I Can Reason My Way Into Anything: I’m a Philosophy Major

So, you’re just . . . going against all logic and the weather? . . . . I’m sure you could justify it; you’re a philosophy major.

My friend made the above comment to me my senior year in college. It was November in Bryn Mawr, and I was refusing to wear more than a hoodie. As far as I was concerned, if I didn’t wear a coat, it would somehow not yet be winter — mind over matter, right? So I was adamantly opposed to wearing a coat (for a little while longer, anyway).

It was amusing at the time, but there’s some truth to the idea that I can argue my way to pretty much any point I decide (granted, it may not be a very strong argument, but it will be an argument nonetheless). If I thought hard enough, I could probably try to defend the position that snow comes up (just like the flowers, à la “Little Known Facts” from You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown). Okay, so, I probably couldn’t argue that snow comes up (instead of falling down), but I could argue as to why people might be believe that it comes up. It’s a little hard to work against scientific fact (much easier when there’s at least a little bit of truth or some ambiguity to the situation or when I can use varying definitions of a word).

I could make a case that I’m a man, or a woman, gay or straight or bisexual (as much as I don’t agree with the word) — it wouldn’t change how I identify, but I could do it (just for kicks . . . or to make someone uncomfortable). I could even argue that I’m not 23 (try 24 — I’m heard they count age differently in Korea).

I could argue that I moved to Chicago anywhere between May and August. I could argue that I never moved to Chicago (that I have, in fact, lived in Minnesota since I arrived in the U.S.). My argument wouldn’t change the facts, of course, but I bet I could construct a fairly convincing argument. I could even try to argue that I am still somehow from/in Chicago — I’m still registered to vote in Chicago, and my doctor’s in Chicago, and I still have a Chicago public library card and a CTA card, and that should count for something, right? That would be a little ridiculous, though, because if I were actually in Chicago, pretty much nothing would have kept me from being with TJLP, or being at the GqC meeting last Wednesday (or the previous three Wednesdays), or going to that panel at Howard Brown last week, or going to the GqC Open Mic or any number of other things. So that would be a weak kind of argument, but I suppose it could be made.

I think the key words in all of this are “reason” and “argue.” While I generally think up some kind of argument for most anything, it doesn’t do anything to change how I feel. And so, it never lasts very long when I try to trick myself, in a way, into dealing with something using a superficial argument I’ve created.

I tell myself to be okay with how long everything is taking transitioning because I can’t make it happen now, and there’s no point in distressing myself over something I can’t change. I construct arguments for why Minnesota is the smart place for me to be now. I decide that it doesn’t matter how people who don’t know me gender me because they don’t matter. And logically, it all makes the sense.

The problem is that emotions don’t listen to logic. And if I stop concentrating on what is sensible — if I allow myself to just feel or even think about it without that specific focus on what is reasonable — I realize that how I feel about any of that hasn’t changed. And so I spend much of my time trying (and mostly failing) to avoid thinking about all of the things I can’t change.

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