Friday, July 10, 2009

Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar

Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes
© 2007 Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein
208 pages

I was quickly taken in by this book's title, and was also interested in the intersection of philosophy and humor. The book attempts to be (and is, somewhat) both an introductory survey to philosophy in general while using jokes to demonstrate it. Although the authors do explain the meaning and (sometimes) relevance of philosophical matters, they do this in a silly and simple way that borders on being shallow and is definitely simplistic. Although I did encounter concepts I'd never heard of before -- thus learning something -- I found the treatment of many topics to be shamefully flat. Judging by the comments on Amazon, newcomers to philosophy find the book enjoyable, but I would not reccommend it as an introduction: the "...for Dummies" or "Complete Idiot's Guide to...." philosophy books are probably superior. Still, some of the jokes are funny and at least at the beginning do demonstrate philosophy. As the book wears on, they go from being "relevant" to being "somewhat related". The philosophy tag attached to this post should have quotation marks. If you read this, please do so with a large bag of iodine salt nearby.


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