How To Have A Philosophical Thanksgiving


Listen, you love your family. We get it. But we also know that the constant drivel about the weather, the NFL, how grandma’s doing in hospice, etc. can get really effing tiresome after awhile. It gets even worse when your dad takes a shot at your ‘unemployable major’ or some relative asks you when you’re ‘finally gonna settle down with a nice girl.’

So how do you cope? You could lose your shit and curse at everyone. You could burst into tears and run out of the room. You could pop a couple Vikes and ‘see what happens.’ But no, you want to keep your dignity/place in your parents’ will so you’re not gonna do that.

Instead, you’re going to run your mouth about philosophy and retributively annoy your entire family by talking about things they are too embarrassed to admit they don’t understand. Watch them squirm, live tweet the unfolding hilarity to your friends, and if nothing else take solace in the fact that you’ll be back in some shitty dive bar drinking PBRs and discussing Ryan Dombal’s credibility/motives in like 24 hrs.

Here are some ‘conversation starters’, categorized by philosophical subdiscipline.


Wonder aloud if turkeys’ and humans’ inequality is ontological or temporary.

Muse about whether ‘gratefulness’ actually exists in any meaningful sense, or if it conceptually reduces to emotivism (e.g. “I am thankful for my dog Gizmo” = “I like Gizmo and his presence makes me happy”).


Ask a cranky uncle or bitchy teenager to describe and defend whether it’s possible to be thankful for something you haven’t directly experienced. Consider whether things you may not have experienced are actually ‘real.’ Discuss whether you can ever actually ‘know’ that you are thankful for anything, that you are eating turkey, and that you even exist.


Wonder if you’re one w/ the turkey even after you shit it out. (Via monism.)

Social Philosophy

If you’re a girl, claim that helping with the food preparation/dishes/clean up would reinforce oppressive gender stereotypes and instead you need to lay on the couch while someone with a dick brings you a beer. Be sure to use words like ‘misogynist’ and ‘patriarchy’ to ensure that your point is conveyed. Mention that the pervasiveness of Cartesian dualism in the traditional western worldview is responsible for both the oppression of the Native Americans and the idea that you have to do kitchen-related chores because you have tits.

If you’re a dude, go to the defense of a female family member using the aforementioned information. Realize this may require you to help with prep/cleaning, but it will also provide you with an opportunity to introduce some more of this material.

Political Philosophy

Suggest that rather than shopping for deals on Christmas presents on Black Friday, you adopt a neo-Marxist model (definitely don’t say Communist, they will know what that means) (and the neo- part means absolutely nothing except it sounds ‘niche’/elitist/relevant) and pool your money to be divided equally amongst yourselves. Mention the necessity of a brief totalitarian dictator to preside over the transition from your previously capitalistic lifestyle. Volunteer for the position.


Call whomever is responsible for carving the turkey a speciesist. Since this person is definitely a man, whisper under your breath about the interrelationship between the oppression of women and non-human animals. Use the phrase ‘absent referent.’ Use the phrase ‘the sexual politics of meat.’

Lecture your family on the difference between intrinsic and instrumental value. Get them to admit that Gizmo the Shih Tzu is intrinsically valuable but Butterball the Turkey is not. Explain how indefensible this position is.


Print out this list of logical fallacies. Play a silent game with yourself called ‘see if you can find an example of every one of these fallacies in your family’s conversation.’ Make sure they see you marking their names on the paper but when they ask what you’re doing just say “informal logic, duhhhhh.”

When someone says “either stop doing that or deal with the consequences”, point out that their name now appears next to the Appeal to Fear and False Dichotomy fallacies. When that person retorts, “alright, you’re gonna have to deal with the consequences then”, congratulate them for successfully creating a valid, deductive argument. Construct a truth table to prove it.

Philosophy of Religion

If your family is religious, request a philosophical (aka ‘non-religious’/based on commonly accepted reasoning) argument for God’s existence before you will participate in saying grace.

If your family is not religious, offer that you’re thankful for Thanksgiving itself because it must be the plan God had for humanity when he allowed the Mayflower bros to take a huge shit on the Native Americans [via Manifest Destiny]. Be sure to use the phrase ‘Problem of Evil’. Bonus points if you can somehow express that ‘Problem of Evil’ ought to be capitalized. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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