[Kelly’s Newspaper Column]
I’ve often wondered why we don’t have philosophers anymore. Back “in the day” there were people like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Calvin & Hobbes. Today, we have Twitter and Facebook where everyone likes to spout off but the deep thoughtful consideration of life is mowed over by quick sound bites and rants rather than meaningful discourse.
Of course, if you google “modern day philosophers,” you will find various lists (I’ve heard of a handful of the folks mentioned), a podcast by that title with comedians talking about philosophy, and an article stating that comedians are today’s philosophers (that surprisingly has no mention of the podcast with comedians).
Perhaps that’s a good observation. (I also think Modern Day Philosophers is a great band name.) Philosophy is defined as “the study of ideas about knowledge, truth, the nature and meaning of life.” Funny folks are the ones who study and dissect life.
Philosophy dives in to the essence of life and so do our modern comedians. Some of the most profound insights into the “human condition” are served up by those whose goal is to make us laugh. And why do we laugh? Because they speak the truth. Much social commentary comes by the way of comedy.
Is it because life is funny? Or tragic? Ah, the philosophical conundrum.
In my opening paragraph I tried to make you laugh with my reference to Calvin & Hobbes, the beloved comic strip by Bill Watterson, but the truth is Watterson named Calvin after John Calvin, the 16th-century theologian and reformer, and Hobbes after the 17th-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes.
That comic strip was just as thought provoking as it was amusing. The antics of the little boy and his stuffed Tiger were cute, for sure, but the strip hit home because of the adult level humor and intelligence of topics pondered by deep thinker Calvin. Maybe Bill Watterson is one of my favorite modern day philosophers.
The word philosophy comes from the Greek “the love of wisdom.” Some days the dark side of me says no one really seeks out wisdom these days, and folks would rather have fleeting fame on some reality show or tool around town in a Ferrari. And the “wise” part of me says it does not matter. What other people do or want or think about is none of my concern. If I want to seek “wisdom,” that’s my doing. If I want to find it via history, comedy, or in the bottom of a Cracker Jack box, so be it.
We each are our own philosopher.
And it never hurts to read the funnies. (http://www.calvinandhobbes.com/)
Calvin: If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I bet they’d live a lot differently.
Hobbes: How so?
Calvin: Well, when you look into infinity, you realize that there are more important things than what people do all day.