Friday, August 7, 2009

Philosopy Camp

Bonjour readers. Firstly, I want to apologise for my recent outbursts. It’s just, well, Roger. I hate him. He’s been clouding my judgement of late. So much so, in fact, that I tried to prove that he was a nonce by suggesting he'd made a pass at me. If truth be told, sometimes when I talk to my Mum, I forget how old I actually am.

Anyway, I wanted to get back to some proper Citizen Journalism. You may remember a few posts ago I reported on an atheist summer camp for kids where they’re indoctrinated by science and philosophy, instead of religion. I was wondering whether or not it would work and, on matters philosophical, there’s really only one person I can ask: Dave the Roofer.

Now I know we’ve had our differences; but philosophy isn’t about emotion, it’s about controlled intellectual thought, so I figured we’d be able to discuss it ok. It’s probably the single biggest disappointment of Dave’s life (not counting when Chelsea lost the Champions’ League on penalties ha ha ha ha ha ha, sorry Mess, I know it must still hurt) that he was unable to become a professional philosopher. He studied philosophy at York University back in the day, after York’s head of philosophy persuaded Dave’s parents that he had the potential to become one of the leading thinkers in the UK.

But when he graduated, as he puts it: “There weren’t no need for finkers, Baz. I was offering people foundations of thought, but what people needed was roofs. People always need roofs.” Still, Dave being Dave, he’s been philosophical about it. And roofing’s, well, it’s kept a roof over his head.

So I met up with Dave at his fave boozer, The Imperial on the King’s Road, and asked him what he thought about a summer camp where kids are taught philosophy.

“Well, Baz,” he said, “It’s a nice idea, but I ain’t sure I see it workin’ all that well, son. Say you’ve got a beefy nipper. Big lad, likes to get his own way. Throws his weight around and he’s pickin’ on one of the little nippers. So the camp leader goes up to him and says:

“Listen sunshine, you’re not allowed to bully kids here.”
“ Why should I stop. Why shouldn’t I bully him?” says the kid, so the camp guy says:
“Because it’s wrong.”
“Wrong in what sense?”
“In the moral sense.”
“But surely the concept of moral truth is nothing but a construct of religion; part of a web of manufactured beliefs designed to keep human beings in order.”
“Perhaps there’s an innate moral truth, though. Have you thought about that?” the councillor says.
“But if there’s an innate moral truth then why does it not apply to the animals?” the bully would ask. “Why are human beings any different? And if there is no such thing as a moral truth, and there can’t be because it would apply to all beings, then what the hell’s wrong with bullying, if it gives me pleasure?”

You see what I mean Baz?” said Dave. “Straight away you’re running into difficulties. So the bullying kid, right? He’d probably be backed up by the nippers bunking down in the Hedonist and Epicurean tent, whose job it would be for the duration of the camp to live life according to the credo that seeking pleasure is the highest pursuit in life. And imagine trying to control the nippers staying in that tent. Drink, drugs and underage sex all day long, and all night too. You’ve got to figure that tent would be bursting at the seams. I’m part Epicurean myself. On the cusp, actually.

“Now on the other hand, Baz my old son, the bully might find himself taken to task, chastised if you will, by the Utilitarians, whose tent would be given over to discussions around a system of ethics based on the greatest happiness for the largest number of people. Eventually, however, they’d come round to the idea that this just involved dragging their tent 20 yards over and pitching it next to the Hedonists, cracking open some tins and diving right in. You with me Baz?”

To be honest, readers, at this stage I was starting to lose interest. Dave can get a bit boring when he starts talking about philosophy. I prefer it when we discuss which Page 3 girls we like best. Dave used to have a calendar back in the day that had a different Page 3 girl for each month. He’d flick through it every day in his private moments and he used to boast that he was able to get all the way to September before nature took its course. I remember once him saying to me: “Shot me load at March this morning Baz. I must be nervous about something. Mind you, Maria Whittaker is fit as fuck.”

Anyway, I couldn’t get him off the subject of philosophy camp, so I supped my drink and continued to listen.

“So Baz, the kids are pissing it up like a bunch of sailors on shore leave. And the councillors are shitting house bricks.

“Stop this! Stop all this drinking,” the camp councillors start shouting.
“Why?” say the Idealist kids. “Don’t you know that there is no such thing as a 'physical' world which can exist without being observed, so actually we’re not drinking any 'real' beer. Indeed, if you look away from it, it will cease to exist. And we can carry on drinking it and it won’t matter to you at all.

“And the Idealists have got them councillors over a beer barrel, Baz. And what about the Sceptics? What’s the point in trying to teach those kids anything, after all, when they deny the possibility of acquiring any kind of knowledge whatsoever?

“You see Baz, I don’t think they’ve really thought this through. What they want is roofing camp. Speaking from experience, Baz, roofing camp will teach them something that’ll bring in the filthy lucre. Philosophy’s for wankers.”

I’m going to miss Dave, when he moves to Canada.

Peace out


(ps, that picture is Socrates. Not Dave the Roofer. Lol!! But it does look a bit like him, actually.(Dave the Roofer, not Socrates).)


  1. The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. - Socrates

    Philosophy is Life's dry-nurse, she can take care of us - but not suckle us. ~ Kierkegaard

    The only difference between philosophy and graffiti is the word "fuck" - A semi-retired school teacher

  2. Since I'm IN Canada I'd like to thank you in advance for sending us Dave, merely for the boost in our ratio of "thinkers" vs. "lumberjacks".

    He can probably get a calendar with a different moose for every month, here!

  3. Ol Dave does have a point though; people DO need roofs.

  4. Needed a roofer myself the other week (high winds in the Midlands - lost a few slates). Called this number I found in Yellow Pages. Two days later a bloody seagull was knocking on my door claiming to do roof repairs! Was about to send him packing when he produced his business card - turns out he was an Attic Tern.