Society of Fellows Big Thinkers — Day Four

Let’s recap another exciting day of Big Thinking action.

In the Midwest, the All-Destroying Kant looked sharp in a 66-50 win over 7-seed Adam Smith. Smith’s controversial invisible hand had effectively regulated the critical parries of first round opponent Deleuze, but was of little use against Kant’s bold and systematic theorizing. Kant moves on to face Hegel in a much-anticipated grudge match between these titans of German idealism.

Descartes, the highest remaining seed in the West, took on #10 Kierkegaard. Descartes carries unpleasant associations from his time in Scandinavia, and last night he took out his frustrations on the Melancholy Dane. In fact, it was a close affair: 78-75. Kierkegaard took the offensive early on, deploying multiple, overlapping pseudonymous critiques. Descartes wisely adopted a rope-a-dope strategy, taking shelter in his invulnerable cogito until Søren had exhausted himself. Then, bursting forth with a proof of God’s existence, Descartes caught the proto-existentialist off guard, opening up an argument for the reliability of the senses that sealed the victory. Descartes will meet Leibniz in the next round in what promises to be an early-modern instant classic.

The other Western match saw Voltaire beating Maimonides 76-74. This was another nail-biter, with the lead going back and forth. In the end, however, Voltaire’s sharp quips left the Cordoban cognizer perplexed and unsure how to proceed. Afterward, Maimonides refused to affirm the loss, insisting merely that he had not won.

Social Thought alum Hannah Arendt took on two seed Michel Foucault in a matchup of Eastern region power theorists. Arendt kept the game close, but Foucault emerged as the 63-59 winner, having dug deep to expose the contingent roots of her thought.

Bertrand Russell once dismissed top-ranked Marx as a “muddle-headed” and “unscientific” thinker. Yesterday, Karl got his revenge on the Cambridge Cad. Russell normally relies on logical redescription to expose the ambiguities on which his opponents rely. However, the ponderous prose of the 1844 Manuscripts defeated his best efforts, leaving him thoroughly alienated from his own tools of analysis. The final score: 58-52.

Moving to the South, there were three games yesterday. Top seed Aristotle won 70-58 over Copernicus. Aristotle had little trouble against the Renaissance astronomer who had deigned to disturb the order of the spheres. Using his patented function argument, he left even Copernicus himself convinced that a victory for the Macedonian Marvel was the highest good.

Elsewhere, #3 Darwin was selected over #11 Ricoeur 78-64 and #15 Ptolemy topped #7 Weber 81-71. Ptolemy is emerging as the Cinderella story of this year’s big dance. After another impressive victory, the unheralded Hellene becomes the lowest ranked thinker to advance to the Sagacious 16. He’ll continue his historic quest to be the Greatest when he meets up against Darwin.

Since we have a few days off now, let’s see who’s brackets are winning. Right now, we have a tie for the lead: Jared “Go Blue” Newton and your very own reporter each have 42 points. Neither of us share any final four thinkers in common, so one of us will be heading down in the standings very soon!

Tied for third, at 39 points, are Jackie and Dana. Jackie’s bracket will depend on the continued success of upstart Ptolemy, who she has taking the title. Dana’s bracket looks a lot like that of yours truly, with an emphasis on high-seeded philosophers. To win, she’ll need Marx to make a run to the final. Here are the rest of the top 10:

5. Rafeeq H (38)
Ian D (38)
7. Jennifer F (37)
James C (37)
9. Spencer L (34)
Jim W (34)
Ben M (34)

The points keep rising for the later rounds, so those of you further back still have time to turn things around. Good luck, and good thinking!

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