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Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar . . .: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes Paperback – June 24, 2008
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“I laughed, I learned, I loved it.”—Roy Blount, Jr.
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Top Customer Reviews
Well, this peppy little compilation of jokes might just be that perfect gift item. It takes philosophy to task with such flair and gusto that I nearly read it from cover to cover, not like one is supposed to savor a joke book--in sporadic doses, flicking random pages. The jokes are absolutely spot-on, definitely beyond your average "my karma ran over your dogma" variety, and often give a whole new meaning to the term "wisecrack". For instance, a Buddhist walks up to a hot-dog stand and says, "Make me one with everything". He then pays the vendor and asks for change. The vendor says, "change comes from within". This is not the funniest one, mind you, just one of the brief ones that a lazy codger such as myself will take the time to reproduce.
But the romp is not merely for laughs. These cracks are organized into streams/schools of philosophies as it were, which means the book also serves as a pretty good primer in philosophy over the years.Read more ›
Because I am long removed from the formal study of philosophy in college, I am grateful to be so smoothly and delightfully reintroduced to philosophical concepts. I intended to read only a brief section (one concept) at a time--each takes no mote than fifteen minutes-- but couldn't keep away for long, and finished the book in a day. Now I've lent my copy to a friend, but I can hardly wait to get it back and read it again.
In an early 20h century Webster's, philosophy is defined as "Literally, the love of, inducing the search after, wisdom; in actual usage, the knowledge of phenomena as explained by, and resolved into, causes and reasons, powers and laws."
Plato and the Platypus describes the findings of the great philosophers throughout history who have conducted the search after wisdom and taught their explanations of phenomena. And then it illustrates the causes and reasons, the powers and laws, with jokes--good jokes, relevant jokes, jokes that made me laugh aloud even as they stimulated my own search.
I don't think I have ever before had such a joyful read.
author, Mark My Words: Instruction and Practice in Proofreading
Satire provides a profound examination of an idea. Aristotle wrote "Humor is the only test of gravity, for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit."
It's been said he identified a very compelling reason for using humor: it's a test of ideas. Humor is a challenge to the very core of an idea -- its gravity, its seriousness. If an idea can't withstand humor it will crumble under intellectual scrutiny.
In a section on Aristotle contrasting between "essential" and "accidental" properties, Cathcar and Klein offer this illustrative joke:
<<When Thompson hit 70, he decided to change his lifestyle completely so he could live longer. He went on a strict diet, he jogged, he swam and he took sunbaths. In just three months' time, Thompson lost 30 pounds and reduced his waist by six inches. Svelte and tan, he decided to top it off with a new haircut. Stepping out of the barbershop, he was hit by a bus.
As he lay dying, he cried out, "God, how could you do this to me?"
And a voice from the heavens responded: "To tell you the truth, Thompson, I didn't recognize you." >>
We laugh - why? The answer to the question 'why' gives us understanding about philosophy, ourselves, and the world around us.
Unfortunately, that was my hope. I didn't expect to finish the book with a Phd, or even a bachelor's degree worth of philosophical knowledge or understanding, but I did hope to get a loose mental framework upon which I could hang future philosophical learnings. That didn't happen, but I did get one or two really good jokes and 40 or 50 mediocre jokes.
In the end, it just felt like Cathcart and Klein knew that to sell more copies they might be better off emphasizing the jokes more heavily and the philosophy less so. That's actually too bad, because their idea about jokes conveying a sense of philosophy really does seem true, and the humor really has the power to cement the philosophical ideas in your head where they might not otherwise stick so well.
Overall, this isn't a bad book, but it seems like a missed opportunity to do something more special.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really wanted to find deeper understanding through reading these titles, but all I got was shallow entertainment. Read morePublished 9 days ago by LuvGdess
Philosophy the way it's meant to be, in small chunks & w a lil humor! LOL I read it in sections & contemplate the meaning of life. Yay!Published 17 days ago by Jacqueline
All I ever learned about philosophy I learned from my mother & father; the rest of my family; friends & neighbors, teachers & professors; the whips & scorns of time; & such... Read morePublished 27 days ago by William Roger Davis
I was loaned this book from a friend who thought "it was me". I took several philosophy and mythology course while in the university and have a dark sense of humor. Read morePublished 2 months ago by HelmutS
Some funny and insightful jokes and stories, yet several duds mixed in, too.Published 2 months ago by Garby
This book offers a way to get a feeling of the bones of the study of philosophy, with the principles and schools of thought illustrated by jokes, as opposed to long, pedantic... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Capt Baseball