Hitchhiker’s Guide to Philosophy

Fascinating. Illuminating. Epistemic. Erotic.

I’m reading this fab book called The Book of Dead Philosophers by Simon Critchley. He purports in it that by learning about how the great thinkers of our age died sheds light on our own fears of annihilation and death. And religion doesn’t help with its promise of salvation or the material world with its promise of oblivion. Basically, he suggests that we can all enjoy a long life without worrying over its shortness or desiring immortality. And it’s the dead philosophers who don’t necessarily teach us this but show us by example. And we need to keep in mind a radical doubt and uncertainty, like Socrates, because nothing is certain except death — there’s no certainty in the migration of the soul from one place to another or in the certainty of annihilation. There’s just no proof either way. So live. Or better said: “When death is, I am not. When I am, death is not.”

I’m also learning that Socrates last words were, “Crito, offer me some cock.”

And Kant: “Bring me English cheese!”

And philosophical conundrums like this: bean was a slang word in the 5th century BC for genitalia. And philosophical quandaries about why Pythagoras hated beans — could it be because they cause so much metaphysical flatulence?

Plus I’m fortifying myself on these words by Epicurus — known as the four-part cure. Don’t worry about death. Don’t fear God. What is good is easy to get. And what is terrible is easy to endure.

And if I’m ever invited to an elaborate Egyptian feast, the ones that Montaigne wrote about, where a human skeleton is brought to the banquet followed by a man who shouts, “Drink and be merry, because soon you will look like this,” I’ll know to have fun.

And if all this advice fails, I’m going to follow Nietzsche’s example and kiss a horse in Turin.


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