When Words Don't MatterbyLord Bitememan©
Philosopher: Goodday class. Welcome to Philosophy 410; Introduction to Shyster. I'm your instructor, Dr. Shyster.
Realist: He's teaching a class in his own philosophy? How innovative. I bet his book is required for the class.
Philosopher: We will begin by passing out the syllabus. As you can see, we have seven books required for the class. "The Word that is Spoken" by Shyster. . .
Realist: I knew it.
Philosopher: "The Word that is Not" by Shyster. . .
Realist: How wonderful. . .
Philosopher: "What are Words" by Shyster. . .
Realist: Why am I not surprised?
Philosopher: "Word Without Introduction" by Shyster. . .
Realist: I'm noticing a pattern here.
Philosopher: "Words Without Conclusion" by Shyster. . .
Realist: How apt.
Philosopher: "The Final Word" by Shyster. . .
Philosopher: And finally, "On the Works of Shyster" by Shyster.
Realist: I'd just like to see one of his royalty checks.
Philosopher: Young man!
Realist: Here it comes. . .
Philosopher: Do you have a problem?
Realist: Who, me?
Realist: Nope. I don't have a problem.
Philosopher: You must have one, because you haven't shut up since I came in.
Realist: I'm sorry. I'll be quiet now.
Philosopher: No, really, if you have something to contribute to the study of philosophy, please, do tell us.
Realist: No, I don't have anything to contribute.
Philosopher: Well, you had a lot to say earlier. Come on, say it. It doesn't matter what it is.
Realist: Well, let me rephrase. I'm not sure I should tell you, who will be grading me, what was on my mind.
Philosopher: No, really, I always welcome challenging perspectives and ideas in this realm.
Realist: Okay, you asked for it. Well, it's obvious to me that you are a charlatan of the first order who has found a pseudo-academic basis to scam money from students and the university alike.
(several groan, some are intrigued, most are half-asleep and indifferent)
Philosopher: Nonsense! Philosophy is a very meaningful study by which we ponder the meaning of life and the purpose of man.
Realist: Bullshit! Nietzche and Plato pondered that. You are a parasite thriving in a redundant department in a haven of unproductive professions teaching a completely useless and unmarketable skill to students taking a class they were forced to take. Such is the case with the majority of modern academia I'm afraid.
Philosopher: Are you kidding? This decade has seen some of the most amazing publications and advances ever to come about in the field of philosophy.
Realist: I'll bet you your next royalty check you can't convince half this class of that by the end of the hour.
Philosopher: *gasping* My royalty check!?
Realist: Yes! *grinning* Your royalty check.
Philosopher: *grinning back* You're on!
Realist: Okay. You've got 56 minutes. Get crackin'.
Philosopher: Even recently a colleague of mine, Dr. Charles Larton, produced a fascinating book entitled "A."
Realist: What's it about?
Philosopher: It's 365 pages of the letter A repeated over and over again.
Realist: You've got to be kidding me!
Philosopher: No, it raises some very fascinating questions.
Realist: Like "How do I get in on this racket?"
True Believer Male: Why don't you shut up?
Realist: Great, what now?
True Believer: You don't even know what you're talking about!
Realist: And you do, right?
True Believer: I've read "A."
Realist: I would be ashamed to admit that.
True Believer: The book shows the letter in all kinds of imaginable forms. It shows the letter in italics, bold, underlined, cursive, and all kinds of fonts. He repeats it in the same form over and over again. He even spells it out en espanol.
Realist: Que importa?
True Believer: It raises an important point about individuality. Though we may all seek our own font, deep down inside, we're all just the same letter.
True Believer Female: No, no, no! You've got it all wrong.
True Believer: How so?
Realist: This should be fun.
True Believette: The book is about primacy. It's saying that it can't emphasize enough how important it is to be number one, no matter how you phrase it.
Believer: No way! If that was the case then why spell the letter out?
Believette: That just shows that no matter if you try to look like one of the masses, it's still all about being number one.
Believer: How do you dismiss the issues of individuality it raises?
Believette: The only issue of individuality it raises is the need of the individual to be number one.
Believer: You're so closed minded.
Believette: You're misguided.
Philosopher: So you see that? That shows that meaningful philosophy is still being produced to this day.
Realist: All that shows is that two morons can stare at 365 pages of the letter A and infer their own meaning from it. The real proof of that is that no two morons can agree on the meaning it.
Philosopher: Well, for such a complex book you can't just ascribe one meaning.
Realist: *nodding and scribbling on a notepad* Uh huh.
Philosopher: Wh. . . what are you doing?
Realist: I'm planning out a related book on the subject. It's entitled "B."
Philosopher: What!? No, no, no! You can't just go and randomly place letters on a page and market that as philosophy!
Realist: Ha! You can't, eh?
Philosopher: No. You need a plan, a meaning, a deeply thought concept of human existence that is central to your philosophical outlook on life.
Realist: Or you just need to be a damned good snake oil salesman, one of the two.
Philosopher: I'm no snake oil salesman.
Realist: So, you have a central philosophy to your work?
Philosopher: Of course I do!
Realist: Then sum it up in a sentence.
Philosopher: Well, I couldn't limit it to something as confining as a single sentan. . .
Realist: Snake Oil!
Philosopher: Alright, you asked for it!
Realist: Bring it on!
Philosopher: The central idea behind my philosophy is that we have used words for some period of time as our means of communication, shaping our experience, however there are limitations to our words therefore placing limitations on our experiences and our ability to communicate our experiences and so we go about the process of inventing new words to broaden our experience and increase our ability to communicate it with others thereby limiting our experience because we devote ourselves to the process of searching for the proper words as a means to experience and communication thereby making the human experience a specialized and limited thing and little more but nevertheless preserving the human experience because the words are spoken and written and enshrine what has happened and inasmuch people have used words for some periods of time as a means of communication and thereby exposing the very circular logic of words as they are used, limited, invented, confining, narrowing, enduring, and therefore used leading us back to square one a cycle which is meaningless as people use words nevertheless as a means of communication leading us to the pointlessness of the cycle, the pointlessness of the contradiction, and even double or quadruple contradictions as we enter the cycle of reason again and again thus thereby making this the cycle we enter with the word that is spoken, we perpetuate it by inventing the word that is not, we question the basis of our words after a while wondering what they even are, we continue to speak the words without ever knowing their introduction, and we never wrap it up thereby leaving a conclusion, so we must come to the conclusion that there may never truly be a final word or will there be as a result of man's story of existence, a process locked in the words he has given and uses to this day.
Realist: That didn't make on goddamn bit of sense whatsoever, not one goddamn bit.
Philosopher: It was a sentence. Not my fault if you can't understand it.
Realist: No that's the problem with you philosophy people. You make up some book about nothing or ridiculous questions, then when some asks you about your "deeper meaning" you bury them in a pile of words a mountain high. You never have anything to say, you just rely on the fact that no one will say you don't make sense for fear of looking dumb.
Philosopher: So, I take it I must prove my philosophy to you.
Realist: Don't worry about me. You need to convince the class. Besides, you can't prove philosophy.
Philosopher: It's easy, watch. Young lady, could you come down here please?
Conservative Girl: Yes Dr. Shyster?
Philosopher: I want you to have sex with this young man right here in front of everyone.
Conservative Girl: No way!
Philosopher: Thank you, you may sit down. See there's your proof.
Realist: What kind of bullshit, left field, off-topic, non-proof sort of proof is that?
Philosopher: My words shaped her situation, and her words shaped the response to it. The words shaped and communicated the experience.
Realist: Nonsense! Your request was just fucking ridiculous.
Philosopher: Oh really?
Realist: Yes. Who in their right mind would agree to it?
Philosopher: You two, come here please.
Believer & Believette: Yes, Dr. Shyster?
Philosopher: I want you two to have sex right in front of the class.
Believer & Believette: Okay. *kissing*
Philosopher: Thank you, that will suffice. You may return to your seats.
Realist: Oh! Like you couldn't tell from their dew rags and their dread locks that they would be into it!
Philosopher: I see you need still more proof.
Realist: You bet I do!
Philosopher: Actually, miss, could I borrow you one second more?
Believette: Yes, professor.
Philosopher: Have sex with this young man right here.
Believette: I don't think so!
Philosopher: Well, young man, it seems no one wants to sleep with you. You may sit ma'am.
Realist: What's your point?
Philosopher: Not much, really, it's just incredibly amusing watching one girl after another reject you in front of everyone.
Realist: *checking his watch* It's your royalty check professor. . .
Philosopher: Okay, I demonstrated to you how well all our words shaped the situation. Your words defined your experience, limiting it with two women, one who's outward appearance would suggest she wasn't open to the experience, and one whose words defined that she was. Proof positive, our words define our experiences.
Realist: Proof not positive, and really full of holes.
Philosopher: Okay, your turn to explain yourself.
Realist: Easy. Simple psychological fact shows that our appearances communicate more about us that anything we could possibly say. Moreover, sociology teaches us that societies have taboos and norms that regulate acceptable behavior. You simply preyed upon these facts. You picked a girl whose appearance conveyed that she adheres to our social norms and wouldn't violate the taboo you asked her to. She's pretty too.
Conservative Girl: *sighs and blushes*
Realist: Whereas those other two. . . their appearance just radiates "Pick me! I want to violate norms and taboos! I'm a rebellious college idealist! My parents are Republicans!"
Believer: Hey, my parents marched against the war!
Realist: And Dick Nixon brought it to an end, your point is?
Philosopher: What are these norms and taboos you speak of but just words?
Realist: No sir, you are wrong there! They aren't words, they're actions!
Philosopher: Oh really?
Realist: Yes, it's a set of responses to actions deemed appropriate or inappropriate.
Philosopher: But they step from defined words.
Realist: Wrong. Norms are mostly unspoken, and generally never from any written or codified work.
Philosopher: Well, that's sociology, and I'm talking philosophy.
Realist: And is your philosophy somehow superior to this proven social science?
Philosopher: For my purposes it is.
Realist: And let me guess, your philosophy is superior to all others.
Philosopher: Hmmm. . . Oh, I'd love it if it were. Hmmm. . . no, I'd have to say a colleague of mine has me beat. Dr. Nick Singh managed to convince himself that he did not exist despite counseling with 14 psychotherapists.
Realist: Which psycho ward does he live in today?
Philosopher: He doesn't. Three years ago he jumped off a building. He was so convinced he didn't exist he figured no one would notice.
Realist: Well, did someone notice?
Philosopher: Yes. He landed on a Mercedes in the middle of rush hour.
Realist: My God!
Philosopher: I know. That sort of dedication to the study is rare these days. I don't think I could ever match that sort of intensity.
Realist: Are you out of your mind?
Philosopher: No, it's an excellent illustration of my point.
Realist: Some idiot offs himself and this has anything at all to do with you?
Philosopher: It proves my point. His words shaped his world experience.
Realist: No they didn't, when he died half the city noticed. His words didn't shape shit.
Philosopher: Maybe not in our world, but in his own they did.
Realist: Oh not this! Not the relativist argument.
Philosopher: What's wrong with that?
Realist: It's nothing but a stubborn and ridiculous way to inject unsubstantiated doubt where solid fact exists. I don't care how many or how few morons think their own little world trumps reality, 2 + 2 will always equal 4.
Philosopher: Not necessarily. What if you were on an island where you had to pay a holy addition tax to the gods? 2 + 2 would equal 3.
Realist: Yeah. . . and the only sane man on the island would jump off a damn cliff.
*both get a funny look on their faces for a moment*
Philosopher: Than it would seem to me that there isn't much difference between a sane man and one who has convinced himself he does not exist.
Realist: That's where you're wrong. There are no little islands out there where 2 + 2 equals 3. There is, however, a very real world where if you jump off a building, people notice. That's the difference.
Philosopher: But in such an island, the sane man would be the misunderstood philosopher.
Realist: It doesn't matter. That won't happen. No such island exists.
Philosopher: But in a debate you must allow for a hypothetical situation in order to postulate alternatives.
Realist: I don't have to allow a damn thing, nobody set any rules for this debate.
Philosopher: And that's why a realist and a philosopher can never see eye to eye on a subject.
Realist: Fine! You want to know why I reject it? A hypothetical situation exists to propose how a reality might function under plausible alternative events. What you suggested isn't plausible, it's ridiculous. It has no place in a serious debate. The fact that you bring it up proves how weak the intellectual foundations of your argument are.
Philosopher: Can't you just disagree with it but respect that some people might find meaning in it?
Realist: No! Not when you teach a class in it at a public university. That costs me tuition, everyone else in the state money, and as if that wasn't bad enough you line your pocket with the seven books you require for your own class. If you were honestly an intellectual, you would be a very corrupt one. What you really are is a crook committing a fraud on the state.
Philosopher: Then why take my class? If it's such a hassle and an affront to your dignity why not take another precious social science?
Realist: Oh, if only it were that simple. Most colleges and universities require you to take humanities if you're a liberal arts major, but offer so few humanities choices that we're herded like cattle into the one, enormous, open class there is, philosophy. Every university has its own Shysterville.
Philosopher: One thing to remember about con men son, when it looks like they're losing that's usually about the time that they're winning.
Realist: So you admit to being a con man then?
Philosopher: I didn't say that, just pointing out that you've worded yourself into a corner.
Realist: Now how did I do that?
Philosopher: Simple. Take as givens my previous statement, and the conditions of our bet. Now, for you to win you would have to prove my philosophy a sham, thereby exposing me as a fraud.
Realist: Mmmm Hmmmm
Philosopher: And for me to win I must prove the validity of my study, thereby exonerating me as an honest intellectual.
Realist: That'll be the day.
Philosopher: But, given the first statement, we may infer that con men win, and do not lose.
Realist: Well, successful con men at least.
Philosopher: By all your contentions, I must be a successful con man if I'm one at all.
Realist: Fair enough.
Philosopher: Then we reach the conundrum. Let me know if I'm talking to fast for you. In order for you to lose, I must prove the validity of my philosophy. Doing this, though, would mean I would win, thereby making me the successful con man you insist I am. If I should lose, however, then you would have proven my philosophy false. However, to do that I would have to lose, which we have already established a successful con man doesn't do. So you see now we have a completely untenable situation. In order for me to be a con man, I can't be a con man. In order for me not to be a con man, I must be a con man. This is one of those hypothetical situations you probably never thought would come about, and that is why philosophy is a meaningful study!
Realist: Now that the pandemonium has died down, let me expose the fatal flaw in your logic. You assume that a con man never gets beat. I've beaten a con man or two before, and I've got one or two left in me. Today's your day, Shyster!
Philosopher: Well, mine got more applause.
Realist: Hey, cults form around anything. Just look at Mac users, or Dean supporters.
Philosopher: Or maybe they just agree with me and not you.
Realist: Mayhap. That, of course, remains to be seen.
Philosopher: You say that with uncertainty. Perhaps my words have given you a bit of respect for my philosophy.
Realist: Not a chance. You might con these people into believing you, but not me!
Philosopher: What do I have to do to convince you?
Realist: I'm not sure you can. Your philosophy is about as airtight as a Boeing with a window blowout. You sell it with all the conviction of Bill Clinton saying "I did not have sex with that woman. . ." To make matters even worse, you dismiss the studies of fellow academics and place your own as superior.
Philosopher: I didn't do that. I simply opened up the realm of possibility to the phrase "what if?"
Realist: That's never a serious situation. Give me one example where it was.
Philosopher: When Einstein wondered "What if matter were made of energy?"
Realist: Okay. . . give me another example! Philosopher: How about, instead, you answer a few questions. Let's see if your realism can withstand the scrutiny of my philosophy!
Realist: You're on!
Philosopher: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Realist: The amoeba.
Philosopher: If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is around to hear it, has it made a sound?
Realist: Fuck it, it's dead.
Philosopher: What's the sound of one hand clapping?
Realist: *claps one hand* Got anything original?
Philosopher: When words don't matter, is there any point in speaking them?
Realist: You're not getting out of the bet that easily Shyster.
Philosopher: What if two men made an agreement but couldn't prove they had?
Realist: Then the first person to take advantage of it wins.
Philosopher: But the agreement. . . did it matter at all?
Realist: Who cares? It only matters what you can prove in court.