Jean-Paul Sartre is sitting at a French cafe, revising his draft of Being and Nothingness. He says to the waitress, “I’d like a cup of coffee, please, with no cream.” The waitress replies, “I’m sorry, monsieur, but we’re out of cream. How about with no milk?”
Dean, to the physics department: “Why do I always have to give you guys so much money, for laboratories and expensive equipment and stuff? Why couldn’t you be more like the math department - all they need is pencils, paper, and waste-paper baskets. Or even better, like the philosophy department. All they need are pencils and paper.”
A boy is about to go on his first date, and his father gives him the following advice: “If you ever don’t know what to talk about, just remember the three F’s: food, family, and philosophy. You can always start a conversation about one of those subjects.”
The boy picks up his date and they go to a soda fountain. Ice cream sodas in front of them, they stare at each other for a long time, as the boy’s nervousness builds. He remembers his father’s advice, and chooses the first topic. He asks the girl: “Do you like potato pancakes?” She says “No,” and the silence returns.
After a few more uncomfortable minutes, the boy thinks of his father’s suggestion and turns to the second item on the list. He asks, “Do you have a brother?” The girl says “No,” and there is silence once again.
The boy then plays his last card. He thinks of his father’s advice and asks the girl: “If you had a brother, would he like potato pancakes?”
An engineer, a scientist, a mathematician, and a philosopher are hiking through the hills of Scotland, when they see a lone black sheep in a field.
The engineer says, “What do you know, it looks like the sheep around here are black.” The scientist looks at him skeptically and replies, “Well, at least some of them are.” The mathematician considers this for a moment and replies, “Well, at least one of them is.” Then the philosopher turns to them and says, “Well, at least on one side.”
Some of the philosophers favored asking conjunctive questions, but others argued persuasively that the angel probably wouldn’t count this as a single question. One philosopher wanted to ask “What is the best question to ask?”, in the hope that some day another angel might make a similar offer, at which point they could then ask the best question. But this suggestion was rejected by those who feared that no such opportunity would arise and did not want to waste their only question.
Finally, the philosophers agreed on the following question: “What is the ordered pair whose first member is the best question to ask, and whose second member is the answer to that question?” Satisfied with their decision, the philosophers awaited the angel’s return the next day, whereupon they posed their question. And the angel replied: “It is the ordered pair whose first member is the question you just asked, and whose second member is the answer I am now giving.” And then he disappeared.