I’m Better When I’m Drunk

I HAVE AN IDEA. It might not be an original idea (I think it is, but then again, it might not be) but I gonna say my maybe-not-original idea anyway. Here it is:

Wait. First, a question: do you know that show Drunk History?

No? It’s on Comedy Central. You should check it out.

Ok…back to my idea…

This might take awhile, so hear me out, here.

Well, on the show Drunk History, a famous person (or kinda famous person) gets drunk and tells…history.

You see, the point if the show is that they tell the story of a historical event… While they’re drunk!

It’s supposed to be funny

It often is.

That’s because binge drinking is funny.

So…that said, here’s my idea: HIGH PHILOSOPHY.

It’d be like drunk history, but instead of drunken famous (?) guests recollecting historical events, people get high and talk about… philosophy.

Picture this: a half-hour of professional, recreational, and armchair philosophers telling tales of great people and events in philosophy– ON WEED.

Everyone would watch it, right?

It’d get higher ratings than that M*A*S*H finale, man.

…and higher guest stars.

ALRIGHT…I want to clear up something before I go any further with this: I’m not talking about people getting high and pontificating on things. We’ve all either done or seen this enough times already. And I’m not talking about a bunch of dudes getting high and talking about dumb shit like what kind of dog is Goofy.

Conversations like that sound deep and philosophical but they’re not.

And I’m not talking about any body using hard-core drugs.

Although the idea of watching someone tripping on acid while talking about Diogenes is beyond appealing.

What I am talking about is a couple of dudes getting high (on marijuana – in a state where it’s legal) and talking about philosophy.

It may not seem like it, but this actually is a great idea.

For starters, the philosophy market is wide open. Virtually NOBODY is doing philosophy outside of academis, and no one is doing it on tv.

The Good Place is in its last season, folks. Once it’s off the air, no more prime-time philosophy.

Secondly, there are some pretty interesting characters in philosophy.

Zizek already is a household name.

I mean, come on… just looking at David Chalmers, don’t you want to hear what he has to say about the Kalaam Cosmological Argument?

What’s more, being in a state of high places an individual in a philosophical state.

The likelihood of pontifications on the meaning of life are increased almost ten-fold if an individual is under the influence of mind-altering substances!

Most folks wouldn’t think so, but there are plenty of  partially amusing stories in philosophy that could be made marginally more interesting if told by someone who is under the influence of The Pot:

  • The Death of Socrates
  • Descartes’ method of doubt and his cogito argument (all that evil demon stuff — evil demons are funny if you’re high)
  • Nietzsche dies of a venereal disease…maybe
  • Kierkegaard and Regina
  • Schopenhauer vs. Hegel
  • Bertrand Russell’s amazing sex life (at least I hear he had an amazing sex life…who cares, they’re high, right?)
  • Diogenes of Sinope
  • Sartre and de Beauvoir
  • Sartre’s amazing sex life
  • Foucault
  • Why Camus is the Ryan Gossling of philosophy
  • Anything about Zizek, probably

If nobody has already done this show, somebody needs to whatever the not-porn equivalent to Rule 34 is to this idea and make HIGH PHILOSOPHY: the series happen.

Oh god, Rule 34 philosophy is an even better idea!

I mean, Kant already sounds like a dirty word…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Everybody’s out there philosophizing and I’m just sitting here…

I THINK I’M NEGLECTING my philosophical duty to be a gadfly.

I mean, I think I should be saying something about some stuff. Denying the local gods… corrupting the youth — that sort of stuff — philosopher things. I mean, what’s not to talk about?

There’s a lot of political stuff going on out there.

It’s not that I want to avoid saying anything, it’s just that I…don’t.

I know that’s not very a Socratic thing of me to do. Socrates was a speak your mind kind of guy. At least I think he was. Of course, all I know about Socrates is from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

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DUST. WIND. DUDE. YEP. THAT’S ALL I KNOW

Socrates spoke his mind. He challenged the MAN out there in ancient Athens. So much so the city of Athens put Socrates to death. They made him drink hemlock. Socrates’ followers begged him to not drink it, but he did it anyway. That’s because Socrates believed in what he believed in and accepted his death sentence like a real philosopher should.

He wasn’t a punk about it.

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SOCRATES AND THE ORIGINAL TOXIC FANDOM

These days, drinking hemlock is easy. You could get your own reality tv show about that.

The fear these days is being doxxed.

Well, until that Equifax data breach. You can bet your personal info is out there now.

The thing is, it’s not that I don’t want to say anything. I do. I’ve got plenty to say about EVERYTHING.

I am philosopher, after all.

I have a political science degree (the second most useless degree). That almost guarantees that I’ve got more than a few things to say about politics. Jf you think about it, how can anyone look at the state of international events and the Trump Administration and not have something to say?

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YOU SAY YOU HAVE THE BEST WORDS, MR. PRESIDENT? CHALLENGE ACCEPTED

All this shit going on around the world is enough to bring out the inner Socrates in anybody.

And yet, I am silent.

…bout politics anyway.

I could have a TEDx talk. I could be the cool kids’ philosopher. I could reach the same level of the pop culture popularity as Slavoj Žižek..if I said something.

But I don’t.

But I’m not out there delivering my life-affirming, yet philosophically enlightening talk on the TEDx stage. I’m not Ben Shapiro, the cool kids’ philosopher. I finally have to admit that, at this point, I’m never gonna be as zeitgeisty as Žižek.

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PICTURED: A ZEITGEISTY ZIZEK MEME

The philosopher’s place in society is to ask questions and to challenge the fundamental assumptions upon which we derive our “knowledge” of things, but I’m having none of that.

It seems like everybody’s out there philosophizing and I’m just sitting here masturbating.

Wait — whoops.

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Alright. I might have overshared a bit, but my POINT is that I feel like I should be saying something about what’s going on.

Something philosophical.

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WHY? Well, the why I feel like I feel I’m neglecting my philosophical duty to say something about current events is because everybody else is saying something, but philosophers have been (strangely and inexplicably) silent.

I don’t want to hate, but when we get to the point when reality tv show people are asked for their opinions on the Trump tax cut — on the news — I think it’s time to have at least one philosopher spend a few minutes chatting it up with Chuck Todd. About anything.

What does Saul Kripke think about this season of The Bachelorette?

I dunno. But, it makes as much sense asking Kripke about The Bachelorette as it does asking any other rando about politics

Especially about politics.

You see, philosophers were the first political scientists. Not many people know this, but philosophers INVENTED politics. Have you read The Republic? Second Treatise of Government? A Theory of Justice? Alright, nobody has. But they were all written by philosophers!

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PHOTO OF SOCRATES EXPLAINING TO INTERLOCUTOR WHO INVENTED POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY (circa 380 BCE, colorized)

 

Philosophers were the first people to write about the law. Do you like Law and Order? Do you watch Judge Judy?

Thank a philosopher for that.

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You like The Matrix? Are you a Trekkie? Ever wondered where John Locke got his name from on the tv show Lost? Enjoying The Good Place? Have you ever considered the moral implications of not killing Marty at the end of The Cabin In the Woods?

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ACTUALLY, WE KNOW WHAT HAPPENED WHEN MARTY DIDN’T DIE

THAT’S ALL BECAUSE OF PHILOSOPHERS.

Wait…

I know what you’re saying… How can I claim that there are no philosophers out there saying anything about anything? “The cool kids’ philosopher” (aka, Ben Shapiro) is out there destroying folks with FACTS and LOGIC. So is Jordan Peterson. Heck, Slavoj Žižek is all over the place enough to generate a dank meme stash.

 

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PICTURED: A DANK ZIZEK MEME

I can’t say I’ve never seen Cornel West on MSNBC.

Cornel West is on The Matrix DVD commentary, for goodness sake!

Isn’t that enough philosophy?

After all, didn’t Hawking say that philosophy is dead?

It’s not like philosophy is as popular as Lizzo and NOBODY is demanding philosophers  join the MCU.

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DEFEATING THANOS WITH THE POWER OF INDIFFERENCE

 

OK. Reality check time. I know that even the most popular contemporary philosopher (yes, even best-selling author Jordan Peterson)  isn’t as popular as the least well-known Jonas Brother. I know that philosophers, especially philosophers in academia, ain’t EVER going to be popular ’round here.

Not as long as philosophers don’t look like this:

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Or like this….

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Let’s be honest, Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson are philosophers but they’re not PHILOSOPHERS. And PHILOSOPHERS are the kind of philosophers I’m talking about. Sure, Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life is fine, and kudos to Russell Brand for diving head-long into the role of public intellectual, but where are the folks who actually studied philosophy????

Jordan Peterson is a psychologist.

Not knocking psychology, but a psychologist ain’t a philosopher.

Ok, except for William James.

Where are the ethicists to tell us about the morality of the Trump tariffs? Where are the epistemologists to chat with Rachel Maddow about the known unknowns?

Why doesn’t Judith Butler have her own reality tv show?

Why isn’t Žižek on Ellen?

Come on, this guy was made for tv.

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Where’s the philosopher “grab her by the pussy” tape?*

But, alas…. there are no philosophers on tv. Or anywhere else in the public square.

I think I know why.

Philosophers aren’t on tv (or anywhere else in public) in part, because of the perception that philosophy is tedious and boring and irrelevant. Unfortunately, philosophers haven’t done much to change this perception. Philosophers, unlike other dork professions like astronomy, quantum physics, and whatever field of science Bill Nye the Science Guy actually does, ain’t leaving the academy to chat with normal folks. Philosophers don’t talk about philosophy with people who aren’t philosophers.

it’s kind of like philosophers just talk to themselves.

kind of  like….masturbating.

…at least intellectually.

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Philosophy has got a terminal case of academicitis.

And that’s what it is, I think. Even though I’m not a professional philosopher, I’m still a product of the academia. And, as a product of the academia, I carry the academic attitude — namely, the attitude that the only people who are worthy of having philosophical conversations with are other philosophers.

What’s stopping me from speaking out is I’m a snob.

This attitude isn’t uncommon in philosophy. Philosophers tend to be a snobby bunch of assholes.

Trust me, most philosophers are assholes.

(seriously, Google “philosophers are assholes” and see what comes up in your search results)

The fact that philosophers are (on whole) intellectual masturbating assholes is kinda odd, considering that Bertrand Russell suggested that philosophy should be for everyone. Russell wrote:

…even in the time that can easily be spared without injury to the learning of technical skills, philosophy can give certain things that will greatly increase the student’s value as a human being and as a citizen.

Now, I know that being an asshole (especially an intellectual masturbating one) is the wrong way to go, and I know Bertrand Russell said that philosophy shouldn’t be exclusively for philosophers, but gash darn if I’m still not throwing my philosophical two cents in when it comes to politics and other current events.

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I should be shouting nuggets of philosophical wisdom from the rooftops! I should be telling the not-philosopher people how and what a philosopher should think about all things political. I should be enlightening the people on the foundations of democracy. I should be telling everyone on how studying Lock and Montesquieu will change their lives. Regular folks tweet gossip about Taylor Swift and Kardashians. I should tweet about Hegel and Peter van Inwagen.  I shouldn’t be able to say more than three sentences in a conversation without paraphrasing Kant  — but I’m not. I’m not saying anything. Not even in this blog.

I SHOULD HAVE A PODCAST DEVOTED EXCLUSIVELY TO TALKING ABOUT POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY! I SHOULD BE THE FOX NEWS (equivalent) OF PHILOSOPHY, DAMMIT!!!!

But I don’t.

And because of this, I can’t help from thinking that I’m neglecting my philosophical duty to be a gadfly.

I mean, there’s a lot going on out there to talk about.

And why should Jordan Petersen be the only guy in the spotlight?

But I guess if I’m gonna be on camera, I gotta work on my abs.

And I really should stop being a snob.

And I should stop masturbating.

…intellectually speaking, that is.

 

 

 

 

*This comment originally had the name John Searle in it: “Where is John Searle’s ‘grab her by the pussy’ tape”?  I originally wrote this line based on the recent sexual harassment scandal involving well-noted philosopher John Searle. I thought it would be better to change the comment from Searle’s name to “philosopher” to avoid further dragging Searle’s name in the mud.,,,,although I just mentioned Searle’s name and the scandal here. 

MY RESTING BITCH FACE (aka, I look like Schopenhauer)

I REMEMBER I ONE DAY while I was walking down the street……

I usually spend my time while walking thinking about current events or my daily philosophical musings, but that day I wasn’t really thinking of anything in particular. I was kinda minding my own business.  As I was not thinking about anything in particular, I walked by a guy from the telephone company working on some telephone lines.

As I passed by. minding my own business, the telephone worker guy exclaimed, “Damn! You look like you just killed somebody!”

I look like I killed somebody?!?!? But this is how I always look.

I mean, It’s my face.

Apparently, despite my inner mood, I always look angry.

Actually, homicidal.

That was the day I discovered I have something called RESTING BITCH FACE.

On the inside, I think I’m thinking happy thoughts, but on the outside I look like this:

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I guess if I want to be philosophically correct, I’d say I look less like this

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And more like this:

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If I had to put a philosopher’s name to it, I guess you can say I have resting Schopenhauer face.

Although I just posted a couple of pictures of Slavoj Žižek.

Schopenhauer looked like this:

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CLEARLY A HAPPY LAD

 

H.L. Mencken said, “There is no record in history of a happy philosopher.” I guess that’s true. philosophy isn’t known for its appeal to one’s funny bone.  In Plato’s Republic, Socrates says that laughter should be discouraged, in particular, laughter among the  members of the Guardians class.  Plato (as Socrates) writes,

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

So… if the father of Western philosophy says we shouldn’t be laughing all the time, it’s not hard to imagine that, for philosophers, resting Schopenhauer face isn’t just a facial expression, but a way of life. THE LIFE OF A PHILOSOPHER IS AN UNHAPPY LIFE. If you want to be a philosopher, you gotta perfect the look of a man who looks like, as a random telephone wire repair man would say, he just killed somebody.

Just look at this batch of philosopher sour pusses!

IMMANUEL KANT:

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GEORG HEGEL:

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THE SIDE EYE IS ON POINT

LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN:

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FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE:

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HE’S NOT SMILING UNDER HIS MUSTACHE

Of course, there’s always an exception to the rule. 

You can find plenty of pics of Foucault smiling.

 

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That half smile on Rousseau’s face is hard to miss…

 

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THE HALF SMILE OF A MAN WHO JUST DITCHED HIS FIVE KIDS

I guess the lesson here is, to be a happy philosopher you have to either abandon your kids or be into BDSM.

Hey, I’m halfway there already!

Anyhoo…. I think I’ve figured out that a life of loving wisdom is, by nature, a fairly unhappy thing.  Finding WISDOM and TRUTH in a world that runs on lies, alternative facts, and truthiness is an often hapless task. It’s not surprising that so many philosophers sport a frown turned upside down. Unfortunately for me, the more years I do this philosopher thing, the more less happy I get.

I think I kinda figured out why:

When I started a Facebook page for my blog (which was an blog for my book — or was it the other way around?) I wanted folks to know that  written philosophy isn’t just for professional philosophers. I wanted people to enjoy reading philosophy. Not exactly all academic level philosophy, but philosophy that would come from anyone who is a fan of all things philosophical. I wanted my blog and my other social media pages to serve as a platform for me and other people who write about philosophical stuff to share their works.

I really need to tweet more.

…and I gotta post more than one picture a month on Instagram.

But, despite my best laid plans, this is the internet and the internet is all about the memes. So, I started posting philosophy memes. It wasn’t long after I started posting memes that I realized that memes generated more likes than written philosophical content.

I had this revelation: MEMES ARE THE ONLY THING THAT GETS LIKES.

Even if it’s philosophy.

So now, I post memes with an occasional (actual philosophy) post. I throw in an original post only occasionally.

BECAUSE ORIGINAL MATERIAL DOES NOT GET LIKES — unless it’s a meme.

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Here’s what I think: memes killed words on the internet. WORDS. SENTENCES. ACCURACY. COHERENT THOUGHTS….

That’s kinda the stuff that philosophy is all about.

……..And since I’m griping, may I add that people treat comment threads like it’s open mic night at Uncle Fuckety’s Chuckle Hut* and they’re testing their new material for their next Netflix stand-up special.

This situations doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon.

This has got me feelin’ all

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I don’t know what made Schopenhauer sport the perpetual stinkeye (as there was no internet or philosophy memes back then)

Wait — we do know. It was Hegel.

…but I know what’s got me giving the Wittgenstein death stare when I walk down the street.

I could be thinking about the current state of philosophy.

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You know, It’s probably nothing. It’s just my face.

Pretty sure it was just Schopenhauer’s face, too.

 

 

 

Nah. It was because of Hegel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*I totally stole this phrase from Stewie Griffin (The Family Guy).

If Daryl Dies…. eh… I’m not even watching anymore

WELL, FOLKS… IT’S APRIL and April means the season finale of my favorite tv show.

I couldn’t tell you what happened, tho.

I didn’t watch it.

I haven’t watched the entire season, actually.

That’s because it used to be my favorite tv show.

Unfortunately, the fate that has befallen so many others has finally happened to me: I am no longer a fan of The Walking Dead.*

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MEMORIES OF BETTER DAYS… AND BETTER EPISODES

I gotta admit, it’s been a fun ride. I was genuinely impressed for a few seasons.

Most tv shows these days have only a handful of good episodes.

Don’t get me wrong, The Walking Dead has never been as impressive as Westworld or Game of Thrones (or its fellow AMC drama series, Mad Men), but for a tv show that is — honestly speaking — a soap opera about zombies, The Walking Dead has supplied a more than expected bounty of philosophical stuff (and thangs) to think about.

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RICK GRIMES IS THINKING… PROBABLY BAD DECISIONS THAT WILL GET PEOPLE KILLED, BUT HE’S THINKING

Listen: if kinda sorta doing philosophy for awhile has taught me anything, it’s taught me that philosophical stuff is everywhere. Literally everywhere.

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Buzz gets it.

A great thing about studying philosophical stuff, believe it or not, is discovering philosophy in stuff that isn’t explicitly philosophical. Sure, you can spend your summer boning up on Kant’s categorical imperative or slogging through Hegel (that nobody wants to read or actually reads), but wouldn’t you rather not do that if you don’t have to do it?

Wouldn’t you rather just watch tv instead?

FUN WITH PHILOSOPHY: if, by watching a tv show, we can not only learn philosophical ideas easier, but also expose a greater number of people to philosophy, we are OBLIGATED to watch the tv show!

How do we know it’s an obligation? 

Utilitarianism.

And, utilitarianism is PHILOSOPHY.

In the whatever-many years I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve written posts entirely about or have mentioned The Walking Dead in no fewer than 39 posts. I’ve used The Walking Dead to write about philosophical topics including (but not limited to):

  • Determinism vs. Free Will
  • Moral Culpability
  • The Ethics of Pacifism
  • Hobbes’ State of Nature
  • Socrates’ Philosopher-King
  • Gettier Problems
  • The Meaning of Life
  • The Metaphysics of the Undead
  • The Ethics of Loyalty
  • Justifying killing
  • The Ethics of Veganism
  • The Utilitarian/Hedonistic Calculus
  • The Trolley Problem
  • Moral consistency (or, if I’m writing about Rick Grimes, moral inconsistency)
  • …And some other philosophical stuff

And– although I got my problems with Negan, I can’t think of another tv series that has inspired me philosophically.

Wait a minute there is one.

Star Trek.

Another tv show is Star Trek. 

The thing is, unlike The Walking Dead, Gene Roddenberty created Star Trek with philosophical subtext in mind. Classic Star Trek episodes “The City On the Edge Of Forever”, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”, “The Measure of a Man”, “Yesterday’s Enterprise”, and “Thine Own Self” are extra philosophical.

And who can forget this philosophical as hell episode?

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The episode “Plato’s Stepchildren” isn’t merely philosophical — it also features one of tv’s first interracial kiss.

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And THAT’S the reason why I used to like The Walking Dead. The philosophy wasn’t served up on a platter like an episode of Star Trek or a philosophy-themed series like The Good Place.

If you wanted to get down and philosophical while watching The Walking Dead, you had to dig for it. You had to put on a yellow miner helmet with a little flashlight and mine every that-didn’t-happen-in-the-comic-book moment (like that whole fiasco of Glenn’s under-the-dumpster plot twist, aka the moment everybody yelled “you’ve got to be kidding me!!!”) to find the philosophical subtext. Episodes like season 4’s “The Grove” and season 2’s “Judge, Jury, Executioner” demonstrate the ethical dilemma — do we kill one to save many –– as well as any other Trolley Problem scenerio. The characters Rick, Shane, The Governor, and Negan depict examples of leadership guided by ethical principles and the justifications each uses for their individual leadership styles — the benevolent autocracy of Rick Grimes, the seeming utopia of The Governor, the violent dictatorship of Negan…

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YEAH. , AIN’T JUST LUCILLE

I could (believe me, I did) go on for hours explaining why The Walking Dead wasn’t the best tv show on the air — it was the most GOOD show on tv.

By GOOD, I meant The Walking Dead  wasn’t just “good” because it was entertaining, but GOOD because it was philosophically beneficial.

Like, watching The Walking Dead gets you all up in the eudaimonia –philosophically beneficial.

I no longer do that.

I’m no longer a fan of the show.

So I don’t watch the show anymore.

For all I know, season 9 might have been philosophical AF. 

I hope it was.

Not likely, but I hope it was.

 

 

 

 

 

 

* for the one of you that was wondering exactly why I’ve stopped watching The Walking Dead, I can only explain my dis-fandom by saying the show caught a bad case of The Dumb.

Y’all that also don’t watch any more know what I mean.

Misinterpretation Station

I’LL BE THE FIRST to admit that I rarely ever read comments.

It’s not because I don’t want to read comments. I do. I would never discourage anyone from writing them, even on my blog where I almost certainly will never read them. I just never get around to reading them. My mind is always occupied by other things.

Like composing the perfectly philosophically adroit tweet inside my head and then never actually tweeting it.

I’m kidding I never think about that. Never.

When I do get around to reading comments — and I do appreciate anyone who takes the time to write one — there’s a particular kind of comment that I never fail to enjoy:

It’s the comment that starts off like, I think you misunderstand what so-and-so said…

it’s the not-negatively phrased negative comment that philosophers love to make.

Listen: I kinda know that.

It’s kinda the point.

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Sometimes I’m wrong. But sometimes… I’m wrong on purpose. 

The key to being wrong on purpose is that you actually gotta know what you’re talking about.

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It’s kind of like how people say that Marilyn Monroe made a career playing the dumb blonde, but was in on the joke the whole time. She was smart enough to know there was money to be had in playing dumb.

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OK. MAYBE NOT THE BEST EXAMPLE. I SHOULD HAVE SAID JAYNE MANSFIELD. YOU KNOW… BECAUSE SHE HAD A HIGH I.Q.

Although you’d be hard pressed to find even one professional philosopher who would admit that they were ever wrong (aka, dumb), even if they’re in on the joke.

…unlike Marilyn Monroe.

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THIS WOULDN’T BE A MUG IF PHILOSOPHERS EVER THOUGHT THEY WERE EVER WRONG

When I was a kid, I used to go to Bible study.

I know, we all do strange things in our childhood.

Anyway, while I was supposed to be reading the Bible to learn the correct way to interpret the infallible word of God, I was more interested in learning all the ways people get Bible verses wrong.

There are a lot of bad ideas about what the Bible says out there, and by golly, I was going to figure it all out.

I was ten years old.

You see… the way I see it, the one thing that makes the examined life worth living is grabbing a philosophical idea or two and then pushing and pulling the (ever-loving) shit out of it, just to see where it goes.

even if, in the end, all our pushing and pulling goes nowhere.

even if, in the end, we got it all wrong.

We all know that philosophers have a thing for an exact fit. That is to say, we (assuming I can call myself a philosopher) like the theories that not only look good on paper, but also  explain the how and why of everything and defeat all counterarguments in any and every philosophical situation — real or thought experiment.

But if you’ve lived for more than two minutes outside of a philosophy class, you’d know that the real world doesn’t work that way. There is no exact fit. Contrary to whatever Immanuel Kant may have thought about his transcendental idealism, there is no theory that does — or can — explain everything.

or in that case of Kant, explain anything.

…and that’s where all that pop culture stuff comes in.

You see folks, we can use movies, books, notable people and events, and tv shows (collectively known as “pop culture”) to push and pull on philosophical ideas. We can use pop culture as ready-made thought experiment templates, filled with characters and situations we can use to expand, clarify or even disregard philosophical ideas (in the real world) when we apply, and at times, misapply philosophy.

Is the movie Groundhog Day and exact fit of Nietzsche’s eternal return? No. It isn’t.

Is The Matrix the most philosophically correct depiction of whatever it was that Descartes said about not knowing if the world is real and all that evil demon stuff?

Nope.

Is Ferris Bueller an true Randian objectivist? Probably not.

He’s actually more of a utilitarian.

Would Descartes say that cinematic zombies don’t think, so therefore they aren’t am, so therefore they aren’t rational beings, so therefore we can regard them in the same way that we would regard a clock….or a cat?

…wait a minute, he probably would say that.

The point is, is that when you apply philosophical ideas (or theories) to something pop culture-ish, like a movie or a fictional character, there will always be multiple ways to interpret how a character is and what that character does.

…unless your name is Ingmar Bergman and you totally made your movie philosophical intentionally.

Multiple ways to interpret things correctly also means there are multiple ways to misinterpret things.  Misinterpreting (even the intentional misinterpretation) a philosophical idea or how the idea can be applied in the real world does some good, too. How else would you know if it works?

And really, not getting it right doesn’t mean you’re wrong.

Especially if you’re having fun.

And anyway, who cares? It’s not like you’re up for tenure.

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ALTHOUGH I’M NOT HAVING MUCH FUN WITH THE WALKING DEAD ANYMORE (sucks what they did to Carl)

So… pack a bag and come with me down to misinterpretation station!

You might just enjoy yourself doing some philosophical pushin’ and pullin’.

 

Thinking ’bout Being Thankful (a philosopher’s Thanksgiving list)

IT’S THANKSGIVING DAY here in the States. It’s the day to gather with friends and family to give thanks for what we have — to remind ourselves that we are healthy, wealthy, and wise — despite our (my) repeated and humiliating failed attempts to keep up with the Kardashians.

That was my New Year’s resolution for this year — to keep up with the Kardashians.

I didn’t.

And for that, I am thankful.

That whole Kanye/Trump thing….

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YIKES.

Anyhoo.

As I said, Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks. I’m thankful for my friends and family. I’m thankful that I’m in relatively good health (as good as anyone eating the average American diet can be). I’m thankful, despite what seems to be a severe case of global stupidity, that I still got enough scruples to think.

And to think about thinking…

And to think about thinking about thinking…

And even though the world is seemingly infected with the dumb, there’s plenty of philosophical stuff I’m thankful for.

In fact, I’ve made a list.

  • I’m thankful that I decided to double major in college. I know it ain’t nothing but navelgazing, but I’m thankful I chose philosophy. My old professor was right. I don’t regret it.
  • Speaking of a philosophy major, I’m thankful I went to a college with a philosophy department.

If those Purge flicks were about getting rid of unwanted college majors, philosophy definitely would be the homeless guy left on the street after 7 p.m.

  • I’m thankful that my professors (and most of my classmates) were the kind of philosophy people that proved that most movies about philosophy and philosophy people are full of crap.
  • I’m thankful for Harry Stottlemeyer.
  • I’m thankful for blogging and self publishing.

Did I mention that I wrote a book?

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*The Mindless Philosopher — available at Amazon

  • I’m thankful that the internet gives any and every armchair, amateur, and occasional philosopher the chance to become the next Wittgenstein (or at least to pretend we’re that smart).
  • I’m thankful that philosophy is finally breaking away from the professional academic philosopher’s club.
  • I’m thankful that there’s such a thing as pop culture and philosophy.
  • I’m thankful that tv shows like The Good Place prove that philosophy not only isn’t just a bunch of old white dead guys, but can also be entertaining and relevant.
  • I’m thankful for Star Trek.
  • I’m thankful for The Walking Dead and Rick Grimes — and the opportunity to write year after year about the most philosophical inconsistent character on network television.

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Don’t let the Socrates beard fool you. Rick Grimes IS NOT the wisest man in Alexandria. Not even close.

  • I’m thankful I live in a world that needs welders and philosophers.
  • I’m thankful that a philosopher can challenge the gods and corrupt the young, and that “drinking the hemlock” is just a figure of speech.
  • I’m thankful there are still folks out there determined to bring philosophy to the masses.
  • I’m thankful for Zizek videos on YouTube.
  • I’m thankful for dank Hegel memes.
  • I’m thankful for my philosophical muse and bestest furkid (aka, the cat).

 

She thinks so I don’t have to.

Lastly, and most of all, I’m thankful for every one of you reading my blog. Whether you liked what you read or not, you clicked on and checked it out.

And for that, I truly am thankful.

 

 

 

 

 

A Philosophical Problem of Memes

THERE’S A PROBLEM in philosophy.

Not that problem. No, not that problem, either.

There’s a problem greater than any problem philosophy has ever faced before.

It’s not the Trolley Problem.

It’s not the Problem of Induction.

It’s not the Problem of Evil.

The problem, my friends, is stolen memes.

Specifically, uncredited stolen memes.

This problem may destroy philosophy.

Like Fight Club, the internet has rules.

and the first rule of internet memes is give credit to the creator. Giving thanks to the creative geniuses who find new and interesting ways to caption Salt Bae memes isn’t just being courteous — it’s the law.

Unfortunately, like Fight Club, the cardinal rule of internet memes is consistently broken.

I admit I don’t always give credit.

Anyone with a social media account and an interest in philosophy would observe that philosophy, like everything else ruined by the internet, is dominated by memes (after all, who actually wants to read Hegel?).

This unfortunate reality means the problem of meme attribution is now a philosophy thing — welcome to the ethics of philosophy memes.

Back in the early days of the internet, the notion of the internet as a digital commons wasn’t a far fetched idea. The internet, some were stupid enough to believed, could and should serve the common good. Ideas would be freely and openly exchanged across the fiber optic superhighway — everyone would have access to everything — the internet would be the ultimate egalitarian paradise.

And in a lot of ways it is.

Memes are freely and openly disseminated through social networks, and meme generating sites give any user the opportunity to use uploaded images, adding their own (presumably funny, but not always funny) caption.

Wait a minute. Do I have to explain what a meme is?

Just in case there are still folks out there who have no clue what a meme is, memes are:

a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users. (Google)

If we wanted to think of memes somewhat philosophically, we could argue that memes serve a utilitarian purpose. Memes inform, persuade, entertain, and (sometimes) convey complex ideas, in easily understood images.

We all know Schopenhauer detested Hegel.

What’s easier to understand, this — an actual quote from Schopenhauer about Hegel:

May Hegel’s philosophy of absolute nonsense – three-fourths cash and one-fourth crazy fancies – continue to pass for unfathomable wisdom without anyone suggesting as an appropriate motto for his writings Shakespeare’s words: “Such stuff as madmen tongue and brain not,” or, as an emblematical vignette, the cuttle-fish with its ink-bag, creating a cloud of darkness around it to prevent people from seeing what it is, with the device: mea caligine tutus. – May each day bring us, as hitherto, new systems adapted for University purposes, entirely made up of words and phrases and in a learned jargon besides, which allows people to talk whole days without saying anything; and may these delights never be disturbed by the Arabian proverb: “I hear the clappering of the mill, but I see no flour.” – For all this is in accordance with the age and must have its course.

Or this meme?

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It’s the meme, right?

*You may have noticed I did not give credit to the creator of that meme.

And that’s the problem.

The problem.

We’ve come to think of the internet as the place where everything belongs to everyone, however, online content  — every meme, blog post, or vlog — is the product of someone’s imagination.

That funny Hegel meme you just posted might seem like it has been floating around Facebook forever, but rest assured, someone created it. And if someone created it —

that somebody thinks it’s theirs.

Now, there used to be a time when (if) you used something that belongs to someone else, you’d say the words “thank” and “you”.

Giving credit to the creator of a meme is just that.

It’s saying “thank you”.

Giving thanks isn’t just a courtesy, it’s a way of acknowledging that someone else created something that, because of their creativity, we are afforded the opportunity to not have to create something.

Which is great for me, because I have no knack for creating clever memes whatsoever.

WHAT. SO. EVER.

If we was using law words, someone might call their meme their intellectual property.

Intellectual property is:

Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect, and primarily encompasses copyrights, patents, and trademarks Artistic works like music and literature, as well as some discoveries, inventions, words, phrases, symbols, and designs, can all be protected as intellectual property. (Wikipedia)

According to the law, intellectual property belongs to its creator. We violate copyright laws when we use (another’s) intellectual property without permission.

Because taking possession of someone else’s stuff without permission is theft.

There’s a reason why people call it stealing memes.

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YES. I STOLE THIS MEME

The problem with stealing memes isn’t just using someone else’s creation without permission or acknowledgement, stealing memes also steals views and likes from the original creator.

If you peddle in stolen memes, you’re benefiting at someone else’s expense — using someone as a mere means to your ends.

And you know there’s no way in hell we’re going to make that a universal law.

Ok… so memes (at least none I’ve seen) are not copyrighted, but memes definitely are the creations of human intellect (specifically, someone else’s intellect). And– if we have on our philosopher hats, we’d know that the ethically correct individual shouldn’t depend on copyright law to tell him what is the morally right thing to do.

The ethically correct individual would give proper credit to the original meme makers because it is the right thing to do.

You could say it’s our moral duty to do so.

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You didn’t think I’d go a whole post without mentioning Kant, did you?

So…

Ok, I’ll admit I was a bit hyperbolic at the beginning of this post. Uncredited memes aren’t going to destroy philosophy.

I know what’s going to destroy philosophy, but it ain’t that.

The philosophical problem of memes isn’t a “real” philosophical problem.

Not to professional philosophers, anyway.

Professional philosopher’s DO NOT meme.

But, the taking and using someone else’s original ideas without giving proper credit is a problem — and not just a problem in philosophy.

I guess… if the next time you’re cruising the world wide web and you see fantastically hilariously derisive Hegel meme that absolutely must be shared, that giving a quick nod to the original creator is a good thing to do.

I mean, if using someone else’s intellectual creation without permission is theft, the very least we can do is say thank you while we’re doing it.