Philosophers’ Break-Up Letters


For our entire relationship, I was absolutely and irrevocably miserable. I can see now that you used me purely as a means to an end. Don’t you know how that makes me feel? It is imperative that you reflect on the meaning of universal law, and stop doing that thing you did with your tongue. I hated that.—Immanuel Kant

Julia Edelman collates excerpts from philosophers’ break-up letters at The New Yorker. I suspect she missed a few. If you know of any, feel free to add them in the comments. (There’s also this old list.)

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Alan White
8 years ago

I prehended you, but you didn’t prehend me. Now neither of us exist. –Alfred North Whitehead

John Protevi
8 years ago

Dear Héloïse, we had a great time together, but your dad means business. It’s just not worth it.

See ya,

Abélard

John Protevi
8 years ago

Martin, I don’t know why it took me so long to realize you’re a fucking Nazi.

Hannah

S
S
8 years ago

Sure, we’ve been together a long time, but that doesn’t mean anything. — Karl Popper

Sorry, but this conjunction won’t be constant. — David Hume

I’d prefer a minimal state. — Robert Nozick

Define a predicate “grelationship”, such that we are in a grelationship until time t, but separate after… — Nelson Goodman

I can’t continue now you told me about your ex – the veil of ignorance was doing a lot of work. — John Rawls

Adam Omelianchuk
Adam Omelianchuk
8 years ago

Objection: How can you live without me?
On the contrary: The Philosopher writes, “Happiness depends upon ourselves.”
I answer that: it’s all in Aristotle, baby! Now leave me alone.

–Thomas Aquinas.

Marcus
Marcus
8 years ago

“Our pleasure is so glorious, from it comes Cupid. But from that first of drop of sweetness that trickled into my heart, an icy chill quickly followed. When you were away, nothing but images of you filled my mind, you were ever present to my ears. But I must flee these images and these echoes, I must shun what feeds such love, and turn my mind some other way. To keep such a passion, to set the love of you and you alone on my mind, will merely lead to pain. My love is a sore that gains strength and festers by feeding, and day by day my madness grows, and my misery becomes heavier. I must disavow my first words of love while they are still fresh. I must wander after some wanton craving until the need for you and you alone has faded from my mind.” – Lucretius

John Protevi
8 years ago

Bravo, Marcus!

David Lewis
David Lewis
8 years ago

Wrong world, wrong individual, wrong time.

Matt Weiner
Matt Weiner
8 years ago

Riffing on the 10:10 comment, I think David Lewis just makes a mix tape that ends with this song.

Alan Richardson
Alan Richardson
8 years ago

It’s not not-me, it’s me.–Fichte

Wittgenstein
Wittgenstein
8 years ago

I could talk about it, but you wouldn’t understand me.

Gary Bartlett
8 years ago

The idea of you no longer thrills me. — Berkeley

Theodor W. Adorno
8 years ago

There is no right relationship in the wrong one.

Jakob
Jakob
8 years ago

I really fancy the way you act and behave, but it seems like you’re dead inside — David Chalmers

Unknown
Unknown
8 years ago

I need some space — Clarke (to Leibniz)