MINDLESS PHILOSOPHY EPISODE I: The Phantom Christmas Post

WELL, FOLKS. IT’S THAT time of year again. It’s time for another mediocre Star Wars flick.

Nah. I’m joking. Rogue One was pretty awesome.

Well…the last two minutes anyway.

Well… Except for that bringing back a young Princess Leia thing. That was a one-way ticket to the uncanny valley. Mind you, it wasn’t Polar Express-level uncanny valley, but Rogue One Princess Leia definitely lives on an Alderaan adjacent to that creepy-kids-with-dead-eyes neighborhood that is Polar Express.

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Yikes.

I guess the silver lining, if there’s any, is that Polar Express isn’t a mediocre movie.

Unlike some Christmas movies, Polar Express is a fairly decent Christmas flick. Some Christmas flicks are downright pieces of shit.

Mediocre.

I’m talking December-release Star Wars flick level mediocre.

A funny thing about Christmas is that it’s a holiday swimming in mediocrity.

Just take, for instance, the Christmas torture device jingle”Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”. That yuletide ditty about a dysfunctional family’s struggle to cope with an alcoholic member of the family’s sudden and tragic (and perhaps not entirely accidental) alcohol-related death is all kinds of suck ass, even for a Christmas song.

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She had hoof prints on her forehead and incriminating Claus marks on her back — that’s not a Christmas song, it’s an episode of Forensic Files.

By the way, Grandpa totally murdered his wife and made it look like she’d been the unfortunate victim of a drive-by sledding. I saw a woman murder her husband the same way on an episode of Snapped.

And let’s not forget that Christmas also spawned the Faul McCartney song “Wonderful Christmastime”. *

I actually like that song.

It’s catchy. Catchy in the same way an incantation from the Necronomicon is… catchy.

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As far as I’m concerned, it ain’t Christmas until I’ve annoyed myself singing that repetitive chant that releases the souls of the ancient ones chorus —

Come on. Sing it with me, folks

SIMPLY HAVING A WONDERFUL CHRISTMASTIME!!!

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I seriously think that singing the chorus of “Wonderful Christmastime”opens a portal to an alternate dimension.

Probably because every time I sing it, my apartment walls bleed.

But then, red is a Christmas color, so it’s all good.

I have gone dreadfully off topic.

You know, it’s not a regular philosopher thing to associate mediocrity with philosophy. We, that is, those who do philosophy — especially those who do philosophy professionally — wouldn’t use a word like mediocre to describe anything associated with the love of wisdom.

Some might use words like stupid or irrelevant or useless

But not mediocre.

However, the fact that philosophy itself isn’t mediocre, does not mean it’s immune from an occasional bout of mediocrity.

I PROMISE I’M NOT GOING TO USE THIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO PICK ON IMMANUEL KANT.

I mean, just say the words “mediocre philosophy” and then count the minutes before somebody says the name Ayn Rand or has something to say about the trolley problem or rolls their eyes at the complete lack of any real-world practicality of the categorical imperative…

Philosophers may consider themselves the Philosopher-Kings of rational thought, but like Star Wars, Christmas music, and odd-numbered Star Trek movies, philosophy has its fair share of not very good ideas.

More than its fair share of mediocre ideas, actually.

Logical positivism fails its own verification principle.

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According to some people, Atlas Shrugged is considered legit philosophy.

Kantianism.

All bad ideas.

All mediocre ideas.

Anyway…

Enough with the philosophy stuff.

It’s Christmas. It’s time to simply do wonderful stuff. It’s time to listen to the choir children sing their song.

They’ve been practicing all year, you know.

It’s time to over drink, over think, over eat, and pretend that philosophy books make good Christmas presents.

Speaking of mediocre…

So, from me, The Mindless Philosopher, to you and your kin, Seasons Greetings, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas or whatever preferred sentiment you use to wage the War On Christmas.

And as I tweeted this afternoon…

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MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY!!!

 

 

 

 

* I consider the existence of “Wonderful Christmastime” to be definitive proof that the real Paul McCartney died in 1966. The real Paul would have never recorded this song.

 

 

 

MY FIRST ANNUAL (well…maybe annual) PHILOSOPHICAL HALLOWEEN SPOOKTACULAR

HI.

It’s Halloween time again, and that means it’s that time of year when we forget there’s a November and go straight to playing Christmas music 24/7.

Personally, I’m not much into Christmas (yuletide only reminds me of how poor I am — but hey, I chose a career in philosophy — what did I expect?), but Halloween has always been my kind of thing. For some folks, Halloween is the unnecessary evil between the return of pumpkin spice lattes and blasting “All I Want For Christmas Is You” , but for me, Halloween means:

The spookiness.

Black cats and witches.

AMC’s Monsterfest©

…and all the candy I can eat.

Except for candy corn.

The fact that candy corn is an actual thing is definitive proof that the devil exists.

Now, I’m way past the age that is acceptable to go out trick-or-treating, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like dressing up for Halloween.

My usual costume is “person who never goes out anymore and just sits at home and overthinks about everything” (the scariest costume of all), but from time to time I try to find a costume that’s not only spooky, but also philosophically appropriate. Unfortunately, I have to say that I haven’t found a spooky, yet philosophically correct Halloween costume.

This disappoints me.

I was really hoping to dress up as sexy Diogenes this year.

SERIOUSLY. What do philosophers do at Halloweentime? What’s a philosophical ghost story? What do poo philosophers do — tell each other spooky stories about logical positivism?

Still…despite the lack of philosophically-themed Halloween costumes, there’s still plenty of scary things that keep this lover of wisdom up at night:

  • Re-reading Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.
  • Discovering there’s a whole section of Pornhub devoted to “Jeremy Bentham” and “head”.
  • A weekend film festival on the philosophical analysis of the films on Michael Bay.
  • Sketches of Schopenhauer based in the style of Tom of Finland.
  • Hegel.
  • A world where everyone is a utilitarian (or, the possibility that utilitarianism is the only correct moral theory).
  • A series of films based on popular philosophical thought experiments, including a feature-length film based on Kant’s ax murderer scenario, directed by Zach Snyder.

…actually, that last one might not be so horrifying. Maybe swap out Zach Snyder for Eli Roth…it’ll be the PCU — the Philosophical Cinematic Universe..

Picture it: a saga of Nietzsche-based flicks starring Dwayne Johnson as the Ubermensch.

Hey! Nobody steal my idea!!!

Who am I kidding. There ain’t gonna be a PCU.

Although I am kind of surprised that hasn’t been a major motion picture based on the life and tragic death of Camus.

Sure, it’s not Halloween, but how can anyone look at a picture of Camus in the trench with a cigarette and not immediately think that image alone demands a movie starring James Franco as the novelist/philosopher.

Any of this frighten you yet?

No? Maybe you should listen to “All i Want For Christmas Is You”.

I swear, that song scares the hell out of me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OBLIGATORY CHRISTMAS POST

I’VE SAID IT BEFORE but it’s always worth repeating: I AM NOT A FAN OF CHRISTMAS.

Oh sure, if you want to give me a Christmas present, I’ll take it I’ll eat the hell out of some Christmas cookies.

Just don’t expect that I’ll join you in singing Christmas carols or play any part in a secret Santa.

And I don’t say no Merry Christmas to the greeters at Walmart.

Here’s some war on Christmas for ya, Bill O’Reilly.

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Like Hall and Oates said, I don’t go for that.

My favorite Christmas movie still is Christmas Evil.

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I CAN NEVER GET ENOUGH OF THIS MOVIE

Now, people who spend the holiday season filling themselves up with the Christmas spirit might call someone with my disposition a “Grinch” or a “Scrooge”.

If that’s what you call someone who don’t do Christmas, so be it. A Grinch I am.

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…EXCEPT MY HEART ISN’T TWO SIZES TOO SMALL. QUITE THE OPPOSITE, ACTUALLY.

I.

DO.

NOT.

HAVE.

THE.

CHRISTMAS.

SRIRIT.

If you’re not quite sure if you have the Christmas spirit, the Christmas spirit (according to Answers.com) means:

To have the “Christmas spirit” means to get involved and excited about the atmosphere of holiday traditions and gift giving.

The Christmas spirit, specifically the giving part, is what got me thinking all philosophically about the season of Ho Ho Ho this year.

I’ll admit that I’m a Grinch.
But in no way am I a Scrooge.

20 film adaptations, numerous made-for-TV, stage, radio, and print versions of Charles Dickens’ 1843 Christmas classic, A Christmas Carol (aka, A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost-Story of Christmas) tells the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge, as the modern connotation suggests, is a man unaffected by the Christmas spirit.

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Ebenezer Scrooge hates Christmas.

And like his namesake, Scrooge McDuck, the only thing that Ebenezer Scrooge loves is money. Says Ebenezer Scrooge,

“Christmas is a poor excuse every 25th of December to pick a man’s pockets.”

Fortunately for Scrooge, his love of money has made him a very rich man.

Unfortunately, an unmitigated love of money is a sin.

Since God don’t like sin, to save the doomed soul of Ebenezer Scrooge, Scrooge is visited, on Christmas Eve, by three ghosts: the ghost of his late business partner Jacob Marley, and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.

Wait – that’s four ghosts.

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The spirits’ message to Scrooge: if he doesn’t relinquish his greedy ways, he’s doomed to an eternity of torment, haunted by a life wasted; devoted to nothing more than making money – the same fate that has befallen his old partner, Jacob Marley.

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JACOB MARLEY IS CONDEMNED TO SPEND AN ETERNITY LIKE THIS… 

Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in response to the treatment of the poor of late 1800s London.

In short, if you were poor you were screwed.

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DON’T LET THE COBBLESTONE STREETS FOOL YOU. IT’S DIRTY AND DREARY DOWN THERE

In Stave One of A Christmas Carol, a conversation between Scrooge and a couple of charity collectors goes like this:

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.

“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”

“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”

“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.

It’s not entirely surprising, then, that Scrooge, when one of the collectors tells him that the poor would rather die than suffer in prison or the workhouse, says:

“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

A fan of Ayn Rand before there was Ayn Rand.

The four spirits (after tormenting the guy all night) persuade Scrooge to give up his greedy ways. However, unlike the factory owners and landlords who were more than willing to allow their workers and tenants languish is poverty and squalor, Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge experiences a change of heart and Scrooge is redeemed.

Changed – for the better.

Scrooge is imbued with the Christmas spirit.

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Dickens wrote:

Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

Because that’s the way that morality tales work.
It doesn’t matter whether Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a Christian allegory, or a simple tale of bad guy gone good The moral takeaway, no matter what you believe in, is the belief that we are here, not just to enrich ourselves, but to do good for others.

There are a few famous philosophers who also wrote something a little along those lines…

John Stuart Mill, inventor of utilitarianism, wrote:

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

The German philosopher, Immanuel Kant wrote:

“Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means.”

The Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus wrote:

“What you would avoid suffering yourself, seek not to impose on others.”

From the Upanishads:

“Let no man to do another that which would be repugnant to himself; this is the sum of righteousness. A man obtains the proper rule by regarding another’s case as like his own.”

In his new-found redemption, Ebenezer Scrooge is struck by the desire to do good to others. No longer consumed by the love of money, Ebenezer Scrooge vows to works for the good of everyone: the family of his long-exploited employee, Bob Cratchit, his nephew − oh god, what was his nephew’s name?
Fred. His name was Fred, right?

Dickens writes,

“Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did NOT die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.”

In the end, I suppose a genuine Christmas hater like myself could learn to enjoy Christmas − if not merely for the pleasure of eating a diabetic coma-inducing number of sugar sprinkled sugar cookies, but for the opportunity to learn a philosophical lesson (in this case, do good for other people or else) from a Christmas movie that doesn’t involve a deranged killer Santa or a terrorist take-over of the Nakatomi Plaza.

By the way, Die Hard – totally a Christmas movie.

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I mean, would I rather have my philosophical lesson of the day reading Kant’s Groundwork or watching the 18th film adaptation of A Christmas Carol?
I’ll tell you right now, I’d rather watch the movie.

I’ll even wear an ugly Christmas sweater while doing it.

 

 

 

 

 

SOURCES:

http://www.answers.com/Q/What_does_it_mean_to_have_the_christmas_spirit?#slide=1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Christmas_Carol

http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/dickens/xmas/scrooge.html

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/A_Christmas_Carol#Stave_5:_The_End_of_It

All I Want For Christmas Is For Jimmy Stewart To Teach Me the Meaning of Life

It’s the end of the year. It’s the time we look forward to the year ahead and turn back to think of the year we’ve left behind. As we open up or Christmas presents, we celebrate the people who mean the most to us and pray (if you’re into that kind of thing) for peace and good will on Earth.

After over-stuffing ourselves on holiday ham and all the fixings, we might find ourselves, gazing at our distended bellies, falling victim to meat sweats and a bad case of the ‘itis, as we ask, “what have I done with my life?”

 

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I FEEL SO MUCH SELF HATRED RIGHT NOW.

And as we settle down for a long winter’s nap, gazing into the glowing light of a yuletide fire, we realize the funny way the Christmas season gets us thinking about things philosophically.

 

The Austrian philosopher, Kurt Baier (1917-2010) says scientific theories cannot make the universe “intelligible, comprehensible, meaningful to us.” Baier claims that science isn’t structured to answer the “why” and causal explanations for the existence of life and the universe cannot produce “real illumination”, and  if we look to science to tell us why we are here, the only explanation that science can give to explain our existence is that we are here solely for reproductive purposes.

 

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PICTURED: A MEANINGLESS LIFE

 

Baier says that in reality a scientific universe is harsh, cold, and indifferent to us.

 

THE UNIVERSE IS SPEAKING TO YOU

THE UNIVERSE IS SPEAKING TO YOU

 

So what does that have to do with Christmas?

 

Nothing, other than I have the feeling that this is exactly what George Bailey was feeling the night he decided to kill himself in the Frank Capra-directed holiday favorite It’s A Wonderful Life.

 

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These days, the only time most people watch It’s A Wonderful Life (originally released in December, 1946) is during the holiday season when the television networks temporarily preempt their regular programming to air Christmastime classics like, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, and  A Charlie Brown Christmas (a very philosophical thought-provoking television program in its own right).

Although some may dismiss It’s A Wonderful Life as a film that embodies all that is cheesy and hopelessly cliché about Christmas, the Frank Capra perennial holiday programming favorite is, I think, the most philosophical movie ever made.

 

At least one of the most.

 

OK, SO HERE’S WHAT HAPPENS:

George Bailey (James Stewart) lives in small-town of Bedford Falls. As a young man, George dreams of leaving the small town for the big city. George wants to go to college. George tells his sweetheart, Mary Hatch (soon to become his wife, Mary Bailey, played by Donna Reed) his dreams for his future:

Mary: What’d you wish, George?
George: Well, not just one wish. A whole hatful, Mary. I know what I’m gonna do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next year, and the year after that. I’m shakin’ the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I’m gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Coliseum. Then, I’m comin’ back here and go to college and see what they know… And then I’m gonna build things. I’m gonna build airfields, I’m gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I’m gonna build bridges a mile long…

 

But, unfortunately for young George Bailey, life intervenes and George is called to manage the (failing) family business, Bailey Building and Loan. George gives up his dream of leaving Bedford Falls to tend to the family business.

Sure, George is married to a woman who loves him, has a couple of pretty good kids, a war hero brother, and the respect of the community, but when Bailey Building and Loan comes up $8000 short, George is suspected of stealing the money and faces arrest. To make matters worse for George Bailey, local corporate kingpin, Henry F. Potter wants to take over the Bailey family business and cut off bank loans to the town’s poor residents (George does not know that Potter not only found the missing $8000 but has pocketed the money).

 

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WHY DID MR. POTTER TOTALLY NOT GO TO PRISON FOR STEALING ALL THAT CASH?

 

With the possibility of a prison sentence looming over his head and an overwhelming feeling of failure and despair, George Bailey feels that the world would have been better if he was never born. George wants out of his unfulfilled, meaningless life.
George Bailey experiences what Thomas Nagel says is the realization of “the absurdity if our own situation derives not from a collision between our expectations and the world, but from a collision within ourselves.” When faced with the seeming reality of his own meaningless life and unrealized dreams of a better life outside Bedford Falls, George feels that his life is no longer worth living and like Dostoevsky’s Kirilov, George believes that the only way out of his life’s never-ending meaninglessness is to kill himself.

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We can imagine George Bailey, standing on the edge of a bridge, waiting for the right moment to throw himself over the side, hearing the words of Albert Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus”, in his head:

 

… …in a universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger. His exile is without remedy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land. This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, is properly the feeling of absurdity.

 

 

Camus writes, “There is a direct connection between this feeling and the longing for death.” When life has ceased to have meaning the natural inclination is to end it.

This is exactly what we can assume George Bailey is feeling as he contemplates suicide.

After getting drunk at the local bar, George decides to throw himself off of a bridge.

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However, a moment  before George flings himself over the rail, an angel named Clarence Oddbody (Henry Travers) intervenes in George’s suicide attempt.

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Clarence tells George that he is George’s guardian angel. Clarence wants to earn his wings and to do so, he has to prove to George Bailey that his life is not meaningless and that the world is better off with him in it.

For Camus, ending one’s life is not an option and it isn’t for Clarence Oddbody, either. So, to prove to George Bailey that his life is worth living, Clarence grants George’s wish, and shows him what life in Bedford Falls would be like if he had never been born.

 

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In a world without George Bailey Mary is a lonely spinster. George learns that not only is his younger brother Harry dead, but that the men on the troop transport that Harry saved during the war also perished – all because George was not there to save Harry when Harry fell through an ice-covered lake as a child.

Clarence shows George Bailey that without his presence, Bedford Falls (or as it is called in the George Bailey-less alternate reality “Pottersville”) is a den of sin filled with casinos, criminals, crazy people, dance halls, and dance hall floozies. Clarence tells George, “You see, George, you really had a wonderful life. Don’t you see what a mistake it would be to throw it away?” Clarence tells George sees that his life positively affects the lives of all he knows, including the town of Bedford Falls itself.

Clarence says,

Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives.
When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?

 

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Dismayed by the sight of a world worse off without him, George Bailey realizes that his life isn’t as meaningless and insignificant as he had believed and begs Clarence to return things back to the way it was.

*Interesting philosophical tidbit: It’s a Wonderful Life suggests that not only is determinism true, but that our lives are determined by a divine plan. Clarence Oddbody, who thwarts George Bailey’s suicide by showing George what life would be like if he was never born, introduces himself to George as George’s guardian angel. That means George Bailey doesn’t kill himself due to divine intervention  George Bailey wanted to kill himself, but God had other plans -plans that have nothing to do with what George Bailey does or does not want to do.

 

George Bailey’s purpose in life wasn’t to build airfields or skyscrapers, but was right there in Bedford Falls. George learns that what makes life meaningful isn’t getting what we want or satisfying our desires, but what makes life wonderful is doing good for others and fulfilling one’s purpose in life. George Bailey’s life had meaning, even if he didn’t know what it was.

What-s-the-meaning-of-life-Sirius-I-don-t-know-But

 

Even though George Bailey wasn’t aware of it, he indeed had a wonderful life.

 

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In the closing scene of It’s A Wonderful Life, the townspeople of Bedford Falls, recognizing the fact that George Bailey is the town’s only hope of warding off Potter’s plans to turn Bedford Falls into a small town Sodom and Gomorrah, rallies behind George, giving him more than enough money to cover the lost money.

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The townspeople know, even if George Bailey does not, that he has played a meaningful role in their lives. As the residents of Bedford Falls sing a chorus of “Auld Lang Syne”, a bell on the Bailey’s Christmas tree rings. George’s daughter Zuzu  famously tells her father (now, everybody say it together) “every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings”.

 

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We see that George Bailey means something to Clarence Oddbody as well – he’s helped Clarence to earn his wings. In an inscription in a book, Clarence leaves a final message for George Bailey; no man is a failure who has friends.

 

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IF THERE IS ANY PHILOSOPHICAL SIGNIFICANCE TO TOM SAWYER, WE HAVE NO IDEA.

 

Whoa, hold the phone! What Clarence Oddbody tells George Bailey is worth repeating. Clarence tells George Bailey no man is a failure who has friends. This certainly sounds like a sentiment that we can all rally behind. If we’re to trust the words of Capra’s angel, it’s possible that Clarence Oddbody knows the true meaning of life. What this means folks – is perhaps we have we finally found what every great philosopher, thinker, theologian and layman has been looking for: Friendship is the meaning of life.

 

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THEY’LL BE THERE FOR YOU

Alright, I’ve never been shy about my dislike of Aristotle. And generally speaking, I still do. But listen; as much as I am reluctant to admit it, Aristotle gives us a reason to believe friendship is the meaning of life.

 

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FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC

Aristotle states that a Good (i.e. eudemonic) life is a meaningful life and that a requirement for living a meaningful life is friendship. Aristotle tells us that no one can be truly happy without friends. In Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle writes:

But it seems strange, when one assigns all good things to the happy man, not to assign friends, who are thought the greatest of external goods… Therefore even the happy man lives with others; for he has the things that are by nature good. And plainly it is better to spend his days with friends and good men than with strangers or any chance persons. Therefore the happy man needs friends.

 

If you think about it, perhaps the reason why we pursue philosophy – the reason why we want to know about truth and reality, why we need to know how to distinguish true beliefs from false beliefs or why we want to know the ethical way to act because, as Aristotle tells us, not only so we can determine what friendship is, but also good and virtuous people attract the right kind of people; people of good moral character.

 

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ARISTOTLE WOULD PROBABLY SAY THAT THE BEST KIND OF FRIENDS DRESS LIKE THIS

 

We may claim that we are the products of our own invention, but as much as we define our lives, our lives are also shaped by the people around us.

Our friends are not just our companions; our friends give us examples to live by, they teach and inspire us, support and encourage our better natures, and share with us our values and the most meaningful moments in our lives. Our friends are our mirrors. Our friends reflect what kind of person we are and what kind of person we want to be.

Having a head full of Descartes, Kant, and Hume may be philosophically satisfying, but what’s the point of studying philosophy if we have no one to share our ideas and knowledge with?  Just remember as you’re swigging back a third mug of eggnog, a philosopher may attain enlightenment, but the individual who has soul enhancing, long-lasting friendships truly has a life worth living.

 

the-end

 

 

 

SOURCES:

It’s a Wonderful Life. 1946. Writ. Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich, Jo Swerling, & Frank Capra. Dir. Frank Capra.

Thomas Nagel. “Death”. Mortal Questions. 1979. NY: Cambridge University Press. p.17.

 Albert Camus. “The Myth of Sisyphus”. The Meaning of Life: A Reader. p.73.

Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. Trans. W.D. Ross. 1909. Clarendon Press. W.D. Ross’ translation is in the public domain and available online at: http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/nicomachaen.html.

God Rest Ye Merry Kierkegaard

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

At all.

I don’t like Christmas.

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

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

ugh.

 

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

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

 

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LIKE THIS MOVIE

 

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

That’s right, Kevin Sorbo.

Philosophers are Christians, too.

Like this guy

 

kierkegaard

 

and this guy

 

plantinga

 

and this guy

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

And not all of them are dead.

 

Kind of like God.

 

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

 

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

 

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

Unless you’re reading Nietzsche.

 

nietzsche sweater 1

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

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

That figure would be Jesus.

 

jesus philosophy

 

 

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

 

christmas ayn

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

ETHICS!

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

MORE ETHICS!

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

EPISTEMOLOGY!
METAPHYSICS!

That’s all stuff that philosophers talk about.

 

muscle philosopher shirt

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

 

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

BIG ELF IS WATCHING YOU

Have you ever been in prison?

 

been behind bars

 

 

Wait – never mind that question.

Have you heard of The Elf on the Shelf?

You probably have.

Seeing though Christmas was just last month and all.

Still, if you haven‘t or you just don‘t give a damn about Christmas, it’s this guy:

 

elf on the shelf

 

The Elf on the Shelf is not a new thing. It’s been around for awhile.

The point (or if we want to get philosophical, the telos) of the Elf on the Shelf is simple: as anyone with even a basic knowledge of the philosophy of gift giving according to Santa Claus knows, children are taught by their parents that the number and quantity of Christmas gifts necessarily depends on them behaving like “good little boys and girls”.

But every parent is also well aware of the fact that the natural disposition of children (think: Hobbes’ state of nature) makes it nearly impossible for children to behave like rational, autonomously legislating human beings at all times.

This can interfere with a child’s plans for ultimate Christmas morning gift getting.

 

THE INEVITABLE GIFT FOR EVERY CHILD WHO PREFERS HEDONISM OVER KANT

THE INEVITABLE GIFT FOR EVERY CHILD WHO PREFERS HEDONISM OVER KANT

 

 

So, if a parent wants their child to receive gifts from St. Nick, a parent has to guarantee that their precious bundle of joy remains a good boy or girl, even when there is no threat of physical punishment.

 

 HOW GOOD ARE WE IF OUR COMPLIANCE IS COERCED, ANYWAY?

HOW GOOD ARE WE IF OUR COMPLIANCE IS COERCED, ANYWAY?

 

The threat of injury to one’s buttocks is usually enough to thwart all but the worst of bad children.

Here’s where the Elf on the Shelf comes in…..

 

believe in santa

 

 

If you haven’t noticed, it seems that Santa’s little recon-minded helper has been around much more than usual.
You can blame the crimson-clad imp’s ubiquitousness on the internet.

The problem that some folks have with the Elf on the Shelf isn’t the debate over matters of taste or even about accusations that the Elf is just another example of the over-commercialization of Christmas.

 

elf on the shelf dick in a box

 

 

That’s not a problem at all.
However, you can say that the problem with the Elf on the Shelf is something a little more, well… ominous.

The problem with the Elf on the Shelf, some say, is that the damn thing is everywhere.

A simple Google image search for “elf on the shelf” will yield you humorous (and slightly risqué) Elf on the Shelf photos like this:

 

elf on the shelf with barbies

 
elf on the shelf shave

 
elf on the shelf is bad

 

Pretty funny images, right?

Alright, I know. They’re not.

But bear with me a bit, will ya?

 

Now, there are those who think that the Elf on the Shelf is an annoying as hell harmless prank. Still, there are those that believe that the “harmless” holiday pranks associated with the Elf on the Shelf hides a deeper, sinister purpose.

 

harmless

 

 

You see, instead of associating the Elf on the Shelf with humorous images like this:

 

 

elf on the shelf spells reddum

 

We should associate the Elf on the Shelf with images like this:

 

IS THAT DR. PHIL?

IS THAT DR. PHIL?

 

Or rather, an image like this:

 

elf on the shelf big brother

 

Besides being just plain creepy, non-fans of the “harmless” Elf on the Shelf argue that the Elf’s purpose isn’t to be just a harmless Christmas prank that parents play on their children to make their children behave before the holidays.

Nope.

 

 

 

giphy

 

 

The truth about the Elf on the Shelf is the Elf a tool of the police state.

A red-suited Trojan horse of the total surveillance society.

I’m not joking about this.

 
WATCH:

 

 

 

 

 

If you couldn’t stop laughing at this latest conspiracy theory long enough to watch didn’t watch the video, the gist of the Elf on the Shelf is Big Brother theory/argument goes like this: The Elf is always watching. It gets children used to the idea of being under constant surveillance. Because the parent moves the elf to various locations to keep the child off guard, the child doesn’t know when the elf is watching, so a child will act as if the elf is always watching. The child behaves in lieu of physical punishment.

The Elf’s surreptitiousness is the key to successfully modifying a child’s behavior.

 

creepy elf

 

 

 

Dr. Laura Pinto writes:

Children who participate in play with the Elf on the Shelf doll have to contend with rules at all times during the day… they must accept that the doll watches them at all times with the purpose of reporting to Santa Claus.

 

The ultimate purpose of the Elf on the Shelf is indoctrination.

Behavior modification.

 

 

elf on the shelf i'm watching you

 

Ok, I think we can all agree that the Elf on the Shelf is annoying, if not a full-blown exercise in ultimate creepiness.

 

 

elf on the shelf says children are fun toys

 

But why am I bringing this up, you say? Christmas was last year.

And what exactly does the Elf on the Shelf have to do with philosophy?

Well, would you believe that the bad idea of surreptitious surveillance of people to force- I mean, encourage good behavior was cooked up by a philosopher?

 

Oh. You would, huh?

 

LOOK CLOSELY: THIS PHILOSOPHER IS JUST ABOUT TO TELL SOME PEOPLE A BAD IDEA

LOOK CLOSELY: THIS PHILOSOPHER IS JUST ABOUT TO TELL SOME PEOPLE A BAD IDEA

 

 

The philosopher I’m talking about is Jeremy Bentham.

The idea is the panopticon.

 

DON’T BLAME THE ELF ON THE SHELF. BLAME THIS GUY

DON’T BLAME THE ELF ON THE SHELF. BLAME THIS GUY

 

 

The word panopticon was coined by the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832). The word is derived from the Greek words pan (all) and opticon (seeing).

Bentham’s panopticon is a building where every part of the building is visible from a central point.

Like this:

 

 

panopticon

 

 

Bentham created the panopticon with the intention of reforming the English prison system and to end unnecessary suffering (pain) of incarcerated individuals while also creating a method of fostering good behavior among the prison population.

 

Because, as Bentham reasoned, when everybody behaves, people are happier.

 

 OBVIOUSLY DENIZENS OF BENTHAM’S PANOPTICON

OBVIOUSLY DENIZENS OF BENTHAM’S PANOPTICON

 

In a panopticon prison, a single guard can watch all the inmates at one time.

But here’s the thing: humans lack the kind of God-like omnipotence required to watch all things simultaneously – it is impossible for a single human to observe all things all at once. The point of the panopticon isn’t actually to watch everyone at one time. The point is to convince the prisoners that they are always being watched. The prisoners don’t know they’re being watched or not. According to Bentham, this uncertainty will lead them to act as if they are being watched.

 

Bentham wrote:

A building circular… The prisoners in their cells, occupying the circumference – The officers in the centre. By blinds and other contrivances, the Inspectors consealed… from the observation of the prisoners: hence the sentiment of a sort of omnipresence – The whole circuit reviewable with a little, or… without any, change of place. One station in the inspection part affording the most perfect view of every cell. (Proposal for a New and Less Expensive mode of Employing and Reforming Convicts, 1798)

Bentham aimed to achieve moral reformation “all by a simple idea of architecture!”

 

Pretty nifty, eh?

IF YOU WANT TO KNOW SOMETHING REALLY CREEPY - JEREMY BENTHAM’S PRESERVED BODY IS ON DISPLAY AT UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON, WHERE IT HAS BEEN ON DISPLAY SINCE 1850. ……BENTHAM DIED IN 1832.

IF YOU WANT TO KNOW SOMETHING REALLY CREEPY – JEREMY BENTHAM’S PRESERVED BODY IS ON DISPLAY AT UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON, WHERE IT HAS BEEN ON DISPLAY SINCE 1850.
……BENTHAM DIED IN 1832.

 

 

The panopticon is a form of mind control.

 

Behavior modification.

Sound like anyone we know?

 

NSA on the shelf

 
So, really, there is little difference between this:

 

 

elf on the shelf with tony montana

 

And this:

 

 

LOS ANGELES’ TWIN TOWERS JAIL, LIKE MANY PRISONS WORLDWIDE, WAS DESIGNED BASED ON BENTAM’S PANOPTICON

LOS ANGELES’ TWIN TOWERS JAIL, LIKE MANY PRISONS WORLDWIDE, WAS DESIGNED BASED ON BENTAM’S PANOPTICON

 

 
The late philosopher Michel Foucault used the word panopticon as a warning of a future where people are under constant surveillance. When we think of a surveillance society, we’re used to thinking of this kind of society in terms of things like this:

 

 

surveillance camera

 

and this:

 

 

MQ-1 Predator

 

 

or this:

 

nineteen eighty-four viewscreen

 

 

The thing is, a real, society-wide panopticon won’t be anything like what Bentham or maybe even Foucault thought it would be.

 

 

THIS IS A PICTURE OF MICHEL FOUCAULT, BY THE WAY

THIS IS A PICTURE OF MICHEL FOUCAULT, BY THE WAY

 

Perhaps Bentham and Foucault are only kind of correct.

 

There’s no doubt that cameras are everywhere.

 

 

UNFORTUNATELY CAMERAS ARE EVERYWHERE

UNFORTUNATELY CAMERAS ARE EVERYWHERE

 

And there are legitimate concerns about surveillance – especially government surveillance of people not in prison.

 

But, Big Brother won’t be an Orwellian telescreen and highly unlikely we’ll be housed somewhere in one of Bentham’s circular buildings where the guards watch us all the time.

 

 

DON’T ANYONE SAY FEMA CAMP

DON’T ANYONE SAY FEMA CAMP

 

 

It seems that, in the end, the panopticon will be in the form of a harmless holiday visitor.

 

A little fella who looks like this:

 

 

elf on the shelf is watching

 

 
And you can blame a philosopher for that.

 

 

 

 

 

 
* If you’re feeling that you absolutely must read what Bentham wrote about the panopticon, click on this link.
http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/1925

 

* And if you’re in the mood to be extra creeped out, here’s some info on Bentham’s body.
ENJOY!
http://www.slate.com/blogs/atlas_obscura/2013/10/23/jeremy_bentham_died_in_1850_but_he_s_still_sitting_in_a_hallway_at_this.html

 

 

 

Sources:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/18/elf-on-the-shelf-foucault_n_6343674.html

 

Grinched

I’m going to say this loud enough so everyone can hear it. I’m not a Christmas person.

Let me say it again to make things clear: I AM NOT A CHRISTMAS PERSON.

I don’t recall ever believing in Santa Claus.

I’m the one who, when someone wishes me a  “Merry Christmas!” or even Merry Christmas’ secularized bastard cousin  “Season’s Greetings!” just shrugs and doesn’t say anything back.

The only Christmas movies I watch have either serial killer Santas or monsters in them.

 

POSTER-CHRISTMAS-EVIL

Christmas is not complete without a little Christmas Evil

 

I stop listening the radio at exactly 12:01 AM, November 1st.

You know why.

 

 

sobchek hates christmas

 

I’m the person who can walk past a Salvation Army bell ringer and not put any money in the bucket without a single shread of guilt.

Bah humbug.

 

I don’t hang Christmas lights. I’ve never owned an ugly Christmas sweater.

 

bad christmas sweater

Definitely not this guy.

 

I don’t sing Christmas carols. I would never do this outside Keira Knightly’s doorway:

 

love actually

God, Rick Grimes was so lame in this movie.

 

 

I only put up a Christmas tree because I live with other people. They’re the kind of people who like Christmas. I’m not. I’m not consumed with the Christmas spirit.

My heart is still three sizes too small.

 

 

the grinch's heart

 

I know the Whos were supposed to be the good guys, but I think the Grinch got a raw deal.

 

It’s not against the law to hate Christmas, you know.

 

 

grumpy cat hates xmas

 

 

Ok. I know. I know. My abnormal hatred/cynicism (I’m willing to admit it’s abnormal) of towards all things holly jolly yuletide and festive is rare. Not everyone holds with my beliefs. I suppose in the long run that’s a good thing. I guess the world would really suck if everyone was a Scrooge. It’s just that in this season of good will towards man, I’m wondering how much good will I actually have. Or need.

 

keep-calm-and-hate-christmas-15

 

 

You see, my problem isn’t just with Christmas. I’m in a bit of a moral pickle. I haven’t really figured out what my ethical point of view is. I’m an adult. I should have figured this out by now. I studied philosophy. I managed to convince those people to give me a degree. I write a philosophy blog and I more than occasionally write about ethics. And as a philosopher, I should really have my ethical poo together. But I don’t. I have no idea which or whose school of ethics I do or should follow.

 

 

philosophical now

 

 

This is important. Not just because the moral in every Christmas story is that nothing matters in the world more than living in the spirit of brotherhood not just on Christmas, but one every day of the year. But because when I’m out on the rare occasion that I shop for Christmas presents, my ethical point of view has more to do with my shopping than I think it does.

 

I WISH I COULD BE AS HAPPY AS THESE PEOPLE AT THE MALL

I WISH I COULD BE AS HAPPY AS THESE PEOPLE ARE WHILE I’M SPENDING MONEY ON STUFF … FOR OTHER PEOPLE.

 

 

I mean, should I buy a gift for a relative I despise out of a sense of deontological duty? Should I buy a gift that make everyone happy like a utilitarian would?

 

 

A big screen TV set should bring the greatest happiness for the most people, right?

A big screen TV set should bring the greatest happiness for the most people, right?

 

 

Or should I go Galt, declare my love for Ayn Rand and say screw everyone’s Merry Christmas and buy a shitload of presents for myself?

 

ayn rand's christmas

 

 

Because that’s what I really want to do. But I know I shouldn’t. It wouldn’t be the morally correct thing to spend all of my money on myself, even if I hate Christmas.

At least I don’t think it would be. Morally. Correct.

 

OH  SNAP!

 

See what I mean? How can I tell if it is or isn’t the right thing if I have no moral theory of my own? I really need help, here. Those gift cards gotta go to somebody.

 

 

gift-cards

 

 

Now I really do feel like a Scrooge. If only one of the three Ghosts of Christmas would show me the way…

 

 

NOT THAT ONE.

NOT THAT ONE.

 

 

I suppose, then, this is what Christmas is all about.

Christmas is about thinking about the things that should matter to us most, like our family and friends.

 

Even John Galt would agree that friends and family matter to some degree.

 

…. as long as they’re not moochers.

 

Christmas is about a group of kids discovering the meaning of Christmas while decorating a jacked-up Christmas tree. It’s about realizing that a single, wonderful life does makes a difference.  Or realizing we don’t need a Red Ryder carbine action 200 shot model air rifle to have the ultimate Christmas.

 

It’s about Billy finding out what happens if you feed Gizmo after midnight.

 

 

gizmo

 

 

And why climbing down your own chimney dressed as Santa Claus is always a bad idea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you think about it (thankfully not for too long), Christmas is about assessing who we are and what we believe in. It’s about caring for our fellow man whether they deserve it or not.

 

And occasionally, just occasionally, Christmas is about this guy:

 

 

black jesus

 

 

 

 

What’s the Philosophically Correct Thing for A Philosopher to Say About Jesus On His Birthday?

 

byzantine jesus It’s Christmas Eve and approximately 2.1 billion of the inhabitants of the planet earth will be celebrating the birth of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I am not one of them.

Still, I think I should probably say something about philosophy and Christmas.

A few years ago, President George W. Bush said that his favorite philosopher is Jesus. Some reporter asked who his favorite philosopher is and he answered the question. I’m not a fan of the former president but I appreciated that he answered the question honestly.

I remember there was some to-do about what the president said.

Stuff like he shouldn’t have named a religious figure

And that Jesus wasn’t a philosopher.

Sure Jesus was.

How is “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” not philosophical?

You see, even though I’m an atheist (actually I’m an apatheist, but who’s being technical?) I’m not one of those atheist types who gets all furious-faced and bent out of shape any time someone mentions Jesus Christ, Christianity, or Christmas. I’m not offended when someone tells me “Merry Christmas”. I’m not all that bothered by Nativity displays in public places. And I think it’s entirely appropriate to mention that Jesus is the “reason for the season”.

That’s because he is, you know.

Despite my beliefs this is not how I spend Christmas

Despite my beliefs this is not how I spend Christmas

It’s no secret that philosophers are notoriously atheistic. There are plenty of non-believing-in-the-existence-of-an-all-powerful-creator philosophers to choose from. A.J. Ayer, Colin McGinn, Julian Baginni, Rudolf Carnap, Jean-Paul Sartre, Michel Foucault, Michael Martin, John Searle, Simone de Beauvoir, Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer, Albert Camus, J.L. Mackie, Bernard Williams, David Chalmers, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Dennett, Baron d’Holbach, Bertrand Russell, Ayn Rand, Kai Nielsen, James Rachels, George Santayana – Just to name a few.

All philosophers. All atheists.

The belief about philosophers and God goes that philosophers are all about reason and logical arguments, and that most philosophers believe that believing in a great, big God up in the sky that no one actually sees or hears isn’t exactly reasonable or logical.

Even when we name philosophers who do believe in God no one really ever mentions
Jesus.

All Descartes wanted to do is prove that God exists. I don’t recall him saying anything about Jesus – at least not anything about his philosophy.

I actually think Jesus is a philosopher. And a pretty good one at that.

Need I remind you, I don’t believe in God and I’m willing to admit this.

I think this is actually a picture of Barry Gibb. Maybe Harrison Ford with a beard.

I think this is actually a picture of Barry Gibb. Maybe Harrison Ford with a beard.

I know that some believers out there might take the fact that I’ve considered Jesus a philosopher at all as a sign that my sensus divinitatis is working, which, of course, means that Plantinga is right.

That is exactly what I don’t want to admit during the holidays.

But I really do think that Jesus is a pretty good philosopher.

Now wait, my atheist friends – I’m not talking about Christianity. I’m not advocating following the word of Jesus as a religion or even that anyone should praise, worship, or follow the words of Jesus at all (although if you want to, the Bible makes it pretty easy to do, since everything he said is written in red).

So what makes Jesus a philosopher, you ask?

I know this may be weird for all of you atheist philosophers out there, but if we think of what philosophers do; that philosophers think, write, and, well, philosophize about matters concerning ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology, there’s no reason (other than personal bias) to exclude Jesus from the ranks of philosophers.

And don’t say Jesus isn’t a philosopher because he didn’t write anything down.

Neither did Socrates.

If you’re still not convinced, let me give you a sample of what I’m talking about:

Jesus the ethicist:

A good person produces good deeds from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil deeds from an evil heart. Whatever is in your heart determines what you say (Luke 6:45)

Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31)

Love your enemies. Do good to those who hurt you. Pray for happiness of those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. (Luke 6:27-28)

Jesus the metaphysician:

With God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26)

God is a spirit… (John 4:24)

I am the way and the truth and the life. (John 16:6)

Jesus the epistemologist:

Your father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him. (Matthew 6:8)

It’s fairly obvious that Jesus was (or is it is?) a philosopher. But here’s the cool thing: if you follow Jesus, you will be rewarded with an eternity in Heaven.

Can Saul Kripke promise you that?

Jesus looks a little like Kris Kristopherson in this picture, don’t you think?

Jesus looks a little like Kris Kristopherson in this picture, don’t you think? …Or Alan Rickman…

Getting into Heaven is awesome enough to persuade anyone (unless you’re Richard Dawkins or Daniel Dennett) to give a philosophical read of Jesus a try. But when you read the philosophy of Jesus it’s really no wonder that Jesus’ philosophy, even 2500 years after his birth, is more popular than any other philosopher.

That’s probably because unlike most professional philosophers, when you read Jesus’ philosophy you can actually understand it. And it’s a cinch to follow.

That’s two things no one will never say about Immanuel Kant.

It’s no surprise that this philosopher…
sunday school jesus

is more popular than this philosopher

and this philosopher writes about Jesus.

and this philosopher writes about Jesus.

And that’s the way it should be, isn’t it?

 

I think only me and President Bush would agree to that.

So, from this hell-bound atheist to my fellow philosophers and citizens of planet earth, I wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS!

ENJOY A LITTLE CHRISTMAS MUSIC

 

NOTE:
My list of atheist philosophers may include an agnostic or two. As I recall Sir Bertrand Russell was an agnostic, not an atheist.