The Scariest Philosophers in the Haunted Halls of Philosophy


Halloween approaches…

People sometime refer to the “hallowed halls” of philosophy. That’s all well and good—a little respect is nice—but seasonality is important, so what about the haunted halls of philosophy?

Who would roam these halls? The scariest philosophers in history, that’s who. But who’s that?

Who is the scariest philosopher? 

Tell us who you think it is—and the explanation for your nomination, of course. But note that, being the haunted halls of philosophy, nominees must, of course, be dead.


Previous Halloween-related posts here.

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Michel
5 months ago

Only one philosopher had his corpse stuffed, so he wins.

pjc
pjc
Reply to  Michel
5 months ago

If these are the standards, then honorable mention goes to the philosopher Robert Greene (1678?-1730). His will stipulated that his body should be dissected and the skeleton hung up in the library of King’s College, Cambridge.

Enrico Matassa
Enrico Matassa
Reply to  Michel
5 months ago

As the father of utilitarianism and inventor of the panopticon he was already a terrifying monster even before he became a mummy.

JL2
JL2
5 months ago

Thomas Hobbes, for he defended a real monster: the Leviathan.

Marcus
Marcus
Reply to  JL2
5 months ago

And was himself called the Monster of Malmesbury!

Hey Nonny Mouse
Hey Nonny Mouse
5 months ago

The ghost of David Hume doesn’t believe that he’s a ghost. No matter how much evidence he sees that he’s a ghost, he always thinks it’s more likely that he’s not perceiving the world correctly than that laws of nature have been violated.

Hey Nonny Mouse
Hey Nonny Mouse
5 months ago

Descartes visits you at night and tries to possess your pineal gland.

Eric
Eric
5 months ago

There’s a late-medieval/early-modern legend that John Duns Scotus was buried alive, which is rather terrifying. (https://lyfaber.blogspot.com/2007/05/heres-few-weird-quotes-i-ran-across.html)

Cameron
Cameron
5 months ago

Diogenes’ everyday life was pretty scary for anyone living near him. He would just s*** or jerk it wherever he was at. Yikes!

Max
Max
5 months ago

Marxist philospher Louis Pierre Althusser was brilliant, but also a fairly frightening figure with an equally frightening upbringing. He had many periods of psychiatric hospitalization and acute psychosis. In 1980 he murdered his wife by strangling her, supposedly (I’ve heard) when giving her a shoulder massage. This probably falls into genuinely frightening / tragic category rather than the “look at how wacky they were” category. But, I think it certainly counts as frightening.

cecul burrow
cecul burrow
5 months ago

Sellars tells us that the given is just a scary myth! And McDowell agrees!

Jordan
Jordan
5 months ago

Imagine Arthur “Heeere’s Arty” Schopenhauer kicking down a door and throwing you down the stairs…

Patrick Lin
5 months ago

Ayn Rand.

A Philosopher Named Slickback
A Philosopher Named Slickback
Reply to  Patrick Lin
5 months ago

Oof, I always thought she was a moral satirist.

Marc Champagne
Reply to  Patrick Lin
5 months ago

Ah, the go-to bogeywoman, who gleefully asphyxiated people in her novels… Wait, that was Simone de Beauvoir: https://philpapers.org/archive/CHABAR.pdf

Jackson Hawkins
Jackson Hawkins
5 months ago

My vote goes to Georges Bataille, who founded an actual occult society, Acéphale, complete with clandestine meetings in the woods and (rumored) ritualistic sacrifices.

Last edited 5 months ago by Jackson Hawkins
William
William
5 months ago

My vote goes to Leo Strauss for doing the casting in Eyes Wide Shut as he prepares the secretive cult of philosopher-kings to puppeteer society.

Jonathan Gray
5 months ago

Schopenhauer is scariest because he pulls no punches and shows you the bleak and limiting horrors of existence.

cecul burrow
cecul burrow
Reply to  Jonathan Gray
5 months ago

What does he actually say though that hasn’t been said by every moody 13 year old?

Meme
Meme
Reply to  cecul burrow
5 months ago

Seriously, I hate it when moody thirteen year olds try to ground the necessary suffering of the world-as-representation in the four-fold root of the principle of sufficient reason. It’s like, try smiling once in awhile!

Rubén
Rubén
5 months ago

Hegesias of Cyrene, Peisithanatos (The death persuader). Wrote a dialogue about the reasons to die for starvation and so many took their own lives convinced by his argument.

Jonathan
Jonathan
5 months ago

It’s between René Descartes and Gilbert Ryle, who coined the phrase “ghost in the machine” to describe Descartes’ dualism.

Oh, there’s also Robert Nozick’s utility monster.

cd brown
5 months ago

lots of little kids probably found Wittgenstein scary

Bob Kirkman
Reply to  cd brown
5 months ago

And if they didn’t, he could always brandish a fireplace poker at them!

V. Alan White
5 months ago

Freddy (Krueger) Dread-ski. With all Boo respect.

Thomas
5 months ago

Bradley if you’re a cat

Billy
5 months ago

Nietzsche. Who else would deny that all humans are equal at some fundamental moral level? Who else would have no problem with treating others as mere tools? His views are in effect a celebration of all of the dark, lonely, and deranged elements of human nature. And if that’s not Halloween-like, then I don’t know what is.

My name
My name
5 months ago

Excessive level of gasping that accompanies the enunciation & it’s scene: the non-relation between “the word”/enunciations & the real/jouissance. But it is true that what followed the guy not so enamored of incestual Creons/”Gods” and the real of their jitteriness (see real above: frightened of death) at a possible dissolution (and what cannot appear) of their infantilizing spectacles was a great deal of “philosophers” preferred the other route. The monk-decoy kids close to them….spectacular route. The issue of the German ideology etc. Well, chosen scene by the way. The modality of it’s captation is exemplary.

Most haunting philosopher to philosophers. Hmmmmm, Kant and his minimal moral/ethical requirements, Hegel: the guy that invented recursion and computation. The object of some obsence mode of censorship. Kinda strange. The theme of things that cannot appear. As relevant an invention as Newtons own computational devices: the logic of motion.

Annnd, in a weird way Sade since his writtings tend to de-reify Creon types like today’s capitalists. To use a phrase taken from Dennett from someone else that cannot appear (perhaps a Conrad-Non-Android) Sades writings are like a universal acid to the ideology (circuits of self-celebration) of incestual exploiters worldwide. Like Hegel a guy whose writtings had to be exposed to a substantive amount of censorship. The theme of “what cannot appear” all throughout. You could have people like Baudelaire, Nietzsche, Machiavelli, but Sade broke some ideological limit.

Not Reviewer 2
Not Reviewer 2
5 months ago

Reviewer 2. It could be any one of us….

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Not Reviewer 2
5 months ago

The rejection letters are coming from inside the house…

Amadeus
Amadeus
5 months ago

Bentham.

Still leering at students, as a headless skeleton.

Anderson Brown
5 months ago

I think it has to be David Lewis for his modal realism. One doesn’t want to contemplate too long on what is happening to you in ALL possible worlds…

Ross Canell
5 months ago

Kurt Gödel. His Theory of Incompleteness was the essence of his namesake, and its circularity drove him to insanity and left his colleague, Albert Einstein, tossing and turning for the rest of his life, as he ruminated about how an integrated theory of physics could ever possibly be achieved.

Roman
5 months ago

Stirner. He saw “spooks” everywhere he looked.

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Trevor Pearce
5 months ago

Eduard von Hartmann, who in 1869 looked forward to the time when all rational beings in the universe would vote in favor of its utter annihilation!

David Taylor
David Taylor
5 months ago

Surprised no one has suggested philosophy’s very own razor-weilding slasher, William of Ockham!