Dead Philosophers Defend my Son, Yahya!


Philosophers Defend my Son, Yahya,
for a Grade Change and the Grade Changes!

Yahya Yuksel, mentored by his dad, Abu Yahya
23 December 2008

Dear Professor and T.A.,

Excluding my personal learning experience during my adventure on this planet, my familiarity with philosophy and philosophers is limited with two low level philosophy classes that I took last semester. Perhaps, arguing for a better grade is not a conventional subject of philosophy, or challenging the professor and T.A’s judgment regarding a grade is not usually a winnable war, but I will do so without appealing to pity (such as my academic goals, financial condition, and my parent’s reaction) and without provoking your egos.

I expected to get an A. I studied hard and wrote exactly what I had on my study guides that I reviewed twice with Anne. I knew that I had to receive a very high score (assuming no curves), and I’m very confident that I achieved that. I wonder if there was an error in the input of my grade. Otherwise, I would appreciate it if you give me the opportunity to show you why I deserve an A.

My father is a philosophy professor and his son’s failure to get an A in philosophy is one of the worst news for him. So, he guided me to consult some wise men in support of my appeal for an unofficial hearing. I asked some of the prominent Western philosophers, and the great majority of them supported my plea for a grade change. Please listen to the spirits and wisdom of the following dead philosophers and change my grade from B to A.

THALES: The essence of everything is water and Yahya’s essence is a 3.5 pound gray jelly, which deserves grade A.

PYTHAGORAS: The essence of everything is numbers, and YaHYaY’s number is 38. The square root of 38 divided by golden ratio is 3.8, which rounds up to 4. Thus, Yahya deserves an A.

HERACLITUS: The essence of everything is change. So, you should follow nature and change Yahya’s grade to A.

EPICURUS: Yahya needs peace of mind to be happy. He is not expecting to eat caviar; but he needs an attainable grade, which is A. He is sure that he will maintain his academic agility to handle challenges.

PYRRHO: Neither you, nor Yahya knows anything. Stop grading questionable speculations. Give everyone F.

EPICTETUS: I decline to ask for a grade change… Yahya should accept the reality and be happy.

SOCRATES (Talking through Plato): Though I am not the wisest person in Tucson as you think, let me defend this young man’s quest to get a better grade. Yahya deserves an A, since he learned that he knew nothing before taking your class, and he is now very confused in his cave as you exactly expected him to be.

ARISTOTLE: Yahya’s material cause is earth and water, his formal cause is a male homo-sapien, his efficient cause is a Turkish-Kurdish man and a Persian woman, and his final cause is to know. All men by nature desire to know. Diligent and smart learners deserve A. Yahya is both diligent and smart. Therefore, he deserves an A.

ST ANSELM: Grade A is the greatest academic award in Philosophy 104 than which no greater award can be conceived. Yahya conceives of getting an A. But, conception of A in Yahya’s imagination cannot be greater than its existence in reality. If A existed in reality, then it would be greater than the one in his imagination. Therefore, a grade A for Yahya must exist in reality.

OCKHAM: Shave that B off, and give Yahya an A. It is more difficult to explain B, since you have to explain why you did not give C or A. But, explaining A is much easier: it is just the best. So, choose the less complex explanation for Yahya’s performance in Philosophy 104 and give him an A.

DESCARTES: First, I have to prove my existence, then God, then the world and my body. Cogito ergo sum… I think therefore, I am. Since I did not create myself there must be God. And God will not allow the evil daemon play with my mind; thus I have body and the world is real. As for Yahya, it contains two letter A, not a single B.

HOBBES: Yahya is intrinsically selfish and ruthless; you cannot change him. So your attempt to give him B to teach him a lesson is futile.

LOCKE: Yahya’s primary qualities are handsome, strong and smart; yet his secondary qualities smell bad and taste funny. Change your grade according to his primary qualities. According to the academic contract, students have the right to replace their instructors if they are not happy with them and their grades.

MİLL: The pleasure and happiness that Yahya would certainly get from receiving an A and the pain that he and his family would avoid are much greater than the pain and suffering caused by 1/4th of the 1/30000 grade inflation it might cause in the University of Arizona. So, you should please Yahya and his family.

KANT: If you universalize Yahya’s demand for grade change, then every student should receive an A, which defeats the purpose. So, Yahya should accept the fact that he is not the exception in the rule.

MARX: From everyone according to their capacity, to everyone according to their need. Yahya needs an A; just ask him.

RAWLS: By giving an A, you do not do injustice, but by a B, you might. Behind the veil of ignorance, imagine that you could be a student like Yahya.

Dead philosophers aside, I really think that I did not get what I deserve, both for my hard work and my performance on the final. I do not want you to think that my opinion of you would change even if you do not listen to my plea. I was very impressed by you and your T.A, Anne, who took her time to help me prepare for the final.


Yahya Yuksel

PS: Soon after sending this email, Yahya received an email from the instructor with good news: his grade would be changed from B to an A. However, the instructor added the following note: the grade change was needed because it was a typo or data-entry error; he had already received and A in her book.