The year was 1986, location, USC, at an auditorium with a gaggle of philosophers, at a philosophy (or as Richard Feynman would say, "Valazafee") symposium. At this point in my academic life, I already had one foot out the moss-encrusted door of speculative philosophy, and it was this occasion that propelled me out, completely.
I sat in on one lecture, entitled "Hegel and the death of god." Alright, so-so, but I was tired of that shit already. Lecture number two: and this one took the cake. An upstanding looking young chap with glasses got up on stage, stood in front of the podium, and introduced his lecture, which was based on his research entitled "Fichte on Kant"; and driveling off he went.
I had already been contemplating the relevance of studying Plato and Aristotle in graduate philosophy classes, and had already decided that speculative philosophy was medieval scholasticism all over again, an egomaniacal circle-jerk of hacks putting different spins on cobweb-ridden arcana. They all preached to the choir of tenure-hunting ivory-tower twits and intellectual masturbators, behind locked institutional doors, paying homage to their inflated Egos and so-called Giants of the days of yore, on whose shoulders they stood.
Fichte on Kant, indeed. I pondered for a while. What does that mean? It means this, I thought, that here's this Poindexter pontificating about Fichte on Kant, which means that we're getting his take on Fichte's take on Kant. And some day, his academic acolyte would rise to the eventual occasion of Poindexter on Fichte on Kant, and so on it would go, an Ego-chain succession of intellectual one-upsmanships ad absurdum.
I rose from my seat while he droned on, turned away, and headed for the door, out of the dusty stuffiness of the pencil-pushing mausoleum and into the brilliant SoCal sunlight. I caught my breath, and came to the resolution that I was going to slam the doors of speculative philosophy shut. Hard.
(this post is dedicated to my deep-thinking friend James Henry, on occasion of his 40th birthday)