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Let us provide you with a cushy seat to think on.

Words by:

Yash Srivastava

Photos by:

Hunar Daga

Some say Plato was sitting on a high horse when he spoke ill of the sophists, and we agree.

The sophists were scorned even in their heyday. What they did was, they practised applied philosophy. They often trained the accused—whether or not guilty—to fight for themselves in a court of law, to bring their bawling children to court (whatever it took to sway the jury’s emotions). The accused thanked them in cash. The sophists chose to do what was practical, what was demanded, and what was absolutely necessary for the state machinery and its democratic practices to function.

There were no lawyers in the Greek courts, only sophists and the people they chose to train in performing their own defence, for a fee of course. Kind of like the professors of sundry humanities courses of today, teaching young adults how to defend themselves through the travails of life. The sophists were philosophically proficient because they did not, like their detractor Plato, pretend to know of morality and ethics before having practised them for the devil. They knew there was more at stake in a dialogue than the ineffable questions of ideologies and doctrines; at the state’s hand, the question was a more practical one about penalties and punishments.

But that is not why Plato, and even his student-turned-colleague Aristotle who tried to save his teacher from a hemlock-induced death, dissed the sophists. It is because the duo wasn’t one to understand the business of philosophy as much as it was committed to thinking out and for what they saw as ethical—which is all well and good in ancient Greece.

But they introduced into the act of modern thinking a kind of high-headedness founded upon the belief that the very act of thinking is oh-so-pure and filled with the fruits of high enlightened reason. (The poor guy Pythagoras could not eat beans and Aristotle called his dietary restrictions unreasonable and unscientific.) And so today, who amongst us is not an armchair philosopher waiting for someone to tell him (usually, this person is a him) how well-thought-out his arguments were?


Wrapped Up

Imagine a duvet worn as a dress, a robe as a gown and a night in swaddled in your Sunday best.

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Tanya wears the Whose Your Daddy robe and pyjama; Did Someone Say Lemoncello robe and cashmere shawl by JoB; a Suket Dhir trench with a I Wore This to the Met blanket also by JoB

An armchair philosopher sitting but in his own living room, a drink in one hand (not hemlock, god forbid, never again) and something lung-cancery in another, calling out one or the other of his peers for a belief that goes against the tenets of reason and science. We all know this guy: this armchair scientist interested only in the pursuit of reason and little else. He is most definitely an atheist who nevertheless endorses state-sponsored religion with his complacency. He is most definitely someone who reads 101 ultimate jokes, half of which are sexist. (And when called out for his sexism by a sophist on a gluten-free diet, our thinker goes on to demonstrate—both empirically and rationally—how both feminism and gluten-free diets are actually bad for women.)

We know this guy, who reads the newspaper, finishes the crossword without batting an eyelid, and then proceeds to the editorial to underline all the analytic faults therein. The armchair thinker who knows what iteration of the binomial theorem to apply while trading bitcoins and simulating Battlestar Galactica on his Apple VR headset. This is the guy who can access the universe with a few taps on his phone,  cast right on to his Smart Television. How will a humble sophist—the professor, the lawyer—compare to this guy, our philosopher extraordinaire of the postmodern era of surface delights?

The answer is that, as long as there are armchairs, there will be armchair thinkers, delighting in their world of abstracts beyond abstracts. This delight is what the philosopher Jean Baudrillard, in fact, warned us about, with his sign that has no existence in reality. A sign that points to other signs that point to other signs. A Disneyland existence of utter bliss, a state of falsehood so profound it seems like a kind of enlightenment.

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Tanya lies on a bed of Object prints made into robes wearing the XOXO robe; Wrapped in the Aztec This scarf, she eats from a table featuring JoB's Geo-Home table linen.

When you’re yay old and can ride all the rides on Disneyland, you don’t need to find out that it owns you. When Cypher became comfortable eating a juicy steak in The Matrix and gave up his friends to the evil agents of the machines for the false consciousness of a simulation, he did what millions of armchair thinkers do every day: give up on the real to settle for a Netflix-and-chill kind of thinking. No matter how cerebral, they forget that what’s at stake is a kind of realpolitik that (even though it’s a dirty word) the sophists yearned for. In their search for a masturbatory delight, these armchair-ers forget the constant shapeshifting and thinking-on-their-feet that modern sophists—the activist, the professor, the lawyer—must do before returning home to rest their sleepy head on an armchair.

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Tanya wears the LouLou set and Not Your Average Pista Robe with JoB cushions; she carried the So-Not-Chanel laptop case and the Jhola Bag.
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Swaddled in the I Wore this to the Met blanket; JoB duvets are handmade in Kutch using organic cotton

Yash Srivastava is a staff writer at Object.

Srivastava is a staff writer at Object.

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