Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. By our advanced stage in life, the topic is kinda old and boring (because we have all been stewing about it individually for 60+ years) and, quite frankly, it is usually much too academic to be of any practical application day-to-day in our remaining decades. Worse (for me), the study of philosophy is the study of deceased thinkers who came up with some pretty basic stuff: “I think, therefore I am…..”
Philosophy, to my mind, has to continually change – at least somewhat – as we evolve and grow as a species, a society, a culture and as individuals. I’ll keep ‘Cogito, ergo sum’ (Descartes) but, really Rene’? ‘Zat all ya got?
Over the years, most of the BIG philosophical questions were, if NOT answered, at least were discussed ad nauseam and thus newer philosophers had to slice out narrower questions. Eventually, we sliced and diced philosophy to the point that we are now more focused on discussing racism, sexism, ageism and other ‘isms’ on topics that, for the most part, all fall into the category of bad. If you are sexist, you are bad. Plain and simple. If you say (just say) something against black people or short people (Randy Newman song), you are bad. You are not just mistaken or, perhaps, musing/mulling it over. You are NOT just thinking. You are just plain wrong! You are NOT JUST BAD. You must be shunned, reviled and hated.
Which kinda begs the question: If philosophy is the ‘study’ of such topics, how can the newly perceived negative aspects draw such cast-in-stone conclusions? Are we saying that we now KNOW all that needs knowing regarding sexism, racism and the giant ism clan? Are we collectively saying in other words: stop ‘studying’, stop learning, stop investigating, because we now know all the answers?
Should Philosophy 101 be replaced with Political Correctness 101?
I say all that because I am still kinda curious as to why we are racist, sexist and ageist (just to mention 3 of dozens). Why are we anti-Semitic? Why do we think blacks have better rhythm? Or, more to the point in Canada today, why do we think our way of life is so much better than everyone else’s or Democracy is the ‘only way to go’?
Of course, we KNOW that thinking black people have rhythm is racist so we don’t say it anymore – not out loud in front of a group of younger people, anyway. But, call me racist, I would say that, on the whole, generally speaking, and from what I have observed, black people have a better sense of rhythm than do say, the Taliban. Or Norwegians. Or people recently having had knee surgery. My bad.
“Dave!? Why go there?”
Because so many men are piggy (like Weinstein) or evil (like Jeffery Dahmer) or criminal (like all the off-shore account holders) or bullies (like Trump and border patrol agents). There just HAS to be a reason. Don’t get me wrong…I know they are bad. Boo. Hiss. Lock ’em up! But WHY are they like that? What is it that creates the ‘isms’? What natural forces are in effect that creates this dark side?
The easy answer regarding bad behaviour in sex, of course, is that ‘all men are pigs’ or ‘all men are bad’ or ‘they all just want one thing’…..or some other politically accepted blanket condemnation of what seems a common-enough male trait. But could lust, greed, deceit, power and treachery actually be a natural part of the human condition and that some of it (maybe in past centuries) been some sort of an asset to the species? Philosophically speaking, could racism and sexism and ageism have some redeeming, positive and necessary roles in our evolution?
And, if that is possible, then aren’t we kinda wrong in our current conclusions?
An example, if you will: Weinstein is a pig. No argument. And he is an ugly pig with power and money. Harvey was also no dope. He was intelligent if immoral as well as exploitative and opportunistic (probably good traits in a soldier or hunter or OTG’er). But Harvey was unlikely to ever get any of his genes into the ‘pretty woman’ gene pool by playing nice. Just ain’t gonna happen. He needed leverage to get there and he eventually got some. So, Harvey used his power, his money and (dare I say it….) the perceived tendency of some young starlet wannabes to ‘get what they want’ by giving Harvey what he wanted. It is an ugly game but not one that has not been played for eons.
And – even though he was/is a really gross pig about it, what was it that he wanted so bad? He wanted one of the most basic of all human needs – sex. He was obeying one of his ‘prime and primal directives’. Harvey PIG is just another pig wanting to make piglets.
This is NOT my excusing Harvey’s bad behaviour. It was bad. REALLY BAD. He needs to be executed or at least jailed for life as soon as possible. Tarred and feathered, even. But, if you ask me why he resorted to evil means to manifest his natural destiny, the answer is painfully obvious. Harvey would never even get a date otherwise and he felt, deep in his bones, that he had to get himself into the gene pool by whatever means he could. Ugly? Yes. Unacceptable in a civilized world? Yes and no – plenty of men use money to get laid. In fact, his crude behaviours – performed to a lesser extent by others – are integral to our modern society.
I guess what I am saying is that we need to discuss some of this stuff more openly and NOT be afraid of the topic or the ‘hot’ words that might be employed when we do. If we don’t re-open the questions, it is just gonna be a giant witch-hunt.
Maybe I should have started with ageism?