Philosophers Respond to Social Distancing

How do philosophers respond to being told they have to “social distance” and avoid leaving their homes in order to slow the Covid-19 pandemic?

Philosophers Respond to Social Distancing
by Justin Weinberg

Zeno of Elea“Don’t worry, I can never reach anyone anyway.”

Pythagoras“To encourage social distancing among my followers, I’ve lifted the ban on the consumption of beans.”

Socrates“I’m the wisest man in all of Athens because I know that I know nothing about epidemiology. That said, I have a question.”

Diogenes“How am I supposed to ‘social distance’ when I live in an open barrel right here in the marketplace!… Oh. Got it.” [Starts masturbating] 

Plato“Okay everybody, change of plans: stay inside your caves!”

DiotimaYou are telling me this? I am literally the person who managed to delay the plague of Athens for ten years by getting everyone to make sacrifices, but by all means, sir, go ahead.”

Aristotle“If you were any closer I’d die of your virus, and if you were any further I’d die of boredom, so we’re golden.”

Anselm“I can conceive a distance greater than that which you are from me, so get moving.”

Descartes“I doubt anyone else is around.”

Hobbes“The only thing that can prevent a war of all against all is Leviathan. Or possibly our reluctance to get anywhere near one another. All hail the virus!”

Locke“I’ve decided to stay right here in my room.”

Berkeley“Can we all just not give this virus another thought?!”

Hume“Look, just because social distancing worked before doesn’t mean it’s going to work now. And I’m in the middle of a backgammon game!”

Kant“It may be bad if we don’t social distance but that’s irrelevant, for if we imagine as a universal law of nature everyone staying six feet apart in order to survive, then we immediately see a contradiction, as humankind would have long gone extinct, and so would be unable to follow such a law.”

Bentham“Under these conditions, I admit, poetry may have an advantage over pushpin.”

Mill“You can’t make me stay home just because it would be good for me, and if I don’t have the virus I’m not harming anyone by going out, so this order is bogus. What’s that? Yes, I did call it a ‘very simple principle.’ Why do you ask?”

Nietzsche“Finally, my time has come.”

Marx“I told people to lose the chains.”

Wittgenstein“In the end when one is doing philosophy one gets to the point where one would like just to emit an inarticulate sound—and it’s best not to do that around other people anyway.”

Sartre“I’ve always said hell is other people.”

Quine“This is where my taste for desert landscapes pays off.”

Foot“I suppose no one will be riding the trolley, then, or even minding them. This gives me an idea.” 

Rawls“You don’t have to remind me of the importance of the separateness of persons.”

Thomson“All the more reason to disconnect from the violinist.”

Parfit“No problem. I’m not even here.”


Feel free to add your own in the comments. This post was a substitute for the usual Tuesday philosophy comic strip, which—don’t worry—will return.

Art by Audrey Martinich

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