From the vaults of the New York Times (by way of Obsidian Wings), the best two-fisted tale of philosophy ever told. Who knew that A.J. Ayer, paragon of English logical positivism, was a total badass?
One of the last of the many legendary contests won by the British
philosopher A. J. Ayer was his encounter with Mike Tyson in 1987. As
related by Ben Rogers in ”A. J. Ayer: A Life,” Ayer — small, frail,
slight as a sparrow and then 77 years old — was entertaining a group
of models at a New York party when a girl ran in screaming that her
friend was being assaulted in a bedroom. The parties involved turned
out to be Tyson and Naomi Campbell. ”Do you know who . . . I am?”
Tyson asked in disbelief when Ayer urged him to desist: ”I’m the
heavyweight champion of the world.” ”And I am the former Wykeham
professor of logic,” Ayer answered politely. ”We are both pre-eminent
in our field. I suggest that we talk about this like rational men.”
Which they did, apparently.
My Dad was a philosophy professor who specialized in logic and was an admirer of Ayer, with whom he studied. He (my Dad) once contrived a tongue-twister intended to exploit the French-Canadian tendency to add H’s to words that begin with vowels and subtract them from words that begin with H: “A. J. Ayer eats hen’s eggs.”
On a related note: philosopher superhero comics. (“Plato smash!”)