EVANSTON, IL—A preeminent philosopher at an elite university has perfected the art of haphazardly filling his bookshelf with books he will never read.
Jacques Johnson, 63, said, “I have everything here. Like, everything. I’ve got Kant, Locke, Leibniz, Plato, Aristotle, the Presocratics, Russell, Kripke, Anscombe, Searle, Ryle, Ayer, Grice, Frege, and dozens of people who are still alive like Michael Huemer and whoever as well as Derrida. My pretheoretical intuition is that I will never read Derrida, since I know Derrida is full of shit even though I’ve never read his works and don’t ever want to. Well, I don’t think I’ll read any of the other stuff either.”
While his colleagues specialize in topics ranging from noncognitivism to meta-meta-logic, Johnson spends much of his time studying the philosophy of action and normative ethics, with a special focus on procrastination and bullshit. He explained: “To be honest, I haven’t really got around to reading Plato’s Republic, though I know it’s been assigned to me around a dozen times since college. My true passion, however, lies in arranging and rearranging my bookshelf in such a way that gives people, even scholars, the illusion that I know everything under the sun.”
Students reportedly asked Johnson if other philosophers ever accuse him of bullshitting. “I never bullshit. I bluff and lie and mislead and hoodwink and steal and rip off. But I don’t bullshit. Never. That’s an infamia,” he said, wagging an index finger.
Johnson pointed out that filling one’s bookshelf with books one does not intend to read is a habit shared by students and professors alike, with the most preeminent shelf-filler being Socrates. “I don’t think there’ s a greater philosopher than old Mr. Soccer Tease,” said Johnson. “He was the inimitable shelf-filler. It was both an art and a science to him, the way he amassed his books and displayed them like a modern art masterpiece. He was really ahead of his time.”
Johnson continues to fill his shelf with books he will never read. Sources confirmed that his latest writings will be published in top philosophical journals such as Mind and Noûs.