Mar 5, 2007

the evilest philosophers

Andrew Selby, responding to the Beeb's listener poll selecting the greatest philosophizers:
Well, BBC listeners chose, surprisingly, Karl Marx by an overwhelming majority. The next three in the runnings also exercised great influence for what most would call evil: David Hume, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Frederich Nietzche. Finally, Plato gets in there, but his 6% pales in comparison to the 28% garnered for Marx.

I’m interested in what Mere-O readers think of this poll and its results (Is Marx even a proper philosopher?). Also, who would you name as the greatest philosopher and why? Take a look at the BBC shortlist to give yourself an idea of the criteria for a “philosopher” - you know it is broad when the likes of Kierkegaard and Marx are on there.
First off, if Kierkegaard doesn't count, no one does. Second, I'm as surprised as Andrew that Marx beats Plato--somewhere in hell, Karl Popper is weeping at a double loss--but I'm more surprised by the claim that Hume and Wittgenstein are listed as "evil" influences by "most." Most who? Berkeleyan idealists?

Third, reader polls are all about fraud. Don't despair: philosophy marches on.


Philosopher Scott said...

Marx is a philosopher, but I wouldn't call him the greatest. My favorite is Diogenes The Cynic, but he wouldn't win a contest like that because he has no texts left. My next favorite would be Hume, but depending on what is meant by 'great', I might go with someone like Buddha.

Oh yeah, you might like the Philosophy Forums.

TheTachyix said...

I will despair, mostly for the third reason.

dogscratcher said...

I can't believe in Britain that Bertrand Russell didn't even make the top five. I haven't read the article yet, but I have to question what their criteria for "great" are.

James said...

Kierkegaard is a philosopher, perhaps one the finest there ever was. Marx is a philosopher, but like scott said, not the greatest.

If I were to personally rate the 10 shortlist, I'd say:

1. Plato
2. Hume
3. Aristotle
4. Kierkegaard
5. Locke
6. Kant
7. Descartes
8. Mill
9. Russell

Jim Anderson said...

What, no Hegel? Just kiddin'.