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Introduction to Philosophical Inquiry

Zoe: What is philosophy? (Why are Keanu Reeves and terrible public transit involved?)

Alright. The written version of my speech looked very little like what I ended up presenting to the class, and I foolishly forgot to record that. So, instead, you get a sort of condensed version of my speech, based on what I remember.

Point, the first:

Point, the second: Humanity was actually in a big open field, but then we started putting in roads and whatever. We lack the capacity to even begin to find any sort of objective truth, so it doesn’t really matter what our subjective truth is. We have absolutely no way of knowing if what we choose too value is even close to what the ‘best’ choice would truly be in the grand scheme of things, so the grand scheme simply ceases to matter. At some point, we just choose things that we like. For example, I like not killing people. Therefore, part of my personal philosophy includes a distinct lack of wanton murder. Fortunately, this is a trait shared by much of society, and so it’s become a commonly accepted thing: Killing people is Bad. If you wanted to be super crazy, you could say that the values like this, that we chose as a collective group of people, form the previously mentioned roads in an otherwise completely empty space.

Point, the third: If humanity traveled these roads in individual cars, we would end up crashing into each other. The logical solution? All of humanity gets on a bus. Civilization is really formed off of people working together. Starting when people realized that they could specialize in one thing and trust others to know how to support them in the other things, we could begin to grow as a species. Now, working with other human beings is fairly non negotiable, unless you want to live by yourself in a forest. I suppose some people could and would do that, but even then not everyone can. We don’t have nearly enough forest for that. So, if we all pursued our own goals with no thought for anyone elses’, society would collapse. To do that, everyone has to be going in the same direction. Traveling in the same vehicle. Sitting in the same bus.

Point, the fourth: No one can ever agree on anything, so the bus is never going to be able to stop moving. Someone’s going to be unhappy with where the bus is, and want it to go somewhere else. And no one likes an unhappy bus passenger, they get super obnoxious. Back to whole everyone-choosing-whatever-values-they-like thing. It’s not like everyone is going to choose exactly the same things to incorporate into their personal life mission. Everyone’s got different, and often conflicting goals. And when the people whose wants are not being satisfied by a particular bus stop get angry enough, they do things like start revolutions, and start the bus moving again by themselves. While revolutions are sometimes both great and necessary things, I think most will agree that it would have been far more pleasant if people hadn’t had cause to be angry in the first place. At any rate, that bus is never going to stop for long.

And finally: Point 2 + Point 3 + Point 4 = Humanity is all on a bus that can never stop moving. Does that sound familiar to you? It should. It was in the movie trailer you watched two minutes ago.

To me, at least, what steers the bus or powers the bus or whatever-verb-fits-this-metaphor the bus, is philosophy. Philosophy is movement. Philosophy is making things travel, whether it’s making society travel by changing the direction it’s going, or making yourself travel to those uncomfortable spaces in your mind that you don’t like to think about; sometimes in preparation for making society travel. Philosophy is questioning the location of where we are, and so forcing us to move forward or sideways or diagonally backward-and-ten-degrees-to-the-left.

Philosophy: A giant, bomb equipped bus careening through the streets. Awesome.



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