Monday, April 23, 2012

Bumper Sticker Philosophy & Wittgensteinian Reminders

Our dependence upon others and the natural world can be summarized almost perfectly by a bumper sticker I occasionally see on the roads in Kentucky, where I live: “No Farms, No Food.” Indeed. If, as Wittgenstein claimed, the point of philosophy is to give reminders of truths that we all too easily forget or take for granted, then that bumper sticker is an exemplary piece of philosophy.

(A snippet from a piece I'm working on about humility and environmental ethics...)


  1. I think this is true. On the other hand, are these bumper stickers intended to remind people of our dependence on others, and on the natural world, or are they meant as a defense of subsidies for agriculture? If so, then whether we should approve of the slogan is less clear. Politics aside, though, the slogan is indeed a reminder of something good for which we should be grateful.

  2. Right. And subsidies can be problematic, since they pressure the production of particular crops (at depressed prices which is good for the livestock industry and perhaps, increasingly, the biofuel industry), leading to monoculture, and farmers then become beholden to the industrial-agri system. (Watch the documentary King Corn.)

    It also occurred to me that the bumper sticker might seem to be false: I could go forage berries and mushrooms, and hunt deer. But then the truth in the bumper sticker is that most of us aren't going to do that...

  3. Yes, it's not necessarily true in the strictest sense, but it's close enough.