As I watched Trump’s response to the latest gun massacre in America a sentence pressed itself upon me: “He has the mind of a sociopathic rat”. Or am I being unfair to rats? His boorish indifference was almost titanic.
Am I the only one who feels that the world has stopped feeling real? Is this evidence that we are living in a simulation? Nothing makes sense any more. Is this a new syndrome–global unreality syndrome?
I have a solution to the problems of higher education (sic) in America: I am founding my own university–McGinn University (MU). It will of course have a vibrant philosophy department teaching all branches of the subject. We will also cover psychology and brain science, as well as literature, biology, and the more interesting parts of mathematics and physics. There will be a special emphasis on creativity (creative writing is compulsory) and advanced writing skills. In addition we will have an athletics program: tennis, table tennis, gymnastics, trampoline, squash, badminton, swimming, kayaking, surfing, windsurfing, paddle boarding, and skim boarding (oh it will be fun!). Also a music department covering all aspects of music, from music theory to how to hit a drum, from old to new (basic guitar and percussion skills desirable). Fees very reasonable (unlike that monstrosity Trump University). The aim is to turn out first-class minds and free spirits.
I sometimes think of all the close possible worlds in which I am still teaching–all those happy students! Sorry (actual) chaps (and chapesses), it wasn’t my idea to deprive you. But at least I have a counterpart who is still teaching. The actual world is just one possible world in which I don’t teach, but I teach in plenty of other worlds. Ah, the consolations of metaphysics.
A philosopher I know came to Miami to give a talk at UM on consciousness. It turned out that he only had time to meet with me if I went to his talk on the campus. I asked the chairman of the philosophy department, Otavio Bueno, if he had any objection to my attending the talk, intending this to be a mere formality. I was told that if I came to the talk I would be removed from the campus. No reason was given. When I inquired whether I could listen in to the talk via telephone I was told that this would not be allowed. Again no reason was given. This is America.
I went to see The Shape of Water today. It’s an original and affecting film. I knew from the commentary that it was about a romance between a woman and a sea creature, but what I hadn’t heard is that it is a searing indictment of American brutality and stupidity. I wonder whether the Academy noticed this.
Interesting to see two shows about philosophy on network TV: The Good Place and A.P. Bio (CBS Thursday night). Scanlon and Dancy mentioned in the former, also Bentham and Kant. These are prime time shows and both quite funny (A.P. Bio just started last night so I don’t know how it will work out). I wonder whether philosophers being in the news in the last couple of years brought this attention about. Such popular presentations can have a massive impact and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a cultural uptick of interest in philosophy. Both shows treat philosophers with respect as well as humor. They follow a favorite show of mine, Superstore, with its cast of “oddballs” with more reality in them than you usually see on American TV.