I was talking about our favourite video games growing up when my man, Chris, accidentally typed “Moral Kombat.” Immediately, I conjured up images of moral philosophers duking it out old-school arcade-style, and it really got me thinking about freshman papers on Locke v. Hobbes, years of “Ideas That Shaped The World” courses, and thousands spent on expensive textbooks of old white dudes. At that moment, I knew that all of it had led me to this moment: cooking up what philosophers’ Fatality moves would be, a la Mortal Kombat-style.
So, with that being said, and Mortal Kombat now out, please sit back and enjoy this list of finishing moves from some of your favourite thinking boys.
11. John Locke
Taunt: “No one ought to harm another, but I’ll make an exception this time.”
Finishing Move: ‘Tabula Rasa’ – Punches his opponent in the head, and they lose all memory, all sense of identity, all purpose. They are rendered a blank slate, a human born anew. Then he kicks them in the nuts and they pass out.
10. René Descartes
Taunt: “I fight, therefore I am.”
Finishing Move: ‘Cogito ergo sum’ – René whispers in his opponent’s ear. Suddenly his opponent loses all sense of reality, distrusting their senses and reducing them to a gibbering wreck. He then summons an evil demon who piledrives them into the ground.
9. Carl Jung
Taunt: “There is no coming to consciousness without pain.”
Finishing Move: ‘Shadow Self’ – Jung summons a huge, ghastly figure, which promptly grabs his opponent in its immense claws and tears them in half. It uses the blood to draw symbols in the fighting ground.
8. David Hume
Taunt: “A wise man proportions his belief to the ass-kicking I’m about to give you.”
Finishing Move: ‘Cause & Effect’ – Conjures mathematical proofs in the air, then brings them crashing down on his opponent in a fury, tearing them to ribbons.
7. Thomas Hobbes
Taunt: “The life of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short, but I’m about to make yours even shorter.”
Finishing Move: ‘Leviathan’ – Hobbes takes out a massive sceptre. A crowd of common folk emerge and hold his opponent down while he bludgeons them to death.
6. Sigmund Freud
Taunt: “The goal of all life is death; I’m going to help you reach yours.”
Finishing Move: ‘Oedipus Complex’ – Freud marries his opponent’s mum, stepping on a napkin-wrapped glass to celebrate their nuptials. Their opponent grabs some of the glass and dashes their eyes out in a wailing act of grief.
5. Friedrick Nietzsche
Taunt: “When you stare into these fists, these fists will come swinging back at you.”
Finishing Move: ‘Superman’ – Nietzsche throws his pocket watch at you, capturing you in it like a Pokeball. They are doomed to an eternity of repeating their worst mistakes and futile, fruitless existence.
4. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Taunt: “Nothing great in this world has ever been accomplished without an ass-kickin’.”
Finishing Move: ‘The Dialectic Death’ – Hegel proposes a thesis, his opponent is drawn into an anti-thesis, and the two start arguing until the air between them becomes molten hot, and his opponent’s flesh is melted into goo.
3. Immanuel Kant
Taunt: “Happiness is not an ideal of reason, but of laying beatdowns on fools.”
Finishing Move: ‘Kingdom of Ends’ – Kant rips open his opponent’s head, sucking out the part of his opponent’s brain responsible for thought and reason. Taking their eyes in his hands, he makes his opponent watch as he beats the rest of his head into pulp.
Taunt: “Only the dead have seen the end of war. You’re about to see for yourself.”
Finishing Move: ‘The Cave’ – Plato jumps into heaven. Not ‘the heavens,’ mind, but into the truest form of heaven there is, and then comes crashing down into a brutal twin-legged kick into his opponent’s chest, sending his opponent into the earth. The opponent is shackled by cave dwellers to a large stone, reduced to terrified screaming as they watch shadows play out across the stone face in front of them.
Taunt: “One thing only that I know, and that is that I will beat your ass.”
Finishing Move: ‘The Wisest’ – Socrates invites his opponent to duel him. Lured into a false hope of defeating his opponent, Socrates’ foe swings at him, only to catch his own punch on his own face. He keeps delivering strikes, which all rain down on himself. He dies in a broken heap on the ground, knowing it was himself who caused his own end.