I Think, Therefore I Laugh Revised Edition
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About the Author
- Publisher : Columbia University Press; Revised edition (March 15, 2000)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 192 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0231119151
- ISBN-13 : 978-0231119153
- Reading age : 22 years and up
- Lexile measure : 1220L
- Item Weight : 5.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 7.02 x 5.01 x 0.44 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,842,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Written for the non-philosopher, this concise book is packed with great learning and quite a few laughs as well. Definitely a worthwhile read.
Case in point. Today, I started to read the manual of a computer program which I am supposed to learn. All of us know how mind numbingly unforgiving a manual reading session can be. However, my spirits were immediately lifted when, on the first page of the manual, I saw the following typed statement:
THIS PAGE INTENTIONALLY BLANK
I got the joke; I got the paradox. I laughed- thanks to Paulos.
Highlights of the book include a hilarious dialogue between two most unlikely men: Bertrand Russell and Groucho Marx, trapped in an elevator on a 'virtual' level in the Empire State Building. Their conversation is completely nonsensical, each talking from his unique point of view. But just like Lewis Carroll's nonsense, it makes perfect sense. All through the book, Paulos uses two proverbial scapegoats, George and Martha, to illustrate the finer points of philosophical thought through seemingly idiotic, bizzare and generally hilarious conversations. In doing so, he touches upon reductionism, syllogism, sylligism, opportunism, and most of the other famous "isms". A few examples:
Everybody loves a lover
George does not love himself
Hence George does not love Martha
Illogical as the above argument looks, by the rules of logic, Paulos explains that it makes perfect sense. Or consider this "Proof that God exists"
1. God exists
2. Both these statements are false.
Welcome to the world of paradoxes! Some thorny thinking convinces us that irrespective of whether the second statement is true or false, the first statement HAS to be true. In fact, you can substitute any statement in place of the first one (For example, 'George Bush was in love with Elizabeth Taylor'). The second one will guarantee that it's true.
How about this one. Its a chilly winter night and Martha meets George in front of his house.
Martha: George, what are you doing?
George: Oh, I am looking for my car keys. I lost them near that bush there.
Martha: So why aren't you looking for them there?
George: Because its brighter here and I can see better.
Some of the examples are outright silly, great examples of bad jokes that all of us crack sometime or the other.
Martha: That's the last straw! I have had enough of this. I wash my hands of the whole business.
George: A good idea. You can wash your neck too.
Paulos says that this dialogue actually demonstrates an important philosophical principle.
The title of the third section is: "The Titl of This Section Contains Three Erors"
Can you spot them? If yes, you would have unearthed a very important philosophical 'classification of classes or sets', having deep implications for math and logic.
Another examples of this 'classification of classes':
'Robert Benchley once remarked, "There may be said to be two classes of people in the world; those who constantly divide the people of the world into two classes, and those who do not." He should have added paradoxically that he belongs to the latter class.
I could go on! But I don't want to give away the wonder of the book. It is a truly refreshing read, for the sheer reason that it shows us how we can constantly laugh at others, life, and most importantly ourselves, and have an educational experience doing it. I think it would be a fascinating experience for us to glance around everyday, and have a look at the idiosyncrasies that we indulge in, the jokes that we crack, and the criticisms that we dispense, and endure, knowingly and unknowingly demonstrating philosophical insights. Paulos tries to convince us that there is more to daily life than we think, and that philosophy need not be a separate 'subject' to be studied. It is a part of our everyday wherewithal and exemplified in all its glory in all our relationships. I had a ball of a time reading this book, and I think you will too.
I did not know that JAP was a logician. Go buy this book!
The only competition is "Think" by Blackburn (rather boring).