Philosophize Hard

by Dish Staff

Tom Hawking is “100 percent serious” about acknowledging Andrew W.K. (of “Party Hard” fame) as a philosopher for our times. He cites W.K.’s recent response to a reader of his Village Voice advice column who asked him why he’s so obsessed with “partying”:

In his answer to the question, Andrew W.K. took the opportunity to set out his views on life: “I take joy very seriously, and partying is the formal pursuit of celebration itself.” He argues that expression of joy is fundamental to our nature: “Believing that joy is wrong is the most violent disrespect to our inherent nature as loving, pleasure seeking creatures. Let us elevate ourselves and embrace our highest and mightiest capacity for happiness.” And, ultimately, he suggests that it’s from this that one can derive some sort of meaning for existence: “This life is our chance to unleash as much joy onto the world as we can.” Y’know what that is? That’s philosophy.

He evaluates W.K. as a “secular humanist”:

His idea of partying recalls the pleasure principle one of the very earliest humanists, Epicurus (although, in fairness, Epicureanism would probably frown on partying ’til you puke). There’s also a healthy dose of existentialism in there: when he asks “What’s all the rest of this madness for otherwise?”, he’s confronting the concept of the absurd, and in suggesting that the meaning we derive from our lives is “to remain at play and in awe, not to mock the severity of our collective plight, but to truly stay engaged in the bewildering and ferocious grandeur of this adventure we’re on together,” he’s come up with a strategy that sounds a lot more fun than embracing Kierkegaard’s answer (religious faith, basically) or resigning yourself to pushing a Sisyphean rock up a hill for all eternity. … [T]he point is that Andrew W.K. is addressing very similar questions to those that get addressed in philosophy departments around the world every day — and he’s doing so for a much larger audience (including, by the way, that of the student union at Oxford University, where he gave a talk titled “The Philosophy of Partying” a couple of months back.)