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Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar... Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  11,810 ratings  ·  1,480 reviews
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 Pla
Paperback, 215 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Penguin Books (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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3.78  · 
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 ·  11,810 ratings  ·  1,480 reviews

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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  ·  review of another edition
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 Varma
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)
Sarah Sammis
Sep 26, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
Sep 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Great introduction to some of the more difficult philosophical concepts through the use of jokes.
Sep 03, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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).
Feb 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 14, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rosie Nguyễn
Mar 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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?
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
Aug 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, non-fiction
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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

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
Cool book to read but you should have prior knowledge about the concepts to enjoy the book. It is not an educational book IMO.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Rob Squires
Aug 25, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Good for a few laughs, but ultimately rather shallow. Many of the philosophical explanations are forced, since the authors are laboring under the need to relate them to the jokes they tell. Might serve as an entertaining introduction to philosophy for those who aren't interested, but other than that it's just the very basics.
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While many people are interested in learning about philosophy, actually doing something about it often results in rolling eyes. In Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar : Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes, Thomas Cathcart, Daniel Klein use jokes to explain various philosophical theories.

For example, For Inductive Logic, the situation is Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson on a camping trip and spending the night in a tent. At one point, Holmes wakes Watson, tells him to look at the sky, and say w
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.
May 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Life is essentially absurd, and philosophy is not far behind.

That seems to be the impression one gets from reading "Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar", by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, who deliver a quick survey of western philosophy using jokes. Yes, those stupid, absurd expressions of illogic that can also be profound and meaningful.

From Metaphysics to Meta-Philosophy, Cathcart and Klein explain the simple nuances and wrinkles of thought. Each philosophical concept gets its own punch
Apr 25, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-as-an-adult
This book seemed like an excuse to tell jokes that would be considered inappropriate in any other setting. It probably belongs in the humour section of the library rather than the philosophy aisle. (Of course if I picked it up from the humour section I would be complaining it wasn't funny.)
Peter Mcloughlin
Some good zingers in here that I will use in the future. The book is short and the philosophy is light but some of the jokes are good and I will use them. Nice book.
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a lot easier to learn something tough when you are joking around... your mind is too distracted to know it is picking up knowledge along the way.
Jana Light
A surprisingly helpful and well-formed high-level view of major philosophical schools and application. Some of the jokes were really funny and fitting, which was delightful. I try to keep an open mind about comedy, but there were some jokes that were a little too chauvinist or tasteless for my liking. Mostly, however, it's a useful, breezy, enjoyable romp through the fields of philosophy with humor as your alpine Julie Andrews.
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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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