I had dinner last night with a friend visiting from out-of-town, and eventually the conversation turned, as it will, to philosophy.
Which philosopher’s view is closest to yours? my friend asked.
I said I can’t remember any more which philosopher said what, but that I probably agreed with the thinking of one of the guys in Monty Python’s “Philosophers Drinking Song.”
Never heard of it, my friend said.
Never heard of it? Shock, surprise, lamentation! A classic Monty Python sketch, and so useful if you need a sing-along during a long car ride.
“The Philosophers’ Drinking Song,” Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl
Of course, this doesn’t address the question of which philosophy comes closest to what I believe. Fortunately, the Internet is here to help us answer that question:
My “Ethical Philosophy Selector Rankings”:
1. John Stuart Mill (100 %)
2. Epicureans (90 %)
3. Aristotle (87 %)
4. Jeremy Bentham (82 %)
5. Aquinas (75 %)
6. Ayn Rand (75 %)
7. Kant (71 %)
8. Jean-Paul Sartre (67 %)
9. Spinoza (65 %)
10. Prescriptivism (58 %)
11. Cynics (51 %)
12. David Hume (51 %)
13. Stoics (51 %)
14. St. Augustine (47 %)
15. Ockham (45 %)
16. Thomas Hobbes (42 %)
17. Nietzsche (41 %)
18. Nel Noddings (38 %)
19. Plato (37 %)
Interestingly (to me), John Stuart Mill has always been the name I have trouble remembering in the Pholosophers Drinking Song. After today, I shall never have that problem again.
Which philosopher do you most agree with?
UPDATE: If you can’t quite recall what it is that John Stuart Mill proposed, his philosophy is known as utilitarianism. Summary from Wikipedia:
Mill’s famous formulation of utilitarianism is known as the “greatest-happiness principle”. It holds that one must always act so as to produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people, within reason. Mill’s major contribution to utilitarianism is his argument for the qualitative separation of pleasures. Bentham treats all forms of happiness as equal, whereas Mill argues that intellectual and moral pleasures are superior to more physical forms of pleasure. Mill distinguishes between happiness and contentment, claiming that the former is of higher value than the latter, a belief wittily encapsulated in the statement that “[i]t is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question.”
John Stuart Mill entry in Wikipedia.