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University Fires Philosophy Prof, Hires Chimpanzee to Teach, Research

A light-hearted look at what would happen if we really thought that unreason is better than reason

Dissociated Press – According to sources from the Funny Papers News Collective, officials at the Université Paris Diderot announced today that philosophy professor Justin Smith has been dismissed from his teaching and research duties at the university, following publication of his new book, Irrationality. In the widely acclaimed book, Smith argues forcefully that reason is highly overrated, and generally of less survival value than brute animal instinct.

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Citing 16th-century diplomat Girolamo Rorario in his treatise “That Brute Animals Make Better use of Reason than Men”, Smith argues:

[H]uman deliberation – the period of hesitancy when we survey our various options and eventually select what appears to be the best of them – far from being an advantage over other beings, is in fact a mark of our inferiority. Animals and plants do not hesitate. They cut right to the chase and, to the extent that they do not examine alternative options in order to choose among them, they are in a sense incapable of being wrong.

Justin E H. Smith, “If reason exists without deliberation, it cannot be uniquely human” at Aeon

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.”

Pending Nietzsche’s arrival on campus next month to assume Smith’s philosophy chair, students in his courses have been preparing for final exams. “We’ve been studying in the library all evening,” said philosophy grad student Marshall Taylor, holding ice over a swollen eye, incurred during a discussion of the interconvertibility of transcendentals.

“I prevailed in the seminar,” Taylor said, noting that the girl with whom he was conversing “had a glass jaw.”

Taylor has a deep admiration for Professor Smith and is sorry to see him let go. “Thanks to Dr. Smith’s lessons on the inferiority of reason, I now see all of human reason as a mark of inferiority,” he said. Taylor, who is nearing the final stages of his studies for his Ph.D., will shortly defend his thesis, “You Shut Up or Else”, before a panel of philosophers on faculty at the university. His thesis defense was delayed because it took him several months to get a gun permit.

The aspiring philosopher remains confident about his appearance before the faculty committee: “I think I’ll be able to handle any questions they ask me.”

See also: An Atheist Argues Against Reason. And thinks it is the reasonable thing to do (Michael Egnor)

and

A philosopher offers to resolve the problem of human exceptionality by dethroning reason. He hopes that artificial intelligence and extraterrestrial life (a “statistical near-certainty”) will help us “give up the idea of rationality as nature’s last remaining exception.” (Denyse O’Leary)


Michael Egnor

Senior Fellow, Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence
Michael R. Egnor, MD, is a Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics at State University of New York, Stony Brook, has served as the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, and award-winning brain surgeon. He was named one of New York’s best doctors by the New York Magazine in 2005. He received his medical education at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed his residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital. His research on hydrocephalus has been published in journals including Journal of Neurosurgery, Pediatrics, and Cerebrospinal Fluid Research. He is on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Hydrocephalus Association in the United States and has lectured extensively throughout the United States and Europe.

University Fires Philosophy Prof, Hires Chimpanzee to Teach, Research