Philosophy By Example

All the philosophers have been sedentary men. I don’t mean by this that women didn’t make philosophers, but that the men that did (and that’s indisputably most of them) didn’t derive joy from shooting hoops, throwing discs and kicking butt. The world would have been a different place if the serious profession of philosophy, rather than the mere reaction of philosophizing through an excess of volubility, had been entrusted entirely to the athletic man, the man who can, in the ordinary course of things, spend hours simply flexing his arm muscles and admiring the sweat glistening on it. The Arnold Schwarzeneggers of this world should be writing about the meaning of existence. Instead, the history of the serious philosophical endeavor is littered with badly taken photographs of people with bad hair and a marked indifference to the effect their appearance has on their fellow men. These are people whose faces are so unremarkable that not even in this era of assembly-line photo-fantasy is any one willing to touch their bad skin up. Noam Chomsky might have a cult following and there might be minor government functionaries all around world might be losing sleep over his analyses of the deterioriation of democratic freedoms and the open state, but no one has for a moment been inspired to figure out the right lighting, angle and computer software that would put him on the cover of GQ magazine.

I am not accusing the fashion idol, the celebrity, the good looker, of leading a shallow life. I raise my hat to Bono’s attempt to eradicate poverty. I applaud all the lovely women who took their clothes off in public to protest the torture of animals. I rejoiced that Tom Cruise took as his fair wife the extremely cute Katie Holmes, announcing this to the world from the Oracular temple of the modern world, Oprah’s talk show couch — all this so that our attention could be drawn for a fraction longer onto the unusual metaphysical constructs of the Scientological world than would otherwise have been the case. Through their actions and words, these people bring the exciting world of moral contemplation into our worlds, at the same time gladdening our senses with their superbly attractive bodies. It is as if their ceaseless attention to their hotness is in itself a philosophical question — can the distracted mind engage in reaching out to the frightening uncertainties of the epistemological unknown?

Yet, I will peevishly point my finger at these people and complain that there is more they can do. We need them to produce the tomes, the speeches, the schools of thought, that we can enshrine and immortalize — in our books, in our philosophy lessons, in our libraries, and in the pedantry of the ages to come. If our stars could but take time off from just one charity fundraiser, one trip to Somalia, one photo opportunity with the Pope, and instead sit down with a ghost writer to pen their thoughts, however disjointed and cliché ridden, on the meaning of life, and our moral responsibilities, our world and the history that humanity many generations hence will see, will have changed immeasurably and perhaps for the better.

No longer will philosophy be the domain of thinkers, because the men of action will have taken it over. Philosophy will be dynamic, full of calls to bravery and risks and plunges into the unknown, rather than chin-stroking ruminations engaged in at the safe distance of the guard-railed cliff top, while the unknown is merely the yawning but innocuous abyss below. There will be no irony, because few will have time to create it as they rush into adrenalin powered assaults on reality. Even though this new breed of philosophers will hacking out new realities and possibilities with their industry, daredevilry and passionate sentimentality, they will barely pause to fruitlessly reflect on what reality itself might be.

The old philosophers will be retired, though they will be allowed to continue to spout their cross-referential screeds, in between their desk jobs as editors of literary blogs, and game show hosts.


8 Responses to “Philosophy By Example”

  1. barelysage Says:

    The father of Western philosopher, Socrates, was a war hero, & didn’t start tossing about his ideas until middle age. I suggest that to everything there is a season. Yes, we are quite infatuated with the young, and you take quite a notice of their virtues, male & female. There are some who survive this period, and are reflective enough to discover some meaning in what they’ve experienced. Should you happen across an old gal, or guy, with a twinkle in the eye – well, they just might know the punchlines in this life of ours. The young philosophers are mostly standup comics, but quickly cave in to potty humor because they haven’t yet earned a pension.

  2. Sue Johnson Says:

    Physical image is art.
    Art is philosophy.

  3. Amit Durgapal Says:

    To evolve an arm-chair philosophy while sipping coffee has been an age-old habit among men. But, to be able to efface the personal element from observation without exaggerating the good or belittling the bad is a rare distinction. In the words of A.N. Whitehead, “It requires unusually sharp mind to analyse the obvious.” An Arnold or a Beckham is not mentally disposed for such analysis. It is a life’s work. They will have to walk out of the corridors of glamour and earthly power to give themselves in contemplation of existence and being.

    Please do not write such thoughtless articles. This is something a philosopher will never do.

  4. Michael E. Hunter Says:

    It seems that what is desired is something like Nietzsche’s conception of the Ubermensch. Someone who is willing to write with blood. Who incarnates his own thought and who lives it to the uttermost. But why think in terms of people who are “hot” or physically attractive? They are of the marketplace whereas the Nietzschean Zarathustra shuns all such superficial show and pandering to public opinion. It is only in this way that something truly new and revolutionary comes into being.

  5. Agantyr Says:

    Come on people! This HAS to be a joke!

  6. Jeremy Cull Says:

    talk about superficial analysis. it actually does bring up a lot of important points, people are just too caught up in being able to live life from day to day that they don’t take the time to think about what it means. that in itself is a philosophical choice, to decide nothing actually matters more than a moderate hedonistic lifestyle, because to them it works. i believe the best way to bring about change is to make it difficult for this frame of mind to be successful, and in many ways this is the case. what needs to occur are more Socrates, people who question others whenever an opportunity arises, and be skeptical of their own understanding in the process. first hand feedback from the public is often stimulating, and too many people are arrogant, detrimentally arrogant to realize this.

  7. The Philosopher Niche « Cliche Niche Says:

    […] all people might like to do so. Though I have, in jest, suggested earlier that only those with active and sensual lifestyles should engage in philosophy, as opposed to people with introspective ones, the truth is that they don’t. There is a big […]

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