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Egnor Imagines: Professor Terminated; Replaced by Bonobo

David Klinghoffer

Professors say the darnedest things. Case in point: atheist philosopher Justin E.H. Smith with his argument that human reason, which simply evolved, is inferior to animal instinct. In some alternative reality out there in the multiverse, a philosopher who said this would have the opportunity to live out the consequences in his own career. 

Writing at Mind Matters, neuroscientist Michael Egnor has fun imagining what that would entail:

University officials enthusiastically endorsed Smith’s thesis. Dean Nemo Nope told Dissociated Press:

“We believe Smith is completely right to argue that brute animal instinct is superior to human reason.” Citing university recruitment goals of hiring the best faculty available, the university provost announced that Smith would be let go and replaced with a bonobo chimpanzee named Nietzsche. “While Smith is certainly capable of being wrong, Nietzsche is not, and is thus clearly better qualified to hold the position of professor of philosophy. It’s not every day that you find a philosopher who is incapable of being wrong.”

University officials noted that, in light of Smith’s convincing argument that reason is a “mark of [human] inferiority” and that “animals and plants do not hesitate. They cut right to the chase…” the search committee interviewed several apes, three mules, and a tomato plant.

“The tomato plant had the edge for a while” noted the provost, who said that the three-foot plant had never been wrong on any philosophical topic “although it was a bit reticent during the interview process.” The search committee ultimately decided against the plant because “we wanted our new professor to flourish during his first semester, and tomatoes don’t do well in late fall in Paris.”

The committee chairman said that although the mules “did not hesitate” and had never been wrong on any philosophical topic, they “made noises that might distract students”. Nietzsche the bonobo emerged as the applicant best adapted to academic life. They cautioned that he would need to be trained not to respond to hypothetical metaphysical conjectures by “throwing stool.”

Dr. Egnor is a delightful satirist. Read the rest over at Mind Matters, the Bradley Center news site. See also, “Why Human Reason Didn’t ‘Evolve’.”

Photo credit: Jeroen Kransen via Flickr (cropped).