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Jeremy Gorman recites a learning experience from the history of philosophy.
I’ve never felt so happy.
I’ve never felt so free.
It took a lot of thinking,
But at last I truly see.
You know that course? Philosophy?
Completely blew my mind.
But now confusion’s over,
And the universe defined.
We started off with Plato.
Man, those dialogues were right!
I had been living in a cave.
And now I saw the light!
But then along came Aristotle,
Calling Plato wrong,
And saying “Music don’t exist
Outside some kind of song!”
Things really got medieval
With Augustine though ’cause see,
He showed us all that God exists
And put off chastity.
Then Anselm and Aquinas
Proved the Big Guy real again.
And so I was convinced, and
To these A-men said “AMEN!”
And so my mind’s at ease,
And I no longer am a quester.
What could we then be doing
For the rest of the semester?
Okay, so there’s a couple of things
We hadn’t yet discussed.
But now we have, and they have helped me
Truly get things sussed.
Like Machiavelli’s rule, which I
Can see is far from witless:
“It’s fine to have folks love you,
But it’s best to scare them ****less.”
Descartes and Hobbes have taught me well,
And now I can report:
I think of nasty brutish things,
And therefore I am short.
Old Leibniz and Spinoza
Of their rations made a feast.
Through heaven’s eyes I saw of worlds,
That this one stinks the least.
That is ’til Locke and Berkeley
Said experience to trust,
And not to dig up dirt and ask
“Hey, what’s with all this dust?”
Then David Hume: “Our reason’s slave
To passion...” he would chant,
“...But only out of habit” – Right.
Well that’s when I met Kant.
A royal pain to read – and stuck in
Konigsberg to boot.
He brought it all together,
Making ancient quarrels moot.
That mandatory category stuff –
Oh man, oh man, oh man!
Hey, don’t tell me a man, well, can’t.
Immanuel, he can!
So now I’ve really got it.
Now I truly see the light
I guess review is next, ’cause hey,
the quest is over... right?
* * *
I hate this course. I hate this school
There’s many things I hate!
Remember Kant? He can’t
They cleared that one up just great.
First Hegel, and ‘Gestalten’, ‘Zeitgeist’,
Other German stuff...
Then Mill said: “Pleased as pigs in ****?
Well, that’s not good enough!”
Then poor old Soren Kierkegaard.
Then Nietzsche: “God is dead! Just kidding!
See? He’s over there!”
And what’s with Bertrand Russell?
Geez, like talk about your kooks.
If he’s so keen on atomism,
Why’d he protest nukes?
And Wittgenstein – “My language is
My world!” – Come on now, really!
Course, then there’s existential thought,
The ultimate in silly.
It’s Heidegger – a Nazi –
Gave us that perverted art.
Then Sartre said, “Hell is other people.”
I say “Hell is Sartre!”
And all these other egghead nuts
From Thales down to Singer.
I ask for simple answers,
And they put me through the ringer!
I’ve second-guessed Beauvoir, and you
Will never see me praise her.
I’d no more trust Pascal with bets
Than Ockham with a razor.
And even after Marx,
The world’s still vague and undefined.
The workers may yet lose their chains,
But I have lost my mind.
I’ve had it with philosophy,
That so-cruel dominatrix.
Don’t bother me with Fight Club,
I don’t care what’s in The Matrix.
It’s funny: In the end I feel
like Socrates in thought.
I’ve gained a ton of wisdom,
And I don’t know diddley squat.
© Jeremy Gorman 2006.
Jeremy Gorman is a Canadian poet and playwright. He’s done courses in Philosophy at Acadia University and St Thomas University.