In a village there lives a barber who shaves all and only the people who don’t shave themselves. So who shaves the barber? If he shaves himself, he doesn’t; if he doesn’t shave himself, he does.
A tweety bird told me a stack of philosophers were stumped with that question for ages. But I reckon I’ve got it:
That barber fella: he’s a lady.
I hear that that barber helped people rethink the bases of mathematics. In my naivety though, I’m going to plough in and wonder if those philosopher fellas couldn’t have been figuring out something more useful.
How many years were they pondering…? Like at the stage of five paragraphs into this blog post, I’m thinking we need to get to something halfway arguably useful by some measure or other fairly soonish.
I’m sure those barber-philosophers did something useful for themselves: built themselves a few new brain cells with all the thinking they were up to. But could they’ve done that and also figured out something that will help others?
Philosophy maybe has a bit of an elephant-tusk-tower rep. But at its best I think it’s more simplerer than its rep. It’s just about how we can live better.
Like Socrates: I hear he used to trail around Athens asking people what they’re up to; why you doing that? But why didn’t you decide to do the other…why though?…till they were just about ready to deck him.
One bloke he bumped into was a general. And he got asking him about courage. A courageous person, the general-bloke told Socrates, is someone who doesn’t leg it away when he sniffs a bit of trouble. He stays and fights. That didn’t do it for Socrates: but how about if there’s a strategic reason to do a runner? …and that line of questioning led to a change in warring policies for Athens: probably saved a good number of lives, since they weren’t any longer fighting to the death because of wrongly-defined ‘courage’.
So definitely something useful there for you: if you’re an Athenian warrior.
If you’re not an Athenian warrior, there might still be a bit of use in some Socratic questioning. To ask yourself:
Why am I doing this?
No need to pack it all in and do poetry…
- you’ve got to make a crust, after all.
But if you’re paddling you might as well be going somewhere.