A Very Merry Un-birthday To Me

TODAY IS my birthday.

Not gonna say how old I am.

I’m just gonna say I’m another year older.

Another year wiser, presumably.

Presumably.

Another year I understand a little more why Schopenhauer was so damn grumpy.

Well…as another year has passed, I, as I do every year, take a philosophical assessment of my life

I actually do this every year. I’m not lying. 

You know… I may have gained or lost weight between birthdays  (it’s almost always gained). I may be richer or poorer (it’s almost always poorer), but every birthday reminds me to think about the things that are more important than my waistline or bank account.

What am I doing to live the best life philosophically?

I have to say that the answer this year is “not much”.

It’s been kinda a rough year.

Hasn’t it been for everybody?

And yet, here I am. Another birthday. Another year closer to the inevitable.

Sorry I’m being so melancholy. Birthdays get me like that.

You know what’s kinda funny? Every birthday I reflect on my life (philosophically) yet I can’t think of one philosopher who ever said anything about birthdays. I mean, a birthday might be significant philosophically, but are birthdays philosophically significant?

What a philosopher say is the philosophical way to celebrate your birthday?

Would Plato throw a surprise birthday for Aristotle? 

Would Descartes throw back a few birthday shots?

Would Hegel tell a stripper it’s his birthday for a free birthday lap dance? 

Would chowing down on that second piece of birthday cake involve choosing between being a dissatisfied Socrates or a satisfied pig? 

Do philosophers have anything to say about any of this?

I pretty sure Kant had something to say about birthdays.

That guy had something to say about everything.

Anyway… Does it really matter what philosophers have to say about birthdays? I can’t imagine any would have any tips for making a birthday more fun.

They’d all have ways to make your birthday philosophically fun.

And philosophically fun isn’t much fun at all.

I suspect Diogenes would really know how to celebrate a birthday, tho.

I imagine a birthday night out with Diogenes would require stashing away bail money…. because of that public masturbation thing.

Well, folks…

If today’s your birthday, Happy Birthday! You made it through another year. And may the year to come bring you health, wealth, and wisdom.

And if it’s not the date of your birth, have a merry un-birthday and be sure to always have bail money — One of your philosopher pals might invite you out to celebrate a birthday night out on the town.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Night of the Living STANS

IF I’VE LEARNED anything from my years spent interacting with folks online, it’s this: all fandoms are awful.

I’m not joking. Most are pretty bad.

dotd

JUST SAY THE WORDS “RUNNING ZOMBIES” IN A ROOM FULL OF GEORGE A. ROMERO FANS AND WAIT…

Take a look around the interwebs and you’ll see there’s a good reason why they invented the phrase TOXIC FANDOM.

screen_shot_2017_10_09_at_7.42.25_pm.0

NOT CALLING OUT RICK AND MORTY FANS EXCLUSIVELY (or this young man in the photo in particular), BUT THAT WHOLE MC DONALD’S MULAN DIPPING SAUCE THING WAS NOT THE FANDOM’S FINEST MOMENT…. Wubba Lubba Dub Dub

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that all fandoms are bad (although I just did).
Communing with others who share mutual interests is a good thing. More than half of
my Facebook friends are people I’ve “met” in Star Trek fan groups.
Yes. I’m still on Facebook.
Actually, Star Trek fans are pretty toxic, too.
cbs_star_trek_discovery_115_option_1_clean_1920_thumb_master

JUST SAY THE NAME MICHAEL BURNHAM IN A STAR TREK FAN GROUP AND WAIT…

Trekkies, Little Monsters, Swifties, the KISS Army, the Beyhive, Beliebers — just a few
monikers of popular fandoms. 

 

Question: Are Game of Thrones fans called anything? What about The Walking Dead

fans? What are they called?

17c4cae0f29d43091c7ac5cf6662b81a

THERE’S GOTTA BE A NAME FOR SOMEONE WHO DOES THIS TO THEIR CAT

Some fandoms’ fans are so devoted they’ve shot past being mere fans;

they’re STANS.

A“stan”, according to Urban Dictionary, is:

crazed and or obsessed fan. The term comes from the song Stan by eminem. The term Stan is used to describe a fan who goes to great lengths to obsess over a celebrity.
These people are fans:
stcostume7
THIS guy is a stan.
hqdefault-1
I’m going to assume that most fans (and even most stans) are harmless, but there are
devoted fans out there.
Almost anything or anyone that’s popular has a fandom. Almost anything or anyone with
one notable exception: PHILOSOPHERS.
In all my years of mindless philosophizing  I have never once heard of or seen a
philosophy fandom.
I mean, Rule 34 of the internet says for every conceivable idea, there’s a porn of it.  I’m
pretty sure that there’s a fandom corollary — for every thing in pop culture, there’s a
fandom of it. Sounds like a reasonable to assume, right?
…and it’s not like philosophy has never been popular. I mean, Socrates had his fans
1659482830_42231fb724_b

ANY GROUP OF FOLLOWERS WHO’D SHOW UP TO WATCH A GUY KILL HIMSELF ARE A PRETTY DEVOTED BUNCH

Glaucon probably was a stan, tho.

 

I mean, think about it for a minute. Philosophy (well… Western philosophy, anyway) has

been around since at least the 6th century BCE, and is the mother of ALL disciplines, but

has there ever once been a PhilosophyCon? Do philosophy fans have clever fandom-

based nicknames? Socrateers, Aristotoholics, Hegelites…?

Is there philosophy cosplay?

Wait — there is philosophy cosplay. But it usually looks like this:

philosopher-cosplay

NOT KNOCKING THESE GUYS. THIS IS PRETTY GOOD PHILOSOPHY COSPLAY

What happens when you put a couple of devoted Kant fans in a room? Do they disagree?

Do Kantian disagreements ever turn violent? Probably not.

Oh wait, they have*

I guess at least Immanuel Kant has stans.

So… at least Immanuel Kant has a toxic fandom.

In Russia, anyway.

 

Ok…. Russian Kantian gun fighting stans aside, maybe the reason why philosophy

fandoms aren’t like Rick and Morty or Selena Gomez fans is because philosophy fans

aren’t like Rick and  Morty or Selena Gomez fans. Philosophy fans, kantian Russians

aside, aren’t very enthusiastic people. They may feel passionate about philosophy, but

they aren’t very passionate about philosophers. And even when they’re passionate about

philosophy,  philosophy fans are pretty subdued about it.

 

Russian Kant stans aside.

 

That Slavoj Žižek-Jordan Peterson debate was hyped to hell and back and it pretty much

just looked like this: 

zizek-peterson-800x480

TWO BROS JUST CHATTIN’

Ok… I’m pretty convinced Mark Hamill has been doing Žižek cosplay for a few years…
mark-hamill-slavoj-zizek-1444715
Well… there is ONE thing Rick and Morty and philosophy fans have in common: but to
understand you gotta have a high I.Q.

Sorry kid.

You see, Tay Sway can shake if off
shake-it-off-gif-taylor-swift-38590604-500-266
Most of the “popular” philosophers are…we… dead. Aristotle has been dead since 322
BCE!!!
He’s not shaking much of anything.
…and shaking is what gets you fans.
Not every philosopher has the natural charisma of cigarette smoking Albert Camus.
albertcamus

ALBERT CAMUS, THE ZAC EFRON OF PHILOSOPHY

So what should philosophers do  if we want fandoms?
tenor-1

THIS MIGHT HELP

For starters, philosophy seems to be doing a pretty good job sneaking philosophy into
pop culture with movies like The Matrix and tv shows like The Good Place.  Lots of people
out there play Bioshock.
That’s a video game.
… and with the new Bill and Ted flick in production, maybe we’ll see the return of
Socrates, to introduce a whole new generation of youths to the teachings of the ancient
gadfly of Athens.
wq7b1wo

ALL WE ARE IS DUST IN THE WIND, DUDE

After all, we got all those Rick and Morty fans out there with their high I.Q.s  (and all
those Star Trek fans who fancy themselves philosophical),  isn’t it time philosophers
cultivate their own potentially toxic fanbase?
Kantian Russian firearm enthusiasts aside.
I say, it’s time for philosophers to claim their place in the pantheon of (potentially toxic)
fandoms. It’s time to stop wasting time yelling “Pickle Rick!” in public places and put our
high I.Q.s to some good use! Why let those nerdy Trekkers claim all the philosophy??? It’s
time philosophers get shakin’! It’s time for Diogenes cosplayin’ and PhilosophyCon. It’s
time for a tv show about a band of gun-totin’, philosophy-quotin’, kickass lovers of
wisdom and a Chris Hardwick aftershow.
Did you know Chris Hardwick majored in philosophy in college?
He did, you know.
BENTHAMHEADS UNITE!!!!
It’s time to start dressing up our pets like our favorite French existentialist philosopher.
Why should The Walking Dead fans be the only fans who get to do this?
m2fnprp

SERIOUSLY, WHO DOES THIS TO THEIR PET????

MAKE AFFIRMING (the consequent) GREAT AGAIN!

OF THE MANY subjects that I like to talk about but rarely write about, at the top of my list is a little subject called “current events”.

In particular, politics.

Although I enjoy thumbing through a treatise of classical political philosophy or even engaging in the occasional mostly political debate, the act of actually writing about something political kinda makes me cringe.

Mostly because a trip through any comment section about politics is cringe inducing.

toon-comment-section-31515176The internet has made political debate an often cringeworthy endeavor, but the cringe + politics combo isn’t new.

Cringy political talk (often in the form of shit talking and/or trolling) is as old as people with differing opinions saying their opinions out loud.

Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton were masters at 18th century shit talking. Jefferson wrote about Hamilton:

I was duped … by the Secretary of the treasury, and made a fool for forwarding his schemes, not then sufficiently understood by me; and of all the errors of my political life, this has occasioned the deepest regret.

That’s pretty much the equivalent of Jefferson calling Hamilton a fucktard.*

20071025_alexanderhamiltonstanding-380x500

ALEXANDER HAMILTON: FOUNDING FATHER, THE GUY ON THE TEN DOLLAR BILL, AND NOTORIOUS FUCKTARD

We’ve all seem that word on Facebook.

…some of us have been called that word on Facebook.

Lucky us, eh?

The entire dialogue between Socrates and Thrasymachus in Book I of Plato’s Republic is one of the cringiest political debates in philosophy.

Especially the part when Thrasymachus asks Socrates if he had a wet nurse.

That’s what we call owning the libs.

9iL2.gif

THRASYMACHUS OWNING SOCRATES, 380 BCE (colorized)

Sometimes — more than sometimes — the internet kinda makes me wish politics never existed.

But, that’s the funny thing about politics. Politics can’t not exist.

I had a political science professor who used to tell his classes, “you can leave politics alone, but politics won’t leave you alone.” What he meant is, even if we personally don’t vote, participate in or keep informed about political affairs, politicians still make laws that effect us.

Try as we might to not get involved, politics is unavoidable.

And no, unfollowing our tinfoil hat-wearing, conspiracy nutjob uncle on Facebook won’t help.

tumblr_loq5o7rd4n1qzl8s1o1_400

Even if politics is unavoidable, exactly why should we get involved?

Well… the answer to that question, my friends, has something to do with a certain 4th century Greek philosopher.

A fellow named Aristotle.

…And they didn’t call him “The Philosopher” for nothing.

Aristotle says, people, it seems, are designed for politics.

In Book I of Politics Aristotle wrote:

That man is much more a political animal than any kind of bee or any herd animal is clear. For, as we assert, nature does nothing in vain, and man alone among the animals has speech….speech serves to reveal the advantageous and the harmful and hence also the just and unjust. For it is peculiar to man as compared to the other animals that he alone has a perception of good and bad and just and unjust and other things of this sort; and partnership in these things is what makes a household and a city.

Wait a minute. I forgot to do something.

13579566

As an old English professor of mine repeatedly said, if you introduce a bit of jargon, a writer should define what the but of jargon is. And since I’m writing, and I introduced a bit of jargon, I should explain what that bit of jargon is.

I’ve been using the word “politics” as if we all agree on a universal definition of the word. I’ve spent enough time on the internet and listened to enough talk radio to know that the word “politics” carries different connotations for different people.

So, with that in mind, when I say “politics”, I mean:

 The activities, actions, and policies that are used to gain and hold power in a government or to influence a government. (Merriam-Webster)

There. Alright. Back to what I was talking about.

If I was actually talking about anything.

According to Aristotle, the role of politics in the city (or, polis — the Greek word from which the word “politics” is derived) is for the proper training of citizens. Proper training, Aristotle says, is to raise virtuous people.

p.s. you might want to check out the prequel to Politics, Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle explains virtue and what it means to be (philosophically) virtuous…and some other stuff.

You see, according to Aristotle, man, like other animals, gather in groups (or herds). However, unlike other animals, man (and he does mean MAN) possesses the capacity for rational thought. Man, by way of his intellect, is able to discern good from bad, just from unjust. This ability enables man to form social units (families) and the social bonds (of families) required to establish cities.

Because the goal of politics, Aristotle says, is the HIGHEST GOOD (i.e. virtue) of the state, citizens must take an active part in city affairs.

That is to say, according to Aristotle, political participation is mandatory — if we want to be Good (virtuous) people. 

And you should want to be a virtuous person.

Whoa. Wait. I’ve done it again.

go-back-trump1

I’ve used a word without defining it. Virtue, as defined by Aristotle, is:

a disposition to behave in the right manner and as a mean between extremes of deficiency and excess, which are vices. We learn moral virtue primarily through habit and practice rather than through reasoning and instruction.

Aristotle argues a virtuous citizenry is essential to a successful state.

And only through political participation can we become virtuous.

(Because virtue isn’t merely a state of being, it’s a way of life)

You may not like politics, but you can’t achieve eudaimonia without it.

You can’t.

Can’t.

tenor-1

So…… I guess what I’m saying is, even though the internet has amplified the shitstorm that is politics, we have a philosophical obligation to engage in the political, no matter how soul-destroying we feel it may be.

The strange not-quite irony about politics is that politics isn’t destructive to our souls at all. In fact, we become better people — the city becomes a better city — a VIRTUOUS city when we get involved.

And who can resist that eudaimonia, right?

Right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the way, you may have noticed that nowhere in this blog post have I mentioned anything about affirming the antecedent. I wasn’t going to….I just thought it would make a clever title.

 

 

 

* I’m pretty sure Jefferson wasn’t the only Founder who felt that way about Hamilton. I’d bet cash that the first time someone said the word “fucktard” was referring to Alexander Hamilton.

I’d also bet cash that person was Thomas Jefferson….or Aaron Burr.

1149524_1

SOURCES:

https://en.m.wikiquote.org/wiki/Alexander_Hamilton

Aristotle. Politics.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/politics

https://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/aristotle/section8/

 

 

 

 

WILL THE REAL PHILOSOPHER PLEASE STAND UP?

WORLD PHILOSOPHY DAY was on November 16th.

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

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

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

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

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

Louis CK has – had a t.v. show.

He had a couple, as a matter of fact.

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

deadline-business-breaking-news-harassment-louis-c-k-accused-of-masturbating-28903187

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

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

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

 

thats-my-boy1

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The story goes that no one ever saw Epictetus laugh.

Nobody.

 

epictetus-011

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

 

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

A scene from Aristophanes’ The Clouds:

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

That’s a joke about Socrates.

It’s supposed to be funny.

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

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

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

Did that make you think of something funny?

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

COMEDIC GOLD.

 

man-reading-book-laughing1

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

 

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

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

There really is nothing funnier than a good metaphysics joke.

 

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

 

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

Wittgenstein was brilliant, but he wasn’t funny.

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

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

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

Folks like the Sartre used to do that.

 

sartre

I MEAN, EXISTENTILISM IS KINDA FUNNY

 

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

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

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

 

nietzsche187a

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From UCLA, no less.

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

IMG_20171202_022723

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

I WASN’T BORN a fan of philosophy.

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

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

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

 

3-air-guitar

I WISH I’D NEVER SEEN THIS VIDEO

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

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

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

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

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

As it turns out, there almost always was.

 

bowie-ashes-o

LOOK CLOSELY. THERE’S SOMETHING GOING ON, HERE

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

 

bowie kierkegaard

THE FACT THAT THEY LOOK ALIKE MAY NOT BE COINCIDENTAL

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

 

bill ted and socrates

WE ALL REMEMBER THAT TIME SOCRATES TOURED WITH WYLD STALLYNS

 

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

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

And David Bowie certainly is “problematic”.

 

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

 

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

 

(comment) chris hansen

THIS KIND OF INAPPROPRIATE

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

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

The law calls it statutory rape.

 

giphy

 

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

 

Greatest Artists of All Time

 

and more like this:

 

bowie mugshot

 

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

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

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

 

don't let your baby

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

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

 

not socrates 2

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

 

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

 

arthur schopenhauer 1

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

 

Foucault was just weird.

 

sexy foucault

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

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

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

art from artist

philosophy from philosopher

 

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

 

grinds my gears

EXCUSE ME WHILE I HAVE A PETER GRIFFIN MOMENT

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

 

no heidegger

 

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

 

I still hate Hegel, though.

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

 

hegel TLDR

 

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

 

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

We should never fail to remind ourselves that the ability to communicate profound words or deep insights does not make a person perfect (nor should it). We should remember that sometimes even good people do bad things.
tumblr_inline_mxe0qqbxnq1qcryb6

When all is said and done, there’s still a philosophical lesson to be learned – if only for the opportunity to ask what do we do when our idols are “problematic”?

I still don’t know.

If you figure out the answer let me know.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

SOURCES:

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

Perpetual Existence Machine

Birthdays usually are pretty ok.

Birthday presents and Facebook happy birthday comments are all well and good.

One can never get tired of someecards.

ecards

But with each passing year I commemorate my birth I just can’t get over the one thing that really sucks about getting older – the knowledge that all things end.

And by end, I mean I’m gonna die.

In the end everybody dies.

ben

NOPE. NOT EVEN BEN MAKES IT OUT ALIVE

 

The inevitable cost of years of Facebook birthday notifications is that family, friends, people we see on TV, and eventually ourselves, will shrug off this mortal coil and join the choir invisible.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, this post is going to be about death.

Did you know there’s more than one kind of death?
Clinical death, as defined by Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary (13th edition) is as follows:

Permanent cessation of all vital functions. [defined by]
1) total irreversible cessation of cerebral function of the
respiratory system, spontaneous function of the circulatory
system. 2) the final and irreversible cessation of perceptible

Legal death, according to Wikipedia, is:

A government’s official recognition that a person has died. Normally this is done by issuing a death certificate. In most cases, such certificate is only issued either by a doctor’s declaration of death or by an identified corpse.

The idea of death (clinical death), in particular, our own death is unsettling to many people. The late Elizabeth Kübler-Ross (1926-2004), author of On Death and Dying (1969), writes:

In our unconscious, death is never possible in regard to
ourselves. It is inconceivable for our conscious to imagine
an actual ending of our own life here on earth, and if this
life of ours had to end, the ending is always attributed to
malicious intervention… therefore death in itself is
associated with a bad act, a frightening happening…

 

The philosopher Thomas Nagel (1937- ) writes that the problem with death is that death interferes with our ability to enjoy all the goods of life. According to Nagel, the mere fact that we are alive and able to experience what life has to offer is good.

So, as Nagel writes, “If death is an evil at all, it cannot be because of its positive features, but only because of what it deprives us of”.

Nagel argues, if our lives were not interrupted by death, we would continue to live long and prosper and to partake of whatever good there is to derive from living. For Nagel, the objectionable thing about death is the loss of life. No matter how old a person is, even if we live to be a thousand years old, death is still an evil because death limits what we could have experienced.

all good things

 

Unfortunately for us, Nagel says, grow attached to the goods and experiences of life that death will eventually deprive us of. Although the average human lifespan is generally no more than one hundred years, we see our lives and life’s opportunities as limitless; we can’t imagine our own death.

Viewed in this way, Nagel writes, death is seen as an abrupt end to our limitless possibilities. Nagel writes:

But the time after his death is time of which his death deprives
him. It is time in which, had he not died then, he would be alive.
Therefore any death entails the loss of some life that its victim
would have led had he not died at that or any earlier point.

So… our minds cannot conceive of our lives ending.. It is especially difficult to accept our own inescapable demise in light of the fact that there are cells in the human body that can live indefinitely. It seems unfair that a single cell can live forever while our whole is condemned to die.

The trouble is, we have to realize that someday we’re going to die

And that sucks.

 

grim reaper

Still, a problem with some people is not that death itself is a bad thing (as Nagel suggests) but what they fear is what happens after we die. After all, there aren‘t too many folks around who can tell us about that.

Some people believe that we go to Heaven or Hell, where we are either rewarded for our good deeds or doomed to eternal damnation. Other people believe in reincarnation. Some people think we return to earth as spirits. Some think that after death, we rejoin the universal consciousness.

And some people think that we die and that’s it.

dead

 

If that’s the case then there’s nothing to be afraid of.

The ancient Greek Stoic philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BCE) argued that we have no need to be afraid of death. Epicurus believed that our fear of death is irrational in that believing that death is to be feared means that we think that death is a bad thing.

But for death to be bad, Epicurus claims, we would actually have to experience death.

Epicurus argues that we do not fear death but the experience of dying. Epicurus states:

So that the man speaks but idly who says that he fears death not
because it will be painful when it comes, but because it is painful
in anticipation. For that which gives no trouble when it comes, is
but an empty pain in anticipation.

 

Epicurus claims that dying is not the same as being dead, merely the end of all experience. And since death is the end of all experience, Epicurus argues that we don’t actually experience death.

Despite what John Lennon may have sang, no one knows what it’s like to be dead.

there is no afterlife

 

 

So according to Epicurus, death is neither good nor bad. Epicurus says that we should think about death like this:

Become accustomed to the belief that death is nothing to us. For all
good and evil consists in sensation, but death is deprivation of
sensation. And therefore a right understanding of death is nothing
to us makes the mortality of life enjoyable, not because it adds to it
an infinite span of time, but because it takes away the craving for
immortality.

We need not worry about death, Epicurus tells us, because “that which is dissolved is without sensation; and that which lacks sensation is nothing to us”.

Epicurus says the world is made up of atoms and the atoms that make up our bodies merely dissolve into separate atoms after we die. In other words, Death is not painful or to be feared because our atoms will be busy dissolving back into the stuff of the universe. In the end, our deaths will be the ultimate no biggie. It will be over before we know it.

man's best friend

REALLY, WE’RE ALL AFRAID OF DYING AND MEETING THIS GUY

 

Likewise, in Phaedo (which is all about the death of Socrates), Socrates tells his companions that he does not fear death. For Socrates, death is merely the separation of the soul from the body. Socrates says death should not be feared

Because as we have a body and our soul is fused with such an
evil we shall never adequately attain what we desire, which we
affirm to be the truth. The body keeps us busy in a thousand
ways… It fills us with wants, desires, fears and all sorts of
illusions and such nonsense… it is impossible to attain any full
knowledge with the body…either we can never attain knowledge
or we can do so after death.

Socrates tells his companions he does not fear death because he believes in the immortality of the soul.

Socrates argues that the body is a prison for the soul and that our earthy, flawed bodies keep us from attaining the Truth. The worst kind of imprisonment, Socrates says, is due to the bodily desires that force us to see the world through a cage, and while we are caged our soul “wallows in every kind of ignorance”. Socrates says we should desire our souls to join the invisible, the divine and immortal, where our can be happy “having rid itself of confusion, ignorance, fear, violent desires and the other human ills.”

Socrates maintains that philosophers should want their (our) souls to be in its purest state. Lovers of wisdom should want to die to attain Truth and to seek the release of the soul from the body. Socrates says to Cebes when philosophy is practiced in the right way, philosophy trains lovers of wisdom for death.

Socrates declares philosophers should look forward to death!

The_Death_of_Socrates_cropped

DON’T WORRY HOMIES, I ACTUALLY WANT TO DIE!

Ok. So, Epicurus says that we shouldn’t fear death because we don’t actually experience death, and Socrates argues that the philosophically correct thing to do is to look forward to the end of life.

But if we should look forward to death, why do we dread it so? What about what Elizabeth Kübler-Ross said about not conceiving of our lives ending?

Is it wrong to want to live forever?

You know the answer is yes, right?

you can't live forever
The ancient Greek myth of Eos demonstrates a problem of immortality.

The goddess Eos fell in love with the mortal Tithonus. Eos, not wanting her love to die, asked Zeus to grant Tithonus eternal life. Eos, however, forgot to ask Zeus to also grant Tithonus eternal health. Tithonus eventually grew old and sick, but because he was immortal he could not die. Tithonus’ immortality was not a blessing but a curse.

On the philosophical side, the late philosopher Bernard Williams’ (1929-2003) tells us in his essay “The Makropulos Case: The Tedium of Immortality” (1972) that the primary problem with immortality is that we would become so bored with living forever that life would become intolerable.

cry

THAT MOMENT YOU REALIZE THAT YOU’RE GOING TO LIVE FOREVER

 

Williams’ example is the case of Elina Makropulos, a woman who drank a life-extending elixir and lived to be 342 years old. According to Williams‘ account of the life of the immortal woman, Makropulos had lived so long that she no longer experienced any joy in her existence and soon became indifferent to experience. The reason why Makropulos found no joy in life is because Elina Makropulos had simply lived long enough to do everything there is to do. Williams describes Elina Makropulos’ life:

Her unending life has come to a state of boredom, indifference, and
coldness. Everything is joyless: “In the end it is all the same,” she
says…

 

What do we do, Williams asks, when we’ve had all the time in the world to do everything and have already done it?

The short answer is: be bored out of our minds and praying for death.

Williams states that we have only a limited amount of time to enjoy the goods that life has to offer and the fact that life is finite creates an appreciation for our lives and experiences.

In short, it is the inevitability of death that makes life livable.
Just like the poem says, we want to “gather ye rosebuds while ye may” because we know our time is fleeting.*

Right now, you may be thinking, I’ve seen a movie about this very thing. You’re right.

You have.

death becomes her poster

THERE IS ONE CHARACTER IN DEATH BECOMES HER THAT REJECTS THAT IDEA OF IMMORTALITY. MADELINE ASHTON’S HUSBAND, ERNEST MENVILLE. WHEN ERNEST IS PROPOSITIONED TO TAKE THE LIFE-EXTENDING ELIXIR, HE REFUSES, DECLARING THAT HE DOES NOT WANT TO LIVE FOREVER BECAUSE HE FEARS THAT HE WILL BE BORED AND LONELY. ERNEST SAYS HE DOES NOT WANT TO LIVE FOREVER WHILE EVERYONE HE KNOWS WILL GROW OLD AND DIE. ERNEST SAYS OF IMMORTALITY, “IT’S NOT A DREAM, IT’S A NIGHTMARE”.

Williams predicts an immortal would soon grow indifferent to life and that life becomes meaningless simply because he has run out of things to do; there is no longer anything worth living for.

An immortal does not derive pleasure from overeating, partying, or having sex because he knows that it ultimately whatever he chooses to do makes no difference. The next day he will do the exact same thing all over again… and again.

 

honest-couple

THESE IMMORTAL PEOPLE HAVE DONE IT IN EVERY WAY IMAGINABLE…. FIFTY YEARS AGO

 

After we’ve done everything (and had an eternity to do it) the question we inevitably ask ourselves is “now what?” – what is there to make life worth living? An immortal would eventually be overcome with the desire to end the tedium of immortality and that death offers the only permanent solution to the problem.

It takes an eternity to realize the truth of what Bernard Williams wrote, “It can be a good thing not to live too long”.

So…

If Socrates, Epicurus and Bernard Williams are right, then death really isn’t such a bad thing. Instead of fearing death, we should thank out lucky stars that even the most unpleasant death is preferable to an eternity fulfilling our desires.

We should be satisfied to know that we die to appreciate life.

zombie with placard

 

The fact that we cannot imagine our own death or that we may, in the future, develop the means to prevent death does not give us the license to live forever. And even if we could live forever, we shouldn’t want to. If you think about it, death doesn’t sound half bad. When we die we either: 1) return to the cosmic dust of the universe, 2) go to an idyllic Heaven, where every day is like Christmas, or 3) we’re released from the bonds of our flawed earthly bodies.

cause of death

More importantly, the real reason why we shouldn’t want to live forever is because, as Elina Makropulos warns us, there is indeed a fate worse than death – boredom.
As modern science continues to redefine what death is, we’re left to ask more questions about the nature of death both medically and philosophically, and there’s plenty of discussion and definitions going on out there to have us talking about death for an eternity, which really, is exactly what philosophers want us to do; to never stop asking questions about everything, including death.

In the end, this is how I choose to think about death: Some people say we experience more than one death. Our physical death is just the first death that we experience. Our final death, some say, comes the last time someone speaks our name. If this is true, then Epicurus, Albert Einstein, Anne of Cleaves, Socrates, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and Whitney Houston, even Bernard Williams, truly are immortal.

That’s the kind of immortality I think even Bernard Williams would be ok with.

*“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may” is the oft quoted first line of the Robert Herrick (1591-1674) poem “To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time” (1648).

 

 

 
SOURCES:

Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary. 1977. 13th edition. Ed. Clayton L. Thomas, M.D., M.P.H. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company. p. D-4.

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross. On Death and Dying: What the Dying Have To Teach Doctors, Nurses, Clergy, and Their Own Families. 1969 [First Touchstone edition, 1997]. NY: Touchstone. pp. 16-7.

Great Treasury of Western Thought: A Compendium of Important Statements of Man and His Institutions by the Great Thinkers in Western History. 1977. Eds. Mortimer J. Adler and Charles van Doren. NY: R R Bowker Company. p.131.

Thomas Nagel. “Death”. Mortal Questions. 1979. NY: Cambridge University Press. pp.3, 7-10.

Epicurus. “The Pursuit of Pleasure”. Twenty Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy. 1988. Eds. G. Lee Bowie, Meredith W. Michaels, Robert C. Solomon, and Robert J. Fogelin. NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. p.491.

Richard Schoch. The Secrets of Happiness: Three Thousand Years of Searching for the Good Life. 2006. NY: Scribner. pp.52-3.

Fred Feldman. Confrontations With the Reaper: A Philosophical Study of the Nature and Value of Death. 1992. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press. p.128.

Plato. “The Death of Socrates”. Twenty questions. pp. 448, 450.

Bernard Williams quote: http://www.unc.edu/~jfr/RI-TMCR1.htm.

Bernard Williams. “The Elina Makropulos Case”. Life, Death, and Meaning: Key Philosophical Readings On the Big Questions. 2004. Ed. David Benatar. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Litttlefield Publishers, Inc. p.331.

You Can’t Handle The (Post) Truth

WHEN YOU’RE A POLITICAL GEEK like I kind-of am, watching Sunday morning newstalk shows becomes something of a routine. The shows usually feature a regular who’s who of political pundits, experts, and media personalities.

A couple of Sundays ago, after some copious amount of channel surfing (I’m always torn between watching MSNBC or Fox News) I settled on watching Meet the Press, hosted by Chuck Todd.

 

post truth 1

 

The subject of most of the show was the Republican presidential nomination race, in particular, candidate and guest, Donald Trump. After the interview concluded, the morning’s panel discussed the controversial real estate magnate-turned presidential hopeful, – especially allegations that Donald Trump has a curious relationship with the truth.

That is to say, some accuse Donald Trump of making statements that are factually inaccurate.
Other people just flat-out say that Donald Trump is a liar.

 

3cbstl

 
Trump’s (alleged) lies include (but are not limited to): witnessing cheering Arabs/Muslims in New Jersey on 9/11, a retweet of bogus crime stats on black on white crime, and statements on Syrian refugees.

 

trump tweet

SPOT THE LIE IN THIS TWEET

 

The Crime Statistics Bureau in San Francisco does not exist.

 

Chuck Todd and his panel observed that Donald trump seems to suffered no negative consequence for making things up. If anything, Trump’s popularity has held steady and even increased with every accusation that he’s stated a factual inaccuracy.

 

tumblr_nx8uv0lpbm1uh4ocvo1_250

 

The peculiarity of the enduring popularity of the Trump campaign, despite being called a liar, lead Meet the Press host Chuck Todd to ask: Are we living in a post truth society?
Now, the term “post-truth” is a term has been floating around for at least a decade.

 

“Post-Truth” is often used in reference to politics.

 

what if i told you

 

Which is entirely appropriate if discussing the Trump presidential campaign.

 

anigif_enhanced-15800-1443023667-10

 

anigif_original-grid-image-29335-1443023750-4

 

 

In Ralph Keyes book The Post-Truth Era: Dishonesty and Deception In Contemporary Life (2004), Keyes describes the post-truth era as:

In the post-truth era, borders blur between truth and lies, honesty and dishonesty, fiction and nonfiction. Deceiving others becomes a challenge, a game, and ultimately a habit.

 

Keyes also says in a post-truth era:

 

… a liar is “ethically challenged” someone for whom “the truth is temporarily unavailable.”

A quick survey of the modern American political landscape, and Keyes would seem to be spot-on in his observation, even in the more than a decade since he wrote The Post-Truth Era.

But as much as it is important to as if we live in a post-truth era, it is equally important to ask if we do live in a post-truth era, how did we get to a point where the truth is politically irrelevant?

 

Well, we can go the psychological route.

 

We might simply declare that politicians and political candidates who have a curious relationship with the truth are pathologically predisposed to being factually inaccurate.

 

psychopathic_world_cr

 

That would do us just fine. (For more info on the pathology of political candidates, see: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/07/the-startling-accuracy-of-referring-to-politicians-as-psychopaths/260517/  )

Ok. We all can agree that politicians lie. And that some politicians seem to have an easier time with non-truth telling than others. But why is it that lying -er, factual inaccuracy telling is so prevalent in society today?

We can blame cognitive dissonance.

Or say that we all have a bad case of confirmation bias.

 

paul-noth-of-course-this-could-also-be-confirmation-bias-from-me-wanting-you-to-ge-new-yorker-cartoon
What if the reason isn’t psychological or political –

But philosophical?

 

post-63385-taylor-swift-bad-blood-now-we-yq4n

 

Since so much political post-truthing appeals to our emotions, we may ask, have the emotivists won?

 

tumblr_m37l3bns401qixcf3

 
When we say that your truth is as valid as any other version of truth, are we declaring Ethical Relativism the cultural winner?
Has postmodernism, that rejects the notion of the existence of objective truth, taken hold of our politics?

 

Postmodernism, closely associated with French philosophers such as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Jean-Francois Lyotard, has notably permeated popular culture, but also, perhaps to the detriment of, politics. Postmodernism does not subscribe to the idea of universal truths. Truth, like reality, is subjective. You make your own truth.

 

That certainly sounds like someone we’ve all heard of, doesn’t it?

 

download (2)

 

You may noticed if we do a little philosophical zig instead of a psychological zag, we may find that the roots of the post-truth era may stretch as far back as the birth of philosophical thought.
Perhaps the reason why Donald Trump seems so loosely tied to the telling of truths rests in the possibility that a Trump presidency will be carried out in the mold of the Philosopher-King of Plato’s Republic.

Something that will certainly please Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

 

giphy
It’s entirely possible that Trump is merely utilizing Platonic Noble Lies, which if you look at the recent history of the Republican Party, is a pretty Republican thing to do.

The only problem is that Trump may be noble lying a little early.
In Plato’s Republic Noble lies are myths told by the leaders to the citizens of the city to maintain social order.

According to Plato (or rather, Plato as Socrates) Noble Lies are necessary.

In Republic (414b-415d) says:

 

“Could we,” I said, “somehow contrive one of those lies that come into being in case of need of which we were just now speaking, some on noble lie to persuade, in the best case, even the rulers, but if not them, the rest of society?”

 
Following the philosophy of Plato, the German-American philosopher and father of the Neoconservative movement, Leo Strauss (1899-1973), maintained that, in the interest of carrying out government affairs, politicians can’t be completely truthful. Government needs to lie.

 

Notes James Horrox in his essay “Leo Strauss and the Cult of the Noble Lie”:

 

Deception for Strauss is therefore not just an avoidable bi-product of politics, but a central and necessary part of it, a condition of “perpetual deception” between the rulers and the ruled being the sine qua non of a stable society. Strauss suggests that “noble lies” therefore have a key role to play in uniting and guiding the mass of the population … As another Strauss analyst summarizes, he advocates a society in which “the people are told what they need to know and no more.”

According to the Straussian view of politics, a government that is deceptive and manipulates the people isn’t just necessary; it’s good.

That’s because the average person is too stupid to be trusted to run his own government.

Now, does that sound like someone we know?

 

stupid iowa

 

So, is Chuck Todd right? Is Donald Trump a post-truth candidate?

It would certainly seem so.

 

It’s worth reminding that the idea of a politician, president, or philosopher-king being averse to the truth is neither new, nor is it always discouraged or taken as a sign of the collapse of society. As Plato has shown us, it was the opposite. A government that lies is a sign of a efficiently functioning government.

 

 

Then again, Donald Trump may be, as Jeet Heer suggests in The New Republic, dealing in bullshit.

 

trumani

 

 
But then, that’s another topic for another article.

 

 

 

 

 

SOURCES:

http://www.ralphkeyes.com/the-post-truth-era/

https://newrepublic.com/article/124803/donald-trump-not-liar

http://www.dominican.edu/academics/osher/plone-cleanup-olli/archives/prior-sessions/spring/case-against-democracy-3

 

 

 

On the One Benefit of Never Having Learned How to Play A Musical Instrument

Music is the answer to the mystery of life.
– Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

Lately, I’ve gotten into this thing of watching documentaries.

I’m not saying this to sound smart or anything. I’m certainly not bragging about it.

Truth be told, I’m not too keen on indie cinema or documentaries. Any documentary I’ve ever watched I saw on cable television.

So I’m really not as much of a fan of documentaries as I am a fan of cable TV.

Thank goodness for Time Warner Cable.

I hate to have to admit that.

should not have told you that

I know that when a person says that they like documentaries, the immediate mental picture that comes to mind is of some pompous ass who only drinks fair-trade coffee, can determine the quality of wine from its smell, and tells people that they watch documentaries only so they can pontificate about how the only important cinema is based on true life.

I assure you I am not one of those people.

Well, I don’t watch the documentaries that air on the Sundance Channel. I watch the ones that air on HBO. The ones that come on late at night.

The ones that have Taxicab Confessions or Real Sex in the title.

I especially enjoy the documentaries they play on VH-1.

Because I find VH-1’s Behind the Music on Lynyrd Skynyrd more compelling than March of the Penguins.

That one VH-1 aired about Soul Train changed my life.

How can you not watch this and be changed for life?

Did I just admit that?

did i just say that GIF

Being a sucker for anything on VH-1 with the word “documentary” in the description, I decided to watch The Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl’s documentary Sound City.

BACK IN MY DAY DAVE GROHL WAS JUST THE DRUMMER IN NIRVANA. OH GOD, I’M OLD.

BACK IN MY DAY DAVE GROHL WAS JUST THE DRUMMER IN NIRVANA. OH GOD, I’M OLD.

In the documentary, musicians like Grohl, Lee Ving, Tom Petty, Rick Springfield, Mick Fleetwood, and Trent Reznor talk about their passion for music.

There’s no denying that music plays a fairly important part in most of our lives, not just the lives of musicians. Many of us have arm chaired judged contestants on American Idol.

JUST LOOKING AT WILLIAM HUNG AND YOU KNEW THE SINGING WAS GOING TO BE BAD

JUST LOOKING AT WILLIAM HUNG AND YOU KNEW THE SINGING WAS GOING TO BE BAD

And even more of us are guilty of singing more-than-slightly-off-key renditions of popular songs in the shower.

a pocket full of sunshine

Although most of what philosophers write about music concerns itself with the ontology of music*, drawing the distinctions between art and music, the classification of high and low forms of music, and the role that music plays in the philosophical development of the individual, even philosophers appreciate a tune or two.

Nietzsche famously said, “Without music, life would be a mistake.”

Philosophers, like the professional musicians in Dave Grohl’s documentary, also appreciate music as art.

And philosophy, like music, can be an art.

This looks like a fine place to drop a “That Look On Your Face When” meme.

that look

I know this all seems rather unbelievable.

Not because there are no artists anymore.

But because no one is into philosophy.

You see, even though the media doesn’t make much ado about modern-day painters, poets, or sculptors, being an artist is a fairly legit occupation. Even if they don’t talk about you on TMZ, a person can still find a successful career writing poems, painting or sculpting. We still read the works of Shakespeare, marvel at the paintings of Rembrandt and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Students still study Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

It’s a safe bet that if you walked around the streets of any major city you would find at least one person who can name a modern-day painter or poet.

Unfortunately, the same probably can’t be said about philosophy.

Sure, a few folks know about Aristotle and Socrates but how many people can name a philosopher who was born after the Titanic sank?

I know you philosophy majors can. You don’t count.

I blame TV and the movies.

When the television and the motion picture camera were invented philosophy went the way of the dodo.

philosophy's tombstone

What I mean, is that there are still writers and other artists. There are still romantic figures in the arts – modern-day Lord Byrons and Voltaires carry on the days of the troubadours. But they’re mostly in the arts that are meant to entertain. Our romantic artists are all actors or musicians. No one is ever celebrated for the art of creating a beautiful philosophical theory.
You can say your brain is an instrument, but who are we trying to kid?

Nobody ever sold out Madison Square Garden playing their brain.

AN ACTUAL PHOTO FROM SCHOPENHAUER’S LAST PHILOSOPHY TOUR (SCHOPENHAUER SHOWN CENTER STAGE)

AN ACTUAL PHOTO FROM SCHOPENHAUER’S LAST PHILOSOPHY TOUR (SCHOPENHAUER SHOWN CENTER STAGE)

And since I never learned how to play an instrument I’ve had plenty of time to think about these things….

I suppose that’s one benefit of never having learned how to play a musical instrument.

The problem isn’t just that philosophers aren’t very popular these days, thinking about things in general has gotten a bad rap.

There is something wrong with our ideology.

There’s something wrong with the basic principles upon which our culture is based.

You see, a growing number of Americans aren’t into reading anything. According to a Pew Center poll nearly a quarter of Americans did not read a single book in 2014.

SEE?

SEE?

It seems that the space where we communicate is getting smaller and smaller. So small in fact that we aren’t really required to read at all. Twitter limits us to 140 characters. Websites like Snapchat are purely visual.

There is no need to write anything.

And it’s not just that there are no words, but that the image we post disappears in a matter of minutes.

Think about it – what we communicate literally disappears.

poof 1

Even the visual image doesn’t last for very long.

I don’t know if it’s because we want to save trees or because the Illuminati has dumbed down the herd so they can imprison us in re-education death FEMA camps, but I contend that when people don’t read – when people stop studying the written word, there’s a problem.

Sure, you can learn from visuals. We’re all been able to put together a bookshelf by just looking at the diagram. But when a significant number of people (and growing) stop reading and society increasingly communicates via the visual image and the visual is temporary, how can we expect to sustain a culture that wants to read, analyze, and develop the kind of passion for the written word that some have for music?

BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THERE IS ACTUALLY SUCH A THING AS LOVING BOOKS TOO MUCH

BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THERE IS ACTUALLY SUCH A THING AS LOVING BOOKS TOO MUCH

You see, to truly develop the intellect, you need to read; to meditate on what you‘ve just read. If we don’t appreciate the written word, we lose the capacity to communicate complex ideas (like philosophy, for instance). Like the great works of literature, complex ideas can’t be communicated in just 140 characters. Complex ideas can’t be limited to just visuals. Much less one that self destructs in 90 seconds.
Look, I’m not calling for everyone to throw out their guitars and ditch their Twitter accounts because we should all study philosophy. Yeah, I write and blog about philosophy. But it’s not even deep philosophy. I write about how philosophical concepts relate to the things we see on TV, in movie theaters, read in books, hear in songs and see in our popular culture in general.
I know what I do is not as marketable as a fashion blog or a mommy blog. Or blogging recipes or posting pictures of my cat. I know anything I will ever post on the internet will never have as many views as Tyler Oakley. A philosopher will never be asked to host a late night talk show.

That’s because philosophers are lousy at stand-up.**

 THERE IS NO OPEN MIC NIGHT AT THE PIRAEUS

THERE IS NO OPEN MIC NIGHT AT THE PIRAEUS

But dammit, this what I write. This is my passion. I think that reading and thinking about philosophy should be everyone else’s passion, too.

At least somewhat as much as some people love music.

Now that I think about it, Rush is pretty much that band, isn’t it?

ONLY RUSH COULD MAKE THE PHILOSOPHY OF AYN RAND SEEM DEEP

ONLY RUSH COULD MAKE THE PHILOSOPHY OF AYN RAND SEEM DEEP

So the question is, how do you get people to want to think about stuff like philosophy? How do you convince people that a career in philosophy can be just as rewarding as a career in the music industry?

GRAND FUNK RAILROAD SANG SONGS ABOUT BANGING GROUPIES, NOT READING BERTRAND RUSSELL

GRAND FUNK RAILROAD SANG SONGS ABOUT BANGING GROUPIES, NOT READING BERTRAND RUSSELL

Listen: some people worked long and hard to figure out how to get people to stop thinking. There must be some way to do the inverse. Plunking down books in front of people and making them read doesn’t work anymore. There’s nothing to be gained by being all smart and philosophical about everything.

Keep in mind when I say “nothing to be gained” I mean doing philosophy doesn’t make you a lot of money.

CHANCES ARE ALVIN PLANTINGA WILL NEVER TAKE A PICTURE LIKE THIS

CHANCES ARE ALVIN PLANTINGA WILL NEVER TAKE A PICTURE LIKE THIS

The average philosophy professor earns about $65,000/year.

Unless you work for California State University system (you’ll only make a measly $48,000/year).

THIS ACTUAL PHILOSOPHER HAS EXACTLY TWO DOLLARS IN HIS POCKET

THIS ACTUAL PHILOSOPHER HAS EXACTLY TWO DOLLARS IN HIS POCKET

Dave Grohl is worth $260 million.

dave grohl smiling

WORTH MORE THAN THE ENTIRE PHILOSOPHY DEPARTMENT AT YOUR LOCAL UNIVERSITY

What’s worse is that we’ve been trained to think that only ugly and/or un-famous people think.

People who are decidedly un-rock star.

Really.

Seriously. Think about it for a minute. Studying and thinking about serious stuff is for ugly people. This is why, no matter what contributions this man has made to modern thought –

YEP. PHILOSOPHERS PRETTY MUCH LOOK LIKE THIS

YEP. PHILOSOPHERS PRETTY MUCH LOOK LIKE THIS

We wouldn’t buy him for one second doing something like this:

david lee roth GIF

That’s why folks like Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow are on MSNBC and not on Fashion Police.

Why you’ll never see Kate Upton at an APA convention.

Not to say that Rachel Maddow is unattractive. I don’t think she is.
And not to say that Kate Upton would never give a keynote speech to the American Philosophical Association.

But you get my point.

There has to be a way to convince people that thinking, dare we even say philosophizing about things is not only not just for the unattractive, but for everyone. That all of our lives will be a little better if we start critically thinking about things.

That being a philosopher is as sexy as being a musician.

sexy philosopher

Here’s something I think Dave Grohl and Socrates would agree on: There’s something about music that can make us think, that can motivate us in ways that other forms of art cannot. That’s why Kant made a distinction between high and low forms of music.

popstars y u no read kant

It’s why Socrates tells us that we must be careful of what kind of music we listen to.

good music vs. bad music

Of course, there is a dark side to encouraging all this philosophical thinking; to making philosophy sexier.
Our problem is this: If we want to encourage thinking about philosophy the same way we think about our favorite rock musician, philosophical thinking inevitably will be sexualized, thus counteracting the point of encouraging people to value our capacity to reason over mere physical attributes.

pig thoughts

Not to mention the incredible difficulty of convincing the intellectual elite that gaining sway over public perception and opinion means they’ll have to ditch their academic ivory towers for the low and gritty world of common public discourse.

SOCRATES REALIZES HE'S GOING TO HAVE TO TALK TO AVERAGE PEOPLE

SOCRATES REALIZES HE’S GOING TO HAVE TO TALK TO AVERAGE PEOPLE

The thing is, philosophy really is like music.

It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it
dancing philosophers

But seriously, tho.
Contemplating life’s “big questions” touches us deep in our souls in the same way we are moved by a good song by our favorite band. Philosophers and rock stars are equally known for coming off as arrogant.

One can easily imagine Hegel, who said philosophy “must not lower itself to the people” jumping into the crowd to quell one of the rowdy rabble like this:

I suppose people will eventually get to a point when they’ll collectively rise up and after so many years of intellectual abuse, change the way we think about things.

And that, my friends, is the one benefit of never having learned how to play a musical instrument.

It’s knowing that one day doing this

philosophy lecture

Will get you just as famous as doing this

dave grohl guitar

….. and your name won’t have to be Slavoj Zizek, either.

Alas, it remains a great deal more difficult to covey the passion or sex appeal of thinking critically.

OK, SO IT’S NOT QUITE AS APPEALING AS ADAM LEVINE

OK, SO IT’S NOT QUITE AS APPEALING AS ADAM LEVINE

A working knowledge of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is still a lot less sexy than playing a guitar and bedding groupies.

Wait – do philosophers have groupies?

Guitar solo!
* If you want to read one of those articles on the ontology of music read: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/music/

** a notable exception to the philosophers are lousy at stand-up rule may be Ricky Gervais, who has a degree in philosophy from University College London.

SOURCES:
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/01/the-decline-of-the-american-book-lover/283222/

http://work.chron.com/much-philosophy-professor-make-year-8750.html

http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-celebrities/rock-stars/dave-grohl-net-worth/

Chick Writin’

It’s generally thought that philosophy is a man’s game.

Without even really thinking about it, I can name at least a couple dozen male philosophers. At least a couple dozen.

Every philosophy student learns the names by heart: Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, Hume, Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant, Locke, Mill, Kierkegaard, Hegel, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Heidegger, Russell, Wittgenstein …

 

They’re the pillars of philosophy.

 

I can name more. I bet you can, too.

Unfortunately I can’t say the same about the ladies.

I mean, I know there are women philosophers. I’ve read a few. Simone de Beauvoir. Judith Butler. Ayn Rand. Hannah Arendt. Helene Cixous. Christine Korsgaard. Susan Wolf.

My list pretty much dries up there.

I’ll be damned if I can name a dozen let alone a couple dozen professional lady philosophers.

 

 

Who is this lady????

Who is this lady????

 

 

And I don’t think I’ve ever identified one by just her last name.

Everybody says they’ve read Nietzsche. When was the last time you heard anyone say they just finished reading Butler?

 

If you don’t know which Butler to whom I refer, I mean this Butler: Judith Butler. She’s a philosopher.

If you don’t know which Butler to whom I refer, I mean this Butler: Judith Butler. She’s a philosopher.

 

 

The general assumption was (and still is) that men are better at thinking than women.

You know, thinking stuff like math, logic map reading, AND philosophy.

I write about philosophy.

I guess in the broadest sense of the word that makes me a philosopher.

However, I am of the female persuasion and I write about philosophy.

 

Uh-oh. Problem.

 

The thing is, is that I don’t really think of myself as a female philosopher. When I engage in a philosophical discussion, if the opportunity conceal my gender arises, I’ll do it. Even my Facebook profile pic is a picture of a man.

This is my current Facebook profile pic.

 
don draper for profile pic

 

 

It’s not only a picture of a man, Don Draper; it’s a picture of a man from a decade when women were definitely treated like second class citizens.

 

Now, I suppose I can say my reluctance to reveal my gender has to has to do with some sort of socially-conditioned, unconscious desire to abide by the white, heterosexual, Christian male patriarchy. But to say that would be a little too obvious.

And really, I don’t think it’s that at all.

The reason why, I think, has something to do with not wanting to be just a female philosopher – that being a female philosopher means that the only philosophical writing I do is chick writing.

 

herstory

 

 

You see, when you tell everyone that you’re a woman and you like to write, it’s almost inevitable that someone will assume that all you write about is your kids, fashion, the men you’re dating, and your period.

Just occasionally pausing to write about the oppressive capitalist white male patriarchy or how lesbians are still under represented and maligned in society, political institutions, and in the media.

Well for starters, I don’t have kids. I haven’t bought a new article of clothing in over two years, and my current dating situation could be best described as Tatooine-esque.

 

The fact that I just used a Star Wars reference might be a reason why it’s so.

 

Or worse yet, being a chick writer or writing about chick issues immediately associates one with militant man-hating.

Philosophy professor Michael Levin wrote in his book, Feminism and Freedom, that feminism is an “antidemocratic, if not totalitarian ideology.”

 

feminist with scissors

 

 

Just for the record I don’t hate men.

But for the ones I do hate, my hatred is well deserved.

 

 

mink

 

Wait. I got off track.

 

I suppose Aristotle was right.

He said that women are more quarrelsome than men.

Aristotle wrote that women favor emotion over intellect. This is the reason why, Aristotle says, women are irrational. Irrationality has no place in philosophy.

 

 

feminist hammer

 

 

Still, feminist philosophy, or philosophy by or about women in general, bears the stigma of being not-quite-legitimate philosophy.
Feminist philosophy tends to focus on the interpersonal – how the individual, in particular, how women (as women) relate to and in society. Whereas male philosophers tend to emphasize the pursuit of knowledge and absolute, objective truth, female philosophers tend to examine the role of women and aspects of femininity in societal institutions (politics, economics, religion), and the relationships between cultural concepts such as womanhood, class, sexuality, sexual preference and identity, and race.
And then there’s this:

 
this is what femimism looks like

 

 

When you’re a feminist, people make cruel memes about you.

 

Unfortunately the view isn’t  that much different in philosophy.

 

That can make a lady philosopher steer clear of writing about any issue that stinks of feminism. Even if what you’re writing is philosophical.

And it really doesn’t help much when a few of those great male minds of philosophy rattle off statements like:

 

It is only males who are created directly by the gods and are given souls. Those who live rightly return to the stars, but those who are ‘cowards or [lead unrighteous lives] may with reason be supposed to have changed into the nature of women in the second generation’. This downward progress may construe through successive reincarnations unless reversed. In this situation, obviously it is only men who are complete human beings and can hope for ultimate fulfillment. The best a woman can hope for is to become a man.

 

Encouraging, right?

 

If Plato thinks I’m a soulless idiot why would I ever imagine that I could possibly have a career in philosophy?

And besides, as we all know all the important philosophers are men.

 

 

on feminism

 

 

The thing is, is that I really don’t have any problem with feminists, feminism, or female philosophers. Goodness knows that there’s more to philosophy than Socrates and Kierkegaard. I think what I’m trying to avoid writing not-really-philosophy philosophy. Even though women have contributed many brilliant ideas, theories, and schools of thought to philosophy, there’s still this thing I can’t get over – the thought that my gender necessarily obligates me to write about – my gender.

Even serious women philosophers, like Ayn Rand, are depicted like this:

 

 

sexy ayn!

 

 

Or worse yet, what they write is dismissed as just chick stuff.

Man-hating chick stuff.

 

 

i need feminism

 

 

Listen, I know I’m being a little short-sighted on the prevalence and influence of women philosophers. I well aware of the fact that women philosophers write about more than sexuality and gender issues and that women have contributed more than their feminine charm and good looks to the body philosophic. Hannah Arendt famously wrote about the Nazis. And Ayn Rand’s ethical philosophy, like it or not, is still influential.

Rand’s followers have ranged from CEOs of major corporations to former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, to the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan.

By the way, are you aware that Ryan now says that his rumored fondness for Rand’s philosophy is an urban myth?

 

 

paul ryan

 

Still, I went through the whole earning a philosophy degree process, and during the entire time I read only one female philosopher who didn’t write about lady stuff. AND during the entire time I was a philosophy student, there was only one class offered on feminist philosophy.

 

keep patriarchy

 

 

Perhaps that’s the problem, eh?

Betty Friedan wrote that she wanted women to “master the secrets of the atoms, or the stars”, and wanted women to pioneer “a new concept in government or society”.

I’m pretty sure what she wanted applies to philosophy, too.

Philosophy will continue be a man’s game so long as folks like me keep referring to themselves (myself) as “folks like me”.

I shouldn’t be so worried about being a chick writer or writing about chick stuff. Certainly philosophy has plenty to do with rational arguments and logic, but it also has to do with things like reality. And my reality is seen through my lady eyes.

 

 

 

ryan gosling hey girl meme

 

 

Whether I like it or even want to admit it, everything I write is chick writin’.
Now I don’t feel so bad writing about my period.

 

 

You can expect that post in exactly 28 days.

 

 

 

 

 

SOURCES:

Plato. Timaeus. (90e). Available at Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1572

Susan Faludi. Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women. 1991. NY: Crown Publishers, Inc.

The Day I Didn’t Exist

I know there will come a day when I will die.

I am mortal. And, like Socrates, I will die.

It’s going to happen to everybody.

Along with taxes and the Kardashians’ domination of popular culture, there’s no avoiding the end.

It’s inevitable.

I don’t need a syllogism to inform me of my eventual end. Anyone with a grandma or a goldfish knows all mortal beings will die.

You know, I don’t think people are even afraid of death. Or even of dying. I think what scares people most about death is the idea that they no longer exist. The idea that the world will be deprived of our presence. Permanently.

That we won’t be here forever.

I CAN’T IMAGINE LIFETIME CONTINUING TO AIR PROJECT RUNWAY AFTER I’M DEAD.

I CAN’T IMAGINE LIFETIME CONTINUING TO AIR PROJECT RUNWAY AFTER I’M DEAD.

But You don’t need to actually die to know what that feels like. To know what the world feels like without you in it.

That feeling is just a computer glitch away.

I couldn’t log onto Facebook.

It wasn’t just me. No one could.

Just “error” messages.
I couldn’t update my status, post or “like” anything. I couldn’t like this funny meme:

kevin hart meme pic

These days, to exist in any full sense of the word, EVERYONE knows one must have an online presence. To know anything about or to interact in any meaningful way with the world, one must be on the internet.

I post, therefore I am.

The French philosopher Rene Descartes wanted to determine how can he be sure that he exists. Descartes concludes, since he is able to question his own existence, that he is, at the very least, a thinking being. A being that thinks, Descartes declares, exists. Descartes writes:

And as I observed that in the words I think, hence I am, there is nothing at all which gives me assurance of their truth beyond this, that I see very clearly that in order to think it is necessary to exist…

If existence in the modern world is (necessarily) dependent on one’s ability to post one’s Facebook status, then I, at least for a day, did not exist.

It’s not just John Lennon who knows what it’s like to be dead.

 

Well, actually, neither do I. I spent the day checking my gmail.

 

…. and then there’s always tumblr.

 

 

 

 

 

Source:
Rene Descartes. Discourse On Method. 2004 [1641]. NY: Barnes and Noble Books. p. 25.