Bluff your way in Philosophy
I recently got my hands on an interesting, humorous book 'Bluff your way in Philosophy' by Jim Hankinson, about how to pretend to be competent in philosophy during conversations while having little idea of what it actually is. Apart from its tips for the bluffers, the book is also a brilliant satire on the lives and ideas of philosophers. Here are a few selections:
'Another useful line with Plato is to argue either:
1) that he was a feminist;
2) that he wasn't.
Both claims can be supported, and each may turn out to be handy (at different times, of course). The evidence for 1) is that in Book 3 of the Republic, he says women should not be discriminated against in matters of employment solely because they are women. In favour of 2) is the fact that immediately afterwards he remarks that since women are so much less talented that men by nature, this 'liberalisation' will hardly make any difference anyway.'
'When talking about, or (safer) simply mentioning, metaphysics, it is best to adopt one of two approaches. You can simply refuse to accept the existence of any such subject (best done with a patronising smile), in which case the Positivists will come in handy; or alternatively, you can attempt to invest your remarks on the matter with an air of someone penetrating some ineffable mystery. The early Wittgenstein is ideal for the first purpose; the later one will do for the latter. Wittgenstein is always good value, for the excellent reason that, while almost everyone has heard of him, almost no-one has actually read him, and fewer still can claim with any conviction to have understood him.'
'Putnam is, incidentally, perhaps the most distinguished contemporary American philosopher. He is useful to the bluffer because of his engaging habit of completely changing his extremely subtle and complex views on things just as other philosophers are beginning to think that they understand them - about once every ten years or so - outdoing even Wittgenstein. You may thus confidently prefix any claim with the words 'as Putnam says', secure in the knowledge that somewhere, and at some time, he will have done.'
And after my recent posts on individual rights and freedom, this surely made me laugh out loud:
'Philosophers, who are for the most part, at least in their personal lives, an amoral bunch of rogues (this is particularly true of moral philosophers), tend to think less in terms of duties than of rights, and to create Rights Theories. You have a Right insofar as there is either something you deserve, or something you should be allowed to get away with.'
Some portions of the book are also available on Google Books. Have a look if you are interested.