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Mohandas Gandhi (1) vs. Philip K. Dick (2); Hobbes advances

All of yesterday‘s best comments were in favor of the political philosopher. Adam writes:

With Hobbes, the seminar would be “nasty, brutish, and short.” And it would degenerate into a “war of all against all.” In other words, the perfect academic seminar.

And Jonathan writes:

Chris Rock would definitely be more entertaining. But the chance to see a speaker who knew Galileo, basing his scientific worldview on him, and could actually find weak points in the proofs of the best mathematicians of the day (even if he couldn’t do any competent math himself) should not be squandered. . . .

I love Chris Rock, but you can see him on HBO. Let Hobbes have the last word against Wallis.

Also, Hobbes could talk about the implications of bullet control.

And, now, both of today’s contestants have a lot to talk about, and they’re both interested in the real world that underlies what we merely think is real. Gandhi was a vegetarian, but Dick was a cat person, which from my perspective is even better. Which of these two culture heroes is ready for prime time??

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


  1. Shea Levy says:

    Sid Meir’s civilization has [taught us][1] that placing Gandhi in a context less inclined toward aggression than his own will transform him into the most bloodthirsty warmonger known to man. Do we really want our speaker to leverage the podium to initiate World War III?


  2. zbicyclist says:

    I’m in favor of a nonviolent seminar, one where I don’t have to wonder if the other attendees are human.

  3. Xi'an says:

    “But—let me tell you my cat joke. It’s very short and simple. A hostess is giving a dinner party and she’s got a lovely five-pound T-bone steak sitting on the sideboard in the kitchen waiting to be cooked while she chats with the guests in the living room—has a few drinks and whatnot. But then she excuses herself to go into the kitchen to cook the steak—and it’s gone. And there’s the family cat, in the corner, sedately washing it’s face.”

    “The cat got the steak,” Barney said.

    “Did it? The guests are called in; they argue about it. The steak is gone, all five pounds of it; there sits the cat, looking well-fed and cheerful. “Weigh the cat,” someone says. They’ve had a few drinks; it looks like a good idea. So they go into the bathroom and weigh the cat on the scales. It reads exactly five pounds. They all perceive this reading and a guest says, “okay, that’s it. There’s the steak.” They’re satisfied that they know what happened, now; they’ve got empirical proof. Then a qualm comes to one of them and he says, puzzled, “But where’s the cat?”

    Ph. K. Dick, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

  4. Dalton says:

    With Ghandi, you’ve got a man who puts his faith in high leverage outliers. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

    I’d much rather have the man who embraces uncertainty and the impossibility of objectivity: “Any given man sees only a tiny portion of the total truth, and very often, in fact almost…perpetually, he deliberately deceives himself about that precious little fragment as well.” And someone who also understands that change in the world arises from a stochastic process, not dragged by a single datum: “We hypostasize information into objects. Rearrangement of objects is change in the content of the information; the message has changed. This is a language which we have lost the ability to read. We ourselves are a part of this language; changes in us are changes in the content of the information. We ourselves are information-rich; information enters us, is processed and is then projected outwards once more, now in an altered form. We are not aware that we are doing this, that in fact this is all we are doing.”

  5. Billy Buchanan says:

    Although the view of psychologists may not carry so much weight in this forum, Howard Gardner has called Ghandi the most influential person of the previous millennium. Given that Ghandi influenced nearly everyone who took up civil disobedience as a means for social justice and change, it could be interesting to hear his perceptions of the others who did not make it to these later rounds. So, it would almost provide a catch all for others. Might also be interesting to pose his non-violence position in the context of the best response to organizations like ISIS, Al Queda, and the Tea Party.

  6. Nadia says:

    Gandhi argued against World War II, so he seems to have a very strong worldview that might not be easily altered by data analyses. That would serve as a powerful reminder of the limitations of statistics.

  7. JR says:

    Philip was around 20 when Mohandas (Gandhi) died. Philip died right when computers started to matter for everyone. So to be clear… this is a competition between the dead. I’d rather listen to a sci-fi writer who cut his teeth in the sixties and seventies talking about the future than a philosophical / religious leader telling me things I already know.

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