About Rationally Speaking
Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Beer, baseball and philosophy
Their conversation soon drifted away from philosophy and into Seinfield, The Office, and other tv shows, and was pretty darn interesting. Soon after the comment on morality, one of them said he normally watches The Daily Show, the Colbert Report and Bill Maher. Wow, I was impressed. The other guy commented that Jon Stewart is like Geraldo, to which the first one immediately rebutted that they are not at all comparable, because, you see, Geraldo is actually a pseudo-intellectual – he actually used that very word.
OK, what is wrong with this picture, I began to ask myself, now completely absorbed by my eavesdropping activity and no longer working on editing a graduate student's paper? If the average American can carry on this sort of conversation, how is it that this nation has managed to put Bush and his gang in power, twice? (Well, almost, considering that W. did steal the first election; still, he got close enough to get away with a little bit of fraud and arbitrary decisions by his brother and his father's Supreme Court appointees.)
And yet this is the quintessential state of contradiction that afflicts the United States of America at the dawn of the 21st century. It's a nation made half of anti-intellectuals who still think Darwin's theory of evolution is not good science on the one hand, and millions who revel in the sophisticated, decidedly intellectual antics of Stewart, Colbert and Maher (together with Al Franken, a liberal dream team if there ever was one). This bizarre state of affairs may be due to the culture wars, the Red vs. Blue states thing, the classic divide between urban and countryside populations. Whatever it is, it's directly affecting the lives of millions in this country and of literally billions worldwide. But if a couple of beer-drinking, train-riding Yankee fans can have the sort of conversation I just overheard, man, there's still hope for this country. By the way, the Yankees got rained out tonight, they'll have a second chance tomorrow...