One or two weeks ago the top post of this blog changed from a commentary on Matrix 2 to a list of possible icebreaker questions to be asked to candidate liaisons. Does that officially turns my subject from philosophy to relationship advice?
Not that i would be ashamed of becoming relationship advisor. I actually think the two things are particularly close. And i think that making people’s lives better through words is a remarkable piece of magic, regardless of the name you give it.
(Though i must confess that my sex life right now is miserable, so you take the responsibility for adopting any advice i may present…)
But i will seize the opportunity to state as clearly as possible that I AM NOT A PHILOSOPHER.
I try to be wise, but philosophy is not wisdom (Sofia), it is friendship with wisdom (Philos-Sofia). It is the labour of dealing with wisdom. It was born when the Greeks could spare enough of their society’s production to maintain a bunch of guys around one particular wise man to talk to him and discuss with him.
This labour of philosophy has a long and complicated history. I will lazily skip discussing it, i’ll just fast-forward to our present days: this labour comes to us in the form of reading. Not any reading, but particularly reading books of philosophy.
The splitting of which books are philosophical and which aren’t is certainly dubious, but i guess the same could be said of the splitting of the wise man from the rest back in Greek days.
Nevertheless, philosophy is text-parsing. It is a mainly academic exercise of reading and producing comments, and finally organizing by committee a great taxonomy of what is and what is not good philosophy. Plato and Kant on the very top, then Popper, then Descartes, with a black list (which is black only because some like the thrill of thinking themselves “radical”) with Nietzsche and Deleuze and those others.
So, when i say i am not a philosopher, basically i mean i am not reading Kant. And this is just because i found out he is just another platonist (he substituted “Truth” for “Noumena”, and instead of an “cave allegory” he has a clear and concise “critique of applied reason” or somesuch) so i have other things to read and do. I just don’t care enough to care about the pecking order. I just don’t care enough to conduct an responsible, academic record of what i read or not, what i praise or not.
And i also realize that many would say that exactly this makes me a real philosopher, but i generally try to abide by the rule of [not asserting something if you have to qualify afterwards]. So i don’t say i am a philosopher if i have to tell you what i mean by the word “philosopher”.
Also, all the attempts to “make philosophy accessible” or “day-to-day philosophy” or somesuch make me sleepy, very very sleepy. Just read Derridá, dammit, it is painful and boring and hard, but it is worth your while. Don’t try to make things too simple. Don’t try to make ideas overly palatable. You don’t put sugar on your broccoli, do you?
(Um, this has come out much more foul-mouthed and defiant than i intended, but i lack the disposition to rewrite right now.)
On the other hand, all this boring overrated regex work that goes by the name of philosophy has had the side-effect of unearthing another thing, a structure of sorts, an overarching attitude towards life that every person has, which by an unfortunate turn of metaphors we also call philosophy.
Even if you have never, ever ever, in all your life, not even for a split second, wondered whether something like matrix could be going on, you still embody an particular philosophy. In this case, it is much more likely to be the one your world imposes on you than one you really prefer (though it is also very likely that you feel the other way around). Wondering about things and having different thoughts and making though questions makes us free, usually.
What i mean is, obviously, a difficult thing to grasp. Maybe i need another word: U-philosophy, for “Underlying” philosophy.
But anyway, u-philosophy is very, very closely related to what Zenuria called “Life Outlook” the other day. And, like her, i think this is very important, because regardless of whether this basic outlook is “True” or “False” it affects your actions and therefore your future. Like, for example, you believing that you can do well on a given test makes you more relaxed and therefore better prepared to make the test.
It could go the other way, too, that believing you’ll win makes you lose, but i guess there is a basic optimism that is necessary to achieve freedom. But this is rapidly becoming a bigger post than i wished it to be…
Anyway, maybe relationship advice is not too different from philosophy, after all. I just try to focus more on U-philosophy than on regex-philosophy…
Back to the point, i don’t think either of the two posts have big stats out of their own merit, but only due to what Malvados calls cata-corno google (and this is a difficult expression to translate if i ever saw one!), or in other words just random and unrelated (and likely unsuccessful) search-engine wandering.
But i was only slightly amused that a post about this oh-so-big film should attract traffic, predictable, really, but the icebreaker questions one surprised me.