To be is to do. —Socrates
To do is to be. —Plato
Do-be-do-be-do. —Sinatra

I saw it on some shirts or somewhere. I don’t understand what it means when those sentences are put together.

  • 1
    More here – Henry Apr 24 '11 at 12:31
  • @Henry: haha, Nietzsche and God. =)) – emeraldhieu Apr 24 '11 at 16:18
  • 1
    Kurt Vonnegut, Deadeye Dick. – Mark Beadles Aug 31 '12 at 0:42
  • 1
    I first saw this when I was a kid. It was in a Peanuts cartoon. The quotes were attributed differently. "To be is to do" is a synopsis of Sartre. "To do is to be" likewise for Nietzsche. – user30888 Nov 14 '12 at 14:43

This is supposed to be humorous.

The first two lines are contemplations on life and are supposed to be very profound. They were spoken by very famous philosophers from Greek history who talk about life and what it is to be alive.

Frank Sinatra was a famous American swing singer around the mid 1900s. The Dobedobedobeo is a vocal sound from music of that era. It is meaningless, a sound used only to help with the harmony of a song or fill in notes when there are no lyrics.

By putting the three together, the last line makes a joke of the first two, either by saying that Frank Sinatra was just as profound as the other two, or that Socrates's and Plato's thoughts were no more deep/important than Sinatra's nonsense line.

| improve this answer | |
  • 10
    There's an old saying: "Humor is like a frog: you can dissect it if you want to, but the results are interesting only to professionals and the frog tends to suffer in the process." – Malvolio Apr 24 '11 at 7:06
  • I completely agree but for the sake of the question... Also, I actually heard that quote for the first time just the other day, funny you should be saying it now. Any idea where it came from? – Karl Apr 24 '11 at 8:32
  • 8
    It should be pointed out that Plato and Socrates said no such things and the quotes as attributed are fanciful. – The Raven Apr 24 '11 at 11:10
  • 1
    @TheRaven -- the attributions in the joke vary. Nietzsche is often invoked. @Karl -- I had always assume it to be Twain (if you're talking to me at all) but the Google-consensus is that it's E.B. White, which makes far more sense, as Twain grew up long before high-school biology became what it is today. – Malvolio Apr 24 '11 at 15:46
  • 1
    Just heard the Chairman of the Board sing "Strangers in the night" (1966). In the closing bar, he sings "do be do be do." – rajah9 Jan 16 '13 at 18:42

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.