Here’s Another Philosophy Joke: Confucius, Aristotle, and a Flockbinker Go into a Bar
by David Kennedy Bird
“So, Okay: Confucius, Aristotle, and a flockbinker go into a bar, see….”
And the bartender says, “We don’t serve your kind here.”
Confucius say,[*] “I take offense at that completely inappropriate racial slur!”
And the bartender says, “No, look, I wasn’t talking about you. I was referring to…that.” And he points at the flockbinker.
“Oh,” say Confucius. “Well, alrighty then.”
All eyes in the room turn toward the flockbinker.
Aristotle says, “Let us be clear. You are saying that it is the policy of your restaurant not to serve flockbinkers?”
“What?” says the bartender.
“This,” explains Aristotle, indicating the flockbinker, “is a flockbinker.”
“I don’t care what fancy name you wanna call it,” rejoins the barkeeper. “We don’t serve it, that’s what i’m saying.”
Aristotle says, “You introduce an interesting question. Since we are uncertain of the ontological status of flockbinkers, it’s difficult to know what you mean by its ‘kind.’ You said that you don’t serve its ‘kind’ here. In your judgment, what ‘kind’ is he?”
The bartender replies, “Everybody’s gotta be a smart aleck. Look, all i’m saying, we don’t serve those”—and here he again indicates the flockbinker—“in this here respectable establishment.”
“And why would that be,” demands Aristotle, “if you can’t even categorize him? How do you know whether he belongs in the category ‘things we don’t serve here’? Does your policy apply to all entities that are treadknicious?”
“Treadknicious. All flockbinkers are treadknicious. Surely everyone knows that.”
The bartender squints at Aristotle, as if looking at a particularly appalling insect that has landed in his bowl of cereal.
“Flockbinkers are treadknicious,” continues Aristotle. “All of them. It is less clear, however, whether there might be other things (besides flockbinkers) that are also treadknicious. So does your policy extend to all members of the class ‘things that are treadknicious,’ whether flockbinkers or something else…?”
The bartender stares at Aristotle, as if studying a worm that has been opened up for dissection in a high school biology class.
Confucius add, “What my distinguished colleague is getting at is this: what is it about our little friend here” — and he indicates the flockbinker — “that makes you want to ban it from the premises?”
“Frockbinger,” says the flockbinker, breaking its silence.
Confucius and Aristotle turn to stare at it. Who knew flockbinkers could talk?
The bartender is losing patience. “Whatever it is, we don’t serve it!” he spurts.
In the meantime, the patrons of the bar have been taking a keen interest in this little exchange. One of them steps forward and, in a voice that reverberates with passion and antique Roman heroism, proclaims: “I am a flockbinker!”
Then another customer steps forth, this one obviously an accountant, and says, in a tremulous voice, “I am a flockbinker!”
One by one, just like in the famous scene from Spartacus, each of the bar’s patrons steps forth and states, “I am a flockbinker!”
Understandably, the bartender finds this turn of events perplexing. What’s he supposed to do, kick out all of his customers?
“The problem with basing policy decisions on poorly-conceived taxonomical frameworks,” explains Aristotle to the hapless bartender, “is that your categories can shift on you and ruin your plans.”
“Frockbinger,” explains the flockbinker, helpfully.
The bartender is just standing there, his hands hanging helplessly at his sides.
“You are going to meet an interesting stranger,” Confucius say.
“I beg your pardon?” says the bartender.
“I said, ‘You are going to meet an interesting stranger’,” repeat Confucius. “You know, it’s the sort of thing you might find in a fortune cookie. I suppose i ought to introduce myself. My name is Kung Fu Tzu, better known to the English-speaking world as Confucius.”
“Name’s Fred,” replies the dazed bartender, extending a hand.
“Well gee, THAT was somewhat irrelevant,” says Aristotle.
“Sorry,” say Confucius. “I never go off duty.”
[Editor’s Note: If you’ve not yet heard the one about Confucius and the Buddha meeting for dinner at Chili’s, you can find it right around here somewhere.]
[Another Editor’s Note: If you were troubled by the grammar in the sections where Confucius is quoted as saying something, perhaps it just means you’re unfamiliar with the “Confucius say” corny joke convention.]
[Yet a Third Editor’s Note: If, on the other hand, you were troubled by the fact that this blog has made use of the “Confucius say” corny joke convention — because you feel that it represents an inappropriate stereotyping of the speech patterns of ancient Chinese philosophers — then do by all means feel free to leave a scorching comment articulating your concerns. We love to hear from our readers.]