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Historical Figures Debate

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/9/2015 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 722 times Debate No: 77480
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (12)
Votes (1)




In this debate, Pro and Con will each nominate a historical figure. In Round 2 each one of us will make the case for why that person was the most influential figure in known human history.

1. One's nominee must be human only.
2. It cannot be the founder of a major world religion.
3. One's nominee must be with little to no doubt a real historical figure.
4. One cannot say "the first human" or someone like that, as that'd be too easy.
5. Picking a historical figure of whom there's too much doubt over his/her existence results in an automatic forfeit.
6. Trolling this debate results in an automatic forfeit.
7. One cannot select an ancient figure and appeal to the the Butterfly Effect to argue that since this candidate lived earlier his/her effect on history is obviously greater (though selecting an ancient figure is not in itself against the rules).

Examples of acceptable candidates: Abraham Lincoln, Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Barack Obama, Attila the Hun, Mikhail Gorbachev, Martin Luther, Adolf Hitler, Queen Victoria, Charlemagne, etc.
Examples of unacceptable candidates: King Arthur, Saint George (the one who slew the dragon), Buddha, Abraham (the Biblical figure), Tarquin the Proud, the Apostle Paul, Santa Claus, etc.

First Round is for acceptance. Burden of Proof is shared.


I accept your debate challenge. I will be arguing that Aristotle is the most influential being in the world, and that his teaching and his philosophy have outlasted and been incorporated into more religious, racial, and class sectors then any other being in the world.

Before we start, this debate will be subjective, because Aristotle did not do anything remotely similar to what Napoleon did for example. Napoleon was a commander and Aristotle was a philosopher. It would be difficult comparing the two.
Debate Round No. 1


The year was 1914. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir presumptive to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was taking a trip to Sarajevo, a city in what is today Bosnia and Herzegovina, accompanied by his non-royal wife Sophie.
The "Black Hand", a Yugoslav nationalist organization organization which sought to liberate the South Slavic lands held by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, conspired to kill Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
So, on June 28, 1914, the Archduke and Sophie made the trip. The Black Hand made their first attempt to kill the Archduke with a bomb, but they failed. The would-be assassin was captured.
One of the conspirators, Gavrilo Princip, decided to get into position near the Latin Bridge. Later on, due to a mistake of the driver of the Archduke's car, the car passed near Gavrilo Princip's position. The young assassin then fired two shots, killing Franz Ferdinand and Sophie (though he later stated that Sophie was not an intended target). Both of them died.

Obviously, the Austro-Hungarian government was pretty mad about this, and they were convinced that the Serbian Government did was responsible, since the Black Hand was a Serbian organization led by leading figures in the Serbian Government.
So, the Austro-Hungarian Government made some demands to the Serbian Government. The Serbian Government actually agreed to at least a few of the demands, but nevertheless the Austro-Hungarian Empire decided to punish Serbia.
The Russian Empire was devoted to protecting Serbia, and as a result it declared war on the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The German Empire, an ally of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, declared war on the Russian Empire, and it also went to war against France, which was Russia's ally. Later the British Empire was drawn into the struggle, and later the Ottoman Empire and the United States, and then it was truly a World War.

Here's the thing: Gavrilo Princip caused that, with his two bullets (though firing just one shot probably would've had the same effect). Granted, for years before that there was a "Cold War" between the British Empire, Russian Empire, and the French Third Republic on one side against the German Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Kingdom of Italy on the other side (though Italy dropped out of the alliance once it was no longer solely a defensive one, and it later joined the Allies). But still, periods of extremely high tension have existed in the past and they haven't always led to a war between the powers in question. Just look at Cold War I, which went on from the end of the Second Cold War until the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The fact is, for WW1 to happen, a trigger was needed. That one man, Gavrilo Princip, was that trigger. That one assassin ultimately controlled the geopolitical landscape of the 20th and 21st centuries.
In fact, WW1 was just the beginning. Because of WW1, the German Empire was destroyed and Germany's economy was likewise destroyed, allowing the Nazis to later rise to power, sparking WWII decades later. Because of WW1, the Russian Empire was overthrown and the Soviet Union was founded in its place. This caused Cold War 1, and because the Soviet Union rose, countless other Communist states arose, some of which persist to this present day.
Because of WW1, WW2, and Cold War 1, the United States became a military superpower, and it still is today.
In fact, TODAY the high tensions between the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China against NATO and the United States, can be traced largely to the Cold War and the power vacuum in the aftermath filled by NATO. China's communist today because of the Cold War. Russia hates the USA and the USA hates Russia because of the Cold War.

IT CAN ALL BE TRACED BACK TO GAVRILO PRINCIP. It's difficult to overstate his impact on world history.
I await my opponent's case.


What you say, actually, is false.

Serbia had a much more democratic Constitution then Austria-Hungary did. The Austro-Hungarian Empire issued an ultimatum to Serbia.

"According to the terms of the ultimatum delivered on July 23, the Serbian government would have to accept an Austro-Hungarian inquiry into the assassination, notwithstanding its claim that it was already conducting its own internal investigation. Serbia was also to suppress all anti-Austrian propaganda and to take steps to root out and eliminate terrorist organizations within its borders"one such organization, the Black Hand, was believed to have aided and abetted the archduke"s killer, Gavrilo Princip, and his cohorts, providing weapons and safe passage from Belgrade to Sarajevo." [1]

Let me move on to my historical figure: Aristotle.

I will first give you some insight on his life, who he was, when he lived, what he did, etc.

Then I will provide my argument.

Aristotle was born in 384 BC in Stagira, Greece. At the age of 17, he enrolled at Plato's academy. In 338 BC, Aristotle left for Macedonia, to tutor Alexander the Great. Alexander's father, Philip, made sure that Aristotle was compensated fairly for his teaching. Once Philip II died, Alexander succeeded him to the throne. He quickly conquered Athens, and reunited Greece under Macedonian rule. Aristotle then went back to Athens, to teach at his academy. Aristotle died in 322 BC.

This is my argument for why Aristotle was the most influential person in history.

Today, Aristotle is the godfather of the Internet, entrepreneurial start-ups, and e-commerce: as he wrote in his Politics, the entire purpose of society is to enable each person "to attain a higher and better life by the mutual exchange of their different services."

His concept created Capitalism. The father of modern day Capitalism, Adam Smith, greatly took from Aristotle in his ideas on how a nations economy could run and how a nation would become successful.

Aristotle spearheaded the usage of observation.

Observation is a very important trait and skill to have, especially in the science field. He gave way to a giant conglomerate of sciences by observation. Without observation, there is no biology. There is no chemistry. Observation gave way to difference, to change. When people observed change, evolution was created. Without observation, there would be no advances in the field of chemistry. Chemistry is responsible for every single synthetic object that we have. With observation, we learned astronomy. We learned that we could track the movement of the stars.

On of Aristotle"s main contributions to philosophy is his work up of logic, upon which he wrote six texts, called together The Organon. Through these texts Aristotle explores the nature of the syllogism, the way in which logic must proceed to avoid fallacies, and the nature of writing "commonplaces," which can be adapted for the moral use of rhetoric. Throughout this, and all his other works, one sees that Aristotle loved classification and definition. When words did not previously exist for a logical phenomena, Aristotle made them up, as he does with the word, syllogism. As the great classifier, however, he is responsible for developing the classification system of plants and animals, which still exists today. [2]

You state that WW1 started because of Princip. It would have started without him very soon.

Russia was getting very complacent. Germany had many feuds with France before this. Austria-Hungary had an alliance with Germany. The Ottoman Empire wanted Russian lands. Eventually, the Ottomans would have attacked Russia, backed by Germany and Austria Hungary. Due to alliances, France would attack from the West and Germany would repel their invasion. Since Germany, at the time, was INCREDIBLY industrialized, they would have beaten France.

Great minds are hard to come by. Radicals who assassinate a man and his wife are very easy to find. There would be no second Aristotle, but there could always be more Princips.

[2]The Organon (I have a copy of it in my room.)
Debate Round No. 2


I do believe that my opponent overstates Aristotle's impact on history. The Ancient Greeks were a people who had many geniuses, mathematicians, philosophers, etc. I find it more likely that Aristotle took already practiced principles and translated those ideas onto paper, principles such as logic, the scientific method, etc. And I'd hardly list the invention of taxonomy as a huge achievement.
As for capitalism, the same applies. The idea of private property dates back to the Biblical Old Testament and to the Code of Hammurabi, two texts which record economic transactions, such as purchases. Abraham bought land in order to bury his wife.

I will admit that there remained high tensions in Europe that would not have just subsided had Princip failed. However, like I said earlier, WW1 needed a spark, and there may not have been a spark.
Or, the spark may not have come for many more years. In which case WW1 would've happened differently.
For instance, in the years leading up to WW1, Russia had undergone heavy modernization programs and the implementation of primitive capitalism, in contrast to Russia's traditional collectivist system.
It's possible that had the war been delayed by 10 years Russia may have been modernized enough and strong to defeat Germany. Also, it's possible that in that time the troubles that plagued Russia in the first two decades of the 20th century might've gotten better by the 1920s, and the Bolsheviks may have never come to power (the moderates would prevail). Or, as the Moderates increased in influence with increased modernization and democratization, Russia may have not been drawn into war.
Either way, a delay by just a few years (assuming that WW1 would've happened at all) may have made a massive difference and completely changed modern history.



I find your argument to be fallible.

What you do not understand, is that there is a margin. A margin of "who could have done this in this person's place". At the time that Princip was alive, he was working with an entire organization, called the Black Hand.

Need I remind you that this was not even planned. There were members of his organization that were going to kill him, except Gavrilo did it first. He was in a coffee shop, and as he came out, he saw the Arch-Duke and his wife in the carriage, so he shot both of them. The Arch Duke would have died either way, as the organization was out to get him. Actually, during the trial, many of its members got charged along with Princip.

However, what Aristotle taught was timeless. Neither Gavrilo Princip or Aristotle are English words. However, as I am typing this argument, when I write Aristotle, it is shown as a proper noun. Only the scum of the Earth do not know who Aristotle is. Everyone is familiar with this man and how much he did for the scientific and philosophical advancement of the human race. All Princip did was ignite a conflict between Serbia and Austria-Hungary.

Additionally, you are discounting my previous statements, and let me explain to you why. Aristotle is one of the most important philosophers in a Western style of thinking. He was one of the first to systematize philosophy and science. His thinking on physics and science had a profound impact on medieval thought, which lasted until the Renaissance, and the accuracy of some of his biological observations was only confirmed in the last century. His impact waned a little during the Reformation, but that is because it was mainly religious, and there was no Christianity at the time of Aristotle's life. His logical works contain the earliest formal study of logic that we have and was not superseded until the late nineteenth century. In the Middle Ages, Aristotelian metaphysics had a profound influence on philosophical and theological thinking in the Islamic and Jewish traditions, and on Christian thought, where its legacy is still felt in Christian theology, for example in Orthodox theology, and especially within the Catholic tradition shaped by scholasticism. Orthodoxy is one of the largest Christian denominations, with over 100 million followers. All aspects of Aristotle's philosophy continue to be the object of active academic study today.

I have stated my argument, now let me counter yours.

You state that Russia had gone heavy militarization programs.


Russia, at the time, was ruled by a very humble Czar, except he lacked all good leadership and military traits. He was no good. Russia had just gotten out of a very costly war (both lives and money) with Japan, which they lost. Most of Russian towns were not industrialized, and Russian industry did not really take off until Stalin's 5 year plans.

Actually, it took Russia about 2 months to mobilize their entire army, which they quickly lost, in both wars. Germany had more industrial power then Japan did. That is why Russia got destroyed on their front.

With the current situation in Russia, there was no way of stopping a Bolshevik revolution, with or without the war. Russians were already deprived of basic rights and basic needs, and they resented their leader for it very much.

That is the end to my argument. I will await your response.
Debate Round No. 3


You first claim that somebody else would've shot the archduke if Gavrilo didn't do it. I wouldn't be so sure about that.
According to this source, there were 6 assassins.
The link in question also implied that had Gavrilo Princip not been where he was, the plot to kill Franz Ferdinand would've been a failure.
Besides, how do we know that Aristotle didn't plagiarize someone else's work? Or what if his works were basically a rehash of the work of another great thinker or a compilation the collective knowledge of the Greeks on logical thought, works of which are lost today? How do we know that somebody else wouldn't have come up with all that stuff within 50-100 years if he never existed?
In fact, how do we even know that Aristotle existed? What if a whole bunch of works from now obscure Greeks (or one Greek) was compiled and attributed to a fictional guy named Aristotle? The truth is, he lived so long ago that we can't really know (to illustrate my point, we don't know for a fact if Homer existed, even though there are great literary works attributed to him).

The fact is, Gavrilo Princip started WW1. We have no way of knowing whether it would've started without him, but there's a good chance that it wouldn't have, or at least it would've started much later, something that would severely alter the course of history.
He shaped the 20th and 21st centuries. That is a concrete fact. His year and day of birth (July 13/25, 1894). We know when he died (April 28, 1918). We know where he was from (Oblija, Bosnia-Herzegovina). We know what his prison sentence was (20 years). We know where he was imprisoned (Theresienstadt Prison). Photographs of him exist. Since there were eyewitnesses we know he was the killer. There is zero doubt that Gavrilo Princip was a real person, and that he was the person behind the achievement accredited to him. The same can't be said about Aristotle.


This argument went different places when you stated that Aristotle may not have been real.

If you look at all the writings from Greece, all the history that backs it up, it is impossible to deny that Aristotle is real.

He was a real man, and that is fact.

Your argument is that we do not know that Aristotle did his work on his own.

In Ancient Greece, if you were a philosopher, you were widely renowned. Everyone knew you, and everyone respected you. Aristotle did all his work on his own, without plagiarizing from someone else. By stating that Aristotle may not have been real, or may not have done all his work on his own, is not a good assertion. History and facts prove that he was real, along with his work.

If you look at the memoirs of Alexander the Great, and all the books written about him, you can see that Aristotle was his mentor.

Additionally, there is no evidence as to who would have killed him. A bomb exploded on the way, and the Arch-Duke's carriage took a detour, and Princip so happened to be in the coffee shop on the road that the carriage was going on. This was all a matter of coincidence, and coincidentally, someone else could have done the same thing Princip did.

Aristotle, on the other hand, it would have taken people years to fabricate the same thoughts. Remember, he created these fields with what he said. If he was not alive at that time, it would not have spread. Alexander the Great spread Aristotle's teachings during his conquests throughout Greece as well as the Middle East.
Debate Round No. 4
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by bballcrook21 6 months ago
Most historians agree that a war between France and Germany, at least those two nations, would have broken out sooner or later with that same leadership. Hence the over a decade long planning that went into the Schlieffen plan.
Posted by Vox_Veritas 6 months ago
Posted by Vox_Veritas 6 months ago
The powder kegs were set and all that was needed was a spark. However, there's no guarantee that the needed spark would've happened with Gavrilo Princip.
Posted by bballcrook21 6 months ago
That's true, although the immediate consequences of Gavrilo Princip were far more disastrous than my historical figures, regardless of the future usage of his work.

On the other hand, it can be argued that the war would have started regardless of the attack, as Germany was already gearing up for the war and wanted a reason not to look like the aggressor.
Posted by Vox_Veritas 6 months ago
Yeah; I was enamored with the idea of one man shaping the next 100 years of human history through firing a single gunshot, so I tried to argue in favor of Gavrilo Princip. I failed to take into account that the further back you go the greater effect actions have on today. 2500 years and 100 years are simply incomparable in this regard.
Posted by bballcrook21 6 months ago
Damn remember when I beat you in this debate Vox? Those were the days... :))))))
Posted by Vox_Veritas 1 year ago
I apologize for my absence. I can assure you that it was due to circumstances outside of my control.
Posted by Lsumichiganfan 1 year ago
No I am talking about your rude behavior towards me all the time.
Posted by bballcrook21 1 year ago
@lsumichganfan I behaved very well. All I did was point out the errors in his argument. That is good conduct.
Posted by Lsumichiganfan 1 year ago
bballcrook learn how to behave yourself.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by PericIes 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Both participants were equally cordial and polite. Aside from a few errors (I think Pro repeated a word and Con forgot a question mark) both debaters had equal spelling and grammar. Sources were equally reliable. Con had the more convincing arguments, though this shouldn't be taken as a sign of Pro's rhetorical inferiority. The basis for his argument was wrong, in that he was arguing more for an event that occurred, and happened to be perpetrated by his chosen person, rather than for the importance of the person himself. Con hit it on the head when he said "Radicals who assassinate a man and his wife are very easy to find. There would be no second Aristotle, but there could always be more Princips." Say someone working at McDonald's made a hamburger that started a plague. Now say that that person had never existed. There would be another fry cook, in that eventuality, to make the burger. Princip just happened to be the proverbial fry cook.