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.
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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.
The divorce rate had reached a new high: 92% of people were now getting divorced. Those who stubbornly remained married were looked on with suspicion tinged with envy. Meanwhile the sexual allegation rate had skyrocketed: four out of five men had been accused of some form of sexual misconduct (from assault to insufficient attention). The new consent laws were wreaking havoc. Women were afraid of men and men were afraid of women. Political factions had grown up that fostered this atmosphere of hatred and mistrust: Empowered Women Against the Rape Patriarchy, Concerned Men for Sexual Justice. There were demonstrations, boycotts, and mass movements. And violence too: starting at demonstrations but spilling over into random mayhem. The media ate it up, fanned and fueled it. You were either for women and against men or for men and against women; dissent was not permitted. Things went on like this for a few years, simmering, sometimes boiling over.
Then war broke out. At first it took place on the streets, as gangs sought out members of the opposite sex for ridicule, roughing up, and occasional homicide. There were rapes. There were castrations. Marriage itself was deemed politically incorrect, a form of collaborating with the enemy. A new political language was spoken demonizing members of the opposite sex. Relationships between the sexes still existed, rarely, but they were fraught and frowned upon. Segregation became the norm, with men in one place and women in another (there were no men’s and women’s bathrooms next to each other any more). Neighborhoods were patrolled. If you wanted to meet a member of the opposite sex, you went to a designated neutral zone, furtively and riskily. Homosexuality was rampant, as well as sex robots. Culture split. Universities were single-sex only. There were separate TV channels. Remarkably, racism and other forms of prejudice disappeared under this new regime: men and women became united against the enemy—the other sex. Crude stereotypes and discrimination prevailed.
But that was not the end of it, because there was now a battle for power and territory. The two sides organized into armies. At first it was snipers and nighttime raids, as well as ordinary terrorism, but then it became regimented. People were trained and equipped. Walls were erected and defended, with high-casualty pitched battles. Atrocities too: mass killings, including children. Not that each sex had nothing to do with the other sex: it was recognized that each needed the other for reproductive purposes. This problem was solved simply by introducing a form of slavery: each side imprisoned suitably subdued members of the opposite sex, usually very young and docile. These were used as mothers and fathers, and discarded afterwards. Emotional connections were strictly forbidden. This went on for years with much misery and hardship on both sides. The men tended to be lazy but lethal when roused, whereas the women were better organized and schooled in hatred. There was a balance of power that kept the conflict simmering.
The end result was predictable: both sides acquired nuclear weapons and practiced nuclear brinkmanship. It was only a matter of time until nuclear war broke out and with it the end of humanity. But by that time life was not worth living for most people.