Last time around I wrote about elevator pitches (there are some really great comments on this post that you may find useful), and this time Barry Lam is sharing some really cool stuff he’s doing at Hi-Phi Nation (I’ll definitely be adding this to my bag of tricks). So, now seems like a good time to share a story about philosophy on a plane.
But first…like a lot of people I’ve been moping since the election. I can frequently be heard saying things like, “Oh my God! We need philosophy now more than ever!” Really what I mean is more people who aren’t philosophers need to know a little philosophy and be better critical thinkers. I’ve even said that philosophers may have a moral duty to push back against poor reasoning, to which my philosopher husband replied we’d first need to define moral duty (I rolled my eyes). Be that as it may, I still think “the people” need philosophy.
From my pitch post, it was clear that not all philosophers share my enthusiasm for spreading the good word. Luckily, people like Barry Lam, Stephen West, and countless others make sharing philosophy easy...
I recently took a transcontinental flight (in the middle seat). I usually refuse Kantian recognition to my seatmates, but on this particular flight I made an exception. The guy to my right moved furniture for a living--that he did physical labor was no surprise, judging from the size of his biceps. He spouted numbers at me: pounds lifted in a day, a week, a month. He was quite chatty. I learned of his new girlfriend who was driving an hour to pick him up, that he had an irreverent sense of humor, and that he sometimes liked to play online poker. With all that frenetic energy, I surmised he might benefit from a little Existential Philosophy (Schopenhauer is my homeboy).
I asked him if he liked listening to podcasts, to which he replied yes. I then asked him if he liked Philosophy, and while he wasn’t sure what I meant, he said…maybe. I pulled up Episode #79: Kierkegaard on Anxiety from Philosophize This! on my iPhone and handed it to him along with my headphones. It was just a hunch, albeit a good one. He listened to the podcast in full and even jotted down quotes.
Sure, it was just one podcast, and he was just one guy, but that’s how we do it! That’s how we make better thinkers--one podcast at a time. Well, that and a philosophy class. Seriously, though, talk to people (outside of the classroom and conferences) about philosophy, and meet them where they are--Existentialism seems like an easy place to start. I mean, who isn't endlessly fascinated by themselves?