Philosophy is Funny

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What the Hegel and Bette Midler have in common? Tom Cathcart and Daniel Klein say that jokes can help us understand the great philosophical traditions. Their new book is Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes.

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar is available for purchase at

Weigh in: Tell us your jokes about philosophy.


Tom Cathcart and Daniel Klein

Comments [6]


A philosopher is delivering a paper at a philosophy conference. He begins his argument saying that although double negative is a positive, a double positive cannot be a negative, at which point someone in the back of the hall calls out :
"Yeah ! Yeah!"

Dec. 20 2007 07:36 AM

A black guy, a Pole, a rabbi, a priest and a dwarf walk into a bar and the bartender says, "What is this, a joke?"

Dec. 19 2007 01:11 PM

Hi Leonard. Here is one on death I created. We went to see my poet friend and neighbor, after I had lost 25 pounds due to my Parkinsons Disease. She said, "Dr. Tejani! You look so thin!". I said, "Oh good! There is less for the pall bearers to carry!" Everybody burst out laughing and the sad moment was over. BAHADUR TEJANI.

Dec. 19 2007 01:06 PM

I remember reading Wittgenstein in college, as a non-philosophy major, and being a bit bemused, thinking it was like 1,001 Jokes without punch lines.

Interesting to be affirmed on the jokes part-- even if the seeming lack of punch lines was more me than W (as I suspected at the time).

But in the spirit of the program:

A philospher walks into a bar and says, "OUCH!"

Dec. 19 2007 01:02 PM
Marc Mercer from Glen Ridge, NJ

There was a young fellow named Bright,
Whose speed was much faster than light.
He started one day in a relative way
And returned on the previous night.

Dec. 19 2007 12:56 PM
atkira from UES

During a service at an old synagogue, when the Sh'ma prayer was said, half the congregants stood up and half remained sitting. The half that was seated started yelling at those standing to sit down, and the ones standing yelled at the ones sitting to stand up. The rabbi, learned as he was in the Law and commentaries, didn't know what to do. His congregation suggested that he consult a housebound 98 year old man who was one of the original founders of their temple. The rabbi hoped the elderly man would be able to tell him what the actual temple tradition was, so he went to the nursing home with a representative of each faction of the congregation.

The one whose followers stood during Sh'ma said to the old man, "Is the tradition to stand during this prayer?"

The old man answered, "No, that is not the tradition."

The one whose followers sat said, "Then the tradition is to sit during Sh'ma!"

The old man answered, "No, that is not the tradition."

Then the rabbi said to the old man, "But the congregants fight all the time, yelling at each other about whether they should sit or stand."

The old man interrupted, exclaiming, "THAT is the tradition!"

Dec. 19 2007 10:37 AM

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