APP Editors’ note: V is a tenured full professor of philosophy at a public university somewhere in North America, and one of Z’s small yet steadily growing insurgency of inside-professional-philosophy guerrilla comrades and fellow travelers.
1. Members of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association,
I’m a failed professional academic philosopher, but recovering, and an at-large escapee from the Professional Academic State.
And this probably helps to explain why I wasn’t actually elected President of the Eastern Division or invited to give this Address.
But I wanted to do it anyway, for reasons that will become apparent in the fifth and final section.
And I’m truly humbled by this honor–whatever the fuck that means.
At the very least, you’ll be pleased to know that this will be the shortest and most imaginary Presidential Address in the history of the APA.
But before I get there, I also wanted to provide a very brief prologue about its compositional history for the benefit of later historians of 21st century philosophy.
2. The first draft of this imaginary Address was based on Klaatu’s famous speech to all the people and nations of the Earth in the 1951 sci fi classic, The Day the Earth Stood Still.
But I was very soundly and wisely advised by a friend to suppress that draft, in this sad time of anti-immigrant, anti-terrorist hysteria, lest some malicious person or persons tried to bring it under the current update of the Alien and Sedition Acts.
Nevertheless, even despite its being most definitely alien, in the from-another-world sense—although also totally unseditious in the real-world sense—I laughed my butt off after I had written it.
Of course, it’s also true that I laugh my butt off at all my own jokes.
3. And speaking of laughing, by way of a natural segue, the second draft of this imaginary Presidential Address was based on the classic Monty Python’s Philosophers’ Drinking Song:
Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
Who was very rarely stable.
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
Who could think you under the table.
David Hume could out-consume
Schopenhauer and Hegel,
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
Who was just as sloshed as Schlegel.
There’s nothing Nietzsche couldn’t teach
About the raising of the wrist.
SOCRATES, HIMSELF, WAS PERMANENTLY PISSED…
John Stuart Mill, of his own free will,
On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.
Plato, they say, could stick it away;
Half a crate of whiskey every day.
Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle,
Hobbes was fond of his dram,
And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart: “I drink, therefore I am”
Yes, Socrates, himself, is particularly missed;
A lovely little thinker but a bugger when he’s pissed!
After I wrote my own version of this song as an imaginary Presidential Address, by freely substituting names of APA Divisional Presidents for the real philosophers’ names, then singing it to myself, I laughed my butt off again.
Then I cried.
Then I deleted it.
Not my butt. I meant the song.
4. Finally, it occurred to me that I could think of at least one other Address that I would very much like to emulate and base my own imaginary Address on, which very conveniently also has the word ‘Address’ in its title, namely Abraham Lincoln’s justly famous and deeply inspiring Gettysburg Address.
5. That was Lincoln’s Address, over there on the wall.
Now for mine, which is just like his, only a little bit different, e.g., in its being imaginary, and it also talks about Socrates, and drinking, which actually makes it a little bit like the Monty Python’s Philosophers’ Drinking Song, but is also a little bit different from that too.
Five score and sixteen years years ago our white Ivy League fathers brought forth on this continent, a new Association, the APA, conceived in Capitalism, and dedicated to the proposition. Just the proposition.
Now we are engaged in a long dialogue, testing whether the proposition that “P is true,” is true, the great business of professional academic philosophy. We are met here in a great Eastern City, again, showing that such business can long endure. We are here to dedicate a portion of this meeting, at least an hour, to those who, having published and published, then perished, and so having given that last full measure of devotion, to our glorious cause, still have not shown that “P is true” is true, therefore have reasoned in vain. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But in a very real sense we cannot dedicate this hour, cannot ourselves even show that P, let alone that P is true, or that “P is true” is true. The world will little note, nor long remember, the pursuit of the meaning and implications of “P is true,” but it can never forget that we follow Best Practices in our job-interviewing, and that we no longer smoke at the Smoker.
It is for us, the philosophical living dead, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who have belonged to the APA have thus far so nobly advanced.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored philosophical dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–
that we here highly resolve that the pursuit of the meaning and implications of “P is true”, Best Practices, and no smoking at the Smoker, will be iterated forever–
that this Association, still under Capital but now under Big Science and the Military-Industrial Complex too, shall have a new birth of Best Practices and no drinking as well as no smoking at the Smoker,
hence no new Socrates at the Smoker, or belonging to this Association, forever,
and a new birth of method, showing that P, by P, of P, and for P, shall not perish from the earth.
Thank you Klaatu. Thank you Gort. Thank you Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Thank you Abe. Thank you V.
Thank you Socrates, for everything.
Thank you professional academic philosophers, and the APA, for less than nothing.