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Mohandas Gandhi (1) vs. Mother Teresa (4); Hobbes advances

For yesterday, we didn’t get much in the way of comments, so I’ll have to go with this comment by Jonathan:

Hobbes is the Arnold Schwarzenegger of philosophers. Any time someone feels he’s been killed off, he’ll be back.

Tolstoy is the Buster Keaton of novelists. Widely admired, widely studied, and just about obsolete in popular culture.

Take those observations for what they’re worth. I want to hear Hobbes.

For today we have a battle of two humble servants of the poor.

In the spirit of Robin Williams doing William F. Buckley reading Goldilocks and the Three Bears, we’ll have this match guest-judged by David Brooks, the famed professor of humility at Yale.

So, whaddya got? Extra credit for any comments with a truly Brooksian vibe.

P.S. As always, here’s the background, and here are the rules.


  1. Jeremy Fox says:

    I’m confused–if you’re going with a comment recommending Hobbes, why does Tolstoy advance?

  2. Xi'an says:

    An aspect of Gandhi that may prove a liability for the seminar organiser: if Gandhi comes and gives a talk, there is a risk of him asking some female member(s) in the audience to his bed to “test his chastity”:

  3. Slugger says:

    “We see the understandable quest for national economic liberation as sadly misled. It is apparent to any student of Edmund Burke that proper order requires a careful stewardship by a hereditary aristocracy especially a Britainic bloodline. I must hold with Churchill’s characterization of Gandhi as a naked fakir not fit to rule. Whereas Mother Theresa’s amelioristic approach to the very poor ensures their compliance with the system that keeps them poor which is admirable.”
    The above is my imagined quotation from DB. My personal view is to back the liberator of a subcontinent and a billion people.

  4. Ethan Bolker says:

    I suspect Brooks would be frightened by Gandhi and go with MT, but I can’t seem to come up with the words he’d use to justify his choice.

  5. Ben Levin says:

    What would be really interesting is to have a (revived) Christopher Hitchens go after them both. He had some famously harsh words for Mother Teresa, and while I don’t know his stance on Gandhi it could not fail to be interesting. That said, since we are looking for a seminar, not an interrogation.

    I would suggest that Gandhi would have a far more interesting things to say about the current state of world politics, etc. The issues that Gandhi was known for (de-colonization, passive resistance) remain immensely relevant but with very different parameters than the 1920’s-1940’s. By contrast, Mother Teresa’s main mission (serving the poor) is basically unchanged and there is little chance of learning anything new.

  6. Jonathan (another one) says:

    In an age where egotism is in the ascendant and the values of self-sacrifice, prevalent though they are in a few fields, like our fighting forces, hard-working inner city school teachers, and journalists giving up lucrative public relations careers to report on small town council meetings, we see Columbia University, at the heart of the soulless New York beast (a few blocks North, actually, but close to the geographic center of Manhattan, according to some people I talked to) we find the rare opportunity to hear two truly selfless individuals. While it one thing to devote your life to he diseased poor and to counsel for the unborn, the clearly more selfless candidate, the true exemplar for New York, is Gandhi. Selflessness comes and goes, but nobody gives up being a lawyer. Let’s heed his words.

  7. zbicyclist says:

    True hero or fraudulent heroine? You make the call.

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