Last week, I had to do a paper/presentation for epistemology class, comparing Plato and Descartes' theories of knowledge. You know, the class that's hard to understand? I wasn't sure I could do a good job, so I decided to get some help from my good friend, Abraham Lincoln.
Abraham Lincoln: Hello my friend and how are you this fine day?
Michael: What is the difference between the epistemologies of Plato and Descartes?
Abraham Lincoln: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I always thought the difference was a sort of quality. It's fairly difficult to explain what the difference is. The difference was an amorphous concept, like Classicism or postmodernism. The difference can mean pretty well all things to all people.
Michael: That doesn't help very much.
Abraham Lincoln: My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause.
Michael: That's great, Abe, but I'm going to fail epistemology if my final paper isn't perfect. Could you please help me out?
Abraham Lincoln: I could help, but not until midnight when the lights go out.
Michael: But the paper is due at midnight! Our teacher has a strict Cinderella policy.
Abraham Lincoln: Well, you're entitled to your opinion. I had many wonderful teachers in my lifetime. However, I would say that experience was my greatest teacher of all.
Michael: So, back to Plato. What does he have to say about knowledge?
Abraham Lincoln: That's a rhetorical question, as I'm sure you realize. You know perfectly well what he has.
Michael: Fine, then. What does Descartes have to say about knowledge?
Abraham Lincoln: Sarah Josepha Hale was a fine writer from my day. Prompted by a letter she wrote me in the fall of 1863, I issued the first Federally mandated Thanksgiving day to be kept on the last Thursday in November. be good and treat everyone like you would like to be treated.
Michael: I see. And what do Plato and Descartes agree about?
Abraham Lincoln: I am glad you see the point. I credit many of my genetic gifts to my mother, because I believe that my gifts come from my unknown grandfather, who fathered my mother out of wedlock.
Michael: And what do they disagree about?
Abraham Lincoln: Saturday, March 4, 1865, started out dark, damp, and disagreeable. Most streets in Washington remained unpaved, and two days of incessant rain created a record amount of mud. A local reporter wrote, "the streets and sidewalks were encrusted with from two to ten inches of muddy paste, through which men and horses plodded wearily." Tens of thousands of visitors streamed into the city for the re-inauguration, filling "every available room, bed, nook, and corner," only to reckon with the mud and one another. But the intrepid crowd would be rewarded with a ceremony of historic proportions and the finest speech I ever produced.
Michael: Thanks for the help, Abe. I'm sure I'll get an A on that paper, now.
Abraham Lincoln: You are indeed! You'll meet people who say you aren't, but don't let them intimidate you. Stand up to them and they'll run away.
I copy/pasted Abe's responses into the appropriate sections of my paper. Well, I just got my paper back, and the grade was very low. Curse you, Robot Abe!