The results are out today on a poll for an alternative cabinet of philosophers to govern the UK. The poll was run by Dr Angie Hobbs Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick and Senior Fellow in the Public Understanding of Philosophy.
Dr Hobbs is a particular expert on Plato who hated the idea of raw democracy. The majority of people are characterized by their non-rational appetites (for instance for food, drink, sex, material possessions and the money needed to acquire them) and if left to their own devices and not guided by others, they will not only be characterized by such appetites, they will be ruled by them.
Plato also believed that democracies can be a breeding ground for tyranny. Democracies can be swayed by the oratory of popular demagogues and not realise when the demagogues start to turn themselves into tyrants who will actually undermine democratic freedoms. Furthermore, one can even view democracies themselves as a kind of tyranny – the tyranny of the irrational majority over the rational minority. Overall he argued in his work forward in Republic that states would be better ruled by philosophers.
To mark Plato’s views Dr Hobbs has been running a poll on Twitter to elect an alternative cabinet of Philosophers living and dead. Over 1000 people have visited her blog and have nominated 127 different philosophers to cabinet posts. Polls have now closed and the results now follow:
John Stuart (J.S) Mill Convincingly beat his nearest rival the Dutch philosopher of Portuguese origin Baruch Spinoza. Mill perhaps had an unfair advantage of course as he actually served as a Member of Parliament for City and Westminster. Spinoza of course suffered from having the word “spin” in his name.
Mill’s Wikipedia entry
Spinoza’s Wikipedia Entry
Minister for Defence
Pacifist Bertrand Russell beat Jean Baudrillard French philosopher and in a shock result also pipped military theorist Carl von Clausewitz.
Bertrand Russell Wikipedia entry
Jean Baudrillard Wikipedia entry
Carl von Clausewitz Wikipedia entry
Scottish philosopher, economist, historian David Hume beat Voltaire despite Voltaire’s personal experience of the prison system and forced immigration.
David Hume Wikipedia entry
Voltaire Wikipedia entry
Minister for Transport
Won by 5th Century BC philosopher Zeno of Elea who argued that that movement is an illusion. Despite this belief he pulled miles ahead of nearest rival Karl Popper.
Zeno Wikipedia entry
Popper Wikipedia entry
Arts and Culture
Was the only post to be won by a living modern philosopher Slovenia’s Slavoj Žižek.
Slavoj Žižek Wikipedia entry
Secretary of State for Health
Was most controversially won by Friedrich Nietzsche with his doctrine of Übermensch (Overman or Superman) he narrowly beat Heraclitus who may have been hampered by rumours that he died after using dung as a cure for his dropsy.
Friedrich Nietzsche’s Wikipedia entry
Heraclitus Wikipedia entry
Minister for the Cabinet Office
Won by French philosopher and government minister Alexis de Tocqueville but no one else wanted it….
Alexis de Tocqueville’s Wikipedia entry
Sport Including the Olympics
Albert Camus’s goal keeping skills helped him beat Hobbes who thought life without government would be nasty, brutish, and short though he may have been confusing life with boxing.
Camus Wikipedia entry
Hobbes Wikipedia entry
Was one by one of the only 2 female winners of a post - Simone De Beauvoir who beat Edmund Burke and Machiavelli.
Simone De Beauvoir’s Wikipedia entry
Burke’s Wikipedia entry
Machiavelli’s Wikipedia entry
Won by the only other woman to win a post 4th century philosopher Hypatia who was considered to be the first notable woman in mathematics, and who also taught philosophy and astronomy. She beat living Australian philosopher David Malet Armstrong.
Hypatia’s Wikipedia entry
David Malet Armstrong’s Wikipedia entry
Martin Heidegger – possibly as he thought seclusion provided by the forest to be the best environment in which to engage in philosophical thought.
Martin Heidegger’s Wikipedia entry
Secretary of State for Scotland
Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, Cicero gained the only vote for this post – we have no idea why other than that they may have confused him with Scottish singer and keyboardist David Cicero.
Cicero’s Wikipedia entry
David Cicero’s Wikipedia entry
Won on by Francis Hutcheson (August 8, 1694 – August 8, 1746) a philosopher born in Ireland to a family of Scottish Presbyterians who became one of the founding fathers of the Scottish Enlightenment. He narrowly beat Stoic Zeno of Citium.
Francis Hutcheson’s Wikipedia entry
Zeno of Citium’s Wikipedia entry
Won by Sir Henry Jones – born in Denbighshire, accomplished philosopher, son of a shoemaker and instrumental in the passing of the Intermediate Education Act of 1889.
Sir Henry Jones Wikipedia entry
Diogenes of Sinope – possibly linked to his living in a tub…
Diogenes of Sinope’s Wikipedia page
And if you want more fun with philosophy we can recommend the tribute/ replay of ‘The Philosophers' Football Match on Sunday 9th May Inspired by the famous 1972 Monty Python sketch - and with the full backing of the surviving Pythons - a tribute/ replay of ‘The Philosophers' Football Match’ comedy sketch between teams of 'Greeks' and 'Germans' is being held in May as a real football game and features Warwick Philosopher Dr Angie Hobbs more info at:
For further information please contact:
Peter Dunn, Head of Communications, University of Warwick
Tel: 024 76 523708 Mobile 07767 655860 email@example.com
PR40 6th May 2010