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NO.387 03.27.2018

“I Pledge to Live with Philosophy”

 “Moonsong hamnida” stands for “Forgive me (joeSONG), I am a humanities (MOONgwa) major.”

This is a newly coined phrase that depicts the seriousness of job shortage, especially for those who graduate with a liberal arts degree in humanities; it is a shortened expression that reflects the low social perception of the value of humanities education. Among the disciplines that make up humanities, philosophy has the reputation of being the flag bearer. However, we encountered a student who claims, “I would be happy to study philosophy for the rest of my life, just as I am doing it now.” She owns a Facebook page called “Philosophy Gag (informal for ‘comedy’ or ‘humor’)’ with more than 20,000 followers, and is a philosophy (class of 2018) major who has published ‘Anyway, I Sell Philosophy’ (Publisher: Jaeum Gwa Moeum), a compilation of her Facebook postings. Her name is Hee-Rim Kim.

I fell into philosophy while searching for answers to questions about my own self and the society
Kim met philosophy during her high school year, while looking for a new approach to solving problems. It was triggered by her vague expectation that philosophy would offer the most basic, fundamental: the beginning of all things. Step by step, Kim fell deeply into the world of philosophy. Hee-Rim claims, “Philosophy questions all attempts to conclude to an easy answer.” She adds, “Currently, I am more interested in asking the right questions than finding answers.”  

Hee-Rim created the Facebook page ‘Philosophy Gag’ with like-minded friends, whom she met while studying philosophy. As a blog site that invites diverse posts, ranging from miscellaneous jokes to agonizing questions about philosophy, ‘Philosophy Gag’ got over 1,500 subscribers on first day. When its membership exceeded 10,000, she received a call from a publisher, with a proposal to compile the contents of ‘Philosophy Gag’ into a book. Once the manuscript was submitted, Kim began to mull over the title of the book. In the end, it was named ‘Anyway, I Sell Philosophy.’

The title of the book encapsulates Kim’s attitude toward philosophy. ‘Anyway’ implies the non-importance attached to ‘an opinion, nature of work, one’s circumstances or status.’ Simply put, it is an expression of commitment to do philosophy, regardless of the societal or environmental perception. Also, the word ‘I sell’ is a double entendre in Korean (the verb root ‘pada’ can mean both ‘to sell’ and ‘to dig’): its benign duplicity expresses a desire to offer philosophy at the price it rightly deserves, as well as a desire to dig deeper in her study of philosophy. 

Through the book, Hee-Rim helps readers to experience philosophy in their everyday life. Ordinary lives are described with sincerity, and sometimes with delightful humor; jokes, political satire, and personal experiences that are linked with philosophy.

‘Wish to live a life that grows with philosophy’
To Kim, philosophy offers learners the fun of discovering something new. “By getting in touch with theory and ideology, I see subjects in an entirely new light. This experience is perplexing yet fun,” Kim confesses. “Philosophy is the reason that solutions are possible for ‘my own self’ and the issues that dominate this age,” Kim explains by adding, “From personal emotions to social paradoxes, the pursuit of the intrinsic substance of the problems and the effort to find the solution are, in essence, philosophy.” 

Kim’s shares her goal to ‘live the way I am living now.’ She expresses her wish ‘to continue to study, to mull over problems intrinsic to humankind and social issues.’ In fact, she has been learning the German language in order to delve deeper into her study of philosophy. Kim pledged, “To be content with my current life, and to continue to live a life of learning, even if it may be at a slightly slower pace.”

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