“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is You-er than You.”
– Dr. Seuss (aka Theodore Geisel)
Real philosopher brains are rarer than hen’s teeth these days, and I for one do not consider this to be a healthy state of affairs. There is little available in the educational system or mass culture at large that nurtures and cultivates an open-mind seeking of truth without barrier or predisposition. As a society, we pay so little attention to philosophy that we are in immediate danger of collectively turning into mindless consumers of culture and goods buffeted by the winds of fleeting style and fancy.
I am of the opinion that the inherent shallowness of mass culture, including mass politics, is a direct result of the scarcity of philosopher brains. And a scarcity of philosophizing can lead to a dangerous condition known as “Stinkin’ Thinkin’,” often fatal if left untreated. (Hats off to Zig Ziglar for popularizing the term stinkin’ thinkin’).
And all this scares me because if we are ever going to turn this wagon around, if we are ever going to actually create a peaceful, sustainable, creative, equitable worldwide culture of mutual respect for all living things, our planet and each other; I will bet you that clear thinking will be required to pull it off.
Fortunately a little exposure of the brain at key moments of neural development is sometimes all it takes to turn a young mind from IDLE to ON. And for help with that, we are fortunate to have Theodore Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss to help us along. Who else talks directly to young people with far out statements? Ones such as:
From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!
Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!
He inspired us into seeing one’s life as a great adventure:
You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!
And pressed home that truth about the equality of all people:
A person’s a person, no matter how small.
And he taught us to accept ourselves, warts and all, with a statement like:
Why fit in when you were born to stand out?
I would go so far as to say that his influence on the free thinking seventies and the many cultural changes it engendered can only be contemplated. Good job Ted. Thanks for that.
So what’s the big deal about philosopher brains and why bother wasting valuable bandwidth thinking about it? For one possible answer to this I bring you GB Shaw, playwright and philosopher brain and one of the few to go ahead and write about it:
…I had better be a ploughman than a philosopher; for the ploughman lives as long as the philosopher, eats more, sleeps better, and rejoices in the wife of his bosom with less misgiving. This is because the philosopher is in the grip of the Life Force. This Life Force says to him “I have done a thousand wonderful things unconsciously by merely willing to live and following the line of least resistance: now I want to know myself and my destination, and choose my path; so I have made a special brain — a philosopher’s brain — to grasp this knowledge for me as the husbandman’s hand grasps the plough for me. And this” says the Life Force to the philosopher “must thou strive to do for me until thou diest, when I will make another brain and another philosopher to carry on the work.” (From Man and Superman, 1903)
Heady stuff. No wonder the job has so few takers.
Dr. Seuss said it a bit more succinctly:
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
Thanks for listening folks. Keep thinking!