the philosopher’s football match ……

The Philosophers’ Football Match is a Monty Python sketch depicting a football match in the Olympiastadion at the 1972 Munich Olympics between philosophers representing Greece and Germany. Starring in the sketch are Archimedes (John Cleese), Socrates (Eric Idle), Hegel (Graham Chapman), Nietzsche (Michael Palin), Marx (Terry Jones) and Kant (Terry Gilliam).

Confucius is the referee and keeps times with an hourglass. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine (sporting haloes) serve as linesmen. The German manager is Martin Luther. As play begins, the philosophers ponder their theories while walking on the pitch in circles. Franz Beckenbauer, the sole genuine footballer on the pitch and a “surprise inclusion” in the German team, is left more than a little confused.

The sketch was performed in the Grünwalder Stadion. It originally featured in the second Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus episode and was later included in Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982).

Nietzsche receives a yellow card after claiming that Confucius has no free will. Confucius he say “Name go in book”. In the second half Karl Marx replaces Ludwig Wittgenstein, but does nothing to advance the game. With just over a minute of the match remaining Archimedes cries out “Eureka!”, takes the first kick of the ball and rushes towards the German goal. Socrates scores the only goal of the match in a diving header off a cross from Archimedes. As the sketch closes, the Germans dispute the call; “Hegel is arguing that the reality is merely an a priori adjunct of non-naturalistic ethics, Kant via the categorical imperative is holding that ontologically it exists only in the imagination, and Marx is claiming it was offside.”

The names of the Greek philosophers in the line-up are displayed in German in the sketch.

Germany

Greece

Gottfried Leibniz (goalkeeper) Plato (goalkeeper)
Immanuel Kant Epictetus
Georg “Nobby” Hegel (capt) Aristotle
Arthur Schopenhauer “Chopper” Sophocles
Friedrich Schelling Empedocles of Acragas
Franz Beckenbauer Plotinus
Karl Jaspers Epicurus
Karl Schlegel Heraklitus
Ludwig Wittgenstein Democritus
Friedrich Nietzsche Socrates (capt)
Martin Heidegger Archimedes
Karl Marx – substituting
Wittgenstein in the 2nd half

(Wittgenstein was, of course, Austrian.)

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