"To be a real philosopher one must be able to laugh at philosophy." —Blaise Pascal

"To ridicule philosophy is really to philosophize." —Blaise Pascal

"A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes." —Ludwig Wittgenstein

      This is a collection of limericks, clerihews, couplets, ditties, and doggerel in general, which is relevant in one way or another to some philosopher or some philosophical topic. I guess you could also call it poetry.

      If you want a collection of fine poetry I suggest you look elsewhere, though you will find a few lines here from respectable and famous poets. Most of this stuff is by dilettantes and dabblers whose main interest has evidently been to either illustrate or attack some philosopher or idea, but to do it in a humorous and/or salacious manner. And why the hell not?!

      When I started collecting these things I hoped I would be able to discover items for most of the famous philosophers, and most of the heavy ideas. No such luck in many cases. So, to fill in some of the gaps, I have resorted to scratching down a good many ditties myself. I apologize for this, but issue this challenge: If you know of better poems on this or that subject, or can come up with something better yourself, please email them to me at for possible inclusion here. Be sure to include the author and source information for the item if you know it.

      By all means try your hand at this game yourself if you like! But be forewarned: it is addicting! It is interesting, though, how it gets you to try to think out what the most essential ideas of some philosopher are, or what the basic gist of a philosophical theory is.

      The topics are arranged alphabetically, with quite a few cross references. In many cases I have prefaced a subject with a paragraph or so of background information so that references in the poems will be clear to everyone. I have generally not gone into aspects of a philosopher's ideas which are not mentioned or hinted at in the poems.

      Some of the limericks by other authors were taken from The Penguin Book of Limericks, ed. by E. O. Parrott (1983), which I recommend to you—except for the one limerick called "Harrison" which is in very bad taste! ;-)  I have also taken a number of clerihews by Dean Zimmerman and Brian Leftow from the Philosophical Clerihews web page which may still be floating around the Internet someplace or other!

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