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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


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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: 0.9 x 5.4 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #514,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Customer Reviews

I would buy another book by these authors.
Brad Teare
I think I may have been going into this book expecting something a bit more robust, with citations and the like.
Matthew T. Weflen
The book is a very good survey of death and dying philosophy.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By W. A. Carpenter VINE VOICE on August 28, 2009
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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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By The Spinozanator VINE VOICE on October 16, 2009
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jojoleb VINE VOICE on September 14, 2009
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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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Eric Gross VINE VOICE on October 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I believe this is the second in a series of books by these authors seeking to both make available to the non professional reader the findings and insights of some of the most respected philosophers, but also to try to apply these principles to some of the most crucial aspects of life. The these of this book is trying to make sense of death and of course, when we try to make sense of death, we are also, simultaneously, working to make sense of this life. The authors succeed moderately on each level. Of course, not to give away too much at the outset, but life fails to offer itself to making much tangible sense and thus death our struggling to understand our dying doesn't help matters much. This is the reason why this book, ultimately, offers not all that much. Only the easy questions get a satisfying answer, but the hard ones remain unanswered, proving, once again, that philosophy can only take one so far.
I did love the use of New Yorker cartoons mixed in with the text. There are some really great ones included.
This was fun reading and if you're interested in some mildly stimulating fun and this could be the book for you.
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