Philosophy and President Trump

Posted on 2 March 2016

You might assume that, as a philosopher and as someone with an interest in Islamic culture, I would view the prospect of a Donald Trump Presidency with great alarm. To the contrary! I think his election could bring many unforeseen benefits, philosophically speaking. Here are just a few.

1. Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason to get exciting rebrand as Trump Critique of Pure Reason.

2. Far easier to get undergraduate students to take Plato’s critique of democracy seriously. (*)

3. Principle of plenitude (“any genuine possibility, no matter how remote, will be realized eventually”) definitively proven true.

4. Principle of sufficient reason (“all events have a rationally explicable cause”) definitively proven false.

5. Many employment opportunities for young philosophers as established faculty flee the country.

6. Unlike one of his rivals Mr Trump has not, as far as we’re aware, compared philosophers unfavorably to welders.

7. Great new example to invoke in arguments over the Problem of Evil.

8. Kierkegaardians rejoice, since salvation attainable only through the absurd.

9. Whole new branch of Philosophy of Language needed to determine truth conditions of sentences uttered by President Trump (if any).

10. Future generations likely to plow money into time travel research in order to discover how to change the past.

(*) Update in Jan 2017: I have been teaching Plato's Republic this semester and it has indeed been a lot easier.

Thomas Gunter 2 March 2016


Big amused thumbs up.  But I suppose the comparison to "plumbers" remark as a variation on the actual unfortunate one that Rubio gave about "welders."


Eduardo 2 March 2016


Expect an increase of "democratic incursions" **wink wink** if Mr Trump gets elected. 

Lisa Hill 2 March 2016


Ha ha...

Seriously, America, the rest of the world is watching.  We are aghast that this man is winning 40% of hearts and minds.  It speaks of an electorate holding values that are deeply repugnant.  

If decent Americans don't get out of bed on polling day and vote that man into oblivion,  we will know what America stands for.



David Kotschessa 3 March 2016

In reply to by Lisa Hill


Hi Lisa.  I just want to point out that your 40% figure is not correct. 40% is the number of republican supporters, which we can generally regard as half the population.  It is painful to see a  "Hey, America" statement over something 20% of the popultion is doing.  (Yes, me from America and me do math).  :)  

I am willing to bet that 20% is a decent lower bound for the number of idiots in any country.   It just so happens our idiots have a wealthy representative who makes good TV ratings.  

The threats to a rational outcome are:

a) The alternatives aren't much better  and
b) party line voting.  

My main concern is (b), but I've seen a rise of some mythical hybrid creatures - republicans that are also somehow rational on some level, who have denounced trump as a non-viable and dangerous candidate.  I actually know people, mostly independents, who registered republican just so they could vote AGAINST Trump in the primaries.

If, logic forbid, Trump does win, well, remember that thing  a lot of Americans said about refugees?  Again, that was a small minority of people.  I didn't agree with them on that either.  So just keep that in mind as I flee the country in  a boat full of mathematicians and philosophers and perhaps a welder or two (somebody has to keep the boat together.)

-Dave K 

Stephen Grossman 19 April 2016

In reply to by Lisa Hill


> values that are deeply repugnant.  

Values are products of man's mind. Unlike oak trees and houses, values are not part of reality. Trump's values

are repugnant to people who value individual rights, ie, virtually nobody beyond the Enlightenment. 

Gary 3 March 2016


I don't really see anything wrong with Donald Trump. He's just an American that is tired the way the country been running.



I suppose that, being on this forum, you have some deeply complex and philosophical definition of "wrong" that I am not familiar with.  Apparently it does not involve racism, misogyny, not so subtly craving incestuous relationships with one's own daughter, or wanting to do away with things such as freedom of religion in a country (presumably) founded on freedom.

As you are interested in philosophy (and if not, why are you here?) it is interesting that your definition of "wrong" does not include a person which, in each and every case, employs ad-hominem reasoning and appeals to emotion rather than logic.  

What an intruiging notion - to have such a definition of "wrong" that excludes so many things that a common plebe such as myself would consider wrong. What a philosopher you must be.  How subtle and deep must your reasoning go.  I am very, very impressed.


-Dave K


Jamie Jeffers 5 March 2016

In reply to by David Kotschessa


^ Nailed it.  

Thanks, Dave, for one of the better (and amusing) take downs of an apathetic Trump supporter I've seen today.

David Kotschessa 6 March 2016

In reply to by Jamie Jeffers


The incongruity of a Trump supporter on a philosophy comment thread (how ???) and a double espresso apparently overloaded my sarcasm circuits.  So I'm glad someone apprecated it.

-Dave K

MrAwesome 4 March 2016


Liberals when democracy goes their way: "Democracy is a human right!"
Liberals when democracy doesn't go their way: "Democracy doesn't work!"

Garry Sigman 12 March 2016


His presidency will also:  1) compel students and the general polis to view political philosophy, law and civics as pertinent, because if he were to try to do the things he is promising,  he would need to create a despotic rule for which current constitutional laws would have to be ignored or repealed and 2) view history as pertinent as his ascendancy would recall other demogogic movements and how they rose and fell. 



Nick Kenney 7 April 2016


Donald Trump the bad hair day man - definately

Donald Trump travels to Mars and back in one day - best explanation for his behavior

Donald Trump runs for President - what seemed an unlikely bet for sane people sadly and unbelievably becomes likely

Donald Trump the Philosopher - You have got to be joking!

Stephen Grossman 19 April 2016


What's the problem?! Trump is a Pragmatist subjectivist and social mystic. How is his babbling _essentially_ different from virtually all philosophy? In 623 pages of the _CPR_, Kant evades reasoning about reality. As he says, "I have denied knowledge therefore, in order to make room for faith." Trump is obviously his philosophical heir.  Virtually all philosophers ignore, evade or reject individual rights. How is this different from Trump? Comments here show merely non-essential differences with Trump.
He applies the irrelevance of contemporary mainstream philosophy, albeit without its intellectual style and terminology. As Nietzsche observed of the mainstream scholars of his time, who evaded the growing nihilism, "Scholarship is the delight in having caught a worm." 

martyh 22 April 2016


the most noteworthy thing about trump thusfar, is how the american elite simply doesn't get it.

and this is noteworthy because it's an example of how this elite is selected for qualities other than, or in addition to, intelligence.

i'm a volunteer in the BGI study, i get it.

trump is a cynic, because he can be. he's reached the 3d level of social intelligence. he knows the rules and deliberately violates them because he rightly sees how absurd they are.

hillary and cruz are at level 2 1/2. they lie and lie and lie, and they think this is one of the rules. they either think nothing or keep what they really think to themselves.

if you think you're clever and you want what's best for most americans not just the elite, and if bernie loses, trump, as carl icahn said, "is a no-brainer".

martyh 22 April 2016


it's also noteworthy as an example of how this elite is, in fact, selected for a certain lack of social intelligence.

friedman said of nixon, "in terms of pure IQ, he's the smartest person i've ever met."

if trump swears the oath, which i and jeff gundlach inter alia expect he will, it might be said that he has the highest social IQ of any president ever.

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