Welcome to the Philosophy helpline. If you’re looking to write a college paper, or hope to impress your date, or see life as a featureless void empty of all hope, or our most common answer, ‘all of the above,’ you’ve come to the right place…

For Descartes, please press (1,0,0). You have pressed it, therefore you will be connected to him. But who is it that is really doing the pressing? Is it possible to press the act of pressing itself? All that is certain is that you exist, that I exist, and that your call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes.

For Camus, press 2. Or maybe 3. I’m not sure. Press both. I don’t know why’d you try, though, very likely neither will work. Do you feel it in your heart, the aching despair of human impotence? Do you dream of that moment you get past the automated message and finally reach a genuine human who might know something about your support ticket? Do you feel that fantasy slipping away as the hour hand creeps further round the clock? Good. Perhaps you have learned something. Have a cigarette.

You could press 4 to reach Hume, but we’re not sure it’ll be of any help at all. Just judging by the last five guys, you’re better off using a Magic 8-Ball and pig entrails.

There is a procedure to reach Kafka. We know it; we’re just not telling you. There is a long queue, but don’t let that worry you, because people are randomly bumped to the front according to a set of rules we’re also not telling you. Even when you get to the front, it does you no good, because the man on the other hand knows as little as you do, but won’t admit it for a while. Also, he’s just turned into a giant insect, and mandibles are proving quite unsuited to grasping his headset.

To reach Marx, press any button; no button is more important than any other. Disclaimer: Since we work on the basis of need, not ability, don’t be alarmed if you’re instead connected to Wladislaw, who really needed this job and knows a great deal about underground interpretive dance. Unfortunately, that fascinating conversation won’t be very long, since everyone gets equal conversation time and Wladislaw is proving pretty popular with the urban lot.

We’re afraid Plato isn’t in right now. He was on his way over from the Piraeus market when he ran into Dionysus, son of Anaximenes, who took the opportunity to rapidly pivot the conversation from the rising price of fish to the moral imperative of the call-center employees to strive ever to deliver maximum satisfaction. He might be a while.

We regret to inform you that Socrates no longer works here; he’s been let go for excessive insubordination and constantly mumbling questions to himself. Ordinarily, these would be tolerated, but when combined with his BO, the office voted to axe him.

Reaching J.S. Mill is a little difficult right now; Bentham and Singer convinced him that his utility from answering your call might not be as much as the utility they’d heard was hiding at the bottom of the beer glasses at the Flanagan Arms.

Our apologies, but the Proudhon line has been permanently disconnected. Last time someone got through to ask for advice, a Molotov cocktail was hurled through their front window, accompanied by a note reading ‘Take a hint.’

That concludes the helpline options. Press 0 to be connected to the Buddha, who will send you back to the beginning to hear the options again.