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The "Angry" Ancients

"Plunderous" Plato

"Arrogant" Aristotle

The "Merciless" Medievals

"Awful" Augustine

"Angry" Anselm

"Acrimonious" Aquinas

The "Contumelious" Continental Rationalists

"Dangerous" Descartes

"Spiteful" Spinoza

"Liable" Leibniz

The "Brutal" British Empiricists

"Lethal" Locke

"Bashin'" Bishop Berkeley

"Hurt 'em" Hume

The "Terrible" Transcendental Idealist

"Killer" Kant

The "Abominable" Absolute Idealist

"Hateful" Hegel

The "Exacerbating" Existentialist

"Nefarious" Nietzsche

The "Antagonistic" Analytic Philosophers

"Ferocious" Frege

"Vindictive" Wittgenstein

"Rough" Russell

Quine "The Quasher"

I had a little extra time on my hands the summer after my first year as a graduate student in Indiana University's prestigious philosophy department, so I decided to take on a project that would blend two of my greatest interests--or rather, one of my petty distractions and my greatest interest, which are philosophy and toys, respectively. I wanted to do something that would bring a discipline that is often seen as difficult, esoteric, and even irrelevant, into new light--especially in the eyes of young people.

I remember seeing a poster once in the graduate student offices of the sociology department at the University of Arizona that featured jokes based on the juxtaposition of intellectual subject matter with a toy-advertisement format. The only joke I remember (and perhaps the only joke worth remembering) from that poster is an action figure of Adam Smith with Invisible Hand action. I can all too easily imagine a crudely-painted 5.5-inch Adam Smith with a clear plastic, oversized hand accessory that fits onto his arm. It's a perfect gag. That poster, far from being inspiration for the current project, kept me from doing this for a long time out of a desire to avoid being unoriginal. But I've recently gotten over that desire. I'm very excited and a little bit embarassed to present my new line of philosophy action figures: Philosophical Powers!

Heroes get action figures; villains get websites about how mean they are.

Words and pictures by Ian Vandewalker 2003-2004

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