René Descartes, the brilliant seventeenth century French mathematician, philosopher, and writer is perhaps best known for the famous Latin quotation “Cogito ergo sum” – I think, therefore I am. He was also known for his extremely bad temper and complete lack of patience.
While he was teaching at Universiteit Utrecht in the Netherlands it was customary then as now to have Friday afternoon seminars where professors at the all-male university would lecture to students and faculty alike.
Because it was Friday afternoon and because many members of the faculty were anxious to get an early start on the evenings activities, they would frequently bring along their girl friends, mistresses, or – as was often the case – courtesans (that is, “ladies of the evening”).
One particular Friday the number of courtesans in attendance was quite obviously more than normal. This was of course the very Friday that Descartes was to lecture on the subject of social propriety and marital fidelity.
Descartes as usual was late to the lecture, and being bored, the audience began to do what amorous couples have done for ages. Descartes finally arrived by way of the stage door and ascended to the podium. As he began his lecture, he looked out across the audience only to observe students, faculty, and courtesans locked in the throws of passion (or at least as much passion as one could reasonably have in public).
Descartes loudly cleared his throat in a vain attempt to regain the attention of the audience, but to no avail. Soon Descartes lost all composure and flew into a blind rage. He began screaming at the audience – alternating between his native French and Latin. He began throwing chairs from the stage into the audience. A riot ensued. Many of the attendees were injured and had to be taken to hospital. The police eventually had to be called in.
The moral of the story …
Never put Descartes before the whores.