Learn philosophy from James Franco


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/07/27/learn-philosophy-from-james-fr.html


If I wanted to listen to a self-indulgent, self-impressed man child babble pretentiously, I’d get another graduate degree.


Speaking philosophically: Does getting a graduate degree instill cynicism, or does it instead enhance the tendency in those already so inclined?




Philosophically speaking, if you hit on a 17 year old girl but there’s a chance you won’t hook up with her until she turns 18, have you done anything wrong?


The second video is hilarious. When Franco calls out her circular logic, she repeats her circular logic. “A person is only a person if another person wills her to be so.”

It all flows back to the historical use of the word: You might be biologically human, but unless you’re white/male/straight/old, you’re not a “person.”


Great on Franco to bring some philosophy to the forefront of his audience, but, like his first video on metaphor talks about: what’s the context?

Is it to drive curiosity to the subject? Why immediately to a philosophy of language question? Asking the question “What is the meaning of this [video, series, etc]” would be a good choice to start the series on, if one is seeking to instill a sense of examining life and thinking critically. It seems he doesn’t know or care who his audience is, as there is probably a better way to introduce philosophy and invigorate such attitudes.

The fact that he isn’t able to get Zizek or a representative of the EZLN, which I would argue has some of the sharpest political philosophy in the world, to speak with him for these seems strange, given his “star power.” This to me represents an endeavor that is probably just for the luls.

Responding to this article and writing in the BBS was inspired by the latest communique from our compañeroas, compañeras and compañeros of the Sixth:

Art, Resistance, & Rebellion on the Net


what’s not to look forward to about that!


philosophically speaking, there should probably be an age parameter assigned to the ‘you’ in this scenario.


@Headache is probably referring to this…


I see, this is my fault for not keeping up on the doings of James Franco.


Not sure if you’re being sincere or sarcastic. If sincere, then of course it’s not your fault. If sarcastic, then I was just trying to help. I had to google it too; it sounded like a specific reference, which is why I checked.


well I was sarcastic, but not towards you just towards James Franco.


No argument on the historical reality to that, unfortunately.

But since it’s a philosophical video, then I’d have to say that it’s a mistake to tie personhood to biological humanity at all. At minimum, I’d argue that it is analog rather then digital - that a human has more personhood than an ape which has more than… Otherwise you’d have to have some criterion to determine exactly which generation in our evolutionary history “counted.” It goes to zero somewhere before you get to something like a rock. Also, there’s not AFAIK good reason to suppose that such a scale has a maximum, or if it does, that modern humans are anywhere near it.

I’d also say that the logic isn’t necessarily circular so much as an infinite regress, like “common knowledge.” Minds are created already in motion, and recognizing one another is prior to self-awareness. Newborn babies will stare at faces and follow someone’s gaze and pay attention to mom’s voice yet still be startled when they mouth their own hands and feet.


totally agree…no context or explanation of what the issue is with metaphor and why philosophers are interested in it.
there is a general question – how can language convey meaning?
then there is a specific questions about meaning that are raised by metaphor – how can language used figuratively, rather than literally, have meaning and what does this tell us about meaning in general?


Could you share your source for this info (that he isn’t able to get Zizek or a representative of the EZLN)? That would surprise me, since zizek appears in so many places and contexts.

(And speaking of whom, this guy is pretty good –


If you’re interested in how these philosophy videos came about, you can read the backstory at Daily Nous - http://dailynous.com/2017/07/25/philosophy-time-james-franco-guest-post-eliot-michaelson/


Totally agree that it’s a mistake to tie personhood to biology. Biology is measurable, and personhood is a linguistic construct design to dehumanize those who look different.

As far as your non-binary suggestion, it’s not practical, as our legal system grants certain rights to “persons” and other rights to “citizens.” Historically, we’ve denied “personhood” to minorities, women, and the unborn. Rather than argue what’s a person and what’s not, let’s just agree that it’s stupid to talk about some ambiguous “personhood” requirement and just make laws based on whether or not someone is biologically human or not.


Our legal system does many things that, when examined too closely, make little sense but serve as decent approximations in practice, and sometimes the conditions that made them good approximations change decades or millennia later. Then it’s up to the legal system to catch up, which is always difficult and painful.

I thought this was a philosophical rather than legal discussion. The best available philosophical understanding is, or should be, what the legal system relies on as the ideal towards which its approximations point.

closed #20

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.