shits and giggles, I guess.

6ebc03081b57699f2c8c77f85fa3c534

No matter the reason, Maxwell Edison (majoring in medicine) isn’t just a bad guy, he’s dangerous to society.

The song already tells us of Maxwell Edison’s corrupting influence on society, demonstrated by Maxwell’s acolytes, Rose and Valerie, who scream from the courtroom gallery that “Maxwell must go free”.

LISTEN: We don’t have to read Plato to know that the murder-prone are a threat to society.

I mean, they kill people.

It also goes without saying that it’s not wise to venerate homicidal people.

Songs that are not only popular but also celebrate the unsanctioned killing of people may be the kind of music that stirs the “ignoble passions” in others and lead people to —

Oh god, I sound like the PMRC.

“Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” isn’t just a bad song, it’s not a GOOD song, either.

Songs about guys like this are precisely the kind if songs Socrates says we shouldn’t teach or sing.

giphy (1)

“MAXWELL’S SILVER HAMMER”: MADE WORSE BY THE FACT THAT STEVE MARTIN PERFORMED THE SONG IN THE MOVIE SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND

Socrates would not mark this song “fab”.

*Socrates says there is a right kind of music. If you want to know what kind of music Socrates says is the correct kind of music, read Book III of Plato’s Republic*

But for Socrates, protecting society from bad music isn’t merely slapping a parental advisory sticker on an album cover. Not-GOOD music corrupts the soul (people with corrupt souls cannot maintain a functioning society). We must be vigilant in protecting society (especially the youth) from soul-destroying music, like Paul McCartney’s so-called “granny music”.

If Socrates had his way, the Beatles would have never recorded “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” in the first place.

That might be a good thing.

Especially if you are — you were — John Lennon.

 

 

SOURCES:

Plato. Republic. 

I’m Better When I’m Drunk

I HAVE AN IDEA. It might not be an original idea (I think it is, but then again, it might not be) but I gonna say my maybe-not-original idea anyway. Here it is:

Wait. First, a question: do you know that show Drunk History?

No? It’s on Comedy Central. You should check it out.

Ok…back to my idea…

This might take awhile, so hear me out, here.

Well, on the show Drunk History, a famous person (or kinda famous person) gets drunk and tells…history.

You see, the point if the show is that they tell the story of a historical event… While they’re drunk!

It’s supposed to be funny

It often is.

That’s because binge drinking is funny.

So…that said, here’s my idea: HIGH PHILOSOPHY.

It’d be like drunk history, but instead of drunken famous (?) guests recollecting historical events, people get high and talk about… philosophy.

Picture this: a half-hour of professional, recreational, and armchair philosophers telling tales of great people and events in philosophy– ON WEED.

Everyone would watch it, right?

It’d get higher ratings than that M*A*S*H finale, man.

…and higher guest stars.

ALRIGHT…I want to clear up something before I go any further with this: I’m not talking about people getting high and pontificating on things. We’ve all either done or seen this enough times already. And I’m not talking about a bunch of dudes getting high and talking about dumb shit like what kind of dog is Goofy.

Conversations like that sound deep and philosophical but they’re not.

And I’m not talking about any body using hard-core drugs.

Although the idea of watching someone tripping on acid while talking about Diogenes is beyond appealing.

What I am talking about is a couple of dudes getting high (on marijuana – in a state where it’s legal) and talking about philosophy.

It may not seem like it, but this actually is a great idea.

For starters, the philosophy market is wide open. Virtually NOBODY is doing philosophy outside of academis, and no one is doing it on tv.

The Good Place is in its last season, folks. Once it’s off the air, no more prime-time philosophy.

Secondly, there are some pretty interesting characters in philosophy.

Zizek already is a household name.

I mean, come on… just looking at David Chalmers, don’t you want to hear what he has to say about the Kalaam Cosmological Argument?

What’s more, being in a state of high places an individual in a philosophical state.

The likelihood of pontifications on the meaning of life are increased almost ten-fold if an individual is under the influence of mind-altering substances!

Most folks wouldn’t think so, but there are plenty of  partially amusing stories in philosophy that could be made marginally more interesting if told by someone who is under the influence of The Pot:

  • The Death of Socrates
  • Descartes’ method of doubt and his cogito argument (all that evil demon stuff — evil demons are funny if you’re high)
  • Nietzsche dies of a venereal disease…maybe
  • Kierkegaard and Regina
  • Schopenhauer vs. Hegel
  • Bertrand Russell’s amazing sex life (at least I hear he had an amazing sex life…who cares, they’re high, right?)
  • Diogenes of Sinope
  • Sartre and de Beauvoir
  • Sartre’s amazing sex life
  • Foucault
  • Why Camus is the Ryan Gossling of philosophy
  • Anything about Zizek, probably

If nobody has already done this show, somebody needs to whatever the not-porn equivalent to Rule 34 is to this idea and make HIGH PHILOSOPHY: the series happen.

Oh god, Rule 34 philosophy is an even better idea!

I mean, Kant already sounds like a dirty word…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everybody’s out there philosophizing and I’m just sitting here…

I THINK I’M NEGLECTING my philosophical duty to be a gadfly.

I mean, I think I should be saying something about some stuff. Denying the local gods… corrupting the youth — that sort of stuff — philosopher things. I mean, what’s not to talk about?

There’s a lot of political stuff going on out there.

It’s not that I want to avoid saying anything, it’s just that I…don’t.

I know that’s not very a Socratic thing of me to do. Socrates was a speak your mind kind of guy. At least I think he was. Of course, all I know about Socrates is from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

u9tbmy

DUST. WIND. DUDE. YEP. THAT’S ALL I KNOW

Socrates spoke his mind. He challenged the MAN out there in ancient Athens. So much so the city of Athens put Socrates to death. They made him drink hemlock. Socrates’ followers begged him to not drink it, but he did it anyway. That’s because Socrates believed in what he believed in and accepted his death sentence like a real philosopher should.

He wasn’t a punk about it.

501955-wikimedia

SOCRATES AND THE ORIGINAL TOXIC FANDOM

These days, drinking hemlock is easy. You could get your own reality tv show about that.

The fear these days is being doxxed.

Well, until that Equifax data breach. You can bet your personal info is out there now.

The thing is, it’s not that I don’t want to say anything. I do. I’ve got plenty to say about EVERYTHING.

I am philosopher, after all.

I have a political science degree (the second most useless degree). That almost guarantees that I’ve got more than a few things to say about politics. Jf you think about it, how can anyone look at the state of international events and the Trump Administration and not have something to say?

5demgy

YOU SAY YOU HAVE THE BEST WORDS, MR. PRESIDENT? CHALLENGE ACCEPTED

All this shit going on around the world is enough to bring out the inner Socrates in anybody.

And yet, I am silent.

…bout politics anyway.

I could have a TEDx talk. I could be the cool kids’ philosopher. I could reach the same level of the pop culture popularity as Slavoj Žižek..if I said something.

But I don’t.

But I’m not out there delivering my life-affirming, yet philosophically enlightening talk on the TEDx stage. I’m not Ben Shapiro, the cool kids’ philosopher. I finally have to admit that, at this point, I’m never gonna be as zeitgeisty as Žižek.

a7e6aa33ff57cf217ed68428a5f868f48d26ee3c6e1abeae1ede131a62aabe67_1

PICTURED: A ZEITGEISTY ZIZEK MEME

The philosopher’s place in society is to ask questions and to challenge the fundamental assumptions upon which we derive our “knowledge” of things, but I’m having none of that.

It seems like everybody’s out there philosophizing and I’m just sitting here masturbating.

Wait — whoops.

giphy

Alright. I might have overshared a bit, but my POINT is that I feel like I should be saying something about what’s going on.

Something philosophical.

giphy-1

 

WHY? Well, the why I feel like I feel I’m neglecting my philosophical duty to say something about current events is because everybody else is saying something, but philosophers have been (strangely and inexplicably) silent.

I don’t want to hate, but when we get to the point when reality tv show people are asked for their opinions on the Trump tax cut — on the news — I think it’s time to have at least one philosopher spend a few minutes chatting it up with Chuck Todd. About anything.

What does Saul Kripke think about this season of The Bachelorette?

I dunno. But, it makes as much sense asking Kripke about The Bachelorette as it does asking any other rando about politics

Especially about politics.

You see, philosophers were the first political scientists. Not many people know this, but philosophers INVENTED politics. Have you read The Republic? Second Treatise of Government? A Theory of Justice? Alright, nobody has. But they were all written by philosophers!

Obama with legos - you didn't build that

PHOTO OF SOCRATES EXPLAINING TO INTERLOCUTOR WHO INVENTED POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY (circa 380 BCE, colorized)

 

Philosophers were the first people to write about the law. Do you like Law and Order? Do you watch Judge Judy?

Thank a philosopher for that.

giphy-2

 

You like The Matrix? Are you a Trekkie? Ever wondered where John Locke got his name from on the tv show Lost? Enjoying The Good Place? Have you ever considered the moral implications of not killing Marty at the end of The Cabin In the Woods?

d15bf1fe20308628-600x338

ACTUALLY, WE KNOW WHAT HAPPENED WHEN MARTY DIDN’T DIE

THAT’S ALL BECAUSE OF PHILOSOPHERS.

Wait…

I know what you’re saying… How can I claim that there are no philosophers out there saying anything about anything? “The cool kids’ philosopher” (aka, Ben Shapiro) is out there destroying folks with FACTS and LOGIC. So is Jordan Peterson. Heck, Slavoj Žižek is all over the place enough to generate a dank meme stash.

 

kmliujt

PICTURED: A DANK ZIZEK MEME

I can’t say I’ve never seen Cornel West on MSNBC.

Cornel West is on The Matrix DVD commentary, for goodness sake!

Isn’t that enough philosophy?

After all, didn’t Hawking say that philosophy is dead?

It’s not like philosophy is as popular as Lizzo and NOBODY is demanding philosophers  join the MCU.

stoic-superheroes

DEFEATING THANOS WITH THE POWER OF INDIFFERENCE

 

OK. Reality check time. I know that even the most popular contemporary philosopher (yes, even best-selling author Jordan Peterson)  isn’t as popular as the least well-known Jonas Brother. I know that philosophers, especially philosophers in academia, ain’t EVER going to be popular ’round here.

Not as long as philosophers don’t look like this:

nintchdbpict0003020272961

 

Or like this….

ae3df913cf2a1467201e88b72383ff342b009757

 

Let’s be honest, Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson are philosophers but they’re not PHILOSOPHERS. And PHILOSOPHERS are the kind of philosophers I’m talking about. Sure, Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life is fine, and kudos to Russell Brand for diving head-long into the role of public intellectual, but where are the folks who actually studied philosophy????

Jordan Peterson is a psychologist.

Not knocking psychology, but a psychologist ain’t a philosopher.

Ok, except for William James.

Where are the ethicists to tell us about the morality of the Trump tariffs? Where are the epistemologists to chat with Rachel Maddow about the known unknowns?

Why doesn’t Judith Butler have her own reality tv show?

Why isn’t Žižek on Ellen?

Come on, this guy was made for tv.

tenor-1

Where’s the philosopher “grab her by the pussy” tape?*

But, alas…. there are no philosophers on tv. Or anywhere else in the public square.

I think I know why.

Philosophers aren’t on tv (or anywhere else in public) in part, because of the perception that philosophy is tedious and boring and irrelevant. Unfortunately, philosophers haven’t done much to change this perception. Philosophers, unlike other dork professions like astronomy, quantum physics, and whatever field of science Bill Nye the Science Guy actually does, ain’t leaving the academy to chat with normal folks. Philosophers don’t talk about philosophy with people who aren’t philosophers.

it’s kind of like philosophers just talk to themselves.

kind of  like….masturbating.

…at least intellectually.

giphy-3

 

Philosophy has got a terminal case of academicitis.

And that’s what it is, I think. Even though I’m not a professional philosopher, I’m still a product of the academia. And, as a product of the academia, I carry the academic attitude — namely, the attitude that the only people who are worthy of having philosophical conversations with are other philosophers.

What’s stopping me from speaking out is I’m a snob.

This attitude isn’t uncommon in philosophy. Philosophers tend to be a snobby bunch of assholes.

Trust me, most philosophers are assholes.

(seriously, Google “philosophers are assholes” and see what comes up in your search results)

The fact that philosophers are (on whole) intellectual masturbating assholes is kinda odd, considering that Bertrand Russell suggested that philosophy should be for everyone. Russell wrote:

…even in the time that can easily be spared without injury to the learning of technical skills, philosophy can give certain things that will greatly increase the student’s value as a human being and as a citizen.

Now, I know that being an asshole (especially an intellectual masturbating one) is the wrong way to go, and I know Bertrand Russell said that philosophy shouldn’t be exclusively for philosophers, but gash darn if I’m still not throwing my philosophical two cents in when it comes to politics and other current events.

giphy-4

 

I should be shouting nuggets of philosophical wisdom from the rooftops! I should be telling the not-philosopher people how and what a philosopher should think about all things political. I should be enlightening the people on the foundations of democracy. I should be telling everyone on how studying Lock and Montesquieu will change their lives. Regular folks tweet gossip about Taylor Swift and Kardashians. I should tweet about Hegel and Peter van Inwagen.  I shouldn’t be able to say more than three sentences in a conversation without paraphrasing Kant  — but I’m not. I’m not saying anything. Not even in this blog.

I SHOULD HAVE A PODCAST DEVOTED EXCLUSIVELY TO TALKING ABOUT POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY! I SHOULD BE THE FOX NEWS (equivalent) OF PHILOSOPHY, DAMMIT!!!!

But I don’t.

And because of this, I can’t help from thinking that I’m neglecting my philosophical duty to be a gadfly.

I mean, there’s a lot going on out there to talk about.

And why should Jordan Petersen be the only guy in the spotlight?

But I guess if I’m gonna be on camera, I gotta work on my abs.

And I really should stop being a snob.

And I should stop masturbating.

…intellectually speaking, that is.

 

 

 

 

*This comment originally had the name John Searle in it: “Where is John Searle’s ‘grab her by the pussy’ tape”?  I originally wrote this line based on the recent sexual harassment scandal involving well-noted philosopher John Searle. I thought it would be better to change the comment from Searle’s name to “philosopher” to avoid further dragging Searle’s name in the mud.,,,,although I just mentioned Searle’s name and the scandal here. 

MY RESTING BITCH FACE (aka, I look like Schopenhauer)

I REMEMBER I ONE DAY while I was walking down the street……

I usually spend my time while walking thinking about current events or my daily philosophical musings, but that day I wasn’t really thinking of anything in particular. I was kinda minding my own business.  As I was not thinking about anything in particular, I walked by a guy from the telephone company working on some telephone lines.

As I passed by. minding my own business, the telephone worker guy exclaimed, “Damn! You look like you just killed somebody!”

I look like I killed somebody?!?!? But this is how I always look.

I mean, It’s my face.

Apparently, despite my inner mood, I always look angry.

Actually, homicidal.

That was the day I discovered I have something called RESTING BITCH FACE.

On the inside, I think I’m thinking happy thoughts, but on the outside I look like this:

ezgif-2885415605

 

I guess if I want to be philosophically correct, I’d say I look less like this

the-philosopher-slavoj-z-007

And more like this:

slavoj-zizek

If I had to put a philosopher’s name to it, I guess you can say I have resting Schopenhauer face.

Although I just posted a couple of pictures of Slavoj Žižek.

Schopenhauer looked like this:

schopenhauer_185211

CLEARLY A HAPPY LAD

 

H.L. Mencken said, “There is no record in history of a happy philosopher.” I guess that’s true. philosophy isn’t known for its appeal to one’s funny bone.  In Plato’s Republic, Socrates says that laughter should be discouraged, in particular, laughter among the  members of the Guardians class.  Plato (as Socrates) writes,

for ordinarily when one abandons himself to violent laughter, his condition provokes a violent reaction.

So… if the father of Western philosophy says we shouldn’t be laughing all the time, it’s not hard to imagine that, for philosophers, resting Schopenhauer face isn’t just a facial expression, but a way of life. THE LIFE OF A PHILOSOPHER IS AN UNHAPPY LIFE. If you want to be a philosopher, you gotta perfect the look of a man who looks like, as a random telephone wire repair man would say, he just killed somebody.

Just look at this batch of philosopher sour pusses!

IMMANUEL KANT:

i-kant

GEORG HEGEL:

hegel1

THE SIDE EYE IS ON POINT

LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN:

file-20180514-178746-136bfdq

FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE:

56-3730663-14391660861a93f43a6cd844aa90f34cd0a6e15657

HE’S NOT SMILING UNDER HIS MUSTACHE

Of course, there’s always an exception to the rule. 

You can find plenty of pics of Foucault smiling.

 

foucault

 

That half smile on Rousseau’s face is hard to miss…

 

jean-jacques_rousseau_28painted_portrait29

THE HALF SMILE OF A MAN WHO JUST DITCHED HIS FIVE KIDS

I guess the lesson here is, to be a happy philosopher you have to either abandon your kids or be into BDSM.

Hey, I’m halfway there already!

Anyhoo…. I think I’ve figured out that a life of loving wisdom is, by nature, a fairly unhappy thing.  Finding WISDOM and TRUTH in a world that runs on lies, alternative facts, and truthiness is an often hapless task. It’s not surprising that so many philosophers sport a frown turned upside down. Unfortunately for me, the more years I do this philosopher thing, the more less happy I get.

I think I kinda figured out why:

When I started a Facebook page for my blog (which was an blog for my book — or was it the other way around?) I wanted folks to know that  written philosophy isn’t just for professional philosophers. I wanted people to enjoy reading philosophy. Not exactly all academic level philosophy, but philosophy that would come from anyone who is a fan of all things philosophical. I wanted my blog and my other social media pages to serve as a platform for me and other people who write about philosophical stuff to share their works.

I really need to tweet more.

…and I gotta post more than one picture a month on Instagram.

But, despite my best laid plans, this is the internet and the internet is all about the memes. So, I started posting philosophy memes. It wasn’t long after I started posting memes that I realized that memes generated more likes than written philosophical content.

I had this revelation: MEMES ARE THE ONLY THING THAT GETS LIKES.

Even if it’s philosophy.

So now, I post memes with an occasional (actual philosophy) post. I throw in an original post only occasionally.

BECAUSE ORIGINAL MATERIAL DOES NOT GET LIKES — unless it’s a meme.

13bvgo

 

Here’s what I think: memes killed words on the internet. WORDS. SENTENCES. ACCURACY. COHERENT THOUGHTS….

That’s kinda the stuff that philosophy is all about.

……..And since I’m griping, may I add that people treat comment threads like it’s open mic night at Uncle Fuckety’s Chuckle Hut* and they’re testing their new material for their next Netflix stand-up special.

This situations doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon.

This has got me feelin’ all

resting-bitch-face

 

I don’t know what made Schopenhauer sport the perpetual stinkeye (as there was no internet or philosophy memes back then)

Wait — we do know. It was Hegel.

…but I know what’s got me giving the Wittgenstein death stare when I walk down the street.

I could be thinking about the current state of philosophy.

hqdefault

 

You know, It’s probably nothing. It’s just my face.

Pretty sure it was just Schopenhauer’s face, too.

 

 

 

Nah. It was because of Hegel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*I totally stole this phrase from Stewie Griffin (The Family Guy).

What Happens On the Holodeck Probably Won’t Stay On the Holodeck

SOMEBODY WROTE “STAR TREK IS philosophy for stupid people”.

I wouldn’t say it’s for stupid people.

I wouldn’t say that sentiment is entirely wrong, either.

I’d say it’s just easy to dismiss the philosophy of Star Trek (and of any pop culture-based philosophy, for that matter) as something that would appeal to stupid people. And, with “aliens” that look like this, it’s easy to dismiss Star Trek fans as… well… as stupid as this obviously-a-dog-wearing-a-dumb costume.

gh3ws-1445612943-embed-spacedog_spock

YES. THIS DOG REALLY HAPPENED ON AN EPISODE OF STAR TREK. SEASON ONE, EPISODE 5, “THE ENEMY WITHIN”. CHECK IT OUT

 

Well… some folks may think there’s a the correlation between Star Trek and the collective stupidity of its audience (that particular folk was Chuck Klosterman, I think), and that’s fine. Like anything in pop culture, Star Trek got its fair share of smart fans and a more than generous helping of stupid fans.

michael-burnam

JUST SAY THE NAME MICHAEL BURNHAM IN A STAR TREK FAN GROUP… AND WAIT

 

But, if Star Trek is philosophy for stupid people, the show is putting out some pretty heavy philosophical stuff — for stupid people.

I’m no smart guy, but I’m pretty sure that the writers wouldn’t waste their time writing episodes for a fanbase with the mental acuity of a Pakled.

luctk

 

Just ask a Trek fan to describe the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Measure of A Man”, and you’ll hear a bunch about how philosophically deep the episode is.

That’s because it is a philosophically deep episode.

Normally when I’m making the case that Star Trek is philosophically deep, I’d rattle off a list of philosophical episodes and themes — but I’m not going to do that right now.

All I’m gonna say is if you want to watch a tv show that, if you say you watch it you can claim it’s because it’s “philosophical”, give Star Trek a look.

…or you can watch Rick and Morty.

Because you need to have a high IQ to understand that.

download (1)

 

But really. Go ahead and watch the Star Trek episode “City On the Edge Of Forever”.

and “Arena”.

and “Plato’s Stepchildren”.

and “Encounter At Farpoint”.

and “The Inner Light”

and while you’re at it, you might as well watch “Darmok”.

tenor-2

 

Now, any incarnation of the Star Trek franchise is chocked-full of philosophy, but my personal favorite philosophical Star Trek is Star Trek: the Next Generation. I prefer ST:TNG (as the fans call it) to other Star Treks because there’s less this:

source-4

and A LOT of this:

 

j5bpmig

TAKE ALL THIS IN, LADIES. THE RIKER FREAKING MANEUVER

 

No, really tho… I prefer Star Trek: the Next Generation to other incarnations of Star Trek because Star Trek: the Next Generation, 1) it was the first Star Trek series I watched on a regular basis, and 2) the series wields philosophy with the subtlety of being struck on the head with a cudgel.

Wait a minute…

 

tenor-3

 

So I guess Star Trek is philosophy for stupid people.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Anyway, my likely stupidity aside, the one thing I appreciate about Star Trek IS that the show’s philosophical themes are easy to comprehend. You don’t have to study philosophy to see the philosophy in an episode of Star Trek.

There’s a bunch of philosophical topics and themes to explore all over Star Trek universe (there are six separate incarnations of the tv show and 13 films), so you can take your pick of which one strikes your philosophical fancy.

…but the Star Trek thing that makes me think most philosophically is the Holodeck.

 

repentantuncomfortablehornet-size_restricted

 

I know not everyone reading this is a Star Trek fan, so I’ll have Wikipedia explain what the Holodeck is to you:

The Holodeck is a fictional device from the television series Star Trek. It is presented as a staging environment in which participants may engage with different virtual reality environments. From a storytelling point of view, it permits the introduction of a greater variety of locations and characters that might not otherwise be possible, such as events and persons in the Earth‘s past, and is often used as a way to pose philosophical questions.

Thank god for that Wikipedia.

Now, according to Wikipedia, the Holodeck can be used in various ways, including…

Re-enacting Klingon rites of passage:

age

 

Re-creating accidents to get Riker off when he’s charged with murder

amatterofperspective6

 

and for creating hot Holodeck babes to get Riker off in general…

1280628283304335502

HOPEFULLY WHATEVER RIKER CATCHES ON THE HOLODECK STAYS ON THE HOLODECK

Wikipedia* says that the Holodeck can also be used “as a way to pose philosophical questions”.

But here’s the fun part (and when I say “fun” I mean PHILOSOPHICAL) about the Holodeck: we can also ask philosophical questions about the Holodeck.

Namely, why the Holodeck? Why would we want to use the Holodeck in the first place?

If you weren’t thinking philosophically already, I bet you’tr doing some philosophical thinking now!

tenor.gif

 

Ok… If somebody told you, “hey buddy. I’ve got this fantabulous machine that you can step into and live any life you choose”, would you do it? WAIT — before you say “sure, why not?” let me drop a name on you — Robert Nozick.

Although the American philosopher Robert Nozick (1938-2002), is known (around philosophical nerds fans) for his book on political philosophy Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974), he is probably best known for his thought experiment, THE EXPERIENCE MACHINE.

If you’ve watched The Matrix, you know this one.

Red pill, people. Choose the red pill.

experience-machine-p-1

THE EXPERIENCE MACHINE (not to scale)

 

Whether you’ve watched The Matrix or Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Hollow Pursuits” (or seen neither), you probably already have an idea of what The Experience Machine is. But if you don’t know the concept, Nozick says (about the Experience Machine):

Suppose there were an experience machine that would give you any
experience that you desired. Superduper neuropsychologists could stimulate
your brain so that you would think and feel you were writing a great novel, or
making a friend, or reading an interesting book. All the time you would be
floating in a tank, with electrodes attached to your brain. Should you plug into
this machine for life, preprogramming your life’s experiences?

Sounds great, right? Who wouldn’t want to spend a day or twenty years inside a machine  designed to give us nothing but pleasurable experiences?

All I’m gonna say is

ME.

WILL GARDNER.

…and a plate of nachos.

Now, the way it’s described, Nozick’s Experience Machine initially sounds like a great thing. The crewmembers of the star ship Enterprise D (that’s Picard’s Enterprise, but y’all already knew that) enjoy the Holodeck as something that evolved 23rd century people are into.

You know there’s something wrong with that 23rd century kind of thinking, right?

Philosophers notoriously have a knack for making everything that’s fun un-fun, and like a true philosopher, Nozick managed to make the idea of climbing into a pleasure machine created by superduper neuropsychologists un-fun.

Before we jump into the Experience Machine for some good-time hedonistic fun, Nozick asks us a question.

Of course, there’s a question…

The question at the core of the Experience Machine is, Is pleasure all that matters?

The answer is supposed to be no.

Listen: The thing (aka, the catch) about the Experience Machine is, despite the lure of a life of good times inside the device, the purpose of Nozick’s thought experiment is to persuade us that life is more than just pleasurable experiences. The point of the machine, Nozick says, isn’t to demonstrate the awesomeness of life in the Matrix, but to show that we should prefer an authentic life in the real world to an (in)authentic one inside the machine.

Nozick gives us at least three reasons why we shouldn’t want to plug in:

First, we want to do certain things, and not just have the experience of doing them. In the case of certain experiences, it is only because first we want to do the actions that we want the experiences of doing them or thinking we’ve done them. (But why do we want to do the activities rather than merely to experience them?) A second reason for not plugging in is that we want to be a certain way, to be a certain sort of person. Someone floating in a tank is an indeterminate blob. There is no answer to the question of what a person is like who has been long in the tank. Is he courageous, kind, intelligent, witty, loving? It’s not merely that it’s difficult to tell; there’s no way he is. Plugging into the machine is a kind of suicide. It will seem to some, trapped by a picture, that nothing about what we are like can matter except as it gets reflected in our experiences. But should it be surprising that what we are is important to us? Why should we be concerned only with how our time is filled, but not with what we are?

Nozick adds:

Thirdly, plugging into an experience machine limits us to a man-made reality,
to a world no deeper or more important than that which people can construct.
There is no actual contact with any deeper reality, though the experience of it
can be simulated.

So… according to Robert Nozick, I shouldn’t want to spend any of my time living Experience Machine-induced “experiences” with Will Gardner

the-first-time-they-met-again-the-last-time-they-saw-each-other-will-and-alicia-36967088-245-245

DAMN YOU, JEFFREY GRANT

Just as Star Trek’s Lt. Barclay shouldn’t want the Holodeck pleasures of a romantic relationship with ship’s counselor (and Commander Will Riker’s imzadi) Deanna Troi

tenor

NO, REG. JUST NO. 

 

Reggie Barclay and I ( and we collectively) shouldn’t want to go into the Experience Machine because, by going in, we deprive ourselves of the real (authentic) experiences that make a meaningful life. Philosophers, and ordinary folks, should prefer truth to a pleasurable fiction.

But why, right?

You know, lovers of wisdom say we (should) want authentic experiences because we need truth if we want to find wisdom, and through wisdom and truth, we find deeper meaning…blah, blah, blah.

Life shouldn’t be about just pleasure. As John Stuart Mill tells us, we should want to be a dissatisfied Socrates rather than a satisfied pig.

vs

LIKE THERE’S ANY COMPETITION….

 

AAAANNNNDDD —  if we learn anything about the Holodeck from watching Star Trek, we’ll see that Holodeck “experiences” have the potential to cause problems in the real world. In the episode “Hollow Pursuits”, Lt. Reggie Barclay becomes so involved in his life inside the Holodeck that he neglects his responsibilities in the real world. Barclay’s work performance (he’s a member of Lt. Geordi LaForge’s engineering crew) is below standard and his constant tardiness (because he’s in the Holodeck) nearly endangers the safety of the Enterprise. Barclay’s Holodeck depictions of his superior officers, especially his Holodeck of Cmdr. Riker, cause “problems” when Barclay’s superior officers discover his Holodeck fantasies.

16556380_8

I GUESS RIKER’S NOT A DUMAS FAN

 

Worst of all, Barclay’s Holodeck addiction is preventing him from overcoming his real world social anxiety.

tumblr_npkpd6bpo51rn92ljo1_r2_250

HE’S TALKING ABOUT HIMSELF, YOU KNOW

   

 

Eventually, Barclay realizes what we, the viewers, already know: life inside the Holodeck is nothing more than a hollow pursuit. Barclay’s Holodeck relationships aren’t authentic– and more importantly — he is depriving himself of the opportunity to form real friendships (and romantic relationships) with his real fellow crewmembers. 

And you know what Aristotle says about the importance of real friendships…

…and on a personal note: I think, for a society that has advanced past the use of money, like they have in the 23rd century of Star Trek, it’s odd (to me) that an experience machine on a starship would be seen as an advancement in human progress.

I mean, you’d think a culture advanced enough to provide a ship’s counselor on staff would know about the dangers of VR addiction.

Also, who is monitoring what goes down in the Holodeck, anyway? I mean, I can’t keep a post of naked boobs up on Facebook for more than three minutes before I get one of those “your post was removed because it violated community standards”things. Who’s keeping watch over community standards violations on the Enterprise’s Holodeck?

You gotta assume there’s some sick shit going on in there.

Anyway…

If you think Star Trek is dumb philosophy for stupider people, you’re kinda wrong on that. Despite all that living in their mom’s basement stuff, Terk fans tend to be pretty smart people — that’s why Star Trek has been cranking out pop culture-ready philosophy for over a half century.

One great thing about Star Trek is that the writers assume that the fans are not only capable of understanding the thump-to-the-back-of-the-head philosophical stuff, but also the deep philosophical subtext that gets us talking about dudes like Robert Nozick and asking ourselves if taking a dive in the Holodeck or Experience Machine is really worth it.

Just in case you forgot, the answer is it’s not. BECAUSE THERE’S MORE TO LIFE THAN MERE PLEASURE.

WELL…..

I don’t know how you feel about the Experience Machine, but

all I’m saying is that 

I prefer my nachos with guacamole.

source

 

 

 

 

 

*You may have noticed my excessive use of Wikipedia. It’s true. I refer to Wikipedia a lot. I know, Wikipedia has the reputation for being a less-than-accurate source of information. Rest assured, before I use Wikipedia as a source I check with additional sources for information. So far, so good…. I think. 

SOURCES:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodeck

https://rintintin.colorado.edu/~vancecd/phil3160/Nozick1.pdf

Night of the Living STANS

IF I’VE LEARNED anything from my years spent interacting with folks online, it’s this: all fandoms are awful.

I’m not joking. Most are pretty bad.

dotd

JUST SAY THE WORDS “RUNNING ZOMBIES” IN A ROOM FULL OF GEORGE A. ROMERO FANS AND WAIT…

Take a look around the interwebs and you’ll see there’s a good reason why they invented the phrase TOXIC FANDOM.

screen_shot_2017_10_09_at_7.42.25_pm.0

NOT CALLING OUT RICK AND MORTY FANS EXCLUSIVELY (or this young man in the photo in particular), BUT THAT WHOLE MC DONALD’S MULAN DIPPING SAUCE THING WAS NOT THE FANDOM’S FINEST MOMENT…. Wubba Lubba Dub Dub

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that all fandoms are bad (although I just did).
Communing with others who share mutual interests is a good thing. More than half of
my Facebook friends are people I’ve “met” in Star Trek fan groups.
Yes. I’m still on Facebook.
Actually, Star Trek fans are pretty toxic, too.
cbs_star_trek_discovery_115_option_1_clean_1920_thumb_master

JUST SAY THE NAME MICHAEL BURNHAM IN A STAR TREK FAN GROUP AND WAIT…

Trekkies, Little Monsters, Swifties, the KISS Army, the Beyhive, Beliebers — just a few
monikers of popular fandoms. 

 

Question: Are Game of Thrones fans called anything? What about The Walking Dead

fans? What are they called?

17c4cae0f29d43091c7ac5cf6662b81a

THERE’S GOTTA BE A NAME FOR SOMEONE WHO DOES THIS TO THEIR CAT

Some fandoms’ fans are so devoted they’ve shot past being mere fans;

they’re STANS.

A“stan”, according to Urban Dictionary, is:

crazed and or obsessed fan. The term comes from the song Stan by eminem. The term Stan is used to describe a fan who goes to great lengths to obsess over a celebrity.
These people are fans:
stcostume7
THIS guy is a stan.
hqdefault-1
I’m going to assume that most fans (and even most stans) are harmless, but there are
devoted fans out there.
Almost anything or anyone that’s popular has a fandom. Almost anything or anyone with
one notable exception: PHILOSOPHERS.
In all my years of mindless philosophizing  I have never once heard of or seen a
philosophy fandom.
I mean, Rule 34 of the internet says for every conceivable idea, there’s a porn of it.  I’m
pretty sure that there’s a fandom corollary — for every thing in pop culture, there’s a
fandom of it. Sounds like a reasonable to assume, right?
…and it’s not like philosophy has never been popular. I mean, Socrates had his fans
1659482830_42231fb724_b

ANY GROUP OF FOLLOWERS WHO’D SHOW UP TO WATCH A GUY KILL HIMSELF ARE A PRETTY DEVOTED BUNCH

Glaucon probably was a stan, tho.

 

I mean, think about it for a minute. Philosophy (well… Western philosophy, anyway) has

been around since at least the 6th century BCE, and is the mother of ALL disciplines, but

has there ever once been a PhilosophyCon? Do philosophy fans have clever fandom-

based nicknames? Socrateers, Aristotoholics, Hegelites…?

Is there philosophy cosplay?

Wait — there is philosophy cosplay. But it usually looks like this:

philosopher-cosplay

NOT KNOCKING THESE GUYS. THIS IS PRETTY GOOD PHILOSOPHY COSPLAY

What happens when you put a couple of devoted Kant fans in a room? Do they disagree?

Do Kantian disagreements ever turn violent? Probably not.

Oh wait, they have*

I guess at least Immanuel Kant has stans.

So… at least Immanuel Kant has a toxic fandom.

In Russia, anyway.

 

Ok…. Russian Kantian gun fighting stans aside, maybe the reason why philosophy

fandoms aren’t like Rick and Morty or Selena Gomez fans is because philosophy fans

aren’t like Rick and  Morty or Selena Gomez fans. Philosophy fans, kantian Russians

aside, aren’t very enthusiastic people. They may feel passionate about philosophy, but

they aren’t very passionate about philosophers. And even when they’re passionate about

philosophy,  philosophy fans are pretty subdued about it.

 

Russian Kant stans aside.

 

That Slavoj Žižek-Jordan Peterson debate was hyped to hell and back and it pretty much

just looked like this: 

zizek-peterson-800x480

TWO BROS JUST CHATTIN’

Ok… I’m pretty convinced Mark Hamill has been doing Žižek cosplay for a few years…
mark-hamill-slavoj-zizek-1444715
Well… there is ONE thing Rick and Morty and philosophy fans have in common: but to
understand you gotta have a high I.Q.

Sorry kid.

You see, Tay Sway can shake if off
shake-it-off-gif-taylor-swift-38590604-500-266
Most of the “popular” philosophers are…we… dead. Aristotle has been dead since 322
BCE!!!
He’s not shaking much of anything.
…and shaking is what gets you fans.
Not every philosopher has the natural charisma of cigarette smoking Albert Camus.
albertcamus

ALBERT CAMUS, THE ZAC EFRON OF PHILOSOPHY

So what should philosophers do  if we want fandoms?
tenor-1

THIS MIGHT HELP

For starters, philosophy seems to be doing a pretty good job sneaking philosophy into
pop culture with movies like The Matrix and tv shows like The Good Place.  Lots of people
out there play Bioshock.
That’s a video game.
… and with the new Bill and Ted flick in production, maybe we’ll see the return of
Socrates, to introduce a whole new generation of youths to the teachings of the ancient
gadfly of Athens.
wq7b1wo

ALL WE ARE IS DUST IN THE WIND, DUDE

After all, we got all those Rick and Morty fans out there with their high I.Q.s  (and all
those Star Trek fans who fancy themselves philosophical),  isn’t it time philosophers
cultivate their own potentially toxic fanbase?
Kantian Russian firearm enthusiasts aside.
I say, it’s time for philosophers to claim their place in the pantheon of (potentially toxic)
fandoms. It’s time to stop wasting time yelling “Pickle Rick!” in public places and put our
high I.Q.s to some good use! Why let those nerdy Trekkers claim all the philosophy??? It’s
time philosophers get shakin’! It’s time for Diogenes cosplayin’ and PhilosophyCon. It’s
time for a tv show about a band of gun-totin’, philosophy-quotin’, kickass lovers of
wisdom and a Chris Hardwick aftershow.
Did you know Chris Hardwick majored in philosophy in college?
He did, you know.
BENTHAMHEADS UNITE!!!!
It’s time to start dressing up our pets like our favorite French existentialist philosopher.
Why should The Walking Dead fans be the only fans who get to do this?
m2fnprp

SERIOUSLY, WHO DOES THIS TO THEIR PET????