WHY I COULD NEVER CUT IT AS A VULCAN

AS MUCH I ENJOY philosophy, there is one thing in philosophy that I truly hate: Logic.

I’m not talking about the kind of logic someone is talking about when they say that eating a hot dog without ketchup is the only logical way to eat a hot dog or when we say washing your hands after using the restroom is “logical”.

One “logical” act is just a matter of taste and the other is what any human being even the least bit concerned with being sanitary would do.

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WELL… AT LEAST SHE’S WASHING SOMETHING

There are plenty of things we say are “logic” or “logical” that aren’t logic or logical at all.

I’m talking about the kind of logic that philosophers do. Philosophical logic.

I hate THAT logic.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that logic is the bane of my existence. I’m not good at logic.

At all.

I flunked logic.

But they still gave me a degree in philosophy.

Remember kids: bullshit is better than logic.

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Despite my utter failure at all things logic, I still look for ways to use philosophy in my daily life while avoiding logic.
Which is a fairly easy thing to do on the internet, actually.

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However, instead of bringing me relief, my avoidance of logic has become somewhat of a problem for me.

You see, here in the U.S. philosophy is all about analytic philosophy.

The philosophy with all that LOGIC.

Our heroes are dudes like Frege, Carnap, Quine, and Russell.

Russell wanted to make philosophy more like math.

Something else I hate.

I. HATE. MATH.

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So you understand why sucking at logic can make things difficult when you’ve decided to take up writing philosophy as your somewhat full-time vocation.

Still… as much as I despise logic, I am more than well aware that logic is a necessary part of philosophy.

Logic is used to construct arguments.

Not the kind of arguments you have with bae.

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Actually, I kinda suck at the other kind of arguments, too.

Oh no, couldn’t be arguments like that.

Nope. Philosophy is all about arguments that look like this:

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IN SOME PLACES, MAKING PEOPLE WORK DERIVATIONS LIKE THIS IS CONSIDERED TORTURE

So, lucky me. I went to college here in the U.S. where it‘s all about the Analytics and logic, and my reward for loving wisdom SO much was having to go to an ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY focused college and having to take logic classes.

Yeah. That’s pretty much what happened.

Yea…..

Philosophical logic is:

Logic (from the Greek “logos”, which has a variety of meanings including the word, thought, idea, argument, account, reason or principle) is the study of reasoning, or the study of the principles and criteria of valid inference and demonstration, it attempts to distinguish good reasoning from bad reasoning.

Now, as a fan of philosophy it is almost required by law that I also like Star Trek.

Star Trek, Monty Python, and Woody Allen movies. Every philosopher is required to not merely like these things, but live by them. Required.

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WHAT 4 OUT OF 12 PHILOSOPHERS INNER PHILOSOPHER LOOKS LIKE

Doesn’t matter which incarnation of Star Trek: The Original Series, The Next Generation, Voyager, Deep Space Nine – even Enterprise.

Well, maybe not Enterprise.

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Any philosophical question can be answered by watching an episode of Star Trek.

That’s why I was initially so disappointed that one of the series’ most beloved characters, the Vulcan First Officer of the USS Enterprise (in the original series), Mr. Spock, was a devotee of logic.

Vulcans are all about logic.

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The Matron of Vulcan Philosophy, T’Plana-Hath, says:

Logic is the cement of our civilization with which we ascend from chaos using reason as our guide.

Vulcan society is so devoted to logic that they purge themselves of emotions through a process called Kohlinar.

I swear that’s as far as I’m going to go with the Star Trek lingo.

Vulcans believe that they must purge their emotions so that their emotions don’t interfere with their ability to reason. The reason why is a complex story.

I’ll just say that it has to do with Vulcans being extremely violent and some guy named Surak.

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THIS IS SURAK. DON’T LET THE SMUG SMILE FOOL YOU. VULCANS DON’T HAVE EMOTIONS

Actually, Vulcans don’t so much purge their emotions as they learn to control them. Just in case anybody wants to call me on that.

Like I said, I suck at logic. And the thought that a TV show I was required to watch for my philosopher street cred included a character that was going to be a Carnap in space, made me want to ditch any philosopher cred I’d be awarded if I watched. I knew that every time I watched the show it would be a humiliation. I feared tuning in every week to watch some dude that I would find utterly incomprehensible. I’d have to face the fact that I had no place in philosophy. I knew that Mr. Spock would be just like my logic professor – he would speak in a language I couldn’t understand, even though he’d be delivering the dialogue in English.

Kind of like what happens when I read Bertrand Russell.

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Living as a Wookie would do me just fine, I told myself. I can get angry enough to rip a droid’s arm out of its socket.

But watching Star Trek, I feared, I’d have to face the chilling realization that I could never cut it as a Vulcan.

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So, despite my initial logic-induced trepidation, I watched the show.

I’m kinda glad that I did.

Because exactly what I feared would happen didn’t happen.

Listen: Vulcans claim that they’re all about living the logical life. The catch is, though, is that they weren’t really doing logic at all. At least not in the philosophical sense.

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Doing logic – actual philosophical logic – made me realize that Vulcans, at least
according to the Vulcan logic that Spock explained to Captain Kirk, isn’t… well… it ain’t logic. Spock’s famous admonition to Kirk, The Needs of the MANY outweigh the Needs of the FEW or the ONE, is positively utilitarian.

Anyone who has sat through a bull session of discussing ethical thought experiments knows utilitarian ethics can get us to some very unreasonable, dare we say, illogical outcomes.

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NOBODY NEEDS TO SAY THE WORDS “TROLLEY” OR “PROBLEM” TO KNOW THERE ARE PROBLEMS WITH UTILITARIANISM

 

There’s no doubt Vulcans are intellectual. Mr. Spock hands-down is the smartest member of the Enterprise crew.

And not just because he was accepted to the Vulcan Science Academy and Starfleet Academy.

But it seems that the high-minded Vulcan logic that Spock (and every other Vulcan) adheres to should be described as “this makes sense” or call it what it is, some utilitarian ethics with a dash of everybody kind of thinks this way.

Spock often mentions his inability to lie – IS LYING INHERENTLY ILLOGICAL?

Vulcans boast (and they do boast) that the cornerstone of their logic-based lifestyle freedom from emotions and the irrational nature of emotions leads species (including humans) into behaving illogically.

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According to Vulcan logic, emotion and rationality are presented as mutually exclusive; either you’re logical and emotionless or emotional and illogical.

First, Vulcans often are emotional. During the course of the original series and the six TOS (the original series) films, Spock occasionally displays emotion.

And don’t just blame that on the fact that Spock is half human.

Other Vulcans, including Spock’s betrothed, T’Pring, Spock’s half-brother Sybok, and the Vulcan on Voyager who had a bad case of Pon Farr were all emotional.

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GET THIS VULCAN A WOMAN, STAT!

And then there’s this thing: Irrational (or if you’re a Vulcan, illogical) behavior is based on how you act according to the information you’re working with, not necessarily upon your emotional state.

Contrary to what Vulcans believe, emotions are necessary for decision making.

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In neuroscientist Antonio Damasio’s study of a patient “Elliot” (who lost part of his frontal cortex during tumor surgery) Damasio discovered that his patient’s intellect remained intact, however, Elliot had lost the capacity to experience emotion. Elliot was, Damasio described, “disengaged” from the world. The inability of Elliot’s brain to connect reason and emotion interfered with his capacity for decision making.

Damasio observed that patients like Elliot, people who had damage to their frontal cortex, the part of the brain that controls emotions, were unable to make even simple decisions.

Imagine having to choose between two relatively equal choices: On one plate you are offered a grilled chicken sandwich on whole wheat bread. On the other plate you are offered a grilled chicken sandwich on whole wheat bread with a slice of heirloom tomato. You like grilled chicken sandwiches with and without a slice of heirloom tomato. How do you choose which sandwich to eat? If you have emotions, you may choose by simply deciding that you don’t “feel” like eating a sandwich without a slice of tomato. But without the capacity to feel, you may be unable to decide which sandwich to eat.

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BOTH SANDWICHES LOOK SO TASTY. HOW CAN YOU DECIDE WHICH ONE TO EAT? WELL, FIRST — ASK YOURSELF, DO YOU HAVE EMOTIONS?

In an article in the Arizona State Law Journal, legal scholars Susan Barades and Jessica Salerno wrote:

Emotion helps us screen, organize and prioritize the information that bombards us… It influences what information we find salient, relevant, convincing or memorable.

I suppose it would be worth noting that I am a very emotional person.

And if I’m gonna toot my own horn here, I’m pretty good at making decisions.

Well, nine out of ten decisions.
I guess in the end, it’s ok if I’m not logically correct -according to Vulcans or to real philosophers. Sure, if I ever contact the Long Island Medium to channel the spirits of Godel or Quine, I might want to brush up on my derivations, but if and until then, I’ll still suck at logic, continue to enjoy watching Star Trek, and H.A.T.E. all arguments comprised of a set of premises supporting a logically inferred conclusion.
Besides… Vulcans aren’t really logical, anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOURCES:

http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_logic.html

phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2014/09/18/emotion-is-not-the-enemy-of-reason/

memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Logic

Alt-Philosophy

ALTHOUGH I’VE BEEN writing this blog for awhile, I haven’t really made a habit of writing about my opinions. I mean, I write philosophical interpretations of movies and TV and music and stuff based on some other philosopher‘s philosophy, but rarely (I think) have I ever said, “Y’all know what I think?” about anything, much less on a topic that may not be (at least at first glance) philosophical.

After all, who wants to hear opinions?

You know what they say about opinions?

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And most of them stink…

That was then.

This is post-November 9th 2016.

Now, a big part of, dare I say, the allure of philosophy is that it’s all about thinking.

Thinking about stuff; thinking about anything, everything.

Philosophers do a great deal of it. Thinking. In fact, philosophers are often accused of over thinking.

Unfortunately, I may been doing way too much overthinking these days.

Some of it has to do with this guy

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The President of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump.

62,979,879 Americans voted for Trump.

I was not one of them.

Since the election of Donald Trump on November 9th, 2016 (or maybe because of the election of Donald Trump), things have been a little weird for those of us who “think” too much.

And I mean weird as in President Trump and his administration have a lot of people thinking and talking about not telling the truth.

Specifically, that the President and his administration have some difficulty saying it.

The truth.

There’s so much non-truth telling going on that the experts are now saying that President Trump and his administration are proof that we living in a “post-truth” world.

Post-truth is defined as:

Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief

So far as politics goes, appealing to emotions isn’t new. Politicians have appealed to how we feel over what we think for, well… since there have been politicians.

And it’s not as if politicians have suddenly become not truthful.

It’s just that I can’t quite remember when the truth was so… unimportant.

Folks on t.v. and on the internet are conjuring up images of the Newspeak of Orwell’s 1984 and of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World; painting images of a world where facts are not objective but are, well, whatever they say that they are.

At least that’s the way the truth goes down in Oceania .

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The president doesn’t lie, he’s merely “misspoken”.

That’s not a lie coming from the administration. It’s a “alternative fact”.

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Although it seems like it’s a pretty obvious thing to think, there are some people out there who believe that telling the truth isn’t as important as people say it is.

Truth is kind of funny, though.

The funny thing about the truth is that the truth, despite what we may believe, really is important.

You see, those of us who are into over thinking philosophically about things place a high value on truth. Truth is a very important thing to philosophers. Truth gets us to wisdom.

Philosophers love wisdom.

Philosophy literally means love of wisdom.

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Truth is an essential part of how we accurately describe reality, how the world really is.

How we know things.

It is easy to come up with two conditions for knowledge: truth and belief. It’s clear that knowledge requires truth. That is, you cannot know something unless it is true. – Richard Feldman, Epistemology.

We know things because our beliefs about things in the world are true.

As Plato said,

And isn’t a bad thing to be deceived about the truth, and a good thing to know what the truth is? For I assume that by knowing the truth you mean knowing things as they really are

Truth may not be a valued commodity in politics, as Machiavelli wrote:

Everyone admits how praiseworthy it is in a prince to keep his word, and to behave with integrity rather than cunning. Nevertheless our experience has been that those princes who have done great things have considered keeping their word of little account, and have known to beguile men’s minds by shrewdness and cunning. In the end these princes have overcome those who have relied on keeping their word.

And like Machiavelli suggested, lying may get you far in politics… and sometimes quite far in life.

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But there’s a very important reason truth matters.

Not telling the truth (aka lying) isn’t just a matter of disseminating bad information or misspeaking. Not telling the truth is pernicious deception and manipulation that makes us incapable of making correct choices.

If we are indifferent to truth or we don’t know what the truth is – if someone is lying to us and we believe them – we’re unable to navigate in the world. We see reality how it really isn’t.

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Imagine that you are planning to take a trip across the Atlantic Ocean.

No need to say why. You got your reasons.

You’ve been told by the ship’s owner that the ship you are sailing on is safe and that there is absolutely no chance of the ship sinking. You believe the ship owner’s assurances (because you have no reason not to) and believe that the ship is sea worthy. You decide to take the trip across the Atlantic Ocean.

However, the ship owner is not telling you the truth. He knows that the ship shouldn’t be anywhere near water, let alone sailing upon a whole ocean full of water. He knows the ship will not complete its voyage.

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YEP. HE KNOWS WHAT’S UP

While at sea, the ship begins to take on water and eventually (and inevitably) capsizes, killing all aboard. Including you.

Now, you made a choice based on the word of someone who did not tell you the truth.

And it cost you your life.

Possible death wishes aside, had you known the true state of things (i.e. reality) you probably would have decided to not take the trip.

Truth is important. And not just in dealing with issues of metaphysics.

We must know what the facts are if we want to make the right decision, not just on practical matters but also when we act morally.

Truth is an absolute necessity when assigning moral culpability.

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Lying, withholding truth or otherwise not being truthful are generally considered to be immoral acts.

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The reason why you shouldn’t maintain your own set of “alternative facts” in the face of objective reality is because when we act, our actions have consequences.

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And consequences, unless you’re a deontologist, can be judged morally.

Remember that ship owner I was talking about? Well, because the owner withheld the truth from the ship’s passengers and misrepresented the safety of the vessel, the passengers couldn’t make the correct choice – to take the trip or not.

The ship owner’s deception led to the loss of lives. People died because the ship owner didn’t tell the truth.

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Causing other people’s deaths is bad and if people die because of you, your are morally responsible for their deaths.

We really don’t need to go to an extreme of people dying to demonstrate that truth is a good thing – and not just because philosophers say so.

Without the truth, claims are unreliable. Truth cannot be “alternative” or “relative” or “its true for me.” Without the belief that what we’re told is true, we cant place our trust in the individuals (or institutions) that make claims or tell us anything about the way the world is. When we don’t trust people; when we don’t trust institutions (that they run), and the lack of trust undermines the legitimacy of institutions (like government). We need to be mindful that truth is an essential for good government

If you know your Thomas Jefferson and John Locke, government necessarily depends on legitimacy.

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Legitimacy relies on the consent of the governed.

Consent is based on trust.

Trust requires truth.

And this is kinda why we have to believe that truth is important.

We need truth to point out those who, by not telling the truth, corrupt government and undermine our ability to trust what others want us to believe.

In the end, we all know that seeking and preserving truth isn’t just about the right now. Presidents come and go; there will always be ship builders who’ll lie about the seaworthiness of their ship.

 

 

 

 

And that’s the honest truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definiton/post-truth

Richard Feldman. Epistemology. 2003. Upper Saddle River, NJ. Prentice Hall. 12.

Niccolo Machiavelli. The Prince. 1532.

The Way Things Are

SOMETIMES IT’S EASY to dismiss a kids’ movie. After all, films featuring cute animated talking animals voiced by not-exactly-kid-friendly actors are easy to not take too seriously.

Existential dread isn’t exactly the kind of subject matter suited for a film geared towards the pre-school set.

But every once in awhile a kids movie goes and gets all philosophical on everybody.

Something you wouldn’t expect in a movie about a talking pig.

Aristotle wrote that all beings act according to their nature.

Aristotle calls it our characteristic function.

Aristotle says human characteristic function is the use of reason in accordance with virtue

What is the function of man? For as the goodness and the excellence of a piper or a sculptor, or the practiser of any art, and generally of those who have any function assigned to him by nature? Nay, surely as his several members, eye and hand and foot, plainly have each his own function, so we must suppose that man has some function over and above all these

(Man’s function then being, as we say, a kind of life — that is to say, exercise of his faculties and action of various kinds with reason — the good man’s function is to do this well and beautifully [or nobly]. But the function of anything is done well when it is done in accordance with the proper excellence of that thing.) Nicomachean Ethics, I 7.

Dogs, cats, bumblebees, frogs – According to Aristotle, nature not only designs a purpose for all beings, but also it is unnatural to deviate from that being’s designated purpose.

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NOT ONLY IS THIS AN INCREDIBLY TACKY PAINTING, IT IS ALSO UNNATURAL.

A fish’s characteristic function is to swim in water.

A bee’s characteristic function is to pollinate flowers.

A cat’s characteristic function is to be an asshole.

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THE LABEL ON THE BOX SAYS IT ALL

Aristotle states that thing’s characteristic activity (whoops, function), can be performed well or performed poorly.

Not only does a species have an characteristic function, but individuals do as well.

In humans, we can determine one’s characteristic function by observing one’s natural inclination, that is, your characteristic function is what you’re good at:

Mariah Carey’s characteristic function is to sing.

Rembrandt’s was to paint.

Mine is philosophy because frankly, I’m not good at doing anything else.

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PRETTY MUCH HOW I ROLL THESE DAYS

Aristotle attempts to define the Good in terms of characteristic function.

And by the capital “G” Good, Aristotle means Eudaimonia.

Loosely translated, eudemonia means “flourishing”.

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Wait – I think I’m straying off topic. I was talking about characteristic function.

If you want to read all about eudemonia read Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. You don’t even have to pay for it. It’s all over the internet in print and audiobook. FOR FREE.

Now, I’d like to think that I’m too old for kids’ movies, but truth be told, I’m not. I’d rather watch Daffy Duck’s Fantastic Island over The Seventh Seal any day of the week.

For the record, I think Daffy Duck’s Fantastic Island is a very philosophical movie.

The reason why, I think, I’d rather watch a kids’ movie is because unlike movies made for adults, where philosophical subtext is often handled with the subtlety of a pillaging berserker wielding a cudgel, kid-oriented entertainment can’t really overwhelm its target audience with deeper meaning.

Because they’re kids.

And most kids don’t know Hegel.

At least l hope most kids don’t know Hegel.

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THIS KID’S LIFE IS RUINED

But kids do know about talking pigs.

This talking pig in particular.

The movie Babe, directed by Chris Noonan, based on the book The Sheep-Pig by Dick King-Smith, and adapted for the screen by George Miller (yes, the guy who wrote Mad Max!) is the story of a pig… named Babe.

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BABE

Orphaned as a piglet, adopted by Farmer Hoggett, and raised by Hoggett’s sheep herding dogs, Babe is condemned to the short (and inevitably tragic) life of a pig: to one day become the farmer’s next meal.

Babe, however, wants more for his life than to become Christmas dinner.

Babe wants to herd sheep.

Naturally, Babe’s efforts to redefine his role on the farm meets with opposition from the other farm animals (including his adopted canine family), and Farmer Hoggett, who does not believe that a pig is capable of herding sheep.

The farmer’s cat explains to the would-be sheep pig nature’s rules of life on the farm – that each farm animal has a purpose – and that pigs have no purpose.

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The cat says this because cats are assholes.

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A CAT WILL ALWAYS SHOW YOU EXACTLY WHAT HE IS

It’s their characteristic function.
The small pig is not deterred by the cat or anyone else on the farm. He ignores the naysayers and strives to prove that a pig can indeed herd sheep. Babe follows his heart even though everyone around him, including Farmer Hoggett, doubts that he can defy the laws of nature.

Now, if we were following Aristotle, we might have been on the side of the cat; pigs serve no purpose other than to get fat and feed the farmer and his family.

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FARMER HOGGETT, ON HIS WAY TO MAKING BABE CHRISTMAS DINNER

Luckily for the piglet (and the audience), Babe isn’t Aristotilean; he refuses to allow nature or the expectations of others to define his place in the world.

That’s downright existential.

Existential.

The late 19th – 20th century philosophy of Existentialism, most notably associated with French philosophers Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Albert Camus, and the German philosopher, Martin Heidegger (and also associated with Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, who is credited with being the first Existentialist philosopher).

According to the dictionary,

“Existentialism is the name given to the branch of philosophy which is concerned with the meaning of human existence – its aims, its significance and overall purpose – and the freedom and creative response to life made by individuals.”

If you’re in the mood to think philosophically, Babe can be a philosophical gateway to thinking about more than a couple of philosophical topics (brush up on your Peter Singer ‘cause you gonna be discussing animal rights). It’s pretty much undeniable that the philosophical undertone of the film’s major theme is essentially existentialist. Babe rejects the idea of purpose assigned by biology and society. He defines his own purpose.

His purpose is to herd sheep.

And more importantly, he’s good at it.

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BABE, SHOWING THE DUMB SHEEP WHO’S BOSS

The existentialist French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre wrote

Life has no meaning a priori… it is up to you to give it a meaning, and value is nothing but the meaning that we choose.

Babe finds meaning in herding sheep. It’s almost like sheep herding is his characteristic function.

Take that Aristotle!

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If Babe was a practicing existentialist, he would say that existence preceded his essence.

Sartre says,

What is meant here by saying that existence precedes essence? It means first of all, man exists, turns up, appears on the scene, and, only afterwards, defines himself. If man, as the existentialist conceives him, is indefinable, it is because at first he is nothing. Only afterward will he be something, and he himself will have made what he will be.

Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.

Babe did have a purpose. One that he determined for himself. Babe proves that he is capable of doing something other than his biological destiny.

All’s well that ends well, right?

Well, not quite.

School Crossing Guard

PHILOSOPHERS ARE LIKE STEPHEN KING NOVELS OR A RELATIONSHIP WITH RICK GRIMES. THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A HAPPY ENDING

Of course, with all things philosophical, there’s a glitch.

Possible glitch.

Existentialists hold that our true essence isn’t assigned to us by society or by our biology and we assign meaning to ourselves – we create our own meaning, purpose, and values in life. This means we are completely responsible for who we become.

Completely responsible.

Sartre writes,

Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. It is up to you to give [life] a meaning.

See how Sartre says we’re “condemned to be free”? We’re condemned, Sartre says, because without God or biology to determine the meaning of our lives, we are solely responsible for creating meaning. This can be rather disorienting.

 

Or nauseating….

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OR NAUSEATING… GET IT?

Lucky for us, we’re watching a kid’s movie. Babe is spared the agony of experiencing the existential dread of complete freedom. Babe‘s mind is as unencumbered as a pig satisfied.

He is completely happy and at ease once he becomes what he wants to be.

A pig-dog.

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SO… we’re full of tears of happiness, cheers, and assumptions of lives lived happily ever after by the time the barn mice tell us we’re reached “The End”.

And we’ve just been given our first big lesson in existentialism.

There was, however, the inevitable follow up, Babe: Pig in the City.

 

 

I’m just going to leave it at that**.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

** Babe: Pig in the City was criticized at the time of it’s initial release for being a darker, less family-friendly film. the film currently holds a 62% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film is darker than its predecessor, however, it’s arguable that the film, directed by George Miller, is also a more philosophically developed film. The late film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel both praised the film, with Siskel naming the movie one of the best films of 1998.

 
SOURCES:

http://people.wku.edu/jan.garrett/arisne1.htm

Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. Trans. F.H. Peters. 2004 [1893].New York: Barnes and Noble Books.

Mel Thompson. Teach Yourself: Philosophy. 2003. Chicago, IL. Contemporary Books. 184.

Jean-Paul Sartre. Existentialism is a Humanism.

Sartre. Being and Nothingness. (1943).

25 THOUGHTS ABOUT PHILOSOPHY

I’VE BEEN DOING this philosophy thing for a few years now.

I’ve done the college. I’ve done the book. I do the blog.

In fact, this isn’t my first philosophy blog.

I had another one. It was called The Kantian Egoist. I ended that blog to start up this blog, The Mindless Philosopher. I think I’ll be doing this for awhile.

Earning a philosophy degree, writing a book, and writing a philosophy blog for a few years – that’s a lot of years thinking about things. In particular, it’s a lot of years spent thinking about philosophy.

And after thinking about philosophy for a few years, I’ve come to a few conclusions.

Twenty five, to be exact.

Some of these thoughts I hold to with more conviction than others. Some are just thoughts that popped up in my head and I probably won’t believe in a couple of months.

I think these few things:

1. Don’t get into philosophical arguments with people who aren’t philosophers.

Philosopher/non-philosopher arguments never turn out well – especially for the philosopher. If you feel the need to use some philosophical jargon coming on, just stop talking. Things can only go downhill from there.

2. Everything ultimately is philosophical.

Everything.

3. Philosophy isn’t dead or dying. It’s just having a really bad hair day.

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The very act of declaring philosophy is dead is a philosophical statement. ‘Nuff said.

4. There’s nothing wrong with having a philosophy degree.

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*NOT ACCURATE

5. Everyone is a little bit of a philosopher, and not just when they’re drunk.

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6. Philosophers drink way too much alcohol… and coffee.

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7. There is a real problem with academic philosophy.

Academic philosophy is out of touch with what’s going on outside academia. Professional philosophers spend too much time focusing on theory and not enough time on real people in the real world.

8. Accept the fact that there will always be people who think what you do is useless.

Like they say, haters gonna hate.

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9. Analytic philosophy will make you a better thinker, but continental philosophy will tell you what’s going on.

Or at least to figure out David Lynch flicks.

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WHAT. THE. F@#K?

10. There is a real possibility that the postmodernists won.

11. Dropping Hegel’s name in conversation will never make you appear smarter. Even when talking to philosophers.

12. Whatever you think you know about Nietzsche’s philosophy, you’re probably wrong.

If someone tells you they’re a nihilist, they probably ain’t.

13. If you ever see these on someone’s bookshelf, RUN.

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14. Nobody’s arguments are a declarative statement, supported by a set of premises. Nobody in the real world argues like that. Not even philosophers.

15. There’s more to philosophy than what you read in college.

16. Read the German philosophers. You won’t like it, but you’ll appreciate it after to do.

Well, at least try to read the German philosophers. We’ll understand if you skip Hegel.

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17. Read some Eastern philosophy. Heck, read philosophy that wasn’t written by a man or a western European.

18. Don’t forget that you’re a part of all of this too. Philosophy is not a spectator sport.

19. If you’re on a bus and you want people to leave you alone, read Kant. Better yet, read Hegel.

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YEAH. NOBODY’S GONNA TALK TO THIS GUY

20. If you want to start a conversation, read Marx or Rand.

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CHICKS DEFINITELY WANT TO TALK TO THIS GUY

21. Something may sound profound, but it ain’t always philosophical.

22. All philosophical theories/schools of thought have been depicted in at least one episode of Star Trek.

Name an episode: Second Chances, A Measure of a Man, The Omega Directive… any episode. IT’S ALL PHILOSOPHY.

23. Woody Allen is not the end-all, be-all of philosophical filmmaking. Its ok if you’re not a fan.

You can learn a bit from watching old Toho Godzilla flicks, too.

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THERE ARE INNUMERABLE MORAL IMPLICATIONS OF FUCKING THIS BRIDGE

24. Consulting Wikipedia and/or watching YouTube philosophy videos is acceptable to explain/clarify a philosophical theory or concept (so long as neither is your only primary source).

25. And lastly, I thought this: Never let anyone make you feel like your well-reasoned, philosophy-based ideas, observations, or arguments aren’t relevant or are worth less because you studied “philosophy”.

Philosophy is the mother of medicine. Philosophy also is the mother of science. And philosophy is the mother of political science and economics. Plato’s Republic influence on politics stretches from ancient Greece to Washington D.C. today. Adam Smith called himself a moral philosopher. Aristotle’s philosophy not only shaped the Catholic Church but also shaped western civilization. Whether folks want to believe it or not, philosophers and their irrelevant, navel-gazing thoughts have shaped and influenced ideas and institutions since… well, since forever. If anybody gives me guff about studying philosophy or being a philosopher, I tell them to buzz off.

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Or I can call the nay sayers “flat-headed, insipid, nauseating”, and “illiterate” – just like Schopenhauer said about Hegel.

… AND FISH FROM THE SEA

IT SEEMS LIKE every movie is getting a remake these days .

Psycho. The Wicker Man. Dawn of the Dead. The Pink Panther. Evil Dead.

If the movie was made more than six months ago, its getting a remake.

Much fuss was made about the recent remake of Ghostbusters.

And by “fuss” I mean people are saying that it sucked.

I don’t have an opinion about that.

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I mean, I do. But that’s not what this blog post is all about.

What this blog post is about is how it seems that every movie nobody wants to be remade gets a remake and movies that could do for a remake haven’t been remade.

… although every-so-often a movie does spawn a short-lived TV show.

The movie I’m thinking about is Logan’s Run.

I’m really surprised that no one has remade this movie.

It’s actually a pretty good flick.

And with the kind of special effects that folks like ILM do these days, they’d certainly make characters like Box look better than this

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THIS REALLY IS BAD

Ok. Now for the plot.

Logan’s Run (released in 1976, based on the 1967 novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson) takes place in a city in the post-apocalyptic future. The City is under a Dome; a refuge for what remains of civilization after mankind nearly annihilates itself by nuclear war.

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Logan’s City under the Dome is a utopia. Everyone in the City is slim, beautiful, and content with lives where everything is provided for; the people don’t worry about food, shelter, or raising their own children. Life under the dome is carefree and filled with pleasure.

More importantly, everyone in the City is young.

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That’s because no one is allowed to live past 30.

In the City, one’s lifespan is governed by a life-clock, signified by a crystal stone implanted into the palm of the hand at birth. As a person ages the crystal changes color, eventually turning from a color to a blinking light as one approaches their thirtieth year.

At thirty, citizens go to Carousel where they are “renewed”.

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THESE PEOPLE ARE GOING TO BE RENEWED. YES, LOOKING LIKE THAT.

When you’re renewed, they say you are reborn.

More about that in a minute.

While watching Logan’s Run, a few things popped into my mind:

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
Bentham’s hedonism
Thomas More’s Utopia
Plato’s Republic

Society under the Dome is structured much like Plato’s ideal city in Republic and Huxley’s Brave New World. Under the Dome, citizens are arranged into separate groups. Social status (in this case, a citizen’s age) is indicated by garment color (red, yellow, green). Children are not born and raised by their biological mothers and fathers but are cultivated and raised in nurseries. Citizens are given names proceeded by a number (Logan 5, Jessica 6, Holly 13, and the like).

Life is all about doing drugs, having promiscuous sex, and watching people renewed at Carousel.

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And so… we’re introduced to Logan 5, a Sandman who – wait.

I have to get back to something…

When a person reaches the age of thirty they are sent to Carousel.

Carousel is where you are renewed.

When you are renewed, you are reborn.

At Carousel, the thirty year old body is destroyed and the individual is reincarnated into another body… or so people are told.

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ANY CASUAL OBSERVER COULD FIGURE OUT THAT ANY “RENEWAL” CEREMONY THAT STARTS OUT LIKE A DELETED SCENE FROM “EYES WIDE SHUT” PROBABLY WON’T END WELL

However, some people in the City have figured out that when you are renewed at Carousel you die.

That’s where Logan comes in.

Logan 5 and his buddy Francis 7, belong to a group called Sandman. Sandmen catch and eliminate “runners” – people who attempt to avoid being renewed at Carousel.

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THIS IS LOGAN 5. DID I MENTION THAT LOGAN IS 30 YEARS OLD?

One such runner is named Jessica 6.

Logan meets Jessica 6, a woman who is looking for a place called Sanctuary, a place rumored to be outside of the walled City where there is no Carousel and people can live freely.

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THIS IS JESSICA 6. IT’S PRETTY EASY TO FIGURE OUT WHY LOGAN WANTED TO FOLLOW HER TO SANCTUARY.

After persuading Logan that people are not renewed at Carousel (but that they actually are killed) Logan and Jessica escape the City. Unfortunately, the pair discover that Sanctuary is a myth.

However, while outside, they meet an old man. Because no one under the Dome is allowed to live past the age of thirty, they’ve never seen a person as old as the old man. The old man tells Logan and Jessica the story of his life – that he was born of a mother and was raised by and lived with his parents until they died.

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OH YEAH, THE OLD MAN HAS GOT A BUNCH OF CATS, TOO

Jessica and Logan decide to take the old man to the city.
At the end of the film, the people gather around the old man, intrigued by the old, strange man who lived outside the Dome.

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THIS OLD MAN IS ABOUT 3 MINUTES FROM BEING THE CAUSE OF A SOCIETAL COLLAPSE

You know, I enjoyed Logan’s Run. I enjoyed the story of Logan 5 and Jessica 6. I rooted for them to escape the City. But something kept nagging me while I watched the film.

Sure, Logan and Jessica probably avoided going to Carousel, but is that a good thing?

It’s understandable that Logan and Jessica want to escape, but do they need to disrupt the social order?

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WHO WOULD WANT TO PUT AN END TO A CEREMONY THAT ENDS LIKE THIS?

We can assume by the looks of the world outside of the Dome and by the fact that there is just one old guy alive out there, that something horrible happened to humanity in the past. Society needed to construct the City under the Dome. Society needed Carousel.

The Classical Greek philosopher, Plato writes that the success and security of the polis depends on everyone adhering to the way society is structured. To deviate from societal structure, Plato states, can potentially collapse society.

Life in Plato’s ideal city is highly regulated. Individuals are divided into groups based on social status: an auxiliary class, comprised of warriors who defend the city and enforce the laws, and a the lower class, both ruled by a class of guardians, headed by the philosopher-king.

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THE PHILOSOPHER-KING PROMISES WISE LEADERSHIP… AND FREE REFILLS

We aren’t told exactly how the City under the Dome is arranged, but in Logan’s Run, we see a large class of citizens, policed by the Sandmen, who make sure that the citizens comply with the ritual of Carousel.

And like Plato’s ideal city, the people of the Dome are tied to the city through ritual. The ritual of renewal at Carousel binds people to the City. And like Plato’s Republic, children of the domed city are raised, not by their biological parents, but by nurses. Parents are merely sperm and egg donors with no attachment to their offspring.

The rituals in Plato’s Republic and in Logan’s Run are reinforced through lies – what Plato calls Noble Lies. Plato writes,

“Could we,” I said, “somehow contrive one of those lies that come into being in vase of need, of which we were just now speaking, some one noble lie to persuade, in the best case, even the rulers, but of not them, the rest of the city?”(Book III, 414b-c)

People under the Dome are told that they don’t die but are renewed. The promise of being renewed keeps people compliant.

They don’t mind (or don’t notice) that runners are killed by Sandmen.

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NOTHING TO SEE, HERE. JUST GO BACK TO WATCHING PEOPLE INCINERATED IN A BIZARRE DEATH RITUAL. RENEW!

Or even ask why people are running in the first place.

Why would anyone run if you’re going to be renewed?

The life-clock is a lie.

Even the story of Sanctuary is a myth. There is no Sanctuary. People who flee the city are killed… by this guy.

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BOY, THIS REALLY DOES LOOK BAD

If Box were back in the Republic of Plato, he would have been part of the auxiliary.

And like Huxley’s Brave New World, life under the Dome is easy and uncomplicated. The City functions by unseen leaders with no input from the citizens. The people under the Dome are kept busy with a leisurely life of carnal delights like sex and drugs. If you are dissatisfied with way you look, go to New You and change your face!

( because “Ending is better than mending”)

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NEW YOU! OFFERS THE BEST FACIAL RECONSTRUCTION TECHNOLOGY MONEY CAN BUY… AND FARRAH FAWCETT

Those who refuse to comply are kept outside of the City where are left to fend for themselves. Sandmen sweep the City to remove problem individuals and runners are dealt with quickly and harshly.

Now, we know that every utopia is, in reality, a dystopia. Despite outward appearances, Utopian living is anything but Utopian. People are robbed of their freedom. Compliance is forced. People cannot choose their own way of life. Those who threaten the utopia are eliminated. In Logan’s Run, mere talk of life outside of the City is forbidden.

When Logan and Jessica leave the Dome to find Sanctuary, they are pursued by Logan’s Sandman partner, Francis 7. Logan and Jessica learn that those who escape the City do not find Sanctuary, but instead find the mechanical assassin Box, whose sole purpose is to kill the escaped Runners.

Which brings me to my question – what good can come of introducing the old man to the City?

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SURE. HE ONLY LOOKS HARMLESS

Sure, Plato says that people need to leave the cave and step into the light of truth, but at what expense? What if that truth upends the social order?

It’s clear that Carousel is form of population control – not just to prevent overpopulation, but also as a means of Platonic myth-making Noble Lies meant to bind the people’s loyalty to the City. Certainly the old man’s presence would be jarring. The old man is introduced to a society that not only does not know that people grow old and die, but it’s also a tightly-controlled society where every need and want are provided for. The old man’s very existence challenges (if not shatters) the myth of Carousel, and by extension the foundation of society underneath the Dome. The old man’s arrival would throw the City into chaos (I suspect this is exactly why Logan and Jessica brought the old man back to the city with them).

Is the old man the right kind of chaos to bring to the City – a city populated with drug-taking, promiscuous infantile people who have no idea that the human lifespan is longer than thirty years, don’t raise their own children, or how to self govern?

What happens to the old man after the unseen City rulers learn of his presence?

How soon is he renewed at Carousel?

 

 

 

 

Sources: Plato. Republic. Trans. Allan Bloom. 1991. Basic Books.

KIERKEGAARDING WITH THE KARDASHIANS

IF THERE’S ONE THING that most people can agree upon, its that we live in a culture of celebrity worship. Its not just that there’s a few tabloid rags at the check-out counter; there are entire networks devoted to exploring the lives and goings-on of the famous and almost famous.

Entire networks.

We weren’t always like this, they say…

And with a marketplace oversaturated with a celebrity idolatry, its easy to pick out, or rather, pick on, the famous folks that we choose to blame for our culture’s obsession with celebritydom.

Now, there’s plenty of famous folks to blame

We can blame Oprah. Or Snooki and reality TV. Or even blame TMZ.

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I FOUND THIS MEME. I DID NOT MAKE IT. A LOT OF PEOPLE HATE TMZ….. APPARENTLY.

But most say the blame for the decline of American civilization truly lies here, with this family

THE KARDASHIANS.

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They are undeniably the first family of reality television. And they’ve built a brand so popular and successful that those who are merely Kardashian-adjacent manage to snag more than their fair share of 15 minutes of fame.

A brand so popular and successful that their activities and scandals are even covered on the “legit” news.

I think we can all agree that it’s a fairly “in” thing to talk shit about the Kardashians. It’s easy to dismiss or to talk disparagingly about the family, either as individuals or collectively. And I’m not going to deny that I’ve participated in more than my fair share of Kardashian-bashing. To say that you not only do not watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians but also despise them is seen as a badge of honor and integrity.

Despising the Kardashians and all that they symbolize means that one is enlightened.

I no longer believe that this is the case.

I’ve discovered, while talking shit about people that you’ll never meet and can’t possibly hear you (at least I don’t think any of them can hear me), that doing so isn’t helpful.
At least not helpful if you want to do something more than talk shit.

Doing more is exactly what I intend to do.

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I’m not going to say that my opinion on celebrity culture has completely changed (for the record, I still think that TMZ is one of the worst things out there. And yes, I watch it regularly), but I’ve come to a new conclusion, at least so far as my feelings towards the Kardashians.

Listen:

It would be easy to say that nothing of value has come from this family. They’re celebrities, and celebrity matters only to those people who have nothing of value to say, anyway.

“Small minds discuss people” they say.

But, offhandedly dismissing the Kardashians would be rude and unphilosophical.

I hold to the idea that anything – everything is philosophical.

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Anything or any one has lessons to teach, and yes, even the Kardashians.

And you don’t even have to watch the show to learn a lesson, either.*
I’ve drawn up a list of the philosophical things I thought about while watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians:

  • The nature of fame and its effects on the individual and the society. What kind of people become famous. Are they the kind of people that we should look up to? Are famous people inherently better than others? Are they the kind of people that philosophers like Plato had in mind when he wrote of those who should be leaders of the polis?
  • Caitlyn Jenner and gender: What is gender and gender identity/gender expression? What makes us masculine a/or feminine? How do we navigate the intersection between biological gender, gender identity, and sexuality? We do feminist philosophers such as Judith Butler, Simone de Beauvoir, bell hooks, and Helen Longino have to say about the subject?
  • Kanye West and what makes a philosopher? Some (often derisively) name Kanye West as a modern philosopher. Is he a philosopher? What makes a philosopher? Is philosophy strictly limited to academia or can anyone become a “philosopher”?
  • The Kardashian/Jenner sisters are not only known for their celebrity but are also well-known for their looks and their association with beauty products. We can discuss the philosophical definition of beauty, and how the philosophical definition conforms (or does not conform) to our conversations about beauty and aesthetics.
  • Reality and reality TV. Is reality television reality or the appearance of the real? How does reality TV present the real world to the audience and are reality television producers morally obligated to inform the audience that reality TV isn‘t “real”? There’s plenty of material to cover here, including commentaries (from postmodernist philosophers such as) Jean Baudrillard, to the ontology of Platonic forms, Kant’s transcendental idealism, and Descartes’ evil demon.
  • Questions of value: What is valuable? How do we measure value – is it merely a matter of taste or can we quantify value philosophically? Is what is valuable good? What is the Good? Are some reality TV shows Good – better for us philosophically than others?
  • There’s always some sort of moral dilemma going on: So long as people act, there will be motivations and consequences of their actions, and those actions can be evaluated ethically.
  • Personal identity: Who we are. Who do we present ourselves and is that presentation authentic?

We can drift into some pretty heavy existential conversations, right there.

Everyone knows you cant discuss anything pop culture without somehow drawing in Nietzsche. Someone is bound to quote (or misquote) an aphorism or two.

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And lastly, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, or any other television program, can aid in the philosophical study/analysis of pop culture in general.

Those are just a few thoughts I had while watching the show.

I’m not saying that watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians is a replacement for reading Kierkegaard or that you should quote Kim Kardashian in your next term paper.

… unless she says something really brilliant.

Then by all means, do.

Just as philosophers defend philosophy against those who decree philosophy dead and useless

Stephen Hawking I’m looking at you…

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Philosophers shouldn’t get into the habit of offhandedly dismissing something that we may think is useless – it just might be very useful.

So at least give the show a peek before you completely write it off.

And even if you hate it, you can probably find a philosophical explanation for why you hate it, too.

It’s one of E! Network’s most popular shows, which means it’s on a lot.

It’s probably on right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* ALTHOUGH WATCHING KEEPING UP WITH THE KARDASHIANS ISN’T NECESSARY TO DISCUSS THEM, IT’S STRONGLY SUGGESTED THAT YOU CHECK OUT AT LEAST A COUPLE OF EPISODES. IF ANYONE SEES YOU AND DEMANDS TO KNOW WHY YOU’RE WATCHING THE SHOW, JUST TELL THEM YOU’RE WATCHING IT FOR “RESEARCH PURPOSES”.

DARYL KILLED GLENN, I THINK… MAYBE.

WELL FOLKS. IT’S OCTOBER and for those of us at The Mindless Philosopher being October means only one thing: the return of The Walking Dead.

In case it’s not (painfully) obvious from our previous posts, The Walking Dead is our favorite TV show.

Yep. TMP are philosophers. And our favorite television show isn’t Seinfeld.

Although you can argue that The Walking Dead isn’t really about anything, either.

Any fan of AMC’s highly-rated zombie somewhat soap opera knows that being a fan of The Walking Dead means that one’s favorite character can die at any moment. Season six saw the show kill off a few red shirts (Carter, David, Sturgess), say sayonara to a handful of characters we cared about (Denise, Deanna, Jessie, and Nicholas?), and pulled the fake-out with at least two characters. The season six finale “cliffhangered” the audience, teasing the death (via a barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat named Lucille) of a major character.

The season six finale pleased some and angered many.

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And for the last six months, The Walking Dead fans, angry or otherwise, have been concerned with just one thing: WHO DID NEGAN KILL?

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And at THIS point I guess I should say SPOILER ALERT.

AND SO, last Sunday, The Walking Dead aired its season seven premiere episode.

After six months of waiting, we finally got to see who Negan killed.

True to form, the season seven premier pleased some. Angered many.

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I think from now on, I’m going to tell anyone who pisses me off to suck my nuts.

Hopefully not after I’ve been stuck on the noggin by a barbed wire-covered bat.

Now, being a fan of both The Walking Dead and philosophy, I got feels, not only because of the brutality of the act, but also because I was watching the episode through philosophy-tinted glasses.

If I wasn’t in the habit of underestimating the philosophical acumen of the writers of the show, I would have guessed that I was watching a thought experiment being played out on my TV screen.
To wit: an ethical thought experiment.

Seriously, if you haven’t watched the episode yet, there are SPOILERS AHEAD.

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So… as we end season six, we see Rick Grimes and ten members of his group (whaddya know, almost all major characters!) on their knees and at the mercy of the new bad guy – the barbed wire-infused bat-wielding, leather jacket-wearing, an F-bomb every-other-word saying (but not on basic cable), Negan.

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OF COURSE IT HAD TO BE A GOOD-LOOKING PSYCHOPATH.

 

Rick and his crew have, to quote Rick from an alternate take from the season five finale, “fucked with the wrong people”, and Negan is aiming to exact some payback on the people responsible for the deaths of a number of his men.

Negan says he’s going to beat to death one of Rick’s crew with his bat, Lucille.

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NEGAN TELLS RICK, “YOU KILLED MY PEOPLE, A WHOLE DAMN LOT OF THEM. MORE THAN I’M COMFORTABLE WITH. AND FOR THAT, FOR THAT YOU’RE GONNA PAY. SO NOW… I’M GONNA BEAT THE HOLY HELL OUTTA ONE OF YOU.”

Any interference, Negan tells the group, will not be tolerated (he does, however allow them to breathe, blink, and cry). Negan tells Rick and his group, “I will shut that shit down, no exceptions.”

Long story short, Negan plays a game of “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe”, eventually landing on Abraham as “it” and proceeds to bludgeon Abe with Lucille, exclaiming how the ginger-haired former military man took the first blow “like a champ”.

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Reminder: tell anyone who pisses me off the suck my nuts.

Now, it’s right around this time when a simple cudgeling becomes an even more complicated moral dilemma.

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Fan favorite (and possibly un-killable) Daryl Dixon decides to ignore Negan’s non-interference admonition and attacks Negan.

Negan, having already been previously interrupted by Glenn (he allowed Glenn’s interference due to the emotional weight of the situation), makes good on his warning and shuts that shit down, killing another member of Rick’s group with the barbed wired-sleeved Lucille: Glenn.

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Ok, we all know Negan carried out the physical deed. And in any court of law Negan would undoubtedly be sent to prison for double murder.

But any philosopher would tell you that legal guilt and moral culpability aren’t always the same thing.

You see, there may be more than one person to blame in all of this.

I think we can agree that Abraham’s death is 100% morally on Negan.

Negan announced his intention to kill someone and he did it.

Well, unless you reason that it was done as some kind of an eye for an eye, retributive justice thing, which opens up a whole other can of what is justice worms.

But there was more than one person killed AFTER Negan had exacted his revenge.

So who is morally responsible for Glenn’s death?

It was Negan’s initial intention to do one and done. Getting even with Rick and his group required the death of just one person – after all, the point of killing one person (in a particularly gruesome manner) is meant to break the group, not necessarily to commit mass murder. Rick and his group had been previously informed about Negan’s one-kill tactic: introduce himself to a new group, kill one person in the group, and demand half of what the group produces. Assuming there’s no problem of induction, Rick and his group had no reason to assume that Negan would deviate from his established method of operation.

Negan killed Abraham and was done, but Daryl, driven by anger and stuff that only Daryl fully understands (probably something that also has to do with Daryl not bathing), sucker punches Negan and THAT act is in direct violation of Negan‘s rules of conduct for Rick and his group. As Negan specifically states that shit will be shut down, no exceptions.

And that is precisely what Daryl does. Shit.

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If you link the chain of events, it’s not so implausible to assume that Glenn’s death is a direct result of Daryl’s actions. Negan kills Glenn because Daryl violates the rules.

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TO MAKE MATTERS WORSE, GLENN IS THE ONE GUY WHO, UNTIL A HANDFUL OF EPISODES AGO, HADN’T KILLED ANY LIVING PERSON. DARYL IS POSSIBLY PARTIALLY OR FULLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATH OF THE LEAST MORALLY GUILTY CHARACTER IN THE SERIES… UNLESS YOU BELIEVE IN GUILT BY ASSOCIATION.

 

Negan’s moral culpability is undeniable. But can we say that Daryl bears some or all moral blame for Glenn‘s death?

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Well, it depends on who you ask.

If we assume that Daryl is motivated by a moral principle that says that one’s greatest moral obligation is to produce the greatest good for the greatest number, then we might say that Daryl is, at least in part, morally blameworthy for Glenn’s death.

How does that happen, you say?
Why , it’s just a matter of calculating the numbers.

Negan initially kills Abraham. It is obvious that Rick’s group (not to mention Abraham himself) is negatively affected by the brutal death. The group is collectively traumatized, in particular, Abraham’s ex-girlfriend Rosita and his almost-but-not-quite new girlfriend Sasha.

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Can we take a moment to talk about Sasha? This woman has nothing but bad luck in relationships on this show. First, Sasha begins a romantic relationship with Bob, but Bob is bitten by a zombie, kidnapped and has his leg eaten by a group of cannibals, and eventually dies from his wound (wounds?). Just when Sasha has recovered enough from PTSD to function somewhat normally in a romantic relationship, her blossoming relationship with Abraham is cut short by Negan and Lucille.

 

If killing one person inflicts a great amount of pain, then we can assume that killing two people inflicts more pain than killing just one. In this situation, we aren’t just calculating the pain felt by the group immediately following Glenn’s death, but also calculating the negative long-term consequences of Glenn’s death. Glenn’s wife, Maggie, is pregnant. We have to consider the fact that Glenn and Maggie’s child will be raised without a father.

That’s bad.

We should not forget that utilitarian-based ethics requites that Daryl also figure into our calculation.

We can assume the Daryl feels (at least somewhat) responsible for Glenn’s death. After all, Negan killed Glenn in response to Daryl’s actions.

And really, what was Daryl’s intended outcome, anyway? What did he hope to accomplish by attacking Negan? Negan had already killed Abraham. There was nothing Daryl could do to stop that. As Negan warned beforehand, the only outcome from a disruption would be the infliction of more pain on Rick’s group, which did, in fact, happen.

And if we’re assigning moral culpability based on consequences, according to this ethical position, Daryl Dixon is morally responsible for Glenn’s death.

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KIND OF MAKES YOU WISH DWIGHT KILLED DARYL, DOESN’T IT?

You see, when we assign moral blame according to consequences, it doesn’t matter what our intentions are. We can mean well, just like Daryl did when he lunged after Negan. But if our actions result in people getting hurt or killed, we’re morally culpable for what happens.

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We might consider the possibility that Daryl may have been motivated by the prisoner’s dilemma. Not knowing exactly Negan what intended to do, he has no reason to assume that Negan won’t kill others and therefore is motivated to attack Negan before Negan kills any more people.

Ok. Maybe Daryl isn’t thinking about consequences at all. Maybe he’s operating from a sense of duty to his group.

We know that Rick and his group think of each other as family. Families often have binding moral obligations to each other. Daryl sees that his the lives of his family have been threatened and he feels that it is his duty to protect them – as Negan says, no exceptions.

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We can assume that Daryl’s duty-bound obligation isn’t merely a suggestion or rule of thumb, but is a maxim that must be obeyed at all times by all members of the family. We can even put Daryl’s obligation in maxim form: In any situation wherein one’s family is in danger, one must act to protect them- no exceptions.

It is clear that Negan is a threat to the lives of Daryl’s family. Negan has already ruthlessly murdered one member of Rock’s group is still threatening to inflict harm on the remaining members. When one is morally obligated to protect others, one must fulfill one’s duty – even if others are hurt.

When one is bound by duty to others, consequences (even if someone is murdered by an axe-wielding maniac) do not matter.

If Daryl was motivated by a morally binding maxim, he was following a moral principle that he could not refuse to follow based on what might happen. In the end, Glenn’s death is an unfortunate consequence of Daryl’s actions.

So then, morally speaking, Daryl is in the moral clear.

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IT’S OK, FOLKS. WE DON’T HAVE TO HATE DARYL. WE CAN GO BACK TO OUR IRRATIONAL DARYL DIXON FANDOM.

So… to answer the question, who is morally responsible for Glenn’s death, the answer… well… we can clearly point to Negan. It is Negan who beats two men to death with Lucille. And it is Negan who decides to kill Glenn as a punishment for Daryl’s actions. However, we can’t neglect the role Daryl’s outburst plays in Glenn’s death. It’s not unreasonable to assume that Glenn may have lived if Daryl had just stayed on his ass like Negan has told him to.

Ultimately, the moral blame lies with someone I haven’t mentioned until now:

RICK GRIMES.

Dig this: Rick not only accepts the task of ridding the world of Negan and his men, he does so without any real reason for doing so.

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DON’T FEEL SORRY FOR THIS GUY. THIS IS ALL HIS FAULT.

Rick volunteers his people to fight someone else’s fight (Negan is initially the Hilltop’s problem) and arrogantly assumes that he and his group can quickly dispatch Negan and his crew without consequence.

Because they’ve done it before, Rick says.

Rick should have read up on Hume.

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Rick’s fatal flaw is that he is too arrogant to realize that his actions are not only morally suspect, but are bound to reap a bunch of bad consequences.

Rick, based on what he hears of Negan from the people at the Hilltop,  immediately concludes that violence is the only feasible solution to the (someone else’s) Negan problem and refuses to consider other alternatives including negotiation or less violent means of dealing with Negan.

… and not for lack of Morgan trying to persuade Rick over to his “all life is precious” philosophy.

 

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REMEMBER WHEN MORGAN WAS ALL ABOUT THIS STUFF?

Rick’s group, as Negan observes, killed more of Negan’s people than Negan’s people had killed Rick’s group (Carol and Maggie were taken hostage but not killed). Rick directs his group to commit mass murder on Negan’s group (while many of them were asleep).Negan’s people are shot, incinerated, and stabbed in the head by Rick’s group (ok, Carol setting those dudes on fire may have been justified). It wouldn’t be irrational to assume that Negan was protecting his people from Rick’s group.

As the primary authority figure in his group, Rick knew that his people would follow his lead – unfortunately without question.
Rick may believe his actions are correct. They’re not.

Rick Grimes is the embodiment of bad motivations with bad consequences.

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WHY BOTHER WITH THE EENY MEENY MINY MOE STUFF? JUST LUCILLE ALL OF ‘EM.

 

When you really get down to it, Rick killed Glenn and Abraham.

 

And I have one thing to say to Rick Grimes about this:
SUCK MY NUTS.