102: Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein

by Gerard

102.07: Cathcart, Thomas & Daniel Klein. Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes. New York: Abrams Image, 2007. 188 pp. ISBN 978-0-8109-1493-3.

Dewey Construction:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 102: Miscellany of philosophy
  • +07: Humor and Satire

If philosophy were like this in college, then I would have paid way more attention! Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein’s Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar takes a speedy tour through the major schools of philosophy, using jokes to help clarify their distinctive characteristics.

Cathcart and Klein chuckle their way through metaphysics, logic, epistemology, ethics, philosophy of religion, existentialism, philosophy of language, social and political philosophy, relativity, and meta-philosophy. And the upside it that most of the jokes are funny. Also, in much the same matter as Greek and Roman philosophy, each chapter starts with a dialogue between two characters, each trying to muddle through each school of thought.

The only problem with a book like this is that you get barraged with several dozen philosophers and their theories, along with fast-punching jokes that can both delight and confuse. On the other hand, it was not nearly as dry as other texts I’ve read on the subject.

P.S. One of the bad things about having a large(ish) personal library is the temptation is burn through it when the missus isn’t in town. Three books in one weekend is usually not my style. But, on the other hand, I get to present another book to you today.