Homeless Story of J, 6
"The superior person seeks what is right, the inferior one, what is profitable." -- Confucius
The great irony of my vagrancy is that it provides ample time to engage in a street version of my old “profession”: philosopher. Yes, it’s true, way back in my youth, when this country was prosperous and there was room for the humanities, I was a college lad, naïve and spoiled, and I chose for a major the most impractical yet ideal realm: philosophy.
It was considered whimsical to study philosophy back then, though not entirely ridiculous, whereas today the whole spectrum of the humanities is dying. Not even the disciplines of history and english generate much respect anymore, let alone a decent number of followers. Study in the humanities has always been the prerogative of the rich, or at least the middle class children of a well-to-do Empire (these kids are filthy with privilege in comparison to most of the world, though in the insulated heart of the Empire, it doesn’t seem so to them).
Now that the U.S. is faltering, the shortest-lived Empire of them all, so is the opportunity to study any form of knowledge not directly related to money-making. Truth and wisdom, even at the best of times, are considered secondary; but in periods of want, they become loathsome pariahs, and anyone who dares put them first earns exile and scorn.
So here I sit, homeless, with a Ph.D. in philosophy. Plenty of time to think. To observe. It shouldn’t bother me that no one cares about my perceptions, but it does.
One thing I can tell you about philosophy--you, my unreal interlocutor--is that it is dangerous to the soul. The first thing you learn is that reason, which is the essence of the quest for wisdom, is not the tool of the powerful. Indeed, the powerful control the masses by avoiding reason and employing its deceptive enemy, sophistry.
Almost every argument from a politician is sneaky, specious and geared to prod voters into irrational fears. None of the rhetoric of the overlords is analytically acceptable. The entire political foundation of the United States is based on poor thinking intended to manipulate rather than instill serious critical thought.
Once you study philosophy with any modicum of rigor, you learn the horrible truth of how deceptive ordinary human ways are. You learn how stupid the bulk of the people are. How easily they are led around like puppets yanked by chords tied to their most flammable emotions.
Emotion is not the enemy. Nor is logic the hero. Good reasoning invokes both in proper proportion. Most importantly, good reasoning is subject to verification. An examination of whether it is valid. If you think of an argument as a house, then a philosopher is a good carpenter, the sort who checks the foundation to make sure it is solid before turning it over to the customer.
Sadly, every house built by the rhetoric of senators topples from the first gust of deep thought.
Philosophy makes you see. And once enlightened, you can’t go back. You are no longer in the Matrix of the zombie followers of patriotism and hollow pageantry. Paeans to freedom, a freedom that is primarily the momentum of the rich, no longer advise you.
If you are a rootless philosopher, a true philosopher, you see that most all people live in a Matrix of conformity; and that conformity eschews wisdom and truth, prioritizing above anything else the pursuit of ‘resources’. And ‘resources’ are whatever it takes--land, people, technology--reduced callously to empty objects, and exploited brutally, with a mad and frothing fervor, to pursue construction of great piles of gold.