The Enlightenment Philosophers' Seven-a-side Football Team

The Enlightenment Philosophers’ Seven-a-side Football Team


It were Berkeley’s idea to develop a team,

To be the team captain had long been his dream;

He knew he’d have trouble assembling his squad,

But, being a bishop, he trusted to God.

For t’position of keeper he thought of Descartes;

It were him, after all, who had made a head-start

In solving the puzzle about what we know:

If we think, we exist, and that must be so.

For full-backs he thought first of Baruch Spinoza,

A bit of a rebel, a bit of a poser,

But solid in holding that all of us should

Make our own way through reason to find what is good.

Then Gottfried Leibniz would be strong in defence;

For him God was perfect; he argued from hence

That the world we are in is the best it can be

And what God allows us is what we can see.

For wing forward Berkeley first thought of John Locke;

He’d be swift in attack and well able to block.

His obedience to t’captain would always be there

As long as t’captain’s demands remained fair.

The other wing forward could be David Hume,

Tho’ his irreligion had made Berkeley fume.

Hume could use his “impressions” to follow the play

And then form “ideas” that might help win the day.

And right at the front, then, Immanuel Kant

(Though Berkeley’s perception of him was quite scant),

He believed things that we think that we know

Depend on us knowing, conceiving them so.

The game had begun and Berkeley kicked off

But he missed the ball, and giving a cough.

Said, ‘It’s not really there—we should have asked God

To attend to our game and all of the squad.’

So he said a quick prayer before sending the ball

In a high backward pass to Descartes in goal.

Descartes, in two minds, sent the ball to his right

But Locke wasn’t thinking, and lost it from sight.

Leibniz picked up and prepared for a throw,

His knowledge innate about where it should go;

He aimed it to Kant, but he didn’t share

Leibniz’ space, time or ball and so it went spare.

The other side lost it, but then so did Hume,

For he tripped on the thought that he could not assume

That the ball always would reach the back of the net;

No principle says past behaviour is set.

John Locke tackled then, and resumed the attack

With his own style of play, and sent the ball back

To George Berkeley who dribbled it on to Spinoza,

Who signalled for Kant to come a bit closer.

Kant readied himself to receive a high pass;

Prepared for an ideal ball, but the mass

Of the ball on his head seemed to him more than real

A thing in itself, “noumena”, he could feel.

This thought contradicted his long-held belief;

He stumbled, but though hesitation was brief,

The other side took up the chance that they saw

To reach the enlightenment goal and to score.

George Berkeley cried out, ‘Come on lads, get a grip;

You know you can do more than stumble and trip;

Our ideas on knowledge may not all agree

But reason’s our strength, and we’ll win yet, you’ll see!’

The other side reached the enlightenment end

But Spinoza tackled, the ball took a bend;

His opponent appeared to make use of his hands

Descartes said, ‘There’s no cause for doubt, t’foul stands!’

The free kick was given which Spinoza took;

He sent it to Leibniz who darted a look

At John Locke before turning and heading to Hume

Who had run to the wing, where he’d plenty of room.

Hume kicked it to Kant who was nearing the goal;

The enlightenment team was now on a roll.

The referee, running up, looked at his watch;

And Kant knew this one chance he must not now botch.

He was onside, the ball at his feet, and he saw

That reason alone now would not help him score;

The team’s universal approval was set—

His imperative kick reached the back of the net!

The team celebrated t’traditional way

With kisses and hugs, then Berkeley said, ‘Hey!

We deserve some refreshment, I’ve got some right here.

It’s my healthy tar water, the drink that brings cheer!’

© Sarah Rochelle 2020