Reading House MD and Philosophy [Part 1]

I’ve been meaning to read House and Philosophy for over a year now, but kept putting the book aside after chapter one for this reason and that. I love House MD and I love philosophy, so what is my problem? Sigmund Freud, analyze this (speaking of which, House and Psychology is on my to-do list as well). As the year comes to an end, I am genuinely making an effort to finally finish the book. And seriously, it’s not even that long! From now on I will post my notes as I am reading the essays and learning more philosophical theory. This post will deal with the first two articles in the book: House and the Meaning of Life, and House and Sartre. So far I have a pretty good impression about the book and its style. House and Philosophy is not meant for hardcore experts and deep conversationalists. Instead it appeals to people like me: absolute amateurs with a soft spot for pop culture and a strange sense of humor (and a little bit of nerd, yes). It explains some basic theories and introduces well-known thinkers by associating them with great examples from the show. I took Philosophy 101 back in university and I found my professor incredibly dry and boring. Reading this book made me wish she used a method like this as a supplement for our studies.

House and the Meaning of Life (major points)

  1.   How can House, who thinks life is meaningless, lead a meaningful life?
  2.   Fulfilling God’s plan makes life meaningful. Doing good deeds is following God’s plan. Therefore, a person like House (who saves people for a living) can lead a meaningful life without realizing it.
  3.   House does not believe in God due to lack of reason and proof. If there is no God, are good deeds meaningless?
  4.   Plato’s dialogue Euthyphro:
    • What makes God’s plan meaningful? Is it meaningful because it’s God’s plan or does God plan it because it is meaningful?
    •  If it is former, then this plan is ARBITRARY. Thus something else besides God makes it meaningful.
    •  Thus, meaning of our lives has nothing to do with God. This statement agrees with House.
  5. On Eternity:
    • Believer: If there is afterlife, then life is meaningful because it leads somewhere
    • House: If there is eternity, then life is irrelevant. Only actions of now matter.
    • Believer: If there is no eternity, then actions are irrelevant, because there are no ultimate consequences.
  6. Socrates’ Examined Life is one in which you seek the truth. You are not afraid to ask questions.
  7. Aristotle’s “Man is rational animal”: Humans alone have capacity for reason. Reason drives House when he diagnoses a difficult disease, thus he leads a good life as a human being. What is good life? Aristotle says that good is defined by a thing’s proper function. Humanity’s proper function is for our rational part to control the irrational

House and Sartre: Hell is Other People (major points)

  1. Jean-Paul Sartre was an existentialist, who believed that interpersonal relationships are sources of conflict and concern, but are essential to us as social beings.
  2. Reasons for Sartre’s conflict theory:
    • Others represent potential obstacles to our freedom (competition for resources)
    • Others objectify us. People identify with their minds more than their bodies. Therefore, others, unable to experience our minds tend to objectify us based on our looks.
    • Others rob the individual of their sense of primacy and control, as others do not necessarily do what we want.
  3. Others play an integral role in developing of our selves. We obtain the sense of self initially through the assimilations of objective characterizations supplied by others.

I liked the first essay a bit more than the other one, I have to admit. Somehow the author managed to integrate the television show much better into the theory presented. On the other hand, Sartre’s philosophy, while lacking substantial connection with the show, is written in much greater detail, thus offering a nice overview of a complicated thought process. Was it somewhat dryer? Maybe, but the essay really made me want to check out Sartre’s play No Exit, where he illustrates his concept by placing his protagonist in a closed room with two other characters. However, these are all my notes for today. Up next we should see some Nietzsche.

2 comments

  1. […] Luck theory respectively. If you’d rather check out my notes on the first two essays, head over here. Otherwise, continue on. I tend to make brief notes that remind me of specific ideas, which might […]

  2. […] installment of my brief notes on House and Philosophy. You can also read Part 1 and Part 2, if you’d like. This time the essays try to correlate House to a broader concept, […]

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