I don't understand the joke (before the era computing) quoted by Peter Flom:

The math department is the 2nd cheapest one to supply in the university: All the[y] need are pencils, paper and erasers. The philosophy department is the cheapest. They don't need erasers.

These posts explain how pure math belonged to philosophy, they're linked, and they're so related.

closed as off-topic by Mauro ALLEGRANZA, Swami Vishwananda, Frank Hubeny, Not_Here, Conifold May 12 '18 at 0:13

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  • "While this question may be related to philosophy or occur in a philosophical context, the question itself doesn't seem to be about philosophy, and is therefore not a good fit for our site." – Mauro ALLEGRANZA, Swami Vishwananda, Not_Here, Conifold
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    Philosophers do not make errors. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA May 11 '18 at 7:39
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    Comment on the post linked : "Up to the 17th century, there was no differences between mathematics and philosophy." Totally wrong: since Ancient Greece the disciplines of math (Euclid, Archimedes) and philosophy (Aristotle, Plotinus) were clearly demarcated. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA May 11 '18 at 7:41
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    It may refer to the fact that most philosophers do not reject theories that do not work, quite unlike mathematicians, so have no need for erasers. – PeterJ May 11 '18 at 11:20
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    I am going to give philosophers and philosophy a break here. It is because philosophy is organic and capable of reusing and recycling it's predecessors materials for nurturing their current ideas and assertions. Math has to alter the entire equation to get to the same result. – Norman Edward May 11 '18 at 16:33
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    @Greek-Area51Proposal - Your guess is as good as mine. It seems to be a reluctance to face the facts. – PeterJ May 12 '18 at 10:41

The joke implies that philosophers have no need of erasing something that they wrote - there are multiple explanations for this : 1) They never err, 2) they never think they erred

I'd guess the joke is an amalgamam of 1) and 2) : that philosophers can't be wrong (because there is no right), and therefore don't need to erase their writings. That would also fit to the theme of the thread the joke was posted to.

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    There is a third explanation: there is no single "right" in philosophy, and therefore "erring" is meaningless, there are simply different perspectives. – Conifold May 12 '18 at 0:13
  • @Conifold - Being picky I'd prefer to say that the reason is that some people choose to believe that there is no single 'right' in philosophy since nobody can prove it. . ...... . . – PeterJ May 12 '18 at 10:49

The joke implies that the ideas that philosophers have are written in stone, even if they're terrible ones; they're never let go. Therefore, they do not need erasers to remove the ideas.

source: https://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/mathematics_is_the_second_cheapest_department_at_any_college/


Many people regard philosophy as a bunch of bullshit, and having no wastebaskets or erasers in the philosophy department would explain why.

I myself thought of philosophy that way as well .. until I actually took a course in philosophy.

  • So... did you voluntarily choose to take the bullshit class or was it forced on you? – Lie Ryan May 11 '18 at 12:34
  • Voluntarily ... studied Comp. Sci, got interested in AI, but quickly felt that comp.sci had a really narrow view on nature of intelligence and mind, took a philosophy of mind course to expand views: best decision ever! Ended up with degrees in comp. sci. and philosophy! :) – Bram28 May 11 '18 at 13:28
  • @LieRyan But my uncle (hardcore engineer) still cracks the joke about philosophy not having a wastebasket whenever I see him ... – Bram28 May 11 '18 at 13:42

Maths has proofs, that the simplest can learn.

Philosophy is hard to grasp, and most get lost a few steps in and when you see the amount that has been written, it is not difficult to see why.

Do I exist? Am I alone talking to myself or are there really others reading this, hahahahahaha. How many philosophers died fulfilled and happy? We often take ourselves way to seriously.

So to answer the joke, by the time a philosopher has finished, there is no point rubbing it out, no one has actually read it......

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    This seems to be a general comment on philosophy rather than an answer to the question as asked. Please have a look at the help center. You should focus on the specific question as asked. If there is none (or none you can contribute to with your knowledge), you should not answer. – Philip Klöcking May 11 '18 at 11:25

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