The Philosopher Games: Who would win in a knife fight between all the philosophers?

Round Two: The Alliances

This round is where men take sides and begin to think more rationally about their own survival. This is also when the most men die. 

The German Camp.

John Duns Scotus’ eyes slowly adjust to the pleasant light of a campfire. Where was he? Oh Lord Jesus, he must have fallen into a coma again! Yet, here he was, alive! He lifts his head and looks around the fire. ‘Look, the monk lives,” says a pleasant voice to his right. He turns; it is Goethe who has spoken.

‘How unfortunate,’ says Schopenhauer to his left. ‘This small soul will soon wish he was never born.’

‘Now now, look here,’ insists Kant from somewhere in the dark, ‘it is categorically wrong to even joke in such a manner.’

‘Shut up, Kant,’ yells Hegel from somewhere nearby. ‘Everyone is tired of your dry moralism. If only you knew how tied you are to history, how conditioned by the outdated moralisms of medieval men like this monk.’

‘I can’t believe Newton chipped my manicure,’ says Leibniz to himself.

‘Brothers,’ says Heidegger, ‘allowing this monk to face and fear death is the greatest favor we can do him, for it frees him from the anxiety of death and allows him to live life.’

Husserl, always the champion of his student’s work, chimes in: ‘Yes, it is only when we consider existence and Being in a purer…”

‘Hey,’ interjects Schopenhauer, ‘aren’t you a Jew?’

‘I am a Lutheran. Yes, I was born Jewish. Heidegger, talk some sense into these men!’

Heidegger looks at his feet in embarrassment and hides the swastika pin on his tweed jacket.

‘If we are to usher in the era of the Overman,’ declares Nietzsche with all the fervor of a prophet, ‘we must pass on from Judeo-Christian illusion and leave such human-all-to-human darkness behind us!’ He raises his dagger first at Scotus, then at Husserl.

‘Thou shalt not kill!’ cries Kant in protestation.

‘I shalt kill you!’ cries Hegel with glee.

‘Oh God!’ cries Scotus with worry.

‘Thus speaks Zarathustra,” Nietzsche whispers in Scotus’ ear, ‘God is dead, and so are you.’

There is a scurry of motion and several screams, but then it is all over. Kant is dead, with Hegel’s knife in his face. John Duns Scotus is dead with Nietzsche’s knife in his ribs. And poor Husserl is dead with no knife in him. Did Schopenhauer the anti-semite killed him? Or was it his student Heidegger, a man eager to please the status quo to save his neck? Whatever happened, Heidegger responds to it by weeping in a corner, either out of guilt or mourning.

The Woodsmen.

Meanwhile, Peirce is running through the woods frantically, trying to track down the elusive Thoreau in order to gain an ally. The silent and camouflaged figure of Wittgenstein stalks behind him like Rambo. Peirce stops at a muddy footprint, clearly Thoreau’s, oblivious to his tail. Nearby, he finds Lewis gasping in the grass with a dagger in his back. Obviously the work of Thoreau. The woodsman must be nearby!. Peirce finishes Lewis off.


The Politicos.

Somewhere to the South in stinking marsh, the Revolutionaries trudge through mud. Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Marx, Derrida, and Focault keep their eyes suspiciously trained in every direction.

‘Rousseau, Diderot, scout ahead,’ Voltaire orders.

The two friends eagerly run off in the name of the Revolution. ‘Isn’t this quite the adventure?’ says Rousseau with a gleam in his eye. ‘ ‘Do not be too optimistic,’ warns Diderot. ‘We are alone in this battleground, and the material forces of the universe hold more sway than our ideals.’

Sure enough, the materialistic Utilitarians come out of the trees and surround them. John Stewart Mill, his father James, his predecessor Bentham, and the tag-alongs Comte and Hobbes emerge from the trees with knives glinting with what sunlight makes it through the upper canopy of the forest.

Comte spits in their direction. ‘Scum of the French Revolution!’

‘Calm down, Comte,’ says Hobbes. ‘It is more in our interest to offer them our friendship.’

‘We shall never surrender an inch!’ cries Rousseau in a voice heavy with melodrama.

‘You believe in progress,’ says Diderot to Comte in a sad, melancholic tone. ‘You shall see where your progress takes you. The age of science will fall, and all your positivism will fall around you. Your progress will fail you!’

‘That’s enough,’ screams Comte, and he lunges at Diderot. The two grapple for a moment and then both fall back with each others’ knives protruding from their bellies. Rousseau throws himself on Diderot’s body only to be cut down by Hobbes.

The Dynasty.

A strange group gathers at the foot of the mountains to the north. Confucius stands before Sun Tzu in tranquil reverie, and opposite to them stands Machiavelli before Marcus Aurelius and Lucretius. Confucius advocates virtue and balance in the fight, to which Marcus Aurelius gives his royal support. Machiavelli argues that their band track down any stragglers, and then start raiding the other parties at night. Sun Tzu is highly in favor of Machiavelli’s strategy.

‘There is as much to be gained from virtue as from cleverness in warfare,’ says Marcus Aurelius.

‘Tell me, Confucius,’ says Machiavelli, ‘you would wait for a peace meeting to take place before you would engage in open warfare?’

‘Yes, young grasshopper.’

‘Well, let us test this theory right now. You and I disagree. Let us have a peace meeting to resolve our disagreements.’

Confucius and Machiavelli walk toward each other. Machiavelli bows his head in friendship. Confucius makes a sweeping bow in return. As soon as he can see the old sage’s back, Machiavelli plunges his knife into it. He stands up, triumphant as Confucius crumples to the grass.

‘As you can see,’ he smiles, ‘diplomacy is not foolproof.’

Marcus Aurelius grows thoughtful and Sun Tzu spurs his mount forward in eagerness for Machiavelli’s plan.


The Empiricists and Natural Scientists.

Somewhere in the deep of the woods, two groups meet and exchange cordial greetings. Tycho Brahe steps forward with an air of extreme self-importance and introduces the members of his new-found company: Kepler, Galileo, and Newton. Francis Bacon comes forward and shakes Brahe’s hand eagerly before introducing him to his leader Locke and fellow empiricist Hume.

‘I am sure we can come to some agreeable constitution to establish our two companies as equal and free partners in this fight for life and liberty,’ says Locke with imperial imperviousness.

‘Yes, my horoscope said that I would make new friends today,’ Brahe notes amiably.

‘I have a condition,’ cries Galileo, ‘before any further agreements can be made!’

‘What condition is that, respected Galileo?’ asks Newton, who is gradually awakening from the shock of Leibniz’s earlier attack.

‘If we are to join together,’ we must attack the Catholics. Surely they have banded together by now, and with their vast numbers they will soon overpower human knowledge and scientific inquiry. They must be stopped!’

‘Agreed. We shall attack the Catholics,’ says Bacon, who is a secret Freemason.

Hume holds forth a snifter. ‘Brandy, anyone?’

‘Don’t mind if I do!’ Tycho’s arm shoots out for the glass.

‘Let me examine that,’ says Kepler. He takes the glass and quietly slips a drop of poison in it. ‘Smells like a quality vintage,’ he says as he hands it back to Tycho. (‘Now I will rule the scientists,’ he thinks to himself.)

Tycho is about to drink from the poisoned brandy when a three-foot man emerges from under his robes. ‘Don’t drink the brandy,’ says the midget. ‘It’s poisoned by Kepler!’

‘Whaaat!?’ Spittle showers forth from Tycho’s walrus mustache  ‘Kepplllerrr!?!?’ He draws forth his knife like a dueling sword and stands before his rival. ‘Have you anything to say for yourself, you rapscallion!?’

At the sight of the challenge, Kepler runs into the woods. And he runs right into Pascal.

‘Feeling lucky, punk? Heads or tails.’

End Kepler.


The Muslims.

Al-Ghazali paces before Averroes and Avicenna, knife bared threateningly.

‘I know in the past you two have been blasphemous toward the great Allah and Muhammad his beloved prophet. I am willing to overlook your past transgressions if you will join me now.’

Avicenna bows his head meekly toward the ground. He knows that his best chance for survival is with Al-Ghazali.

Averroes, however, takes off in terror, determined to find and take shelter with Aristotle.

Al-Ghazali takes off in pursuit. The athletic Avicenna jogs easily behind him.

The Existentialists.

Kierkegaard, Sartre, and Camus are sitting alone in the woods. Sartre and Camus are trying to dissuade Kierkegaard, who wants to abandon the fight and seek out the Christians so he can find what he calls a ‘knight of faith’ so he can learn from them the proper response of resignation and faith in a battle. Sartre and Camus are atheists, so they obviously think this whole dilemma is silly. ‘Yes, you are right that man must become a Saint,’ says Camus, ‘but the tragedy is that you can only become a Saint if God exists, and he does not exist, so you cannot become a Saint.’

Kierkegaard will not believe them but instead resigns himself to be alone (*sigh* ‘If only Dostoyevsky were part of this fight. He’d back me up’). He leaves them and sets out to find the Christians. Camus and Sartre roll their eyes and decide to follow him.

The Greeks.

Meanwhile, the Greeks have found each other and are quarreling viciously amongst themselves. Three teams stand in opposition: Socrates with Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, and the newly-joined McIntyr; Thales with his possy and the newly-joined Moore; and Pythagoras and Empedocles with Gorgias and Zeno.

To make a long story short, the three armies clash. Plotinus’ dream of building a New Republic of Philosophy is crushed, as is his skull, by Empedocles, who is known for overthrowing governments. McIntyr and Moore clash, and McIntyr loses (as he dies, he mutters to himself that Moore has no true virtue, has won unfairly, and that this proves the flimsiness of Moore’s post-Christian ethic).  Xenophanes, being an enemy of Greek cults, tries to attack Pythagoras. The geomancer luckily had enough time to prepare a time-teleportation spell, which he uses to travel back in time to a previous human incarnation of a tree that stands between him Xenophanes, convincing this previous incarnation to attack Xenophanes in the future (all the others see is Pythagoras mutter to himself and a nearby tree open up to swallow Xenophanes). Gorgias, who is goading on Plato, is cut down by Socrates (but only after a debate between the two, which Plato transcribes faithfully in dialogue format).

The Christians.

The Christian camp is large. They have erected a cross in the middle of the field where the battle began. Around this cross Jerome, Augustine, Anselm, Abelard, Aquinas, More, Erasmus, Chesterton, Calvin, and the late-arrival Edith Stein with her admirer Pope John Paul II all gather around and pray. Little do they know the tempest they are about to face.

Gradually the sound of crashing branches is heard from every direction, and from the west the entire mob of Greeks come crashing down, fighting amongst themselves and looking for others to fight. Behind them comes Averroes, who is chasing down Aristotle, and behind them Al-Ghazali and Avicenna in hot pursuit. The Existentialists emerge from the south, Camus and Sartre chasing down Kierkegaard. From the east the entire army of empiricists and scientists comes like a tidal wave, with beet-faced Galileo at their front screaming and cursing the name of every bishop he knows. From the north the Dynasty emerges, calmly waiting for victims to fall into their hands.

All the groups clash once again in the field, but this time they know who their enemies are and who their friends are. There is no chaos, only resolute killing and resolute deaths. Kierkegaard runs to Augustine and Aquinas and begs them to pray that he might have faith. Camus and Sartre catch up to him and think to free Kierkegaard of Christian illusions (better that he be disillusioned and face his existential crisis honestly), so they both lung for Augustine. Kierkegaard puts himself in front of their blades to protect Augustine, and dies himself. Camus and Sartre are shocked at what just happened, but their rage overcomes all else and directs their blades to Augustine’s heart. Averroes runs to Aristotle, but Al-Ghazali catches up and cuts him down. He also turns and slices Anselm’s throat – Anselm who is not fighting but pulling enemies off his friends. More falls back and finds himself before the Dynasty. Machiavelli offers to spare More’s life as long as the Englishman will ignore his conscience and kill to survive. More refuses, and is dispatched by Sun Tzu.

The Christians retreat to nurse their wounded. Aquinas protects their retreat – he situates his hulking frame before the advancing pagan armies and holds forth his Summa like a shield, shouting down heresies. At last the Freemason Francis Bacon comes up from behind and stabs at him. The first stab is blocked by an angel, the second by the thick tome in Aquinas’ hand, but the third finds its mark. The young hot-heads Erasmus and Abelard run into the fray and retrieve Aquinas’ body.

Heraclitus slinks out of the fray, wounded. He finds a pile of crap from when Copernicus shit himself, and rubs it over his wounds as “medicine.” He then cries himself to sleep.

Aquinas’ death marks the end of the second round. The existentialists especially mourn the death of God in philosophy.


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