Saturday, September 16, 2017
Avatar Alice & Wittgenstein's Humor Challenge
Plato regarded philosophy as the greatest good ever imparted by Divinity to man. And how could he not? The evolution of philosophy is the evolution of the history of human thought, in all its glory.
In our last post, we compared the six (6) disciplines of philosophy (metaphysics, logic, ethics, psychology, epistemology, and aesthetics) to Transformers. Why, you ask?
Just to see if we could, I say.
If we imagine the process of coming into conscious awareness, and start with basic human curiosity, our questioning might land us in the realm of metaphysics, a place where early ruminations on what's actually going on start bubbling forth in our brains.
We trace these thoughts through their many cycles, all the way from early childhood until middle life, a place where our experiences and relational viewpoints are typically heightened (or dulled), and then we arrive to a few final summations, sometimes remarking: "I better write this down before I die" - a meta-concept if ever there were one, that basically takes into account our most profound or relevant life epiphanies, transcribed with the flavor our lifetimes have afforded them.
In this sense metaphysics are those first "why" questions we ask; then later on, those devastating "I'm actually going to die" recognitions and, if we're lucky, those "I might not know what's going on, but it doesn't mean I can't have fun" declarations.
It is here where we make a choice: "Steal the Declaration of Independence, or live our our lives wondering."
This type of cognitive evaluation leads us to the domain of logic. With our THINKING CAPS fully fastened, we ponder about like a Classic Pong, wondering: "What is the right thing to do?"
This is where our learned values, morals and judgments (ethics) chime in. Our opinions of right and wrong form the basis of our psychological judgments (psychology) of our self in relation to others. The systems and methods we adopt (epistemology) become the ways by which we engage with knowledge and the world.
The longer we live, the more refined or stagnant our methods and responses become, the more our tastes, judgments, and modes of expression define our unicity. Our creative expression is what the world ultimately sees (aesthetics).
That which we express can be a thing of beauty, a thing of truth, or a unique blend of authentic expressions packaged up into modernisms that convey a universe of sentiment onto a single apple.
I imagine both Socrates and Plato would have laughed had they the opportunity to see a painting of this nature. Instead, they laughed at Sophists. Even though philosophy eventually became a ponderous and complicated structure of arbitrary and irreconcilable notions, each was indeed substantiated by almost incontestable logic. The lofty theorems of the old Academy which Iamblichus liked to the nectar and ambrosia of the gods, have been re-molded by Play-Toh resembling opinion -
which, of course, Heraclitus declared to be a failing sickness of the mind. Convincing evidence of the increasing superficiality of modern scientific and philosophic thought is persistent throughout this blog, as well as in philosophy's formal drift towards materialism.
When Napoleon called out that great astronomer Laplace for not mentioning God in his Traité de la Méchanique Céleste, the mathematician brilliantly replied:
"Sire, I had no need for that hypothesis!"
Brilliant or naïve,
we may never know.
In his treatise on Atheism, Sir Francis Bacon tersely summarizes the situation thus: "A little philosophy inclineth a man's mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion."
In 2011, when I conceived: 'The Punchline Theory of Humor', I had no idea that six years later I would return to it, to take up Wittgenstein's humor challenge. Before, I demolished it in sprinkles, unicorns, and rainbows - just because I could.
Armed with the map of where my own thoughts and experiences on the philosophy of humor have traveled, follow me if you want to take a deeper dive.
Just for giggles
Alice from the Looking Glass is a charming and fearless girl explorer. The Avatar is an enlightened being that aims to bring unity to opposing thought systems, if only to make clear what seems irreconcilable. Together, Avatar Alice sees Wittgenstein's Humor Challenge and raises him her entire court.