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An Essay by Rachael Briggs (2002) for a Final Exam in Philosophy

How the Grinch Called the Philosophers' Hotline

Grinch: I'm having a crisis involving the Whos. I was thinking of robbing their homes through the flues, But is it correct to steal gifts that are not mine? I don't know, so I'll call the Philosophers' Hotline.

Grinch picks up the telephone, dials the digits, States question, gets put on hold, grumbles, and fidgets. He's about to hang up (for his will's getting weaker), When a voice answers.

Voice: Hold on. I'll put you on speaker. I've got three philosophers, ready to talk About this huge problem that's making you balk.

The Grinch hears a loud beep and lets out a yelp.

Plato: Hello. My name's Plato, and I'm here to help. You want to be happy. Suppose that you stole. This stealing would ail and unbalance your soul. A man can't be glad if his soul isn't healthy, Though he may be cute and prestigious and wealthy. The Grinch gives a scoff and a wave of his hand.

Grinch: Unbalance the soul? I just don't understand.

Plato: Everyman's soul has three segments you see. Appetitive, spirited, moral. That's three. The appetitive part wants food, sex, sleep and such. It always wants more, cannot fathom 'too much.' The spirited part, it wants honor and glory. It's brave at all costs. That's two thirds of the story. The rational part keeps the others in line. It prefers thought to glory, and logic to wine. It acts as a ruler. It's wise and it's just. You must govern yourself with that part. Yes, you must. Otherwise you'll be miserable, sickly and sad.

Nietzsche: That's not true. Do not heed that old cad. You should follow right through with your cunning old plot. Some think that it's bad to flout laws. It is not. I perceive evidence that you're der Ubermensch.

Grinch: Hey, what is that? It just doesn't make sense.

Nietzsche: There are some men, you see, who are better than most. They're creative, inventive, and clever. They boast A powerful body and powerful mind Which distinguish them from all the rest of mankind. (The rest of mankind, as I'm sorry to note, Is stupid and weak. It is not worth a groat. All those Whos down in Who-ville are weak, stupid folks. As for each Whoish priest, well, I hope that he chokes.)

Grinch: But what about morals? I'm sure that you've got 'em.

Nietzsche: Those morals were made by the folks at the bottom To weaken the strong healthy ones at the top. This abuse of the strong by the weak, it must stop. We must make ever sharper the strong/weak division By freeing ourselves from the chains of religion. (By "us," I mean just Ubermensches, like you. As for substandard men, I don't care what they do.)

Marx: Don't listen to him, for he's got it all wrong. True, religion's illusory, not worth a song. But there's value and goodness in each of those Whos. They're good proletarians, folks who produce. You should never increase the old prole/bourgeois schism. Instead, doff the fetters of capitalism. Don't steal all the fruits of their honest Who labor. Just leave them their work and their products to savor. It throws me into the most consummate rage When I hear you exploit them for minimum wage.

Grinch: I don't understand what you mean by that 'should.' Is that a prudential or a moral good?

Marx: I don't see why each needs a separate name. Prudential and moral are one and the same.

Grinch: You thinkers have left me a dazed, confused man. I'm not sure how my actions fit in to God's plan.

Nietzsche: God? What makes you think there's a God? That is dumb. The world doesn't have any 'should' or 'how come?' No, we make the all values; we make all the rules.

Marx: Yes, you bourgeois men do, with your big bourgeois schools. There are no values other than those that you make. But you left a class out, and that was a mistake. You must heed the voice of the masses, you dolt. Or we'll take you by force. Come on workers! Revolt!

Plato: Calm down you two. Grinch, that subject is touchy. It really makes Marx mad. You don't know how much he Gets into that topic. But let us converse About properties of this grand universe. Now, I think the only real things are ideas. But those views are different from some people here's. Marx thinks material things are more real. Nietzsche thinks power is.

Nietzsche: Marx is a heel!

Plato: Nietzsche, relax. There's a man on the line. If you do not calm down, I'll hang up.

Nietzsche: That's just fine.

The Grinch hears a click and the phone disconnects.

Grinch: Those stupid philosophers. My how they vex. You know, I don't care if this stealing is right. I'm a thief by vocation. I'll rob them tonight.
email: rdbriggs@esf.edu
Updated Last on Dec 14, 2017
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