Bits of Laughing Matter (guest post)


Gerald Dworkin, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of California, Davis, seeks out philosophical humor and has put together a couple of volumes of it (see here).

He has a new collection coming out, Laughing Matter, and in this guest post shares excerpts from it.


Schopenhauer made easy

Bits of Laughing Matter
by Gerald Dworkin

For those who have already read and memorized the two volumes of Philosophy: A Commonplace Book, my collections of humorous, witty, clever, funny, philosophical quotations (available as e-books on Amazon: I & II), and also for those who haven’t, here is a sampling of what I have collected since.

*  *  *  *  *

A subject that cannot bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest that will not bear serious examination is false wit.
—Aristotle

If you become a philosopher you’ll be able to read anything you want and call it work.
— Daniel Dennett

What I hated most about Kuhn’s lectures was the combination of obscurantism and dogmatism. On one hand, he was extremely dogmatic. On the other, it was never clear about what.
—Errol Morris on Thomas Kuhn

Philosophy—The ungainly attempt to tackle questions that come naturally to children, using methods that come naturally to lawyers.
—David Hills

What it would be like to be a philosopher’s clerk: “It’ll be a matter of filing the generalisations, tidying up paradoxes, laying out the premises before the boss gets in.”
—Tom Stoppard

To become mature is to recover that sense of seriousness which one had as a child at play.
—Friedrich Nietzsche

Trying to understand the world through reasoning alone is like setting off across the Sahara with a limitless supply of water but nothing else.
—Bryan Magee

… philosophers should entertain ideas in a patient and imaginative manner, and not treat them, or those who offer them, as the local heavies in a Western movie treat the stranger in town. It is not the most creative approach in philosophy to shoot an idea out of someone’s hand as soon as he picks it up.
—Bernard Williams

These days everybody wants to be a philosophical architect. But I have made a perfectly good living as a philosophical plumber.
—John Gardner

Feel incapable of thinking, so I read MIND.
—G.E. Moore

He cruises the libraries like an academic blue whale, filtering the ocean of scholarship for the krill of insight.
—Lewis Hyde

Some ideas are so preposterously silly that only very learned men could have thought of them… by a ‘silly’ theory I mean one which may be held at the time when one is talking or writing professionally, but which only an inmate of a lunatic asylum would think of carrying into daily life.
—C. D. Broad

Some months after the Spring of 68, Sidney Morganbesser was called for jury duty, and as luck would have it, he was tapped for a case involving alleged police brutality. During the voir dire, the Assistant District Attorney assigned to try the case asked Sidney whether he had ever been treated brutally or unfairly by the police. Sidney thought for a moment and said, ‘Brutally, yes. Unfairly, no.’ The ADA asked him to explain, and Sidney told the story of the attack by the Tactical Patrol Force, at Columbia University. ‘And you didn’t think they were acting unfairly?’ ‘No,’ Sidney said, ‘they were hitting everybody.
—Robert Paul Wolff

[Holding up a book for his seminar, The Secret of Hegel] Obviously, this secret was well kept.
—Arthur Smullyan

I did all the major vices—gambling, drugs, pornography and public schools.
—Bernard Williams ( speaking of the government committees he served on)

The moral theory of philosophers is almost always pursued at a level of abstraction from the concreteness of everyday life which is exhibited only by the strategy and tactics of those general staffs whose armies are about to be defeated.
—Alasdair McIntyre

Some ideas are so preposterously silly that only very learned men could have thought of them… by a ‘silly’ theory I mean one which may be held at the time when one is talking or writing professionally, but which only an inmate of a lunatic asylum would think of carrying into daily life.
—C. D. Broad

One lesson in Philosophy is as good as one lesson in piano playing.
—Wittgenstein

Basically what Quine does is he goes around, locates some aspect of practice that he can pretend to defer to, and then where it doesn’t actually have the form that he likes, he acts like the practitioners are not applying their own principle consistently. There has to be a word for this… this self-serving, hypocritical, ‘I just do what they say, unless it’s not what I want, in which case I correct in light of what they would have said if they’d seen things as clearly as I do.’
—Stephen Yablo

Hegel, installed from above, by the powers that be, as the certified Great Philosopher, was a flat-headed, insipid, nauseating, illiterate charlatan, who reached the pinnacle of audacity in scribbling together and dishing up the craziest mystifying nonsense. This nonsense has been noisily proclaimed as immortal wisdom by mercenary followers and readily accepted as such by all fools, who thus joined into as perfect a chorus of admiration as had ever been heard before. The extensive field of spiritual influence with which Hegel was furnished by those in power has enabled him to achieve the intellectual corruption of a whole generation.
—Arthur Schopenhauer

The same sort of persons, and often the very same persons, denounce the theory as impracticably dry when the word utility precedes the word pleasure, and as too practicably voluptuous when the word pleasure precedes the word utility.
—John Stuart Mill on critics of Utilitarianism

They muddy the waters, to make it seem deep.
—Friedrich Nietzsche

There are philosophers who try to remove in advance every conceivable misunderstanding or misinterpretation or objection, including those that would occur only to the malicious or the clinically literal-minded.
—Bernard Williams

Ackerman would draw renewed strength from the sound of his own voice, so that launched upon a comment of finite scope he would be refreshed by his words, and extend his remarks to fill all available space and time.
—Robert Paul Wolff

You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?
—Steven Wright

The way the word “determined” denoted the complete absence of volition, was what Francis thought of as Schrodingers homonym, sitting in a semantic box, not knowing whether it meant something or its opposite…existing in a determined universe it was determined to subvert.
—Edward St. Aubyn

Argument for P number 1:
Q, so why not P?
—Sidney Morganbesser

Argument for P number 2: “My argument for P has three premises:
1. Q
2. R
3. P
From these P deductively follows. Some may find the third premise controversial, but it is clear that if we replaced it by any other reasonable premise, the argument still goes through.
—Jerry Fodor

I have been in philosophical arguments which reminded me of a Scrabble game. Words were placed on the table with no connection to those already out, no meaning appeared, and the sole purpose seemed to be to maximize points scored.
—Gerald Dworkin

The road to Hell is paved with bad distinctions.
—Alastair Norcross

A and B at a buffet are faced with a larger and smaller piece of cake.
A: “Go ahead, choose.”
B: “I will take the larger piece.”
A: “That was rude.”
B: “Why? What would you have done?”
A: “I would have chosen the smaller piece.”
B: “That’s what you have. What’s your problem?”

Catholic Philosophy
A Franciscan priest sits down next to a Jesuit priest while riding a train to Rome. After a while the Franciscan notices that the Jesuit is smoking and praying.
Franciscan: “I am surprised to see you doing that.”
Jesuit: “Why?”
Franciscan: “We asked the Pope himself whether we could smoke while praying and he said ‘No.’”
Jesuit: “That was your mistake. We asked the Pope if we could pray while smoking and he said we could.”

Jewish Philosophy
What hangs on a wall, is purple and whistles?
Don’t know.
A herring.
Herrings don’t hang on walls.
So you hang it.
Herrings aren’t purple.
So paint it.
Herrings don’t whistle.
No analogy is perfect.

Can you rely on a virtue, ‘honesty,’ which begins with a deceptive letter, continues with a claim of unity, and winds up in a place for pigs?
—Gerald Dworkin

Four stages of Moral thought:
Forbidden by God
Wrong because forbidden by God
Forbidden by God because wrong
Wrong
—Derek Parfit

Will all the people here who have telekinetic powers please raise my hand.
—Steven Wright

I was walking down Fifth Avenue today and I found a wallet, and I was gonna keep it, rather than return it, but I thought: ‘Well, if I lost a hundred and fifty dollars, how would I feel?’ And I realized I would want to be taught a lesson.
—Emo Phillips

I am not an atheist or an agnostic but an acrostic. The whole thing puzzles me.
—George Carlin

Prayer may not be very efficient when compared to celestial mechanics, but it surely holds its own vis-a-vis some parts of economics.
—Paul Feyerabend

A good question, at least to start with, is whether what one has written is something that a grown-up, concerned, intelligent person might say to another about these subjects. Of course it is not the only question, and it does not always apply, since philosophy is not just ordinary conversation. Philosophy is rather, in these fields [ethics and politics], the extension of our most serious concerns by other means, but at least it should introduce our ordinary concerns in a humanly recognisable form. Of much philosophy purportedly about ethical or political subjects (and other kinds as well) one may reasonably ask: What if someone speaking to me actually sounded like that?
—Bernard Williams

guest
39 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Melinda Hall
1 month ago

This list of quotations has a glaring problem. Do you see it?Report

Qua Foro
Reply to  Melinda Hall
1 month ago

AKA Glare quotes.Report

Jon Light
Reply to  Melinda Hall
1 month ago

Looks like all 37 of the attributed jokes are to men.Report

Jen
Jen
Reply to  Melinda Hall
1 month ago

I ask in good faith: will you or someone else please help me understand?

A philosopher has accumulated examples of philosophical humor without including one from a woman. What are we to view as a problem?

Is it that because of this, women philosophers aspiring to be humorous won’t view their own humor as being valued, validated, respected, etc.? If it is, why should we believe this will be the outcome?

Is it instead that because of this, there is one more example of the contributions of women being ignored? If so, why should we care? It’s one philosopher’s unimportant collection, an unimportant product of his personal interests. The omission is thus unimportant.

Is it instead that the omission from his collection is likely to contribute to the perpetuation of the oppression of women? What evidence have I missed that would substantiate this? Presumably we shouldn’t believe without evidence that this will be the outcome, right?Report

Shay Logan
Shay Logan
Reply to  Jen
1 month ago

It’s mostly your second one, by my lights. But it goes more like this: the list is a clear example of the contributions of women (to take just one example) being ignored. Apparently, this fact did not raise alarms with the editor of this blog. It is this latter fact—the fact that no alarm is raised by lists and whatnot that systematically ignore the contributions of women—that is problematic. And by putting out one more such list, we further normalize such lists. That is, we further normalize understanding philosophy as a discipline where only white dudes make contributions.Report

Jen
Jen
Reply to  Shay Logan
1 month ago

Thanks for the response. If I understand the “normalizing” problem you’re proposing, it’s that the list’s appearance here contributes to normalizing such lists within the profession, which itself contributes to a more general problem within the profession. And if someone asks “why should we care?” your reply is that we should care about the appearance of this list because we care about solving the more general problem.

This makes sense. And I agree that we should care about the appearance of the list if it contributes to the more general problem we care about. Whether we should care (and to what extent we should), then, depends on the nature of the general problem we care about. What is this problem?

Is it that women philosophers too often have their contributions ignored? Probably, but this description isn’t specific enough. As described, we make progress toward a solution by consulting women philosophers about trivial things, such as what to eat for dinner, so as not to ignore their contributions to our personal lives. These presumably aren’t the sort of contributions we want to gain attention.

Perhaps, then, a better description is this: women philosophers too often have their *philosophical* contributions ignored. But this is still not specific enough. For as described, we make progress toward a solution by spamming the inboxes of elderly ordinary folk with emails containing lists of quotations from the works of women philosophers. But these people aren’t the ones whose attention we care to see the relevant contributions to get.

Perhaps this is better: their philosophical contributions are too often ignored *in philosophy journals*. But the list’s appearance here contributes to this problem in an extremely limited way, by contributing to the normalizing of lists without contributions from women. And since the extent of our concern about the list’s appearance here should be in proportion to the extent to which it contributes to the more general problem, we should care very little about this list’s appearance here.

Is this the right result? Perhaps there’s a better description. I’d be happy to be told where I’ve gone wrong.Report

Shay Logan
Shay Logan
Reply to  Jen
1 month ago

If I understand you correctly, you’re saying “the general problem is bad, but this doesn’t contribute to the general problem very much, so it is itself not all that bad”. But of course the vast majority of particular instances of women being ignored are not themselves all that serious. So it would seem to follow from what you’ve said that, in spite of women being ignored being a serious problem, we should ignore the overwhelming majority of cases in which women are ignored.

That’s not *quite* a contradiction, but it’s damn close.Report

Jen
Jen
Reply to  Shay Logan
1 month ago

That’s not what I’m saying. Let me clarify by filling in some gaps.

The problem (P1) seems to be that philosophical contributions of women philosophers are too often ignored in philosophy journals. This is not the same as the problem (P2) of normalizing lists that omit such contributions. The modification of P1 that gets us closest to P2 is the one which transforms it into the problem (P3) that reference lists of papers in philosophy journals too often omit the relevant contributions. Still, P3 is not the same as P2. But P2 might contribute to P3, and solving it will likely make some progress toward solving P3. How much progress? It’s not clear.

Importantly, the problem (P4) of philosophers’ personal lists of philosophical humor omitting the relevant contributions is not the same as any of the preceding problems. It does contribute to P2, and by solving it, we will likely make some progress toward solving P2. How much progress? It’s not clear, but likely not much. (Is there soon going to be a proliferation of such lists? I think not.) Because solving P4 is unlikely to do much to solve P2, and solving P2 is unlikely to do much to solve P1 or P3, solving P4 will do almost nothing to solve the problem we care about.

We should direct our concern toward what is (at least) somewhat likely to make a difference to P1 and P3.Report

Jen
Jen
Reply to  Shay Logan
1 month ago

In brief: It’s not because this is a single instance of the problem we care about that it is unimportant (for its not an instance of that); what makes it unimportant is that it’s a single instance of a problem whose solution does little (if anything) to solve the problem we care about.Report

Last edited 1 month ago by Jen
Jay
Jay
Reply to  Shay Logan
1 month ago

Well said. Now we can only hope people are willing to take the same stand against gender oppression in other areas where doing so is more urgent and not so cost-free. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/06/if-we-reject-gender-discrimination-in-every-other-arena-why-do-we-accept-it-in-religionReport

Evan
Reply to  Jen
1 month ago

You wrote: “And since the extent of our concern about the list’s appearance here should be in proportion to the extent to which it contributes to the more general problem, we should care very little about this list’s appearance here.”

Some people may disagree with you on your normative claim about proportionality. But I’m going to go ahead and follow your argument nonetheless.

You could be right here if the author’s work wasn’t even mentioned on a very popular philosophy blog like this one. If his work went unrecognized, then it probably won’t have strong effects on the overall problem. And so you could conclude we don’t have to worry about it.

However, because this blog gets read by a lot of philosophers and students, we’re also feeding the epistemic narrowness of readers at a large scale so to speak at least in terms of academic philosophy audience. So one could make the argument that by virtue of this list being mentioned on this popular blog, we should worry about it contributing to the overall problem.

However, the good thing about this blog is that it allows comments and so we can fill in some epistemic gaps to counteract the narrowness of the list. But then again, it may never occur to many readers to add some quotes by women philosophers and so raising an alarm could be justified.

If this list was *only* on a popular site with no commenting allowed, then that could be very worrying. I do think that this list is also an example of the symptom of women philosophers’ works going unrecognized or not adequately paid attention to over the years.Report

Last edited 1 month ago by Evan
Jen
Jen
Reply to  Evan
1 month ago

“However, because this blog gets read by a lot of philosophers and students, we’re also feeding the epistemic narrowness of readers at a large scale so to speak at least in terms of academic philosophy audience. So one could make the argument that by virtue of this list being mentioned on this popular blog, we should worry about it contributing to the overall problem.”

I agree with this (and the other things you wrote), but I still think the negative effects are likely to be very minimal. If I were to find out I’m wrong, I’d change my mind about things.Report

Evan
Reply to  Jen
1 month ago

I also think it’s important to note that this list is an excerpt of his book. So I went on Amazon to preview it and saw one woman in Volume 1: Lily Tomlin an actress.

The rest of the preview only showed what looks to me like men from philosophy and some pop culture. I don’t know how much women are mentioned in the volume or Volume 2 and so I don’t want to make hasty assumptions about his works without having read it completely. But hopefully, in the next volume he could include more women voices. This is assuming he thinks many women (philosophers) are witty or a have humor that aligns with his.

I do like funny quotes and think these kinds of things would be better if he outsourced them from multiple people. Humor is after all, very subjective. Cher made some very funny and iconic statements: “Mom, I am a rich man.”Report

jerry dworkin
jerry dworkin
Reply to  Evan
1 month ago

Evan reports he saw one woman cited in volume 1 of Philosophy: A Commonplace Book. Here is an accurate list
of the women mentioned in each volume. One may still regard this as too few but let’s at least get our facts straight.

Volume 1
Molly Irvine, Katherine Hepburn, W. Symborska, Patricia Marx, Joan Didion, Lily Tomlin (2), Joyce Carol Oates, Lorrie Moore, Iris Murdoch (4), Steffi Lewis, Marian Levy, Clair Booth Luce, George Elliot (2), Elizabeth Taylor, Mae West, Anscombe,Dorothy Parker, Hannah Arrendt, Lydia Davis, Simone Weyl,Natalia Ginzburg.

volume 2
Susan Sontag, Lydia Davis, Lady Bracknel, Adrian Piper, Joan Didion, Rachel Kushner, Rachel Cusk,Kate Atkinson, George Elliot, Simone Weyl, Emily Dickinson.Report

Evan
Reply to  jerry dworkin
1 month ago

Thanks for letting us know. I also wish there were full names on some of them too. I don’t know some of the authors other than the canons so I don’t know if they are a man or woman.Report

A. jouis
A. jouis
Reply to  Jen
1 month ago

that’s the problem with clarifying terms, you dissolve any issue into little meaningless boxes, more simply there is a systematic imbalance between men and women, and this post is both a symptom and contributes in perpetuating it, to care about it is not about its intrinsic importance but about the wide ranging nature of systemic problems which then need to be taken care of from every dimensions at once, including this one.Report

Jen
Jen
Reply to  A. jouis
1 month ago

Thanks for your response. I agree that there’s a systemic imbalance, and that the list is likely a symptom of it. I even think that the list’s being shared here likely contributes to the imbalance in some very minimal way.

I’m not sure what you mean in writing “to care about [this post] is not about its intrinsic importance but about the wide ranging nature of systemic problems…” So I’m not sure I agree. But if you mean that its relationship to wide-ranging systemic problems alone should be enough for us to do something about it, I disagree. I think we should focus our efforts toward striking at the source (or at least what’s near the source) of the problem we care about, so that we will be more likely to take effective steps toward solving it.

I don’t agree that clarifying terms is always problematic in the way you suggest. Solving complex problems requires having a thorough understanding of them, and having such an understanding often requires clarifying terms in order to understand and appreciate the importance of individual components of the problem. Taking up the task here happened to result in the conclusion that the component at issue is unimportant, but such a conclusion isn’t always the result of taking up the task.Report

A. jouis
A. jouis
Reply to  Jen
1 month ago

i don’t think there is a source, it a network of small interconnected things that make up the issue, so you cannot dismiss this as unimportant, but i guess this shows a rift in approach so we will probably not end up agreeing, as i do not think that understanding has to be something that can be worded so no need to break things down and the net that compose the issue has to be cut through not just taking off the bigger nodes.Report

Jen
Jen
Reply to  A. jouis
1 month ago

Not all understanding has to be put into words. Even if that’s true of the understanding required for this complex problem, its components still need to be individuated in order to thoroughly understand their relationships to one another and to the whole. This is the point of analyzing nodes of the system (which at least sometimes can be done in words and by clarifying terms). Without this sort of analysis, we are unlikely to make genuine and effective progress toward a solution.Report

A. jouis
A. jouis
Reply to  Jen
1 month ago

the thing is that in complex systems, analyzing the parts might give a misleading idea of the whole, ie it is not important in isolation but bunch all those things unimportant in isolation and you obtain something important, again that’s why our approaches diverge, you think that individual understanding is paramount to progress whereas I think holistic understanding is, and those approaches are not reconcilable in their resultsReport

Jen
Jen
Reply to  A. jouis
1 month ago

You seem to think that Shay Logan’s impression of my point is my actual point. It’s not, and if you read what I said in response to Shay Logan, you might realize that I’m not saying simply that this list is unimportant in isolation. Rather, it is that this is unimportant because it is unlikely to make any contribute to the problem we actually care about. We don’t care simply about lists without women contributions because if we did, we should care to ensure that no one makes a grocery list without a contribution from a women. But we don’t care about grocery lists. And if we did on grounds of caring about women’s philosophical contributions being ignored in philosophy journals, we would be making a mistake. Something similar is true of Dworkin’s list.

If I understand what you’re saying, you think that when undoing a huge system of gnarly knots, it is more important to see the individuals strands as comprising gnarly knots within the system than to examine the strands to better understand *how* they comprise the gnarly knots, because the latter might lead to a misleading idea of the whole. I know analogies are limited, but I cannot understand why you think a thorough understanding of individual components in either case is worse because it could mislead. It seems obvious that a thorough enough understanding facilitates a clear and accurate impression of the whole, something which cannot be gained in cases of extreme complexity without such an understanding.Report

A. jouis
A. jouis
Reply to  Jen
1 month ago

but when you’re looking at individual strands there is no knot anymore is there? the quintessential example is police brutality, every individual example can be explained away but it is the nexus that shows the wider implications. I think I understood your point, what i’m saying is spending time prioritizing is less efficient and will end with a lesser impact than confronting the issue everywhere, I might be wrong but you’ll have to agree with me that targeted action has not yet delivered the desired systemic change (ie affirmative action viz racism). Complexity theory shows that individual actions might be very simple but useless at predicting the behaviour of the whole which is why i feel it needs to be tackled in a holistic mannerReport

Jen
Jen
Reply to  A. jouis
1 month ago

Your example actually strengthens my point. If in every case of alleged police brutality, there’s an explanation of police/suspect behavior that justifies police behavior, then there is no problem of police brutality. That doesn’t preclude the presence of other problems, e.g. over-policing and differential practices for applying escalation policy which lead to more violent encounters with police in certain communities. Properly disentangling these distinct potential problems is important for taking effective steps toward potential solutions. And simply regarding all these potential problems as police brutality will serve to confuse and alienate would-be allies while clouding our understanding of the phenomena. For these reasons, doing so will undermine attempts to ameliorate things. We must instead do more to understand the individual cases so as to discover why they occur and how they are related. This way, we can properly disentangle the potential problems and finally solve them.Report

A. jouis
A. jouis
Reply to  Jen
30 days ago

no, a simple comparison with other countries or between races shows there is a problem, this is a wider truth that due to the entangled nature of social problems, individual cases are less illuminating than wider trends, we will not agree on this anyways, though I have done research that backs this up somewhat locally, it is not provable at large as it is a matter of philosophical framework, ours are incompatible but are both coherent and plausibleReport

Ronald Gripweister
Ronald Gripweister
Reply to  Jen
1 month ago

Meh, most of the quotes aren’t particularly funny anyway. It’s probably not a coincidence that some old white man’s humor mainly consists of pretty lame jokes like this. It’s hardly a list I’d feel offended to have been omitted from.Report

Wendy Lochner
Wendy Lochner
1 month ago

A few women and non-Anglo people would have been nice…Report

AR r
Reply to  Wendy Lochner
1 month ago

Agreed, but I’m sure no one would begrudge you adding to the list!Report

jerry dworkin
jerry dworkin
Reply to  AR r
1 month ago

Let me start. If you pound a person’s head against concrete — even if you’re doing it only so they’ll come to their senses — you will very likely end up hurting them.
Samanta SchweblinReport

Wayne Fenske
Wayne Fenske
Reply to  jerry dworkin
1 month ago

In real life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra.

Fran LebowitzReport

Last edited 1 month ago by Wayne Fenske
Mich C.
1 month ago

I think Dembroff’s sarcasm is quite funny and spot-on:

“Not that justifications aren’t available: a cursory search would turn up books, academic journals, and even popular articles that discuss the methodology of feminist, queer, and transgender philosophy. But this literature is brushed aside as politically motivated, unlike the objective and rational perspective of cisgender philosophers who have mastered the methodology of thinking without reading.” Snap!Report

Minh Nguyen
1 month ago

I don’t remember the details now but I was told by several philosophers, including my dissertation advisor, that G. E. M. Anscombe was very funny.Report

M Byron
M Byron
Reply to  Minh Nguyen
1 month ago

She was indeed. She was, of course, married to Peter Geach. A door-to-door salesman rang at her house, and when she answered the door, he inquired, “Mrs. Geach?”

To which she replied, “There is no Mrs. Geach. And if there were, I would be the first to know.”

And slammed the door.Report

Ar r
Ar r
Reply to  M Byron
1 month ago

So was this episode reported by the salesman or…..Report

Trust
1 month ago

From moral philosopher Onora O’Neill which I thought was and still is funny.

“The aim is to have more trust. Well frankly, I think that’s a stupid aim. It’s not what I would aim at. I would aim to have more trust in the trustworthy but not in the untrustworthy. In fact, I aim positively to try not to trust the untrustworthy. And I think, of those people who, for example, placed their savings with the very aptly named Mr. Madoff, who then made off with [their money], and I think of them, and I think, well, yes, too much trust.”Report

L S
L S
1 month ago

It is hard to pick just one passage of Annette Baier’s sublimely witty “A Naturalist View of Person” but perhaps this one is most a propos.
“Aristotle, who of course did fairly straightforwardly profess the belief that persons had accidental mothers but essential fathers, launched a still flourishing tradition of finding moral significance in upright posture (upright that is, after our infancy, and before the decrepitude of old age). We are the descendants of homo erectus, we are told by our wise men, the anthropologists. (Could it be that men have a thing about uprightness?)”Report

Justin Kalef
1 month ago

All these jokes, and all these comments about the jokes, have a problem. A glaring problem. Can you all see what it is? Well, you’d better be able to, because I’m not going to tell you.

(This comment is not funny)Report

Jen
Jen
Reply to  Justin Kalef
1 month ago

Maybe it’s not funny, but is it laughable?Report

Stilpo
1 month ago

There’s a great one from Plato’s Theages: “Socrates, having kids is like raising crops. Planting them is great fun; raising them, however, is so much trouble”Report

Moti Gorin
Moti Gorin
1 month ago

Lots of assumptions being made about people’s genders…Report