I'd like to write a history of philosophy with the organizing thematic component being what philosophers have said about tables.
Russell's discussion about the table in his Cambridge office in The Problems of Philosophy contrasts beautifully with Heidegger's discussion about the table in his home in the lecture series: Ontology: The Hermeneutics of Facticity (which then evolved in History of the Concept of Time and then into the canonical hammer discussion in Being and Time). This contrast alone handles the problem of the external world as well as a decent amount of Dreyfusiana philosophy of mind.
This would only work if Plato talked about tables. Did the ancient Greeks even have tables, or did they just eat off of their bellies like otters?
411 and 404 B.C.E.- Students of Socrates set about demonstrating their teacher's
key claim that the study of philosophy makes one more ethical. First, they destroy religious statues and help the Spartans defeat their own city state of Athens, and then they institute murderous reigns of blood upon the struggling democracy. This is all topped off by establishing violently class-based dictatorships. Sadly,
both dictatorships were short-lived in Athens, and it would be over two
millenniums before the philosopher king (and student of Plato and
Rousseau) Pol Pot was able to finally achieve a lasting society based
on Socratic principles.
330 B.C.E.- Aristotle goes to Syracuse, I mean Macedonia. His student, the not yet great Alexander, would go on to wipe up the floor with Socrates' and Plato's students. While defeating the known world, Alexander funds Aristotle's Lyceum, the first philosophical school combining Platonistic a priori speculations with detailed empirical observations. The new Aristotelian scientific methods yield fascinating new data for philosopher/scientists down through the ages to consider, such as Aristotle's discoveries that slaves and women lack souls, women have a different number of teeth than men, the primary function of the brain is to cool blood, and that mice spontaneously generate.
49-62 C.E.- Seneca the Younger pens several successful works of stoic philosophy demonstrating that happiness only arises as a result of a long regime of self-restraint, humility, discipline, and respect for others. Throughout this period, the Young Emperor Nero is such an avid student that Seneca becomes his principle adviser, in the process transitioning from endoo- to enthusiastic ecto-morph, bedding countless married women, and amassing three hundred million sesterces in four years.
525 C.E.- Boethius
delivers his last words to Lady Philosophy, "You mean you can't help me
out here? Is that what you're saying? After all we've been through,
I'm actually on my own with this thing? No. Come on. You really can't
do anything? I'm just trying to get clear on this one point, I mean. .
. OH JESUS, THAT HURTS!" This passage is inexplicably missing from
later editions of the Consolation.
1119 C.E.- Dude! That one guy Abelard?
Like these other dudes totally chopped off his family jewels in a fight
over this one totally hot chick. Dude, I s*** you not, my man's all
bleeding and limping around and he goes off to become a monk, but not
the kung-fu kind. They named some tuna after him? Hey man, you want
to go get high?
1626 C.E.- After an afternoon putting his empirical philosophy into action by seeing what happens when you stuff snow into a dead chicken's butt, Francis Bacon catches fatal pneumonia. As a result of his untimely death, the fortunes of radical empiricism enter a three hundred year period of decline, only to be revived by W.V.O. Quine's meticulous observation of the behavior of his two first-born in their new and improved Skinner box (the newer one not only had the floors wired for direct current, but also contained a bar they depressed with their nose for food pellets).
1784 C.E.- Immanuel Kant
extracts brutal revenge upon the noisy church choir down the street by
using their noon-day practice as an example of a violation of the
categorical imperative. In Kant's fevered imagination, this was to
lead the choirmaster to say, "Uncle! Uncle!" Alas, it is not to be.
1840 C.E.- Arthur Schopenhauer, the first great Wester philosopher to defend Hindu ideas concerning the renunciation of the will, closes his journal and smiles after penning the now immortal words, "Obit anus, abit onus." Unlike the noisy choir that had tormented his philosophical hero Kant, Caroline Marquet never makes an appearance in Schopenhauer's philosophical writings.
1889 C.E.- Friedrich Nietzsche
begins to hoard feces in a bedroom drawer. His long suffering and
devoted sister Elizabeth explains for the tenth time that he's supposed
to be staring into the void, not doing this, this thing that he's doing. But her protestations are to no avail.
1931 C.E.- In a whirlwind tour of Europe, W.V.O. Quine lunches with Rudolph Carnap, who from the Aufbau onwards explicitly argued that
the unit of meaning was the language as a whole. They discuss fellow "young turk" A.J. Ayer (who in Language,
Truth, and Logic argued for a holistic form of verificationism that allowed
one to hold true any proposition come what may). After returning to the United States Quine
pens his revolutionary anti-positivist tract, “Two Dogmas of Empiricism.”
Philosophy is never the same!
1935 C.E.- After going bankrupt from running an ill-conceived boarding school with his now completely estranged second wife, Bertrand Russell recoups his losses by penning several best selling books telling other people how to live their lives.
1942 C.E.- After his heretofore beloved Granny refuses him a third helping of cookies and chocolate milk, Jerry Fodor vows dark revenge not just against her, but on a generation of readers as well.
1952 C.E.- After he had saved his home country and the entire free world by decrypting the German's Enigma Code and had also moved British science to the forefront of the world by developing the first digital computer, the government of Great Britain shows its gratitude by imprisoning Alan Turing for "acts of gross indecency" and then forcing him to take massive amounts of hormones to "cure" his homosexuality.
Turing's treatment had the result not only of robbing the world of one of her greatest minds when he took his life, but also raised a lively debate in historical scholarship. How could a country ruled by such idiots possibly have managed to to keep an Empire that long?
1957 C.E.- In a public interview Martin Heidegger shamefully refuses to say
that in retrospect “Arbeit Macht Frei” was a poor choice for the original opening epigraph of Sein Und Zeit. Supporters and detractors continue to debate its appropriateness.
1966 C.E.- It is the case that the automobile fast approaching down the streets of Blaricum hits L.E.J. Brouwer, or it is not the case that the automobile fast approaching down the streets of Blaricum hits L.E.J. Brouwer.
1994 C.E.- Insert (huh-huh-huh, he said "insert") joke involving Saul Kripke, rigid designation, and Princeton co-eds. Maybe use the word "detumescent." Oh man that's a funny adjective.
circa 1995 C.E.- Jet lag and low blood sugar
from forgoing desert on the flight back from Australia combine with
the aftereffects of childhood dyslexia to lead David Lewis
to misread Hamlet's retort to Horatio as "There are more things
dreamed of in your philosophy than in Heaven and Earth." He drops his
Shakespeare, leans over a tattered, much abused copy of "On the
Plurality of Worlds," and can't quite bring himself to pick it up. [note: this entry plagiarizes Aidan McGlynn.]
2002 C.E.- All promotional material for Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Kofman's film Derrida (about the eponymous "deconstructionist") contains the following tag line. "The world never got to watch great minds such as Plato and Socrates in
action, but thanks to modern technology, this film captures one of the
brilliant thinkers of the 20th century." The silence you hear now is the sound of a million T.V. babies failing to think, "but wait! I thought Plato and Socrates were against sophists. And they weren't a-hole prima donna American English Department celebrities who abused the non-sycophantic. And didn't they have more than fifteen minutes of fame?"
(1) He's an accountant. She's a personal assistant in the fast paced world of D-List Hollywood stars. Can this marriage be saved? At the end of the movie we find out they are both ghosts.
(2) A new plague destroys all biological life on earth. In a couple of trillion years space aliens discover earth, and all that's left is a scratched 45 recording of the Ramone's "Beat the Brat." Since the aliens only use advanced C.D. playing technology, they stare at the record (through the multi-sectioned "eyes" at the end of their hand-stalk appendages) uncomprehendingly.
(3) A tribe of herdsman violently conquer an agrarian society, but in the end are themselves assimilated. Their religious books mythologize this takeover. They discover technology and end up providing good quality and relatively painless dental care to everyone, even their pets. But at the end of the movie we find out they are all ghosts.
(4) In a clever remake of "Look Who's Coming to Dinner," a colony of staid (and relatively well-off) intestinal bacteria have to cope with the arrival of cryptosporidium. The large intestine will never be the same!
(5) Two dogs meet in a Sam's Warehouse and have lovable adventures at night. One night there is a fire and the dogs give their lives trying to help the illegal immigrants cleaning the store escape. Unfortunately, the manager of the Warehouse routinely violated fire-code and as a result everyone dies in a fiery inferno, but through the dogs' heroic actions, the store is saved. At some point in the movie, the dogs will befriend a child. At the very end of the film the store manager and the befriended lovable scamp go to a puppy mill and get two more dogs that can (with the new batch of illegals) have the run of the store at night.
(6) Robot space-aliens invade earth. In the end it turns out, they are all ghosts.
(1) That weird ("oh my God you guys it was so real") dream you had. (2) Personal triumphs from high school or college. (3) Intimate details (of any nature). (4) Your views on politics, religion, sports, celebrities, automobiles, vegetarianism, or the weather we've been having. (5) Job related minutiae. (6) How members of your family get along with each other or you. (7) Supposedly wacky entailments of modern physics. (8) Whatever it was that caused you to say "F*** 'em if they can't take a joke" that one day. (9) How much better the last place in which you lived was than this place. (10) Why you dress like that. (11) The television shows and movies you watch. (12) The music you listen to. (13) All the misunderstanding. (14) Whose fault it really is. (15) What you really think. (16) The story behind why you can tell if the weather is going to change because of that strange feeling in your thumb. (17) Your hobbies. (18) Medical advances related to hypertension. (19) Your boring succession of hairstyles. (20) How much you need that first cup a joe in the morning.
(1) Superbigcrunch- The cereal is so heavy that when you pour it into the bowl the gravitational force causes the universe to collapse.
(2) Captain Heat Death- This cereal has so much sugar in it that kids start to literally bounce around the room. They do this at greater and greater velocity until the rate of acceleration of the universe's expansion increases so much that everything decouples and reality burns itself out.
(3) Rapture Flakes- This cereal causes all the godly get sucked up to heaven and the rest to toil under the reign of the anti-christ for thousands of years until the known universe is finally destroyed.
(4) Squid Pops- Interdimensional squid-like creatures long ago banished from our reality use this cereal as a wormhole to destroy all that is known and unknown.
(5) Gravitios- Each kernel of cereal is a miniature black hole that implodes, destroying the universe, but in the process creating an infinity of different "baby universes," each one with its own characteristic breakfast food.
(1) Sally is a single mom and out of work nuclear engineer who goes on to learn many important life lessons in her new job as sanitation engineer (i.e. garbage man, get it?).
(2) The precancerous tumour on Fred's shoulder grows a head and tiny vestigal arms. The head just listlessly hangs to the side and sometimes hums "Coney Island Baby." Many important life lessons are learned.
(3) Dave's Mayan in-laws visit and end up staying. They bring their llamas. Everyone laughs and cries, and many important lessons are learned.
(4) Sam's Aztec in-laws visit, and through a series of wacky misunderstandings, end up taking Sam on the roof and removing his still beating heart with a cermonial blade. Each episode is both funny yet tear inducing, helping kids and adults negotiate our strange new multi-cultural world with verve and humor.
(5) Tom develops the supernatural ability to tell if people are being sarcastic. He uses this paranormal sense to help police solve crimes. This show is dark and pushes the boundaries.
(6) The Scientology cruise ship wrecks in an Island off of Madagascar. Much hilarity ensues, especially when the professor builds faulty e-meters out of coconuts and mistaken takes the stranded Japanese war veteran (who doesn't know the war is over) to be an operating 3 level thetan.
(7) A team of scientists heading to the South Pole mistakenly end up at the North Pole, and for the whole time they don't know what Pole they are on. Important life lessons about the power of self-esteem are learned, and the whole country ends up rooting for the scientists. In seaon two they end up in the rural Ukraine.
(8) A group of attractive people do various things. That one guy (the funniest one) ends up hooking up with that one hot chick (you know, the blond with the big chin, I think), and it causes stress among the friends. Then something almost bad happens and the real power of frienship is affirmed. While it is true that impending psycho-sexual holocaust is thus averted, a real holocaust is not, and all the friends get killed for their noble refusal to bow down to our new robot-alien overlords. We laugh and cry together, and important life lessons are learned.