Philosophy and Guitar Equipment: The Tower of Babel

xThis isn’t about what you might think it is about.

I am going to attempt to speak to the problem of philosophy as it arises currently. This is to say, the problem of philosophy.

The problem with philosophy nowadays, if it was ever really any different, is that to say that we are now going to speak philosophically, or we are going to talk about philosophy, is no different than if I was going to say that now I am going to talk about guitar equipment.

What I mean by this is that to say that I am having a philosophical discussion gets no further as to its topic and content, then a discussion about What brand of guitar I use, how I like my frets spaced, or what Amplifiers I prefer and which are better.

The modern problem of philosophy is that it thinks, or it implies in contemplating or otherwise accessing philosophical material, that it is speaking about anything else that is not philosophical.

The analogy would be to guitar equipment Is so much as I might be talking about Ibanez guitars, the various electronic components that go into it, the artisans that made the particular guitars, the country in which they were manufactured, the pick ups used, the string gauges, I assume that I’m talking about, say, the politics in Western Europe, or my girlfriends decision making ability around getting a tattoo, or what it means to be an American, or what it is to exist in the universe. Discussions about philosophy are only speaking about philosophy In the same way that discussions about guitar equipment are only talking about guitar equipment.

I am fairly positive that many people who will be reading this post right now will think it’s a ridiculous comparison. But I say it is a valid analogy, and that philosophy, philosophical discussions, themselves get no further than philosophy. They do not even come close to addressing the water in the stream that is flowing along side along side the path upon which I am walking my dog. The various components existence, the actuality of, perhaps me being frustrated at the limits of my empowerment, philosophy never speaks to them or of them one iota. For, philosophy is only talking about philosophy in the same way that a discussion about guitar equipment is only talking about guitar equipment.

The problem with modern philosophy is that there is a particular kind of thinking, a particular manner or orientation upon what is occurring in philosophy which sees it self as addressing some thing more than philosophy itself, say, that it is addressing existence.

And if you’re still following this and you’re just seeing how much more ridiculous this post is, then I will draw your attention to philosophy itself, what actually happens in the “philosophical Arena”.


Consider the following:

Is there something called ‘philosophy’?

Well, as I begin to contemplate what philosophy is, as I perhaps attempt to do some research into what other people say philosophy is, I invariably find that there are different little pockets, different “schools”, various academic fields. I find that as I come to some sort of opinion about what philosophy may be and I begin to write about it or talk about it, I invariably find that only a small group of people or even care about what the hell that I’m saying. And the small group of people will call them selves by some sort of name, for example “continental” Philosophy, or “analytical” philosophy, feminist, existential, idealistic or idealism, patchwork, realism, materialism, deist, Muslim, empiricism, scientism… I bet I could write a post that is so filled with types Of philosophy, just listing the names, that you would stop reading before You ever got done with the list. Never mind if I would ask each of these names of schools what they thought philosophy was. 

So on one hand, there is no such thing as philosophy. There is just this word that we use to categorize what is basically nothing at all. It’s not even proper to say that they are different ways of thinking about things, because as soon as I say that, then there’s gonna be some other school of philosophy that would say no that is not the case, and amongst those no’s there would be an infinite amount of other ideas about why it is not the case, as those would divide up into an innumerable amount of sects and denominations all of which consider themselves philosophy and have deep and profound ideas about what philosophy is.

And some people still ask me why or how I could possibly suggest that philosophy is a religion.

You can Google the paper that was taken by the convention in Toronto a few years ago: Philosophy religion and negation, I think that’s what I called it. i’m sure I got a link to it somewhere in my blog.

But I’m not making an argument here about what philosophy is or what it is not or whether it exists or whether it doesn’t exist. Because then I would just be involved in an exercise of ridiculousness. sometimes I just go ahead with the ridiculousness because, hell, we got to do something, eh?

…but In fact I find myself right in the middle of the problem of modern philosophy.


However, I think my analogy is not philosophical in the slightest sense. I think it is absolutely true and real. When do I ever encounter discourse, say, while I’m walking my dog?

My answer: only when I start to think about how discourse might be occurring while I’m walking my dog. In a way of speaking, there is no extension to discourse. What I mean by this is that there is no fundamental “discourse” that underlies me holding my iPhone, pushing the voice recording button, me speaking, and the computer algorithm printing various symbols, let alone the Internet world of code and electricity that is upholding this performance, for another word. Similarly, there is no “data” which underlies any of this situation. In fact, I could even go so far as to say there is nothing underneath at all, and even as I might argue along a certain line of extension, ultimately we find that the end of that Telos nothing at all. Not even contradiction, but exactly a reasoning which finds itself in nothing.


My analogy to guitar equipment holds. For I could have just as much a meaningful conversation filled with substance and existential depth in speaking about and having a discussion with someone about whether a Vox tube amplifier sounds better or is a better quality than say a fender solid state. I could have months long conversations of idealistic substance and meaningful profoundness around whether a 64 Stratocaster is a better guitar for playing blues then a Japanese 1980s Gretsch. Whether or not an MXR equalizer is better than a boutique equalizer made by say, Earthquaker pedals.


The issue that is not that philosophy has no substance, but what is assumed of substance, what is assumed as common, and so much as we indeed a rise in the modern context, is not getting anywhere further than the tip of its nose or the momentary irruption of sound waves in the air.

Sure, it’s real. I deal with it every day, so do you, all over the place, and a myriad of discussions about all sorts of topics.

Yet, the
Significance of this moment is not found in eternal relativity.

Indeed people still have discussions about philosophy as though they’re finding some profound truths, as if they’re discussing something with supreme depth and significance. this happens. It’s happening in all of those sub discourses, all of those various threads that are talking about which TickTock videos are the funniest, which punk rock band sounds more authentically punk rock, which pop music star has the best moves.

These discussions are not wrong or bad, but in so much as philosophy crowns itself as the king or queen of all possible discussions of significance, thereby does it miss what is actually occurring philosophically.

This is the problem of modern philosophy: there is only modern philosophy, and that any other philosophy which has a supporting describing adjective Attached to it, such as pre-modern, postmodern, mideval, ancient, ultimately arises only in the modern context, Which is to say, only in as much as people are talking about it at the time that they are talking about it yet while they believe they are talking about something which is extends to it or from it, and it is much as we are able to notice this situation. As well, Only in as much as someone tells me that it is saying anything about my life, the world or the universe, for indeed never is it encountered in my daily activity except when it comes up. There is nothing underneath, and hence what we call modern ideology, or in another way, the philosophical religion. 

Any position which poses to escape this modern world is ultimately using modern techniques in order to posit that there is some thing else that is knowable which is not modern. and this is to say that the view or orientation upon things which understands The various modes of discourse, that is, thought, idea, communication, knowledge, just to name a few, which imply or otherwise understand it’s self with reference to the implied extension is really a line of flight, a revolt from the abyss, or what we must call in all honesty now: a denial of the truth of the matter at hand.  or, what we should also understand as a reaction against an implicit offense to the way of Being by which we regularly understand and conceptualize existence, ourselves, the world, and the universe. 

This significance of philosophy I think is best summarized by Heidegger’s eternal question which resonates even to this day, into this post right here: have we yet begun to think? 


On one hand, there is the content semantic which evidences a telos which is never fulfilled, the Lacan- psychoanalytical “master signifier”, or, the vanishing mediator, the “great catastrophe”, which informs the meaningful sense of the universe as it should be.

…and then there is…some thing else…which speaks of the universe as it is.

Author: landzek

My name is Lance Kair, a philosopher, a counselor and a musician who is being questioned.

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