Things philosophers say

Here are a few stories about what philosophers say that I found on the internet:

Stories about A. J. Ayer are legion. Many people know the incident when Ayer confronted Mike Tyson, at the time heavyweight boxing champion of the world. It took place in Manhattan at the party of Fernando Sanchez, a fashionable underwear designer (not many philosophers get invited to underwear designer parties). Ayer was talking to a group of models when a woman rushed in saying that a friend was being assaulted in the next room. Ayer went to the rescue and discovered Mike Tyson trying to force himself on a young British model called Naomi Campbell. Ayer warned Tyson to takes his hands off her, to which Tyson replied, “Do you know who the fuck I am? I’m the heavyweight champion of the world.” Ayer replied, without missing a beat, “And I am the former Wykeham Professor of Logic. We are both eminent in our field; I suggest that we talk about this like rational men.” By which time, Naomi Campbell had escaped Tyson’s clutches.


Isaac Bashevis Singer was once asked whether he believed in free will or predestination. “We have to believe in free will,” he replied. “We’ve got no choice.”


The following exchange took place during a conversation shortly after 9/11 between author Giovanna Borradori and the deconstructionist philosopher Jacques Derrida:

BORRADORI: September 11 [Le 11 septembre] gave us the impression of being a major event, one of the most important historical events we will witness in our lifetime, especially for those of us who never lived through a world war. Do you agree?

DERRIDA: Le 11 septembre, as you say, or, since we have agreed to speak two languages, “September 11.” We will have to return later to this question of language. As well as to this act of naming: a date and nothing more. When you say “September 11” you are already citing, are you not? Something fait date, I would say in a French idiom, something marks a date, a date in history. “To mark a date in history” presupposes, in any case, an ineffaceable event in the shared archive of a universal calendar, that is, a supposedly universal calendar, for these are – and I want to insist on this at the outset – only suppositions and presuppositions. For the index pointing toward this date, the bare act, the minimal deictic, the minimalist aim of this dating, also marks something else. The telegram of this metonymy – a name, a number – points out the unqualifiable by recognizing that we do not recognize or even cognize that we do not yet know how to qualify, that we do not know what we are talking about.”


Near the end of his life, the famed existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre told Pierre Victor: “I do not feel that I am the product of chance, a speck of dust in the universe, but someone who was expected, prepared, prefigured. In short, a being whom only a Creator could put here; and this idea of a creating hand refers to God.”

His fellow existentialist and long-time companion Simone de Beauvoir was not impressed. “How,” she asked, “should one explain the senile act of a turncoat?”


One Response to Things philosophers say

  1. Alberto says:

    Excellent quote about “free will”.

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