Despite many believing philosophy is a “useless major” or a “waste of time,” it’s definitely a great way to boggle your mind by your own doing. It’s one thing to be confused by someone else, and a completely different feeling to confuse your own self. Who doesn’t enjoy perplexing themselves to no end, or thinking so hard your head literally hurts? Count me in.
I’m no philosopher, nor a philosophy major, but I can say in my time of reading works by some of the most famous philosophers to even some of the lesser known ones, and from browsing random books and websites, I’ve run across some extremely odd theories. Some of them make some sort of sense, while others completely go over my head. Of course, they do all make sense when looking at society and views of life during that time. As the great Cicero once said, “There is no statement so absurd that no philosopher will make it.” Here is a list of 10 philosophies that are just pure strange.
Idealist theory says that there are no foundational beliefs. Instead, our beliefs exist in a system of interconnected perceptions. With this theory, you can ultimately conclude that no one belief is more important than the next. In the end, this theory is extremely circular. If a certain belief is true because it coheres or fits with others, then what do they cohere with? Sadly, there is no answer. In the end you’re stuck in an infinite regression.
9. Innatism (Innate ideas)
Innatism states that the mind is born and already loaded with ideas as well as knowledge. This view was created in order to disprove John Locke’s idea of the human mind being a “tabula rasa” that is eventually filled throughout life with experience. The theory holds that the we already known simple mathematical truths, such as 2+2=4 and the truths about God. But, if this theory is true, why do humans have a hard time adding up larger numbers? (ie. 1359+3515) And, if we have these innate ideas, why doesn’t everyone believe in the religious truths? And how do we know we learned something? Could it be that we just remembered it?
Animism states that when looking at souls and spirits, the two not only exist in humans and animals, but they also exist in things such as rocks, plants, thunder, mountains, and other objects. Many argue that animism is only used in cultures where religion and society aren’t as built-upon science and math. Many critics explain that the philosophy of animism is only used to provide answers to unknown questions. I can’t believe the rock I run over on an unpaved road has a soul.
7. Logical atomism
Popularized by Bertrand Russell, the theory states that world consists of logical “facts” (aka “atoms”) that cannot be broken down any further. It also states that all truths are dependent upon a layer of atomic facts. Therefore, the theory asserts that language mirrors reality. This is just one philosophy that I don’t understand. In the end it says that the world is just made up of facts that are extremely simple and easy to comprehend.
Given the name by Jacques Derrida, the theory states that there is no one meaning when observing a piece of text. Instead, a text has several different meanings. The theory also states that when given a piece of literature, the reader ultimately decides what the meaning is, not the text in the book. I used to find deconstruction pretty valid, but in a sense, it does make literature meaningless. If you reduce and reduce the meaning of something so much, it in the end has no purpose. And if we always determine the meaning of something, how can anyone ever have a misunderstanding? You can just simply say no, that is my interpretation of what you said.
Phenomenalism states that physical objects do not exist as things in themselves but only as perceptual phenomena. Meaning, we can’t know anything is real beyond what we perceive and verify. Despite how neat it sounds, phenomenalism has its issues. What do we consider “verified?” And what about math? Math surely is real and it doesn’t require sensory perception.
4. Ethical egoism
Ethical egoism states that moral agents ought to do what is in their own self-interest. Basically, it is necessary and sufficient for an action to be morally right that it is able to maximize one’s self-interest. This means that we only act on certain morals and actions because of our own self-interest and that these actions are right. The theory would basically support that stealing money is right, as it feeds our self-interest and brings a higher reward.
3. Moral absolutism
In my mind, nothing is absolute, so moral absolutism just doesn’t work for me. The theory holds that there are absolute rights and wrongs, no matter the context of the act. This brings up one of the more popular philosophical questions; is it okay to lie for a greater good? Let’s say you tell a lie to save a life. Is that morally wrong because lying is seen as wrong? Who knows, it never ends. Then you start wondering if morals are even real. photo by Michael Guerreiro
2. Neutral monism
Neutral monism says that the mental and the physical are not two fundamentally different things. Instead, the view holds that the body and the mind are made up of the same material, which isn’t mental or physical. Only problem I see with this theory is that it is entirely mental. Is it not? The theory assumes that the mind is “real” and relies heavily on mental ability. And…do we experience outside of our minds? Perception? Sensation? Where do they fit in? photo by hyg-27
Comic from Toothpaste for Dinner
I’d have to say that solipsism is what made me want to write this list. By dictionary definition, solipsism is a philosophical theory that states that a person can know nothing but that he/she exists, and that the self is the only existent thing. In common words, solipsism expresses that you believe you are the only real thing. Talk about extremely egocentrism. I think I’ll start a solipsism club!