Monday, October 06, 2008

How to get a book deal

These days, one easy way is to do something extreme or bizarre, usually for a whole year, and then write about how it was challenging, absurd but overall a life-changing and positive experience. There are people who are living without using any plastic or someone who tried to live for a year following the commands of the Old Testament. The newest attempt is this bloke who is trying to live for a year as a perfect Kantian and was featured in today's guardian. Well, it turns out this just means that he is not going to lie for a year. (As RJR pointed out to me, Jim Carrey beat him to it, but hey ho. I don't suppose real life is quite so contrived and Immanuel would be the first to point out that being unable to lie and being determined not to lie are very different things.) Surely, though, it would have been more fun to do it properly and show what a weirdo a perfect Kantian agent would be if you tried to apply the whole business consistently and thoroughly?

Still, there ought to be a bit of mileage in this from the ancient philosophers. Trouble is, I don't have the resources of leisure or the extreme cognitive qualifications to cut the mustard as a top-notch Platonic or Aristotelian ideal agent. I could live in a barrel and do various shocking things to 'debase the currency' as a Cynic, but I don't think I could have a laptop to hand while I do it and be at all consistent. Ho hum. I don't buy the Stoic bunkum about a universal benevolent and immanent deity, so that's out too. Which leaves Epicureanism or the more crazy bits of ancient scepticism. Living as a Sextan Pyrrhonist for a year would make for a very boring book. You more or less do what you would do anyway, but just don't commit to any beliefs... It's supposed to be tranquil, but I'm not sure I buy that. Well, I suppose it would be a way of testing empirically Burnyeat's famous question, 'Can a sceptic live his scepticism?', but I can't see many publishers beating down my door for the end result.

So maybe that's not an option for me after all. What's left?


shuska said...

Have you ever seen a Kant?

shuska said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Philoponus said...

What's left, you ask? Well, we haven't seen many stylites lately. James the Stylite is, surprisingly, unreserved. Maybe the climate in your part of the world is not so favorable to that posture? And perhaps pillar-sitting in conjunction in with expounding a popular new secular heresy, such as the view that an academic education is bad for you. You could add the epithet misopaideios. Musonius thought the best place to educate a young man was on the farm. So then also the epithet philochorios. Just some suggestion. Please send pictures if you proceed.

DEM said...

Just a quick comment that does not address your main point: a Sextan Pyrrhonist would most probably say that you have to try and see whether epoche leads you to ataraxia. If it doesn't, well, it's a pity, but it's not surprising, since he has never affirmed that it would happen for sure or that there's a necessary link between both states of mind.