Send us your answers by Saturday night, January 23, to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The five passages below are from famous philosophical texts. Well, not exactly – they are only approximate paraphrases of the original texts (so you cannot identify them with an Internet search engine). How many philosophers can you identify?

Years ago I noticed that many of the things which I believed to be true were in fact false. As a result, everything that I based on these beliefs was questionable. And once I realized this, I decided that I should get rid of all my beliefs and opinions, and construct my knowledge from the beginning on a firm foundation.

A human being is like a rope that is stretched between an animal and a noble person. He is a process – the process of dangerous crossing, a dangerous not-yet, a dangerous looking-back, a dangerous shaking and stopping. What is great in the human being is that he is a bridge and not a goal. What can be loved in him is that he is in transition.

What do I mean when I say that my existence comes before my essence? I mean that first of all I exist – I appear in the world, and only afterwards I define myself. A person cannot be defined, because at the beginning he is nothing. Only afterwards he will be something, and he will be whatever he himself will make of himself. Therefore, there is no human nature, because there is no God to determine it.

Think about the tools in a tool-box: the hammer, the pliers, the saw, the screw-driver, the ruler, the glue, the nails the screws. Different words have different functions just as each of those tools has a different function. Normally we don’t notice these differences because the words sound similar and appear similar on paper, and because we don’t see in front of us the kind of work they do. This is so especially when we do philosophy.

Reason is valid forever, but people are unable to understand it, even after they have heard it. So although everything in the world happens according to Reason, people don’t seem to appreciate it. Some people are not aware of their own actions when they are awake as if they were asleep.



                                                    Solution to the puzzle                     Español


Ancient philosophers on the good life

Send your solution to us (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by Friday, December 1st before midnight, New York time. The winner will be announced on Agora.

Seven ancient philosophers are transported to the 21st century, and they find themselves together in a fancy nightclub: Aristippus, Aristotle, Epicurus, Marcus Aurelius, Plato, Protagoras, and Socrates. The following conversation develops between them. Can you identify the name of each philosopher?

PHILOSOPHER 1: Oh, wow, a nightclub full of pleasures! Beer, dancing, wild music to excite my adrenaline. That’s what I call the good life!

PHILOSOPHER 2: Careful now, don’t be a slave of your passions. What about your inner peace, and your duties to society? Don’t you want to exercise your free will and overcome your passions?

PHILOSOPHER 1: But I love my passions! The hell with your duties. What matters is NOW – pleasure, pleasure, and more pleasure.

PHILOSOPHER 3: Pleasure – yes, but not too much excitement please. Your intense pleasure gives me a headache. It agitates my soul. I prefer a quieter sort of pleasure. Come, friends, let us sit quietly outside this noisy place and enjoy the calmness. We don’t need excitement, it’s enough that we feel no pain, especially in the company of friends.

PHILOSOPHER 4: Hey, let’s not exaggerate here, let’s not go to extremes. Not too much excitement, not too little excitement, that’s what I say. Let’s keep our mind balanced, and find the middle way.

PHILOSOPHER 5: Just a minute everybody, not so fast. Let’s first reflect and examine what we are doing. Without self-examination, nothing is worth anything. Let’s start, then: Who can suggest a definition of “excitement”?

PHILOSOPHER 1: But where is the fun? I love beer, I love food, I love wild dancing!

PHILOSOPHER 6: No, you only THINK you love beer and dancing. You don’t realize that there are higher things to love. When you think you love good beer, you actually love beer-ness in general, you love the goodness of beer, you love goodness, you love the absolute Good.

PHILOSOPHER 7: Nonsense, man. There is no such thing as absolute. Everything is just opinions. You may convince him, or he may convince you, but if you are smart enough, you can convince anybody in anything.

PHILOSOPHER 3: Once again, is anybody coming with me outside? I’d like to sit in the garden – but not alone. We can sit peacefully and philosophize.






  Solution to the puzzle  



A Frenchman, a Scottish man, a German, and a Greek meet at the horse-races. They start talking, and soon they discover that they are all famous philosophers, dead now, who came down from heaven to have a bit of fun on earth. They sit down, waiting for the race to begin.

Suddenly, the first philosopher stands up and says: “I don’t feel like waiting. I’ll watch this race in the future. After all, anything that happens once will happen again and again and again, for eternity.”

The second philosopher stands up too and says: “I’m coming with you. There is nothing to wait for. Nobody will win and nobody will lose. Movement is an illusion, time is an illusion, and nobody can pass anybody else.”

The two philosophers start walking towards the gate.

The third philosopher jumps up and says: “Wait, I am coming with you! This race is boring – the results are obvious in advance. Look, one horse is healthy, all the rest are sick. Healthy horses always beat sick horses, throughout history, with perfect regularity.” He hesitates, then murmurs to himself: “On the other hand, you can’t prove that a regularity in the past must continue into the future.” After some hesitation, he joins the other two.

Only the fourth philosopher remains sitting. “I am staying,” he says. “Nothing repeat itself, every event is new. Time is creative – unless you are obsessed with mathematics and think that time is a mathematical dimension.”

Who are those four philosophers?

(Hint: three of the four are mentioned in Agora’s Topics section, although not necessarily in the context of the issue of time.)

 Send your solution to us (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by Friday, November 10 before midnight, New York time. The winner will be announced on Agora.



 AGORA PHILOSOPHY PUZZLE # 12   (solutions until October 20, 2017)

Solution to the puzzle  

SPANISH (scroll down)

Dragon puzzle 121.5



 AGORA PHILOSOPHY PUZZLE # 11   (solutions until October 13, 2017)

Solution to the puzzle 


Send your solution to us (AgoraPhilosophy at by Friday, October 13 before midnight, New York time. The winner will be announced on Agora.



 AGORA PHILOSOPHY PUZZLE # 10   (solutions until October 7, 2017)


Solution to the puzzle  

We received correct solutions from Heidi Bennent (Germany), Maurizio Bisogno (Ireland), Regina Penner (Russia), and Michele Zese (Italy). Thank you, the four of you, for your nice solutions!.
Puzzle 10 2



 AGORA PHILOSOPHY PUZZLE # 9   (solutions until September 30, 2017)

Solution to the puzzle 

Once again, Maurizio Bisogno has solved this puzzle.

1. Albert Camus (1913-1960)

In his book The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus explains that a philosophical issue is significant when it makes a difference to us, when it has practical consequences:

There is only one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is [the issue of] .?.?.?.?.?. … All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories – comes afterwards.

(a) Love (b) Suicide (c) Spirituality (d) Happiness


2. Ludwig Wittgenstein (1189-1951)

Wittgenstein argues that many philosophical problems are a result of a misunderstanding of how language works. In his book Philosophical Investigations, he says:

Philosophical problems arise when language goes on ?.?.?.?.?

(a) Peacefully (b) Forever (c) As it should (d) Holiday


3. Michel de Montaigne (1553-1592)

Montaigne criticizes philosophers who look only at the respectable” sides of life, and who distort life by elevating it. He calls us to return to the simple and honest wisdom of everyday life. In his book The Essays, he says:

The philosophers are very right to refer us to the laws on Nature, but they distort these laws and present Nature’s face too sophisitically, and they paint them in colors that are too exalted… Just as Nature has given us feet to walk with, so it has given us wisdom to guide us in our lives... I would rather be an expert on  ?.?.?.?.?  than an expert on [the philosopher] Cicero.

(a) Me (b) Sex (c) Ideas (d) Everything


4. Alfred Nord Whitehead (1861-1947)

The English philosopher and mathematician Alfred Nord Whitehead, in his book Process and Reality, suggests that while philosophy does not rest on authority but on reason, nevertheless a few philosophers have served as influential “masters of thought.” He says:

The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to ?.?.?.?.?

(a) Human suffering (b) Plato (c) Life (d) The Stoics


5. Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

The main issue for Kierkegaard, the Danish father of existentialism, is how to live truly and authentically; or in his language – how to exist (hence “existentialism”). He attacks philosophers like Hegel who speak about life in the abstract, and who present complete systems of thought. An existing human being, in contrast, is always an unfinished work, always searching and asking questions. In his book Concluding Unscientific Postscript he says:

As soon as we remember that philosophizing does not speak to fantastic beings in fantastic language, but that the philosopher speaks to human beings… and that the question is what existing human beings as existing beings must do, then it will be evident that the ideal of  ?.?.?.?.?  is the only view of life that does not lead to inevitable disillusion.

(a) Striving (b) Pleasure (c) Religion (d) Philosophizing



 AGORA PHILOSOPHY PUZZLE # 8  (solutions until September 23, 2017)

Solution to the puzzle 

Nobody managed to give a complete solution to the puzzle, but Maurizio Bisogno gave an almost-complete solution. Good job, Maurizio!


Puzzle 8 1.4 array only


1. Democritus believed that the world is made of them.
4. Marcus Aurelius' guiding principle.
5. According to Heraclitus, you cannot step twice into it.
6. A tool of Occam.
7. For Anaximenes, all things are composed of it.
9. Anselm tried to prove that he exists.
10. The American philosopher John Rawls became famous for his theory about it.
12. For Thales, everything is made of it.
13. Schopenhauer believed that it has no meaning.
16. The branch of logic that deals with possibilities and necessities.
18. For Sartre, it objectifies the other person.
20. Considered the father of modern theory of capitalism.
21. For Wittgenstein, what you should keep when you cannot speak about something.
23. A leading thinker of the Frankfurt School.
24. For the Greeks, the divine order of the cosmos.


1. The opposite of A posteriori
2. It can dance, according to Nietzsche's Zarathustra.
3. Descartes' "I think therefore I am."
4. Bergson's holistic flow.
8. The father of phenomenology
11. Kierkegaard's three stages of life: the aesthetic, the ... and the religious
14. A rule of moral behavior for Kant.
15. An ancient woman philosopher from Alexandria.
16. Zeno tried to prove that it cannot exist.
17. For Merleau-Ponty, you know the world through it.
19. For Plotinus, everything yearns to connect to it.
22. Hanna Arendt wrote about its banality.



 AGORA PHILOSOPHY PUZZLE # 7  (solutions until September 16, 2017)


Solution to the puzzle 

Three readers sent us correct answers to Puzzle #7: Karl Pfeifer, Maurizio Bisogno, and Lydia Amir. Good job, Karl, Maurizio and Lydia!

If for EXISTENTIALISM, the human being is a free individual who tries to face basic life-issues authentically, then which one of the following is NOT an existentialist?

If according to EMPIRICISM, our knowledge of reality is based on experience that comes from the senses (not only on reason), then which of the following is NOT an empiricist?

If the ONE is the unifying, basic principle that is at the root of reality, then which of the following does NOT put the ONE at the center of his worldview?

If COMMON-SENSE PHILOSOPHY believes that common sense should guide our understanding of the world, then which of the following is NOT a common-sense philosopher?

If PHENOMENOLOGY studies the world in terms of the basic structure of experience, then which of the following is NOT a phenomenologist?

If for FOUNDATIONALISM, all our knowledge about the world must be based on a basic piece of knowledge that we know with certainty, then which of the following is a foundationalist?

If PROCESS PHILOSOPHY sees reality as an ongoing, developing process (not fixed and timeless), then which one of the following is a process philosopher?



 AGORA PHILOSOPHY PUZZLE #6 (solutions until August 26, 2017)


Solution to the puzzle 

Regina Penner from Russia won Puzzle 6, giving the biggest number of correct solutions.

Below you will find a list of hints. Each hint refers to an important book by an important thinker. The hints are not exact – they are approximate and even distorted.

For example:

BOTH OF US -> I and Thou (Martin Buber)

PEOPLE’S SITUATION ->The Human Condition (Hannah Arendt)

Can you identify 15 books? Or 10? Or even only 6? – if so, then send your solution to us (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by Saturday, August 26 before midnight, New York time. The winner (the most correct identifications) will be announced on Agora.

1. Two possibilities, but not both

2. The king’s son

3. The words of some Persian guy

4. The way everything is organized

5. The legend of a Greek man

6. Existence and absence

7. Love of wisdom

8. All kinds of spiritual feelings

9. Study of people’s comprehension

10. Nine parts

11. Original Development

12. Secret of Existence

13. Individual and public

14. The party

15. Assessment of clean logic

16. The universe as a desire and an image

17. Descartes’ reflections

18. The declaration of solidarity

19. Beyond-the-material

20. The experience of the sadness of living


 AGORA PHILOSOPHY PUZZLE #5 (solutions until August 19, 2017)


Solution to the puzzle

 Nobody solved this puzzle

The thinkers in each group have something in common, which none of the thinkers in the other groups have. Can you identify what is common and unique to each group?

Philosophers group 1

 Philosophers group 2

 Philosophers group 3

 AGORA PHILOSOPHY PUZZLE #4 (solutions until August 11, 2017) 


Solution to the puzzle 

The winner of this puzzle was Maurizio Bisogno.  

In the matrix of letters below, there are 26 Greek concepts that were used by important ancient Greek philosophers. The letters of each word are arranged on one straight line: downwards, upwards, left, right, or diagonally. The letters can be either forwards or backwards (for example, either “nous” or “suon”). One of these words (“nous”) is marked in yellow. How many additional words can you find? Puzzle4




 AGORA PHILOSOPHY PUZZLE #3    (July 29, 2017)


Solution to the puzzle

The winner of this puzzle is Jason Barnes. He received a free book of his choice from Loyev Books.


The following is an “alphabetic chain” of philosophers. The FIRST OR LAST letter of each name is the same as the FIRST OR LAST letter of the next name:

Puzzle 3


The above chain is made of 4 names (Kant, Kierkegaard, Descartes, Plotinus). What is the LONGEST alphabetical chain you can create?

A chain must consist only of family names of philosophers who appear in the TOPICS section of Agora. All names must be in English spelling (for examples, Plato, not Platon). The same name cannot appear twice.



 AGORA PHILOSOPHY PUZZLE #2       (July 22, 2017)

Solution to the puzzle

The winner of this puzzle is Karl Pfeifer. He received a free book of his choice from Loyev Books.




Solution to the puzzle

The winner of this puzzle were Ruth Eilon, Sergey Borisov and Maurizio Bisogno. They each received a free book of their choice from Loyev Books.  



1. For Eric Fromm, _ _ _ _ love is not a feeling but an attitude towards the world. (See Agora’s Topics page

5. A component of the psyche, according to Freud.

7. What is common to the middle of Unamuno, of Montaigne, and of Sartre’s lover.

8. The “philosophical grandson” of Socrates.

12. According to Plato, it is a copy of a copy.

13. Pela _ _ _ _, an Irish British thinker of the 4-5 century AD, who believed in free will as opposed to pre-destination.

14. A British philosopher who did not have an experience of a self. (See Agora’s Topics page

16. A philosophy book titled _ _ _ Homo.

18. One country in which the social philosophy of “Buen Vivir” is developing (shortened name).

20. Half human and half God, according to a wise woman.

22. She was a Russian-American novelist and an egoistic philosopher (initials of first and last name).

23. One of the reasons critiqued by Immanuel Kant.

25. A British “ordinary language” philosopher of the 20th century who denounced “the ghost in the machine” (initials of first and last name).

26. A Harvard professor of political philosophy who called for a minimal state (initials of first and last name).

27. The field of the Agora website.

28. A prefix that turns physics into a field of philosophy.

30. One of the four elements according to Empedocles.

32. A sociologist and philosopher who wrote about protestant ethics.

33. A major Neo-Platonist (See Agora’s Topics page

35. According to Hermann Hesse, they can teach us a lot.

37. The Philosophy of __ by French philosopher Gaston Bachelard.

39. Diogenes threw one of them into Plato’s academy.

40. A 19th century English philosopher of evolution.



2. Jacques Derrida’s book The _ _ _ of the Other, about speech, voice, reading, writing, and the Other.

3. The first name of a very pessimistic philosopher (See Agora’s Topics page

4. A Belgian-French feminist philosopher and psychoanalyst, author of This Sex Which is Not One. (Initials of her first and last name).

5. For Buber, if not You then _ _ (See Agora’s Topics page

6. The ancient Cynic school of philosophy received its name from a Greek word which means…

7. This thinker discovered that he existed.

9. A quantifier in logic, which is read as: “There is an X such that…”

10. Items of clothing, which Quine or Adorno or Dewey would wear, but not Parmenides or Heraclitus or Zeno.

11. _ _ _ retius, an ancient thinker who wrote a poem about death (See Agora’s Topics page

12. A city in Syria in which the great 10th century philosopher Al Farabi, “the second master” (after Aristotle), lived for a while.

15. Between Cogito and sum.

17. What is common to philosophers Williams, Lonergan, and Bolzano: B _ _ _ _ _ d.

19. When Socrates was in prison, he was given a _ _ _.

21. Kierkegaard’s Either/_ _ (See Agora’s Topics page

24. Rousseau’s imaginary student (See Agora’s Topics page

28. He discussed with Socrates the nature of virtue.

29. Immanuel Kant was not only a philosopher. In astronomy, he developed the theory that the sun originated as a n_ _ _ la.

30. What a philosopher would use for his work before the invention of the computer.

31. David _ _ _ _, a Scottish philosopher who believed in ethical intuition (See Agora’s Topics page

32. What Socrates drank in the Symposium.

35. Author of Leviathan (initials of first and last name).

36. A prefix, which begins a word that normally means “making smaller,” but in philosophy it means translating one level of reality into a more basic level of reality (for example, psychology to biology).

38. An important British philosopher and logician, married four times, a conscientious objector against war (initials of first and last name) (See Agora’s Topics page


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