Saturday, January 31, 2009

78 (2009 #3). Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar…

by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein,
read by Johnny Heller

Subtitled Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes, I picked up this audiobook at the library because the title intrigued me. It’s an attempt to make various philosophical perspectives and principles more accessible through jokes. It wasn’t entirely successful. It may have been due to the audiobook format (I learned with a couple of Stephen Hawking books that science and audiobooks don’t mix well for me) making it hard to concentrate on the philosophy. Or, as indicated by some reviews on Amazon, it may be more that many of the jokes don’t really illustrate the philosophical concepts they are supposed to clarify.

I enjoyed listening to the audiobook. Narrator Johnny Heller, a stand-up comedian, used varying accents for different jokes, and I always had a couple really funny ones I could tell my husband each day (it took me four days to listen to this audiobook during my commute). However, many of the jokes were old ones and/or really weren’t that funny, and some were either not politically correct or were a bit smutty. I thought about buying this book for my dad for his upcoming 80th birthday because he was a philosophy major, but for the same reason, I’ve decided not to. In sum – I don’t regret listening to this book, but I don’t think it accomplishes its stated purpose, and I can’t really recommend it to anyone else.

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