Monday, February 09, 2009

Logic and the Champ

This is priceless. (It’s a good thing this blog is free.)

I recently finished reading The Book of Dead Philosophers by Simon Critchley. (I’m writing a longer review of it for a forthcoming project.) It’s a compendium of the ways in which 190 philosophers have died, and any profound (or absurd) words they may have uttered upon departing.

It includes this anecdote about A. J. Ayer, which is also included in a biography of the philosopher, and is related with no “allegedly” in sight -- meaning this is accepted as true, and therefore a strong contender for Best Thing Ever:
Stories about Ayer are legion. Many people know the incident when Ayer confronted Mike Tyson, at the time heavyweight boxing champion of the world. (ASWOBA note: Ayer was in his 70s at the time.) It took place in Manhattan at the party of Fernando Sanchez, a fashionable underwear designer (not many philosophers get invited to underwear designer parties). Ayer was talking to a group of models when a woman rushed in saying that a friend was being assaulted in the next room. Ayer went to the rescue and discovered Mike Tyson trying to force himself on a young British model called Naomi Campbell. Ayer warned Tyson to take his hands off her, to which Tyson replied, “Do you know who the f*** I am? I’m the heavyweight champion of the world.” Ayer replied, without missing a beat, “And I am the former Wykeham Professor of Logic. We are both eminent in our field; I suggest that we talk about this like rational men.” By which time, Naomi Campbell had escaped Tyson’s clutches.



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