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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

So What is Philosophy Anyways, And Why Should I Give a Hoot

The turtle is resting on the back of another turtle,
which in turn rests on the back of another turtle.
As Bertrand Russell said, "From there on down,
it's all turtles."
Philosophy comes from Greek words meaning, "If you love wisdom so much, how come you're not rich?"  These and other sorts of questions are what philosophers sit around mulling all day, making remarks such as "If a tree falls in a forest it doesn't make a sound?"  Which begs the question, if philosophers make remarks like that, do they get invited to any cocktail parties?  Basically, philosophy tackles all human and nonhuman knowledge, everything that is knowable, unknowable, plus stuff we're just guessing at.  Hence, philosophy is divided into four subdivisions, otherwise the workload would just be intolerable.

AESTHETICS: This is the philosophy of what beauty means.  If you show me a painting and say, "That's beautiful," and I say, "Are you kidding?  Ugh."  We're having a philosophical discussion.  Maybe you'll point out the painting cost you fifteen thousand dollars, and I'll say, I think a pile of money is a whole lot more beautiful than that painting.  Think about it.  Who doesn't like looking at money?

ETHICS: This is the philosophy of right behavior.  For example, some people say if someone hits you on the cheek, you should turn your other cheek and let him hit you on that one, too.  Others say, it's permissible in such a situation to hit the other person on his cheek and let him see how he likes it.  Still others say, there are times when you might not wait to be hit, but go ahead and hit his cheek before he gets a punch in.  This is called a preemptive strike.  Then there are others who skip the cheek altogether and go right for the groin.  When people are discussing the philosophy of ethics, we call it politics.

EPISTEMOLOGY:  If you don't know what this means, that's very ironic because it's the philosophy of what is knowable.  Epistemologists agree that nothing is certain.  We can be certain of this because...  Let me start over.  The idea is, it's impossible to know anything, and the way you know this is...  Alright, look.  Epistemologists say they're incapable of knowing anything.  Come to think of it, why should we bother with them?  By their own admission they're a bunch of dumb asses.

METAPHYSICS: This is the most popular branch of philosophy, although it still won't help you get a job.  Metaphysics is the study of the fundamental nature of the universe, what is.  Socrates once said "I never metaphysics I didn't like," only he said it in Greek, so no one got it, and it wasn't until years later we understood what he was talking about.  Everyone who studies philosophy wants to go into metaphysics but spots are limited and it's a dog-eat-dog competition.   Ancients used to believe the word sat on the back of a giant turtle.  Now we know that we are in empty space surrounded by billions upon billions of stars slowly burning themselves into extinction, which kind of makes you long for the turtle.

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