Top 10 Pop Philosophers in 2015? You Will Be Shocked!

Credit: Visualization by Ellie Maloney

Who influences our thinking? Donald Trump? Caitlyn Jenner? J.K. Rowling? Jesus? No, No and No. According to The Telegraph (2015), these 10 spectacular personalities. Apparently, the criteria for the selection was “based on social media followers, number of books published, media appearances, catch phrase creation, amount of viral memes and fan base nicknames”.

If you, like myself, need some catching up to do on the ‘who is who’ in this list, here is all you need to know:

1. Stephen Fry is an English comedian, actor and writer, among other things. Not sure as to being an influential philosopher, but Fry sure is funny. When asked about his first recollections of being gay, he said: “I suppose it all began when I came out of the womb. I looked back up at my mother and thought to myself, ‘That’s the last time I’m going up one of those’.”

2. Russell Brand is another English comedian, actor, radio host, author, and activist. Brand is notable by saying a lot of controversial and stupid things, alongside to something like that: “Sometimes, as a comedian, a line will come to you, that is so beautiful, so perfect, that you think: I did not create this line. This line belongs to all of us. Surely this line is a line of God.” (Arts Mic, 2013). Brand’s claim to the Vice President Pop Philosopher is probably attributed to him having strong convictions and beliefs, meditating, being a vegan and such. For deeper familiarity with Brand’s philosophy, check this video compilation.

3. Caitlin Moran is an English journalist, author, and broadcaster. What brought her the title of the third most influential thinker of 2015? Honestly, beats me. However, in 2011 she published a book  “How To Be a Woman.” Maybe this book is a natural evolution of philosophic thought, from “To be or not to be” and “Of Mice and Men“, but that’s just my guess.

4. José Mourinho is a Portuguese football (or soccer, as we say in these parts) manager and former football player. How did he land the forth spot on the ‘who is who’ of the brainiacs list? Probably because of his results oriented coaching stile that resembles Machiavellian philosophy in his “emphasis on getting results over playing beautiful football”. I’ll give it to the coach. After all, playing soccer takes some balls.

5. Homer Simpson. Ok, what is this Simpson philosophy bullshit? Right? Wrong! Here is the brief canonical Simpson at your fingertips:

Credit: Someplace Pinterest that further cites delta


6. Stephen Hawking is a great scientist of our time, but most notably, the voice, the heart and the brain, in no particular order. He is also said to be the first real cyborg because of being integrated with the computer generated voice and the robotic chair. Hawking has the power to utter the answers literally to the questions of life, the universe, and everything, and he might as well be saying ’42’ to all of that, because the people who obviously voted on this list have no slightest clue nor capacity to grasp the depth of Hawking’s genius. Thus, if Hawking says: ‘God doesn’t exist‘, the masses roar in approval. Hawking says: ‘The universe will disappear in the black hole‘, and the masses run with it like a dog with the stick. Hawking says: ‘Robots and aliens are about to destroy us, and the Earth is doomed‘, and Hail, oh Paranoia! To be clear, none of it is Hawking’s fault. If anything, he is too smart for our own good. We love you, Stephen, and we can’t wait to upload your gem of a brain and personality to the computer. Maybe then you could tutor each of us individually through the Internet, and the world will be a better place.

7. David Brent, mind you, not Ricky Gervais, who plays the nominated character. The rudest, most obnoxious, sexist and dysfunctional boss ever? Yes please! The UK version of the TV show ‘The Office’ is crazy popular, and inspired it’s American twin, with which my personal loyalty and preference lies (Go Michael Scott!). But you have to give it to Gervais’ talent, THIS is something else.

8. Yoda. Ok, everyone knows Yoda. But there is always more to Yoda than meets the eye. Here is the 5 things you did not know about Yoda:

  • Lukas almost named this renowned Jedai … Buffy. Wait, Whaaat?
  • Lukas also prefers to keep most things Yoda unspoken (or unwritten), to let the mystery kindle in our imaginations.
  • Yoda’s famous look was modeled after the makeup artist in charge of the task, and after Albert Einstein.
  • Yoda’s backward speech has nothing to do with him being too old or too drunk.  The linguists call it the Object Subject speech. It is the kind of pre-historic speech humans spoke around 50.000 years ago. Yoda comes from an ancient bunch.
  • Originally intended as a one hit wonder and scheduled to appear in the Empire Strikes Back, Yoda’s part was expanded  on advice of the child psychologist. According to the expert, children under 12 would not believe that Darth Vader was actually Luke’s father, thus they needed affirmation from the immutable authority on the subject. Nobody could do it better than Yoda. More of this where it came from here.

9. Taylor Swift. Wait. Say that again… Google, help me out here.

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Let’s get to the bottom of this.

So,  why the hell Taylor Swift is a leader? Apparently, the Fortune Magazine ranked the singer #6 on its list of the ‘worlds greatest leaders’, ahead of GM CEO Mary Barra, FB Mark Zuckerberg and the Gates couple. Come again? Naturally, people flooded to the comment sections of the Fortune Magazine, demanding explanations. The Washington Post summarizes numerous instances where Swift’s leadership quality boiled down to talking publicly about stuff she didn’t like (as with the Apple not paying artists while customers request a free trial on iTunes), or the lack of female role models in music, the void she gladly fills with… herself. Not sure if she heard of Aretha Franklin, Joan Baez, Anne and Nancy Wilson, Stevie Nicks, Pink, or even Adel for that matter. Apparently not, because this is the kind of stuff she spits in the face of all these above mentioned artists.

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I am sorry, if Led Zeppelin listens in complete awe to Swift’s version of the “Stairway to Heaven”, then we can talk.

Why the hell Taylor Swift is a philosopher? So I googled that one as well. Come to find out this spectacular blog called, you guessed it, “Taylor Swift: Artist and Philosopher“. Little did I know!

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Credit: TaylorSwiftPhilosopher.Com

That settles it for me.

10. Slavoj Zizek is apparently a Slovenian philosopher, cultural critic and Marxist intellectual. After going through the entire list of top 10 modern day ‘philosophers’ it is odd to see an actual philosopher to make a near-miss appearance. To borrow from the source of all sources, Wikipedia, Zizek “first achieved international recognition after the 1989 publication of his first English text, The Sublime Object of Ideology, in which he departed from traditional Marxist theory to develop a materialist conception of ideology that drew heavily on Lacanian psychoanalysis and Hegelian idealism”. And here I realize that I’d be more comfortable in sarcastic bashing of Taylor Swift then in an informed assessment of someone’s legitimate contribution to philosophy. What can I say, I am only a fish and can critically think only of my fishbowl, paraphrasing Roger Waters here.

Bottom line. Any good news for Sci Fi? There are two good news, actually. First,is that Stephen Hawking beat Yoda. Second, that Yoda beat Taylor Swift. No offense, Taylor Swift. “The way you walk, way you talk, way you say my name; it’s beautiful, wonderful, don’t you ever change” hardly has the same philosophical gravitas as “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

What do you think? Were you shocked? Surprised? Amused? Horrified?

Who are your modern day philosophic icons?

by Ellie Maloney

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