Poems for Philosophers

G. W. Leibniz, Letter to Antoine Arnauld

You say the best possible state of affairs
Is the one where God let me keep all of my hairs.
But me with one single hair less or hair more
Is no more still me than an ichthyosaur.


Immanuel Kant, Dreams of a Spirit-Seer

For Dorothy Parker

I’d rather end up at the morgue
Than in kingdom come with Swedenborg.

Immanuel Kant (pronounced in the British manner, /kænt/), Critique of Practical Reason

There once was a docent named Kant
Who dripped remoulade on his pant.
Herr Lampe, his man,
Said: “Don’t wipe that, I can.”
And Kant said: “You can, but you shan’t.”


William of Ockham, Summa Logicae

Today universals are par for the course,
As when horseness is said of a horse.

And dogness is solemnly logged for a dog,
And logness is doggedly barked of a log.

And now the whole lot of us
Are expected to talk as though hippopotamateity inhered in a hippopotamus.

But all of these quiddity-quoddity hacks
Could not tell a duck from the fact that it quacks.


Aristotle, On the Generation of Animals 

For Ogden Nash

To beget with a cloacal kiss
Is the apex of avian bliss.
Crows do it.
Owls do it.
Even sopping waterfowls do it.
And unlike the fish who discharges his milt from afar on the external eggs of his mate in an ovuliparious fit, well…
Our bird is sure not to miss.


Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

The world is all that is the case.

If you don’t learn your lessons, I’ll smack your face.

If it can be thought, it can be thought clear.
And don’t talk back, or I’ll box your ear.

Whereof you can’t speak, thereof be silent.
Not a peep out of you, kids, you know I get violent.

Crossposted with Jehsmith.com

Image: From A Dictionary of the Bible, Philip Schaff, 1887, via Wikimedia Commons (cc).

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