- Age Range: 4 and up
- Series: Winnie-the-Pooh
- Hardcover: 212 pages
- Publisher: Dutton Books (August 1, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0525455205
- ISBN-13: 978-0525455202
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 7.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.7 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #443,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Pooh and the Philosophers : In Which It Is Shown That All of Western Philosophy Is Merely a Preamble to Winnie-The-Pooh Hardcover – August 1, 1996
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From Kirkus Reviews
Pooh And The Philosophers ($17.99; June 1996; 214 pp.; 0-525-45520-5): Contending that Pooh, all his protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, is in fact a Bear of Great Brain Indeed, Williams drives an already frayed conceit deeply, deeply into the ground, proposing Pythagorean precepts that presage Poohvian pronouncements, spinning more parallels from Spinoza, digging up Heideggerian dogma, giving new meaning to ``exegesis'' by pointing out all the x's in the ``expotition'' passage, etc. Adorned by the subtitle ``In Which It Is Shown That All of Western Philosophy Is Merely a Preamble to Winnie-the-Pooh,'' and plainly intended to be a painless primer of the major western schools of philosophy, this tedious, undiverting analysis doesn't come close to Benjamin Hoff's The Tao of Pooh (1982), not to mention its great progenitor, Frederick C. Crew's The Pooh Perplex (1962). Enough, already. (Humor/novelty. 12+) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
All the wisdom of Western philosophy may be found in A. A. Milne's Pooh-bear creation: here the bear sage illuminates the ideas of great philosophical thinkers in an entertaining, fun account which combines numerous Milne quotes with enlightening reflections on philosophy. -- Midwest Book Review
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The book examines how key ideas from the thinking of Plato through to the existentialists are described through these two stories. Indeed given that these stories were published in 1926 and 1928 a number of more recent philosophers are shown to have provided either footnotes to the Pooh stories or have expounded on them.
The first thing to say is that this is an enjoyable, fun and eminently readable book. I initially approached it with some scepticism and for the first part of the book harboured the fear that I may be the subject of a joke on the basis that given enough analysis the London tube timetable can probably be shown to have the key thoughts of Karl Marx or be shown to predict the date of the apocalypse. As I read through the book however I became more and more drawn into the underpinning ideas of what I had previously seen as children's stories and to my surprise found that through them I was adding considerably to my understanding of the philosophers thinking.
As I began to accept the argument of a philosophical basis to the stories my intrigue switched to the nature of communicating ideas. A.A. Milne it appears had taken the extremely dry and largely inaccessible topic of philosophy and packaged it up in the most accessible of children's stories. If this is what he has done, then maybe he was just too clever since most readers of Winnie the Pooh have no idea that they are reading about philosophy. Of course this is probably a virtue since many readers would run a mile if they thought they were invited to read a philosophy book. For other readers who want to have the philosophy pointed out to them perhaps Milne set out to sow a seed which has taken 75 years to germinate and now be revealed in this book.
The book establishes a convincing case that the thinking of western philosophy is contained in these apparently simple stories. Interesting though this is, more importantly it has revealed a great deal of insight about the nature of communicating ideas.
This book provides an insightful glimpse into the use of stories to communicate complex ideas. More importantly just as the Winnie the Pooh stories do, it does so in a way that you learn almost by accident without feeling you had to try.
If you want to learn about thinking without having to feel that you have to think, or would like to understand philosophy without the need to read a philosophy book then this is the book for you.
Reading this book can help people open their eyes to philosophies presence in the great works of fiction which define our culture. It is something that proves philosophy to be useful and important. The book also points the reader to a number of philosophers and books written by them and their school which can lead them to learning more. It can be a gateway for the love of wisdom, with a love of "The Great Bear" and the guide to that first discovery. And that is what makes this book worth reading.
Not much good as an introduction to philosophy, more a review for people who once studied this stuff in school and might enjoy a light-hearted reminder. (And even then, will raise more of a chuckle than an outright laugh.) Useless as a study of Pooh, of course. Little to no replay value.
I felt that Williams was more interested in being clever than in whatever other goal he had in mind. He presents the philosophical concepts too briefly and dismissively to be of much value. Worse, it seems he spends more space extolling the brilliant Pooh that really discussing how the (sometimes stretched past the breaking point) passages from A. A. Milne's stories relate to philosophies. Like any one-joke movie or TV series, it just got repetitive and annoying after awhile.