Monthly Archives: September 2013

Was Plato on Drugs?

I posted a short piece a while ago about a few books on Plato, including one about Plato’s relationship to drugs (pharmaka). That piece gets a lot of views regularly, and it seems like people often find it by asking google, “Was Plato on Drugs?”  I realize that the piece I wrote isn’t as explicit as it could be.

It’s worth being clear about this.  The answer is simple: yes.   Continue reading

The Vast Minority, or the Stupidity of Philosophers

I’m not sure I agree with Heidegger that philosophy is the greatest danger to thinking.  Sometimes I agree wholeheartedly, and other times it seems there are far greater dangers.  It depends on what mood I’m in.  In any case, I think the stupidity of philosophers is greatly underestimated.  Of course, you’ll hear a lot of people talk about how useless or pointless philosophy is, or how it isn’t the most lucrative of career choices, but that’s not the same as saying that philosophers are stupid.  The general opinion of philosophers is that, even if they are useless and jobless, they have some kind of knowledge, even if it’s only knowledge about word games that make people’s heads hurt.  However, the fact of the matter is that philosophers are much stupider than people think, especially if you consider all philosophers (all people who consider themselves philosophers or philosophical) and not just the very well-known figures honored in the historical archive.

I’m not just reiterating the basic point of philosophia: loving wisdom precludes any pretense of attaining wisdom.  I’m saying that a lot of philosophers are stupid.  They say and do stupid things.  The racism and sexism in the history of philosophy should be sufficient to make my point.  But the ontotheology is just as bad.  Even if philosophical knowledge is just knowledge of word play, there’s still plenty of stupidity.  Just listen, and you’ll notice that a lot of philosophers are not particularly adept at linguistic acrobatics.  They become easily confused and disoriented when the protective shell of their academic jargon encounters worlds of humor, fiction, and pop polylingualism.

I’m not saying any of this to insult philosophy or scandalize it.  Out of love for philosophy and for the wisdom philosophers love, I’m just expressing a basic observation that applies to every field of human activity.  An observation that is easily forgotten, erased by political correctness and politics of equality.  Not everyone is great at what they do.  The greats are always a minority, but for that their greatness is no less vast.  The greats are not kept small by the dominology of the majority.  They are not an oppressed minority, which is not to say that they aren’t sometimes members of oppressed minorities.  The greats compose the vast minority, the minority of those who overcome.

another burning man

Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen a noticeable increase in views of a post I wrote last year on Burning Man, probably because it’s been Burning Man season for a little while.  I didn’t go this year.  Why?  I couldn’t afford my ticket to the gift economy.  No, that’s just a joke poking fun at the inherent hypocrisy of the event, which, to be fair, isn’t a very funny joke to make: it’s hacky.  My real reason for not being there?  As a person deeply concerned with lowering carbon emissions, I simply cannot participate in an event with that kind of carbon footprint (not to mention other resource issues, like water use, including virtual water).  Okay, that’s not the real reason either.  I just like making fun of the blatant hypocrisy of the Leave No Trace ethic espoused by event organizers and participants.  But again, that’s a pretty hacky joke to make.  My real reason for not going?  It’s not that I don’t like individualist orgies or group narcissism.  I just had classes to teach.  I’d hate to cancel class this early in the semester, when we are just starting to do the delicate work of co-constituting an intimate space for learning.  On that note, I should get back to work.