Dogs, gods and Philosophers: A close encounter with a modern "Intellectual"
By Wayne Dunn (Posted March 10, 2002)
I overheard him in a bookstore spouting nonsense to a couple of doe-eyed head-nodders, college freshmen, I later learned. He was, he boasted, a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy at the local university.
After surmising that it would not be improper to join the conversation, I decided to inject a dose of rationality, not so much to try to change anyone's opinion, but for the completely selfish purpose of testing out my own mental prowess.
I quickly realized that debunking his arguments wouldn't be the hard part ¾ keeping him on a single topic long enough to do so would be. That was, it seemed, his "intellectual" survival technique: to make himself a moving target, to never stay long enough on one subject to get pinned down. He was a philosophic rabbit, hopping from briar patch to irrational briar patch.
For instance, jumping to politics, he asserted that the US shouldn't support Israel because, he charged, "Israel oppresses Palestinians." Before I could dig into that, he'd hopped 3 more times and had made as many dangling assertions. Trying to boil things down to basics, I brought up individual freedoms and property rights, to which he responded, "Well, what about animals? Why should we have rights to land when animals were there first?"
Seeing a possible inroad, I said, "So you think no more of Palestinians than you do of dogs?" "What?" he asked. "Well," I continued, "if animals' 'rights' to the land trump humans' rights to own property, then doesn't that apply to Palestinian humans as well? If you and I are required to bow before animals here in America, would the Palestinians not also be required to surrender their alleged property to the microbes and rats and dogs inhabiting the Middle East? Why, then, were you earlier fretting about what you regard as Israeli oppression?"
Then - I'm not joking - he excitedly retorted, as if he had me cornered: "'Dog' spelled backward is 'god'. You see, words are arbitrary and can mean different things to different people."
I walked away.
For those who believe Objectivist intellectuals may be overstating their case when they preach about how corrupt - and defunct - modern philosophy is, I can now personally attest that they're not exaggerating one iota.
But the good news is, if that creature is in any way representative of what philosophy departments are currently pumping out, the field of the intellect is wide open and ours for the taking.
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© COPYRIGHT 2002 by Wayne Dunn