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DIY Philosophy 101
The kind you buy at a university is fine, but there's nothing like home-made
Today during my daily Karl Popper reading (LIVE on my TikTok 11am CT), a newcomer made an insightful comment and followed it up with something like “but idk, I’m probably not qualified to be in here”.
I said HOLD UP.
Believing you must possess some “qualifications” to try and learn shit is like the only cardinal sin I recognize.
This is a daily occurrence in my LIVEs, so I need a handy dandy guide for how to do a philosophy; you don’t have to be qualified to love wisdom. Alls you gotta do is read from these so-called Wisdom Lovers to realize that a lot of these windbags who wrote this shit aren’t smarter than the average bear. Sometimes, they were just decent writers who weren’t afraid to stumble into a room and opine.
Anyone can do philosophy. And that’s a hill I’ll die on.
THIS IS HOW WE DO IT
Having been a self-declared philosopher for 2 whole seconds, I’m ready to write my first metaphilosophical treatise (a philosophy about philosophy). I’ve read Popper’s arguments, and arguments against Popper’s, and arguments against arguments of Popper’s. What I gather:
Have an opinion.
Get some ducks in a row that make people nod their heads in agreement.
Call your opps names (or just repeat names other people have called them, point fingers, and whine (this step might be shit, but I see it done).
Massage the message.
Repeat yourself with examples.
Change your mind or die with the same beliefs.
Alright, well lemme walk you through an example (see how easy this is? I’m on step 5 already!)
Step 1: Have an opinion
This is also called a “claim”, I guess. In general, it seems to create yourself a decent philosophical legacy, your claims should all clump together to support one central claim - but don’t worry about that for now. Just make a statement.
Claim: I am qualified to teach people how to do philosophy on Substack and TikTok.
You do need to think a bit about what you’re claiming, and if there’s some shit you can read or observations you can collect, awesome, that’s gonna make your claim even cooler. I make this claim after having read some philosophy, having been told that people learn from me, and with the a priori knowledge (shit I just fucking know, bro - like from nowhere) that I’d develop a personal philosophy regardless and share it socially. So, I’m bound to teach shit. Can’t help it.
These are my assumptions.
We could get into semantics about what I mean by “qualified” or “teach”, but since I’m using Popper as my mentor, I’ll just say this is a word puzzle and not the real problem; you fuckers know what I mean. I can share shit with people (qualified), and as a result, they’ll do a learn (I’m teachin’).
Step 2: Get some ducks in a row to support your claim.
Aka “supporting evidence”.
Again, since I’m modeling Popper, I’ll go ahead and get into the semantic weeds, even though I just said it was useless to do so:
I asked ChatGPT what it means to be qualified:
To be qualified means to have the necessary skills, knowledge, education, experience, or other relevant criteria that are required to perform a particular task, job, or role…
Oh, I got skills. As evidence, I offer you several high-quality testimonials on my ability to translate technical and abstract information from my LinkedIn -even with that one asshole former boss of mine who withdrew his kind words after I threatened litigation when they withdrew my offer over a fucking traffic violation. Didn’t need his recommendation or his lame job (look at me now, sucka!) Again, me and Popper see eye-to-eye on being dickish to dickweeds - especially when they try to refute our qualifications, but I’m skipping ahead to the next step.
Lemme reel it back. Ok? She got skillzz, what else GBT?
Qualifications can be acquired through formal education, such as a degree or certification program, or through practical experience gained through work or other activities.
I have a bloody doctorate of philosophy. Although, it does seem that they just give these things out to anyone nowadays. Never mind the implications of that for now. I mean, what kind of chaos could one little neuroscientist doing philosophy on TikTok create?
As for practical experience, I’ve been making TikToks and writing these Substacks for a couple of years now. They’re growing, and so I believe that counts for practical experience. Plus, I’ve taught med students, which I think is a whole other thing, but my most relevant experience comes from teaching middle-schoolers volleyball, science, and reading since 2009, in non-profit settings. This is most relevant because I’m pretty sure most Americans read at an 8th-grade level. So…. I asked chatGTP, and it refused to give me a straight answer. It said most people can read at an “intermediate proficiency” level according to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy. I asked what books would be found on that level and it gave me a list of 10 books (e.g., “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “The Hobbit”, “Animal Farm”, etc). I then asked the Accelerated Reader level of those books and the average was 5.8. So, it appears I was wrong. Most people read below a middle school level. So my educational experience might be a bit advanced for TikTok adults.
But again, I believe people are capable of growth.
With the above evidence, I draw the conclusion that I am “qualified” to teach on TikTok and Substack. Kurt Vonnegut said “A writer is first and foremost a teacher. “ My informal experience should be adequate to account for the fact that I’ve never taught by myself in a formal (cough:stuffyass: cough) classroom setting - in fact, it might even serve me and my “students” better that I haven’t.
Whether I’m good at this or not…I’ll leave it for someone else to argue. Or me at a later date.
Step 3: Call your opps names or at least address them
My opps are dumb. Or maybe my real opps just haven’t found me yet. I don’t go looking for opps like Popper did, yet…I probably will sooner or later because I do enjoy busting everyone’s chops.
As a wee-bebe, a sweet little 20-second-old philosopher, the only opp I have is this one asshole who finds my videos and heckles me for no apparent reason.
So a simple ad hom will have to do.
I don’t advocate name-calling - unless your opps are Enemies of the Open Society, and even then, it’s a bitch-ass move. But, I am a bit of a bitch-ass myself, and honestly, if your ad-homs are funny, subtle, and stay focused on the other person’s bad intent or lack of cognitive skills, it might be worth it. I do wish I had a real live GigaChad opp to berate like Popper does with Hegel, and almost everyone else. Some day my prince will come.
Step 4: Massage the Message.
While I’m trying to be cute and reference Marshall McLuhan’s Medium is the Massage (which is his attempt at being cute with his own idea that the medium in which you work IS the message), all I mean by this is that you gotta record what you have to say, somehow. The “How” doesn’t matter to me, and I suggest you not focus on it because it will come across more authentically if you just do what comes natural. Me, I like to write, I like to talk, I like making memes, and I like playing a bad guy on TV. Mine’s a full-body mess-age.
For you? IDGAF how, but unless your ideas are recorded (and ideally presented to an audience), you’re shit outta luck. I mean if you’re not leaving a breadcrumb trail for the digital AI archeologists of the future to resurrect and reconstruct your ahistorical philosophy for the sole purpose of inflicting untold horrors upon the world in the name of the greater good - what are you even doing, bro?
Step 5: Repeat yourself and give examples.
As you can see, I’m giving you these rules with my own philosophy baked in as an example, and a sampling from Popper. You better believe I’ll continue to deliver these stories and tweak my ideas, unless after this, my first Official foray into philosophy, I decide I have thus solved all the philosophical problems. But I won’t do that - I’m not that much of an arrogant prick. That’s a great way to have your philosophical legacy eroded by time. You better have a helluva personality to pull that off for any duration. No, I’m resigned to the idea that I’m gonna have to say things multiple times in many different ways, on multiple platforms. As my darling friend Rylla said recently about repeating yourself as an instructor…”it’s like Cat-Cow, Do you know how many times I’ve told my students to breathe in and out? They need to hear it over and over again.” Like Yoga, philosophy is a practice, and like Yoga, I’ll be blowing hot air until I’m a shriveled-up old raisin. Just wait.
Step 6: Change your mind or die with this shit.
Again, just give me time. I change my mind a lot, and even if I get stuck on something, we all die -unless I keep lurking around in these creepy Longevity DAOs. I might fuck around and inadvertently ruin all of science and philosophy by helping humans reach the escape velocity of aging.
ANYONE CAN DO A PHILOSOPHY, BUT WHO SHOULD?
Some guy once said “All men by nature desire to know”. So, pretty much all men should do some knowing. No, seriously, anyone who wants to know should be doing philosophy. It’s that simple.
Now, where it falls on your list of priorities, that’s up to you. For a while, I desired to test. So, I did science. A lot of times I desire to understand, so I write. I’m a little hedonistic when it comes to my mind… I let it wander until it finds something juicy, and then I bite down. That’s my philosophy, but how do you know yours unless you think about it? What principles do you live by?
For a long time, I thought I knew what my philosophy was, but until I examined my own life, I was living what was impressed upon me. You have to live and examine to make conscious choices about life.
WHERE ARE THEY DOIN’ PHILOSOPHY?
Honestly, you can find it anywhere, but you have to know what to look for. Hanging around with people who claim to do philosophy can bog you down. I don’t really like those types. Instead, look for people trying to solve problems. Even just using the word philosophy in this essay feels bizarre. I’m much more inclined to ask “How are we supposed to know anything?” You’ll know philosophy where you see questions. Fancy words aren’t required, and in fact, I think those are used to hide real thinking or a lack thereof. The kind of philosophy you’ll find here wants to be found - in plain words, direct questions, and honest observations.
You can find philosophy with me every week on TikTok (and in the discord at 11 am central) and Saturday, I’m hosting our 2nd monthly event reviewing Karl Popper’s Conjectures and Refutations with my TikTok gang, and my paid subscribers from Substack. Hope to find you there.
You’re qualified to be there.
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