Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar...: Understanding Philosophy through Jokes

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar...: Understanding Philosophy through Jokes

by Thomas Cathcart, Daniel Klein


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This New York Times bestseller is the hilarious philosophy course everyone wishes they’d had in school

Outrageously funny, Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar... has been a breakout bestseller ever since authors—and born vaudevillians—Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein did their schtick on NPR’s Weekend Edition. Lively, original, and powerfully informative, Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar... is a not-so-reverent crash course through the great philosophical thinkers and traditions, from Existentialism (What do Hegel and Bette Midler have in common?) to Logic (Sherlock Holmes never deduced anything). Philosophy 101 for those who like to take the heavy stuff lightly, this is a joy to read—and finally, it all makes sense!

And now, you can read Daniel Klein's further musings on life and philosophy in Travels with Epicurus and Every Time I Find the Meaning of Life, They Change it

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143113874
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/24/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 108,191
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein pursued the usual careers after majoring in philosophy at Harvard. Tom has worked with street gangs in Chicago, doctors at Blue Cross Blue Shield, and has dropped out of various divinity schools. Daniel has written several novels and nonfiction books as well as jokes for comedians like Flip Wilson and Lily Tomlin. Daniel Klein lives in Massachusetts, and Thomas Cathcart lives in New York City.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“The zaniest bestseller of the year.”—The Boston Globe

“I laughed, I learned, I loved it.”—Roy Blount, Jr.

Customer Reviews

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Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar...: Understanding Philosophy through Jokes 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 94 reviews.
AnnBKeller More than 1 year ago
I chuckled my way through this book. Anyone who believes philosophy is dull and better relegated to the musty halls of the previous century will be both surprised and delighted by Plato and a Platypus Walk Into A Bar. The book opens with a quotation from Groucho Marx, thus setting the tone for the future! What follows is a delightful comparison of age-old philosophy from various schools of thought worldwide to today's modern, confusing and often downright hilarious world. Included in the book are humorous cartoons from several artists, a glossary of philosophical terms and a timeline of great moments in the history of philosophy. I laughed and I learned a bundle. Plato and a Platypus Walk Into A Bar is a must for every librarian, scholar, student, professor or New Age theorist who ever blinked up at the bright sun and quietly asked the question, "Why?" Good for general reading and, in my humble opinion, a most worthy addition to one's permanent library.
getfreckled More than 1 year ago
If you're buying a book about Plato and a platypus, chances are, you don't need a read course on philosophy. I think this book is equally entertaining for academics who need basic references in philosophy as well as those who enjoy tidbits of half-witted jokes to understand complicated ideals like existentialism. The book is divided up into easy-to-understand sections, but I would not call this an authoritative text on philosophy. It's sometimes funny, sometimes interesting, and sometimes worth a minute or two. I think it's a perfect book for the bathroom, to be honest. I would not sit down and read this book all in one sitting and it's not Cliff Notes for those being tested on philosophy. But if you want something conversational, entertaining, and hate subscribing to magazines, this book is for you. Buy it for your professor in the humanities, buy it for a student who could use a little help in the area, buy it for someone who reads the New York Times but not the New Yorker.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I took a philosophy class in college and fell asleep almost everyday but always regretted not understanding philosophical ideas that are common place. This book explained them in a fun and interesting way that was not only comprehensible but did a pretty good job of keeping me awake. It's probably not the best book for someone who's already a philosophy expert but for someone who is just trying to figure it out, it's a good choice. Also, the jokes are pretty funny at times.
wishywash27 More than 1 year ago
I loved reading this book- it was funny; I laughed at least once per page. I read a few pages over several sittings, so perhaps that accounts for my feeling of not having actually learned all that much about philosophy, but I would recommend it to everyone looking for some entertainment, and I would still recommend it to someone who is on the prowl for some clarification of philosophic concepts, for they may have far better luck than I did!
Brigand More than 1 year ago
I am not presently reading this book perse but my boyfriend is, right next to me and laughing out loud on almost every page. So no, I'm not reading it but I am having the hilarious jokes read to me minute by minute. I will read the book when he is done but I feel like I am already involved. What a hilarious and wonderous little collection of insights and explinations this book has - I feel very secure reviewing it as yes indeed I have heard almost every one!
Maximillian More than 1 year ago
Philosophy is so hard to get through, so this little book with its humor made some things clearer. I'm not sure I'll remember much, but I did appreciate the glossary and index at the end of the book for reference. I remember struggling with a general Philosophy course in college. This book would be a good addition to a syllbus.
mary414 More than 1 year ago
What is ' understanding?' After reading this book you are as far from understanding philosophy as you ever were but you will be very curious to find out more. Your faith in the human species will be a little bit restored. It is a first class feel good book. Keep it close to you for every day reference.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Philosophical conversationalists, Dimitri and Tasso, have been ordained by Cathcart and Klein to guide us through a brilliantly written tome-free survey of philosophy as viewed through the lens of a 21st century skeptic. Plato and a Platypus opens the doors to the various schools of philosophy employing whimsical contemporary illustrations that at once surprise and inform the reader. There are startlingly delightful cartoons, too. Each page offers up an intro to a serious speech, an ice-breaker for a cocktail party, or an intellectual game for a baby shower. The reader is at once compelled to both keep reading and to cut away to share a passage with a friend. (That¿s what literate people do when tweaked--they read to one another. I suggest it be limited to people over the age of 6, though my 5-year-old grandson became intrigued when I shared a tongue-in-cheek segment.) Yet, this book is far from one big joke. It is a scholarly work, complete with timeline and glossary, both of which are laced with humor that belie the academic content. It would be a rational text for many a college class. Critical thinking comes to mind. So do religion, ethics, math, logic, pragmatism, and English composition. If you buy one, buy two. This little reader is the perfect gift book for celebrations and simple pleasures. It is ideal for the friendly neighborhood philosopher. It is also a fine open-anywhere for moments when you want to think deeply without the weight of war or taxes. It is a definite buy and keep book. Highly recommended.
nbmars on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The philosophy in this book is only superficial, and seems mostly to be an excuse for a large collection of jokes, but I'm not complaining. I listened to it on cd, and must have appeared crazy to others as I often laughed out loud alone in the car. Even the jokes you already know are enhanced by the use of them to illustrate philosophical principles. I wouldn't say this is great literature, but it sure is fun.(JAF)
guitarbeast on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. Great introduction to Philosophy and very entertaining. I could hardly put it down and it kept me laughing all the way.
ericknudson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Funny and illustrative of fields of philosophy. Many of the jokes are old, but are used appropriately to illustrate the "basic" ideas/concepts of branches of philosophy.
ALincolnNut on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book offers a brief introduction to Philosophy through a series of well-chosen jokes. Systematically, Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein offer a glimpse of different philosophical schools within large categories: Metaphysics, Logic, and so on.The heart of this exercise is the number of jokes that the author's claim highlight philosophical principles, exposing the underlying logic of logical fallacies and classifying the different sorts of epistemology. The descriptions of the various philosophical ideas are brief and to the point and the jokes are well-contextualized; even better, the jokes are pretty good.This is a breezy romp through philosophical concepts by authors who understand their subject matter. While it isn't the type of book that's likely to provide a good undergirding of philosophy, it is a book that can provide a handy resource whenever philosophical questions arise (and think of how often that is).
LynnB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book doesn't deliver on its subtitle: "Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes". Sure, there are jokes, but they don't contribute much to developing a deeper understanding of philosophy. A light read that will make you chuckle, but you won't learn much.
rjurban on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Recommended comic relief for students of Allen Renear and Information Modeling.
sealford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Plenty of puns scattered throughout this book, while sometimes focusing on the serious thoughts originated by Plato. As a person always interested in philosophy (and humor), this book satisfied both appetites.
grunin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is really 'philosophy for beginners' illustrated with jokes. The jokes are generally good, but wait for the paperback. ($19 for a tiny book? Now that's a joke.)
vpfluke on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is real funny. Its philogagging is a subversive way of explaining some basic ideas in philosophy.
khsora23 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is an excellent entry point for people uncertain about philosophy and logical evaluation of argument. The authors do a great job of using jokes to convey philosophical concepts. This technique that they term, "philogaging," is a superb method of explaining the somewhat advanced complexities of thought such as Kant's categorical imperative or Nietzsche's "uberman" as well as metaphysics and logical evaluations such as deductive and inductive reasoning. I highly recommend this book not only for its accessibility but its genuine comic value-the book is actually, surprisingly funny. I expected completely cheesy jokes (I wasn't disappointed) but some of them were great and the not so funny ones were at least thought provoking. I must admit I was skeptic upon first hearing about the approach of using jokes but I understand its value know that I have a reinforced concept of the fundamental philosophical theories. Many of the jokes however were sexual but I guess those were the funniest any way, so if you don't mind that the book is certainly a pleasant read. I feel that the book explains the philosophy that most American should be acquainted with anyway and at the very least the basic logic presented in the book is that which we should all understand-substitution and transitive implication of claims. This is a must read for all who are devoid of the entry level concepts of philosophy.
iamanerd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good book for the coffee table. Easy to consume a few pages at a time (while providing food for though) in between other books etc. Suitable for people looking to explore the field of philosophy and want something that covers allot in a very easy to consume manner.
debnance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Philosophy 101 told through jokes
JNSelko on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Philosophy and Humor!
varielle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For those of us who missed philosophy and logic the first time around this is a great way to humorously and succinctly hit the highlights. This is an easily digested read that will kick your thinking up a notch while you chase your best pals around trying to tell them jokes. Even jaded old philosophers should secretly snort in amusement.
cdogzilla on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If I taught a high school level Intro to Philosophy class, I'd probably incorporate parts of this book into the class -- some of it's a ribald for high school -- but I think someone who's studied philosophy might find it useful more for the jokes than anything else. Buddhism is woefully misrepresented as being little more than a footnote to Schopenauer before being dismissed a some sort of wacky Eastern mysticism nobody need take seriously.
sjmccreary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Uses jokes to illustrate basic philosophical theories. It didn't teach me anything about philosphy, and the jokes are mostly old and tired, but it did raise my awareness of why some kinds of humor are funny (even if the jokes weren't, especially).It's not terrible, but I wouldn't recommend it to most people, unless you have time to fill and nothing else to read.
Shmuel510 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fun, light read. I could've done without the running thread in which the authors believe that theism is inherently irrational, and the pervasive assumption of a male reader, but on the whole it was cute.