Can you solve it? Logical philosophers

Five existentialists walk into a bar.

Update: solutions can be found here

Today’s three puzzles are mini-dramas featuring well-known philosophers.

1. Late Wittgenstein

Wittgenstein has been murdered. The culprit is one of either Friedrich Nietzsche, Lou Andreas-Salomé, Karl Marx or Ludwig Feuerbach. They make the following statements. You have been correctly informed that guilty person always lies, and everyone else tells the truth.

Nietzsche: Salomé is the culprit.
Salomé: Marx is innocent.
Feuerbach: Salomé’s statement is true.
Marx: Nietzsche’s statement is false.

Who killed Wittgenstein?

2. An existential problem

Sun Tzu, Iris Murdoch and Aristotle are each offering you a lift. Two of them want to kill you. One doesn’t want to kill you. You must choose to leave with the philosopher who does not want to kill you.

You are told (correctly) that at least one of the philosophers will always lie to you (this may or may not be one of the ones that wants to kill you.) They make the following statements:

Sun Tzu: Murdoch and Aristotle speak the truth.
Murdoch: To survive, choose Sun Tzu, or choose Aristotle
Aristotle: Murdoch is NOT the one to choose if you want to live.

Which philosopher do you choose?

3. The Café de Flore

The French philosophers Raymond Aron, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jean Paul Sartre were drinking in the famous Parisian watering hole. Four of them were sitting at one table, and one was on their own at the other side of the room. They were all drinking different drinks.

1. The one who drank beer sat next to Sartre, who never drank gin.
2. de Beauvoir sat adjacent to the one who drank the apricot cocktail, who was not Sartre.
3. Camus, who never drank wine, did not sit near the one who drank the beer.
4. The one who drank the G&T and the one who drank the beer, and Merleau-Ponty drank neither, were sitting next to each other.
5. Merleau-Ponty did not drink whisky or wine.

Who is drinking which drink, and which one is drinking alone?

Today’s puzzles were written by Jonny Thomson, who is the author of Mini Philosophy, a stimulating and sharply-written new book on 150 thinkers and their ideas, from Abelard on ‘best intentions’ to Zimbardo on ‘becoming evil’, via several of those featured above. It’s a ‘dip into’ book that is a pleasure to read from cover to cover.

I’ll be back at 5pm UK with the solutions.

PLEASE NO SPOILERS. Instead please discuss your favourite philosophers.

In other news, the puzzle world is mourning the death of Maki Kaji, the self-proclaimed ‘godfather of sudoku’ and pioneer of many other number puzzles. You can read my obituary of him here.

I set a puzzle here every two weeks on a Monday. I’m always on the look-out for great puzzles. If you would like to suggest one, email me.

I’m the author of several books of puzzles, most recently the Language Lover’s Puzzle Book. I also give school talks about maths and puzzles (restrictions allowing). If your school is interested please get in touch.

Contributor

Alex Bellos

The GuardianTramp

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