WILL THE REAL PHILOSOPHER PLEASE STAND UP?

WORLD PHILOSOPHY DAY was on November 16th.

UNESCO designated the third Thursday of every November to be a day the world celebrates the… well, I’ll just let UNESCO explain it −

By celebrating World Philosophy Day each year, on the third Thursday of November, UNESCO underlines the enduring value of philosophy for the development of human thought, for each culture and for each individual.

Did you know that?
Nah, me neither.
Who really pays attention to philosophy these days, anyway?
Really. Who?
Nobody does.
At least that’s what you’d think if you watch t.v

I can tell you, I watched television all day on November 16th, and there was not one mention of UNESCO World Philosophy Day 2017.

I can tell you what they did talk about on the t.v., though – Louis CK.
For those of you out there who have no clue who Louis CK is, he’s a comedian.

Louis CK has – had a t.v. show.

He had a couple, as a matter of fact.

The reason, if you don’t know, why Louis CK has been in the news has to do with this:

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That’s why Louis CK doesn’t have his t.v. show anymore.

I was − still am − a fan of Louis CK’s work. Show me any of Louis CK’s HBO stand-up specials, and I’ll laugh like I wasn’t aware that the jokes aren’t eerily too similar to the behavior Louis CK is accused of doing to women in real life.
Yeah, Louis CK is… problematic.

I watch a lot of comedy. Not just the highbrow stuff, either. I’ll laugh at the Three Stooges or an Adam Sandler flick like I don’t got no more than two functioning brain cells in my head.

 

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EXCEPT FOR “THAT’S MY BOY!” THAT MOVIE WAS BEYOND AWFUL

 

I initially became a fan of Louis CK, not just because his comedy is funny or because his comedy is smart and witty, but because despite the now-creepy comedy routine Louis CK’s jokes are philosophical.

That is, Louis CK’s jokes make you think – make you think.

The overwhelming presence of dick jokes in modern comedy might lead one to think that comedy can’t be philosophical, but comedy is no stranger to philosophy.

The ancient Greek philosophers Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics all wrote about comedy.

In Poetics Aristotle categorizes comedy as either farce, romantic comedy or satire. Aristotle says comedy, along with tragedy, epic poetry, and lyric poetry, make up the original four genres of literature.
In Plato’s Republic, Socrates criticizes laughter-inducing comedy, stating that laughter causes men to become irrational and to lose self-control. Laughter, according to Socrates, is to be avoided, because, says Socrates,

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

The Stoic philosopher Epictetus wrote “Let not your laughter be loud, frequent, or unrestrained.”

The story goes that no one ever saw Epictetus laugh.

Nobody.

 

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MAYBE EPICETUS WATCHD “THAT’S MY BOY!”?

 

The Greek playwright Aristophanes wrote The Clouds, a satirical comedy about Athenian intellectuals and (specifically) the philosopher Socrates.

A scene from Aristophanes’ The Clouds:

DISCIPLE:
I wonder what then would you say, if you knew another of Socrates’ contrivances?
STREPSIADES:
What is it? Pray tell me.
DISCIPLE:
Chaerephon of the deme of Sphettia asked him whether he thought a gnat buzzed through its proboscis or through its anus.
STREPSIADES:
And what did he say about the gnat?
DISCIPLE:
He said that the gut of the gnat was narrow, and that, in passing through this tiny passage, the air is driven with force towards the breech; then after this slender channel, it encountered the rump, which was distended like a trumpet, and there it resounded sonorously.
STREPSIADES:
So the arse of a gnat is a trumpet. Oh! what a splendid arsevation! Thrice happy Socrates! It would not be difficult to succeed in a law-suit, knowing so much about a gnat’s guts!

That’s a joke about Socrates.

It’s supposed to be funny.

Hobbes, Descartes, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, and Kant also wrote about comedy.

I’ll tell you nothing is less funny than reading Kant analyzing a joke.

“For if we admit that with all our thoughts is harmonically combined a movement in the organs of the body, we will easily comprehend how to this sudden transposition of the mind, now to one now to another standpoint in order to contemplate its object, may correspond an alternating tension and relaxation of the elastic portions of our intestines which communicates itself to the diaphragm (like that which ticklish people feel). In connection with this the lungs expel the air at rapidly succeeding intervals, and thus bring about a movement beneficial to health; which alone, and not what precedes it in the mind, is the proper cause of the gratification in a thought that at bottom represents nothing.”

Did that make you think of something funny?

And, as anyone will tell you, Ayn Rand is nothing short of pure comedy.

COMEDIC GOLD.

 

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THAT LOOK ON YOUR FACE WHEN YOU’RE HALFWAY THROUGH ATLAS SHRUGGED AND YOU REALIZE YOU’VE GOT ANOTHER HUNDRED PAGES OF THIS SHIT TO GO

 

Just as philosophers have tried their hands at comedy, comedians also dabble in philosophy.

Proving that comedy is more than just the standard fart and poop jokes, comedians have mined philosophical topics like existentialism, nihilism, and the absurd for comedic effect since mankind discovered that philosophy can be funny.

There really is nothing funnier than a good metaphysics joke.

 

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OK. IT’S PROBABLY NOT AS FUNNY WHEN YOU READ IT

 

Comedians use humor to observe and examine the human condition, something that philosophy is sorely lacking.

Wittgenstein was brilliant, but he wasn’t funny.

Philosophy is at the center of the plot of the modern comedy classic, Groundhog Day, and in the films of Wes Anderson and Woody Allen*. Many fans of philosophy enjoy the philosophy- drenched comedic genius of Monty Python (FYI: some of the troupe’s most popular sketches are based in philosophy). Television shows like Seinfeld and Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm often feature philosophical themes. In stand-up comedy, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Bill Hicks, Lewis Black, Louis CK, Patton Oswalt, Sarah Silverman, Mitch Hedberg, and Ricky Gervais (who actually studied philosophy) entertain audiences with jokes that not only make people laugh, but also make people think.

Prospect Magazine named Russell Brand the world’s fourth most influential thinker in 2015.
Yes. That Russell Brand.
Don’t laugh.
Well, unless he’s telling a joke.
Then you can laugh.

Bill Maher’s stand-up often includes philosophical observations on religion and politics.
Comedians like John Oliver and Jon Stewart fill the role of public intellectuals.

Folks like the Sartre used to do that.

 

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I MEAN, EXISTENTILISM IS KINDA FUNNY

 

This is the reason why Chris Rock says that comedians are the last philosophers.

If that’s true, then Louis CK is the Diogenes of comedy.

That would also make Ayn Rand the Carlos Mencia of philosophy.

 

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I’M NOT GOING TO MENTION THIS GUY’S NAME… I WON’T

 

The Greek philosopher Socrates caused a stir in ancient Athens. He challenged the social order and angered the people. Socrates was the gadfly. Comedians are the modern gadflies.
When Politically Incorrect host, Bill Maher, less than a week after the September 11, 2001 attack on the U.S., stated:

“We have been cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That’s cowardly…Staying I the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it’s not cowardly.”

Maher did not merely challenge the perception of the terrorists responsible for the deaths of nearly 3,000 people, Maher questioned the notion of courage.

Courage, if you didn’t know, is an Aristotelian virtue.

Bill Maher also lost his late night t.v. show for what he said.

The late comedian Lenny Bruce rattled the chains of 1960’s conventional American society. Bruce’s comedy involved frank and open jokes about politics, religion, and sex − and like Socrates, Lenny Bruce was no stranger to accusations of vulgarity. Bruce was eventually charged with, tried, and convicted of obscenity.

…which is kind of like Socrates being tried for corrupting the youth of Athens.

In the end, both Socrates and Lenny Bruce paid with their lives.

But this is the thing: If philosophy was restricted to observations of people and the human condition, what Chris Rock said would be true. Comedians observe, often keenly so, but there’s no ontology; no ethics. Carlin’s Brain Droppings has bits of wisdom but it’s no Nichomachean Ethics.

And really, comedians shouldn’t be the new philosophers. Philosophers should be the new philosophers.

Why look to comedians for wisdom when there are plenty of folks out there who are doing philosophy who actually studied philosophy?

Unless that comedian is Chris Hardwick. He has a philosophy degree.

From UCLA, no less.

 

Chris Hardwick - Talking Dead _ Season 5 - Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/AMC

PHILOSOPHY DEGREE + STAND-UP COMEDY = SWEET “THE WALKING DEAD” AFTERSHOW GIG…RIGHT?…….RIGHT?

 

Slavoj Žižek, Noam Chomsky, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Daniel Dennett, Martha Nussbaum, Cornel West, Judith Butler, David Chalmers, Michael Sandel, Peter Singer, Christine Korsgaard, Alvin Plantinga, and Saul Kripke are just a few of the philosophers – living − right now − doing philosophy.

And it ain’t all navel gazing gobbeldygook, neither.

Sure, they may not be a funny as Louis CK…
…although it’s pretty hard not to laugh every time Žižek rubs his nose

And if you think philosophers are above sex scandals, forget it.

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But if you’re contemplating the meaning of life, you might want to check out what Schopenhauer had to say about it.

At least check it out before you watch the Monty Python flick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*There are many philosophical comedies – The films of the Coen brothers are good for philosophical movie watching. Heck, check out any Peter Sellers comedy.

 

 

 

SOURCES:
http://classics.mit.edu/Aristophanes/clouds.html
https://en.unesco.org/events/world-philosophy-day
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/humor/

 

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MY PHILOSOPHICAL THANKFUL FOR LIST

Thanksgiving is this Thursday here in the States, and while I partake in the annual fest of overeating to the point of gluttony-induced sleepiness/self-loathing and pretending to like my relatives, I’ll remind myself that it’s also the time of the year when we look at our lives and think of the things we are grateful for.

Sometimes it’s difficult to make a grateful for list, particularly when there are so many things out there to complain about

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NOT GONNA SAY BERNIE WOULD HAVE WON…

…and especially when your fourth favorite philosopher is Schopenhauer.

 

The German philosophers are such a dour bunch, aren’t they?

As just an average Joe, I’m thankful for my health and my friends and family. I’m thankful that my brain is functioning properly (knock on wood) and that, at the present moment, I have little reason to believe that I am under the influence of an evil demon or a brain in a vat.

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I’m thankful that I added on a second major to study philosophy.
I give thanks that I was never assigned to read Heidegger.

Or Ayn Rand.

I’m thankful for Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and the Categorical Imperative.

Who knew that would come in handy?

I’m thankful that I don’t have to read another analytic philosopher…unless I want to.

I’m thankful that nearly every dumb decision Rick Grimes has ever made just goes to show how stupid utilitarianism really is.

 

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WATCH CLOSELY: RICK IS THINKING ABOUT DOING SOMETHING TOTALLY UTILITARIAN AND INCREDIBLY STUPID

I’m thankful for that stupid “you have to have a high IQ to understand Rick and Morty” meme.

 

 

IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MEME, NOW YOU HAVE. YOU’RE WELCOME.

 

I’m thankful for Rick and Morty. Monty Python, Star Trek, reality t.v., and The Walking Dead.
I’m thankful for Daryl Dixon.

Oh god, there I go. I admit it. I AM GRATEFUL FOR DARYL DIXON.
I’m thankful my professors made me read Leo Strauss and Plato.
I’m thankful for The Philosopher’s Toolkit.
I’m thankful for Wikipedia.

 

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EVERYONE MUST PURCHASE A COPY OF THE PHILOSOPHER’S TOOLKIT IMMEDIATELY

I give thanks for Rolling Rock Beer.
I’m thankful that Logical Positivism shows that even smart people can come up with bad ideas.
I’m thankful for self-publishing.
And blogs.

 

And Slavoj Žižek memes.

 

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PRETTY MUCH SPEAKS FOR ITSELF

 

As I shovel one last bite of turkey and stuffing into my Mr. Creosote-sized belly, I will give thanks for all the people who get Nietzsche so dreadfully wrong that their misadventures in nihilism will give me many years’ worth of material to write about.

I am grateful for all my cool philosophy classmates who became cool philosophical friends.

I’m grateful that people know we need philosophers, too.

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Lastly, I’m grateful for you. Yep. YOU. All of you folks out there reading this little, dumb blog of mine. I’m grateful for all of you who take time out of your day to read the musings of this self-proclaimed philosopher and pop culture enthusiast.

Thank you all from the bottom of my mindlessly philosophical heart.

blowing_kiss_christian_bale

 

CHEERS!
TMP

My Favorite Philosopher Is… Problematic

THERE ARE A FEW things these days that truly worry me: Crepey skin… Opioid-induced constipation…

Am I entitled to financial compensation if my loved one was exposed to mesothelioma-causing asbestos?

There is one thing I thought I never had to worry about: philosophers.

I was wrong.

Recent sex scandals involving the (formerly) respected philosophers Colin McGinn and John Searle, and the trial of Rutger’s University philosophy professor, Anna Stubblefield, who was convicted of the sexual assault of a 29 year old man with severe cerebral palsy, have made me think twice about the profession I’d once thought as scandal free.

Stubblefield’s conviction was overturned, by the way.

Nonetheless, it’s all kind of a black eye to the profession.

You see, pretty much nobody likes philosophers.

Sure, our moms and pops love us plenty, but when it comes to what society thinks of lovers of wisdom, the love is much to be desired.

“I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is far superior”
– Hippolyte Taine (1828 – 1893)

Philosophers got a shout out during the Republican Presidential Debates last year, but not for the reason that anyone would want to brag about.

Former Republican presidential candidate, Florida Representative Marco Rubio, declared that we need more welders and less philosophers.

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WHO’S TO SAY THIS GUYS DOESN’T READ SCHOPENHAUER IN HIS SPARE TIME/

Rubio’s fellow Republican candidate, Ted Cruz, declared that the Federal Reserve was being run by philosopher-kings.
That kinda sounds like a good thing, but Cruz didn’t mean it that way.

“There is, however, nothing wanting to the idleness of a philosopher but a better name, and that meditation, conversation, and reading should be called “work”.
– Jean de La Bruyere (1645 – 1696)

I’m not saying that welders aren’t a necessity. Lord knows that when I think about the folks who built my apartment, I’m glad that some of them picked up welding instead of Socrates.

But I’m also saying that philosophers can be useful, too.

Speaking of useful…

I thought if I went back to read the old philosophers, I’d find guys (and a few gals) who are not only brilliant, but also free of defect.

Uh…

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Sure, there’s some great classic philosophy, but going back to read the old philosophers just proves that those old white guys really were a bunch of old. white. guys.

They call it the Enlightenment but really, some of them folks weren’t very enlightened.

All Most Some of history’s greatest philosophers are sexist (dare we say even hovering near misogyny) and slightly more than casually racist.

Rousseau abandoned his kids.

Hegel fathered an illegitimate son with his landlord and was kind of a dick to the kid.

Descartes tortured animals.

Heidegger was a Nazi.

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NOT TALKING ABOUT METAPHORICAL NAZI, LIKE HEIDEGGER WAS GRAMMAR NAZI, BUT FULL-ON, HITLER SALUTING NAZI

Even my favorite philosopher, the 18th century Scottish philosopher, David Hume, wrote things that could only be described these days as… problematic.

In 1742, Hume wrote:

“I am apt to suspect that the Negroes, and in general all other species of men to be naturally inferior to the whites. There never was any civilized nation of any other complection than white, nor even any individual eminent in action or speculation.”

Hume also said that the Jews of Europe were “noted for fraud”.

But hey, at least Hume was against slavery!

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WHO KNEW HUME AND HEIDEGGER WOULD HAVE SO MUCH IN COMMON?

Ok, we can say that we shouldn’t judge others by our modern standards. And sometimes we shouldn’t. But here’s the thing: we can judge. We should judge.

You know, something about moral relativism.

Actually, there were plenty of people who objected to racism and sexism even back then.

I got so bummed out about philosophers that like a damned idiot I thought that turning to fictional philosophers would help.

Nope.

First off, there’s a real lack of philosophers in movies.

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LOOKING FOR A SOMEWHAT-DECENT PORTRAYAL OF A PHILOSOPHER IN A MOVIE OF A TV SHOW

As opposed to philosophy or movies that are philosophical – there’s plenty of that.

A lot of it bad.

…Although Richard Linklater’s Waking Life is a pretty good philosophical movie.

In the real world, we have highly entertaining philosophers like Slavoj Zizek, but in film (in movies that aren’t strictly biographical – there’s been movies about Socrates, Hypatia of Alexandria, Confucius, Descartes, Wittgenstein, and Hannah Arendt, among others or adapted from philosophical works, like Ayn Rand’s 1949 film adaptation of her novel, The Fountainhead), philosophers are depicted as dull, ineffectual, arrogant, and morally bankrupt.

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AYN RAND DIDN’T INVENT PHILOSOPHICAL MORAL BANKRUPTCY. SHE JUST GOT THE MOST POPULAR AT IT

Granted, movie philosophers are smart guys (and it is almost always a guy) but personally, especially morally, the movie philosopher is always royally screwed up.

Wait a minute. That describes a few real philosophers.

Movie philosophers are all thought and no action. All preparation and no H. They’re excellent at navel gazing and pontificating; high on the stink of their capacity for rational thought.

Popular depictions of philosophers (in film) tend to reflect the idea that intellectuals are not to be trusted.

Or at the very least they’re not to be taken seriously.

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Cinematic philosophers add nothing of value to society other than to increase the amount of bullshit and useless opinions.

You’re nodding your head, aren’t you?

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In movies, the goal always is to prove how stupid and wrong philosophy and philosophers are.

And philosophers don’t believe in GOD.

Movie philosophers are often philosophical but not philosophers. Like Yoda.

Yoda is a badass because he’s not a philosopher.

I decided to watch a few movies with philosophers in them to get a look-see at philosophers in film.

… and to affirm my confirmation bias.

“Philosophers say a great deal about what is absolutely necessary for science, and it is always so far as one can see, rather naïve, and probably wrong.
– Richard Feynman (1918 -1988)

In Mel Brooks’ History of the World, Part 1, when a “stand-up philosopher” (played by Brooks) gives his occupation, his occupation is corrected to “bullshit artist”.

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In The Life of David Gale, Kevin Spacey plays a philosophy professor put to death for murder.

By the way, he’s not guilty of the crime for which he is executed, mind you. He set himself up to be executed for a crime he didn’t commit to prove that the death penalty is wrong.

That’s a pretty underhanded thing to do.

Because movie philosophers do underhanded things.

Oops. Should I have said SPOILER ALERT?

In Woody Allen’s Irrational Man Joaquin Phoenix plays a philosophy professor (long story short) who attempts to murder a student he was flirted with.

Woody Allen is the king of movies with philosophical themes.

He’s also the king of movies about older men having semi-inappropriate relationships with disturbingly much younger women.

Because philosophers have inappropriate relationships with much younger women, especially if they’re students.

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PHILOSOPHY PROFESSORS AND STING. NOT GONNA EXPLAIN THE REFERENCE

Somehow its always the philosopher who wants to ball his students…

Speaking of balling students…

In the film Leaves of Grass written and directed by Tim Blake Nelson, Edward Norton stars as a Brown University philosophy professor, Bill Kincaid. Kincaid goes back to his hometown in Oklahoma to trade places with his hillbilly marijuana-dealing identical twin brother, Brady (also played by Edward Norton), who is mixed up with the local drug kingpin. In no surprise to the audience, Brady is the smarter twin and is also philosophical – but not like an overeducated intellectual Ivy League college philosophy professor kind of way.

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COME ON, WOULD YOU IF EDWARD NORTON WAS YOUR PHILOSOPHY PROFESSOR?

The Alfred Hitchcock film Rope (1948) is about a pair Nietzsche fans that demonstrate what happens when you get Nietzsche all wrong and that nihilism isn’t for everybody… or anybody.

…and then there’s my favorite, God’s Not Dead, the Christian cinema classic from 2014 starring Kevin Sorbo as an atheist philosophy professor. Yes, THAT atheist philosophy professor – the one, who, on the first day of class, challenges students to prove that God exists.

Or rather, confirm that God doesn’t exist.

Philosophy professors, like Sorbo’s Professor Jeffery Radisson, delight in breaking the faith of his Christian students.

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IT’S AN ESTABLISHED FACT IN PHILOSOPHY CIRCLES THAT SCREAMING ATHEISM IN A STUDENT’S FACE WILL SCREAM THE GOD RIGHT OUT OT THEM

Because he believes that philosophers know everything.

So far as I know, only Hegel thought that. About himself.

God’s Not Dead relies heavily on the popular (mis)conception that all philosophers are godless, God-hating atheists. Sorbo’s philosophy professor is high on his intellectualism. Proving God does not exist is an exercise in confirming his intellectual arrogance.

Obviously the folks who made God’s Not Dead have never heard of Alvin Plantinga.

Or Richard Swinburne.

Or Peter van Inwagen.

Of course the atheist philosophy professor dies in the end.

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RADISSON IS AFRAID TO DIE BECAUSE HE KNOWS ALL PHILOSOPHERS GO TO HELL

By the way, in my experience, never once in a philosophy class that wasn’t specifically a philosophy of religion class did any professor even mention arguments for or against the existence of God.

All of these depictions of philosophers are around because we think philosophers, not just the old white sexists and racists of the past, and not just the present-day philosophers accused of sexual impropriety, are problematic.

Philosophy is problematic.

That is something worth worrying about.

Not crepey skin-level worry, but worrying nonetheless.

 

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SERIOUSLY, HOW CAN YOU LOOK AT THIS AND NOT BE WORRIED?

 

 

** I’d like to add here that there is at least one awesomely excellent portrayal of a philosopher in popular culture, NYU philosophy degree-havin’, tai chi mastering, rip a man’s throat out with his bare hands-doin’ , bouncer (whoops) cooler, James Dalton, portrayed by the late (always great) Patrick Swayze in Road House.
Road House is a supremely bad movie, but in its awfulness is cinematic gold.
And Dalton’s great piece of philosophical mantra, “Be Nice, Until It’s Time To Not Be Nice”.

** I encourage anyone to watch all the films mentioned in this post. If not to see how philosophers are depicted in cinema, some of the movies actually are entertaining to watch.

 

 

For details on the Anna Stubblefield case: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/03/opinion/who-is-the-victim-in-the-anna-stubblefield-case.html

 

Women in Philosophy?

MARCH WAS Women’s History Month.

Since March has been designated the month to celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of the Second Sex throughout history, it seemed an appropriate time to write a blog post about women in philosophy.

As this blog has made abundantly clear, I do philosophy. I did my time at university, thumbing through studying philosophical texts and bullshitting my way through tests and term papers, that somehow I managed to earn a philosophy degree. I think I’ve read enough of the great – excuse me – GREAT (italics added for emphasis) philosophers to say that I have a working knowledge of the who’s who of philosophy.

If you challenged me to name five great (I mean GREAT) philosophers and I can rattle off a quick dozen names – Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Hume, Kant, Spinoza, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Leibnitz, Schopenhauer, Hegel…

You get the idea.

You may also notice that all of those philosophers are men.

Having a working knowledge of a who’s who of philosophy, you’d think it’d be easy to do the same with women philosophers, but for as much philosophy I’ve read, I’ll be damned if I can name more than five women philosophers without really thinking about the names of numbers four and five.

Well, let’s see… there’s Hypatia of Alexandria, Simone de Beauvoir, Judith Butler… uh… there’s uh… Hmmm… let me think… there’s Onora O’ Neill… Margaret Cavendish…

There. That’s five

and Martha Nussbaum.

Martha Nussbaum!

There. I can name six.

And as I’ve said an annoyingly amount of times before, I’ve been writing philosophical blog for a few years now, and as easily as I might be able to rattle off the names of five women… err… six women philosophers off of my head, I know I can’t name ten.

Thank God for Google, I guess.

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I have to admit my philosophical education didn’t prepare me for conjuring the names of more than six women philosophers.

Of all of the philosophy classes I actually showed up for had, only one class dedicated to women in philosophy.

Now that I’m thinking about it, that was the only class where I read any women philosophers.

Of course, in that ONE class we read de Beauvoir – and of course the class was about gender.

When I was taking philosophy classes I didn’t really think about it.

There was plenty else to think about: how long I could put off graduating… what’s the fewest number of classes I could attend without negatively affecting my grade… do I really have to read and study the assigned material or can I just bullshit my way through exams…?

I mean, I thought about the lack of women philosophers but didn’t think about it.
The answer I gave to myself for the lack of women philosophers was this: I knew that earning a philosophy degree meant reading the foundations of philosophy and the foundations of philosophy are men.

Plato. Aristotle. Kant. Russell…

And so on…

But now that I’m thinking about it, I’m thinking certainly there are women that do philosophy, right?

There’s gotta be more than five.

I mean, Women think, don’t they?

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APPARENTLY THIS SITUATION ONLY HAPPENS IN FICTION

If I thought the things that I think now, I would have demanded that my professors tell me where are all the women in metaphysics! Where are the women in epistemology?! Where are the lady ethicists?! Where are the women logicians???

I’d ask about women logicians even though I hate logic.

Now, I know that bringing up a lack of women philosophers probably sounds like I’m going all triggered SJWs complaining about… whatever, but having done the college philosophy thing, I actually did walk away with the impression that the only philosophy that’s done is done by a bunch of dead old guys.

Probably a slightly overweight old dudes with beards.

Some dude that looks like this

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Or this.

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NOT THE GUY FROM THE OTHER PICTURE

Well, at the risk of sounding triggered, I gotta ask, Is there a legit reason why there aren’t women in philosophy?

Is there a reason why philosophy students aren’t taught the works of women philosophers?

Does philosophy have a problem with women?

Probably.

You don’t have to dig too deeply into the annals of Philosophy to figure out that philosophers have written about women for centuries.

Banquet given by the Seven Sages of Greece

PICTURED: PHILOSOPHERS SHIT TALKIN’ ABOUT WOMEN

I’m sure that the reason why – that even now – there’s a lack of prominent women in philosophy has to do with the legacy of sexism and misogyny. We don’t push girls into the thinking fields: math, science, philosophy because women aren’t capable of thinking philosophically.

Because, apparently, sporting a vagina  (or wandering uterus) disqualifies one from being capable of sustaining a rational thought.

Aristotle observed that women are “incomplete” males.

For Aristotle, being a woman was a “deformity”.

Aristotle also said that women are more (than men):

  • mischievous
  • impulsive
  • easily moved to tears
  • jealous
  • quarrelsome
  • apt to “scold and to strike”
  • void of shame or self respect
  • false of speech
  • deceptive
  • difficult to rouse to action

 
But hey, Aristotle said that women have fewer teeth than men.

Whatever that means.

I assume that it’s a good thing.

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THIS FROM THE SAME GUY WHO THOUGHT SPERM HAS TINY PEOPLE IN IT. HE DID. BELIEVE THAT. LOOK IT UP

Women are incomplete, deformed, trouble causing males, therefore, women should be relegated to domestic duties.

That’s because the natural place for a woman is in the home.

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Heck, why go all the way back to the ancient Greek philosophers?

Hegel said women’s

minds are not adapted to the higher sciences, philosophy, or certain of the arts.

The master of misinterpreted philosophy, Friedrich Nietzsche, wrote:

Woman has so much reason fir shame; in woman there is concealed in woman there is so much superficiality, petty presumption and petty immodesty…

Nietzsche also declared that woman was God’s second mistake.

Schopenhauer wrote:

One need only look at a woman’s shape to discover that she is not intended for either too much mental or too much physical work.

I truly think that the only person that got more philosophers shit talkin’ about them than women is Hegel.

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IN SHORT, AVOID HEGEL 

But really, you don’t need to read the Simone de Beauvoir catalog to know that women have always had a role in philosophy.

Let’s take a moment to think about Hypatia of Alexandria, the fourth century astronomer and philosopher who not only headed the Neoplatonic school in Alexandria, but was put to death by a Christian mob.

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YOU COULD SPEND A FEW MINUTES READING THE STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY ARTICLE ON HYPATIA OF OF ALEXANDRIA, BUT WHY DO THAT WHEN YOU CAN AVOID READING COMPLETELY AND WATCH THE MOVIE “AGORA”, STARRING RACHEL WEISZ AS HYPATIA?

 

Did Schopenhauer do that?

I can tell you the answer is no.

Women not only have contributed to philosophical thought, but often add a different perspective to philosophy.

Women philosophers have been at the forefront on subjects such as race, gender, sexuality, disability, and the intersectionality of those subjects with (and in) philosophy. Women, inside and outside of philosophy, have proven that the second sex are more than capable of rational thought.

Let’s take a couple more moments to think about a few more women and ideas in philosophy:

 

  • Simone de Beauvoir’s work on gender in The Second Sex
  • Judith Butler on feminist, gender, and queer theory
  • Carol Gilligan’s Ethics of Care
  • The novels of Ayn Rand and Rand’s philosophical theory of Objectivism

I mean, come on, where would the world be without Rand’s objectivism?

 

Probably in a better place, actually.

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WHEN THE SIMPSONS MAKE FUN OF YOU…..

Now that I’m thinking about it, maybe women shouldn’t do philosophy.

I’m kidding.

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REASON ENOUGH TO NOT TAKE AYN RAND SERIOUSLY. YES I REALIZE THAT’S AN AD HOMINEM

If studying philosophy proves anything, it proves that PEOPLE are capable of philosophical thought; that good philosophical ideas and bad philosophical ideas are not exclusive to any gender.

Given the current state of rational thought: dealing in alternative facts and a society where politicians call for “less philosophers”, we should encourage anyone who is willing to THINK. We should welcome them and give them the same intellectual respect as the ancient Greeks, Hume, Kant, or even, God forbid, Georg Hegel.

 

…even if their uterus is wandering.

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.

useless-degrees-philosophy

*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.

1kzone

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.

eraserhead-baby

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.

Becoming A Philosopher Was the Worst Thing To Happen To My Record Collection

I WASN’T BORN a fan of philosophy.

Many, many years ago I was just another latch-key kid who watched too much TV. With an empty house, plenty of snacks, and a TV remote in hand, I spent countless hours not doing my homework, watching everything from He-Man to The People’s Court to The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Back in the day, when music television meant a channel actually showed music videos, I watched a lot of MTV.
Now, back then, when music videos were becoming a thing, most videos weren’t very good.

And sometimes after watching a video, you would wish you’d never seen what the band actually looked like.

 

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I WISH I’D NEVER SEEN THIS VIDEO

But every so often you’d see a video that had something more than bad camera work, cheesy sets and costumes, and big 80’s hair going on.

Some videos gave you the idea that there we something going on behind what we see.

In some cases, the thing going on behind the thing we see is philosophical.

Before I had ever heard of Jean-Paul Sartre. Before I had heard of Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble. And long before I had ever heard of postmodernism, I had heard of David Bowie.

Not only were Bowie’s music videos visually stunning, but many of his videos would leave me thinking, “Is there something else going on, here?”

As it turns out, there almost always was.

 

bowie-ashes-o

LOOK CLOSELY. THERE’S SOMETHING GOING ON, HERE

This explains why when David Bowie died in January of this year, I felt a little sadder than I normally would for the usual celebrity death. Bowie’s death wasn’t just the loss of a musical idol. It was a philosophical loss as well.

 

bowie kierkegaard

THE FACT THAT THEY LOOK ALIKE MAY NOT BE COINCIDENTAL

If I had my choice, I’d much prefer that my philosophical lessons come from watching music videos rather than from reading philosophy books. Really, if you think about it most songs are kinda philosophical, so it would make (some) sense that one would learn a philosophical lesson or two from their favorite musician.

 

bill ted and socrates

WE ALL REMEMBER THAT TIME SOCRATES TOURED WITH WYLD STALLYNS

 

It wouldn’t be too unreasonable, then, to consider the philosophy of some musicians in the same way that we adhere to the ideas of a particular philosopher.

The trouble pops up when one’s musical idols become what YouTube famous* atheist Steve Shives calls “problematic”.

And David Bowie certainly is “problematic”.

 

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David Bowie, like many other musicians, had certain relations that may be called “inappropriate”.

 

(comment) chris hansen

THIS KIND OF INAPPROPRIATE

“Baby Groupie” Lori Mattix recounted in an article for Thrillist that was deflowered by Bowie in the 1970s when she was just 14 years old.

Although Mattix insists that she’s suffered no irreparable damage from her encounter with David Bowie (in fact, Mattix says she was a willing participant and has no regrets), the fact that Bowie was an adult and Mattix had not yet reached the age of consent presents a problem. To wit: sexual relations with an individual under the age of consent, even if the individual is willing, is illegal.

The law calls it statutory rape.

 

giphy

 

The statutory rape allegations against David Bowie rape have lead some to argue that we should think of Bowie less like this:

 

Greatest Artists of All Time

 

and more like this:

 

bowie mugshot

 

The reason why, I think, has something to do with the fact that our favorite musicians are more than mere entertainers.

You see, music, according to Socrates, is an essential element in life. Not just because listening to music makes a long road trip fun, but because music plays a part in the formation of a good soul.

According to Socrates, it is important that we not only listen to music, but also listen to the right kind of music.

 

don't let your baby

And because the music we listen to is the right kind of music the quality of the music also reflects the quality of the people making the music. The right kind of music is made by the right kind of people.

And by “the right kind of people” we mean the kind of right-souled examples the community should follow.

 

not socrates 2

IT’S NOT AN UNFAIR ASSUMPTION THAT SOCRATES WOULD APPROVE OF MUSIC PERFORMED ONLY BY PEOPLE DRESSED LIKE THIS

 

But what about philosophers? As lovers of wisdom, philosophers should also be the right-souled kind of people the community should follow. Socrates even suggested that society should be ruled a philosopher-king. If we use the same standard for philosophers that we use for music and the makers of music, how many philosophers qualify as the right kind of people?
Well, let’s take a look at a few philosophers, shall we?
Hume and Kant were racists. Jean-Jacques Rousseau abandoned his family. Hegel was shitty to his illegitimate son. Hegel also said “The difference between man and woman is as between animal and plant”. Schopenhauer was a misogynist who described women as “[a] mental myopic” and pushed a woman down a flight of stairs.

 

arthur schopenhauer 1

Bertrand Russell had multiple infidelities with the wives of his friends. Nietzsche was a German nationalist who may or may not have influenced the Nazis. Heidegger was a Nazi. Descartes experimented on cats while they were still alive. Diogenes masturbated in public. Colin McGinn resigned from his position at the University of Miami following allegations by a female student of sexual harassment . Rutgers University philosophy professor, Anna Stubblefield was tried and convicted of sexually assaulting an intellectually disabled man.

 

Foucault was just weird.

 

sexy foucault

If you think about it, it’s not exactly a group of good souls.

Long story short, if we’re looking for the kind of good-souled people worth following, we may find very few in philosophy.

And that’s the point – just like some advised when David Bowie’s sexual improprieties came to light following his death – perhaps we should learn to separate the artist from his art – and the philosopher from his philosophy.

art from artist

philosophy from philosopher

 

Although I think that it’s sometimes for our own psychological peace of mind to ignore the unsavory bits of a philosopher’s or artist’s personal life, there’s something about overlooking the unpleasant parts that kinda, well, bugs me.

 

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EXCUSE ME WHILE I HAVE A PETER GRIFFIN MOMENT

I mean, why would we? Can we ignore the unsavory bits? Should we? Is it to our philosophical benefit to excise aspects of a person’s life and actions? Are some illegal acts really no big deal? At what point can we or should we not overlook the personal life or actions of a pop culture idol or a philosopher?

 

no heidegger

 

To be honest, I don’t know. I’m well aware of Bertrand Russell’s adulterous behavior and yet I still believe that Russell is one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. I’ve read the racist views of Hume and Kant and yet I still refer to Kant’s ethics and Hume’s metaphysics regularly in my writing. And even though Schopenhauer truly was an awful person, he retains a soft spot in my heart.

 

I still hate Hegel, though.

Finding out that Hegel was a turd of a human being only makes me hate him more.

 

hegel TLDR

 

I probably won’t stop listening to David Bowie’s music, either.

 

I think, in the end, we shouldn’t be required to abandon our fandom or appreciation for Hegel, Heidegger, Hume, Kant, or David Bowie. What we should be, however, is mindful. We should be mindful of the fact that anyone we look up to, be they a philosopher or our favorite singer, is a flawed human being.

We should never fail to remind ourselves that the ability to communicate profound words or deep insights does not make a person perfect (nor should it). We should remember that sometimes even good people do bad things.
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When all is said and done, there’s still a philosophical lesson to be learned – if only for the opportunity to ask what do we do when our idols are “problematic”?

I still don’t know.

If you figure out the answer let me know.

 

 

 

 

* I mean the term “YouTube famous” un-disparagingly, but to merely state that Steve Shives has a sizable following on YouTube. I, for one, am rather jealous of Shives’ following. I’m not even “Wordpress famous”.
I would also recommend checking out Shives’ commentary on David Bowie: 

 

 

 

SOURCES:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/01/17/david-bowie-and-rock-n-roll-s-statutory-rape-problem.html

God Rest Ye Merry Kierkegaard

I WOULD BE LYING IF I said that I am a Christmas person. I’m not.

At all.

I don’t like Christmas.

Of course, none of this has anything to do with the fact that I do philosophy. I started not liking the Yuletide season long before I ever opened up a book of philosophical whatnot. Being a Christmas person is just not in my bones.

I speculate that at least some of my dislike has to do with Christmas carols.
That Christmas Shoes song…

ugh.

 

worst christmas song ever 1

 

Although, I maintain that my love of philosophy has nothing to do with my non-fondness of Christmas, some folks would like you believe that it‘s all because of philosophy.

That being a philosopher is the quickest path to eternal damnation.

 

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LIKE THIS MOVIE

 

Head’s up: some of you may not know this, but there are many philosophers who not only celebrate Christmas but also accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.

That’s right, Kevin Sorbo.

Philosophers are Christians, too.

Like this guy

 

kierkegaard

 

and this guy

 

plantinga

 

and this guy

craig
There’s actually more than a few Christian philosophers out there.

And not all of them are dead.

 

Kind of like God.

 

nietzsche-is-dead

 
Although the common (mis)perception of philosophers is that philosophers are a bunch of God-hating academics that delight in nothing more than de-Christianizing freshman students.

 

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Yes, Kevin Sorbo. I’m still talking about you.

 

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Actually reading philosophy would inform even the most hardcore philosophers-hate-Jesus/morality folks that philosophy is also chocked full of some of the same Christian values that we teach/preach when we celebrate the birth of Christ.

Unless you’re reading Nietzsche.

 

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IT’S PROBABLY A SAFE BET THAT OLD FRED WOULD HAVE HATED THIS SWEATER

 
All the God talk at Christmastime isn’t just a great opportunity to contemplate the metaphysics of man’s existence and the universe, it’s also the perfect opportunity to contemplate one’s philosophical beliefs while also acknowledging the religious and philosophical influence of the central moral figure of the western world.

That figure would be Jesus.

 

jesus philosophy

 

 

If you think about it, Christian Christmas ethics, with its principle of peace and good will towards men, is (basically) the foundation of every ethical theory.

 

christmas ayn

EVERY ETHICAL THEORY MAYBE EXCEPT FOR OBJECTIVISM. PRETTY SURE AYN RAND WOULD TELL JESUS F#!K YOU

 

Pick a moral philosopher – Mill, Bentham, Kant, Tillich… you name it. Every ethical theory is all about doing good for our fellow man.

 

The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.

 

Heck, Kant even wrote that our actions must first come from disposition of good will.

 

Nothing in the world – indeed nothing even beyond the world – can possibly be
conceived which could be called good without qualification except a GOOD WILL.

It’s not just getting presents that get philosophers all jazzed about Christmas.

It’s also about all the philosophy to be found this time of year!
Christmas stories of characters like Ebenezer Scrooge and The Grinch teach us about forgiveness and redemption.

ETHICS!

Modern Christmas classics like A Christmas Story and A Charlie Brown Christmas teach us the moral lesson of discovering what’s important in life.

MORE ETHICS!

Rankin-Bass’ Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer gives us a lesson in what to do when our beliefs are challenged by countervailing evidence and finding one’s place in the world.

EPISTEMOLOGY!
METAPHYSICS!

That’s all stuff that philosophers talk about.

 

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YES. IF YOU BECOME A PHILOSOPHER YOUR ARMS WILL LOOK EXACTLY LIKE THIS

 

So, if you hear anyone say that it’s improper for a philosopher to celebrate the holidays, tell them “Bah, humbug!” and hang another bauble on the Christmas tree. Offer the naysayer a mug of eggnog and explain, despite what Chick Tracts may have them believe, that there is nothing immoral about philosophy.
Still doesn’t mean a philosopher has to like Christmas, though.