exposition on the paradox of philites

Jackson, I stole your phrase "convenient fiction" from Facebook.  I liked it, and I hope you don't mind.


Matthew Daniels

There is a curious force behind the Philites which one can only know once one associates long enough and close enough to that group. A race of would-be intellects, seeded with the forlorn philosophies of a more cynical age, the Philites are to be found in most corners of the developed world.  They are oftentimes sad, in pain, or in a state of distress, oftentimes of their own choosing.  This is the paradox of the Philites; they submit themselves to these states of what we foreigners can only surmise to be the manifestations of awkward philosophies of life, from which happiness will bloom at some time and location to be announced at a later date.

Why does the Philite do what he does?  Why does he shun reason?  Why does he profess stupidity at every turn, but continue to act in the manner with which he claims to clearly see the fault?  And why is that anger blinds him so much more quickly than his fellows?
This may be a task more suited for the psychologist than the philosopher, but we shall take a stab at it nonetheless.  What follows is what we hypothesize and investigate.

The Philites are a weak-minded group; not necessarily in the realm of intellect, but it is clear that the survival of their mental state depends on social confirmation.  This is odd, indeed, since each and every Philite will undeniably claim to be a unique individual, and that this individuality is indeed the highest trophy of their being.  Those of us on the outside looking in, of course, can clearly see how false this is.  I do not argue that each and every person is not unique - it is my belief that each soul is built with a bit of a craftsman's touch, and that the slightest details can make a person a special character unlike any other.  But I do argue that in a quest for individuality (which we may all face at some point or another), the Philites take the easy way out - they conform to a culture whose members claim not to conform.  It is a prebuilt package for freedom; a cookie-cutter philosophy for those rushing to establish with the world that they are, in fact, individuals.  The Philite culture is a convenient fiction of rebellion and contempt for society, fabricated and delivered to those not ready to pursue their own dreams.

The adoption of Philite culture is not unlike subscribing to some magazines.  The middle aged man who has always wanted a sailboat, but is too nervous to pay for one or to sail one, may just subscribe to a sailing magazine to satiate his own fictions. The widow who no longer tends her garden may nonetheless subscribe to Better Homes and Gardens, if only to remember what her garden was like and fantasize about the new flowers she might - but will probably not - plant in the spring.

In the same way that the woman hides in the colorful pages of Better Homes and Gardens instead of tending to her own garden, thirsty for attention, the Philite hides beneath the mask of a synthetic freedom as his life and its opportunities shrivel up.  He may adopt habits that accent this lifestyle, as well - he is oftentimes a smoker or drinker trying to relieve the "pain" of life which his culture seems to pursue so vigorously.

The practicing Philite will loyally argue that this is all false.  He will likely maintain that all the choices he made were unbiased and simply the manifestation of his own being. In particular, he is quite certain that no Philite representative knocked on his door one day with a membership form.

But of course, a representatives have been knocking on his door for years.  These representatives are the music, movies, and other cultural pressures which together are the identity of the Philite way.


To be proofread, edited with a hatchet, edited with a scalpel, and concluded...