The Problem of “Freelance Philosophers”

I was browsing the internet and came across something unusual. Highly unusual. I came across the term ‘freelance philosopher’. Have a look at this Medium article to get a sense of this (new?) trend.

Now, it’s true, one doesn’t need to be certified to be a philosopher. Being a philosopher isn’t regulated by law, really. Still, one would hope that any person ‘doing philosophy’ would have some kind of formal education in the field, keep up with work in the area and, at least, have a BA Degree.

The reason I question whether this is a new trend is because, very simply put, and having glanced over some of these folks, I conclude they are not philosophers but sophists.

Sophistry has been around since Ancient Times, and they are, perhaps, the biggest enemy of philosophers. They are even more an enemy than ignorant people, uneducated people or people who simply do not care about philosophy at all. This is because they frame themselves as philosophers and all they do, basically, is gain notoriety, fame and fortune all while vomiting bullshit at patrons. This is precisely why none of these so-called ‘freelance philosophers’ would ever get a job at a university.

The danger of sophists and bullshit is clear: Unknowing patrons are given bad advice, false knowledge and sometimes apply those things to the daily lives and other areas of practice to much hazard and dismay.

If you are not a philosopher and wish to consult a philosopher, take this advice: seek a real philosopher, not a ‘freelance philosopher.’ The preference is, always, to attend a philosophy course. Anyone, basically, can sign up for a Philosophy 101 course at their local community college. Do that. Do not consult a ‘freelance philosopher’ online.

If you wish to–or need to–consult online, ask your professor for good resources for you. Most professors will happily assist and know the field well. Together, you can broaden your knowledge of philosophy.

-Jennifer

The Monetary Value of Philosophy

Many a student wants to know: How much do my professors actually get paid? Can one, as a matter of course, make money as a Professor of Philosophy?

New data from UC Berkeley suggests: ABSOLUTELY!

Check out these numbers.

NOTE: I would most certainly need clarification on what “Lecturer” means here. In many cases I know of, this is a Graduate Teaching Assistant. Looking at mere pay here, then, may not tell the entire story since MOST GTA’s also have stipends, tuition remission, etc. So, there starting pay for a professor of philosophy? Over $100.000 per year.

Jennifer

How to Tell You Are Good at Philosophy

Everyone worries about it: Am I good enough? Am I good at all?

In the following, you can surely tell you are good at philosophy if you do a significant number of the following:

  1. You take the absolute shortest and most direct path from classroom to classroom.
  2. If you pester your family with things you have learned in class.
  3. If Descartes sticks in your skull at least two full semesters after you read “Meditations on First Philosophy.”
  4. If you tell everyone you probably have autism because you just read “The Duty of Genius.”
  5. You perk up anytime there is a worthwhile article about the value of philosophy.
  6. If you think, “Someday, I could be as rich as Bernstein.”
  7. If you spend an inordinate amount of time consuming everything philosophical, particularly if it’s open access.
  8. If you celebrate the numerous types, kinds and styles of philosophy and philosophical “traditions.”
  9. If you made a ‘C’ in Logic, cried about it, and made up for it ever since.
  10. If you pair a food or drink not together but with what you’ve been reading.

Jennifer

Envy: The Real Green-Eyed Monster

You must worship no other gods, for the LORD, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.

Exodus 34:14

Jealousy. It’s been making the rounds in philosophy as of late. Many people are considering new forms of intimate relationships (such as polyamory). Several of these thinkers argue against jealousy.

Take, for example, this article at Aeon on love without jealousy. The picture painted is one of a terrible emotion that motivates us to do terrible things.

As a highly jealous person, I am actually proud of my jealousy. I hope it never goes away. It does in fact motivate me–for the better. It makes me keep and protect my love. It makes me guard my love. It makes me strive to be better for my love.

When philosophers argue against jealousy, I do believe the proper emotion they should be objecting to is envy for it is envy that is the real green-eyed monster. Envy, as a matter of definition, harbors resentment. This, in turn, moves the envy-holder to bad acts.

If there is an emotion philosophers should do away with, without a doubt it is envy.

Jennifer

The Philosophy of Bodies

Many people have, for quite some time, argued for a more flexible notion of The Body. “The Apollonian Ideal” is simply not the standard by which we should all aim for in our own body.

Before I go further into this, let me make a few distinctions.

First, there is health.

Second, there is beauty.

Third, there is wellness.

Fourth, is there oppressive ideals.

When it comes to health, it is obvious that not all bodies can, should or do look the same. Even Hypocrites knew that. If this was known 2,500 years ago in medicine, imagine what the average doctor knows now.

When it comes to beauty, it;s not merely in the eye of the beholder. Beauty may be objective. However, that does not mean all beauty-instantiations are going to be the same. After all, Plato’s Form of Beauty was one in which a physical object on Earth partakes in the Form of Beauty.

As for wellness, this clearly does not mean the same thing in every body. For example, in my early teens, I was extremely good at high jump, long jump, long distance racing, and relay racing, even though I had the shortest legs of all members of our school.

Oppressive ideals are when we try to apply one single standard of any, each or all of these onto a person.

Jennifer

P.S. In MY house, the FIRST RULE is this: NEVER skimp on food.

Women Philosophers

Back on the previous philosophy blog I was a part of, I sometimes conducted interviews. At the time, one person I interviewed was was working on a website specifically on Women Philosophers. She had been spending, at that time, several years doing research, teaching herself code and kindly took time to tell me a bit about the project.

At this time, I am beyond pleased to announce the unveiling of the site. You can read all about it here.

Jennifer

“Does Studying Ethics Make One More Ethical?”

That’s the question Eric Schwitzgebel and team has been studying for quite some time. I first read his reflections as they came out several years ago. According to Schwitzgebel’s studies, which appear the be quite solid, studying ethics does not make one more ethical. I happen to think he is correct. However, I will present him with some hopeful news: Studying his meta-philosophy studies can, perhaps, make one a better person. Here’s how:

Around 2008, I had a stack of library books on my desk. They weren’t overdue. Yet. (Note: I have a history of long overdue books.) Then, something happened. I read The Splintered Mind. I read famous Library Book Study.

I looked at my stack of books.

I immediately turned them in to the library. I have never been late since.

Virtue may be a habit sometimes, but that habit needs to probably be honed by external motivators that may move us to not tend toward evil.

I owe any goodness I have today to Eric Schwitzgebel. His studies prompted me to move towards The Good. I can only pray that, with help of friends and family, I may stay in that precise direction.

Jennifer

“Socrates in Love”

I cannot think of a better way to top-off a day than by reading this article. Socrates is a founder of western philosophy. But, where did his ideas come from? Perhaps, as recent research suggests, through love.

Where did Socrates, the foundational figure of Western philosophy, get the inspiration for his original ideas about truth, love, justice, courage and knowledge? New research I’ve conducted reveals that as a young man in 5th-century BC Athens, he came into contact with a fiercely intelligent woman, Aspasia of Miletus. I argue that her ideas about love and transcendence inspired him to formulate key aspects of his thought (as transmitted by Plato).

Jennifer

Eastern and Western Traditions–Together, at Last

In searching for someone I attended graduate school with, I came across this wonderful online newsletter. Only recently have western philosophers begun to incorporate eastern philosophy into their classes. This newsletter may interest those whose interests span both. Have a look. It’s about Buddhist Churches of America.

Jennifer

In Which I Take Issue With Cosmopolitanism

It appears, at first glance, to be a dream come true. An idealistic world. One with no such thing as borders. I used to be somewhat attracted to this idea. At least, I toyed around with it.

I’m finished toying around with cosmopolitanism.

Just take a look at this interview. Here’s select snippet:


I live in a society that includes the Amish in Pennsylvania, ultra-orthodox Jews in New York City, liberal academics, and so many other kinds of people living so many kinds of lives. All side by side, mostly at peace with one another. Cosmopolitans among us are glad that the other people are doing their own thing. We don’t want them to be forced to do our own thing.

Seems good, right?

Wrong.

What, you may ask, is wrong with this? I’ll tell you straight-up: It focuses on the precise identities it claims to not care about. In fact, it singles these out in just the way they should never be singled out.

Cosmopolitanism begins, in short, with a concept of same-ness and moves to difference. Whereas, in my book, I show the proper way to broach such things is to do what colonists and Native Americans did; start with difference and move toward similarity.

This is why we have such a great country (the United States) and why Native Americans report they are in a happier state of living than they have been in centuries.

When we meet new people, it’s O.K. to consider them new. It’s O.K. to consider them novel, unique, different. It’s not O.K. to stay there. The conversation, if it falls naturally, will then turn to mutual exploration. This is the real “experiment in living” Mill called for and this is the task we must take up to move humanity forward.

Jennifer

Donald Trump is not a “Self-Made Man”

Many people people believe he is, though. Here’s what happens when you tell them the truth:

As you can see by this Politico graph (see the original article and graph here), impressions of Trump’s character go down for both republicans and democrats alike. However, the more significant downturn is on the republican side.

Jennifer

I Do Not Claim to Always Be “Safe and Supportive”

There are blogs which make that claim, however. The Philosopher’s Cocoon is one such place. I’m not beyond taking on arguments in philosophy for, well, the sake of philosophy. I may not be the most outstanding, but I try.

At any rate, there’s a post over at The Cocoon on whether one should take up marginal topics.

There’s certainly what one may call “trends” in philosophy. One would hope (and, no, I have no evidence on this), that these trends are the result of good original work, which is precisely what we are supposed to be producing in the first place.

If you are not producing good original work, what does your MA or PhD really mean, anyway? The whole point is to become not an expert but a talent.

I have indeed worked on both 1. Hot Topics (Bernard Williams) and 2. Marginalized Topics (Native American Issues). The results? I suppose we will just have to wait and see. My original work may just not be stellar. If not, that’s fine. At least I know I worked hard.

So, should you work on “hot topics” or “marginal work?”

The answer is: Yes.

Jennifer

Are You a Member of a “Traditionally Underrepresented Group in Philosophy?”

If so, check this out. It’s called PISKI.

Each summer, members of the philosophy community welcome, mentor and encourage underrepresented students of philosophy. These meetings? The absolute best experience one could have in the whole of philosophy.

So, if you are such a person (or know of such persons), do not hesitate to apply!

Jennifer

Interview: Colin McGinn

By Jennifer Lawson, MA.

Colin McGinn. At the time I was in graduate school (beginning in 2006), that name struck the kind of absolute respect any philosopher would love to have. As a matter of fact, when I was a Research Assistant, he wanted to write an essay for the book I was assisting with but was unable to for reasons he may or may not explain later. I had been elated to potentially work on one of the papers, so it is with pleasure I introduce to you the man and the myth: Dr. Colin McGinn.

During the course of my studies, a scandal broke loose. I paid as little attention to it as I could, but, frankly, it was everywhere. I do not know the precise allegations against McGinn. What I do know is that he is innocent and has been found innocent.

We often think that a guilty verdict is the absolute worst verdict one can receive, so I emailed McGinn to inquire whether his position is, as a matter of fact, terrible. I had a hunch it was. After all, with the gossip (and I’m not innocent of this all the time) at the time, it’s clear that psychological things come into play. It’s much more difficult to get rid of a negative impression than it is to recover your good name. This is a psychological fact; and a rather unfortunate one for all of us.

Are there ways to recover after your name has been trod through the mud? I really cannot say. I haven’t, quite simply, done the research. Yet, I open the conversation about this and welcome back to the philosophical community the esteemed Professor: Colin McGinn.

When I emailed him on March 6, 2019, he simply had this to say:

Jennifer,

Thanks for asking. Yes, it has had a very bad impact on my life in many ways. I am limited in what I can talk about for legal reasons, but I would be happy to share some aspects of my situation.

Colin



It is not simply the life and livelihood of a person we are discussing. It is also the future of philosophy.

McGinn has been working, as he has always done, on important issues all the while. This makes me admire the man even moreso. Be sure to check his personal blog and website to see the philosophical issues he has been working on.

Jennifer Lawson.

What’s In a Name?

If you’re anything like me, there’s another person out there, somewhere, with your exact name. Try a Google search on yourself. It’s better to start early. This way, you can get to know who shares a name with you. Who knows??! You may even become friends.

Growing up, there was always at least one other ‘Jennifer’ in my class. So, I went by ‘Jennifer L.’ These days, in philosophy, there are indeed other Jennifer’s .

Jennifer Saul is one such Jennifer. Lucky for us, she goes by ‘Jenny,’ whereas I go by, sometimes, ‘Jennie.’ This is a fortunate and lucky way we have uniquely signified ourselves.

Why is this important?

If you appreciate your own work–but, even more importantly, if others do–people will want to cite you, save it for posterity, and so forth. So, they need to know which Jennifer is which because, after all, they may simply love all Jennifers.

Do a Google search o yourself. See what you find. You are probably already, in some way, differentiated from others, but perhaps not. It’s nice to know, however, just what’s out there about you.

Jennifer

The Thing About Conferences

Here’s the thing. Conferences. I’ve never presented. I don’t know that I even want to. I have attended. I have been a referee. But presenting? I used to think that was the shit.

Not anymore.

It is much better–for philosophy authors as well as yourself–to be in the audience. It is definitely fruitful to ask questions, but even more so to take notes. It is good to survey the aftermath of a conference, too. This is a way to know who actually is the shit and who is a complete and total loser.

There are indeed both in philosophy and you want to know who they are. Losers? Just stay away from them and, with hope, they won’t bother you. Folks who are the shit? Snuggle them, philosophically speaking. Enjoy their work. Don’t try to be like them. Just know there’s people who are, as matter of fact, the shit. When the time comes you meet a loser, you can always take solace in the fact that there are also winners.

Having said all of that, if you’re interested in attending a philosophy event–or you know of one upcoming near you–check out PhilEvents. There, you really can “do both.”

Jennifer

“Revitalizing a Failed Tradition” by Jennifer Lawson

So, there’s this book I wrote. It’s all DIY. It’s called Revitalizing A Failed Tradition. What is it about, you say? Well, it’s about the intersection of western and Native American philosophy and lifeways. At the time I wrote it, I was in a sort of tight spot. I didn’t have access to my books–or much of anything besides my memory, knowledge and my computer with internet access. With those parameters, I wrote this book.

At the time I wrote it, I honestly felt crappy. I was a total loser. But–O did wrote this under such conditions. It’s a collection of essays by yours truly.

There’s an entire industry you should know about and it’s the publishing industry. The standard view is to not just “publish or perish” but to publish in certain “quality” outlets.

After a while, mulling this over, I think: Hey: If you want to write, why not self-publish? Many, many Great Authors in history did exactly that. And it’s not because they had no other option. There’s certainly things to be said about self-publishing, though it may not be the sole type of publishing for the future.

Self-publishing on Amazon is so simple, even I could do it! So, if you’re testing the waters, have a novel idea that doesn’t fit anywhere yet (or some other circumstance that prevents you from entering an agreement with a publisher), why not self-publish?

Jennifer

Should We Cite Awful People?

No. No we should not. They do not deserve to go down in history. They are not worthy of our argument. They do not need to be given the honor of citation.

I say all this without stating names or naming cases. But, no.

We should not cite awful people.

See here (a little gossipy) what brought these thoughts about.

Jennifer (50 citations and counting!)

Walking With Philosophers

Philosophers.

They are strange creatures, right? Many of them are noted for their odd and unusual habits, such as….walking!

Yes, folks. Many philosophers have taken walks throughout history. Kant, Kierkegaard, the Stoics, Socrates, Cynics. All of them walked.

You might think this is an odd habit. Yet, I look around and see many healthy, normal people taking jaunts every day. The do it to be fit, get air, walk their dogs, enjoy nature. In short….what’s so odd about philosophers?

Nothing, really.

Nothing.

Jennifer

Recommended Readings for Virtue Ethics

Virtue Ethics os the hottest thing in philosophy since Bernard Williams. He was the one, along with philosophers like G.E.M Anscombe, who brought this way of thinking back from the Ancient dump yards.

As much as one loves Artistole, he has only developed so much. Thus, I present you with one of the great beginner books in Virtue Ethics. It is On Virtue Ethics (Ed. Rosalind Hursthouse).

Jennifer

The Making of a CV

Curriculum Vitae. Curriculum Vitae. It’s two words every budding philosopher needs to know. Here’s a couple of tihngs to consider when making yours.

Certainly look to respected philosophers, such as your professors, to get an idea of what to include. However, yours is most certainly not going to look like theirs simply because they are already working: teaching, doing research, and serving the profession.

As a student, yours will look smaller. Don’t think smaller is worse!

If you have too much on your CV at a certain stage (say, as you apply to grad school), things may look suspicious. No one expects you to have done everything at that point–if ever.

You may certainly look at mine. I hold an MA. I was pretty darn active in graduate school, too. Perhaps, even, too active. Don’t worry about having yours look too active. Anyone who is anyone would prefer a healthy balance: for yourself, your work, their department and the future of philosophy.

You can view my CV here.

Let me know if this is helpful and whether you seek additional help. I’m no expert on this, after all. Just giving friendly (and, hopefully, useful) advice.

Jennifer Lawson

Against Descartes: A Foundation More Foundationial Than Foundationalism

I admit. I’m winging this post with no handlebars. In this handlebars-free post, I will argue that there is a foundation more firm than Cartesian Foundationalism. 

What most people get wrong about Descartes is that he was a Skeptic. In fact, he was attempting to not be a Skeptic. He was searching for a foundation for knowledge (and, thus, many other things, such as science and law). In what comes I will show that while Descartes was a tragic philosopher, who ended up trying to cleave to God as a foundation, he was on the right track nevertheless.

Descartes. Many know the name. Fewer know The Cogito: “I think, therefore, I am.”

These things are well-known to philosophers and these ideas have been grappled with ever since Descartes published his Meditations

After years of first learning about Descartes, teaching Descartes and, now, being in a similar foundational place as Descartes, I can tell you this: It is not God for which we shall have a foundation for understanding

The goal isn’t to reach above and beyond, going higher than skeptical doubts. Rather, the goal is to move closer to Earth, where we belong. 

Here, in front of me, is my computer. I am typing on it. This is something I know. And I even know it with Wittgensteinian certainty. 

Descartes, as well as many other famous philosophers, may have, as a matter of fact, been plagued by abnormal mental states. These states have actually brought about things such as the scientific revolution. So, I’m not here to dis Descartes. 

Moving further, though, and having had my own abnormal states, I conclude that advances we have made in psychological health and wellness may in fact move us to other unforeseen revolutions. 

At one point, I explored the option of God. I found, perhaps as Descartes eventually found, that just wasn’t the final answer. 

The answer is not necessarily empiricism, either. The way in which I am currently in the world in a normal state–after an abnormal one. As such, I can reflect on these things and say: If you suffer from abnormal states, seek counseling and support. These things may very well bring to new and innovative understandings.

As for Descartes? Going from mere empathy, I can only imagine he suffered greatly. It was probably torment. We should never overlook such tortures that brings us closer to things like science, law and, well, knowledge.

Jennifer Lawson

Why I’m Suspicious of AI

Here’s an article–an open, free to view article–about advancements in Artificial intelligence (AI). This is something I have read about, talked about and discussed with others, including members of our military and philosophers of science.

It’s been a while, honestly, since I took up the task of AI. In this post, I’m going to tell you why AI sucks. Big time. And why only the United States Military should have AI.

The article I mentioned above does indeed appear to be an “advancement” in AI. So I urge you to have a look.

What is AI? In short, it’s a massively harmful weapon.

This isn’t a debate about AK47’s. These are weapons much more powerful and much more strong than you can even imagine. So, the issue is not whether these are covered under the “Right to keep and bear arms” clause.

To the contrary, these are probably more WMD than current WMD’s.

As I told everyone, when I got my Alexa, I played “How Do You Like Me Now?” by Toby Keith about 1,000 times.

Then, I promptly unplugged, put away and never used again.

These are weapons only our military should have and as so-called advances are made, we may actually have to face a Zombie Apocalypse if we don’t quickly hand them over.

-Jennifer Lawson

“Are Philosophers Crazy?”

That is the very question I asked a Professor one time. I am not crazy, but some philosophers may or may not be. Some philosophers, too, may be good or bad. I’m going to talk about the bad-crazy kind. It’s a special blend of philosopher whom I shall smite (in words, of course).

There’s this theory. A theory that logic and rationality are normative. This may be a hot thing to think. I’m going to tell you: It just ain’t so.

Two years ago, I started on a thought. You can, if you will, read it here. The essay is titled the “Tyranny of Reason,” but it’s not exactly reason. It’s a special brand brand of non-reason I object to. There is, as a matter of fact, an objective way to reason and think. That’s why we teach Introduction to Logic. That’s why we weed out cognitive biases.

Folks who purport there is “nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so” may, after all is said and done, end up a tragic figure in Hamlet.

The arguments, if I dare look at them, will undoubtedly fall apart under any logic-microscope. It is not the case that logic and reason are normative. It is precisely the case that those who purport such are the actual tyrants. I wish to not name names, for that would, very likely, impinge character. However, if anyone would like to stand up and have their work so scrutinized, let me know.

-Jennifer Lawson

Mentoring Tips and Advice

This is an open thread about mentoring tips and advice. I realize I may be somewhat early in my career here, but I have succeeded in many things. I’m going to put down some of my tips, which may or may not be helpful and useful so others may also succeed. These tips are not just for minorities or women, either. After all, Feminism is for Everybody.

  1. Don’t be afraid to contact people whose work admire and respect. I was a fledgling student with high anxiety. Nevertheless, I contacted a stellar scholar in order to get readings. That relationship turned in to a decades-long discourse.
  2. Seek out student groups, join a blog. I attended Logic groups, Philosophy Club and Philosophy of Language groups. I learned a lot and my interests were then known to be very broad. I may have AOS in Ethics and Political Philosophy, but my competence in the Philosophy, Broadly Construed. This was shown by my interests and activities.
  3. Try to make friends, including outside your discipline. Personally, I like anyone who is, what I shall call “Good People.” These bonds and friendships are essential.
  4. Seek supportive (yet rigorous) networks of support. You may have to scour the internet to do this, but it’s completely worth it.

Others may make corrections, offer their own advice and add to the conversation. As for myself, I am available at JLawson [at] Steton [DOT] edu. If you are a person new to philosophy, feel free to contact me. I may happen to know a mentor and friend for you.

-Jennifer Lawson

Older Women’s Dating Tips

It all started when I did a brief stint at a local law firm. It was the first time I worked with mostly women. It was a culture shock for me. All the women I worked with happened to be single. Like my silly (and somehwat crazy, at the time, self), I told them: Girl, you need a date!

I encouraged them to get on dating sites. Some chose POF. Some chose Christian Mingle.

These women? They thought they would be alone forever. They thought they were “too old” and “not datable.”

Not true! I told them.

Turns out, they all did get dates. They recounted a few of them to me. They weren’t all great, but they weren’t all bad, either. They each attracted very “attractive” men.

Dating tips for “older women?” Take the advice you give your daughters:

  1. Let someone know where you are going to be and, if possible, who you will be with.
  2. Meet your date at a safe, public location.
  3. Aim small. Go for coffee, so as not to be dazzled by extravagance.
  4. In fact, try not to eat at all. Go for a drink. You want to know the person, not the food or false displays they may be sending.
  5. Try not to take a very long time. Keep your date at an hour and a half at most.
  6. Report back to someone so they know you are safe.

-Jennifer Lawson

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Nukes

I suppose nuclear weapons are in the news. They have been since before Trump was president. Hillary famously brought up the point that we wouldn’t want someone like him and him ilk with WMDs.

She’s absolutely correct.

We don’t need Nukes at all, actually.

A couple of years ago (maybe less, maybe more), I read “Five Myths About Nuclear Weapons.” You can read a review about all about those myths here. I encourage you to check it out. For really real. There’s tons–literally, tons–of myths about nuclear weapons that have been propagated.

This isn’t my favorite topic, but at the time I noticed many of my friends in panic at the very thought that, say, there was dispute with the United States and North Korea.

Why don’t we need nuclear weapons? Well, for one thing, after knowing the myths, you’ll realize they are not so scary, after all. Do they harm? Yes, of course. Can they kill and cause radioactivity? Sure. But the lasting impact and the size of the damage is comparatively small considering what we’ve been made to believe.

Nukes? Who needs them?

-Jennifer Lawson

Facebook: The Anti-Stalking Platform

Like many women, I’ve had my fair share of stalkers. This is especially true since I am somewhat known. The issue of stalking, as well as other public safety concerns, are the issue of this post. Herein, I will show that Facebook over Twitter is the way to go.

Social media has had it’s fair share of problems. Some of them include fake news and fake accounts.

About a year and a half ago, I received a text from Mark Zuckerburg himself. He was, to be honest, down in the dumps about all of this. What could I do? I don’t have the solution for everything. So, I simply offered what I could: “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius. I also offered this bit of advice: “Don’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.”

I think those helped in, perhaps, perking him up. He later said he did, in fact, read Meditations and he appeared to enjoy it.

He probably got advice from somewhere else, but I did what I could and, hey, it’s never a bad day to read Meditations.

Now, on the the point at hand. Facebook has several features, including privacy settings, friendship closeness and proximity and hacking protections that make it, very simply, a better choice over Twitter.

On Twitter, anyone can create a fake account, anyone can follow you–and sometimes that can end up far too creepy.

I do not use Twitter anymore. You can find me on Facebook.

-Jennifer Lawson

Life Must Be Lived Forward: Moving Past a History of Mental Illness

This is a personal post: For the period of several years, I was on Social Security Disability. I was diagnosed with a psychological condition in graduate school. Fortunately, I got help, care and support.

The department I studied at–the Philosophy Department at the University of North Florida–knows about my condition and has been privy to my progress as I moved along in my studies while obtaining treatment.

At this time, I am free and clear. That is not to say I’m perfect. Perfect is not the definition of mental health, anyway. It means I am no longer clinically diagnosable.

There is, as has been reported, an increasing amount of individuals in college with mental health conditions. As a result, I have formed precious bonds with clinicians, lawyers, and others, in my progress.

Those who stand in the way of mental health progress are the bane of our existence. Don’t be crappy. Support your own and other people’s mental wellness.

If you see someone struggling, don’t bring them down further. Lift them up, offer support. That’s what my friends and colleagues have done for me.

I am considered “successful.” That’s mostly due to the awareness people have these days about things like mental health conditions. Gone, practically, are the days of stigma and discrimination, those backward ways of thinking. Here to stay are times when the proper care and support are offered by millions.

-Jennifer Lawson

Immanuel Kant and Masturbation: A Speculation Into the Life of a Man

Among those in ethics, particularly, it is well-known that Kant advocated non-masturbation. What exactly did he say? What did he mean? But, most importantly: Why?

Here’s a segment of what Kant said about masturbation:

But it is not so easy to produce a rational proof that unnatural, and even merely unpurposive, use of one’s sexual attribute is inadmissible as being a violation of duty to oneself (and indeed, as far as its unnatural use is concerned, a violation in the highest degree). The ground of proof is, indeed, that by it a man surrenders his personality (throwing it away), since he uses himself as a means to satisfy an animal impulse. But this does not explain the high degree of violation of the humanity in one’s own person by such a vice in its unnaturalness, which seems in terms of its form (the disposition it involves) to exceed even murdering oneself. It consists, then, in this: That a man who defiantly casts off life as a burden is at least not making a feeble surrender to animal impulse in throwing himself away (p. 425).

Ordinarily, it is supposed that Kant was just an overzealous prude. I’m going to argue he wasn’t.

It can’t be the case, for example, that he had never masturbated before. If he hadn’t, how on Earth would he know what it’s all about? Perhaps, before that writing, he had, in fact, masturbated quite a bit.

Let’s grant that point. Now, onto the more important thing: Like clockwork, Kant would stroll and take walks at the very same time of day, each day. He was so regular that people, and even perhaps the city, set their watches by him.

What if Kant was in love?

We know he probably never got married. But one can most certainly be in love and not marry. Speculate further: What if he fell in love with a prostitute? In that day and age–and even in this one–such a thing would be so scandalous as to be worthy of the life of, at least, the woman.

It is my guess that when someone has actually met their soulmate, their sexuality is one of the things that binds them. This does not have to be seen as oppressive. It may, in fact, be the sort of autonomy Kant called for.

When he said, “Hands off,” perhaps he was making a suggestion: Fall In Love.

-Jennifer Lawson

Twitter, the New Monopoly and Bitcoin

Bitcoin.

What do I know about it? Precisely nothing.

Why?

Well, a about one year ago–to this day–I had a Skype interview with a top–and I mean, top–bitcoin agency.

Was I qualified? Hell no. I applied, anyway, and got an interview.

I was interviewed by one person, who I can only imagine was the CEO. Her? She was Asian and apologized for her not-to-too-shabby English.

I didn’t get the job.

Which brings me to Twitter. The word is that the CEO of Twitter, along with others, are stockpiling Bitcoin. Why is this important? It’s the economy, stupid.

You may now call me a conspiracy theorist because I believe the CEO of Twitter is trying to–and succeeding in–selecting the entire market for himself.

The new monopoly is not to buy out or outwit the competitor. The new monopoly? The one we haven’t felt the collapse of yet? That one is weaseling your way into owning everyone and everything.

Maybe I’m wrong. I certainly hope so. But these things, which I confess not to know entirely too much about, are deeply troubling.

Our money? American currency? Just what was wrong with it in the first place?

-Jennifer Lawson

President for Me? Stacy Abrams

This is a more personal and more political post than what I’ve been doing lately. However, the issue of who should be the next President of the United States is certainly a BIG issue.

I know who I will be voting for already.

Her name is Stacy Abrams.

A formidable person, she can defiantly win. Just look at her history. She won in Georgia. Georgia!

That might not seem significant to you, but consider the fact that is a Black Woman. If she can win in Georgia, where there is bookoos of hatred, she can most certainly win America, where there is not.

-Jennifer Lawson

Heaven is a Place on Earth? Further Arguments Against Utopia

In the paper Impure Theorizing in an Imperfect World,
Verovšek argues that, in short, we should not be aiming for Utopia on Earth. In this post, I’m going to allege he is correct.

Imagine there is a Heaven. It’s easy, if you try. Should we attempt to create such a thing on Earth? No.

The reason?

We would not be trying to be God, but attempting to be The Devil.

Am I guilty of trying to make Heaven a Place on Earth? Absolutely. The struggle, if I may in all accuracy, allude to Hitler, is to resist, as it were, that urge.

If there were a Heaven, there would also be a God. That Being would have made a planet just so.

It’s my assertion that events like Global Warming and other disasters are due to us and our perfect striving.

We are not perfect and will not be. Our Planet? Perhaps it is perfect the way it is. As for us, can we accept the challenge of accepting our own humanity?

I, for one, hope so.

Self-Interview: Jennifer Lawson

How would someone get my special attention?

Probably by being kind.

At the moment, I am single.

This is completely embarrassing, but my celebrity crush probably thinks I’m a totally, ugly loser. His name is Clayton Littlejohn, PhD.

My best date? Well, to be honest, I’ve been on more dates than I should brag about. The best have always been one on one dates at places like coffee shops.

My worst date? When I acted like a complete, bumbling fool, as I typically do.

You know, I’m not totally interested i dating so-called “fans.” I should probably leave it at that.

If I could change my name, it would be to Nicolette.

My biggest pet peeve?

Global Skepticism.

Defeating the “Global Skeptic”

Everyone–and I mean everyone–in epistemology wants to defeat the Global Skeptic. Drawing upon Existentialism, I shall argue the way to defeat the Global Skeptic and to make sense of Moore’s assertion, “Here is one hand and here is another,” is to take personal cognitive steps.

Most people, when confronted with the Global Skeptic Hypothesis, puzzle over it. Some try, as they are want to do, to argue with it.

In the following steps, you can stop–fully stop–being a Global Skeptic.

  1. Acknowledge that Skepticism cannot be defeated.
  2. See Skepticism as a psychological condition, not a philosophical one.
  3. Apply strategies, such as the Psychological-Social-Biological Model of wellness to oneself.
  4. Familiarize yourself with Cognitive Biases.
  5. Do the actual work with a counselor or therapist.
  6. Wake up, one day, no longer a Skeptic.

-Jennifer Lawson

What Are “We” To Academia Dot Edu?

I finally logged in today to Academia [dot] edu for the first time in a long time. I had a bit of information to update.

Anyway, I don’t have premium access–yet. However, I have found the service valuable.

Case in point: Impact in philosophy, as well as many other disciplines, is very important. Here I am, a fledgling in Philosophy, having just earned my MA, and I already have over 50 mentions.

I am very grateful to those who think me and my work worth mentioning. It is an incredible honor.

It helps, also, in securing a job in philosophy, which I think I have done.

Good luck to everyone. Thank you for your mentions.

The Concept of “Family”

Growing up, I often heard the phrase, “Blood is thicker than water.”

Maybe this is true, but which “blood?”

The current way we structure families in the United States–that is, what is called the “nuclear family”–has not always been the way families were organized.

There are, if you read anthropology, kinship arrangements such as: materilnial, paterlinial, and more.

In some cultures, what we know as “uncles” are the fathers. Thus, a child may have more than one real father. Likewise, there are cultures in which the woman chooses the husband and courts with him for a very long time before selecting him to live in her place.

So when one says that blood is thicker than water, what exactly do we mean? Is it that way in all cultures? None? If any, which ones? And does this thickness mean anything, well, good?

These are things I honestly do not know the answer to. Luckily, these are things that can be analyzed and scrutinized by people outside my discipline.

Philosophy? As we say: It’s brings branches of knowledge to life. As for those branches of knowledge? They may just be more rigorous, sound and truth-telling than philosophy itself. Philosophers, of course, don’t like to admit this, but that’s very much the way it is.