After a few days of intensive effort I have the names and addresses of almost all the professional philosophers in Britain. Now I am wondering what to do with them.

They will be used at least once…
Over at New Humanist magazine we are trying to boost our circulation. Sending free copies to philosophers might win us some new readers.

Though i suspect a well written, witty and informative general interest magazine with a rationalist/humanist tilt is the last thing they’ll want that after a hard day in the office reading dust dry tracts like
The Transcendental Grounds of Meaning and the Place of Silence in Meaning Scepticism,
or the slightly more gripping
‘Some Worries about Normative and Metaethical Sentimentalism’, Metaphilosophy
and occasionally the outright interesting
‘Some astonishing things’, Metaphilosophy 22, 1991, 28-40.
‘Gruesome Perceptual Spaces’: Analysis 55, 1995, 27-36

but most-likely after long hours struggling with ‘Realism Detranscendentalized’, European Journal of Philosophy, Vol, 8, 2000 (surely the whole point of realism is that it isn’t transcendental any way :confused: ) they probably just flick on the telly or flip through something mindless like Heat Magazine or Big n Juicy (Vol 27)

who knows?
but with nothing to lose we sending free copies to 644 professors, readers, lecturers, researchers and post-graduates at 37 different universities.
(You can get one too! right here )
I will be quite interested in the results we sent a promotional mailing to several hundred Church of England vicars & despite the fact that New Humanist is an atheist publication we got about 60-70 subscribers!Which is a pleasing fact about the CoE and an unusual endorsement for our magazine.

Despite the quality of this fine periodical I can’t help thinking this is a mundane use for a list of all the philosophers in Britain. I have access to (supposedly) the finest minds in the country, people who are paid to spend all day wondering about the meaning of life, the universe and everything.

Judging by the titles of the papers they write, they don’t actually do so but in principle if anybody knows the answers to life’s great questions it’s ought to be these fellows & fellowesses (or is that fellatrices?)

I am going to write to them all and ask them.

Here’s my first draft:

Dear Prof X/Dr Y,

As a professional philosopher, I am sure you are continually plagued by cranks and lunatics. I am no exception.

I have got it into my head that you are well placed to know about life, the universe and everything. Therefore, I am writing to ask if you could tell me the meaning of it all. (Do not be too flattered, I am writing to every philosopher in the country!)

If God were required to explain himself I am sure he could do it in a few elegant paragraphs on one crisply typeset foolscap sheet (though as an atheist I have not tried asking him.) You are welcome to go further than this but I would prefer something more like Meditations than either Either/Or or Being & Nothingness.

For the sake of brevity and convenience, please feel free to merely refer* me to a paper you have written elsewhere or something classic by a dead Greek or German.

One final very mundane point, I am not some highbrow Henry Root and in any case the laws of copyright are on your side. But, who knows, if philosophers turn out to be a particularly witty bunch or if you and your peers disagree strongly then I may collect the responses I receive and attempt to publish them.

With Regards,

*As you know, no letter from a crank is complete without a split infinitive!


2 responses to “genesis”

  1. […] will know that I’ve had a long running obsession with answers to the meaning of life. Asking professional philosophers wasn’t terribly successful. My novel doesn’t really have the answers either. But […]

  2. […] you may know I once asked every philosopher in the UK about the meaning of life. It was a slightly depressing experience. […]