Philosophers and Tigers

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Let's play a game. I'm going to throw out three names, and you tell me what they have in common:

John Calvin
Thomas Hobbes

If you said something along the lines of "they are all great thinkers of the Western tradition whose ideas have influenced billions," you would be right to an extent, but wrong for the purpose of this blog. Nice try, better luck next time. Don't forget your consolation prize at the door.

More importantly, what these three men have in common is an obscure joke told by a cartoonist named Bill Watterson. Hopefully, you are all familiar with his comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes, which ran for about ten years between 1985 and 1995. This cartoon, centering around a small boy and his anthropomorphic stuffed tiger (who were, no doubt, named after the eminent philosopher and theologian), always had the perfect mix of light and deeply philosophical humor to keep me both laughing and thinking at the same time. We took the title of this blog from the following strip:

Calvin and Hobbes Strip

If you're wondering what a "peripatetic" is, contemporary dictionaries define it as follows:


Traveling from place to place, esp. working or based in various places for relatively short periods.
A person who travels from place to place.

However, the history of this word is much more interesting than its definition. The word is derived from Aristotle's school, which met at the peripatoi, or collonades, of the Lyceum in Athens around 335BC. A peripatetic is what a student of Aristotle's philosophical school was called. The contemporary definition of this word comes from the legend that the philosopher taught his students in an itinerant manner, walking from place to place as he spoke.

The conjunction of all these ideas is why we decided to call our blog "Pair O' Pathetic Peripatetics;" as philosophers (amateur, as we may be), we are, indeed, students of Aristotle as well as all those philosopher giants upon whose shoulders we dwarves (to use the Tolkienian spelling) now stand. John Calvin and Thomas Hobbes are both among those, and lest we begin to take ourselves too seriously, the humor that connects these men is worth recognizing. It should be obvious that the name chosen is not an original creation of our own, but an idea of Bill Watterson.
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