to Kant Understand
The Swedish Academy has given the Nobel Prize to Kant Understand for his book "What the hell did the philosopher mean?", a work that shows how throughout history some philosophers have successfully persuaded their audience that the stupid things they say are really great ideas. Kant Understand analyzes phrases like "The nothing nothings", of Martin Heidegger, and criticizes him that a quantifier as "nothing" can be treated as if it were a thing or a subject that develops actions. He also criticizes Hegel when he writes: "If the Being and the Nothing had any determination, they would be a certain Being and a certain Nothing, not the pure Being or the pure Nothing as they still are here". Or another one of Derrida, that says: "I will start: this is another way of saying that I will do my best to reduce the glide".
Kant Understand discovered the meaning of an idea of Gorgias, the sophist, who said: "Nothing exists, and if something exists, we can not know it, and if we can not know it, we can not communicate it".
Solipsists philosophers suggested that the world is just an emanation of our mind. Like a sexual fantasy! Some philosophers were convinced themselves that they donīt exist and -worst!- they convinced others that they donīt exist! Bert Christensen imagined a commercial product made by a solipsistic philosopher. The label would say: "The consumer should know that he may be the only entity in the universe and, therefore, any product defect is his fault".
The ontological argument of St. Anselm's, that Descartes repeats, is very stupid: God must exist because I can think of it as a being with all perfections, including existence. He confuses existence in thought with existence in reality! As if thinking in Richard Gere would be the same as being in bed with Richard Gere! Or as if thinking in winning a million dollars would be the same as winning a million dollars!
Kant Understand observed that all these concepts leave the reader astonished, puzzled, confused, that is, with "a deep philosophical spirit". He argues that philosophers would like to create a language of their own and impose it to the rest of the society. But as everyone would speak in the same way, they would find it too trivial and they would create another language with the same purpose, but then again everyone would speak in the same way, so they would create another language, and so on indefinitely. The creation of obscure terms is as passwords. You have to change them every month in order to complicate things unnecessarily.
The problem is worse when the philosopher contradicts himself throughout his life. Because, for example, if you are lucky enough to understand what the first Husserl or the first Derrida said, the second contradicts it and you have to decode it again.
As Voltaire pointed out, when neither the speaker nor the listener understand what they say, we can affirm: "That is metaphysics". Jorge Luis Borges called it a chapter of fantasy literature. And Cioran said it was like a religion, but more silly.
Last week a friend of mine went to listen to a philosopher. He phoned me right away and asked me: is he a good philosopher? Because I understood everything he said!
When I finished my degree in philosophy I was very influenced by dark philosophers, so I remember that one day at home the telephone rang and somebody said:
-Who are you?
-I ignore it -I answered-, since long ago I ask myself the same question. I donīt know what to answer. And you, who are you?
The man hung up. Some people are very brave to ask questions but too coward to answer them.
Why are those philosophers so dark? Is it because darkness is irrefutable, because they imitate others who wrote in the same way, like a bad german translation, or because they want to differentiate themselves from the rest of the people, and being dark is a way of being snob? Or are they like an Yiddishe Mame and they find a problem for each solution?
A bad philosopher is a person who says very stupid things in such a confusing way that they seem to be smart. Those who listen to them feel humiliated for not understanding, and because they prefer to be on the side of the smart and not on the side of the stupid, they often self deceive themselves by believing that they stick to respectable concepts. If the philosopher reaches certain fame in the social media, the stupidity that he spreads increases geometrically.
Women fake orgasms, men fake love and philosophers fake to say something interesting complicating their sentences unnecessarily.
Philosophy needs to promote dialogue and clarity, especially when the dialogue becomes the brief interval in which two people look at each otherīs eyes while they donīt deal with their cell phone.
The first thing that everyone asks before coming to my Philosophical Café is "Will I understand?", as if philosophers used an exotic language spoken in the middle of the Congo.
A second problem is that seeking truth many philosophers forget the value of relevance. They investigate trivial issues, they fragment their topics and dilute them so much that they seem homeopathic drugs, that is, only water and no significant element. They pretend to know more and more about less and less and one day they will know everything about nothing.
Peter Boghossian says that despite having studied philosophy, when he goes to philosophy conferences he has no idea of what they are talking about: philosophers deal with irrelevant subjects, with a tiny old passage, otherwise they wouldnīt receive grants. Those who are sitting are completely bored, they already renounced to the desire to understand.
The third problem has to do with the principle of authority. Philosophy was born in opposition to the principle of authority. The task of philosophy is to think independently, recognizing that something is true or false by evidence and reason and not because, for example, a religious or political authority asserts it is true or false. Throughout the history of culture philosophy has given evidence of independent thinking, but it has also been based on the principle of authority. Great philosophers like Aristotle have often been appreciated for their mistakes.
Aristotle believed that women had fewer teeth than men. Bertrand Russell said that since the Greek philosopher was married twice, it is likely that he never opened the mouth of any of his wives to see what the hell was inside. This is a good example of the uselessness of philosophy when it refuses to evaluate evidence and jumps to conclusions with prejudice.
Today most academic philosophy is composed of widows who dedicate their hole lives to honor the memory of their favorite philosopher. Research projects and seminars have titles like "The concept of A in the philosopher B." It's like riding always on the horse of the authority of other philosophers. By the way, this idea belongs to a philosopher: Schopenhauer. In this way, philosophy loses its meaning and becomes another form of religion, a fetishist cult of personality.
When a philosopher quotes and says that, for Kierkegaard, melancholic people have more sense of humor, he accepts that idea merely because his intuition tells him that it is correct or because he trusts the authority figure of the philosopher? We should test that intuition. It could be wrong.
Philosophy is a dialogue between generations. It doesnīt matter who said what, but what can be said and done to change the world.