Friday, 17 June 2011

Q&A Submission Time

Some of you have sent me email questions about philosophers over the past few months, which I believe I’ve already answered (if I haven’t yet, shame on me!). While I hope that this has been helpful for you, you often have really good questions that more people could probably also benefit from. One reader had the great idea of asking me to create an entry specifically for questions, which I will answer.

[Note: No previously submitted questions over private messages will be included, to preserve privacy].

So, if you have a question, either about philosophers or about non-philosophers (for example, how might we react in situation X, or what are we thinking in situation Y, or how should you respond in situation Z, etc), please comment with them below or submit them over facebook under the link for this article. Philosophers and non-philosophers can participate in this Q&A time.

If you send me a question over email or in a private message, I will only post it here if you tell me specifically that you would like it posted. I want to keep private questions private, to protect my readers.

If you ask questions about me, I will probably answer them untruthfully, but my answers will be creative. This blog is not about me.

You have until the end of the day on Monday, June 13, [I mean, June 20th], to submit questions. I will answer them all in a subsequent blog post (s).

Happy questioning.

[Note: as I write this post, I realize that it could fail miserably. If there are no questions submitted, then I will make up my own, as sad and pathetic as it might be].

You can follow me on twitter (@philosiologist) or friend me on facebook (Philosiologist Qed). I also respond to email messages (left sidebar).

~The Philosiologist

Thursday, 16 June 2011

What do Philosophers Consume?

This chart is a 100%, scientific, and accurate* representation of what philosophers consume when left unattended.

(Click on the image to enlarge it).

I hope this helps. You may want to intervene and present your philosopher with nutrient-rich meals every once and a while.

P.S. Anyone interested in a Q&A blog; particularly one where philosophers can ask questions about non-philosophers?

* By "100%, scientific, and accurate," I mean, of course, that some philosophers are like this and some aren't. This note is for the concerned parties amongst the readers.

You can follow me on twitter (@philosiologist) or friend me on facebook (Philosiologist Qed). You can also send me an email if you like (left sidebar).

~The Philosiologist

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Philosophers in Love: Where to Find a Philosopher

So, let's assume that after all of these blog posts on philosophers, you simply have to go out and find yourself a philosopher of your very own. Where might you find one? I've created a graph that might help you in your endeavors.

[Note: This graph is also useful if you have a philosopher, but you've misplaced her/him somehow].

Click on the graph to make it larger.

This is, of course, super-scientific, so please interpret this graph as if it is 100% accurate. [Note: Sarcasm alert!! This is for you, next anonymous commenter who reminds me that all philosophers are unique snowflakes].

You can follow me on twitter (@philosiologist) or friend me on facebook (Philosiologist Qed). I also usually answer emails eventually (left sidebar). If you have an offspring or are an offspring of a philosopher and would like to recommend your offspring to write/write a guest blog post about what it's like to be a philosopher's offspring, please send me an email or fb message.


Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Philosophers in Love: Happy Philosophers

Non-philosophers sometimes assume that because their philosopher is a complex person, that all of their tastes and desires must be complex. This is false. Philosophers do have some complexities in taste, but there are several, very simple things that make philosophers happy. If you are in a relationship with a philosopher, you may discover that they really appreciate these simple pleasures. Here are some of them that I’ve discovered:

1. A reading chair and a work space.

Philosophers do not need huge rooms or fancy furniture, all they need is a comfy place to read (preferably with a table for caffeinated beverages/alcohol and a bookshelf close by) and a sufficient place to do work. When my philosopher and I got our first place, we spent lots of time looking for just the right desk and reading chair. Because of the time we took to find the right furniture, my philosopher is perfectly content and happy to work at home.

2. Invest in a nice coffee maker.

Philosophers generally do not like bad coffee. Encourage them to do some research (philosophers are very good at researching things) to find just the kind of coffee maker they want, then purchase it. Simple, right?

3. Be prepared to invest in “good” coffee.

Once your philosopher gets a nice coffee maker, it would be a sin to make poor quality coffee in this coffee maker. Your philosopher will want to start purchasing good coffee (example: we buy a fair-trade, organic, locally roasted coffee). If your philosopher does not like coffee, perhaps they like tea or alcohol. Invest in quality beverages.

4. Surprise your philosopher by asking them about their research.

Philosophers love talking about their research. It helps if you try to learn a bit about philosophy on your own first, but once you know a little bit, you may even discover that your philosopher’s research subject is rather interesting. I recommend asking them a question like this, “I would love to know more about your research. Are there any parts of it that I might find interesting?” This will make your philosopher very happy (unless they are of the impatient, “Don’t bother me while I work” type). See my post on How to Get Your Philosopher Talking Without Much Effort.

5. Surprise your philosopher with food.

Philosophers are often too distracted to remember to eat food, let alone good food. If your philosopher is a graduate student, she/he will already be a scrounger (one who scrounges for free food), due to the nature of their poverty. Surprise your philosopher with baked goods, dinners out, and favorite snacks.

This is it, really. Some philosophers might like particular gifts or might like to take short road trips, but most philosophers I know also like a few simple things. 

Any other simple pleasures I've missed? [Note: Keep it clean, please! Some of your children read this blog :-)]
You can follow me on twitter (@philosiologist) or friend me on facebook (Philosiologist Qed). I also usually answer emails (left sidebar). 

~The Philosiologist

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Philosophers in Love: Funny Things about Living with a Philosopher

"A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other."
- From Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities

Philosophers, being rather strange in many ways (delightfully strange, in my opinion), are very interesting beings to live with. Here are a few strange things I’ve noticed in the few years I’ve lived with my philosopher.

1. Books everywhere.

I like to joke that in our apartment, I can’t ever escape my philosopher’s dissertation project. There are books for this everywhere: bathroom, kitchen, under various chairs, stacked beside the bed. Sometimes I even find his books in my bags.

2. Thinking-hours are kept; not regular hours.

Thinking-hours can be at any time of the day/night. Some philosophers do their best thinking at 2am. Getting used to these strange hours can be cause for some grievous misunderstandings at first, but after a while you learn to adjust to them.

3. Strange eating/drinking habits.

Most philosophers forget to eat when they work, but they do not usually forget to drink, particularly caffeinated beverages. Philosophers can drink amazing amounts of caffeinated beverages when they are working. At my philosopher’s peak, be was consuming two-and-a-half, 12-ounce pots of coffee per day. Because my philosopher will not eat lunch when I’m not there to remind him, I set up a schedule where we always eat lunch together.

4. Forgetting strange things.

You may find your philosopher forgetting strange things like (1) washing the shampoo out of their hair, (2) how to get home, (3) to close cupboards, (4) to go to bed, (5) to match socks before they put them on, (6) to turn in super-important paperwork, (7) to close the front door quickly at night so freakishly large palmetto bugs (huge cockroaches) don’t fly into the apartment.

It is very easy to keep yourself from being frustrated by these oddities by viewing your philosopher as an anthropologist would (noticing what they do and interpreting it as a part of their culture, rather than viewing it as an annoyance to be corrected). Personally, I love these quirks. Philosophers make my life much more interesting than it would be otherwise.

5. The ability to talk about things (especially philosophy) at all times.

Philosophers are very good questions-askers and talkers about many things—normal-person things and philosophy.  This does not mean that they are always the best listeners, but this quirk can be worked on. Persons like myself who are not very good talkers can find philosophers delightful beings to share a relationship with, except when they cross lines at times when we would rather have peace. No-talking boundaries are easy to erect with philosophers, though, as they are very sensitive to your rejection of their ideas. As I’ve mentioned in previous entries, a simple, “I’m not feeling up to talking about this right now, but I would be willing to discuss it [at X time],” Is sufficient.  It is wonderful to share a life with a person who likes to talk about interesting things all the time.

Please feel free to share any philosopher-oddities you’ve seen.

You can follow me on twitter (@philosiologist) or friend me on facebook (Philosiologist Qed). You can also send me an email, if you would like (left sidebar). Stay tuned for more in my mini-series this week, Philosophers in Love.

~The Philosiologist

Monday, 6 June 2011

Philosophers in Love: Sharing Your Relationship with Ideas

[Note: Because my philosopher and I are celebrating our third year of marriage this week, I thought it would be fun to talk about philosophers in romantic relationships. I’ve brainstormed and/or collected ideas from readers for a short series of posts this week, dealing with some issues involved with being in a relationship with a philosopher.]

You know that consuming feeling you have when you begin a new relationship—it’s like everything you think or do is about your new fling. You want to be with them all the time. Etc. This is how philosophers feel about ideas. If I’ve not said this outright, I’ve hinted at it before: Philosophers are consumed by ideas.

I can remember one particularly special occasion in the earlier years with my philosopher, an especially intimate one (out on a nice date during the holidays). I was thinking about our future together and all that sweet stuff and he looked especially ponderous, so I asked him what he was thinking about. “I was thinking about how to better teach deductive logic to my next intro class. My previous method just didn’t seem to work . . . [etc].”

Next thing I knew I was reluctantly involved in a two-hour discussion about teaching methods—teaching methods for logic, no less.

Earlier in our relationship when things like this happened, I assumed that I was not interesting enough or that he must not like me all that much. This was false, obviously, and as I came to realize this I developed a mantra that I repeat to myself whenever something like this happens: My philosopher is not only in a relationship with me; my philosopher is also in a relationship with ideas.

Think for a minute about how much time your philosopher spends thinking about ideas, reading about ideas, or talking about ideas with other people? Your philosopher is also likely not just in love with philosophical ideas, but with many other intellectual ideas.

I know some spouses/partners who are so frustrated with sharing a relationship with ideas that they try to require their philosopher to just be a normal person and not think about ideas when they are around. Demanding that your philosopher give up thinking about ideas when you’re around is like asking a cat to give up meat or asking the earth’s core to stop being hot—hello, it’s what they are.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for a little time to just talk about something that you want to talk about, too, but demanding this all the time is completely unreasonable. Your philosopher probably doesn’t ask you to always pretend to be a philosopher when they are around (and if they do—shame on them!—now is the time to stand up for yourself and remind them that you are an individual, not a philosophy-book).

So here are some fun methods that you can use to continue to develop a meaningful relationship with your philosopher and her/his ideas, because, frankly, those ideas are just never going to leave:

1. Read a book together.

It doesn’t have to be a particularly deep or philosophical book. Part of developing a relationship with someone is having shared experiences with them. In order to know your philosopher’s ideas and your philosopher, reading a book and discussing it can bring both of them out.

2. Attend a play.

Your philosopher may complain about all of the time it will take, the lack of talent in the theater these days, or the fact that they usually don’t like plays, but ignore all of that. Experiencing a play (particularly more serious ones or tragedies) can be a wealth of conversation topics. You, your philosopher, and her/his ideas might end up having a grand time afterward when you discuss this play over ice cream [going out for dessert or coffee afterward is necessary].

3. Volunteer at a local charity.

Helping those less fortunate can open up a whole slew of interesting discussions about certain ideas, particularly social/political ones. Not only will you be able to share an experience and discuss some interesting ideas, but you’re also helping out other people a bit, which is something that we all like to approve of but rarely do.

4. Invite another couple over and play Trivial Pursuit.

Make sure you find yourself on a team with your philosopher, because you two are going to totally dominate the game. Philosophers are excellent at whipping out of the knowledge they’ve accrued for tight situations (survival techniques: when they present papers or teach classes, they have to be able to defend positions immediately). Your philosopher’s ideas-knowledge can be supremely useful for games like this. My philosopher and I are a particularly dynamic team, so watch out [Note: When my philosopher and I played Trivial Pursuit against each other, I did win, but probably because I made more intuitive choices rather than his method of approaching the questions as if the game makers were trying to pull a GRE question on him—i.e. trying to fool him]. This can be a particularly exciting game with another philosopher + non-philosopher couple like you.

So go out there and get to know the other lover in your philosopher’s life. You will have a much more rewarding relationship if you learn how to use it and enjoy it, not to constantly fight it. 

Please feel free to add your own suggestions or stories in the comments. I love hearing your philosopher-stories.

You can follow me on twitter (@philosiologist) or friend me on facebook (Philosiologist Qed). You can also send me an email, if you would like. 

~The Philosiologist