The Third Annual Philosopher Obstacle of-Course Competition

“Welcome everybody. I’m Tom numb-chuck along
with the ever-loveable Phil the Philosophosaurus
for this year’s Third Annual Philosopher Obstacle of-Course Competition.
That’s right every year we have a Third Annual Philosopher
Obstacle of-Course Competition and this year’s no different.

“Yes Tom?”

“Alright then.
OK, our teams this year will be the Ancients versus the Moderns,
with the Moderns boasting such fan-favorites
as Descartes, Marx, and the guy who still lives with his dad…”

“Ahh, very nice.”

“Thank you Phil.
And for the Ancients, we have the Buddha, Plato,
and Diogenes the Cynic…
who is actually a pretty nice guy…”


“That’s right, Phil.
OK, and it looks like we’re on our way…
Uh-oh… the Moderns seem to be having an early set-back
as the Beatnik Poet Allen Ginsberg
is apparently not being allowed to compete on the basis
of looking generally flake-y and completely disheveled…”

“Ahh… yes… apparently a shirt and shoes are required
to compete in today’s Competition…”

“Indeed Phil, this is a classy event…
O no! It looks like again the Moderns are suffering
a bit of folly as Rene Descartes has begun
to argue with himself circularly
as to whether or not he is in fact awake or dreaming…
as well as to the possibility that he may be deceived
by some sort of evil genius…”

“Yes Phil, though technically possible…
not the most constructive debate to get into…
especially with yourself… in the midst of today’s Competition…
But don’t under-estimate the Moderns, they are savvy…
But let’s turn out attention now back to the Ancients,
where it appears that Thales is trying
to pass through an un-passable pit of fire…”

“Yes, Tom I believe you’re right….
Thales of Meletus, that’s ancient Greece for you guys watching at home…
the Philosopher who believes the entire world is made up of water…
is apparently trying to swim across the fiery pit…”

“Right you are Phil…
and how’s that going for him?”

“Not so good Tom, apparently Thales is now… on fire…”

“Mmm… that is going to hurt in the morning…”

“Indeed, Tom, he may want to re-consider his philosophy…
after tending to those wounds…”

“In the meantime, let’s go back now to the Moderns
where it appears that Karl Marx
is becoming increasingly frustrated…
as a wall in front of him that he is supposed to climb,
though solid… is not melting into thin air…”

“Ahh… that is a tough break for this International Man of Mystery…
though fortunately the blow to his ego will be softened
by lashing out against other people’s religious beliefs…
while at the same time creating his own equally
fanatical ideology…”

“Good point, Phil…
However, be that as it may…
these Philosophers are going to need
to recognize the reality of the real-world
and its consequent physical laws…
if they are going to have any chance
of helping their respective teams make it through this Competition…”

“Mmm… true enough Tom.
Ahh… it appears Nietzsche is now wasting valuable
time reading his own philosophical writings…
Yes, it appears he is looking for something of value
in the Western philosophical tradition for… inspiration?”

“Well, when there’s a Will there’s a Way,
right Phil?”

“I don’t know about that one, Tom…
but speaking of the Way…
it looks like Laozi the author of the Daodejing
has reached the spoken word section of our Competition…
Let’s see what he has to say…”

“The Way is
and yet
it is not.”

“Ahhh… a Haiku!
Yes, Laozi the master has done it again…
saying something seemingly meaningful
and deep… using as few words as possible.”

“Yes, it seems he is relieved with himself
and is now going with the flow
over by the nearest bush…”

“Communing with nature! Why not?…
Alright then… let’s turn our attention now to John Locke…
the 17th century British philosopher who like
the Daoist sage is also hard to understand…
though without sounding nearly as cool…”

“Yes, it seems John is going
to be doing a rap for us this evening…
let’s listen…”

“Yes, well… If I may… how do you do?
O, how the primary qualities
of the apple do fall upon me
impressing themselves impressively
into my memory, well… so to speak…
And yet the sensory apparatus
is topped only by the carrot
lettuce leave well enough alone
I am a tertiary turtle…
and I want to go home…”

“Mmm…. a beautiful bouquet
of nonsensical words streaming forth
from the Locke-ness Monster…
laying it down like no-body’s business
however if the Moderns think
they have this competition on “locke”-down…
they’ve got another thing coming…”

“Nice pun Phil.”

“Thanks Tom.”

“But wait, what’s this?
It seems Hegel, the indecipherable
19th century German philosopher…
is going to try to recite some of his own verbatim…”

“Ooo… Tom, this has train-wreck
written all over it…”

“Yes, I’m afraid you’re right…
this could be disastrous for the Moderns…
Ahh… yes indeed…
it seems Hegel has been filled
again by the Spirit of Bullshit
as he rambles on incessantly for hours…
apparently confusing not-only himself
but every-one else in attendance
and in-effect filibustering the Moderns
right in the middle of their glorious up-swing…”

“Mmm… yes, it seems so Tom.
Perhaps he should work
for the Senate, ehh?”

“Indeed Phil… but y’know
many philosophers have
turned away from Politics
ever since the famous death of Socrates
at the hands of the Ancient Athenians…”

“Very true, Tom.
Speaking of Socrates…
here comes his star pupil now…
Yes, it appears Plato is doing quite well in today’s Competition…
the metaphorical Sun is Shining down upon him…
indeed he is displaying quite Good Form…”

“That he is, Phil.
Yes, ever since coming out of the Cave
Plato has been a new man,
having success playing
both on and off the field…”

“Astute observation there Tom.”

“Thank you Phil.
But let’s turn our attention back now to the Moderns…
where it seems that the Analytics have tripped themselves
up a in a near-by bog of semantical discourse…
which will in-fact prove to be their Achilles Heel
over the course of the next 2 and a half centuries…”

“Right, you are Tom.
But look! It appears William James and the Pragmatists
are in fact soaring over the competition,
yes they are as high as a kite…
apparently from inhaling some smuggled-in Nitrous Oxide…”

“Ahh… to be young again,
experimenting with mind-altering drugs
justified on the basis of
philosophical experimentation
and passed-off as some sort of glorified
sense of personal religious experience…”

“That’s right Tom.
In fact, I believe that wasn’t the only “Door”
which young William allowed to be opened
back in those wild college days…
if you know what I’m saying…”

“That I do Phil…
but let us turn our attention once again
to the Ancients, where unfortunately
Cicero seems to have gotten himself
stuck in some sort of episode
of political espionage…
Yes, this famous Philosopher and Statesman
of Ancient Rome is going to have to pull
some serious strings to get himself
back in the game here at the Third Annual
Philosopher Obstacle of-Course Competition…”

“Right you are Tom…
But wait… it seems things are going
from bad to worse for ole Cicero…
as he has in fact been stabbed in the back
by none other than the bad-boy of Philosophy…
Niccolo Machiavelli.”

“Ooo… that is an unfortunate turn of events, there Phil.
Indeed that Italian rascal doesn’t like to play by the rules…
does he Phil?”

“No, he doesn’t Tom…
but that is a-part of his charm….”

“Fair enough, Phil.
Yes, I imagine it can be rather tough out there
for you philosophers…”

“That’s right Tom.
I can tell you from personal experience
that being a philosopher and being popular
don’t always go hand in hand…”

“Mmm… I imagine that’s true Phil…
I mean, why would anyone spend
so much time debating meaningless abstractions
unless they had very few friends, no girl-friend…
and indeed, lots and lots of free time on their hands…
y’know what I mean?”

“Yes, that’s correct Tom.
Indeed, Schopenhauer was supposed to be here
today however he decided to stay home
and bask in the frustration and angst
which has been welling up inside him
for the past three decades as a consequence
of his own pseudo-Buddhist pessimistic
views of the Cosmos…”

“That is unfortunate…
But wait!… Speaking of Buddhism…
Yes, it seems that the Buddha has in fact
crossed the finish line in his parabolic Raft!
Ahh… it seems that rather than banging
his head against some wall…
as is the case with many of the Western
Philosophers, both Ancient and Modern…
the Buddha has instead chosen
the path of least resistance,
a middle way… for the sake of practical results!”

“Right you are Tom…
But alas it seems that he is now telling the judges
that he doesn’t want to be counted as having
completed this aspect of existence…
as he believes the world is fundamentally
impermanent and therefore that he
does not in fact have a real self-hood…”

“Mmm… yes, it seems you’re right Phil.
Well… anatta bad idea in general…
but in this stage of the Competition
that is going to cost the Ancients dearly…”

“Yes, I mean…
that is a bit of a stretch…
even for a guy who does do yoga
and meditates for hours every morning!”

“Very true, Phil…
I guess winners can be “illusors”…”

“Tu che, Tom.
Tu che.
But wait… could it be?
Yes it seems that our representative
of the all-important early 18th century
Irish philosophical tradition
George Berkeley has somehow managed
to also stumble his way across the finish line…”

“Yes, indeed.
But alas… again, Berkeley is now
arguing that since we cannot with certainty
know the existence of any aspect of the material world…
it is impossible for the judges
to determine any winner to the competition.”

“Ahh… yes I believe you’re right, there Phil…
But wait… here it seems Confucius Says:
Don’t listen to that stupid jackass…”

“Well there you have it Tom…”

“Indeed, Phil… well played by the Ancients.”

“That’s right, Tom…
the revered Elder from China isn’t pulling any punches…
Meanwhile it seems that Democritus,
the so-called “Laughing Philosopher” is, well…
laughing at Aristotle who has efficiently managed
to “cause” his own defeat…
entangling himself in the rope-swing…”

“Right you are Tom,
and likewise the soberly named
“Weeping Philosopher” Heraclitus
is telling the already over-literate Modern Philosophers to…
“read it and weep”…”

“Mmm… I guess some things never change,
do they Tom?”

“No, they don’t Phil…
Well… there you have it folks.
Yes it seems we have another fine predicament
on our hands here at the Third Annual
Philosopher Obstacle of-Course Competition…
as we again find ourselves with no clear winner
and will once again have to wait until next year
where we will surely again not-prove anything conclusively…”

“Well said, Tom.
A fine day of Competition all around!”

“It certainly has been, Phil…
I’m Tom numb-chuck here with Phil the Philosophosaurus
and this has been this year’s presentation
of the Third Annual Philosopher Obstacle of-Course Competition.
You can follow us on our website at
as unfortunately
had already been taken, and is being used for soft-core porn.
Phil, is there anything else you’d like to say?”

“Yes, Tom… I would just like to remind our audience
to keep your nose to the grindstone!
… unless of course you are Baruch Spinoza,
the 17th century Dutch philosopher
who apparently decided to work for a living…
a hazard to any great thinker,
and consequently died pre-maturely of Silicosis,
a death brought on most likely by inhaling minute particles of glass…
as he was in fact a lens-grinder…”

“Mmm… that job sounds like a grind, Phil.”

“Yes, I imagine so Tom.”

“Yes, a shame indeed… but perhaps better
than freezing your ass off like Descartes did,
and consequently getting pneumonia
as a result of that bitch Queen Christina of Sweden
insisting on having him give her philosophy lessons
at 5am in the morning in the middle of winter…”

“Yes, Tom.
And likewise it’s probably a better way to go
than the philosopher Protagoras who died in a shipwreck,
Isocrates who chose to starve himself to death,
Empedocles who as legend has it threw himself
into a crater…
Chrysippus who died from laughter after giving his donkey wine
and watching it attempt to eat figs…
Diogenes the Cynic who despite competing in today’s competition
is known to have died either from having an allergic reaction
to eating raw octopus, having been bitten by a dog,
or somehow having been able to hold his breath long enough
to the point that he collapsed from a lack of oxygen…
Also of course, there is the less humorous but equally serious
death of Epicurus… who had kidney stones…”

“Mmm… say Phil, is that really true about Diogenes?”

“Is what true Tom?”

“That he died from holding his breath?”

“Well it might be… but like anything Philosophical
it is certainly speculative… so let’s just say
I wouldn’t hold you’re breath on that one…”

“Goodnight Everybody!”