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Charlie Rose has called Louis C.K. the philosopher-king of comedy,” and many have detected philosophical profundity in his material.
Twenty-five philosophers examine the wisdom of Louis C.K. from a variety of philosophical perspectives. The chapters draw upon C.K.’s standup comedy, the show Louie, and C.K.’s other writings.
One writer looks at the different meanings of C.K.’s statement, You’re gonna be dead way longer than you were alive.” One chapter shows the affinity of C.K.’s sick of living this bullshit life” with Kierkegaard’s sickness unto death.” Another pursues Louis’s thought that we may by our lack of moral concern live a really evil life without thinking about it.”
C.K.'s insistence that things that are not can’t be” points to the philosophical problem of nothingness in relation to being. His religion is apathetic agnostic,” conveyed in his thought experiment that God began work in 1982. Louis’s argument that you can have the kind of body you want if you make yourself want a disgusting, shitty body, is the Stoic ethics of Epictetus. And, as C.K. has shown in so many ways, the fact that we’re soon going to die has its funny side.
Mark Ralkowski is assistant professor of philosophy and honors at The George Washington University. He is author of Plato's Trial of Athens (2016) Heidegger's Platonism (2009) and editor of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Philosophy (2012) and Time and Death: Heidegger's Analysis of Finitude (2005). He lives in Takoma Park, MD.