July 01, 2003


This e-mail was recently sent to Australia by an American librarian. Roger Kimball at The New Criterion doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry:

Subject: librarian with question
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 12:11:08 -0400

Dear ____

I am a librarian trying to answer a reference question from a student. I found on the Web reference to a book you have written on the history of Australian philosophy and thought perhaps you could assist me. Could you provide a name(s) of any ancient Australian philosophers or educators pre-200 B.C.? The student is looking for information on ancient philosophers or educators that impacted modern education.

With a name, perhaps I can find more information in other sources.

Thank you very much for your help.

Well ... any suggestions?

(Via the great Pejman.)

Posted by Tim Blair at July 1, 2003 01:43 PM

What about Heidigger?

Posted by: paul bickford at July 1, 2003 at 01:57 PM


Posted by: tim at July 1, 2003 at 02:04 PM

Bigwig solved the riddle over at my place.

Only one possible choice. His name was Bruce.

Posted by: Wind Rider at July 1, 2003 at 02:40 PM

"Fish are our friends not food"

Posted by: kwela at July 1, 2003 at 02:51 PM

any ancient Australian philosophers or educators

Only one I can think of is that Tim Blair guy.

Posted by: wallace at July 1, 2003 at 02:51 PM

how about bon scott? or Sir Donald Bradman.
Phar Lap? i dont know about you folks but olivia newton john gave a whole generation of yanks their first woodrow.

Posted by: cali white bear at July 1, 2003 at 03:52 PM

"Blanco guiltus," creator of white man's guilt. Sure, he did some bad things, but the latter-day imposition of today's political correctness has caused him to spin in his grave all these centuries...

Posted by: Chrees at July 1, 2003 at 03:57 PM

Bert Newton

Posted by: Adam at July 1, 2003 at 04:06 PM

200 BC eh? I believe a young Germaine Greer was just starting her career at that time.

Posted by: Wookie at July 1, 2003 at 04:22 PM

I nominate Mike Moore - 'cause he's neither Australian, nor great, nor a philosopher in any real sense of the word, and he doesn't come from the year 200 BC - though some people sure as hell wish that he had been.


Posted by: TimT at July 1, 2003 at 04:39 PM

Mick Aristotle - The Australian Constitution
Harry Hippocrates - Ancient Medicare
Bluey Plato - The Australian Republic

Posted by: Dave at July 1, 2003 at 04:53 PM

"Bert Newton"


Posted by: Random_Prose at July 1, 2003 at 04:54 PM

Figjam Newton

Posted by: slatts at July 1, 2003 at 05:52 PM

Hmm, what an anglo-centric bunch of suggestions. I am sure that there were Australians at the time worthy of the label "philosopher" - I just don't know whether they would find their way into too many reference books.

Posted by: dan at July 1, 2003 at 05:53 PM

Hey TimT, don't you mean Mike Moore from Frontline?

Posted by: Maxi at July 1, 2003 at 05:59 PM

Nope, Maxi, I meant the real Mike Moore from 'Bowling for Columbine' - though whether he's real, either, is a debatable point.
Mike Moore from Frontline, though - not a bad suggestion! Following that train of thought, here are some more suggestions:

- Michael Caton's character from The Castle

- Kath and Kim from the television show of the same name

- Francis Greenslade from Micallef tonight...


Posted by: TimT at July 1, 2003 at 06:39 PM

Go ask some of the traditional Aborigines living in the NT - they might know

Posted by: Jason Soon at July 1, 2003 at 06:41 PM

Aunty Jack. Was she post 200bc?

Posted by: James Hamilton at July 1, 2003 at 07:58 PM

Paul Hogan!

Posted by: Jason Walker at July 1, 2003 at 08:28 PM

Whoever it was who thought up the dream time thing.
Although I cant give them a date (it may not technically reach the 200BC mark)and I'm sure Noone can give them a name.

Posted by: Scottie at July 1, 2003 at 09:13 PM

Obviously this query originated with John Ashcroft. He wants to know what library books said philosopher checked out. Just another outrage of the Patriot Act.

Posted by: T. R. Saunders at July 1, 2003 at 09:37 PM

Unfortunately, the ancient people of Australia didn't keep written records, so most of their biographical information (especially that "dream time" stuff) is highly suspect. The names might be accurate, but even those aren't independently verifiable.

I'm sure that they won't find any shortage of aboriginies who are willing to make stuff up on the fly, though. If it's for a history paper or something, that should be enough to make the teacher wet his/her pants with delight.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian at July 1, 2003 at 10:10 PM

That's easy. Michael Baldwin, Bruce, Bruce, Bruce and Bruce of the Philosophy Department of the University of Woolamaloo.

Posted by: RonB at July 1, 2003 at 10:24 PM

I nominate Australia's living treasure, Phillip Adams.

Posted by: P Adams at July 1, 2003 at 10:28 PM

Glad you liked it !! Thought it was too good to pass up!

Posted by: MommaBear at July 1, 2003 at 11:28 PM

Burt Newton! One of the few things I miss about Australia. I got a hankering for a steak and onion pie the other day, too.

Posted by: Angie Schultz at July 2, 2003 at 12:20 AM

Allright, you asked for it:
Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
Who was very rarely stable.
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
Who could think you under the table.
David Hume could out-consume
Wilhelm Freidrich Hegel,
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel.

There's nothing Nietzche couldn't teach ya
'Bout the raising of the wrist.
Socrates, himself, was permanently pissed.

John Stuart Mill, of his own free will,
On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.
Plato, they say, could stick it away--
Half a crate of whiskey every day.
Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle.
Hobbes was fond of his dram,
And René Descartes was a drunken fart.
'I drink, therefore I am.'

Yes, Socrates, himself, is particularly missed,
A lovely little thinker,
But a bugger when he's pissed

Posted by: The Mongrel at July 2, 2003 at 12:36 AM

Australian philosophy !!!
Pre 200 BC !!!
That in itself is a laugh.
What might it be ? "That which I don't understand, I eat."

But I'm sure they will find some great Australian philosopher from 200 BC.
I mean, it's come to light that Egyptians invented flying prior to the
great Pharaohs !!! And we now know we've been taught wrong all along: white
Europeans didn't invent the calendar, calculus, certain physical laws,
musical scales, telescopes, time pieces, internal combustion, opera,
electric motors, penicillin, the circus, etc.....

Posted by: kevin s at July 2, 2003 at 01:02 AM

Mongrel, you had to put the Philosopher's song in my head? I'm still recovering from the Python Albrecht Dürer song, which I heard two days ago and am still batting around my poor, abused skull.

Posted by: Sasha Castel-Dodge at July 2, 2003 at 02:39 AM

Oog first aussie philosopher! Invent pain and boredom. Took several years. Later Oog experiment with fire and sharp rocks.

Have any food?

Posted by: Oog at July 2, 2003 at 06:50 AM

If the Librarian is a man, he probably won't be able to read the answer to his question, which will be "secret women's business"

Posted by: Toryhere at July 2, 2003 at 09:12 AM

My god! I heard the words "Australian philosopher" and the Bruces' philosophy sketch didn't even enter my brain!

You'd be shocked and saddened how many of Australia's young people are completely ignorant of this fine cultural achievement---especially since it's the first introduction to Australia for many people around the world.

Posted by: Angie Schultz at July 2, 2003 at 09:24 AM

This one has me laughing my ass off!

Does this person have a hint of a ghost of a clue?

Posted by: ilona at July 2, 2003 at 10:27 AM

All of which reminded me of the Canadian philosopher who said, "I think, therefore I eh."

Posted by: Ernie G at July 2, 2003 at 12:35 PM

Oh, cut it oot.

Posted by: alfredo stroessner at July 3, 2003 at 11:50 AM