Monday, June 15, 2015

Am I a philosopher?

I got into an ongoing debate on the Partially Examined Life (PEL) Facebook Page, like you do. Someone had posted about climate change and why many people are still in denial about it.

Invariably the person chiming in to refute the notion of anthropic climate change and possible steps to address the issue was a Libertarian. Climate change attracts Libertarians like moths to a flame that they claim is not really hot. Although they never mentioned up front they were Libertarians, but a quick look at their Facebook page or Google search results invariably confirmed their political affiliations. But they were often very squirrelly about it, things like claiming they didn't really like Ayn Rand when they had a blog on an Objectivist web site or were a member of an Ayn Rand fan group.

One Libertarian I got into it with, the President of the Murray Rothbard Institute of Belgium, claimed to have no interest in American politics, but a Google search revealed he was a member of a group advocating the impeachment of Obama.

I have never had much use for Libertarians. So I went at their arguments about climate change like the John Galt train zooming down the Rearden Steel-covered Taggart line heading for Colorado after Dagny and her friends had bribed or threatened local officials to ignore zoning laws. The result was always them insulting me, insinuating, or in the case of the Belgian Libertarian, suggesting outright that I was "retarded," and then blocking me. Which, if you don't know how Facebook works, means they no longer exist for you on Facebook - you can't see their profile or anything they've written. Which suited me just fine. And at least the debate prompted me to find this excellent and apparently non-governmental web site about climate change deniers.

Right before he blocked me, the Belgian Libertarian asked me if I was a philosopher. I wasn't sure if he was being sardonic and attempting to argue from authority because he's a PhD candidate in philosophy at the University of Antwerp or (remotely possible) sincere. But it's a good question. There had been a discussion last week on the PEL Facebook page that led to the question of who, exactly, qualifies as a philosopher. And the answers were all over the map, from "someone who appears in text books about philosophy" to the much lower bar of "anybody who asks questions."

As a result of this lack of consensus Ayn Rand is classified as a philosopher, at least on Wiki, and so is the Marquis de Sade. It seems to me that anybody can claim to be a philosopher if they've written about questions concerning the human condition and the writings were published.

This blog will mark its 10-year anniversary this November. So I guess that makes me a philosopher too.