Thanks, Hume.

Only a rebel Scotsman would prefer to rock a turban over a giant wig.

This being my first blog and all, i thought maybe i should explain some things. I have thought about blogging for a few years now, but I couldn’t think of anything to talk about that seemed at all worthwhile. Nor did I have the time really, i was busy trying to get a university job (still looking for that tenure track professorship), and plumping up my CV with publications, conferences, and other scholarly activities. I have a PhD in philosophy, my dissertation focused on an obscure figure named Adolf Reinach who died in 1917 at the age of 34. Most of my work for the past decade has been devoted to Reinach, to early German Phenomenology (1900 to 1917), and I also devote my time and efforts to the Austrian School of Philosophy (Bolzano, Brentano, Meinong, Husserl, etc.), and to history of philosophy (bacon to Nietzsche). My interests and work could be described as ontological based. And what I have found is a small circle of friends/colleagues who share my interests, which is wonderful, but everyone else in my life does not really get what i do, nor even want to understand what i do. In fact, I find that most people outside academia think that philosophy is simply an old ‘ivory tower’ study that, unless it has to do with ethics (medical, business, etc.) or critical thinking, has no bearing on the real world or could benefit their lives in any way. Now, as much as I will admit I do study some obscure things and people, I refuse to concede the point that absolutely none of it has any benefit to life outside university endeavors — all of it has bearing and benefit to life. Philosophy IS about life itself and the world around us. In philosophy you search for wisdom and truth, you ask the big questions, and when needed you accept the grey areas. And, FYI, before physics and natural sciences were considered branches of science they were branches of philosophy. Figures like Newton and Galileo are considered philosophers. Many famous mathematicians were philosophers — Pythagoras, Descartes, Leibniz, and Mach. Einstein hung out with Philosophers too. I have grown rather sick of this notion that philosophy is something divorced from real life, that the ideas of Aristotle, Plato, Hume or Kant have nothing to offer modern man. I have also grown tired of the idea that education ought ONLY to be pursued for a prospective job, and this includes the education system as just another consumer relationship. What happened to enlightenment and wisdom for their own sake and personal enrichment? Grrrrr …. Ok, I’m ranting now.

Now, the other thread to this story is that I have been getting tattooed since I was 17. I am now 32. For quite a while it felt like I had two lives: one outside and one inside academia. When I taught, my tattoos were under my professional clothes and I didn’t talk about them, in fact I thought they had nothing to do with my philosophical interests. But over the last year or so, I have noticed that in fact my tattoos have a large philosophical significance to me and what I once thought were two separate lives are really two sides of one coin. How very Schopenhauer of me (yup, I’m a super geek). I now no longer hide my tattoos when I am on campus or teach, I show what I want to and have an inner giggle when the old professors stair or look shocked. I guess this blog is one more way I reconcile my two halves, and I now get to talk about two topics that as of yet never really appeared together: tattooing and philosophy.

Now, one of the moments of enlightenment I had about philosophy and tattooing I can credit to David Hume. Yes, Hume woke me from my dogmatic slumber. How Kantian of me (i seem to be having a German Idealist day here). Specifically Hume’s counter example of the missing shade of blue, a favorite of mine. I was sitting in Wayne’s chair several months back for a touch up, and he asked me what colour of blue I would like to use in the background, and i answered without a second thought “Hume’s missing shade of blue”. Of course, Wayne gave me a slightly puzzled face and asked me what I was talking about. I explained it, its significance, and he seemed to enjoy the discussion (asking questions and even asking me for some further reading on it). I love the philosophy of Hume; I find it something that is very accessible, highly relevant, and fun (yes, i said fun). Hume was the ultimate shit disturber, and his skepticism still holds water. Now, when I mentioned Hume’s missing blue I immediately wondered if he would ever get a tattoo or had one hiding under those lovely garments. And, I bet you he would. Hume was a bit of a badass in his time, so I bet out of any of the ‘big wigs’ of his time Hume would be the one to have a little ink. Maybe, even coloured with some blue … missing blue. 😉 So, there you go, a great example of how philosophy is not only something everybody can discuss if given the opportunity, but also has some relevance to the world of tattooing. Now this is something worth talking about (and with a lot less ‘me talk’ in the future, since I hate being anywhere near self-absorbed sounding).

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