A few days ago I began this phantastic philosophical series and it brought a lot of responses, a few chuckles, some interesting questions from many people and, perhaps most importantly, a goodly number of rec's (insert shameless self-promotion here).
Today I'd like to continue that discussion, with more great snippets of Mankind's eternal quest for self-knowledge, and most importantly, to continue the march towards Football Nirvana, whatever and wherever that may be.
After the great Grecian Era of philosophy, apparantly people were pretty silent for a long number of years. First the conquest of the world by the Roman Empire, during which time independent thought was seemingly forbidden, and then the "Dark Ages" for hundreds of years when nobody had a single idea of note, with the possible exception of Atilla the Hun, whose idea of thinking was "What's the best way to separate this guy's head from his shoulders?" Now there was the epitome of a middle linebacker if there ever was one. Sadly, Atilla was a horseman and thus more suited for polo than football.
Religion played a major role in the awakening of Man's tendencies to wax philosophical, as with St Anselm of Canterbury, who came up with the notion that God must exist, because for something to exist at all, it must be perfect. Since the most perfect thing is God, he must, by definition, exist. Don Shula and the Dolphins of Miami would be inclined to agree. (According to tradition, the Dolphins engage in a wild orgy every year to celebrate St Anselm's birthday, which by chance falls on the exact day that the last remaining NFL team is defeated. Amazing.)
The French philosopher Peter Abelard spoke of "universals" as a concept, such as redness, or hardness, or baldness. The issue at hand was: do universal constants truly exist? Realists believe that yes, universals do exist independently of what people think. This is also known as idealism. Examples of universal constants are "you have to run to set up the pass" and "offense is nice but you win games with defense" - the opposite of idealism is called nominalism, which holds that universals are names used to describe things, but aren't really those things in essence. Abelard also described a third idea of conceptualism which states that universals exist but only in the mind. Confused yet? If not, you obviously haven't been paying attention.
The guy who helped drive philosophy out of the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance was William of Ockham. He was most famous for his belief that in any given situation, the simplest idea is always the best idea, and most likely the correct idea. This is called Ockham's Razor. It later became known as the K.I.S.S. method, not to be confused with the rock band. One major proponent of Ockham's Razor in recent years has been Al Davis of Oakland. "Just Win, Baby!" Yup, it really is just that simple ... for Al.
Erasmus, a Dutch philosopher, felt that if everyone had faith in God and would just show some love to each other, that everything would be hunky-dory. He felt it was pointless to argue about things, because nothing could ever be known with a complete certainty. Erasmus, of course, had never seen a blog.
At about the same time, a guy who was the exact opposite of Erasmus came along in Italy, a guy named Machiavelli. He was skeptical about ideas of goodness and virtue, and proposed that all rulers be ruthless and do whatever it takes to secure and maintain their power. Nice guys finish last in Machiavelli's world, and and he wrote that rulers should do whatever it takes and use any means necessary to win, and never hesitate to make people fear them. Remarkably enough, Machiavelli wore a hoodie. He also had the world's first video camera. Go figure.
English philosopher Francis Bacon was more cerebral, and felt that knowledge itself was a powerful thing. Bacon believed that the more you know, the better off you are, and the more you can help yourself in the long run. In Bacon's view, people should learn as much as they can about anything and everything, even if there seems to be no immediate need for all that knowledge, because you just never know when it might come in handy. Marv Levy, former Head Coach of the Chiefs and later the Bills, was definitely one to "bring home the Bacon."
But for some it wasn't enought to simply know everything, because after all, what good is it to know about things if you don't know yourself? And so a Frenchman tried a little thought experiment. He decided to rid his mind of all thoughts, and to this end he sat down one glorious New Year's Day and began watching every minute of every bowl game that was on. It worked. By the end of the day he was totally brain-dead and nearly blind. But he finally awoke from his self-induced stupor with the remarkable idea that he could imagine everything out of existence EXCEPT himself. Rene Descartes, who spoke perhaps the most famous 5 words in the history of philosophy when he said: "I drink, therefore I am." This, remember, was AFTER 12 Bowl Games in one sitting, and a case of imported Egyptian beer. Larry Johnson would later regret ever having had a thought.
Thomas Hobbes was the opposite of Descartes, in that while Descartes felt people could govern themselves just fine without acting selfishly, Hobbes was convinced that everyone should be a loyal and faithful servant of the king, even if he's a despotic tyrant and is ruthless as a leader. Woody Hayes, Mike Leach and Mark Mangino were all proponents of the Hobbes philosophy of football.
Coming Soon: Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Voltaire and Rouseau