Sunday, May 27, 2007

Alex Stathopoulos' Cogito Ergo Bite Me

I was e-mailed this recently and was amused enough to post it. I'd post it as a link, but I've been told no one clicks on links because they have irrational (? perhaps not... I don't check Microsoft's virus warning website enough...) fears that they might be linked to Trojan viruses or something. This is an article from Cal Berkeley's Daily Cal.

Cogito Ergo Bite Me

BY Alex Stathopoulos
Daily Cal Columnist
Monday, March 28, 2005
** posted without permission.

For the love of wisdom, they spend nights tirelessly rereading one page of elderly connoisseurs long gone. For the love of wisdom, they lose the ability to speak with friends in "normal" language. And by God, for the love of wisdom, they wear trench coats.

At UC Berkeley, philosophy is the thug gangsta of all majors-cuz you just don't mess with that shit. It's stereotypical but true that one out of every two philizzle mizzles is the person you hope won't sit next to you on the BART train. Two out of three people whose fashion statements make you go "hrmph?" are among the ranks of philosophers. Eighteen of the zombies cast for "Dawn of the Dead" were just philosophy undergrads who got lost after their Phil 12A final (including the one who looks like Jay Leno). And out of all the bar patrons who claim to know if the glass is half full or half empty ... erm ... well, none of them are philosophers (we wouldn't touch that pretentious crap with a 10-foot-pole.)

At this point, I'd imagine that any philosopher reading this would feel slightly insulted by my insensitive jabs. Worry not! I too am a philosophy major and believe it or not, this column is meant to display our discipline in all its highly caffeinated glory!

In a city named after a philosopher, UC Berkeley students who study philosophy don't get the credit they deserve. We aren't the smallest major (watch out Celtic Studies!) but philosophy suffers from a reputation of uselessness. Even our professors occasionally display awareness of this fact-when I told my first philosophy professor I wanted to be a major, he just looked at me blankly and asked, "What's so wrong with money?"

Philosophy is perhaps one of the most misunderstood disciplines on the planet. Throughout time, stereotypes like those above have come to define philosophers as directionless dreamers with no place in normal' society, and with no practical goals.

Yet still, we place Socrates, Plato and Aristotle on pedestals for being some of the first great thinkers-the veritable fathers of science, scholasticism and arithmetic. But back in their day these incomparable men were also looked down upon by the masses as crazy-talking bums, not unlike our very own People's Park residents, plus or minus a few togas.

And likewise, on our very own campus stereotypes continue to determine the perceptions students, parents and strangers have of philosophy. Go ahead, play a joke on your parents and tell them you've changed your major from MCB or economics to philosophy ... just make sure you've got 911 on speed-dial first.

So why does philosophy have such a warped reputation? While in most areas of study, students learn specific skills-such as economic theory, physiology or political analysis-students of philosophy hone one important skill that can be applied to any discipline: critical thought. Problem is, the practical applications of this skill are a little hard to pin down.

Philosophy isn't just the pastime of eccentrics, drunks and men with copious facial hair. No, philosophy is the mastery of argumentation, logic, wisdom and unconventional thought. But because the study of knowledge itself has indirect-though indispensable-manifestations in real life, people tend to overlook the enormous benefits of a philosophical education. Just look at our greatest leaders throughout history. Barring modern politicians, almost all of them were privy to philosophical theory.

Asking a friend what she thought of philosophy, she began, "philosophies are like assholes ..." at which point I decided to conclude this column without a supportive quotation.

Many people try to choose majors that allow them to "keep options open." I recommend philosophy to anyone who wants the analytical skills to succeed in countless fields-even those that offer salaries higher than that of a Wendy's fry-cook. Furthermore, philosophy is for you if you've ever sat down and wondered why people, the world and the universe are the way they are. Plus, if you ever become one of us, you can officially scoff the next time someone asks about cups being full.

And if you still think philosophy is a bunch of crap, you can lick my monads.

1 comment:

Biby Cletus said...

Cool blog, i just randomly surfed in, but it sure was worth my time, will be back

Deep Regards from the other side of the Moon

Biby Cletus