Everyone should have a philosopher in the family. Not necessarily one with a degree and limitless awards. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things. I actually like it that some people out there are still making a living writing scholarly books about philosophy. That even in this postmodern world we still need folk who do serious thinking.
And don’t even get me started on ethicists. Many people’s eyes glass over when a thorny question of ethics comes up, but not me. My ears perk up. The more unsolvable the better.
But back to my family’s philosopher. We don’t have one. Well, my Nana can swear like a sailor when she’s angry, but that’s not the sort of subtlety I’m thinking about.
My grandfather was a student of human behaviour, but he didn’t necessarily like to talk about it at length. One of his oft-used phrases was, ‘Only an idiot talks about politics or religion in polite company.’ I’m convinced the whole idea of blogging would irritate him immensely.
No, in our family I had to look elsewhere for a bit of philosophy. But I didn’t have to look far. My parents have a friend called Andy Finch, and he has theories and ideas on almost everything. Give Andy Finch a new topic and just a bit of time, and without fail, he’ll come up with a novel way of looking at it. Guaranteed.
Despite how well he contemplates issues under time pressure, Andy Finch‘s real gift is the handful of topics that he’s been able to chew on for years and years. And here’s one of his finest. If you think it’s too obvious, ponder it a bit more. It’s a gem.
Older people and younger people misunderstand one another in very profound ways. According to Andy Finch, one particular thing has been at work for a very long time. Generation after generation. I’ll start with how the older generations view the younger ones.
Nearly without fail, older people regularly believe that the whole of society is going in the toilet as a result of the way younger people are running things. It’s not that they believe everything that happened in their time was necessarily rosy. And they rarely have illusions that everything would be better if only they were still in charge. Nevertheless, they truly believe that everything around them is simply falling apart and often that it’s a direct result of poor management and/or lack of foresight.
Please don’t bring me exceptions. There are always exceptions. But think about the older folk you know. Isn’t this just the least bit accurate?
And what about the younger generation? What’s their misperception? According to Andy Finch it has to do with sex. What else, right?
His contention is that younger people always think their generation is the first to really enjoy sex. When they discover it for themselves, they just can’t believe that older people ever felt these emotions quite this vividly. Didn’t experience these sensations quite so dramatically.
Sure…there was procreation. It’s not as if the younger generation disputes the basics of biology or reproduction. But the actual enjoyment of having sex? It’s somehow inconceivable that anyone could’ve ever felt quite this good ever before. And yes, I chose the word inconceivable quite carefully. It’s appropriate on a few levels.