Philosophy can often be wordy, complicated and difficult to engage with, but philosophical jokes can provide an alternative to this.
Adding humour to this philosophy through jokes may make engaging with it more fun. Moreover, it helps build an understanding of interesting and profound philosophical ideas.
This article will take a look at some clever and amusing jokes. In addition, each joke will be accompanied by an explanation of the philosophy it is making light of.
We can delve into some deep philosophical theories and issues by considering these jokes and can also laugh whilst doing so.
8 Philosophy Jokes and their Explanations
1. “A philosopher never sits down at work. Stands to reason.”
Here we see a very basic facet of philosophy. In fact, it is a staple of Western Philosophy and began with Socrates.
The use of reason and rational thought is the fundamental way to search for answers to the biggest questions we may face. Likewise, it is also a determiner for morality and how to live our lives. Or at least this is the idea that much of Western Philosophy expresses.
Actually, Socrates was one of the first to exercise this idea through what we now call the Socratic Method or elenchus. This is a form of argument or dialogue premised on asking or answering questions.
The powerful teachings being that we can find answers to the deepest questions simply by using our minds.
2. ‘Thales walks into a coffee shop and orders a cup. He takes a sip and immediately spits it out in disgust. He looks up at the barista and shouts, “What is this, water?”‘
We refer to Thales as the first Philosopher of the West. Indeed, he is one of the first to consider his surroundings, reality and the world we live in through a scientific and logical approach.
He proposed many theories, but his most famous is the idea that the fundamental substance in the world is water. It doesn’t matter what the object is. Water is the basis of everything. In fact, everything is crafted or moulded by water.
Science and philosophy are much more sophisticated and advanced now. However, much of the continuous search to understand reality and the physical world is carrying on Thales’ ideas at a very basic level.
3. “Is it solipsistic in here, or is it just me?”
Solipsism is the philosophical theory that posits the only thing that exists is ourself or our own mind. Nothing can exist outside of our minds or our thoughts. This includes other people.
Everything could just be a projection of our minds. An easy way of thinking about it is that everything is just a dream. Perhaps you are the only thing that exists, and even you reading this now is you just dreaming…
4. ‘Descartes takes his date, Jeanne, to a restaurant for her birthday. The sommelier hands them the wine list, and Jeanne asks to order the most expensive Burgundy on the list. “I think not!” exclaims an indignant Descartes, and he disappears.’
French philosopher René Descartes is regarded as one of the founders of modern philosophy. He is known for his famous quote: “I think; therefore I am.” This aims to demonstrate that he can be sure of his existence because he can think. This is the one thing he cannot doubt, and so is the one thing he could be sure that exists.
Descartes is carrying on the important and fundamental grounding of western philosophy. It is using our minds and reason to try and answer difficult questions and to consider what we can know. This is something that has been recurrent since Socrates and ancient Greece, as we have already considered.
5. “Did you hear that George Berkeley died? His girlfriend stopped seeing him!”
George Berkeley (or Bishop Berkley) is a famous Irish philosopher. He is most acclaimed for his discussion and promotion of a theory he referred to as immaterialism. This belief rejects the proposition of material things.
Instead, it believes that all objects we think as physical and material are just ideas in our minds. Something only exists because we perceive it. So, we think it up as an image in our minds, and so if we can’t perceive it then it cannot exist.
We can perceive a table, and we think up an idea of a table in our minds. Once we look away, or we stop seeing it, we cannot fully know if it exists or not. Perhaps once we look away, it ceases to exist.
6. ‘Pierre Proudhon goes up to the counter. He orders a Tazo Green Tea with toffee nut syrup, two espresso shots, and pumpkin spice mixed in. The barista warns him that this will taste terrible. “Pah!” scoffs Proudhon. “Proper tea is theft!”’
Pierre Proudhon was a French politician and anarchist philosopher. He is perhaps the first person to name himself as an anarchist. In fact, his political philosophy has been influential to many other philosophers.
His best-known quote is a declaration that “property is theft!” which is out of his work: What is Property, Or, An Inquiry into the Principle of Right and Government. This assertion alludes to the idea that to own property such as buildings, land and factories requires the appointment of workers to provide their labour.
Those who own the property will essentially be keeping part of the labourers’ work for their own profit. The worker will provide their services, and part of it will be taken for the property owner’s personal gain. Hence, “property is theft”.
Proudhon’s philosophy falls under the bracket of many famous political philosophers. They are able to differ greatly in thought but tackle important issues about how society should be organised and how to make it better.
7. “My local pub lacks so much class it could be a Marxist utopia.”
A more widely-known theory of political philosophy is Marxism. This is a type of socio-economic system and society that is a response to the alleged injustices of industrial capitalism.
The fundamental ideas of Marxism come from ‘The Communist Manifesto,’ written by German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
Essentially, it is a theory whereby the government would seize the means of production. Not only that, but it would have full handling of society’s resources. This allows for the distribution of labour, eliminating the class system and hence bringing about equality between all. This would be the ideal Marxist state (in theory).
Marxism is still fiercely debated today. Some believe elements of it to be legitimate and effective ways to construct society. However, there is also a heavy critique of it for its influencing on certain authoritarian regimes. It is a divisive theory and no doubt will continue to be debated for some time.
8. “If it wasn’t for Nihilism, I’d have nothing to believe in!”
Nihilism is a philosophical belief that posits life as inherently meaningless. It rejects any belief in moral or religious standards or doctrines and ardently purports that life has no purpose.
A nihilist does not believe in anything. To them, life has no intrinsic value. As a result, they would deny that there is anything meaningful in our existence.
It can also be seen as pessimism or scepticism but on a much more intense level. It is an extremely bleak outlook on life. However, it is an interesting theory to consider. In fact, many high profile philosophers, such as Friedrich Nietzsche and Jean Baudrillard, have heavily discussed elements of it.
Have these jokes engaged you with philosophy?
Philosophy jokes like these can be a great way of introducing us to various philosophical theories, ideas and principles. Philosophy can be quite dense and complicated. It is a difficult subject to understand. However, understanding the punchlines of these jokes can help us with making sense of philosophy.
At first, this humour can create a basic understanding of philosophy. Then we may then feel encouraged to pursue it further. Philosophy can help us build an understanding of reality and our place within it. It can be very important and useful to us, and philosophy jokes can help draw our attention to these matters.
Image Credit: Painting of Democritus by Johannes Moreelse
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