Why did the Chicken Cross the Road?

‘To get to the other side’ is a bit too simplistic. So, to remedy that, here are a number of interesting and more original replies to this famous – and surprisingly old – anti-humour riddle joke:

‘There are ‘quips and quillets’ which seem actual conundrums, but yet are none. Of such is this: ‘Why does a chicken cross the street?’ – The Knickerbocker, or The New York Monthly, March 1847, p. 283

Douglas Adams: 42.

Aristotle: To actualize its potential. It is the nature of chickens to cross roads.

Buddha: If you ask this question, you deny your own chicken-nature.

Julius Caesar: To come, to see, to conquer.

Howard Cosell: It may very well have been one of the most astonishing events to grace the annals of history. An historic, unprecedented avian biped with the temerity to attempt such an Herculean achievement formerly relegated to Homo sapien pedestrians is truly a remarkable occurrence.

Salvador Dali: A melting fish.

Charles Darwin: It was the logical next step after coming down from the trees. After all, chickens, over great periods of time, have been naturally selected in such a way that they are now genetically disposed to cross roads.

Jacques Derrida: What is the difference? The chicken was merely deferring from one side of the road to other. And how do we get the idea of the chicken in the first place? Does it exist outside of language? Also, any number of contending discourses may be discovered within the act of the chicken crossing the road, and each interpretation is equally valid as the authorial intent can never be discerned, because structuralism is dead.

Rene Descartes: It had sufficient reason to believe it was dreaming anyway.

Bob Dylan: How many roads must one chicken cross?

Albert Einstein: Whether the chicken crossed the road or the road crossed the chicken depends upon your frame of reference.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: It didn’t cross the road; it transcended it.

Epicurus: For pleasure.

Michel Foucault: It did so because the discourse of crossing the road left it no choice – the police state was oppressing it.

Sigmund Freud: The chicken was obviously female and obviously interpreted the pole on which the crosswalk sign was mounted as a phallic symbol of which she was envious, selbstverständlich. However, the fact that you are at all concerned about why the chicken crossed the road reveals your underlying sexual insecurity.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: The eternal hen-principle made it do it.

Stephen Jay Gould: It is possible that there is a sociobiological explanation for it, but we have been deluged in recent years with sociobiological stories despite the fact that we have little direct evidence about the genetics of behaviour, and we do not know how to obtain it for the specific behaviours that figure most prominently in sociobiological speculation.

Ernest Hemingway: To die. In the rain.

Heraclitus: A chicken cannot cross the same road twice.

Adolf Hitler: It needed Lebensraum.

David Hume: Out of custom and habit.

Doug Hofstadter: To seek explication of the correspondence between appearance and essence through the mapping of the external road-object onto the internal road-concept.

James Joyce: To forge in the smithy of its soul the uncreated conscience of its race.

Carl Jung: The confluence of events in the cultural gestalt necessitated that individual chickens cross roads at this historical juncture, and therefore synchronicitously brought such occurrences into being.

Immanuel Kant: Because it would have this be a universal law.

Martin Luther King: It had a dream.

Gottfried von Leibniz: In this best possible world, the road was made for it to cross.

Machiavelli: So that its subjects will view it with admiration, as a chicken which has the daring and courage to boldly cross the road, but also with fear, for whom among them has the strength to contend with such a paragon of avian virtue? In such a manner is the princely chicken’s dominion maintained. In any case, the end of crossing the road justifies whatever motive there was.

Karl Marx: To escape the bourgeois middle-class struggle. It was a historical inevitability.

Sir Isaac Newton: Chickens at rest tend to stay at rest. Chickens in motion tend to cross the road.

Moses: And the LORD spake unto the chicken, “Thou shalt cross the road.” And the chicken crossed the road.

Pyrrho the Skeptic: What road?

Jean-Paul Sartre: In order to act in good faith and be true to itself, the chicken found it necessary to cross the road.

B.F. Skinner: Because the external influences which had pervaded its sensorium from birth had caused it to develop in such a fashion that it would tend to cross roads, even while believing these actions to be of its own free will.

J.R.R. Tolkien: The chicken, sunlight coruscating off its radiant yellow- white coat of feathers, approached the dark, sullen asphalt road and scrutinized it intently with its obsidian-black eyes. Every detail of the thoroughfare leapt into blinding focus: the rough texture of the surface, over which countless tires had worked their relentless tread through the ages; the innumerable fragments of stone embedded within the lugubrious mass, perhaps quarried from the great pits where the Sons of Man laboured not far from here; the dull black asphalt itself, exuding those waves of heat which distort the sight and bring weakness to the body; the other attributes of the great highway too numerous to give name. And then it crossed it.

Mark Twain: The news of its crossing has been greatly exaggerated.

Kurt Vonnegut: There is no “why”, there only “is”. So it goes.

Ludwig Wittgenstein: The possibility of “crossing” was encoded into the objects “chicken” and “road”, and circumstances came into being which caused the actualization of this potential occurrence.

Zeno of Elea: To prove it could never reach the other side.

Abelard and Heloise

Perhaps the most famous couple of the Middle Ages – Peter Abelard was one of the leading scholars of 12th century, and Heloise d’Argenteuil was his gifted student. They began a secret and intense sexual relationship that led to Heloise becoming pregnant – they would have a son named Astrolabe.

“Would that thy love, beloved, had less trust in me, that it might be more anxious!”
― Héloïse d’Argenteuil, The Letters of Abélard and Héloïse

Peter convinced her that they should marry, but she only agreed to a secret one in order that his career would not be damaged. However, in a sad turn of events, Heloise’s uncle got a group of men to attack Abelard, where they castrated him. Peter would then go on to become a monk, and Heloise a nun, but would continue to write to each other. It is likely that they are buried together at the Pére Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

Juliet: “You kiss by the book.”
― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

There are still societies whose policies result in rigid attitudes of intellectual, theological and sexual repression. The love story of Abelard and Heloise, the courage and passion of its protagonists, has much to teach humanity about our own understanding of religious tolerance, sexual equality and intellectual freedom.

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Horseshoe crabs have blue blood, marine worms have green blood and cockroaches’ blood is colourless.

The James Bond movie Goldfinger was once banned in Israel.

Typically less than a half of one percent of Romans were eligible to vote in Rome’s ‘democratic’ elections.

The reverse side of the flag of Oregon features a gold beaver.

Before becoming Queen of England, Mary Tudor would spend one third of her income gambling.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts


Positional, Solid, Intuitive, Emotional

Geniuses seem to decide their moves by pure divination. With little or no calculation, they decide where to put their pieces and then simply put them there. The Genius just feels the pulse of the position. His combinations are usually short, simple, but transform the game in a deadly way. The Genius does not seek complications and thus draws quite a few games, but rarely loses. Sometimes he seems to get bored of chess, but this is actually an illusion – he cares about it more than anything.

“I have known many chess players, but among them there has been only one genius…” – Emanuel Lasker

Jose Raul Capablanca (1888-1942) of Cuba, the third world champion, was a prototypical Genius. Preferring solid, positional play and excelling in endgames, Capablanca had a simple, clear style and chose his moves largely by intuition. Capablanca was so hard to beat that he only lost 34 serious games as an adult and was undefeated from 1916 until 1924.

See other: Chess Personalities

Letter to a Christian Nation

‘You believe that the Bible is the word of God, that Jesus is the Son of God, and that only those who place their faith in Jesus will find salvation after death. As a Christian, you believe these propositions not because they make you feel good, but because you think they are true. Before I point out some of the problems with these beliefs, I would like to acknowledge that there are many points on which you and I agree. We agree, for instance, that if one of us is right, the other is wrong. The Bible is either the word of God, or it isn’t. Either Jesus offers humanity the one, true path to salvation (John 14:6), or he does not. We agree that to be a true Christian is to believe that all other faiths are mistaken, and profoundly so. If Christianity is correct, and I persist in my unbelief, I should expect to suffer the torments of hell.

Worse still, I have persuaded others, and many close to me, to reject the very idea of God. They too will languish in “eternal fire” (Matthew 25:41). If the basic doctrine of Christianity is correct, I have misused my life in the worst conceivable way. I admit this without a single caveat. The fact that my continuous and public rejection of Christianity does not worry me in the least should suggest to you just how inadequate I think your reasons for being a Christian are.

[…] Either the Bible is just an ordinary book, written by mortals, or it isn’t. Either Christ was divine, or he was not. If the Bible is an ordinary book, and Christ an ordinary man, the basic doctrine of Christianity is false. If the Bible is an ordinary book, and Christ an ordinary man, the history of Christian theology is the story of bookish men parsing a collective delusion. If the basic tenets of Christianity are true, then there are some very grim surprises in store for nonbelievers like myself. You understand this. At least half of the American population understands this. So let us be honest with ourselves: in the fullness of time, one side is really going to win this argument, and the other side is really going to lose.’

Harris. S. 2006. Letter To A Christian Nation p. 4

Conversations: Art

Dear Lysandra, do you think there are things “we are aware of” about both ourselves and the outside world that are ‘unexpressable’ in terms of words or anything similarly conventional?

I think there are. It seems probable that these unexpressable things may only be expressed (or perhaps merely approximated) by something unconventional – something out of the ordinary, unique even.

Perhaps these things can be rightly called Art?

Quite, with this in mind I prefer Heidegger’s view “Art is the happening of truth”. That is to say, Art can establish that which is implicit; it is the disclosure of intelligibility in time.

See other: Philosophical Conversations