If you're a Monty Python fan, there's a good chance that either you're a frustrated academic (as the members were when they formed the troupe) or that you appreciate poking fun at academics and intellectuals. The Pythons are past masters of that.

Monty Python's Flying Circus featured a sketch in Episode 22 which is referred to as 'Bruces.' The reason for this is immediately obvious - four of the five characters portrayed, it turns out, are named Bruce. They are all Australian. The sketch features the introduction of a new professor (who is an Englishman named Michael, played by Terry Jones) to the Department of Philosophy at the University of Woolloomooloo (WikiP tells us that although there is, in fact, a suburb of Sydney named Woolloomooloo, it does not have a university - but it is close to the University of Sydney). Anyhow, the running gag is that all the existing faculty are named Bruce, and display as many stereotypical Australian behaviors as possible.

The Bruces, as the faculty are known, made a return in the Python stage show. Instead of meeting a new faculty member, however, they were present to regale the audience with a song about their particular academic field - and, being Australians named Bruce, it naturally also involved a great deal of drinking.

The lyrics, as best I can tell, run as follows.

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 Friedrich Hegel1,
and Wittgenstein was a beery swine who was just as sloshed as Schlegel.
There's nothing Nietzsche couldn't teach ye 'bout the raising of the wrist.
Socrates himself was permanently pissed.
John Stuart Mill, of his own free will, after half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.
Plato, they say, could stick it away, half a crate of whisky every day!
Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle, and Hobbes was fond of his dram;
and Rene 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.

Several of the lines are references to the works of the philosophers mentioned therein. Kant wrote Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens, in which he purported to explain how a stable universe could arise from chaos using Newtonian physics (IIRC), hence 'very rarely stable.' It's possible that the David Hume line refers to Hume's work in economics, specifically on private property (which is closely linked to consumption) - but of course it might just be a good rhyme. John Stuart Mill wrote On Liberty, which was closely concerned with the exercise and consequences of free will. Descartes is famous for the line Cogito ergo sum which can be roughly translated to "I think, therefore I am" - and then, of course, quickly tweaked for comedic effect. Finally, Socrates being 'a bugger when he's pissed' might refer to Socrates' final drink - that of hemlock at his execution. Or, of course, it might refer to the widely-accepted belief that Socrates was a pederast, as exemplified by a love for Alcibiades. A love for young boys would, naturally, lead to a characterization of Socrates as a bugger.

1 It has been pointed out to me that some versions of this song instead have the lyric 'David Hume could out-consume Schopenhauer and Hegel.' Both lyrics were used, in different live shows by the Pythons. As far as I know, the lyric I used here is present on the studio recordings of this song - however, either should probably be considered 'correct.' And, of course, I could very well be wrong.

Iron Noder 2010

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