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There is an old quarrel between philosophy and poetry
--Plato, The Republic (Book X, 607b)

Poets @ Philosophers

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The tension Plato creates between poetry and philosophy has had no small impact on the history and tradition of occidental intellectual history. For Plato, poets are rhetoricians who are...selling their products to as large a market as possible, in the hope of gaining repute and influence...The quarrel between poetry and philosophy is finally, in Plato's eyes, about the relative priority of making and discovery. Philosophers "discover" truth. Poets "make" representations of truth; they do not harvest truth in and of itself. Freshmen in the groves of academe will consider these issues. By the time these students are undertaking their graduate studies they will be able to expound more prolifically on these matters. They will have insights into why the poets are banned from Plato's Republic (or ideal body politic). More's the pity, however, that the motivation of the arsonists in one of Aristophanes' comedies will not be fully appreciated.








     Inning 1: Poets
[Starter] Plato
Hesiod            K          . . .
Donne             K          . . .
Whitman           5-3        . . .
     Inning 1: Philosophers
[Starter] Milton
James             7          . . .
Scotus            HR         . . . 1
Descartes         BB         . . X
Hume              BB         . X X
*SB:Descartes     SB         X . X
                  WP         . X . 1
Plotinus          2B         . X . 1
Abelard           K          . X .
Aristotle         4-3        X . .
     Inning 2: Poets
Shakespeare       BB         . . X
Plath             8          . . X
Poe               8          . . X
Petrarch          4-6 F      . . X
     Inning 2: Philosophers
Thales            4-3        . . .
Plato             6          . . .
James             8          . . .
     Inning 3: Poets
Ovid              BB         . . X
Milton            1-3 SAC    . X .
Hesiod            1B         . . X 1
Donne             7          . . X
Whitman           BB         . X X
Shakespeare       K          . X X
     Inning 3: Philosophers
Scotus            K          . . .
Descartes         7          . . .
Hume              4-3        . . .
     Inning 4: Poets
Plath             8          . . .
Poe               1B         . . X
                  WP         . X .
Petrarch          9          . X .
Ovid              K          . X .
     Inning 4: Philosophers
Plotinus          3-1        . . .
Abelard           2B         . X .
Aristotle         K          . X .
Thales            1B         . . X 1
*EX:Plato (for PH)
X@2:Thales        CS 2-6     . . .
     Inning 5: Poets
[Relief] Erigena
*PH:Milton        1B         . . X
Hesiod            2-3        . X .
Donne             8          . X .
Whitman           6-3        . X .
     Inning 5: Philosophers
Erigena           1-3        . . .
James             K          . . .
Scotus            9          . . .
     Inning 6: Poets
Shakespeare       4-3        . . .
Plath             K          . . .
Poe               BB         . . X
Petrarch          1B         . X X
Ovid              K          . X X
     Inning 6: Philosophers
Descartes         2B         . X .
Hume              K          . X .
*SB:Descartes     SB         X . .
Plotinus          K          X . .
Abelard           1B         . . X 1
Aristotle         HR         . . . 2
Thales            6-3        . . .
     Inning 7: Poets
*EX:Milton (for PH)
*PH:Chaucer       K          . . .
Hesiod            K          . . .
Donne             K          . . .
     Inning 7: Philosophers
[Relief] Homer
Erigena           8          . . .
James             7          . . .
Scotus            8          . . .
     Inning 8: Poets
Whitman           K          . . .
Shakespeare       K          . . .
Plath             K          . . .
     Inning 8: Philosophers
Descartes         K          . . .
Hume              1B         . . X
                  WP         . X .
Plotinus          8          . X .
Abelard           HBP        . X X
Aristotle         6-3        X X .
     Inning 9: Poets
Poe               4          . . .
Petrarch          K          . . .
Ovid              HR         . . . 1
Homer             4-3        . . .

Game Comments

Do the results of this simulated, imaginary cosmic baseball game indicate that the quarrel is over between philosophy and poetry? Do the facts, figures, and results generated on the cosmic field of play correspond to the issues at hand? Science may well be the new faith-based source of wisdom. There may be no room for divine connections between imaginary baseball games and real world events. Harsher skeptics would tell us that there is no relationship or correspondence between real baseball games (Major League or Little League varieties) and other real world events. A young rookie in the Major Leagues hits a walk off home run in a baseball stadium in the capital of the United States. This has no impact, bearing, or correspondence with, for example, the rising tensions between the Darod, Hawiye and Habr Gedir clans on the continent of Africa.

Does the statistical behavior of the poets and philosophers on the cosmic baseball field in any manner correspond to the value and/or importance of their philosophical and/or poetic output? For example, the Ancient Roman poet Ovid (43 BC-17? AD) did well statistically. He scored both of the Poets only runs, he smacked a home run in the ninth inning...Too little too late...Ovid played for the losing team. American philosopher William James (1842-1910) had four at bats and did nothing with the opportunities except fly out to left field twice, fly out to center field once, and strikeout once. But he played on the winning team. James is a catcher; Ovid is a right fielder. Whom would you want on your team, the poet Ovid or the philosopher James?

Plato (428-347 BC) pitched the first four innings for the winning team but did not get credit for the win. John Scotus Erigena (815-877 AD) gets the win and the designation as the game's "most cosmic player." Poet John Milton (1608-1674) takes the loss. Ironically, Plato never got to face Homer (~8th Century BC) (or vice versa). Homer relieved Milton at the start of the seventh inning. We see irony here because much of Plato's philosophy germinated in a culture infused with mindsets dramatically influenced by Homer's poetic works, specifically the Iliad and the Odyssey. These "classics" were "written" 500 years before Socrates (469-399 BC) and Plato strolled the roads and paths of Athens. The impact of Homer on the cultural beliefs of the citizens of Athens at the time Plato wrote his "dialogues" was considerable and significant.

Coincidentally, just after Ovid hit a two-out, bases empty homer to raise the Poets' run tally to two in the top of the ninth inning, Homer made the last out of the game by grounding out to the second baseman, John Duns Scotus (1265-1308).

Game Notes
Three up, three down. Plato (428-347 BC) strikes out the first two batters and gets American poet Whitman (1819-1892) to ground out to third baseman David Hume (1711-1776).

Poet starting pitcher John Milton (1608-1674) is not as fortunate as his philosophic counterpart is. William James (1842-1910) flies out to deep left field and then John Duns Scotus (1265-1308) hits a fastball hard out of the park. Milton is shook up. He issues back-to-back bases on balls to Rene Descartes (1596-1650) and David Hume. Descartes steals third base and scores on a Milton wild pitch. Plotinus (205-270 AD) hits a double scoring Hume. Abelard (1079-1142) strikes out; Aristotle (384-322 BC) grounds out to the second baseman, Whitman. The score at the end of the first inning is 3-0, Philosophers.

Shakespeare (1564-1616) walks to lead off the top of the second inning. But it does not matter. Plath (1932-1963), Poe (1809-1849), and Petrarch (1304-1374) find ways to make outs stranding the Bard on first.

The Philosophers go down in order. Thales grounds out to second base, Plato flies out to the shortstop, and James flies out to shallow centerfield.

Ovid (43 BC-17? AD) leads off with a walk. Milton sacrifices himself so Ovid can advance to second base. Hesiod (~8th Century BC) singles into right field and Ovid scores the first run for the Poets. John Donne (1573-1631) flies out to deep left field. Whitman gets a base on balls. Two men on base for the Bard Shakespeare who strikes out looking.

The Philosophers go down in order again. Poet starter Milton seems to have found his groove.

Edgar Allen Poe hits a single and gets to second base on a Platonic wild pitch. Petrarch hits the ball into deep right field but Thales (624-546 BC) grabs on the warning track, The Poets strand Poe at second base as Ovid swings and misses three consecutive Plato curveballs.

The Philosophers had bad luck in the fourth inning but only after they managed to score a run. Abelard doubled off the centerfield wall and Thales bonked a single to right field; Abelard scored. John Locke (1632-1704) pinch hit for Plato. After the first pitch Thales was caught trying to steal second base because Hesiod (~8th Century BC) threw a bullet to Sylvia Plath covering the bag. Philosophers lead, 4-1.

John Scotus Erigena (815-877) comes in to pitch for the departed Plato. Milton gets a lead off single and advances to second base on Hesiod's dribbler in front of the plate.

The Philosophers go down in order as Milton manages a strikeout in every inning but the second.

The Poets strand two on the bases. Erigena's fastball is clocked at near 100 miles per hour.

Descartes leads off the Philosophers' sixth inning with a double up the middle. Hume strikes out wildly and in such a baffling manner that Descartes steals third base while the other players are distracted. Plotinus strikes out. Abelard knocks a single also up the middle scoring Descartes. Then Aristotle rattles Milton with a two-run homer into the right field stands. The Philosophers now lead 7-1.

Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) pinch hits for Milton in the top of the seventh. No matter, all three Poets are blown away by Erigena's fastball now clocked at 107 miles per hour. Erigena strikes out the side in order.

Homer (~8th Century BC), the odd-named reliever comes in to pitch for Milton to start the bottom of the seventh inning. Erigena, James, and Scotus hit high and deep fly balls caught by Petrarch (2) and by Poe (1).

Erigena again strikes out the side in order with a sizzling fastball now clocked at 111 miles per hour. Whitman, Shakespeare, and Plath appeared hypnotized as the cosmic baseball zipped by.

Homer gives up a single, throws a wild pitch, hits a batter, but escapes unscathed as the Philosophers strand two more base runners.

Down by six runs and facing a pitcher throwing mean stuff, the hopes of the Poets are flickering out. Poe grounds out to the second baseman, Petrarch strikes out on three pitchers, and then Roman poet Ovid comes to the plate and hits the first pitch over the left field wall. It is now 7-2 as the Poets' pitcher moves towards the plate. One pitch from Erigena and Homer slaps it on the ground to second baseman Rene Descartes who flips it over to John Duns Scotus for the put out. Game over. The Philosophers win, 7-2.

Philosopher Erigena gets credit for the win. Poet John Milton is charged with the loss. The game's most cosmic player is John Scotus Erigena.

Game Time
3 hours, 18 minutes

Game Weather
Fair, 77o

Game Attendence

Game Umpires
Benjamin Jowett
William Lensing

Official Scorer

Most Cosmic Player
John Scotus Erigena

No. 418.6.2

Related Links & References

Republic: 607b


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Personal Cosmic Baseball Game: Poets @ Philosophers
Published: June 23, 2006