Another “What Is It Like”

Feminist Philosophers’ sister blogs What Is It Like to Be A Woman in Philosophy and This is What a Philosopher Looks Like are the latest targets of a fauxphilnews parody. The spoof site reports that another marginalized group of philosophers, zombies, have created their own “What Is It Like” blog to educate readers about obstacles faced by zombie philosophers.


“I think the expansion from women to other marginalized groups is the natural next step,” says Noam Chompsky, the site’s unfortunately named creator. “Zombies typically rank somewhere between pedophiles and atheists in terms of the general level of distrust among the public, and I think some of that distrust finds its way into the discipline.”

But are there good news stories for zombie philosophers? Can we look forward to a What We’re Doing About What It’s Like to Be a Zombie in Philosophy blog?

11 thoughts on “Another “What Is It Like”

  1. The issue is that women and philosopher’s exist, whilst zombies are a hypothesis, and so the site would appear to be latching a hypothesis onto a real wagon, in title at least. Degrading something else for trivial publicity.

  2. Actually, as the person who runs What is it Like, I have to say that I find the parody very funny, and I’m not at all offended by it.

  3. Not sure why, but I don’t think it trivialises. I worried that it would, before I clicked. I think it’s because all the jokes are clearly jokes about zombies, and the use of zombies in philosophy– that’s the target of the humour, it seems to me, rather than genuine under-represented groups. But I can see how one might read it differently.

  4. I was initially of two minds about the spoof, but I ultimately decided that it’s a form of homage. fauxphilnews pillories lots of established philosophical conventions and norms and various of the discipline’s sacred cows. On reflection, I think it’s kind of great that the blogger sees What is It Like as warranting similar treatment. I think it would be more worrisome if fauxphilnews didn’t attend to what’s going on in the feminist regions of the philosophical world.

    Besides, Noam Chompsky? C’mon, that’s hilarious!

  5. I’m with Jender. I think it’s hilarious! Insofar as I can, of course – as a feminist I have no actual sense of humor.

  6. Then its a lock. I’m a bit conservative about hanging on to core meanings that can get lost in popularizations, as I tend to get lost too when learning new things.

  7. This line in particular was good:

    “Things are usually fine,” reads another post, “except if I say something careless. I’ve learned never to tell a colleague I want to pick his brain, or mention that I had a friend over for dinner the other night.”

  8. On the one hand, I thought it was cool that they used a women to say “This is what a philosopher looks like” and gave a shout out to the actual blogs. Also, the ”I hear my colleagues talking about whether there can be philosophical zombies” line is pretty funny.

    But on the other hand, I wish they had used the remarks about zombies to point out some of the fallacies and unfairness targeted at women and other marginalized groups in philosophy. (That’s what I think makes the really good Onion articles and other parodies so brilliant.) As I read through it, I found myself thinking, “It kind of sucks that someone who thinks the What It’s Like blog is a big, unnecessary joke can probably read this and think fauxphilnews is partially agreeing with them.”

    So at the end of the day, while I don’t think the parody goes so far itself as to trivialize the What It’s Like blog, it does bother me that someone who really does want to trivialize the need for better representation of women in philosophy could read this parody and think it is backing them up (and not irrationally so). Since that attitude that the recent focus on women in philosophy is unnecessary and overly PC is problematically not so uncommon, I wish the parody had used a sentence or two to shut down that possible interpretation that they might think the What It’s Like blog is a little silly.

    And lastly, there is probably something to be said about the context of Faux Phil News. If they normally spoof things that are clearly legitimate things in philosophy, then my worry above might not be so great. But if they normally poke fun at things that they think need to be knocked off their pedestal of uncritical worship, that would make me more worried and sketched out.

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