Moral questions, ambiguous answers

There’s something funny about morals. Even though we all agree that there is a right and a wrong (at least most of us agree that there is a right and a wrong), no one is really all that sure exactly what right and wrong is. Philosophers have made a good game out of  talking and thinking and thinking some more about matters of morality and ethics, but for all these centuries of talking and thinking even the most learned minds can’t definitively tell us what to do and what not to do.

The lack of a definitive answer has become a problem.

You don’t have to be a student of philosophy to know of or practice a philosophical school of ethics; utilitarianism, deontological ethics, divine command theory, ethical relativism, ethical egoism, and so on. If I had to make a wager, I’d bet that most people are utilitarians. That is, most people, even if they don’t know it, think that our moral choices should have something to do with the common good. I think this is the way that most people are designed; that humans have some sort of innate want to see to it that others are cared for, even if that means that we will do without. Our need to act in the interest of the common good is why we have public schools, welfare, social security, and fire departments. Most people would say these are good things…. most people.

That’s our problem. Even though we’d like to say that utilitarianism is the right moral theory, we can only say that it applies to most people. Followers of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism would certainly object to the utilitarian obligation to increase the happiness of others, and state that the utilitarian Greatest Happiness Principle  is not only morally objectionable but downright evil. Even utilitarians can’t agree on what the common good is. Is every person entitled to free medical care or a minimum wage? Should we tax the rich to pay for the poor? Is that fair? Is it really serving the common good? Is it right to make others suffer to provide for others? What about torture? War? The death penalty?

Ethical relativists, Kantians, and even followers of divine command theory would even agree that facilitating the common good is not always a good thing. Still, every moral theory commands that I do the right thing.

So, what do I do? Should I pursue the common good? Should I pursue my own rational interests as Ayn Rand commands? Should I do only what God tells me to do? I don’t know. But as I see a world full of suffering I realize that cannot spend time thinking about what to do.

And it seems my philosophy hasn’t gotten me any closer to finding an answer.

 

 

This Egoist Is No Fan of Ayn Rand

      Some time ago, I wrote blog post called “What Is Kantian Egoism?”. Although the concept of egoism was clear to me, I soon realized that others had other ideas in mind, namely, an idea that, from 1905 to 1982, was known as Ayn Rand.

Ayn Rand (1905-1982), the Russian-born author/philosopher, most known as the founder of Objectivism and the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, is often associated with egoism and it’s ethic of rational self-interest. For those unfamiliar with Ayn Rand’s sentiments on rational self interest, Rand wrote this:

“Just as man cannot survive by any random means, but must discover and practice the principles which his survival requires, so man’s self-interest cannot be determined by blind desires or random whims, but must be discovered and achieved by the guidance of rational principles. This is why the Objectivist ethics is a morality of rational self-interest—or of rational selfishness.”

Although egoism is most associated with Ayn Rand, Rand is not the first to espouse the virtues of egoism. The German philosopher Max Stirner (1806-1856)   said that it is irrational not to act in one’s own interest. Pursuing one’s own interest is a part of our self-realization. According to Stirner, egoism isn’t necessarily about getting the immediate pleasure or good. That’s why interests are called rationalself interests, we think before we act. And for the egoist, an act is morally permissible if and only if the act produces the greatest good for the agent — even if we have to wait awhile to get what we want.

Now, I can explain that egoism simply means acting in a way that is beneficial to me and my interests, but no matter how many times I omit the words “Ayn” and “Rand” from my description, the first question I inevitably hear is “Oh, so you like Ayn Rand?” For the record, my answer to that question is and shall be no. I am not a fan of Ayn Rand. I freely admit that I harbor more than a few kooky ideas — but none of my ideas includes the sentiment “If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject.”

For the record, Ayn Rand’s ideas did.

As an egoist, I admit I just don’t understand Ayn Rand. Sure, we’d all like to think of selfishness as a virtue. And really, how many of us has been accosted by a particularly aggressive panhandler and wished that said “moocher” would go away; or rather, that we could find a place to live that’s moocher free? Those sentiments are easy to understand but they’re often difficult to live by. As much as we’d like to live for no one but ourselves and our own rational self interest, there’s a big world out there filled with people that, moochers or not, we have to interact with. An egoist, if he’s smart enough, will figure out that the world is just too big — and the romantic ideals of (completely) self-made, self-sufficient men like Howard Roark and John Galt work better on the page or the silver screen than in reality.

If you don’t believe that’s so, remember this: Ayn Rand died on Social Security.

Ferris Bueller, You’re My Hero

John Hughes died a couple of weeks ago. Heart attack. That makes me feel old. That is, when one’s idols of their youth start to pop off from the things that killed our grandparents, that oly serves to remind us how old we’re all getting. That the chances of leaving that good-looking corpse gets slimmer and slimmer. I was thinking about how much (back in the 80s) John Hughes movies were, as they say nowadays, the shit. Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty In Pink, even Some Kind of Wonderful — all classics of 80s teen cinema (and I must say much better in quality than Losin’ It, The Last American Virgin or The Joy of Sex. Yes, there is a movie that shares its title with the Alex Comfort sex manual). I remember when these movies were the hottest thing worth watching, that everybody had their favorite movie from which to cull movie quotes a plenty; “what’s happenin’ hot stuff?”, “you got my doobage?”, “what about prom?!?” “roll ’em up!”…. it goes on, and on. I decided, really because I had nothing better to do, to watch a John Hughes movie. I picked the 1986 Hughes flick, Ferris Bueller’s Day off. That movie, of course contains the sage advice from Ferris, “life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”. The idea I guess, is that I’m supposed to learn the value of carpe dieming from a character that is still in high school. Personally, when I think back to how I was in high school, I remember that I was undre the delusion that I was smarter than the average bear. Thank God that I didn’t follow my own advice! Anyway, I was watching Ferris and co., when it suddenly hit me. Maybe it’s looking through the cynical eyes of someone past puberty, but I realized how horrible Ferris really was. I realized what self-indulgent jerks so many of Hughes’ characters really are! Here’s a taste: Farmer Ted is a date-rapist (he got Jake Ryan’s girlfriend, with Jake’s encouragement, no less, when she was drunk), Andy (Pretty In Pink) was a bitch, who in no way deserved Ducky, and the Griswolds were racists! These people were supposed to be like typical Americans. Yeah, I guess if you live in a world where amazingly enough, everybody is white, and the only minorities you encounter come right out of black acting school .I think, in retrospect, that John Hughes’ American teenager was about as real as Shermer, Illinois. But back to Ferris. I think, of all of Hughes’ main characters (with the possible exception of Kevin McAllister,the kid from Home Alone, who seems to know to set booby traps for intruders better than a seasoned Navy Seal), that Ferris Bueller is Hughes’ biggest selfish ass. Despite the fact that all the “sportos, motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wasteoids, dweebies, dickheads” all adore him and think he’s a “righteous dude”, Ferris, for my two bits, is an asshole. The whole day is devoted to his dicking off. For starters. He doesn’t care if everyone else has to go to school or to work “on a day like this”. Oh, no. It’s all about the fact that Ferris can’t be bothered by responsibility. That’s what other people (like his sister Jeanie) do. He needs a day off! Ferris doesn’t care when his BF Cameron tells him that he’s sick. Ferris doesn’t care about the fact that Cameron’s (seeming abusive) father would certainly kill him if his prized 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California gets messed up ( and we know that it does). To have his day off, Ferris is wholeheartedly willing to lie to his parents, and to his principal. He pulls his girlfriend out of class (thus depriving her of a day of learning) by faking her grandmother’s death, humiliates a maitre d’ at the restaurant to prove his superiority, and eventually (in a all-eyes-on-me move) commandeers a German Day Parade float. The only time that Ferris shows any kind of remorse for what he does is when he feigns regret so that he can further exploit other people. Now, either Ferris manifests some sort of sociopathic personality disorder (mainly an extrene case of narcissistic personality) or, since I am a philosopher, and neither qualified nor willing to render a psychiatric diagnosis (especially for a character who does not exist), I’m more willing to say that Ferris is an egoist. Egoism, bare boned, is the idea that everyone ought to look after his own interests. This is because we are unable to know anyone else’s needs or motivations. We only really know what we need or what motivates us. Therefore, the egoist says, not only are we restricted to seeing the world from our own point of view, but that (because of this fact) we are morally obligated to act in a manner that benefits ourselves. Happiness is achieved when one acts according to his own rational interests. In short short, egoists practice Kirk’s inversion of Vulcan logic, in that an egoist, like Kirk, believes that the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many. But enough Star Trek. The egoist is concerned about others in so far as his concern for others contributes to his own happiness. For example, I give to charity. Sure, I help the poor, but what I really want is pats on the back, maybe some civic award, a chance to meet the president, whatever. The point is,, is the fact that the less fortunate got some help was a bi-product of my wanting to be the center of attention. So when Ferris says to Cameron that the day was really for him, we know that Cameron’s good day was a fortunate consequence to Ferris’ egoist act. It seems that, since the day ended pretty good for everyone (well, Principal Rooney looked like he wasn’t going to enjoy that bus ride), what’s the harm in being selfish, so long as you don’t hurt anybody? The people at school adore Ferris. Their lives are made better by the fact that he exists ( remember, they take up a collection to help him recover from his illness). Cameron finally gets the courage to stand up to his father. That’s good, right? After all, being self-centered is a natural psychological disposition. Spend an afternoon with a chilod under 6 and it’s fairly easy to see that this is the case. Being self- centered, from time to time, does is good. It’s a survival machanism. So, if at the end of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, everyone is happy (especially Ferris — and it is important that Ferris is happy), no harm no foul right? In a way, Ferris is a typical example of an egoist character. In many ways, he’s not unlike Howard Roark, the protagoinist of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. In her description of Roarke, Rand writes: “He is not militant or defiant about his utter selfishness… He has a quiet, irrevocable calm of an iron conviction. No dramatics, no hysteria, no sensitiveness about it – because there are no doubts… A quick, sharp mind, courageous and not afraid to be hurt, has long since grasped and understood completely that the world is not what he is and just exactly what the world is… He will be himself at any cost – the only thing he really wants of life. And, deep inside of him, he knows that he has the ability to win the right to be himself”. Not only is Ferris an egoist, apparently, he’s an Randian Objectivist. I don’t know if this is what John Hughes had in mind when he created Ferris Bueller. I suspect that he did not. But, Ferris is a character who we see does not back down — he lives his life on his own terms. This is why we like Ferris. This is why all the “sportos, motorheads, geeks, sluts,” etal. adore him. We know that, deep down, we are Camerons, living a life that Thoreau said is lived in “quiet desperation”, needing our Ferris to come to tell us that there is a lfe out there that we are missing. Hughes said that Ferris isn’t “labored with all the difficulties that everyone else is”. We know that because Jeanine, Ferris’ sister, says that he “gets away” with everything. Ferris is a self-defined man who does not allow the obstacle of other people get in his way. Rand describes 3 fundamental values of man: reason, purpose, and self-esteem. Co-star Ben Stein described Ferris as having an “inner mobility” and “inner sense of freedom and self-confidence”. Stein’s description also falls in line with Rand’s values. Ferris, is as Rand’s ethics describes, a man who lives for his own sake — is an end onto himself. The achievement of his happiness is his greates moral purpose in life. Ben Stein claims, however, that Ferris is not in it for himself. He is a great friend, Stein says, because he helps Cameron to liberate himself. I say this may be true, but as an egoist is sure to point out, Cameron’s liberation is but a happy accident. A smart egoist knows that he cannot and should not prance about waving his egoism in everyone’s faces (mostly for fear of being mistaken for an egotist, which is another individual altogether). Ferris, like many egoists, is very clever. Brian Medlin says that egoism has one, big problem — namely that it is self-defeating. The only way that one can be a successful egoist is if one is closeted about it. Doing so supposedly also undermines egoism, as a good moral theory is one that we should be able to make public. Medlin writes, ” what is he when he urges upon his audience that they should observe his own interests and those alone? Is he not acting contrary to the egoist principle? It cannot be to his advantage to convince them, for seizing always their own advantage they will impair his”. So, if Medlin is correct, Ferris could not ring up Cameron and say, ” hey Cam, as an egoist, I’m going to tke the day off. I’m going to spend the entire day devoted to pleasing me, and I’m going to exploit you and Sloane along the way. Wanna come along? By the way, bring your dad’s car”. This would not work, Medlin claims, because no one wants to live in a world where people only look after themselves. (And therefore, we toss out egoism). But, the key is is that exploiting others doesn’t always mean that they are harmed. Really. Especially if you keep it a secret that that is what you are doing. So when Ferris borrows Cameron’s pop’s car, it’s outwardly for Sloane. When Ferris humiliates the maitre d’, it’s because he’s putting a snooty butthole in his place. When Ferris lip-syncs to “Twist and Shout” on the float, he’s showing Cameron something good that day. The fact that Ferris was Ferris’ main motivation didn’t mean that others had to get hurt. Medlin and other haters tend to act as if being an egoist means that you’re somewhere near the Marquis de Sade in how you treat others. Not so. The trick is that you don’t go waving your egoist banner everywhere. If you have to tell other people that you’re a Kantian, so be it. Just as longs as everyone (especially you) is happy. If you are successful, you can get exactly what you want, while everyone else thinks you’re a righteous dude. All it takes it a little bit of obfuscation. And because no one admits that we’re all in it for ourselves, everyone is happy. Especially Ferris. BTW: anyone get the feeling that Cameron didn’t show the next day at school? or the next… or the next….

WHAT IS KANTIAN EGOISM? (revised)

I HAD AN ethics class. The project at the end of the quarter was to choose and defend a moral theory — the moral theory that best represented our personal ethical point of view.

The aim of the project wasn’t to find (and defend) an ethical theory that struck out fancy — we were supposed to find THE True Moral Theory.

and argue why it is so.

At that time, I chose rule egoism. I picked egoism, because egoism (specifically rule egoism) was as close to how I make my moral decisions as any moral theory could get.

I believed then (and still do) that I cannot make any choice — be it moral, ontological, or epistemic — without seeing it through the prism of my own point of view. No matter where I go, there I am.

Even if I supported divine command theory, I’d still figure in there, somewhere.

But, despite my firm egoistic tendencies, I still had a problem. Rule egoism seemed a bit binding. I realized that I wasn’t always selfish when I decided what to do. Surely my moral decisions were always made through the filter of me-ism, but I wasn’t always a dedicated egoist.

I realized there are times when it’s absolutely not necessary to go Galt.

The problem was that there always were other moral theories creeping in.

Namely, I found myself more often than I had expected, running my moral choices through Kant’s Categorical Imperative.

This was disturbing to me.

I was, after all, an egoist. I had no duty to others, only duty to myself. I was told in the interest of consistency, that one cannot be an egoist and a Kantian simultaneously.

Doing so is about as possible as being both in Paris, France and Paducah, Kentucky at the same time.

And that just ain’t happening.

But somehow it was happening. My true true moral theory had me working two opposing moral theories simultaneously.

How was this possible?

It took some time (and graduating from college) before I realized that I was indeed both — I am a Kantian, but I am also an egoist.

The 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote, in Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), that the moral value of an act is weighed in that action is performed from duty. We evaluate the moral value of our actions according to two principles, which Kant calls the Categorical Imperative.

Principle 1 of the Categorical Imperativr states that we act only on a maxim that we can at the same time make universal law.

Principle 2 holds that we act in such a way as not to use others as mere means for our own ends.

Kent’s Categorical Imperative is one of those ethical theories that we file under: it looks great on paper.

It doesn’t take a lot of being a Kantian in the real world to figure out that Kant’s ethics, when actually practiced, tend to cause a complication or two. We often find ourselves tweaking the rules, which is exactly what we aren’t supposed to do. The Categorical Imperative, according to Kant, is absolute and inviolable.

Kant’s theory works fantastically with hypothetical ax murderers, but it makes for trouble in the real world. Likewise, egoism also tends to, when we attempt to live as pure egoists, cause it’s fair share of real world complications.

Thomas Hobbes stated that the primary goal of all men is self-preservation. Because we don’t like self-preservation disruptive things like pain or death, we make agreements with others to cooperate with one another to create a peaceful and stable society.

Hobbes called this the social contract.

We enter into the social contract  Because we are motivated to do what works best to preserve our own interests.

Ayn Rand, the 20th century philosopher and novelist who developed Objectivism, an egoism based philosophy, wrote that men,

” must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose in life”.

For the egoist, Rand explains, our highest moral duty is when we act according to our own self-interest.

(I realize how many people out there feel about Ayn Rand, and really, I agree with all of you. But, when your trying to figure out the True Moral Theory, sometimes you gotta break eggs. Even if those eggs are shaped like a more-than-slightly misanthropic Russian novelist).

Although Ayn Rand despised Immanuel Kant and his ethics, there’s a word that is common to both ethical theories — duty.

At first glance, it may seem that these are conflicting moral systems. However, even the Kantian will admit that among our moral duties includes duties to self.

Both theories stress the role of making rational moral decisions.

Now, one may ask, how can one be an egoist, yet maintain Kant’s Categorical Imperative? The theories appear to conflict, but in fact, they do not.

At least if you’re willing to do some philosophical yoga.

At this point, I think that it’s important to clear up what we mean when we say “egoist”. Now, The antics of some Rand followers aside, an egoist is not one who is exclusively motivated by unbridled greed. Quite the contrary, an egoist is one who merely evaluates his moral choices according to how they coincide with his rational self-interest. It is possible that when someone thinks of an egoist, what he is thinking of egotism.

And the definition of egotism is:

Egotism is the drive to maintain and enhance favorable views of oneself, and generally features an inflated opinion of one’s personal features and importance. It often includes intellectual, physical, social and other overestimations. Wikipedia

The egotist is motivated purely by an over-inflated sense of self importance. For the egotistically inclined, selfishness is the manifestation of a psychological disposition. By contrast, the egoist practices an ethics of selfishness as a matter of rational, moral judgment.

An egoist isn’t so centered on his own interests that he neglects the needs of others. In fact, he may be motivated to do for others before he satisfies his own physical needs — if he sees that by serving others he ultimately serves his own rational interests.

The thing about egoism is that, egoism, like other consequentialist systems of ethics, judges the moral rightness or wrongness of an act based on outcomes — not what method we use to arrive at the best consequences.

This kind of moral reasoning is what allows us to pull the lever on the train tracks.

We’re kind of free to do whatever works — just as long as the consequences are good.

And if you’re an egoist you need only be concerned with how the consequences affect just one person: YOU.

It might do an egoist some ggood if the egoist adopted a paramount moral principle — something like this: in the pursuit of my own self-interest, I will live according to 1) do not engage in any act or act according to any maxim that I cannot also universalize, and 2) do not use others as a mere means to my own ends.

Of course, this is easily recognized as Kant’s Categorical Imperative.

Believe it or not, it actually works.

BEHOLD THE MORAL THEORY OF KANTIAN EGOISM!

I’ve been a practicing Kantian egoist for some time, and I will say since adopting an egoism lifestyle according to Kant’s  principles, I am less likely to get my ass kicked.

For some strange reason, people want to beat up egoists — especially utilitarians.

My duties to self and to others is not limited in the way that Kant’s ethics are often binding in the real world. Egoism allows me to consider consequences, in particular, consequences to myself.

My ethical position recognizes that in the real world, it is difficult to live purely according to one set of moral principles. We often find ourselves operating according to multiple theories, sometimes simultaneously. Very few people are strict utilitarians or unshakable moral relativists. We often find ourselves splitting the difference between moral theories — taking the elements from each that allows us to decide what’s the right thing to do.

Rest assured I’m not “shopping” for moral theories. Kantian egoism is about finding where seeming opposing theories cohere and allows us — me — to make rational moral decisions that benefit others and (more importantly) benefit myself.

My TRUE MORAL THEORY simply finds the workable parts of Kantian ethics and egoism and binds them together into a more real world-ready theory.

So, I declare with absolutely no philosophical trepidation whatsoever, I am a Kantian egoist.

Or an egoist with a Kantian view of the good…

Or an egoist with Kantian tendencies…Or whatever.

Now that I’m thinking about it, this all stinks of intuitionism.

I Promised Someone That I’d Write A Chapter of My Book About How Much I Hate Him, but for Reasons Better Left Unsaid, I’ll Merely Suggest It Here

I think that, in all of this writing, I’ve forgotten to ask myself one very important question — why am I doing this at all? I was talking with my sister some time ago, and during our conversation, she said that anyone over any age ending with “teen” is too old to spend time tweeting, myspacing, or blogging. Since I am way over any age ending with teen, I naturally took offense to her comment. And, true to form, I kept my mouth shut. But that got me thinking… There has to be some reason why I’m doing this. And what my sister said is true — there are people that are way too old to be spending otherwise productive time telling the world what they’re doing right at this moment — which is usually something not worth writing about, let alone even telling someone in an actual conversation. I mean, there is really no need that anyone know what Dave Matthews thinks about snail farts (he did this in a tweet). So I’m back to the question, why? Am I that much of an egotist that I feel that anyone else needs to know what I think about anything? Or, do I really have something valuable to say? I’d like to feel that my postion here, is that latter. I do feel that there is something that I might be able to do that might — well, help. I know how incredibly egotistical that statement was. It is, and I wholheartedly cop to the fact that I am fairly egotistical. And like so may of my egotistical brethern, I’ve decided that what I need to do is write a book. I realize that there are a fair number of people my age who believe that there is some great American novel crammed up inside their head somewhere. Most of us get by entertaining the idea that we’re frustrated writers without ever committing ink to page. And I admit, entertaining the idea that I have something to say that is also worth reading is a little more than arrogant. But that’s me — the frustrated would-be writer who thinks that there’s some great thing in my head that only needs to come out. And it will be brilliant. Which leads me to this — this blog. And of course, it leads to my subject of choice — philosophy. We’ve all seen that this is a real winner of a subject. Of all the subjects in the world, my “calling” is to write about something that few people know and even fewer people care about. I know that the general attitude towards philosophy is negative. To a great degree, that attitude is well-deserved. Those who practice the philosophic arts are seen as arrogant overthinkers who prattle on about stuff that means nothing to no one, or they’re the masters of overanalyzing the obvious. To that charge, I don’t disagree. I’ve often struggled with the feeling that what I was studying was unproductive and useless ( I’ve, from time to time, used the phrase “intellectual masturbation” to describe what a great deal of philosophers do). Philosophy was spending too much time thinking about things that people, real people, don’t care about. Even if people do care — does it matter? Does any of it matter beyond that halls of academia? That was the thought that I held and shared with my fellow students in my most cynical moments, when I felt that what I was doing — something that I considered to be a part of who I am — was meaningless, useless, and unrewarding. I had to figure out why I and the entire world felt the way that we do about looking at the world philosophically. For me, it was something of an application problem. That is, I couldn’t make the connection between what I was studying and what I saw when I stepped out of class. I couldn’t see philosophy at work on the street level. The stuff that I was reading in class was clean and elegant, and most of all consistent — it didn’t reflect anything that I experienced in the world — where things are messy and muddled and life forces you to not do or think the same way all of the time. In the classroom, there’s no real welcome for the dreadfully messy and inconsistent people that I lived with, chatted up in line at Walmart, and talked to at bus stops who hadn’t heard of Descartes or Frege and were in no way interested in learning how to construct a logically valid derivation. They didn’t care, so I stopped caring. And because of that, I became increasingly frustrated with what I was studying. I was fed up with arguments and well-formed theories, and fed up with my fellow students and professors who seemed to not share my point of view. I kept coming back to that question: what use is all of this? I thought that I got some bad advice from a professor who suggested that I take a break from philosophy (since I had grown to hate it so thoroughly). I thought that there would be some sort of higher brained solution to solving my problem. That he would say to meditate or channel the spirit of Hume or something along those lines. No, it was just take a break. Well, being someone who just can’t let anything go (like what they say about Jennifer Aniston), I didn’t take a break completely, but I did long enough to get a grip on what I wanted to see — I wanted to see what I was learning on the street. I wanted to see it where I lived. Eventually, I realized that I was seeing it all along. I had blinded myself by thinking (or rather believing) that there was no connection between what was in the book and what is in the world. This isn’t uncommon. I had fallen victim to a bad case of academiaitis. I thought that philosophy was for academics, so guess where I saw it? Right. But it’s everywhere. It’s in the music we listen to, on the TV we watch, in movies (and not just Woody Allen ones), in our attitudes and outlooks on life, sex, religion, mortality and morality. It’s in our favourite movie quotes, song lyrics, and everyday phrases. That’s why I have this blog. That is why I like (not love) studying philosophy. I had heard somewhere that some physicist said that if you can’t explain a scientific theory to an eight year old, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Well, it’s not quantum physics, but the same holds true for philosophy. We’ve, meaning the academics, have held all this learning too close to our own breasts. We’ve forgotten who all of this is for — to make the world a little more easy to figure out for everyone else, not just for ourselves. And if we can’t explain it to others who aren’t “like us”, then we don’t know what we’re talking about. Instead of poo-pooing the notion that this stuff can and should be made easy (so easy in fact that you can learn it from watching an episode of Magnum P.I.), I feel that this is what my calling truly is. I know that, by doing this, I may be taking on more than I can do. I still say that I’m no philosopher ( not just because of a lack of qualifications, but also to call myself one seems a little more than slightly pretentious). My goal here is to create something at the very least “philosophic” — something that those people who, like me, couldn’t see it, will — if not learn from, atl least get a slight kick from reading what I have to say. it may noy bear the official seal Philosophy, but I think that my will is good. And for that, Kant would be pleased. If I succeed, I’ll convince some that it isn’t all so useless. If I fail, well, as Nietzsche said, “what does not kill me makes me stronger”.