Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Philosophy; the chocolate teapot of the academy.

I've just wiped the grease from a double cheese burger from my chin and lit up my fifteenth cigarette of the day. Later on I'm going to open a bottle of red wine. I'll probably drink the whole thing.

You might think that this isn't a very healthy way to live. If so, you'd be surprised to know that I don't have a care in the world. You see, according to Wittgenstein we are all living in eternity because death is not an event in life that we can experience for ourselves. Apparently this means that our lives have no end. Good news, everybody! You can stop worrying about cholesterol and have another slice of pie.

Clearly this argument fails on a couple of levels. Firstly, Wittgenstein's observations on our final moments are even more trite than this mirror stuck on a wall at the Tate Modern. Secondly, even if you don't get to experience your death subjectively you're still fucking dead. Quotes from Wittgenstein also include the observation that the sun may not rise tomorrow and that it's unlikely that the purpose of life is to enjoy ourselves. Wittgenstein can piss off.

Philosophy is a crock. Of all of the different ways in which it's possible to exert your mind, philosophy has got to be the biggest waste of time.  Philosophers have been working for literally thousands of years, but what do they have to show for it?  Nothing.  These jokers have failed to produce a single damn thing.  Oh sure, you might get a philosopher who'll explain why his particular pet theory shows a clear, consistent and incontrovertible line of progression in thought.  But just as he finishes his learned exposition a second chap will pop up and explain in tremendous detail why the first bloke has got it all backwards and muddled up. Part of the problem is that they can't even agree amongst themselves how best to do philosophy. In general terms, professional philosophers are split between the analytic approach on the one hand and the existentialist / phenomenological point of view on the other.  The fact that the different schools of thought are strongly associated with certain nation states only adds to the impression that the entire enterprise is based on tradition, personal belief and a large dose of the ever popular making it up as you go along.   

I'm going to make a bold claim. Two and a half millennia of conscious brooding in philosophy have produced nothing that isn't either obvious to anyone who thinks about a question for a few minutes, abstracted beyond any link to the real world or just plain wrong. Do you know who agrees with me?  Richard Feynman.     

"My son is taking a course in philosophy, and last night we were looking at something by Spinoza and there was the most childish reasoning! There were all these attributes, and Substances, and all this meaningless chewing around, and we started to laugh. Now how could we do that? Here's this great Dutch philosopher, and we're laughing at him. It's because there's no excuse for it! In the same period there was Newton, there was Harvey studying the circulation of the blood, there were people with methods of analysis by which progress was being made! You can take every one of Spinoza's propositions, and take the contrary propositions, and look at the world and you can't tell which is right."            The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, R. P. Feynman, (1999)

Let me say one thing before some bitches start whining about arguments from authority. I don't care. Feynman is right and anyone who disagrees can suck it.  

Since I have nothing but spare time and I am deeply enamoured with the sound of my own typing I'm going to have a go a providing some additional examples to make my point, interspersed with the usual movie reviews. I shouldn't think it'll make much difference.  Will this affect the traffic to this blog?  I'll just have to wait and see if this little project drives away the twelve visitors I've had to this site in the last fourteen days.



  1. It is hardly possible to misunderstand and misrepresent Wittgenstein's ideas more than you have here.

  2. It is hardly possible to misunderstand and misrepresent Wittgenstein's ideas more than you have here.