East Carolina University
Department of Psychology

Limerick on Predestination

    I have seen several versions of the first limerick here, attributed to Maurice E. Hare, 1905. The reply was authored by Nicholas Humphrey, and first appeared in Nicholas Humphrey, “Predispositions to learn,” in Constraints on Learning, ed. R. A. Hinde and J. Stevenson-Hinde, pp. 301- 304, Academic Press, London, 1973. To me, these limericks address the topics of free will, determinism, and biological constraints on development.

There was a young man who said "Damn!
I perceive with regret that I am
But a creature that moves
In predestinate grooves
I'm not even a bus, I'm a tram."

"Young man you should stay your complaint,
For the grooves that you call a constraint
Are there to contrive
That you learn to survive;
Trams arrive, buses may or they mayn't."


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This page most recently revised on the 20th of January, 2015.