The Philosophers.

A poem by Friedrich Schiller

PUPIL.
I am rejoiced, worthy sirs, to find you in pleno assembled;
For I have come down below, seeking the one needful thing.

ARISTOTLE.
Quick to the point, my good friend! For the Jena Gazette comes to hand here,
Even in hell, so we know all that is passing above.

PUPIL.
So much the better! So give me (I will not depart hence without it)
Some good principle now, one that will always avail!

FIRST PHILOSOPHER.
Cogito, ergo sum. I have thought, and therefore existence!
If the first be but true, then is the second one sure.

PUPIL.
As I think, I exist. 'Tis good! But who always is thinking?
Oft I've existed e'en when I have been thinking of naught.

SECOND PHILOSOPHER.
Since there are things that exist, a thing of all things there must needs be;
In the thing of all things dabble we, just as we are.

THIRD PHILOSOPHER.
Just the reverse, say I. Besides myself there is nothing;
Everything else that there is is but a bubble to me.

FOURTH PHILOSOPHER.
Two kinds of things I allow to exist, the world and the spirit;
Naught of others I know; even these signify one.

FIFTH PHILOSOPHER.
I know naught of the thing, and know still less of the spirit;
Both but appear unto me; yet no appearance they are.

SIXTH PHILOSOPHER.
I am I, and settle myself, and if I then settle
Nothing to be, well and good there's a nonentity formed.

SEVENTH PHILOSOPHER.
There is conception at least! A thing conceived there is, therefore;
And a conceiver as well, which, with conception, make three.

PUPIL.
All this nonsense, good sirs, won't answer my purpose a tittle:
I a real principle need, one by which something is fixed.

EIGHTH PHILOSOPHER.
Nothing is now to be found in the theoretical province;
Practical principles hold, such as: thou canst, for thou shouldst.

PUPIL.
If I but thought so! When people know no more sensible answer,
Into the conscience at once plunge they with desperate haste.

DAVID HUME.
Don't converse with those fellows! That Kant has turned them all crazy;
Speak to me, for in hell I am the same that I was.

LAW POINT.
I have made use of my nose for years together to smell with;
Have I a right to my nose that can be legally proved?

PUFFENDORF.
Truly a delicate point! Yet the first possession appeareth
In thy favor to tell; therefore make use of it still!


SCRUPLE OF CONSCIENCE.
Willingly serve I my friends; but, alas, I do it with pleasure;
Therefore I often am vexed that no true virtue I have.

DECISION.
As there is no other means, thou hadst better begin to despise them;
And with aversion, then, do that which thy duty commands.

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