Sometimes people say “Everything happens for a reason.” And sometimes when people say that I nod sagely and let them get on with their lives. Other times, I say this: There is no situation in which saying “everything happens for a reason” is not stupid.*
I’m going to cut right to the chase on this one: The Lion King represents a terrifying, amoral dystopia and is not by any stretch of the imagination a film suitable for children.
When the film starts, Mufasa is the king of the Pride Lands. Why is Mufasa the king of the Pride Lands? Because he is a lion and he could totally kick your ass is why. More importantly, he is a male lion. If you recall, there are only three male lions in the whole film: Mufasa, Simba, and Scar. These three are all from the same bloodline (Mufasa and Scar are brothers, and Simba is Mufasa’s son, in case you somehow didn’t know). The royal bloodline, in fact. So where are all the other dudes? Has Mufasa gone all Pharaoh and ordered the killing of infant males, lest they attempt to overthrow his tyrannical rule? Continue reading
If I were taken to court for committing a crime—say, I don’t know, stealing £50 worth of garlic bread from a supermarket—this would be my defence:
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, whether that garlic bread was paid for or stolen is irrelevant to this case. In fact, this case itself is an irrelevance. It ought to be thrown out of court! You see, between the date on which the garlic bread was allegedly stolen and now, I took up yoga. And since I did, in the words of many of my friends, family members and co-workers, I simply am not the same person. And I have several witnesses who will attest to this. Ask them, and they will tell you: ‘He has simply not been the same person since he took up yoga.’ So even if the garlic bread was stolen, it can’t possibly have been me who stole it, as I’m not the person that the prosecution thinks they are accusing of theft; that person no longer exists, just as I didn’t exist when he did. The defence rests.*
Renowned intellectual and Top Cat enthusiast Thomas Byrne posed a question to me in a bar: if two people disagree as to whether something—a cinema trip, a meal, a night in playing Risk—was a date, then was it a date? Is the fact that one of them says it’s a date enough to make it a date? Or is the fact that one of them says it isn’t enough to make it a non-date? Or this a false dichotomy? Perhaps a sort of subjectivist approach is required; perhaps what is a non-date to one attendee can be a date to the other. Perhaps “date” is a state of mind. Continue reading
The Euthyphro dilemma originates from Plato’s dialogue, Euthyphro. It’s commonly called upon by atheists, anti-theists, and people who have just discovered Plato, as a tool with which to illustrate the complete implausibility of Divine Command Theory (that is, the theory that for something to be morally good or bad means that God has declared it to be so). Here’s my analysis of the Euthyphro dilemma and why I don’t think it works.
The Euthyphro dilemma
Consider this: is the pious being loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is being loved by the gods? (Plato, 2002: 10)
It’s lunchtime. I’m making a sandwich. Supermarket brand butter substitute, supermarket brand ham, supermarket brand cheese and Branston pickle on supermarket brand bread.
“I wish this were a Subway sandwich,” I think to myself. “That would be great.”
And then I realise: Subway sandwiches don’t have butter, nor a butter substitute, on them. They are butter-free. Butter-lacking. Sans butter.
This concerns me. All sandwiches ought to be buttered. Bread is for buttering. And sandwiches involve bread. Therefore, all sandwiches ought to be buttered. QED.
“But wait. Be sensible,” I tell myself. I’ve always enjoyed Subway sandwiches. Never have I bitten into a BMT on hearty Italian with extra cheese, bacon, red onion, lettuce and mayo and felt regret at the absence of butter. I have felt only joy.
Enter John Stuart Mill, 19th Century liberal utilitarian philosopher and noted sandwich enthusiast. Continue reading