Why All The Truly Cosmopolitan Philosophers in the World Today Are Only 3.5 Inches Tall.
The OLD Philosoflicks was a series of seven experimental works in philosophy that were published online in the edgy, radical philosophy blog Against Professional Philosophy between July 2015 and May 2016:
Philosoflicks 1: You Are Not a Machine!
Philosoflicks 2, Installment 1: Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus, Preface & Letters I-IV.
Philosoflicks 2, Installment 2: Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus, Volume 1, Chapter 1.
Philosoflicks 3: On the Metaphysics of Puppets.
Philosoflicks 4: The Vienna Circle Meets The Hollow Men Meets Flitcraft Meets Us.
Philosoflicks 5: caesargodkantgoldman.
Philosoflicks 6: Thoughtless Images, aka Guns R Us.
OK. So what’s a “philosoflick”?
Here’s what the author of The OLD Philosoflicks said —
In “Let’s Make More Movies,” the epistemological anarchist Paul Feyerabend wrote this:
The separation of subjects that is such a pronounced characteristic of modern philosophy is … not altogether undesirable. It is a step on the way to a more satisfactory type of myth. What is needed to proceed further is not the return to harmony and stability as too many critics of the status quo, Marxists included, seem to think, but a form of life in which the constituents of older myths — theories, books, images, emotions, sounds, institutions — enter as interacting but antagonistic elements. Brecht’s theatre was an attempt to create such a form of life. He did not entirely succeed. I suggest we try movies instead. (P. Feyerabend, “Let’s Make more Movies,” in The Owl of Minerva: Philosophers on Philosophy, Ch. J. Bontempo and S. J. Odell (eds), McGraw-Hill: New York 1975, pp. 201–210.)
By cine-phenomenology, I mean the direct expression of philosophical ideas in cinematic, visual terms, from a first-person point of view.
Intertitles are printed texts inserted into (especially silent) films in order to convey dialogue, descriptions, or expository material directly relevant to but not necessarily covered by the filmed material, e.g.,
And montage is the cinematic technique, discovered by Sergei Eisenstein, of combining, juxtaposing, ordering, and sequencing (more generally, synthesizing) visual images for the production of various kinds of aesthetic and emotional effect.
A philosoflick is an experiment in visual philosophy, blending text and images–employing cine-phenomenology, intertitles, and montage–inspired by Feyerabend and Eisenstein, by Chris Marker’s La Jetée, and by W.G. Sebald’s pictorial novels.
I think that The OLD Philosoflicks were very cool; but I also think that their author barely scratched the surface of what can done with this experiment in visual philosophy.
So that’s why I’ve undertaken a new series of philosoflicks here on Medium — hence The NEW Philosoflicks.
The first in that series was about Nietzsche’s critique of metaphysics, the nature of reality, and the profundity of movies, Nietzsche Does Hollywood.
The second was about human unhappiness, poetic empathy, and the minds, lives, and deaths of non-human animals, Death of Hedgehog.
The third was about our own lives and deaths, What Makes Life Worth Dying For?
The fourth was about what, if anything, might transcend rational human existence, and what we should be doing about it, Pascal Does Vegas.
The fifth, Appearing, by Snaut, was the first in a tetralogy that visuo-philosophically explores themes in the work of Hannah Arendt.
The sixth, Postscript to Appearing, also by Snaut, was the second installment in that tetralogy.
The seventh, Disappearing, again by Snaut, was the third installment in the tetralogy.
The eighth, The Two Greatest Living Philosophers Are Only 3.5 Inches Tall, recorded an amazing intellectual encounter between a philosophical finger-puppet named “Mr Kant” and another philosophical finger-puppet named “Mr Nietzsche” in The Eerie, Uncanny House of Cinema.
And this one, the ninth of The NEW Philosoflicks, records how Mr Kant and Mr Nietzsche went on a truly cosmopolitan philosophical field trip….
Mr K: Heilige crap!, Mr N — it’s happened again.
By some not only fully conceivable and thinkable, but also naturally and really possible, yet still mind-blowing, process, even despite our being world-historically famous, dead, white, male, German philosophers from the 18th and 19nth centuries respectively, Immanuel Kant, and Friedrich Nietzsche, we’ve been reincarnated once again as 21st century philosophical finger-puppets.
But this time, instead of being in the essentially Safe Space that was The Eerie, Uncanny House of Cinema, we’re now outside in the big, bad, cis-sized world, at an airport filled with cis-sized people, aka Biggies, in a neoliberal democratic nation-state that — judging by the ubiquitous TV monitors and handheld devices obsessively fiddled with, listened to, and watched by the Biggies — is controlled by an oligarchy consisting of corporate capitalist plutocrat racist technocrat war-mongering xenophobes with bad hair.
But not only that, we’re apparently en route to Mexico City.
Mr N: Herr Doktor Professor Kant-Dude!
Whilst in limbo, I so totally got over being philosophically floor-wiped by you last time, and am now not only so totally cool with our being back again as 3.5 inch tall 21st century finger-puppets, but also so totally excited about going to Mexico City.
I also so totally agree about this neoliberal democratic nation-state’s being controlled by an oligarchy consisting of corporate capitalist plutocrat racist technocrat war-mongering xenophobes.
— With amazingly bad hair.
At the same time, however, I might also just point out that in some of your writings, you’re clearly biased against women, and arguably a Eurocentric racist xenophobe.[i]
And you’ve also personally got a strange phobia about blind people.[ii]
— Not accusin’ or denouncin’. Just sayin’.
Mr K: OK, fair enough.
— My time in limbo was good for me too.
I fully admit that in some of my minor anthropological writings I simply fucked up philosophically and got some things completely wrong, especially about women, race, and non-Europeans.
And I’m very, very far from being a morally perfect person.
But it would be a huge ad hominem fallacy to draw critical conclusions about my major philosophical works in metaphysics, philosophy of science, ethics, aesthetics, political theory — especially including my theory of enlightenment and cosmopolitanism— and moral theology, from some morally bad personal facts about me and a few stupid mistakes I made in minor works.
And at the same time, you must also admit that we’re all finite, human, of varying colors, shapes, and sizes, and radically evil — I mean that we all have a strong although not compulsory predisposition towards egoism and the Dear Self, the root of all evil, in a world of finite resources and widespread bad luck.
I mean: shit so totally happens, all over the place and to everyone.
Hence we’re all crooked timbers, out of which nothing straight will ever be made.
Moreover, please take into account my brilliantly original non-egoistic, non-hedonistic, non-consequentialist, non-instrumentalist, universalist ethics, which says that absolutely all rational human animals are persons who inherently possess dignity and the capacity for autonomy, and also that we’re strictly morally obligated to treat them and ourselves with respect.
And also, please take into account my theory of enlightenment and cosmopolitanism.
Moreover, I’ll just mention, by way of returning the compliment, that your writings have been frequently taken to be essential precursors of German Imperialism[iii] and Nazism.[iv]
Mr N: OK. Point so totally taken. I hear you.
I fucked up philosophically sometimes too.
I was also very, very far from being morally perfect as a person.
And I had some “mental health issues,” to say the least.
Still, I stand by the edgy brilliance and exceptional creative originality of my philosophical writings, literally exploding with profound psychological and social insights, and new forms of philosophical expression.
So from here on in, let’s just mutually chill out, accept our tiny-sized, shared, crooked, “human, all too human,” finger-puppetized condition, and enjoy the hell out of this philosophical field trip.
Mr K: Yes, so totally.
I mean: being briefly liberated from our icky Leibnizian windowless, monadic, thing-in-itselfish existence in limbo, so that we can hang out together for a few days in Mexico City — what could be better than that?
Mr K: Wow. It’s great to see the daylight again as the sun rises over MC.
How the hell did we manage to get through immigration and passport control?
Mr N: Some Biggie smuggled us in, inside his backpack.
But was it hot, stuffy, and sweaty as we waited for two hours in the immigration and passport control line-up, hidden inside that backpack — or was it hot, stuffy, and sweaty?
And I was getting to be a little worried when that girl standing in front of us fainted.
Luckily our Biggie gave her his water bottle, and then the guards took pity on her, and let her through the line….
Hey, what was your theory of cosmopolitanism again?
Mr K: Well, it has two parts.
The first part conforms to the commonly held, but in fact false, Hobbesian liberal assumption that we’re essentially selfish and mutually antagonistic, hence we have to be coerced into maintaining mutual non-interference.
But the second part holds for our real nature as persons with dignity, inherently worthy of respect, and capable of autonomy.
Under the false Hobbesian liberal assumption, my cosmopolitanism says that all nations should try to form a world-federation, stop fighting wars, create a permanent peace, and establish international courts of justice.
But under the true non-Hobbesian, non-liberal assumption about our real nature, my cosmopolitanism says that we should exit all states because coercion, which treats people as mere means and as things , in fact, as machines, is rationally unjustified and immoral, get rid of all nation-states and borders — because not only do such states systematically coerce their citizens and other people all around the world, but they also systematically frustrate our true human need to live and travel all over the earth, like happy nomads — then create a universal ethical community of persons in a post-state world, and then more generally dare to think, choose, and act for ourselves, as Diogenes the Cynic said, like citizens of the cosmos.
Mr N: Whoa. That sounds like philosophical and political social anarchism to me.
Mr K: Damn straight it is.
Mr N: And when you said “citizens of the cosmos,” you meant a cosmopolitan philosophical and political social anarchism that isn’t merely worldwide, but also encompasses the entire natural universe, nicht wahr K-dude?
Mr K: Double damn straight I did.
Mr N: Wow. This is awesomely awesome philosophical fun.
But while we’re still minimally sober, I wanted to ask you about the conditions under which everyone might be able to begin to move towards that amazing post-state worldwide and cosmic ethical community?
Mr K: Well, we just have to find ways to deconstruct and dismantle states and state-like institutions, step-by-step, while at the same time — also step-by-step — systematically replacing them with non-coercive social institutions for our mutual aid, guided by the universal moral principles of our worldwide and cosmic ethical community.
So I’m not a revolutionary and destructive cosmopolitan socialist or social anarchist, like, say, “Leo” Trotsky or “Mike” Bakunin — on the contrary!, I’m a devolutionary and constructive cosmopolitan social anarchist.
How cool is that?
And do you realize how amazingly lucky we are to be only 3.5 inches tall and finger-puppets, because then we can cross all borders whenever we want to, without passports, meet like-minded or interestingly other-minded people from all over the place, talk and write philosophy endlessly, see amazing new places, and hang out in nice bars wherever we go?
Mr N: So this cosmopolitan philosophical finger-puppet life is just like an anticipation of a real-world utopia, isn’t it?
The Biggies don’t know how easy it would be!
All they have to do is imagine being 3.5 inches tall, with no shit jobs that they have to do, and fuzzy little bodies like ours, traveling freely across all borders inside Biggie backpacks, meeting amazing new folks, and seeing amazing new places.
Then they can sit down somewhere, anywhere, read our books, think lots about them, talk about them with friends, share some of our best philosophical ideas with others living all over the place, then dare to think, choose, and act for themselves….
In a nutshell, all they have to do is imagine being trans-sized philosophically-minded people!
Mr K: This really IS the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
[i] See, e.g., P. Kleingeld, Kant and Cosmopolitanism (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2012), esp. chs. 4 and 7.
[ii] See M. Kuehn, Kant: A Biography (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2001), p. 213.
[iii] See, e.g., G. Santayana, Egotism in German Philosophy (London: J.M. Dent & Sons/New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1915), available online at URL = <https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Egotism_in_German_Philosophy>.
[iv] See, e.g., Wikipedia, “The Influence and Reception of Friedrich Nietzsche: Nietzsche and Fascism.”
AGAINST PROFESSIONAL PHILOSOPHY REDUX 74
Mr Nemo, W, X, Y, & Z, Wednesday 6 December 2017
The NEW Philosoflicks and Against Professional Philosophy are both sub-projects of the online mega-project Philosophy Without Borders, which is home-based on Patreon here.
Please consider becoming a patron! We’re improvident, but cheerful.