YEARS AGO, I WROTE a book.
It’s a philosophy book. Or rather, it’s a book about philosophy.
…kinda sorta about philosophy.
I mean, I use the word “philosophy”. And I quote Nietzsche.
That’s all you need for a philosophy book, right?
Now, when I was a philosophy student, I used to lament (sometimes – ok, a lot of times − out loud) the fact that most of the philosophy texts I was reading – the books every philosophy student is required to read – THE GREAT PHILOSOPHICAL TEXTS BY THE GREATEST PHILOSOPHICAL MINDS – were… well…boring.
If earning a philosophy degree taught me anything, I learned that reading Immanuel Kant is the perfect cure for insomnia.
Reading Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason = snoozefest.
It’s not just mind-numbing boringness that philosophy has to overcome; people just don’t like philosophy or philosophers.
Americans are notoriously anti-intellectual. The average stereotypical American doesn’t trust a guy who’s a smarty pants. And really, who can blame them?
Smarty pants people invented the atomic bomb.
They also created reality tv.
If it wasn’t for that smart guy Dr. Phil, none of us would have any idea what “cash me ousside” means.
and if you don’t know, god bless you.
To be fair, Dr. Phil isn’t a philosopher. He’s a psychologist.
William James was a psychologist. And a philosopher.
William James was one of the fathers of Pragmatism.
Dr. Phil is pragmatic.
Therefore, I think, Dr. Phil IS a philosopher.
Anyway… generally speaking, there’s always been a certain amount of negativity directed towards philosophers and philosophy.
Popular culture depicts philosophers as mopey navel gazers.
If society is correct, philosophers are only good at contemplating things that, in the long run, aren’t useful.
Schopenhauer was mopey.
Wittgenstein realized logical positivism was a dumb idea – even though he was the person who invented it.
Here’s the thing: even though people think philosophers are good only for thinking about things that no normal person cares about, there’s always been a place for the philosopher in society.
No one wants to admit it; the lovers of wisdom are an essential part of the way things are.
Just think about our popular culture for a minute.
You personally might not give two poops about philosophy, but if you exist right now, your “life” is the product of a long list of philosophers including (but definitely not limited to) Hegel, Nietzsche, Leo Strauss, John Stuart Mill, Plato, and Ayn Rand.
You won’t find a critically praised tv show or movie, a failed economic theory, a celebrity-slash-deep thinker, or a dumb politician who hasn’t quoted, misquoted, paraphrased, borrowed or stolen an idea from a philosopher.
Don’t believe me?
You’d think with all the philosophy everywhere, that we would, as a society, be a little more positive about philosophers and philosophy.
and I’ll tell you why…
Are you listening? Here’s the reason why:
PHILOSOPHERS ARE NOT FUN.
Seriously, philosophy types are not a very fun lot to be around.
At the risk of being ad hominem-y, take a good look at the nearest philosopher. LOOK.
Look at him. Or her.
Now, ask yourself – am I looking at a person who looks like they’d be fun to be around for more than five minutes?
Sure, a professional philosopher will insist that they’re fun and funny and all-around interesting people, but do not be fooled. A fun philosopher is fun – for a philosopher.
The reason why philosophers are un-fun has to do with the natural disposition of philosophers. Philosophers operate under the delusion that every conversation must adhere to a set of
absolute bullshit rules on how conversations are supposed to go.
NO AD HOMINEMS ALLOWED.
Philosophers use fancy “philosophical” words like invalid, fallacy, and this is complete bullshit, why are you even in my class!?!?! to describe conversations that don’t adhere to The Rules.
As much as I love the love of wisdom, I got tired of not having fun.
I mean, sometimes rules are great. Rules come in handy. Philosophy is a rigorous intellectual pursuit and strict rules are needed to produce coherent theories and arguments.
Makin’ rules is what made Immanuel Kant the greatest Kantian philosopher of all time.
But, every once in a while, even when doing philosophy, you gotta let one rip.
and not just figuratively.
I had a philosophy professor who told a story about a conversation they had with another philosophy professor on a plane. My professor said that the conversation got so deep in arguing over theory that another passenger sitting nearby asked them to stop talking.
The professors weren’t using vulgar language. They weren’t looking at pornography. They weren’t defecating on the food cart or having an overly enthusiastic debate to settle whether Negan or The Governor was the baddest bad guy on The Walking Dead.
They were discussing philosophy.
In the ears and minds of a pair of philosophy professors, a discussion about philosophy is something suitable to engage in around an airplane full of strangers. However, for the other passengers, being stuck in the fuselage of a jet aircraft (involuntarily) listening to a couple of philosophy enthusiasts talk about whatever it is that overthinkers talk about, had made an otherwise somewhat entertaining plane trip intolerable. UNFUN.
PHILOSOPHERS MAKE THINGS UNFUN.
Think about it: think of all the fun times you’ve ever had. Were there party hats? Yes. Mixed drinks? Probably. Strippers dressed as firemen? Undoubtedly. Was a philosopher involved? Absolutely not.
No fun time ever involves philosophers.
…except for maybe Diogenes.
In his 1748 treatise An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, the Scottish philosopher, David Hume (1711-1776), wrote, “Be a philosopher; but, amidst all your philosophy, be still a man.” Hume understood the necessity of philosophy, but he also knew that there’s more to life than philosophy. Namely, Hume knew that life is to be enjoyed – to have fun.
In his last days, Hume told jokes, played cards, hung out with his friends.
And that’s what brings me to this. This blog.
Serious philosophers take philosophy things way too seriously.
There’s nothing worse than telling a good philosophy joke to a philosophy pro and getting nothing but a blank stare because the mofo takes philosophy too seriously to see the humor.
Some people study philosophy for the sake of understanding the theory. Some people get their jollies discussing theories.
This is not that kind of blog.
I think a part of enjoying anything you love is to be willing to take a bit of the piss out of it.
So, what would a philosophy blog written by someone who avoids deep theoretical philosophical discussions… someone who thinks skimming is sometimes just as good as actually reading an actual book… someone who thinks the answer for any philosophical question can be found in an episode of Star Trek look like?
You’re looking at it.
This blog is my philosophical mission. I call it mindless philosophy.
I AM THE MINDLESS PHILOSOPHER.
I am a philosopher; but, amidst all my philosophy, I am still a man.
I’ve said, from the moment I decided to start a blog, the first aim of The Mindless Philosopher is to have fun. I love philosophical discussions, but, truth be told, The Mindless Philosopher is not above name calling, writing pedantic blog posts of somewhat-deep philosophical analysis based on a misinterpretation, emotion-based arguments or the tried and true ad hominem attack.
Yeah, I know it’s not PHILOSOPHY, but PHILOSOPHY isn’t entirely the point of my blog. I’m not a professional philosopher, I don’t have tenure and I’m not getting paid to do this. I’m just a schmo who got an undergrad degree in philosophy and decided to use it as an excuse to watch way too much tv.
And write a blog about it.
You know what’s got a lot of philosophy in it?
TV shows got philosophy. So do movies.
And former reality tv show hosts who become president of the United States.
Sure, taking philosophy out of academia and applying it to your favorite tv show can be a daunting task. It’s messy. Theories sometimes don’t work, and sometimes you have to stretch a theory to fit.
Sometimes you discover that your brilliant philosophical analysis of the brave protagonist has been an exercise in how to misapply a philosophical theory.
In the end, I guess if I had to explain why I do this – why an amateur deep thinker (like me) would dare to venture into the world of philosophy − I truly think that anybody can be a philosopher. You don’t need to attend university or have a PhD to ponder life’s big questions. If we’re talking about the human condition, it makes sense to bring philosophy out of the academy and into the real world.
Because that’s where the people are.
Thinking philosophically doesn’t require that anyone read the complete works of Bertrand Russell or understand the Hegelian dialectic. You don’t need to know who Slavoj Žižek is or that he’s called the Elvis of philosophy to do philosophy.
Anybody can do philosophy. Anybody should do philosophy.
You see, we can use philosophy to understand things.
If a philosophy degree is an interesting path to poverty, I might as well have some fun with it.
…and do a little bit of mindless philosophy along the way.