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The philosophy of hair

By Taylor Faulkerson
On September 30, 2012

There is an ongoing debate in society on ends versus means, and that debate is no less pertinent for Xavier. Do we choose to understand the cause or the effects it produces? Should I major in something that will have financial security,
a secure end, or the humanities in order to live the good
life? This debate has hit home for me recently, on both
practical and philosophical fronts. Over the past year or so, I made the peculiar decision to not cut my hair (reference my
picture to the right). Within a few months of that choice,
my friends started asking me when I would cut my hair, but I just shrugged and laughed it off. I still do that now despite the fact that I've been berated, admonished and criticized for my luscious red locks consistently, by friends and strangers alike. I've received a few words of encouragement here and there, but the response has been overwhelmingly negative. In response to that, I feel the necessity to defend my shoulder-length hair. First, my hair pertains to philosophy more
than most people realize. It's my major, and I'm proud of the
traditions within 25 centuries of philosophy. One deeprooted
tradition (at least for male philosophers) has clearly been hair--on the scalp and face. Who could possibly deny the fact that philosophy has been well bearded, from Socrates to Husserl? Nietzsche's mustache was respectable whether his ideas were or not, and Derrida's hair clearly had it's own thing going on. Even Kant looks to have shoulder-length hair in paintings of him, save for the fact that he curled it. The only plausible meaning behind Goethe's statement that he found his "organ for philosophy" while reading Kant's Critique of
Judgment was that he let his hair grow out at the same time that he came to understand transcendental idealism.
I too have found pleasure in both the Third Critique and in my long hair. Furthermore, I have been mentored well by the department up to this point. The philosophy professors I've had have all had facial hair except one, and the transcendental meditations that we've had in class have been correspondingly enlightening. That's not to say that my unbearded professor has shown me less truth than the others, rather
that there's a simply overwhelming and positive correlation present. I'd like to extend these two conjoined traditions beyond the ivory tower and into society. When these two potent things are combined with my other academic plans, my life already seems entirely abhorrent to Western society:
I have two majors, neither of which are overwhelmingly practical, my hair can probably prevent any employment in and of itself; and according to my mother, I have poor fashion sense. I have next to no economic value for society, so where does that position my life at Xavier in the grander scheme of thins? All of this seems focused on the walk away: what do I walk away with at the end of it all? When I go to 10 p.m. Mass, I don't go because I believe that the end lies within mere
attendance. Rather, I get something from participating
with other people in that intentional community. I feel the same way about my time at Xavier on the whole: it's not about walking away with a diploma. Instead, it's about the lived experience of chatting with professors, hanging out with
friends and living life. It's participation, not consumption. And
that ought to carry a fuller value in and of itself. So why did I grow my hair out? It surely wasn't to make anyone happy or subject myself to any standards. It's all in the lived experience. So live and let live.  

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