Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar...Understanding Philosophy through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein

When I mentioned this book in my “Next UP” feature to the left, I wrote, “If nothing else, I might get some good jokes.” Well I got a lot more than some good jokes – I got a LOT of good jokes. So many, in fact, I am having a hard time picking out my favorite as an example of what this little book has to offer.

Okay, so here goes. This joke illustrates “Absolute Relativity.” In other words, when two opposing points of view are treated by each person as true, some interesting results are possible. Here is the joke:

“The lookout on a battleship spies a light ahead off the starboard bow. The captain tells him to signal the other vessel. ‘Advise you change course 20 degrees immediately!’

The answer comes back, ‘Advise you change course 20 degrees immediately!’

The captain is furious. He signals, ‘I am a captain. We are on a collision course. Alter your course 20 degrees now!’

The answer comes back, ‘I am a seaman second class, and I strongly urge you to alter your course 20 degrees.”

Now the captain is beside himself with rage. He signals. ‘I am a battleship!’

The answer comes back, ‘I am a lighthouse.’” (179)

I think I might have heard this joke before, but I still laughed out loud when I read it. The book has dozens more along with lots of plain-language explanations of various branches of philosophy. The next time I have a question about philosophy, I think I will check here first! Five stars

PS: The old guy with the beard is not the platypus.

--Chiron, 11/7/10

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