Society of Fellows Big Thinkers — Day Three

Friends, it was another thrilling day of games here at the Big Thinkers Tournament. We’ve seen an unusual number of upsets this year, and the pattern continued last night. The Western Canon may never be the same in light of this year’s results!

Let’s start with the shocker of the night. Top seed in the West, St. Thomas Aquinas, was well positioned for a run to the final four this year, after first round losses by regional rivals Hobbes and Hume. Standing in his way, however, was a low-ranked, but determined Durkheim. Aquinas dominated early, as Durkheim had no answer for his unique triangle offense. Dictating to three scribes at once, Aquinas quickly overwhelmed the defense of the Sorbonne scholar. But Durkheim would not give up, slowly working himself back into the match. Slowly marshaling the collective consciousness, he finally snared the Doctor in a net of social facticity, completing a stunning 76-70 upset. Fans of Aquinas were left wandering what might have been. But this, as they say, is why they hold the debates.

The other significant upset was Beauvoir’s 74-57 defeat of 4th seed Freud. Sigmund was uncharacteristically off his game, as if driven toward to his own defeat. Beauvoir moves on to continue her transcendent tournament run.

For others, the Cinderella story came to an end. After James’ historic victory over Hume on Thursday, fans of the Harvard professor were willing to believe he could go deep into the tournament. Those hopes came crashing down last night. James’ pragmatic reasoning proved insufficient to counter the systematic metaphysics of Leibniz, and the German polymath won decisively 74-51.

In the Midwest, Plato and Hegel both advanced easily. The Athenian master returned to the cave to take on Wittgenstein, winning 83-55. Asked to explain his disappointing performance, a crestfallen Ludwig remained silent. Things went no better for Wittgenstein’s contemporary, Albert Einstein, who lost 70-48 to the hooting Owl of Minerva. Hegel looked impressive as he advanced to another stage, headed seemingly inevitably toward the final.

Just one game in the south last night, a battle of early modern physicists. As expected, Newton came out on top, dropping Galileo 78-53. The feisty Newton used the post-game interview to engage in a bizarre rant against Leibniz, which may have had something to do with a stolen playbook.

Finally, two games in the East. Free spirit Nietzsche overcame an early deficit to win 66-60 over Chomsky. But the game of the night was between 3rd ranked Spinoza and 6th seed Rawls. This much-anticipated showdown certainly lived up to expectations. In a thrilling finish, Rawls had a final chance to tie at the buzzer, but his last desperate attempt to apply his theory of justice globally fell just short. The final score: 74-72. With the defeat, Rawls returns to his original position.

We now have eight of our final sixteen teams. The remaining eight will be decided in Sunday’s action.

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