ON BUNNIES, BAMBI, AND THE ETHICS OF NOT SAYING ANYTHING AT ALL

EVERYBODY’S GOT A story about the movie that traumatized you as a kid.
The movies The Neverending Story and The Dark Crystal are sure-fire picks for everybody’s short list.

The Secret of NIMH.

Coraline.

If you want to watch real cinema-induced trauma, watch the movie “The Adventures of Mark Twain”. The movie is rated G, but you’ll soon ask how a movie that disturbing was rated for general audiences.

Traumatic cinema isn’t a new thing. Filmmakers have been making nightmare fuel for tots for decades. By my estimate they’ve been at it since at least 1942.

That was the year Walt Disney Studios released Bambi.

Walt Disney’s Bambi, based on the book Bambi, A Life in the Woods by Felix Salten, was Disney’s fifth animated film. The studio’s four previous films, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Dumbo, all have their fair share of scary moments.

Kids turning into jackasses, anyone?

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But Bambi tops all that. Bambi has the one thing that scares the living daylights out of children who are aware of human mortality:

The death of parent.

Somebody shoots Bambi’s mom.

 

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SERIOUSLY, WHAT KIND OF SICK S.O.B. PUTS SOMETHING LIKE THIS IN A KIDS MOVIE???

 

Luckily, that’s not what I’m going to talk about.

I’m going to write about a lighter topic: lies.

Or rather, about a particular kind of lie.

In the movie, Thumper, Bambi’s annoyingly adorable bunny friend, when his mother admonishes him for describing the Prince of the Forest’s walk as not “very good”, repeats his father’s bit of moral advice: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all”.

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Bad grammar aside, Thumper’s father’s ethic (also called the Thumperian principle, Thumper’s rule or Thumper’s law) sounds like the nice thing to do. But a philosopher’s gotta think: is not saying anything at all the morally right thing to do?

First off, Thumper is right. Bambi’s walk was wobbly.

Bambi, a newborn deer, had the typical gait of a newborn deer – not very good.

Thumper merely offered his honest opinion.

Honest.

Spilled the T, as the kids say these days.
…actually, now that I’m thinking about it, Thumper threw some serious shade.

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Honesty usually isn’t considered a bad thing.

We often say honesty is the best policy, and if we consider being honest the same as telling the truth, we should also value honesty as a stone on the path to wisdom.
Remember, philosophers are all about loving wisdom.

If we say honesty is the best policy, we say it knowing that the truth is often difficult to hear.

 

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YOU CAN’T POSSIBLY TALK ABOUT PEOPLE NOT LIKING THE TRUTH WITHOUT INCLUDING THIS… IT’S THE LAW

 

Although we say that the truth hurts; that we’re offering tough love or “constructive criticism”, we praise straight shooters, people who “tell it like it is” and “call it like they see it”.

Of course, we wouldn’t want people to tell the truth all the time. Even Plato recognized the usefulness and necessity of lies.

To the rulers of the state then, if to any, it belongs of right to use falsehood, to deceive either enemies or their own citizens, for the good of the state: and no one else may meddle with this privilege. − Plato

If I’ve learned anything from watching Jim Carrey movies, I’ve learned that not being able to lie can be just as bad as lying. Should we say that those jeans really do make our wife’s ass look fat? Should we tell our three-year-old that Sparky didn’t go to doggie heaven? Should we tell the truth even if the truth isn’t nice?
Is it better to think it and not say it?

Should we just omit the truth?

There is a line between being tactful and lying. We lie when we withhold the truth. But not telling the truth isn’t an outright lie − it’s not saying anything.

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But isn’t omission a lie?

What is lying by omission?

Lying by omission, otherwise known as exclusionary detailing, is lying by either omitting certain facts or by failing to correct a misconception

Let’s get back to the original Thumperian principle: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all”. Thumper isn’t omitting facts or failing to correct a misconception. The matter at hand concerns Thumper’s opinion.

If Thumper followed his father’s admonition, he wouldn’t have lied by omission.

He wouldn’t have been rude, either.

That kinda was Thumper’s mom’s point, wasn’t it?

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Ok. Thumper isn’t a liar. But something’s still bugging me about what Thumper said. Or rather, something’ bugging me about abiding by the Thumperian principle. Sometimes we need to tell some of those not nice truths.

After all, we’re not just talking about not hurting someone’s feelings. In the long run, it doesn’t matter whether someone wears a pair of ill-fitting jeans. It’s not just a matter of bad manners.

We’re talking about philosophical integrity.

When we declare a principle like, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all” we’re declaring a philosophical position. We’re saying we believe being nice − being nice; being aware of the feelings of others and respecting others as we want to be respected − is a good thing.

And by good, we mean it’s the morally correct thing to do.

The Bible tells us it’s good to be nice to people. Mathew 7:12 says,

“do unto others as you would have them do unto you”

Being nice isn’t just a very Christian thing to do, it’s the Kantian thing to do.
The German philosopher. Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), created the Categorical Imperative as a means of establishing a basis of ethics (not based in religion or consequentialism) that would apply to all people, universally.

Kant’s Categorical Imperative states, “act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law”

Yeah, it sounds a lot like the Golden Rule, but Kantians INSIST that it’s not the same thing.

Another Formula Kant’s Categorical Imperative, the Formulation of Ends, states: “Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end.”

In short, according to Kant and the Bible, we’re morally obligated to treat others with respect – an element of which is not lying to people.

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It’s important that we be nice to people, but it is also important that we tell people the truth.

That’s because the truth is illuminating.

Plato demonstrates the illuminating effect of the truth in the Allegory of the Cave.

In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, from Book VII in The Republic, Socrates describes the story of a group of prisoners trapped inside a cave.

The prisoners are unable to leave the cave because they are chained to a wall and unable to face in any direction other than to face straight ahead. The only images the prisoners see are the shadows projected on the wall in front of them, illuminated by the light from a fire behind them.

The shadowy images on the wall are the only reality the prisoners know.

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The prisoners eventually escape the confines of the cave and are brought into the light of day.

Light of Day… good song, awful movie.

At first, the brilliant light of the sun pains their eyes and they are confused by what they see. The prisoners realized that the world inside the cave isn’t reality at all.

There’s a bit more to Plato’s allegory, however, misinterpreted to its most basic components, Plato’s tale of the chained prisoners demonstrates the effect of truth, and how the truth, even if initially hurts us, is essential for a good (i.e. philosophical) life.

So, what does all this have to say about Thumper?

Well, for starters, Thumper was rude. Additionally, he wasn’t really stating anything that wasn’t obvious to even the most unobservant forest dweller. Thumper’s unsolicited opinion based on his observation of the newborn fawn’s walk doesn’t seem controversial – primarily because it was an opinion.

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But − should we be concerned about the feelings of others? Should we hold opinions to a different standard than we hold the truth? Should we, as Maurice Switzer suggested, “remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it”?

Honestly, I really can’t say exactly what a philosopher should think about what Thumper said. Maybe, just for the sake of preventing meaningless (and all too often pedantic) philosophical arguments, we should follow Thumper’s dad’s advice.

Seriously, where was Thumper’s dad???

 

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I THINK I HAVE AN IDEA…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOURCES:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thumper_(Disney)

https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Lying_by_omission

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THE REQUEST LINES ARE OPEN

WHEN YOU WRITE ABOUT something long enough you realize that there’s always something to write about, and that you will never have enough time to write about all the things that are rattling around inside your mind.

After a while you inevitably accumulate an “I was gonna write about that” list.

And that list turns in to things started and stopped, deleted and rewritten.

The next book you’re “working on”

That blog post you’ve been plugging away at for days…weeks… months….

years.

Another thing you realize when your write about stuff is that there’s a lot of stuff that other people want you to write about, too.

That becomes your “Things I might write about” list.

Might usually means never.

Unless, of course, you take requests.

Which is something I haven’t done.

I might.

You see, unlike other people who identify their vocation as “writer”; those people who deal in original thoughts, my writing necessarily depends on the work of others. I write about pop culture. Movies, t.v. shows, books, music, politics, current events – it’s all there for the writing.
All of it.

…and that’s part of the problem.

I don’t keep up with the Kardashians

I’ve never seen an episode of Game of Thrones

Or Stranger Things

 

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I HAVE NO IDEA WHO THIS KID IS, SO DON’T EVEN ASK ME TO WRITE ABOUT IT

 

I hear The Good Place is good, but I still haven’t seen it

I haven’t seen the last Thor flick

Or listened to Taylor Swift’s latest album

I don’t regret that last one, though.

Hey, haters gonna hate.

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Although I think I’ve watched enough The Walking Dead to write a treatise on Rick Grimes thick enough to make Kant envious*.

Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, there are only so many hours that a person, even a pop culture junkie like myself, can devote to watching movies and t.v. shows, listening to music, and reading books.

Especially when you’re devoted to watching, reading, listening to, and thinking about things philosophically.

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I’m so busy over-analyzing episodes of Star Trek, Breaking Bad, Rick and Morty, watching Fight Club for the one-hundred seventh time, purposefully avoiding Star Trek: Discovery, and digging into the hidden meaning in Beatles songs to deep enough give Charles Manson a run for his money, that everything else gets placed on the perpetual backburner of things I might write about.

Might.

Then there’s that real-world stuff I’m supposed to be doing – school, work, having anything resembling an actual social life…

In the end, figuring out the philosophical subtext of things takes bit out of you.

Even if you’re two seasons behind on American Horror Story.

I’m two seasons behind…

 

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THIS MAY HAVE THE APPERANCE OF NOT HAVING AN ACTIVE SOCIAL LIFE, BUT REST ASSURED, THERE IS SERIOUS, DEEP PHILOSOPHICAL RESEARCH GOING ON

 

Now, I guess if I was (or is it were? I dunno. I’m a philosopher, not a grammar person) inclined to be a butthole about things I’d say to every person who said, “you should write about this” should write about that themselves.

But that would be, as Birdperson said, “a dick move”.

Besides, as a watcher of popular media who has done enough complaining about things to have heard my fill of fandom’s variation of the No True Scotsman Fallacy, the No True Fan, I’m not that much of an asshole to off-handedly dismiss a request or suggestion by declaring that someone simply “write it yourself”.

An amazing feat, considering I’m also a fan of Schopenhauer.

All said and done, I appreciate requests. Namely, a request means that someone is reading my blog.

but also, a request means that there’s at least one someone else out there who likes thinking of things philosophically.

And that can’t be all that bad a thing.

So, I guess it’s not such an awful thing to be the Wolfman Jack of philosophy.

I guess the request lines are now open.

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So! Tell me what thing written about philosophically that you want to read about and I might write about it.

 

Might.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*I’m trying like hell to do just that: I’ve written at least ten (I don’t know, maybe more, maybe less) posts about The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, specific characters from both series, and zombies in general. I don’t exactly know what all this writing about the show is going to do for me, other than to say that I have absolutely nothing going on in my life on Sunday nights.

THE HALLOWEEN POST (Something, something, something, clever philosophical play-on-words)

I’VE FINALLY REACHED that point when I’m willing to admit that I am, indeed, too old to go trick-or-treating.

I’m also at the age when the thought of binge eating a bag full of candy brings on images of managing my blood sugar rather than the thought of a fun size Snickers™ induced sugar rush.

I’m also know enough to know that a sugar high is not a real thing.

Not just me saying this: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2014/feb/25/do-children-really-get-sugar-rush-hyperactivity

October is nearly over, and I not only wanted to write something for the month of October, but I also I wanted to write something about Halloween.

And since I’ve been doing so much thinking about things, I wanted to think about Halloween philosophically.

Obviously, that’s where I ran into a bit of a problem.

First off, without a shred of embarrassment, I’m gonna say it right now, Halloween is my favorite holiday.

More than Christmas. More than Valentine’s Day or the Fourth of July, my favorite day of the year is the lone day when assuming a different identity and panhandling is not only accepted but encouraged.

 

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ENJOY IT NOW, KIDS. THIS IS THE ONLY TIME IN YOUR LIFE YOU WILL BE REWARDED FOR BEGGING DOOR TO DOOR

 

I enjoy dressing up in costumes.

I enjoy scaring small children.

I enjoy eating candy.

Diabetic coma be damned.

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MY PANCEREAS HURTS

Now, there’s a field of philosophy that deals with fear − the philosophy of fear. But that has to do with stuff like the social contract and Hobbes – state of nature kind of stuff.
And there’s a philosophy of horror. But that has to do with how we emotionally respond to something that we know isn’t real, like a horror movie.

 

Philosophers call that “irrational” response is called the paradox of fiction.

Sooo… do philosophers have anything to say about Halloween?

I mean, come on. Philosophers write about everything!

EVERYTHING.

However, if my brief Google search of the words “philosophy” and “Halloween” is any indication of what philosophers think about All Hallows Eve, I find, not a brief Kantian treatise on the proper sexy fireman costume, but to line of skin care products.

 

You can imagine my disappointment.

 

Well…there are plenty of books, movies, and t.v. shows that are (either) Halloween themed or popular this time of year that have philosophical under or overtones.

Frankenstein.
The Saw flicks.
The zombie films of George A. Romero.

Heck, I’ve even written about zombies…

 

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NOPE. WE’RE NOT DONE WRITING ABOUT DARYL DIXON YET

Feminist philosophers talk about sexism in Halloween costumes.

 

*NOT PICTURED: SEXY SOCRATES HALLOWEEN COSTUME

And some philosophy-lovin’ folks out there have put together some pretty snazzy philosophy-themed, not sexist Halloween costumes.

 

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IT TAKES A CLEVER GAL OR FELLOW TO WORK UP A PHILOSOPHY COSTUME THAT WORKS ON TWO LEVELS

 

But when I looked for quotes from the go-to, everybody-knows-their-names philosophers (Kant, Nietzsche, Hegel, you know the names) about Halloween itself, sadly I couldn’t find anything.

Although I found this one quote.

Baudrillard said this about Halloween:

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That’s… harsh.

So, my fellow philosophy-loving friends, have you found anything written by philosophers about Halloween?

If you have, let us know in the comments.

 

Oh, we forgot to say, Happy Halloween, everybody!

 

 

For further reading on The Paradox of Fiction: http://www.iep.utm.edu/fict-par/

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.

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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.

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*NOT ACCURATE

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

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

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7. There is a real problem with academic philosophy.

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

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

Like they say, haters gonna hate.

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

Or at least to figure out David Lynch flicks.

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WHAT. THE. F@#K?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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YEAH. NOBODY’S GONNA TALK TO THIS GUY

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

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CHICKS DEFINITELY WANT TO TALK TO THIS GUY

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

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

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

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

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

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THERE ARE INNUMERABLE MORAL IMPLICATIONS OF FUCKING THIS BRIDGE

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

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

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

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

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.

 

3-air-guitar

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”.

 

apollo-13-houston-we-have-a-problem-tom-hanks

 

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.

 

grinds my gears

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.
tumblr_inline_mxe0qqbxnq1qcryb6

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

I F@&#ING LOVE PHILOSOPHY

philosophers vs welders

 

 

I’VE BEEN WRITING The Mindless Philosopher blog for some time now. And I’m not ashamed to say that after one book and years of blogging that I have developed a true love of wisdom. I have more philosophy books on my bookshelf than any other genre of literature.

It wasn’t always the case, though.

My first intellectual love wasn’t philosophy. It was politics.

I LOVED politics.

The mere thought of a presidential election cycle gave me the all over tinglies.

However, my love of all things political eventually faded and I found happiness with another, older, love

PHILOSOPHY.

 

From the moment I read my first line of Hume, I was hooked. I’ve been through Kant and Russell. Descartes and Kierkegaard. Aristotle and Kripke. I truly believe that there’s no greater intellectual satisfaction than actually understanding Hegel.

I can’t put it any other way than to say

 

i fucking love philosophy

 

This is why it distresses me so much to hear practitioners of my first love speak with such harshness towards something I hold so dear to my heart.

On November 10, 2015, during the Republican Presidential debate, Florida Senator, Marco Rubio said:

 

Rubio debate 1

 

Needless to say, I took the Senator’s sentiments personally.

I was perplexed. Hurt. I sat and stared at my TV set, baffled by what I had just seen.

 

my-mad-fat-diary-rae-what-face

 

Rubio’s inexplicable attack on philosophers was not his first, nor was Senator Rubio’s comment the only anti-philosopher sentiment expressed during the debate. Senator Ted Cruz (R, Texas), asserted that the Federal Reserve is being run by “a series of philosopher kings.” Said Senator Cruz

What the fed is doing now, it is a series of philosopher kings trying to guess what’s happening to the economy.

tumblr_nangn827x01rfduvxo1_250

 

The candidates might have talked all about budgets and foreign policy, but for me, the overwhelming message I took from the debate was

 

philosophy

 

I could have gotten angry about what I believed was straight-up philosophy bashing. I didn’t though. I didn’t because I think I know what Senator Rubio is trying to get at.

Assuming that Senator Rubio isn’t just on an anti-philosopher kick, the Senator is expressing his frustration over the fact that our culture does not value manual labor. We over value occupations where people talk and pontificate (and in some cases, literally don’t produce anything) over occupations where people actually do things – make stuff.

 

stuff2band2bthings

 

Truth be told, Plato’s philosopher-king doesn’t really bother himself with manual tasks.

 

cm-52261-05130280d33ed6

 

The problem with pursuing a college degree in philosophy, according to the philosophy non-enthusiasts, is that students take out loans to study subjects that seemingly have no prospects for occupations in the “real” world or outside of academia. They leave university swamped with student loan debt that they are unable to pay (because the lack of professional philosopher gigs). This is a burden not only on individuals, but also on the economy.

 

philosophers-famous-photos-wife1

 

The perception that philosophy is a surefire path to poverty is why there’s been a push among educators to direct students into the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, with the intention of producing students who will be competitive in the international job market and secure the nation’s economic prosperity.

 

phil pic 124

THIS IS WHY YOUR TEACHERS WANT YOU TO LEARN GEOMETRY

 

 

The belief that philosophy is not a economically viable career is why politicians want to see students to learn how to do this:

 

computer engineer

 

Instead of doing this:

 

philosophers under tree.jpg

 

Ok, you know how I said that Senator Rubio’s sentiments weren’t complete bullshit?

Well, of course, saying something isn’t complete bullshit suggests the possibility that something may be just a little bit bullshit.

And in this case, that happens to be true.

There’s a noticeable bit of bullshit to what Senator Marco Rubio said.

 

rubio grammar

THERE CERTAINLY WAS SOME BULLSHIT. AND NOT JUST RUBIO’S BAD GRAMMAR

 

You see, there’s something that Senator Marco Rubio is forgetting, namely, the fact that philosophy is the mother of many disciplines. The first politicians were philosophers. You’d be one hell of an idiot to dismiss how PHILOSOPHERS like Plato, Aristotle, Mill, Locke, Hobbes, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, Bentham, Rousseau, Marx, Ayn Rand, John Rawls (and many other philosophers) have shaped and influenced political institutions and political discourse.

 

Senator Rubio can’t neglect the fact that American statesmen – and philosophers – Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Thomas Paine did better for the country by pursuing philosophical contemplation rather than taking up a career in welding.

 

thomas jefferson. philosopher

Ummmm…… yeah

 

Philosophy, as Jefferson was well aware, stresses critical thinking – an essential element for a lasting democracy.

Thomas Jefferson declared

“wherever the people are well-informed they can be trusted with their own government.”

It’s not unreasonable to assume that a well-informed people, in Jefferson’s view, are also a contemplative people. People who use their faculties to reason when casting their votes.

 

tumblr_inline_mpf70ibwyr1qz4rgp

 

 

And let’s not forget that Leo Strauss, the father of Neo-Conservatism, a political view Senator Rubio is quite familiar with, was a philosophy professor at University of Chicago.

 

strauss-large

ON SECOND THOUGHT, MAYBE STRAUSS SHOULD HAVE TAKEN UP WELDING

 

Seriously, even economists started out as philosophers.

 

download (11)

 

Philosophy’s mark can be found in many fields including medicine, psychology, mathematics, even physics.

Now that I’m thinking of it, Senator Rubio’s fellow republican presidential contender, Carly Fiorina, is a philosophy major. Fiorina received her philosophy degree from Stanford University in 1976.

 

 

qbmmxuo

 

Seriously, the real reason why Senator Rubio’s comments are more than a tad bit on the bullshit side, is because what he said just isn’t true.

Philosophy, despite beliefs to the contrary, can be a economically viable career.

 

money-gif

 

And not just for those in academia.

 

Check out this graph:

philosopher vs welder 2

 

And this pie chart:

welders vs. philosophers

 

Professional philosophers earn on average, $71,000/yr. versus the average $40,000 yearly salary earned by professional welders. The average salary over time for a worker with bachelor’s degree in philosophy is nearly $100,000 per year.

In addition to not-too-shabby yearly earnings, philosophy majors earn high (if not the highest scores) on exams, including the Law Schools Admission Test (LSAT), Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) and the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

 

power of philosophy

 

And it’s not like philosophers just sit under a tree, being broke all day, contemplating their big toe. Philosophers aren’t limited to just being philosophers. There are many successful folks with philosophy degrees in fields outside of philosophy.

 

Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel has a degree in philosophy.

peter thiel

 

As does LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.

 

reid hoffman

 

And Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield.

 

stewart butterfield

 

And Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger.

larry sanger

 

And activist investor Carl Icahn.

 

carl icahn

 

So does billionaire George Soros.

 

george soros

 

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer also has a degree in philosophy.

 

stephen breyer

 

Pope John Paul II also majored in philosophy.

 

pope john paul II

 

And you can’t get any more successful than that.

 

txtvbdl

 

*For a more comprehensive list of successful philosophy majors see: 

http://www.apaonline.org/?whostudiesphilosophy

 

If you think about it, the point of the welder-philosopher conflict isn’t that we should praise one and discourage the other, but that we should appreciate both.

 

85833-is-it-too-much-to-ask-for-both-2yvg

 

Yes, the world needs welders. A lot of them. Vocational work is not only necessary but also valuable work. But so is philosophy. Philosophy is essential to the kind of life we should want to live.

 

socrates johnson

BE HONEST. THIS IS THE KIND OF LIFE YOU WANT TO LIVE, ISN’T IT?

 

Society needs people who will question, analyze; argue. Philosophy teaches critical thinking and intellectual clarity. Philosophy empowers us to understand not just the foundations of our political institutions, but also to examine our moral choices and the moral implications of what we do (by the way, ethics is a branch of philosophy). Philosophers ponder life’s big questions.

 

giphy

 

Even theology can’t escape the influence of philosophy. Many theologians, past and present, were and are also philosophers.

 

thomas aquinas

WE’RE PRETTY SURE THAT THE REASON WHY SUMMA THEOLOGICA WAS NEVER FINISHED HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH ST. THOMAS AQUINAS’ OBSESSION WITH WELDING

 

Really, in the end, folks, there’s no rule that says that a person can’t be a welder and a philosopher.

 

ThinkerWelderWeb

 

Some folks might think that the economy-er… world would be better off with less philosophers, but I say that’s just a load of poppycock. Being a philosopher doesn’t mean that one looks down from their academic ivory tower, scoffing at all the not-deep thinking people who work with their hands and take their showers after they come home from work. Nor does being a welder mean that a person can’t enjoy reading Plato and contemplating the meaning of life. I may be going out on a limb here, but I’ll say, with more than a little bit of certainty, that there at least a few welders out there who would join me when I proclaim that I – I mean, WE FUCKING LOVE PHILOSOPHY.

 

 

 

 

SOURCES:
http://www.vox.com/2015/11/10/9709948/marco-rubio-philosophy-welder

http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2015/11/10/3721387/why-marco-rubio-owes-philosophy-majors-an-apology/

http://dailynous.com/2015/09/04/salaries-of-philosophy-majors-over-time/

http://www.techinsider.io/insanely-successful-philosophy-majors-2015-11