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.

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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.

I AM THE MINDLESS PHILOSOPHER

YEARS AGO, I WROTE a book.

It’s a philosophy book. Or rather, it’s a book about philosophy.

…kinda sorta about philosophy.

I mean, I use the word “philosophy”. And I quote Nietzsche.

That’s all you need for a philosophy book, right?

Now, when I was a philosophy student, I used to lament (sometimes – ok, a lot of times − out loud) the fact that most of the philosophy texts I was reading – the books every philosophy student is required to read – THE GREAT PHILOSOPHICAL TEXTS BY THE GREATEST PHILOSOPHICAL MINDS – were… well…boring.

Positively dull.

If earning a philosophy degree taught me anything, I learned that reading Immanuel Kant is the perfect cure for insomnia.

Reading Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason = snoozefest.

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KANT’S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON CAN ALSO BE USED AS A PILLOW OR AS A MAKESHIFT  BLUDGEONING DEVICE TO BE USED AGAINST WOULD-BE AXE MURDERERS

It’s not just mind-numbing boringness that philosophy has to overcome; people just don’t like philosophy or philosophers.

Americans are notoriously anti-intellectual. The average stereotypical American doesn’t trust a guy who’s a smarty pants. And really, who can blame them?

Smarty pants people invented the atomic bomb.

They also created reality tv.

If it wasn’t for that smart guy Dr. Phil, none of us would have any idea what “cash me ousside” means.

and if you don’t know, god bless you.

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THANKS, DR. PHIL

To be fair, Dr. Phil isn’t a philosopher. He’s a psychologist.

William James was a psychologist. And a philosopher.

William James was one of the fathers of Pragmatism.

Dr. Phil is pragmatic.

Therefore, I think, Dr. Phil IS a philosopher.

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CAN’T BE ANY WORSE THAN NICOMACHEAN ETHICS

Anyway… generally speaking, there’s always been a certain amount of negativity directed towards philosophers and philosophy.

Popular culture depicts philosophers as mopey navel gazers.

If society is correct, philosophers are only good at contemplating things that, in the long run, aren’t useful.

Schopenhauer was mopey.

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THE MAN EXUDES MISERY, DOESN’T HE?

Wittgenstein realized logical positivism was a dumb idea – even though he was the person who invented it.

Here’s the thing: even though people think philosophers are good only for thinking about things that no normal person cares about, there’s always been a place for the philosopher in society.

No one wants to admit it; the lovers of wisdom are an essential part of the way things are.

Just think about our popular culture for a minute.

You personally might not give two poops about philosophy, but if you exist right now, your “life” is the product of a long list of philosophers including (but definitely not limited to) Hegel, Nietzsche, Leo Strauss, John Stuart Mill, Plato, and Ayn Rand.

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LEO STRAUSS: THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PHILOSOPHER YOU’VE PROBABLY NEVER HEARD OF, AND LIKELY WON’T GOOGLE, EVEN AFTER READING THIS BLOG POST

You won’t find a critically praised tv show or movie, a failed economic theory, a celebrity-slash-deep thinker, or a dumb politician who hasn’t quoted, misquoted, paraphrased, borrowed or stolen an idea from a philosopher.

Don’t believe me?

You’d think with all the philosophy everywhere, that we would, as a society, be a little more positive about philosophers and philosophy.

Nope.

and I’ll tell you why…

Are you listening? Here’s the reason why:

PHILOSOPHERS ARE NOT FUN.

Seriously, philosophy types are not a very fun lot to be around.

At the risk of being ad hominem-y, take a good look at the nearest philosopher. LOOK.

Look at him. Or her.

Now, ask yourself – am I looking at a person who looks like they’d be fun to be around for more than five minutes?

Sure, a professional philosopher will insist that they’re fun and funny and all-around interesting people, but do not be fooled. A fun philosopher is fun – for a philosopher.

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I’E USED MY POWERS OF PHILOSOPHICAL SPECULATION TO DETERMINE THAT MOST PHILOSOPHERS ARE UNFUN — EXCEPT FOR DIOGENES. DIOGENES SEEMS LIKE A FUN GUY

The reason why philosophers are un-fun has to do with the natural disposition of philosophers. Philosophers operate under the delusion that every conversation must adhere to a set of absolute bullshit rules on how conversations are supposed to go.

NO AD HOMINEMS ALLOWED.

Philosophers use fancy “philosophical” words like invalid, fallacy, and this is complete bullshit, why are you even in my class!?!?! to describe conversations that don’t adhere to The Rules.

Pffft!

As much as I love the love of wisdom, I got tired of not having fun.

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I mean, sometimes rules are great. Rules come in handy. Philosophy is a rigorous intellectual pursuit and strict rules are needed to produce coherent theories and arguments.

Makin’ rules is what made Immanuel Kant the greatest Kantian philosopher of all time.

But, every once in a while, even when doing philosophy, you gotta let one rip.
and not just figuratively.

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I had a philosophy professor who told a story about a conversation they had with another philosophy professor on a plane. My professor said that the conversation got so deep in arguing over theory that another passenger sitting nearby asked them to stop talking.

The professors weren’t using vulgar language. They weren’t looking at pornography. They weren’t defecating on the food cart or having an overly enthusiastic debate to settle whether Negan or The Governor was the baddest bad guy on The Walking Dead.

They were discussing philosophy.

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FOR THE RECORD, THE BADDEST BAD GUY WAS GARETH. GARETH ATE PEOPLE!!!

In the ears and minds of a pair of philosophy professors, a discussion about philosophy is something suitable to engage in around an airplane full of strangers. However, for the other passengers, being stuck in the fuselage of a jet aircraft (involuntarily) listening to a couple of philosophy enthusiasts talk about whatever it is that overthinkers talk about, had made an otherwise somewhat entertaining plane trip intolerable. UNFUN.

PHILOSOPHERS MAKE THINGS UNFUN.

Think about it: think of all the fun times you’ve ever had. Were there party hats? Yes. Mixed drinks? Probably. Strippers dressed as firemen? Undoubtedly. Was a philosopher involved? Absolutely not.

No fun time ever involves philosophers.

…except for maybe Diogenes.

In his 1748 treatise An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, the Scottish philosopher, David Hume (1711-1776), wrote, “Be a philosopher; but, amidst all your philosophy, be still a man.” Hume understood the necessity of philosophy, but he also knew that there’s more to life than philosophy. Namely, Hume knew that life is to be enjoyed – to have fun.

In his last days, Hume told jokes, played cards, hung out with his friends.

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ANY GUY WHO WEARS A JACKET THIS FLASHY PROBABLY KNOWS HOW TO HAVE A FUN TIME

And that’s what brings me to this. This blog.

Serious philosophers take philosophy things way too seriously.

There’s nothing worse than telling a good philosophy joke to a philosophy pro and getting nothing but a blank stare because the mofo takes philosophy too seriously to see the humor.

 

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IS THIS THING ON?????

 

Some people study philosophy for the sake of understanding the theory. Some people get their jollies discussing theories.

This is not that kind of blog.

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I think a part of enjoying anything you love is to be willing to take a bit of the piss out of it.

So, what would a philosophy blog written by someone who avoids deep theoretical philosophical discussions… someone who thinks skimming is sometimes just as good as actually reading an actual book… someone who thinks the answer for any philosophical question can be found in an episode of Star Trek look like?

You’re looking at it.

This blog is my philosophical mission. I call it mindless philosophy.

I AM THE MINDLESS PHILOSOPHER.

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I am a philosopher; but, amidst all my philosophy, I am still a man.

I’ve said, from the moment I decided to start a blog, the first aim of The Mindless Philosopher is to have fun. I love philosophical discussions, but, truth be told, The Mindless Philosopher is not above name calling, writing pedantic blog posts of somewhat-deep philosophical analysis based on a misinterpretation, emotion-based arguments or the tried and true ad hominem attack.

 

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IF YOU CAN’T BEAT ‘EM, “YOU’RE A FUCKING MORON!” ALWAYS WORKS

 

Yeah, I know it’s not PHILOSOPHY, but PHILOSOPHY isn’t entirely the point of my blog. I’m not a professional philosopher, I don’t have tenure and I’m not getting paid to do this. I’m just a schmo who got an undergrad degree in philosophy and decided to use it as an excuse to watch way too much tv.

And write a blog about it.

Listen:

You know what’s got a lot of philosophy in it?

TV shows got philosophy. So do movies.
And music
And books

And former reality tv show hosts who become president of the United States.

 

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CAN’T BE ANY WORSE THAN PRINCIPIA ETHICA

Sure, taking philosophy out of academia and applying it to your favorite tv show can be a daunting task. It’s messy. Theories sometimes don’t work, and sometimes you have to stretch a theory to fit.

Sometimes you discover that your brilliant philosophical analysis of the brave protagonist has been an exercise in how to misapply a philosophical theory.

In the end, I guess if I had to explain why I do this – why an amateur deep thinker (like me) would dare to venture into the world of philosophy − I truly think that anybody can be a philosopher. You don’t need to attend university or have a PhD to ponder life’s big questions. If we’re talking about the human condition, it makes sense to bring philosophy out of the academy and into the real world.

Because that’s where the people are.

 

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LOOK AT ALL THESE NOT-PHILOSOPHER PEOPLE WAITING TO LEARN PHILOSOPHY!

 

Thinking philosophically doesn’t require that anyone read the complete works of Bertrand Russell or understand the Hegelian dialectic. You don’t need to know who Slavoj Žižek is or that he’s called the Elvis of philosophy to do philosophy.

Anybody can do philosophy. Anybody should do philosophy.

You see, we can use philosophy to understand things.

 

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AT LEAST TO FIGURE OUT WHAT THE HELL THIS IS ALL ABOUT

 

If a philosophy degree is an interesting path to poverty, I might as well have some fun with it.

…and do a little bit of mindless philosophy along the way.

 

It’s the THINKING, stupid!

I’VE BEEN THINKING about a lot of stuff lately.

A lot of stuff.
A. Lot.

Dare I say I’ve taken to overthinking.

Before last week, I would have been reluctant to admit that I’ve been thinking about things. But I’m not afraid to say it anymore. I’ve been thinking – rather, overthinking.

I admit this now because of what Florida Senator Marco Rubio tweeted

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Now that philosophy is legit, and I’ve been doing a whole lot of thinking, what I’ve been thinking about is…well… how much I’m tired of thinking.

Thinking causes too much trouble. Thinking makes you see things; makes you realize things. Thinking makes you realize that in all places, at all times, we are constantly surrounded by idiots.

Make no mistake, there are idiots.

We’ve all seen them. We know what they do.

We can all name a few. Or more than a few.

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I AM NOT GOING TO SAY THAT NAME!!!!

I say “we” are surrounded by idiots because I assume you’ve experienced the same thing.

And yes, I realize that I am someone else’s idiot.

Whoops. There. I done done it.

I did that philosopher thing. I did that I’m-a-philosopher-therefore-I-am-smarter-than-you philosopher thing.

Well, I am a philosopher.
and I think I’m kinda smart.

Trust me, I’m like a smart person.

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I know that smart people aren’t supposed to say that they’re smart. Being smart should be something that’s obvious. Being smart is like having a fine sense of style. You don’t have to show people – they can see it in what you do.

Telling people that you’re smart usually means that you’re dumb.

 

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YOU KNEW THIS GIF WAS GOING TO HAPPEN, DIDN’T YOU?

Well, I say beans to that.

There’s a reason why I studied philosophy.

And it wasn’t for the vast pool of philosophy groupies.

Although I hear Bertrand Russell never had a problem with hook ups.

You see, I’m just a little tired of the attitude that philosophy is useless. It’s not just politicians like Marco Rubio who have declared that philosophy is useless. Even smart people have jumped in on the philosophy bashing game. The t.v. friendly (and more popular than a philosopher will ever be, especially in this political climate) Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson declared philosophy is useless. The renowned physicist, the late Stephen Hawking, said,

Most of us don’t worry about these questions most of the time. But almost all of us must sometimes wonder: Why are we here? Where do we come from? Traditionally, these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead…

The biologist and author of The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins, tweeted,

Philosophers’ historic failure to anticipate Darwin is a severe indictment of philosophy.

You know, sometimes smart people say dumb things.

Here’s the thing: I earned my philosophy degree. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t study philosophy to waste time or to, as the meme says, pursue the quickest path to poverty. I studied philosophy because I wanted to know things. I wanted to understand why (and possibly how) we believe what we do; how to think critically; to analyze, to know the proper use of skepticism.

How to carry on an argument for goodness sakes!

 

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STILL THE BEST WAY TO END A DISPUTE

Because there’s absolutely no better way to win an argument than to point out that your opponent has done nothing but strawman, ad hominem, and whataboutism their entire “argument”.

…be sure to add the air quotes when saying the word “argument”.

That way they’ll know who the idiot is (hint: it won’t be you).

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Seriously though, I could have studied any subject, but I chose philosophy. I studied philosophy because it isn’t useless.

Don’t get me wrong, I (unlike other people) am not knocking science. We need science. We need theoretical physicists and mechanical engineers just like we need doctors and lawyers and high school gym teachers and Uber drivers and bricklayers.

STEM is fine. That’s how we got the internet.

No internet, no Socrates memes.

Truth be told, I don’t do math because I got a cell phone with a calculator.

It even calculates the tip.

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I’m not planning on sending a man to the moon any time soon, so I haven’t had to brush up on my engineering skills. But I’ll tell you what I do use – philosophy.

I was reading Ayn Rand before the economy tanked in ’08.

I was well-acquainted with the name Leo Strauss before George W. Bush started the Iraq War.
I knew about noble lies and Allan Bloom. I learned to spot an objectivist from a mile away.
How many people can say they’ve read Natural Right and History?

My political talk is laced with references to Plato, Locke, and Aristotle.

Jefferson wrote all men have the natural right to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”, but did you know that John Locke wrote men have the right to “Life, Liberty, and Property”?

You’d know that if you read philosophy.

 

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GUESS WHO JUST DISCOVERED LOCKE WROTE “LIFE, LIBERTY, AND PROPERTY”!!!!!!!

 

I know when someone is (mis)paraphrasing Nietzsche.

I can explain the Naturalistic Fallacy and the Problem of Evil.

Do you know what the Law of the Excluded Middle is? I do. You know how I know?

Philosophy.

How would you know if our social and political structure is based on the Hegelian dialectic? ANSWER: You read Hegel.

I’ve read Hegel. I had no freaking idea what I read, but I HAVE READ HEGEL.

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I know it seems otherwise, but philosophy is necessary. It’s not pie in the sky. It’s not a bunch of meaningless answers to equally meaningless questions. It’s not just opinions.

Philosophy is the foundation of all the sciences – including physics and biology.

They might not know it, but proclaiming philosophy is dead is a philosophical statement.

They may think they don’t need or do philosophy, but they do.

Any time you say you know something, you’re doing philosophy. If you say you know fo’sho, you’re absolutely pulling a Descartes.

Every time you figure something out by putting things together
Any time you make a moral judgement
Every time you say something is beautiful or ugly
Every time you vote
Every time you ask, “What does it really mean?”

Any time you ask WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE???

You are doing philosophy.

Because you’re doing philosophy you have answers for some of your questions.

Because you’re doing philosophy you know to ask the questions in the first place.

And, because you’re doing philosophy, you’re not an idiot.

 

 

 

 

SOURCES:
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/8520033/Stephen-Hawking-tells-Google-philosophy-is-dead.html

WHAT KIND OF PHILOSOPHER ARE YOU, ANYWAY???

I HEAR A LOT OF FOLKS say that there’s nothing good on t.v. They say the new era of good television is over.

Maybe that’s because Two and a Half Men is off the air.

Who knows?

As a philosopher, I’m willing to admit that I don’t know plenty of things, but, one thing I do know is that anyone who says today’s t.v. sucks are wrong. There’s a lot of good stuff to watch out there.
And not just Fuller House.

 

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ALRIGHT, FULLER HOUSE IS NOT GOOD TELEVISION. NOT GONNA DIS IT, THO. UNCLE JESSE IS BAE

 

You see, until recently, I, too believed that there was nothing good worth watching on television – especially network television. I had given up on network t.v. My weekly television viewing was limited to basic cable. I had found and fell in intellectual love with Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Mr. Robot, Better Call Saul, The Americans, and American Gods.

Folks also seem to like The Good Place.

I haven’t seen The Good Place.

There’s my favorite love to hate, hate to love, The Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead isn’t exactly good television,  at least not since they canned Frank Darabont but it is philosophical television.

 

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AFTER WATCHING THE WALKING DEAD FOR EIGHT SEASONS, I AM NOW ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED RCK GRIMES IS THE DAFTEST CHARACTER ON TELEVISION

 

That’s what really matters in the end, isn’t it?

One new network t.v. show has got my attention – my philosophical attention.

I think it’s pretty funny, too.

That t.v. show is A.P. Bio.

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For those of you who aren’t watching that show (I suspect that’s most of you), A.P. Bio follows the story of Jack Griffin, a self-described “award winning philosophy scholar” (played by Glenn Howerton of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia), who, after a fall from grace, ends up living in his dead mother’s apartment, teaching a high school Advanced Placement biology (A.P. Bio) class in Toledo, Ohio.

Of course, true to cinematic form, Jack Griffin is a bad philosopher.

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Jack is arrogant. He waves his (former) Harvard philosophy gig around like a movie rent-a-cop waves around his not-real-law-enforcement badge.

…anything to reinforce Jack’s undeserved sense of intellectual superiority.

And because Jack is a philosopher, he’s also kinda pervy.

Jack isn’t interested in teaching a lowly high school class, particularly one in Toledo, Ohio.

Jack thinks his co-workers are idiots.
Jack thinks his students are idiots.

Jack is more interested in an attempted hook up with the mother of a student, belittling his co-workers and students, (another) attempted hook up with a former girlfriend, expressing his contempt for the city and people of Toledo, Ohio, bragging about his award-winning status, and plotting the ruin of his rival, Jack’s former Harvard colleague (and successful best-selling philosopher), Miles Leonard.

I hope that Jack Griffin wasn’t an ethics scholar.
…. which brings me to the point of this blog post.

 

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REALLY…

 

With the exception of biopics about philosophers, no one in movies or t.v. shows about philosophers ever says what kind of philosopher they are.

As much as I am enjoying A.P. Bio, I can’t get past the one thing about the show that bothers me: Jack describes himself as a “philosopher” − ok, but what kind of philosopher is he? What’s his field of study? Philosophy of language? Ethics? Metaphysics? Logic?

Good lord, is it epistemology???!

Jack wrote a book called The End: A Philosophy of Death. Does that mean his thing is metaphysics?
Is he an existentialist?

 

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THAT SWEATER HAS GOT ME THINKING JACK GRIFFIN (MIS)QUOTES SARTRE… A LOT

 

I mean, what kind of philosopher is this guy, anyway???!!!

Movie and t.v. philosophers are just “philosophers”. In film, “philosopher” is a generic term.

Movie and t.v. philosophers never have a specific field they study or teach.

I can say, for the record, that I’ve never had just a “philosophy” professor or taken a generic “philosophy” class. In real life, like many professions, philosophy is a diverse field of study with many (sometimes opposing) schools of thought. Philosophers in the real world specialize. There are philosophers of science and philosophers of mathematics.

There are philosophers of law and philosophers of humor. There are political philosophers and medical ethicists.
Philosophers who do linguistics..
Philosophers who are into aesthetics.

Some even specialize in the study and teaching about the works of a particular philosopher.

You get the idea.

 

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I TOOK A CLASS EXCLUSIVELY DEVOTED TO THIS GUY. I’M NEVER TAKING A CLASS EXCLUSIVELY DEVOTED TO A GERMAN PHILOSOPHER EVER AGAIN

 

Movie and t.v. philosophers pontificate in ways and about things that says, “whoever wrote this script has never stepped foot in an actual philosophy class”. Or worse yet, fictional philosophers immediately launch into the THERE IS NO GOD routine.

That’s philosophy of religion, folks. And nobody does that, not even actual philosophers.

In movies and tv., calling a character a “philosopher” isn’t about the character being anything like an actual philosopher as much as calling a character a philosopher is a shortcut to describe what kind of person the character is. In entertainment, philosophers are pompous, irresponsible, seemingly profound, but ultimately shallow, moral degenerates.

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They’re characters like Jack Griffin.

All you need to know about Jack is that he’s a philosopher.

You can correctly assume the rest.

 

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CAN’T ARGUE WITH MODUS PONENS

 

I guess what’s really grinding my gears about fictional philosophers is the lack of attention (or respect) paid to the profession. We all know that nobody likes philosophers, but if you’re going to depict a profession, even if the character you’re depicting is an absolute asshat, a realistic depiction can go a long way.

Walter White wasn’t just a teacher. He was a chemistry teacher.

The characters on Criminal Minds aren’t just FBI agents. They’re agents with the Bureau’s Behavioral Analysis Unit.

Hank Hill isn’t a mere salesman. He sells propane and propane accessories.

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In the real world, when you go to the doctor, you go to a specific kind of doctor. Sure, they all go to doctor school to learn doctoring, but would you want your psychiatrist to remove your gallstones? He could probably do it.

But would you want him to?

I mean, there isn’t a generic doctor, is there?

Wait a minute. There are general practitioners, aren’t there?

Ok. Bad analogy.

But, if I’m watching an episode of Law and Order, I’m going to see a t.v. show full of lawyers who specialize in criminal law. The episodes will involve cases and situations that pertain to criminal cases. There will be no riveting episode about a squabble in probate court. No chance of watching an episode of D.A. Jack McCoy taking on the case of a client challenging an unreasonable noise ordinance.

They’re all lawyers on Law and Order.

But they’re all a particular kind of lawyer.

On every t.v. show, they’re all a particular kind of something.

So, would it be too much to ask that Jack say at least once before the show is cancelled, seriously, look at the ratings what kind of philosophy he does?

My bet is it’s ethics.

Jack Griffin looks straight-up like a Nietzsche paraphrasing, social liberal/economic conservative, “I AM JOHN GALT” − declaring, Randian Objectivist f**k boi, who drops Hegel references like Hegel references.

 

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YOU JUST KNOW JACK HAS PLANNED A NIGHT OF “THE FOUNTAINHEAD AND CHILL” MORE THAN ONCE 

 

 

Pretty much your standard philosopher.