Pjay tries to fail philosophy but fails at failing, gets an A.

My Essay on a Descartes

Q: What did you think of Descartes Essay? A: I did not like it.

I guess if I were a popular philosopher, all I would have to write is that first line and everyone would say "OOoo, deep." Or I would be hanged because I broke the cardinal rule of philosophy; never put into five words what could be put into 5000.

What is the difference between Descartes and Jerry Seinfeld? Jerry Seinfeld got paid millions to write about nothing. Descartes didn't. Yes, I made that up.

Now that I have insulted the teacher and all philosophers, I can write freely.

For me there is a blurry line between philosophy and creative writing. It seems to me that philosophers are writers without a subject. What was Descartes thinking when he wrote "The Meditations"? "I have deep thoughts that others need to know? I will show those other imbéciles de babillage philosophers I can wax endlessly about nothing with the rest of them?" I do not know, but it seems to me his whole text could have been reduced to one paragraph titled: And Now We Question Everything.

I get the same feeling when reading Plato's Apology. I would convict too! Bore me no more! Do we really want these blood suckers of society ruining soccer games? No! But this text is about Descartes. Plato's Apology is my next Essay F.

Perhaps I am simply not a deep person although it seems I was quite deep in high school. When I consider these ramblings, I feel so old I must have sat behind Descartes in 5th grade. Or that time has drained my lake of inquisition, very unlike these masters, and now I only draw a shallow pond. Or perhaps this is the seesaw of life, some rise to master knowledge with age while others fall. Or that this philosophical knowledge is obscure as the hand of God, I walk through life sure my hand is in His, but for when I stumble, I see His hand is outstretched but mine is not.

Am I here typing this in reality or am I asleep lamenting the assignment and know an "F" is on the way? I check and yes, my day clothing is on, but that too may be a dream. Ah, the light, can a dream make light or it that truly only for the hand of the Maker? Questions, all these questions! Yes to all! But is intelligence not that which separates those who seek questions from those who find answers? Would this not exclude philosophers from the bank of intelligence, as they seek not knowledge but the mechanics of knowledge? If I seek not light but the existence of light, than how shall I write?

Where does the true analysis of life begin and the simple enjoyment of eloquent writing end? Is the length and detail of Descartes' writing to cause enjoyment to the reader, to simply leave out any loopholes in the reasoning, or to bring ideas to the lowest conceptual construct? Surely not the latter as Descartes' audience must have been the educated (the educated without dates and a lot of time on their hands.).

Another student says this writing reminds him/her of Tolstoy. Yes, but only in that one must enjoy the words beyond the subject, the lingual construction, the pace. Descartes and Tolstoy are for sitting in front of the fire with cup of brandy. The pace runs like sap and only those who crave the almond sweetness of endless oration should attend.

As we near the end of this educational path and surely I have learned something. But a few thoughts still haunt me. When did philosophy begin? Our books pace a clear timeline from Greek courthouses to modern times. But surely these are not the beginnings of questions. These are placards of record. They tell us only of what has survived our short history of wars and destruction. Socrates or Plato may very well have been buffoons, plagiarists, or simply a copy boys working overtime. They may have been the Harlequin writers of their time. All the really good works may have been in the other library which was destroyed during the Turk invasion.

Together, in too many words, religion and philosophy beg for the answer to a simple question: why are we here? Yet answers cannot be found in the ramblings of an old man or in any organization which requires a leap of faith to an unclear point. Nor does it begin conveniently when our records begin. It is the big question which has not been answered. It does not ask who we are but defines why we are different.

speaker icon

Copyright Peter Jay Smith 2005 Return to helarc.com