Friday, January 30, 2015


When I first started composing limericks, I knew that some enterprising philosophers (including a graduate student at UNC, Larisa Svirsky, at had been writing some and posting them on the internet (thank you, Larisa!).  What I didn't know is that one philosopher in particular, Richard E. Aquila, had completed the truly Herculean task of writing an entire history of Western philosophy in limericks, and had published the result as a book, Rhyme or Reason: A Limerick History of Philosophy (University Press of America, 1981).  The book contains, I kid you not, 403 limericks.  I counted them all.  (Let me know if I miscounted, Richard, please.)  Many of the poems are combined into narratives.  As I read this book, with respect to some philosophers I almost lost track of the fact that I was reading poetry.  It's a stupendous achievement, one that dwarfs my one-a-day limerick vitamin project.  For those of you who like philosophy, poetry, and humor, look for this book in your local library (it's out of print), and ask University Press of America to re-issue it.    

In Professor Aquila's honor, I have composed a bonus limerick, and am sharing it with you:

Let's thank the great Richard Aquila,
The ultimate theory distilla.
For me, Rhyme or Reason
Is brilliant, no teasin':
Eclipsing sublime Friedrich Schilla.

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