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Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates: Using Philosophy (and Jokes!) to Explore Life, Death, the Afterlife, and Everything in Between Hardcover – October 20, 2009

4 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Did you know that Heidegger's notion of living in the shadow of death has its most profound articulation in a country and western song by Tim McGraw? Or what Law and Order has in common with theologian Paul Tillich's view of eternity? Such are the nuggets of wisdom found in this smart and lighthearted consideration of the philosophical dimensions of death. Cathcart and Klein (coauthors of Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar) take readers on a whirlwind tour of anthropological, philosophical and theological theories of why and how we avoid accepting our own mortality. The authors demonstrate how humor allows us to express our fears about death while defusing anxiety. Succinct accounts of Kierkegaard's notion of embracing angst, Schopenhauer's notion of undying will and Descartes on mind-body dualism are thus all peppered by comic asides (Leibnitz maintained that Mind and Matter don't actually get into each others knickers). This little book is an entertaining and surprisingly informative survey of the Big D and its centrality in human life. (Oct).
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Review

"This little book is an entertaining and surprisingly informative survey of the 'Big D' and its centrality in human life." -- Publishers Weekly

--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (October 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670020834
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670020836
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #390,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates" is a surprisingly funny and nuanced view of the meaning of life, with special emphasis on the views of classical philosophers. The format will be familiar to those that have read Cathcart and Klein's "Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar" -- some serious philosophy, a good joke or two, and a series of delightful cartoons on relevant topics.

Surprisingly supported by the jokes and cartoons, the authors carefully consider some serious philosophical issues while clearly explaining background concepts. I was a Philosophy major in college many years ago, and it was delightful to see how easily the authors clearly explained some rather difficult concepts in Existentialism, classic philosophy (Plato and Aristotle), depth psychology (Freud and Jung), Buddhism, religion, and cybernetics as they explored issues like the survival of personality after death, the existence of heaven and hell, and the meaning of life.

There's a lot to learn from this book but it never feels dull or academic. Perhaps my only criticism is the repeated use of nicknames for famous philosophers. The first time Martin Heidegger is referred to as "Marty" is mildly amusing, but it quickly becomes tiresome as the gag is repeated many times. On the plus side, they quote Woody Allen often.

All in all, a refreshing and vigorous example of the best use of philosophy as a means to clarify thinking and beliefs. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have several relatives in the "very old" generation and they're dropping like flies. As a result, I have tried to brush up on my ability to converse easily with those who have almost finished their bucket list. My particular approach is to minimize the religious and maximize the use of humor. Some of them have fallen hard enough for the threats about "the other place" and I feel it is my job to reassure them that they'll at least be well-remembered. So far, this book is my best resource.

You're in luck if you would like to be knowledgable about the great philosophers who addressed death but reading about them puts you to sleep. They're all here, interspersed with hilarious cartoons and correctly presented by the authors. The format of the book lends itself well to painless learning.

If you are approaching the finish line yourself, let me provide for you the recommendation of Mark Twain. I had read it before, but this book presents it again: "When approaching the Pearley Gates, leave your dog behind. If entrance were based on merit, he would be admitted and you would be left behind."

DB
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
My guess is that over time this review will be buried six feet underneath a heaping pile of other positive reviews, but Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein deliver big on death and dying in their educational and uproarious book Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates.

Cathcart and Klein try to explain the philosophical and theological underpinnings of death and dying to the lay person. It is a book for those of us who have a deep desire to contemplate the meaning of our existence, but are not quite able to see the light through the opaque language of the philosophers. Cathcart and Klein are able to simplify these complex concepts and make them understandable to the average guy. By giving us concrete examples to illustrate the concepts and infusing all this with humor, the book never drags. It remains interesting, funny, incredibly readable, and edutaining.

And speaking of edutainment, the book is written like Sesame Street for adults. There is always a lot going on. Like Plato, who illustrated his philosophy by writing dialogs, Cathcart and Klein write their book as a dialoge. So instead of Socrates speaking with various Athenians, Cathcart and Klein write an irreverent dialogue between themselves and their `neighbor' Daryl. The authors illustrate the concepts as answers to fundamental questions posed by Daryl. Interspersed with this are jokes that illustrate the concepts discussed. If that weren't enough, the book also contains a huge number of cartoons (possibly from the New Yorker or at very least in that style) that further illustrate the concepts and numerous humorous quotations to round everything out.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I don't have a lot of time for reading, but this book totally engulfed me; I couldn't put it down!!!

During a time when I have been facing middle age and the aging of my parents, I have been contemplating the whole "death" thing. This book talks about so many things that are somewhat taboo in our society and helps dealing with death in a humorous but very straight forward manner. Religious-types may not care for the book, but as a spiritual person that has never been involved in traditional structured religion I found it absolutely intriguing!!!

The book is broken into 7 sections includes funny comics throughout the book. Here are the topics discussed:

Dead! Whatcha Gonna Do About It?
Eternity When You Least Expect It
Immortality the Old-fashioned Way, On the Soul Train
Post Mortem Life: Postcards
Death as a Lifestyle Choice
Biotechnology: Stop the Presses!
The End

They look at philosophers viewpoints over history and the whole death-anxiety that exists in our society. Throughout the book they include life situation scenes that are hilarious. I love the kick in the butt to religion. This book is not just a funny book about death, but will really help you look death straight in the eyes from a new point of view. Loved it!!!
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