Sunday, November 14, 2010

Philosophy in the Times

It's interesting to see philosophy outside of academia. Here, a portrait photographer, Steve Pyke, posts some black and white photos of important philosophers looking into the distance, caught in deep thought, disgruntled, and so on. They explain "why philosophy," and Pyke explains why he takes their pictures. I've never been a huge fan of reading through comments, but it was interesting to see people's reactions to the feature and essay. "Since when are 'philosophers' exclusively anglo-american?" (My follow-up question: when not Anglo-American, why Zizek?) Why aren't scientists and other theorists in there? "Lawyers and philosophers...are like half-brothers. Sometimes I wish I was a philosopher, but I love my flat screen TV. Whatever." I think a lot of these questions have to do with Pyke being based in New York and how he is interested in philosophers who are respected by other philosophers. But this doesn't explain the best question: "How about Philosopher trading cards?"

Of the portraits and explanations, I liked Kwame Anthony Appiah's and Tim Scanlon's best. Appiah looks inviting, and though he gives a standard explanation of "why philosophy," it's succinct, and the way he puts it is worth repeating. I like the look in Scanlon's eyes, and the compelling comment about becoming our own prisoners without philosophical distinctions. Of course, this has got me thinking about myself, so I'll be posting my own philosopher trading card here soon, complete with an explanation of "why philosophy." I'm sure all -3 of you are dying to know, so stay tuned.

And then Jade alerted me to this essay on hipsters, also from the NYTimes. It references Pierre Bourdieu's Distinction, which is not quite philosophy, but its premise is beef with Kantian aesthetics so I say it counts. Anyway, Bourdieu's whole research on class and taste is interesting, but ultimately, I don't think taste is determined by class. I mean, we all saw Vivian cry at the opera in "Pretty Woman," right guys? REMEMBER? I just saw that movie last night on USA (i.e., edited and laced with commercials not from 80's, which would be preferred) for the first time. I couldn't tell if the writing was terrible, especially for Vivian's parts, or if Julia Roberts is a terrible actress. I didn't mind looking at Richard Gere's character and his sometimes-Asian-looking eyes, and I loved George Kostanza's cameo as the lawyer, and the storyline is interesting enough to keep watching. But damn, I felt so gross after seeing it, and not just because Julia Roberts has wiry eyebrows, like the fur of an Airdale Terrier.

1 comment:

sheffy said...

i'm curious to find out which three peole you think are not interested in knowing who you think philosophers.