Archive for January 24th, 2009

Reasonable Philosophy

Posted on January 24, 2009. Filed under: Games, HowTo, Philosophy |

Sometimes, it doesn’t take much to generate a blog post. I was skimming the website ICanHasCheezburger, as I do from time to time, (with apologies to those of you who think that site is silly, horrific, and/or patronizing—it is; but, honestly, I can’t help it; it makes me laugh) and came upon this:

reasonable-cat

It made me snicker, and reflected my mood, exactly. What happened afterward feeds into the theme most amazingly. I had most of this post written last night, but “put it to bed” as it were, as I was getting too sleepy to think and/or edit coherently. I put myself to bed as well, and looked forward to polishing this up and publishing on the morrow.

Alas! When I awoke the next morning, my Really Clever Post was gone! I’m having to settle for what I’m just writing now! ๐Ÿ˜• My links, which I’d spent some time finding—also gone! I often (although not often enough) use an offline editor to write my posts, but, this time, I trusted it was safely stored in the WordPress Post Editor. It was not. Gone, gone, gone; no more; no more…And—go figure—I’m writing in that same editor now, tempting fate. Why? I must. If I can’t trust WordPress, at least most of the time, what becomes of us all? ๐Ÿ˜ฎ [I just clicked on “Save Draft”. Do you think it really did? We shall see. Ah,the suspense.]ย  [Alright! I admit it! I also just copy-pasted into Notepad, as well. Chagrin, noted.]

Anyway, back to the cat and its caption. I have tried to be reasonable, and seriously, I didn’t like it. I don’t know who or what the cat is responding to, but my response is to people in my past (I don’t meet many people who would say this to me now) who have addressed me thus, when I’ve just presented my point in the discussion: “Oh, be reasonable!”

First of all, I distrust admonitions starting with the word “Be”.

“Be careful!” (Well, I could, but this advice is usually given once I’ve already tripped and fallen on my face. Generally, it’s not what I want to hear after this has happened. Where were you before I did that?)

Be diligent – How?

Be normal – Sorry, not gonna happen. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Be open-minded – My brains might fall out!

Be prepared – I was sort of a BoyScout once (long story) but that was a long time ago. I don’t know how, and besides, that notion interferes with my spontaneity.

Be sincere – Well, I certainly try! ๐Ÿ™‚

Be brief – Um, have you met me?

Be(gone) – Soon, soon; patience, patience.

Be(have) – Yeah, right!

Be good – How could I possibly not? ๐Ÿ˜€

(Don’t worry,) Be happy – There are some admonitions which are quite subjective. I can certainly take action to feel better, but I haven’t found out how to just flip the happy-switch, yet.

…Not to mention all those things we’re told *not* to be.

So, in my lifetime, I have had occasion to “act reasonably” or to consider “reasonable” points of view. I’m reminded of a paper I wrote for my introductory Philosophy class in college. We were to analyze the argument put forth by Socrates, in the Dialogues of Plato, in which Socrates, true to the concept of “Reason”, felt it not possible to refuse the cup of Hemlock, which would bring on his death, because it would be an “unreasonable” conclusion to a “reasonable” life. The guy really admired Reason, above all else. The assignment was to choose a side—*Should* Socrates have chosen to take the cup of poison, when he could so easily have avoided it by a few well-placed words and promises, or *Should* he not?

My first point was that it wasn’t my business what Socrates chose to do with his life (yes, I’ve been like this for a while), but that didn’t meet the word-count requirement of the paper, and I liked getting good grades as much as the next person. I won’t burden you with my substantive argument (if you knew, you’d thank me), but here’s the comment I received from my instructor: “You DO stick to your point!”

Was that praise or condemnation? I may never know. I had the feeling my teacher’s patience was severely tried by my relentless repetition of EVERY SINGLE *REASONABLE* phrase Socrates uttered. Still, I did get a good grade in the class, so “all’s well that ends…”—Oh, that was a different class.

I had felt that, within his own world view, Socrates was true to his principles. I like a person who is true to their principles, including me when I am. I feel people have the right to change their principles from time to time, though. In fact, if one finds oneself repeatedly violating ones own principles, perhaps it’s time to review them? …Just a thought.

However, I am NOT Socrates! I do not live a life based upon reason! I am happy to examine issues from several angles, and *reason* out a *sensible* conclusion, but, in the end, it’s my intuition which makes the decision. This is a much more *pragmatic* approach (another philosophical term! See, I was paying attention!), at least for me. I see “reason” as a useful tool, but not the be-all and end-all of life. I don’t know whether I’d rather take a cup of hemlock than give up my freedom of thought, which is really what that Socratic issue was about. What is life without liberty? I don’t actually know, because it seems to be my belief, at the moment, that there is ALWAYS a choice.

To conclude, I’ll just report that in addition to finding the above linked site which gives a description of Socrates’ death, and the *reason* (there’s that word again) for it, I came upon a professor’s philosophy dialogue game—get this—based on the “Argument Clinic“, one of my favorite Monty Python sketches. (Those who had forgiven me for liking ICanHasCheezburger now will need a fresh delve into their forgiving nature when I admit how much I admire and respect the Monty Python perspective.)

This game is a clever mix of serious study of Socratic dialogue with the absolutely insane wit and wisdom of the “Argument Clinic”—a completely unreasonable way to study reason—and, therefore, it pleases me immensely.

I wish you many unreasonable moments. ๐Ÿ˜€

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