Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar

Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar

infobox Book |
name = Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar – Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes

image_caption = New Penguin paperback Cover
author = Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein
cover_artist = Paul Buckley
country = United States
genre = comedy
publisher = Penguin Group
release_date = June 24th 2008
media_type = Print Paperback)
pages = 224
isbn = ISBN 9780143113874

Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar – Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes

"Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar – Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes" is a book that explains basic philosophical concepts through classic jokes. Longtime friends, Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, graduates of Harvard in philosophy, collaborated on the book. After being rejected by 40 publishers, the book was accepted by Abrams Image Books, and immediately became a bestseller. It has been translated into 20 languages and appeared on bestseller lists in the U.S., France, and Israel.Filled with 143 jokes and an occasional cartoon, "Plato and a Platypus" is a 10-chapter course on the classic categories of philosophy with concepts explained or illustrated by jokes. The chapter titles -- "Metaphysics," "Logic," "Epistemology," "Ethics," "Existentialism," and "Philosophy of Language" -- are serious, but the approach is a mix of serious and comic.The authors explain the philosophy behind their book this way: “The construction and payoff of jokes and the construction and payoff of philosophical concepts are made out of the same stuff. They 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, the gagster calls a zinger.”

Quote from the book

"A guy comes home from a business trip and finds his wife in bed, a nervous look on her face. He opens the closet to hang up his coat, and finds his best friend standing there, naked. Stunned, he says, "Lenny, what are you doing here?" Lenny shrugs and says, "Everybody's got to be someplace." In this gag, Lenny is giving a Hegelian answer to an existential question. The question is about the existential circumstances in the here-and-now, but the answer is from a grand, universal vantage point, what the latter-day Hegelian, Bette Midler called, “seeing the world from a distance."

Authors Biography

Thomas Wilson Cathcart was born in 1940, graduated from Needham (MA) High School 1957 and Harvard College 1961. He attended various divinity schools, including the University of Chicago Divinity School, McCormick Theological Seminary, and Bangor Theological Seminary. He has worked with street gangs in Chicago, was once the chief operating officer of Mercy Hospital in Portland, Maine, and at another time managed a hospice for people with HIV/AIDS in Portland. With Klein, he is the author of “Macho Meditations”, “Aristotle and an Aardvark Go to Washington”, and the upcoming, “Heidegger and a Hippo Walk through Those Pearly Gates.”Daniel Martin Klein was born in 1939, graduated from Montclair (NJ) High School 1957 and [Harvard College 1961. He has worked as a writer for television comedies and quiz shows, writing jokes for such comedians as Flip Wilson, Lily Tomlin, and impressionist David Fry. He has also written 30 books, fiction and nonfiction, including a mystery series casting Elvis as a detective (“Kill Me Tender”, "Blue Suede Clues", etc.), and co-invented the board game Group Therapy.Together, Cathcart and Klein have acquired the collective moniker, The Philosophy Guys.


  • [ "Harvard Magazine"]
  • [,0,4669522.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions "LA Times"]
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  • [ "Boston Globe "]
  • References

  • [ "Boston Globe - Best Seller List"]
  • [ "LA Times - Best Seller List"]
  • [ "Denver Post - Best Seller List"]
  • External links

    * [ Official site]
    * [ Daniel Klein official myspace]

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