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A Bland and Deadly Courtesy
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Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

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How many philosophers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A preposterous question. Obviously, it depends on what sort of philosopher we're discussing. I'm sure this has been done before, but here are my answers:

Pragmatist: Hey, if holding the bulb while four of your friends turn the chair works for you, then that is the right way to change a lightbulb for you.

Empiricist: We can't know how to change a lightbulb, but we can make lists of how big it is, the wattage, the thickness of the glass, the composition of the filiment...

Thomist: When we examine the concept of "lightbulb" one requirement is that it light up. Hence, if it does not light up, it is not a lightbulb. If it is not a lightbulb, there is no reason to change it.

Aristotelean: Changing of lightbulbs can be divided into: manipulation of the old bulb, and manipulation of the new bulb. Bulb manipulation, in turn, can be divided into: Turning motion, raising motion, dropping motion. We cannot understand motion.

Kantian: By understanding the lightbulb-in-itself, it becomes, for us, a new lightbulb.

Platonist: The closer our lightbulb gets to the Ideal Lightbulb, the less it requires changing.

Dialectical Materialist: None. The lightbulb changes because of it's own internal contradictions.

Skeptic: We can't know if we're changing the lightbulb. We can't know if changing the lightbulb is an improvement. In fact, we can't really know if it's dark. Especially with the lights out.

Hegelian: When the lightbulb becomes irrational, it ceases to exist. Insofar as a new lightbulb sheds light on the Absolute Idea, it becomes a rational lightbulb, and comes into being as part of our striving for the rational.

Post-structuralist: By rejecting neo-Enlightment notions that privilege "light," we can conceptualize the relationship between optically-oriented envisioning and those signifiers that address interpretations of post-colonial modernism as an established text within the framework of which, intertextually, we are lead to reject any causal relationship between the operands and the motivators.

Memetics: The speed at which the notion ("a burned out lightbulb should be replaced") has spread is inexplicable unless one looks at the idea itself.

Existentialist: Why change the lightbulb?

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