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Food for Thought
Dracula Meets Aristotle (But not vice versa)
Tim Madigan reports on an unverifiable encounter.
“If ever there was in the world a warranted and proven history, it is that of vampires. Nothing is lacking. Official reports, testimonials of persons of standing, of surgeons, clergymen, judges: the judicial evidence is all embracing. And with all that, who is there who believes in vampires?”
The great philosopher Aristotle stands at center stage, deep in thought. Dracula, in full regalia, enters stage left.
Dracula (menacingly): Good evening.
Aristotle: In what sense?
Dracula (surprised): I beg your pardon?
Aristotle: In what sense do you mean ‘good’? Are you claiming that this evening is somehow better than all other evenings, and therefore ‘good’, or do you perhaps mean that there is something inherently worthy about evenings in-and-of-themselves?
Dracula: I only come out at night. I am Count Dracula.
Aristotle (bows): I am Aristotle. Your statement intrigues me. Why is it that you only come out at night?
Dracula: Because I am a vampire, and must avoid the rays of the sun.
Aristotle: A vampire? What is that?
Dracula: A vampire is an undead being.
Aristotle: Nonsense. There is no such thing. The categories of being are quite precise. One is either alive or dead. There cannot, by definition, be an ‘undead’ being.
Dracula: And yet I exist.
Aristotle: I deny it.
Dracula: But if I do not exist, how could you be arguing with me?
Aristotle: You must be a dream, a phantasm. You are a misperception of reality, based upon a false impression.
Dracula: How dare you speak to me like that! You insult me.
Aristotle: I do not. For how can I insult that which does not exist?
Dracula: And what of the villagers of Transylvania? I terrorized them for centuries. Did they deny my existence?
Aristotle: What existed for them was fear – fear of the unknown, fear of death. They chose to personify this fear in the concept of ‘a vampire’, but that itself is no evidence to support the reality of such a being.
Dracula (apoplectic): I tell you, I EXIST!!! I drink, therefore I am.
Aristotle: Drink? What is it you drink?
Dracula (ominously): Blood. Your petty logic cannot understand the nature of the Undead. We transcend your limitations.
Aristotle (unmoved): No one can know the nature of that which does not exist. One cannot define a thing into existence. We prove its existence through demonstration. (He holds up a mirror) You cast no reflection. Therefore, I demonstrate that you do not exist.
Dracula: No, you fool. It is an attribute of vampires that we cast no reflection.
Aristotle: That is absurd.
Dracula: Again you insult me. You're driving me batty! Please excuse the pun.
Aristotle: Pun? What pun?
Dracula: We vampires can become bats as well.
Aristotle: Now I know I am dreaming. A being cannot change its essence. You cannot be a human at one moment, and a bat at another. If you are human, you cannot even know what it is to be a bat.
Dracula: I AM NOT HUMAN. I AM INHUMAN.
Aristotle (muses): What is the cause of this phantasm before me? There must have been some change in my condition to produce it. Perhaps the wine that I consumed before going to bed has disturbed the blood within me, and this disturbance has created a false appearance in my mind.
Dracula: Blood? (sinister laugh) Yes, I will prove to you that I exist. (He attacks Aristotle, sinks his teeth into the philosopher's neck, draping his cape around the collapsing figure. Aristotle falls to the ground, dead.) Ha ha ha. There! You doubt my existence no more, for I have ended yours. I alone remain. I, Dracula, Lord of the Undead, Immortal amongst mortals. I exist! (Sinister laugh heard from offstage) (In deep panic): Van Helsing! (BLACKOUT)
© Dr Timothy J. Madigan 2005
Tim Madigan is a US Editor of Philosophy Now. He teaches Philosophy at St John Fisher College in Rochester, NY.