“A lover of philosophical ideas and practiced debunker of intellectual sham, Martin Cohen knocks some thirty important philosophers from Socrates to Derrida off their pedestals, and presents in a series of philosophical tales various aspects of their thought, life and personality which few of us ever suspected.” – Zenon Stavrinides, University of Bradford
"Philosophical Tales is highly recommended, not only for debutants but also for the cognoscenti who will find much here both amusing and stimulating." The Philosopher
Philosophers, more even than poets and composers, set themselves apart from common humanity to engage in their uncommonly rarefied practices. In the unlikely event of their productions becoming even vaguely well known they shun publicity. Their obituaries and encyclopaedic entries condense life long achievements into garbled accounts of their philosophies, dates of publication of their more respectable works and odd biographical details.
Fortunately, in Philosophical Tales Martin Cohen has compiled highly entertaining accounts of all too human aspects of thirty philosophers, presumably the more quirky of the breed. But of course the whole point of the exercise is selection of behaviours exponent of, or in marked contrast to, their perpetrators' stated philosophies. Schopenhauer, an example of the former, and Marx, of the latter, appear prominently on the cover. Raul Gonzalez III's illustrations complement the text admirably. His Augustine is a masterpiece, suitable for reproduction as a missal book mark.
Philosophical Tales is both readable and enjoyable with the added advantage that potted versions of their philosophies, required to appreciate the relevance of accounts of their misdemeanours, illuminate these thirty philosophers' works remarkably well. They are longer than encyclopaedia entries, shorter than extended essays and allow a generally rounded account....
Philosophers are frequently pompous; Cohen's own, tongue-in-cheek, Pompous Footnotes show him consciously capable of the genre but so do several judgements of his with which I totally disagree, such as the one above. However, as the objective of this book is to entertain and stimulate, let no one be in any doubt that it achieves both admirably.
An interesting diversion Scholarly Appendix: Women in Philosophy calls Diotima the Mother of Western philosophy, in so far as she taught Socrates, spokesperson for Plato's philosophy. Whitehead proved the point with his dictum that Western philosophy is no more than a footnote to Plato. ...
Whether or not Pascal was right in his assertion: To make light of philosophy is to be a true philosopher, levity certainly makes the subject more enjoyable and could well lead to deeper exploration. Therefore, Philosophical Tales is highly recommended, not only for debutants but also for the cognoscenti who will find much here both amusing and stimulating.
Great philosophers only become well known after their deaths. Indeed, to speak of contemporary celebrity philosophers is oxymoronic. Still, one can't help wondering who amongst living philosophers will merit future Philosophical Tales. -- Colin Kirk, The Philosopher Autumn 2008