I’m reading philosophy! Woo! To be more precise, I’m reading Stephen Law’s Believing Bullshit: How Not to Get Sucked into an Intellectual Black Hole. This is a fine book, but I must admit that part of my shallow excitement about reading the book doesn’t involve digesting Law’s words on the page. Rather, it has to do with the fact that Law is a philosopher, and Believing Bullshit is considered a philosophy book. (Third and forth subject headings listed in Google Books bibliographic data are Philosophy/General & Philosophy/Logic).
I always feel I should read more books on philosophy. Wait, that’s not quite true . . . I always feel that I ought to want to read more philosophy books. Philosophy — what could be higher on the intellectual food chain than that which purports to spring from “the love of wisdom”? Philosophy — what could be more incomprehensible and therefore a more recognizable badge of cerebral courage to have tackled? Philosophy — what could be more generally useless and therefore a better signal that one loves learning for its own sake and not some baser instinct (like getting a job)?
On these last two accounts, I think Law fails me. He’s neither incomprehensible nor generally useless. In fact, and I break into a sob as I admit this, his book is downright accessible. I feel like I’ve learned enough to practice becoming an intellectual black hole myself already. (Do you feel any gravitational tug this way yet?) Nonetheless, who am I to argue with Google Books subject headings? In the Great Big Book of how my intellectual progress is, well, progressing, I’m going to put a light check mark by the philosophy column when I finish this book.
PS. For those of you who are philosophy majors/philosophers out there, please don’t hate me. I admire you really. If the painting of Socrates is anything to go by, you’re not only seminal thinkers of paramount moral courage but also are of rugged, muscular physique. How admirable!
PSS. Alright, tongue firmly removed from cheek. I do admire and respect people who are philosophers. I studied mathematical logic back in my undergraduate years, and were I capable enough, I would’ve striven to be a logician, which is but a philosopher by another name. My cheekiness is philosophy-envy, really. Kudos to you.
(Image from NYC Metropolitan Museum of Art.)