Philosopher Clerihews

Invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley, the clerihew is a poem form composed of two rhyming couplets with the scheme AABB, wherein a famous person is mentioned in the first line, and the last three complete an accomplishment, failure, biography, anecdote, rumor, or joke about them. Contrived, silly, and fun to read, these humorous poems can actually be quite educational while still being entertaining. I was inspired after reading some of Jacques Barzun’s clerihews on philosophers to write my own. Following are 16 clerihews on different philosophers. I have tried my best to make them concise summaries of their philosophies!

 

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Henry David Thoreau
Was a very thorough
Observer of nature
Who used botanical nomenclature


Unknown-5

Martin Heidegger
Conceived upon his ledger,
That what was once concealed
Would in a new beginning be revealed


Unknown-7

Michel Henry
Did French phenomenology
And he into life inquired
Whence he from interiority acquired


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Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
Tried to preach the
Death of God, and of the slave morality
Favoring instead: Übermensch mentality


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Arthur Schopenhauer
Believed in the instinctive power
Of the blind Will-to-Life,
So his pessimism was rife


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Epictetus
Had to accede this:
Some things are outside our control
So with the punches we must roll


Unknown

Edmund Husserl
Made unfurl
In his phenomenological prolegomena
The bracketing of experienced phenomena


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Plato, or Aristocles,
Had found the keys
To the fundamental reality,
Which was actually ideality


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Socrates
Did not like Apologies
So he rushed out of the cave
And made dialectic all the rave


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John Stuart Mill
Had had his fill
Of individual liberty:
He used it as a Utility


Unknown

Thomas Kuhn—
Why’d you have to ruin
All of scientific history
By reducing it to anomalistic mystery?


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Søren Kierkegaard
Was the first of Existential regard
Whose melancholy made him weep
And whose faith made him take a Leap


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Thomas Hobbes
Was moved to sobs
When he found life was short
And served the Leviathan’s royal court


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Blaise Pascal
Was a real ras-cal
Who liked to gamble
In his theological preamble


Unknown

John Locke
Pictured a rock
And said it was qualities, primarily
Conceived on a blank slate, summarily


Unknown-4

George Berkeley
Said, “Esse est percipi,”
Meaning he couldn’t find
Anything outside his mind


Should I write more philosophical clerihews? Maybe in other subjects as well, like history, literature, and psychology? Make sure to leave your own in the comments, and I’ll be sure to read them!

 

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