Please let this be true.

From (allegedly) a biography of A.J. Ayer, via Wikipedia, via Marginal Revolution

He taught or lectured several times in the United States, including serving as a visiting professor at Bard College in the fall of 1987. At a party that same year held by fashion designer Fernando Sanchez, Ayer, then 77, confronted Mike Tyson harassing the (then little-known) model Naomi Campbell. When Ayer demanded that Tyson stop, the boxer said: “Do you know who the fuck I am? I’m the heavyweight champion of the world,” to which Ayer replied: “And I am the former Wykeham Professor of Logic. We are both pre-eminent in our field. I suggest that we talk about this like rational men.” Ayer and Tyson then began to talk, while Naomi Campbell slipped out.

So very awesome. Philosophy: 1, Boxing: 0.

Although, admittedly, one wonders why the final sentence isn’t “and then Tyson kicked his ass.” I guess even maniac rapist ear-biters respect people who stand up to them.


7 Responses to “Please let this be true.”

  1. Rob Says:

    Your impression of Tyson might broaden after seeing this startling documentary.

  2. Paul Gowder Says:

    Oh interesting — I might watch that, thanks!

  3. Kenny Says:

    I have heard this story before, from a source independent of Wikipedia, but I don’t remember what source it was. At any rate, I don’t think Wikipedia made it up.

  4. Steve M. Says:

    Apparently, it’s true. Or at least, it’s in the biography, so you have a non-wikioedia source:

  5. Paul Gowder Says:


    The other thing I want to know is how a philosopher — and a logical positivist no less! — gets invited to parties thrown by big-name fashion designers. Political theorists are much cooler, ergo, I expect to get invited to at least the Playboy Mansion.

  6. Steve M. Says:

    I think you’re seriously underestimating how cool AJ Ayer was. Take a look at this interview:

    Not only is he authoritative-sounding, he’s smoking during the interview. He’s like the Fonzie of philosophy.

  7. Matt Says:

    The Tyson movie is really interesting. He’s been a pretty bad guy at times in his life, as he admits, but he’s also always been very interesting and in many ways thoughtful. Ayer was long a play-boy and funny. His discussion about being in the special forces in WWII was funny, too. I can’t remember the exact words but it was something along the lines of “I was given training that supposedly would allow me to kill a man with my bare hands, but as far as I could tell this depended on the person holding still and not fighting back at all.”

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