Tuesday, April 15, 2008

what the hell??

I'm putting together a powerpoint for a talk I'm giving next week, and I needed images of a few philosophers. So to Google Image Search I turned. And amongst the results appeared the following:

Yeah. That is Immanuel Kant and a Ford Pinto. What? The image context doesn't help: a car-nut message board topic concerning the "Meanest Looking Car Ever in History". Is the Ford Pinto made more mean-looking by the presence of Kant's gigantic glowering head?

A bit of procrastinatory web searching turns up several plagiarism websites offering "The Ford Pinto and Kant's Categorical Imperative" essays. So here's my hypothesis: some business ethics textbook somewhere uses the Ford Pinto as a case study, and includes this image. (By the way - oh my goodness, do I hope to someday catch an ethics student turning in a plagiarized essay. Oh, I can't imagine what fun I'll have with such a student!)

Does anyone have any better theories about this image? I mean, I know that the Ford Pinto only acted from maxims that could be rationally willed universal, but there must be something more to it. Noumena?

Monday, April 7, 2008

no dandies please, we're american

Well, at least we know that Homeland Security has its priorities in order. If Osama bin Laden shows up in Newark wearing a top hat, he will not be permitted to enter the country!

Last month Sebastian Horsley, a British "dandy" attempting to promote his drugs-and-prostitutes memoir, was denied entry to the United States on grounds of "moral turpitude". Evidently his self-confessed past drug abuse disqualifies him from participation in the visa-less entry program between the United States and United Kingdom.

Or perhaps it's because he says things like this: "Add the platform shoes I sometimes wear, and I’m well over 7 feet tall. I figure most people are born to be talked down to.” (NYT)

Or maybe it's because he decided to commemorate the 2000th anniversary of Christ's death on the cross by travelling to the Philippines and having himself crucified - without anesthetic - and then posting the video on youtube.

Or, possibly, it's because when explaining the difference between himself and Oscar Wilde, he says, "Wilde was an aesthete. Unlike dandies, aesthetes care about food and wine. And they breed. The only place a dandy would push a pram is into the river." (globe and mail)

Whatever the reason, the entire thing is quite ridiculous. To me, he sounds like an irritatingly self-absorbed and useless person. (Which, so far as I can tell, is precisely how he wants to be perceived.) But this hardly seems a reason to deny him entry to the United States. Americans allow Silvio Berlusconi to come and go all the time!

Whatever you think of Horsley, you have to acknowledge the supreme Wildean wit in this, his declaration to Customs officials while being directed to his deportation flight: "I am the only thing of value in your country, and I am removing myself immediately!"