(this is a follow-up to Philosophy Club Part 1, easily locatable by virtue of it’s the only other post on this blog
oh god I’m such a blogging baby)
Come, beloveds, travel with me to a magical room full of 18-22 year old white dudes, all very similar, but each with facial hair unique to only him! There is pizza in this room, and upon the whiteboard is the Philosoraptor, lovingly rendered in dry-erase marker.
Okay, now that we’re all there in our minds, eating pizza and references tired old memes…
Here a chin, there a beard, everywhere a chin beard
I previously mentioned how most of the attendees were… birds of the same feather.
But there were a few people who stuck out to me as remarkable, and renewed my conceptions of philosophy as a field anyone can benefit from, opposed to a pseudointellectual circle-jerk for guys with chin hair
(I’m sorry I keep touching on the beard thing. Now it’s just petty, I know.)
The Outliers of Philosophy Club
Behind me sat a girl with fake-diamond ear plugs and nose studs, a powdery fake tan, dark eyemakeup, and long flat-ironed hair. From appearance alone, she didn’t scream “philosophy enthusiast.”
She spoke with the universal Sorority Girl Drawl, but she introduced herself as a Philosophy Major. Later she said “I’m just reaaallly exciiiited to like, have a movie night, like watch The Matrix. That’s such a great movie, I love the epistemology and solipsism themes!”
There was also one (1) black guy, a soft-spoken slender guy with wire-rimmed glasses. He said he was into philosophy “just to find different ways to look at things,” a response that was remarkable amidst all the grandiloquence.
Then there was the homeless woman. She waddled in precisely on time, several large bags dangling on both arms. She was wrapped up for the weather and didn’t take off her headscarf or battered parka over the course of the meeting. Perhaps she wasn’t sure if she was going to be allowed to stay. She took two pieces of pizza and sat in the last row of seats. When we were given instructions to introduce ourselves with our major and why we came, she told us she hadn’t been in school for a long time.
“But I came here because I believe that philosophy can be very… nourishing for a person’s intellect. It can make us feel more whole, more complete as human beings.” This response drew a curt smile from the question asker.
When we were playing The Many-Brained Beast, an improv game where we constructed sentences by each contributing one word, she seemed confused. She was supposed to finish the sentence “What does philosophy do?” The words so far: “Philosophy… is… like… a… giant…”
“I don’t know,” she said. The club leaders laughed a little uneasily. “That works! Philosophy is like a giant I don’t know!”
The woman seemed lost, like this wasn’t what she came for. Later, during a group discussion of “soooooo…. what is philosophy, anyway?” she piped up once more. The room seemed uneasy with her, a bedraggled, somber interloper in a group of college kids with too much time on their hands.
“Well, Philosophy is a greek word, formed of philia and sophos.” She spoke with a tremulous reverence. It sounded like the definition touched her. “It literally means love of wisdom.”
And then another dude brought up pedophiles.
Philosophy Club didn’t teach me a lot about philosophy. I know I’ve been pretty harsh on the group. To be fair, it was their first meeting of the year, and everyone was probably just excited to eat free pizza and then get drunk later. Still, it had a men’s club vibe not dissimilar to The School of Athens, or, say, reddit.
I’d like to study why philosophy seems to attract this very specific type of person. In the words of one person I asked:
“White guys can do philosophy during the time they spend not being oppressed by society.”
Fair enough, I guess.