philosophy’s overprotective girlfriend

It feels like 75% of the profiles I view on okcupid include some kind of reference to being into philosophy. About 72% of them have never seriously studied philosophy. As someone who majored in philosophy, I don’t know how to feel about this.

I’m happy that so many people on okcupid are into learning philosophy. But I think it’s really important that it’s respected. I’m kind of like the overly protective girlfriend of philosophy.

On my second Kcupid date, the guy I was with (who studied filmography in school) brought up philosophy. Then he randomly started explaining existentialism to me, even though he knew I majored in philosophy. He was explaining it to me like I was someone who had never heard of existentialism. He had obviously never read an existentialist all the way through, he just had a sparknotes understanding of what he was talking about. It’s impossible to understand existentialism from sparknotes.

He tried to correct me in how to pronounce Sartre. I learned how to pronounce Sartre from a professor who personally knew Sartre.

I guess it’s kind of frustrating to be honest. It’s frustrating how a lot of people think they can casually pick up some Neitzsche quotes off the internet and think his quotes really resonate with them or whatever, and then equate that with reading philosophy.

It’s not.

Philosophy is hard fucking work. Philosophy is nothing like I thought it was when I was a freshman and thought I totally understood the cave metaphor, even though I knew nothing at the time about who Socrates and Plato were. I had no idea how to read Plato until I was trained to read Plato. So many casual readers of philosophy think it’s about finding THEIR truth. They read philosophy in order confirm what they already believe.

Philosophy is not meant to comfort your atheism or agnosticism. It’s not a way to confirm who you think you are. Philosophy is forgetting everything you think you know about who you are and everything you think you know about the world around you. You can’t study philosophy for confirmation. Philosophy is emptying your mind and letting a thinker inside of you, letting a thinker take over your mind. You can’t know whether or not you agree or disagree with them unless you approach it with a totally empty mind. You need to approach it for the sake of understanding and nothing else.

For me, philosophy isn’t a hobby and it isn’t a religion. It’s more of a science than anything else. There aren’t multiple philosophies, there’s only one.

Philosophy absolutely requires humility or else it’s kind of meaningless. The true sign of someone who studies philosophy for the right reasons is that they don’t assume they understand it. All you can do is try to understand it. Approach is everything. The bottom bottom line is that I want philosophy to be respected.


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