On April 27, 2010, a select group of Fairfield’s faculty members met in the Oak Room to engage in the intellectual “smack down” that would determine who would help rebuild society after a nuclear holocaust.
The scenario put forth was not unlike a typical cataclysmic Hollywood vision: the world had been destroyed by nuclear war and only one spot remained on the life boat that would carry the few that survived to safety. The intellectual who best defended his or her discipline would be granted the last seat on the life boat and thus the opportunity to help rebuild humanity by contributing their knowledge.
Present were representatives of the chemistry, modern languages, philosophy, and engineering departments. Each was allowed 6 minutes to persuade the audience that their discipline would most benefit the survivors in their efforts to rebuild society.
Professor Kraig Steffen of the Chemistry Department argued that his knowledge would help build fire, make medicine, and purify water. His argument was countered by Professor Vagos Hadjimichael of the Engineering Department who stated that shelter and innovation would most benefit humanity. Professor Marie-Agnes Sourieau of the Department of Modern Languages alluded to the Tower of Babel and argued that it is language that brings people together.
The abstract argument put forth by Professor Manuel Im of the Philosophy Department crushed the competitors. Im argued that, if chosen by the survivors, he would not provide knowledge, but instead a complete lack of it. He would help question the survivors’ existence and whether or not rebuilding society would be worthwhile. Post-holocaust existence would, according to Im, be centered on leisure and contemplation.
According to the audience’s vote, the survivors would have rather taken a philosopher with them to help ease suffering and pass time through deep conversation. Apparently taking into consideration that they would likely perish from nuclear fallout, the majority of the survivors agreed that it is best not to overcomplicate the remainder of their existence with an engineer or chemist. Rather humorously, the philosopher emerged victorious and – better yet – alive.
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