How Can I Philosophize If Logic Ain't My Forte?

Ernest Hemindog

If logical thought is not one of the talents you were born with (and you also happen to be too lazy to be bothered) the question of how to philosophize can be a daunting one. Fear not, though, for I have come to bring you the good news, i.e. a message which I humbly call The Gospel of Hope for the Philosophically Impaired. As with everything in this life there are two options, and philosophy, my tailless friend, is not an exception: you can be either an analytical or a continental philosopher. It all depends on your abilities and, in a worst case scenario, how willing you are to start sweating. In a worst case scenario, particularly if you came last when the Lord was handing over industriousness, it's about effective posturing.

Humans, unlike dogs, have been quite fond of mental masturbation ever since they gained consciousness. For ages, their insecurities have been a double edged sword, one side cutting towards healthy curiosity while the other side is pure, hardcore masochism. And that is where philosophy comes from: the desire to know. Moreover, it is fair to say that this quintessentially human neurosis can play a role in placing some individuals in a mental asylum and others in a comfortable place within a social hierarchy. And, with it, chics are summoned --because they are, as the French would say, preneur de prix *.

But I digress. Back to philosophy, shall we? The type of inquiry that it is done depends on the type of question that is being asked.

  1. If one asks about the typical things occupying a weed smoking session, that is metaphysics, i.e. stuff like what is real, what is reality made of, who am I, the nature of the mind, and the possibility that we're all living in the matrix and, henceforth, capable of free will. Rule of thumb: if your thoughts or conversation sounds like you're burning a big, fat blunt, then it is metaphysics.

  2. That is one thing, but what happens if a trip goes really, really bad? Oh, that is when epistemology kicks in and it is in the border with metaphysics. One is doing epistemology when questioning if what we're perceiving in our minds is in reality there and, if so, how it got there, i.e. "how do I know that I know?" is the key question here. Rule of thumb: if your trip is going downhill and you're not sure that what you know is really, really, really there, then you're doing epistemology.

  3. But, what if the trip goes very well and surpasses the frontier of questioning? That, my featherless biped, is aesthetics. It is, basically, when you go into your happy place and start staring at your own hand like an idiot, and you ponder why is it so beautiful and how to determine if everybody is checking out this awesomeness, and why they should trip balls like you. Rule of thumb: if everything is groovy and you want everybody to "dig this", then you have stepped into the realm of aesthetics.

  4. But it is not all gravy, darling, because once you've explored these very cool branches of philosophy, it is time to venture into the cringeworthy ones, where the smug and sanctimonious ones dwell. I am talking, of course, of ethics, which is what happens after a night of hitting the bong and dry humping, e.g. is what I did good or bad? Does it increase or decrease my quality of life? What am I doing with my life? Does it matter? Who is this bespectacled douchebag to judge my life choices? Should I punch him in the nose? Voilà, you have entered the realm of ethics. Ethics. Rule of thumb: if it sounds like the chat you'd have with yourself after a night of decadence or an embarrassing exchange with your grandma, you are doing ethics.

  5. And, finally, we have logics, which is the favorite weapon of snotty, argumentative types. If you are hesitant about the strength of your arguments or if the stuff you're thinking is solidly linked to another then you're doing logic. Rule of thumb: if what you say makes absolutely no fucking sense and you are desperately trying to connect thoughts in a way that it doesn't sound like you're still high, then you're stepping into the territory of logic.

Additionally, you also have all these subfields and ramifications which keep university lecturers well fed, of course, like philosophy of this and philosophy of that, but the above 5 branches pretty much sum up what matters in a 3 or 4 years degree in philosophy. And this is where it gets interesting, oh hairless chimp, because those who are proficient at logic don't like those who trade in ethics or metaphysics, and vice versa. Therefore, this the whipped cream filling of my intellectual muffin gift for you: how can you philosophize if logic and you just don't get along very well? Answer: become a continental philosopher.

In summary, the world of philosophers is nominally divided between the camp of the autistics and camp of the posers. The latter was given its intellectual baggage by autism extraordinaire Bertrand Russell and his gangsta buddies, who basically said that if you don't analyze concepts logically and present your thoughts in a clear, precise and rigorous manner then you suck and you should rot in hell. In order to create their little esoteric circle (and I mean this in a technical way, Fleck dixit) they took the language of maths and made it even more complicated to philosophize while sipping a beer or two. Happily, the other half of the philosopher population wasn't going to take that shit, and Husserl pulled out of his smart ass the phenomenological approach to philosophy. Sure, Sen̂or Edmundo was all for clarity and precision, but his thing was to describe how he experienced the world around him and, like a good German, his buddy Heidegger created a super complex arsenal of made up words and ideas to use that experiential analysis in questions about freedom and death. Really heavy stuff, I tell you.

During some time everything was cool and dandy, with nerds doing numbers on one side and on the other side a bunch of dudes looking around and taking notes about what they saw, how they felt, and why all of that mattered. But the joy wasn't meant to be eternal, mind you. As it always happens in life, the French came and screwed everything up. Since these guys weren't very good at logic, they went full continental and started writing more and more obscure stuff until nobody understood anything. I doubt that even their buddies understood a thing of what they were saying, to be honest, but at least they nodded in agreement and it all became a circle jerk on both sides of the aisle. That is where you get from high caliber hacks like Foucault, Derrida, Zizek, and the like. Those degenerates basically throw everything into a blender (e.g. politics, psychoanalysis, science they don't really understand, literature and art) and then they say it's all binary and about power, and get their photo taken while sleeping around with b-celebrities.

So, as you can see, if logic isn't your thing, you can always say that you're a continental and get all snotty while throwing big words like deconstruction, patriarchy, Western oppressive binaries, and the like. Or write "autoethnography", which is basically dancing around your own belly button taking notes on how you feel and why that's a big deal. If you dabble in maths, though, then you can conjure a couple of smartass predicates and feel contempt for those irrational continentals, but I pretty much would recommend (if your goal in life is to call yourself a philosopher and you're not very brilliant) to do deconstruction of everything, dye your hair white, and start having sex with goats. In either case, you should definitely become a member of the American Philosophical Association, if you want to present yourself as an analytical philosopher, or The Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy, if nonsense is your cup of tea. Yeah, they are "associations" for card carrying philosophers, created for a more pleasant echo chamber and in order to facilitate butt sniffing among likeminded people. You know, Americans *sigh* they'll turn anything into an online business, sell t-shirts and then sue you for intellectual property infringement.

You're welcome, human.

* As Frank Underwood said: "everything in this life is about sex except for sex; sex is about power."