E-Net News

Spinoza defeats Descartes in philosophy department debate

Elon philosophy faculty members held a raucous debate called “Philosophical Survivor” as part of the Celebration of Faculty Scholarship sessions on April 28. Eight professors took on the roles of some of history’s greatest philosophers, answering fundamental questions in seven rounds of questioning. Students in the audience voted in each round to eliminate professors, similar to the format of the TV reality show, “Survivor.”

Anthony Weston (posing as Spinoza) and Ann Cahill (posing as Descarte) argued philosophical questions during the April 28 Celebration of Faculty Scholarship

Each faculty member chose a philosopher to represent for the competition. In each round they were given 90 seconds to respond to questions including the following:

  • Who are you, and what is the foundation of your philosophy?
  • What can we know?
  • Does God exist?
  • Is there human freedom?
  • What is the best form of government?

Faculty members and their alter egos included the following:
Nim Batchelor – George Santayana
Anthony Weston – Baruch Spinoza
Elsebet Jegstrup – Aristotle
Yoram Lubling – John Locke
Abigail Doukhan – Immanuel Kant
Martin Fowler – Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius
Ann Cahill – Rene Descartes
Steven Bloch-Schulman - Heraclitus

Cahill (Descartes), with an authentic French accent, and Weston (Spinoza), sporting a stylish Dutch hat with a long feather, faced off in the final round in a fast-paced philosophical argument. Weston emerged as the winner.

Dan Anderson,
4/28/2009 6:17 PM