plato and a platypus walk into a bar by cathcart & klein

Understanding philosophy through jokes was definitely unusual; there were certainly more moments of raising my eyebrows than nodding in compliance.  Who would’ve thunk Plato and a platypus would be measured side-by-side to portray a compelling explanation of life and philosophy?  My friend lent me Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar by Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein and without hesitation, I recommend this book to any philosophy-loving person.

I found an article that interviewed the authors and they described the book as follows: “The construction and payoff of jokes, and the construction and payoff of philosophical concepts are made out of the same stuff.  The tease the mind in the same ways… philosophy and jokes proceed from the same impulse: to confound our sense of the way things are, to flip our worlds upside down, and to ferret out hidden, often uncomfortable, truths about life.  What the philosopher calls an insight, a gagster calls a zinger.”  This pretty much sums up what you can expect by picking up the book.  On one hand, the book may seem silly, nonsensical, and maybe even absurd; and there are times when some jokes aren’t even funny or the explanations are hard to catch.  But on the other hand, the authors did a marvelous job of putting two completely different concepts together to eventually show how similar it really is.  The underlying significance may be hard to fully comprehend.  It’s not an easy read- you do have to think about what they’re trying to correlate between the explanations and philosophical theories.

Regarding professional ethics: After attending a conference on professional ethics, four psychiatrists walked out together.  One said, “You know, people are always coming to us with their guilt and fears, but we have no one to go to with our problems.  So why don’t we take some time right now to hear each other out?”  The other three agreed.  The first confessed, “I have almost uncontrollable desire to kill my patients.”  The second said,”I find ways to cheat my patients out of their money whenever I can.” The third followed with, “I’m involved in selling drugs and often get my patients to sell them with me.”  The fourth then confessed, “You know, no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to keep a secret.”

dee’s rec: 4/5