Okay, that’s it. I’m ditching philosophy and taking up extreme sports.
by David Kennedy Bird
Look. I’ve had it. The philosophical life has just gotten too dang hard.
Given the times we’re living in, and the direction the world seems to be taking, there just doesn’t seem to be much demand for philosophical thought anymore. Contemporary discourse is being taken over by darkness and unreason; the irrational has gained ascendancy over logic and clear sense; there is a breathtaking lack of interest in truth; it is increasingly popular to ignore obvious aspects of reality in favor of bizarre flavor-of-the-month ideologies.
And that’s just in my morning carpool.
So i’m considering a pretty radical move.
I’m gonna give up on being a philosopher, and take up extreme sports instead.
Because, you see, being a philosopher (i haven’t taken up extreme sports just yet) i can’t just jump into a life-changing decision like this. I need to carefully, analytically and systematically examine all of the ramifications. What follows is my painstaking analysis of the pros and cons of giving up the leisured, cerebral life of philosophy, in order to climb up sheer rock faces with my fingernails.
The Advantages to Giving up on Philosophy
in Favor of Extreme Sports:
- Among rugged outdoors types, you don’t ever catch someone making a stupid pun on “Kant” and “can’t.”
- No one in your ice climbing group will be examining your epistemological premises for consistency or fidelity to the available evidence.
- You get to experience terror of things other than the meaninglessness of existence.
- Getting tangled up in webs of reasoning is ten times more exhausting than getting tangled up in a mess of ropes and carabiners.
- When you see a reference to ‘Academy’ you will immediately think of a sporting goods store, not Plato’s archetypal think-tank.
- The name “St. Augustine” does not conjure up images of morbid self-reflection; on the contrary, it calls up images of parasailing off of sunny Florida beaches.
- The name “Schopenhauer” is more likely to remind you of an imported beer, than the raw, brute will at the center of the universe.
- Parkour may look kind of ridiculous to a jaded onlooker, but it’s not nearly as ridiculous as a dorm room full of sophomores discussing critical theory at 2:15 in the morning.
- Your nightmares will be haunted by visions of hurtling off of icy ledges three thousand feet up, rather than an image of Jeremy Bentham’s stuffed cadaver on display at University College, London…which, honestly, is much more terrifying.
- No more dealing with asinine conundrums, like the parable of “Buridan’s Ass” or the “Prisoner’s Dilemma”… instead, you get to face dilemmas like, “Do we continue on toward the top, risking starvation and sub-zero temperatures, or do we turn back, thus risking starvation and sub-zero temperatures?”
- Reading Thomas Jefferson’s political philosophy is a bit of a yawn compared with the cool merch available at Mountain Outfitters (West Jefferson, North Carolina)
Possible Disadvantages to Taking up Extreme Sports
and Giving up on Philosophy:
- Sitting in an armchair contemplating the mysteries of the universe turns out to be a lot less dangerous than a near-vertical-grade slab climb.
- When doing philosophy in my own home, i get to eat my own “trail mix” that is, in fact, made up of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, and cornbread, all arranged nicely on a big plate.
- Whatever the disadvantages to being stranded in Plato’s Cave, it’s unlikely that they’ll have to send a rescue team in after you.
- Hume’s “problem of induction” remains purely theoretical until you get out there and field test it: in reality, it turns out that every time i step on a loose rock, i will sprain my ankle.
- Cracking your cranium open on a river boulder can seriously curtail your capacity for rational thought — a faculty that turns out to come in handy in a variety of life’s situations, not just philosophy.
- Being a Socratic gadfly in the marketplace is not nearly so annoying to innocent bystanders as parkour.
- The most violent thing that may happen to you is that you will be threatened with Wittgenstein’s Poker… and that only happens about once in a generation.
- Heraclitus, schmeraclitus: You can step into the same river twice, and if the current is swift enough, suddenly the question of whether the Real World is in a constant state of flux will seem kind of silly and academic.
- Sure, jumping to conclusions is a Really Bad Thing and all, but as it turns out, BASE jumping is far more dangerous.
- The law of the excluded middle is a big deal in logic, but it’s an even bigger deal when you’ve inexplicably lost the middle section of your parachute
- “Being and Nothingness” has such a vibey sound to it when you’re looking at a book by Sartre, but it loses its appeal when you’re hanging off the side of a cliff
Having carefully weighed the pros and cons, i think i may hold off for a bit on taking up extreme sports. My cranium has become very dear to me over the years…
…and i Kant bear the thought of fracturing it.