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

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  14,460 ratings  ·  1,689 reviews
Here's a lively, hilarious, not-so-reverent crash course through the great philosophical traditions, schools, concepts, and thinkers. Its Philosophy 101 for everyone who knows not to take all this heavy stuff too seriously. Some of the Big Ideas are Existentialism (what do Hegel and Bette Midler have in common?), Philosophy of Language (how to express what its like being s ...more
Hardcover, 200 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Harry N. Abrams (first published 2006)
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Bala Reading this book will be better than listening to it. I listened to the audio book and did not get much out of it.

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DIMITRI: They laughed when we said we'd write a book explaining philosophy entirely through jokes.

TASSO: Well, they're not laughing now!
Ryan Louis
May 26, 2009 rated it did not like it
Although I appreciate the philosophical crash course, couldn't the authors consider more jokes (a rough eye-balling might equate about 90% of them) that aren't at the expense of women?

I suppose their section on "Feminist Philosophy" aims to answer nay-sayers. No answers for this reader, though. I don't appreciate jokesters who hide behind a cloud of "politically incorrect feminism" then chastise an audience they purport won't get their jokes.


Not sure why it's still so acceptable to tell "Je
Nandakishore Mridula
Jokes can be highly philosophical. I remember a famous comedy scene from a Malayalam movie, where a guy is bemoaning that he is ugly. He had been switched at birth: so his consolation is - "But this is not the real me: the real me is fair and handsome, living somewhere else with his foster parents..."

A classic example of a philosophical answer to the question - "Who/ what art thou?"

This book is filled with similar jokes, which the authors link to various philosophical schools of thought. Some of
Introduction to philosophy with a joke on every page. Read it a while ago, can't remember any of the philosophy, sadly there comes a point when I notice how unmemorable I find many books, but I remember a joke about Moses and Jesus playing golf which I thought was rather good.

(view spoiler)
Petra X is feeling very sad
The jokes are a bit lame and the main premises of each philosopher are really skirted over. Nonetheless, a good gag-gift for a student embarking on a philosophy class, for any business-type person you can't think what to buy and to put in the bathroom, to glance at occasionally. (And then to come out and bore everyone with the latest old codswallop joke you've read). ...more
Sarah Sammis
Sep 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: released
Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar... Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes by Thomas Catchart and Daniel Klein is a beautifully constructed and deceptively short book. It's one of those books that is nice to hold, nice to flip through and nice to read random snippets from. The jokes come in handy for the random reading approach.

But... this book is also a very solid introduction to philosophy and logic. If read slowly and thoroughly, one can learn a solid foundation of the important principal
Sep 03, 2011 rated it did not like it
This book has two critical flaws: it's not funny and it's not informative. This... is bad. I'd be fine with funny jokes that are kind of irrelevant in a humor-focused book, or not-all-that-funny jokes that nevertheless illustrated a philosophical point well in a "make learning fun!" textbook. Yet this book manages neither. It really should not have sold as well as it did.

Shame, because this *kind* of book is totally up my alley. Just... it's such a shallow overview of philosophies, and often tim
Jul 27, 2011 rated it liked it
God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit walk into a bar, and the bartender says, "I prayed for you guys to duck." ...more
Jon Nakapalau
Sep 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Great introduction to some of the more difficult philosophical concepts through the use of jokes.
Jan 14, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy, humor
Like most Liberal Arts undergrads, I took a few philosophy courses while I was in college. In fact, my sophomore philosophy final has the distinction of being the only one I have ever actually slept through. My roommate woke me up at 11:30 and said, "Didn't you have a final this morning?" I don't remember anything between that moment and arriving in the professor's office, apologizing profusely.

The point is, philosophy never really made an impact on me. I mean, I get it - Philosophy is supposed
Riku Sayuj
Dec 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pop-phil, philosophy

Single Quote Review:

“A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes.”

~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
Rosie Nguyễn
Mar 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
The book is about philosophy. And I didn't understand a thing. But I laughed a lot. Guess it's enough for a good book, yah? ...more
Feb 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: amateur philosophers
Recommended to Andy by: My mother
This is definitely a "light read." It touches upon a lot of different philosophical ideas, sprinkled with jokes (most funny, some hilarious) that bear some link to the topic at hand. For example, in a discussion of existential angst, we get this zinger (p.120):
Norman began to hyperventilate when he saw the doctor. "I'm sure I've got liver disease."
"That's ridiculous," said the doctor. "You'd never know if you had liver disease. There's no discomfort of any kind."
"Exactly!" said Norman. "Those a
Last time I had to deal with phylosophy was during my first year of university. The only thing I remember the professor saying was that when we reach our fourth year we will forget everything on the matter. And he was right.
So when my friend gave me the book, I thought this will help to sort things out for me on phylosophy after around 13 years, because this book seemed like "for dummies" series. And here I was wrong. This book is written for people who at least know the basics, and my feeling
Apr 25, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amy by: Adam, I think
It doesn't take much to make me laugh. I will literally laugh at just about anything...but I only laughed out loud ONCE while reading this book. That is how un-funny it was. The jokes are either old and well-worn or so vulgar I almost didn't finish. It fails in the comedy department.
But! This is a book about philosophy, right? Eh, even there I was disappointed. This is a very brief look at different philosophical branches. If you've taken a Gen Ed philosophy course, this will be old hat. I'd gi
Dec 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
“It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but everything that happens happens for no real reason.”

This is a good primer for Philosophy. For philosophy to work, like jokes, one needs to get it. And that's where the book works.

Toward the end of the book is a philosopy standup comedy material - for you to get the punchline of each joke - you need to know the philosophers and their philosophy. Not the kind of test you would want to encounter for grades.

The jokes used to explain the philosophies - many ol
Aug 01, 2007 rated it liked it
I was neither stunned nor utterly disappointed by this one. It's essentially a book full of some pretty awful jokes (lots of groaners in this one, folks) that will resonate most with those with a background in philosophy. It definitely will not teach the newbie/uninitiated enough about the various philosophical disciplines and schools to be able to use that knowledge in any intelligent manner in a conversation at the local bar or philosophy meet up. Nevertheless, this was a fairly quick, light-h ...more

What I did read of it was funny and I did appreciate the combination of philosophy with jokes. However it got a bit tiresome after a bit. It was not THAT funny.

Also one has to understand that for a small book, this one packs quite a punch. It was surprising to me how LONG this book is despite not originally looking so. What can I say? After a couple dozen pages of jokes it gets old. I still have the book in fact it is right near my television so I may finish it at at some point. It is fun fo
جادی میرمیرانی
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Cool book to read but you should have prior knowledge about the concepts to enjoy the book. It is not an educational book IMO.
Aug 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, humor
An eighty year old woman burst into the men's room at the retirement home. She holds her clenched fist in the air and announces "Anyone who can guess what I have in my hand can have sex with me tonight"!

An old man in the back shouts "An elephant."

The old woman thinks for a moment and says "Close enough!"

I wish I had this fast and easy read when I took my first college philosophy class. The professor droned through the subject like he was on downers (he probably was) and the only thing of substan
Feb 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Love this book! Checked it out from the library but going to buy it for sure.

Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein are Harvard philosophy majors who understand that the rest of us don't know what the hell Nietzsche is talking about. They break the discipline down into its major strands, mixing clever and comical descriptions with hilarious jokes that show the true essence of each philosophy. Read below to see what I mean:

Phenomenology- understanding the human experience as it is lived rather than obj
Philippe Malzieu
How to explain the success of philosophy? The philosophers became stars of the mediae. They have an opinion on all the subjects. Their books are sold well.
In France, there are at least about ten monthly magazines which speak about it, and often well. They broach banal subjects of quotidian life and they analyze thus by using from Plato to Heidegger. It is undoubtedly the origin of success.
In our society in lack of references, the readers seeks values which make sense. To speak philosophy start
A Man Called Ove
A good short breezy introduction to philosophy - Existenialism, ethics, metaphysics, utilitarianism etc etc For the philosophy part 4/5
Wish the jokes would have been fresher and better- Jokes 2/5
A pleasant read. Will be reading all by this author.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This delivers all that it promises. On Existentialism:
you haven't lived until you think about death all the time".

Customer in a restaurant: How do you prepare your chickens?
Cook: Oh, nothing special really. We just tell them they're gonna die. Joke:>)
Pg 125

On the philosophy of religion:

Jesus was walking through the streets when he noticed a crowd of people throwing stones at an adulteress. Jesus said/"Let whosoever is without sin cast the first stone." Suddenly a rock flew through the air. Je
Sep 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Philosophers-in-training and gophers.
Recommended to Joanne by: Mom
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Teijo Aflecht
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought it was a rather funny limited Philosophy 101. The jokes were woven into explanatory portions for the most part, although sometimes there was too much joke and not enough narration. The jokes were right down my alley though, usually "stupid" (certainly if you ask my less-amused partner) and containing a relatively simple punchline, but they reflected the philosophical ideas very well. ...more
Nour Sharif
Definitely engaging.
Apr 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I liked it a lot. It didn’t make me an expert, not even closer, but it could be a very good recommendation for a pre-requisite course for Philosophy 101.
Mawada Arif
Dec 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“To live authentically, we must face the fact of our own mortality squarely and take responsibility for living meaningful lives in the shadow of death. We must not try to escape personal anxiety and personal responsibility by denying the fact of death.”
Such a fun book to read! definitely recommend if philosophy books are your cup of tea.
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Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein wrote the bestselling Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes, which will be translated into more than a dozen languages. Not bad for a couple of philosophy majors from Harvard who tried on various careers after graduation. Tom worked with street gangs in Chicago, doctors at Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and dropped in and out of ...more

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