Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, November 30, 2015


Elijah Price (12) Installment 2

                                                         On the Philosophy of Car Culture

                        One of the most definitive features of car culture is the car as an extension of one's identity. No two are alike, much like their owners. It's a very human desire to be different, or to stand apart from the crowd. Individualism is everywhere in western civilization. Many philosophers have covered the subject of individualism and what it really means. I like to agree with Schopenhauer's ideas about the search for self apart from the expectations of society, but not the part about putting moderate limits on our possessions. Not the possessions on four wheels, anyway. Sometimes we become too enchanted by creating an identity and lose the value of organically growing into who we are. I can remember when I was growing up, I thought that the Ford Mustang was the greatest car ever made. I couldn't imagine myself driving anything else. As I grew older, my fascination led me to a line of work where I had opportunities to drive any car I wanted. Much to my surprise, I was unimpressed with the cars I had thought I loved. They simply weren't what I expected. Much like that fixation on a car, many of us find ourselves with philosophical tunnel vision. Until we muster the courage to go out and encounter new ideas to challenge our beliefs against, we don't know who we really are. While I had convinced myself that I wanted a Mustang, I had never taken the time to consider that other things might be great too, better even. Herein lies the trap many of us fall into when we decide we believe something only for the sake of believing it. For me, cars are a way to sort out what is important to me. Unknowingly, I discovered the value of moderate skepticism. When we enthusiasts devote ourselves to a particular kind of cars, be it a particular brand or a variety such as "muscle" or "tuner" cars, we are searching for truth. To the adamant gearhead, cars are truths. We are all searching for our truth and our sense of self. If only more car people would agree with John Stuart Mill in that everyone is entitled to their greatest happiness, regardless of whether or not our peers would equate our happiness in our favorite cars to, "a pig wallowing in filth."

CoPhilosophy - link to earlier post


  1. Hegel said to get rid of our possessions?

  2. My mistake. Meant to cite Schopenhauer.