Some people would have us believe that all the good thinking has been done. The most extreme believe that all we can do now is to write footnotes. The least extreme believe that you should at least read everything you can before you start talking about things. They will often soft-link nasty, condescending remarks such as "Your radical ideas about ___ have already occured to others," just to show what a silly person you are for thinking before you were ready.

This is the rule: If you are going to say something, be absolutely sure that no one has said it before. Read like mad. Take a vow of silence if you have to. In fact, no one under the age of 30 should ever open their mouth to say anything they think is original, because chances are, it isn't. They will laugh at you. Above all you should be afraid, very afraid, of being laughed at because of this.

But I disagree. I say:


It has been thought before, but not by you. You will never think anything original if you don't start thinking the old thoughts, on your own, now. Thought is a graveyard, a skeleton, but thinking is alive, the blood, the energy. Plato is dead, people. Don't read a book unless you are ready to compare it to your own ideas, to interact with it, to challenge it.

Don't be afraid of repeating. Because if you really thought of it on your own, it will not be repetition. It will be the best kind of reinforcement an idea can get -- the knowledge that someone else got there by a different path. Think. Talk. Then read. Laugh back when they laugh at you.

One of my friends has never read a single philosophical text, eastern or western, and yet he arrived at the platonic theory of forms, Descartes' Cogito, and the Ying/ Yang model, all on his own. He calls them by different names, and seems ignorant to those with a philosophy degree, but he thinks better and more clearly than most people I know.

It's been more than 2000 years now, people. It's time to stop writing footnotes.

Nonetheless, one is under an obligation to read and understand what others have said on the subject, if one wants to articulate relevant thoughts on something.

I mean, it is okay to wax philosophical without restraint and footnotes when you are sitting on the porch, shooting shit and having a Penn Pilsner with your buddies. But if you want to contribute, you better read up, otherwise you will repeat somebody else's mistakes, in which case where does your originality and brilliance go ? Down the drain.

Consider now Plato and the traditional problem of the white horse archetype: is there an archetype for horses, or for white horses ? And in that case, why not for young white horses, and old white horses ? And in that case ... you end up having to populate the world of ideas with a copy of the material world, which pretty much screws you over.
This same paradox has occured to the Chinese equivalent of Platonists .
And it will hit like an Exocet any budding Platonist out there. So one should be aware of it.

Also, consider computers and client server systems. If you are not aware of history, all the bullshit about thin clients and "the network is the computer" will get you. You will believe it. You will think "original" thoughts about it.
But you know what ? Your father has been there and done that. A thin client is just a dumb terminal, and the issues are the same, and your father faced them in the seventies, and you better be aware of them, because they will come back.

Apply scholarship. Read. Study. In disciplines where there is progress, not to know what has occured to others condemns the thinker to irrelevance.

Postmodernism is actually based around the theory that all knowledge and truths are subjective, and that there are no absolutes. Under this theory, all ideologies are inherently biased, and therefore there is no one ideology that is worth following. Also, there are no originals that are more valuable than subsequent copies. Instead, there is an a anarchic collective of homogenous equals. In accordance with this, adherents of the postmodernist movement borrow from many different artistic philosophies to produce a product that is not original, but that is presented in an original way. In essence, so what if your radical ideas have already occured to others? Originality is over-rated.

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