Friday, March 14, 2014

After the Dark (2013), Kitties, Extreme Philosophy, and Legitimacy.

After the Dark reminded me of the philosophy courses I took during freshman year in college. The professor would explain philosophical points through stories about his cats and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The second class was by a Frenchman who didn't trust us to read on our own and had the class reading from the textbook in class twice a week. Imagine a room of 15 reading Kant by going around the room and reading each paragraph is succession. The third philosophy course I took was logic and the professor expected the room to remember 15 logical syllogisms. Long story short a lot of people paid a lot of money to get a C.

My very first introduction to philosophy was in an English classroom during my sophomore year of High School. The teacher was a gorgeous and wild redhead who started off every class asking us to journal and reflect on a quote she wrote on the board. On the first day of class she asked everyone to make something to hang from the ceiling, and throughout the year the fire hazard of stuff we made hung above us. One day we came into the room and the windows were covered up and the projector was lit. She waited for all of us to get seated and shut up. She started wiggling her fingers in front of the projector and told the story of Plato's allegory of the cave. The story didn't hook me at the time because I was just some punk, but now I am at a point in my philosophical journey where I appreciate the gesture.
After the Dark started out in a superficial placed and ended with one of the one of the more morally nuanced endings I remember seeing for a long while. Personally, my philosophical studies are not associated with the silly ethical puzzles that this movie is rooted in, and I'm not entirely sure why philosophy, so often reminds me of pushing someone in front of a train. My philosophy studies were always about power. Power to think; power to be. There is a line in the film (and I may be misquoting it) that said:

We are extreme philosophers because we have extreme problems. (Source)
I agree, but the film is all over the place with how it portrays the usefulness philosophers and philosophy. One of the difficulties is rooted in the western cultures drive towards reduction-ism that seeks to portray philosophers and philosophy as this over completed diatribe that is either too difficult too impracticable to dedicate your time to. Or seeks to enclose all of philosophers into one giant bubble of philosophy. The film begs the question; why are these students receiving such a poor philosophical education in such an expensive looking classroom in Jakarta?
Are philosophers useful today? Is philosophy still relevant? In the film a class is provided with a complex thought experiment. Each student is given a job description, and the first choice the class is given is to choose who will enter a bomb shelter before the world gets nuked. The game plays out several rounds, and the class all dies several times. One of the oddest things about this film is how little philosophy is actually involved. This could be making the argument that when life gets really, or difficult. Resulting in the Philosopher tossing philosophy out the window for blind survival-ism.

What do you think, is philosophy today still relevant? And to what end? What does extreme philosophy look like?

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