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How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question

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From the creator of The Good Place and the cocreator of Parks and Recreation, a hilarious, thought-provoking guide to living an ethical life, drawing on 2,500 years of deep thinking from around the world.

Most people think of themselves as “good,” but it’s not always easy to determine what’s “good” or “bad”—especially in a world filled with complicated choices and pitfalls and booby traps and bad advice. Fortunately, many smart philosophers have been pondering this conundrum for millennia and they have guidance for us. With bright wit and deep insight, How to Be Perfect explains concepts like deontology, utilitarianism, existentialism, ubuntu, and more so we can sound cool at parties and become better people.

Schur starts off with easy ethical questions like “Should I punch my friend in the face for no reason?” (No.) and works his way up to the most complex moral issues we all face. Such as: Can I still enjoy great art if it was created by terrible people? How much money should I give to charity? Why bother being good at all when there are no consequences for being bad? And much more. By the time the book is done, we’ll know exactly how to act in every conceivable situation, so as to produce a verifiably maximal amount of moral good. We will be perfect, and all our friends will be jealous. OK, not quite. Instead, we’ll gain fresh, funny, inspiring wisdom on the toughest issues we face every day.

304 pages, Hardcover

Published January 25, 2022

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About the author

Michael Schur

10 books318 followers
Michael Herbert Schur is an American television producer, writer, and character actor. He was a producer and writer for the comedy series The Office, and co-created Parks and Recreation with Office producer Greg Daniels. He created The Good Place, co-created the comedy series Brooklyn Nine-Nine and was a producer on the series Master of None. He also played Mose Schrute in The Office. In 2021, he co-created the comedy series Rutherford Falls.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,635 reviews
Profile Image for Sean Gibson.
Author 6 books5,797 followers
February 15, 2022
Michael Schur is a genius. Parks & Rec alone cements his place in the Awesome Hall of Fame; throw in The Good Place—not to mention his work on The Office and various other shows—and he’s on the Mount Rushmore of Sitcom Creator/Writer/Producer People.

If you loved The Good Place, you will love this book. The only downside is that it will probably make you want to be a better person, which requires effort, and, like, I’ve got a thing, so ugh.
Profile Image for Ben Adams.
49 reviews5 followers
June 15, 2022
The first half of this book was great, and I really enjoyed the author’s journey into moral philosophy. The humor was decent, the explanations easy to understand, and the applications and examples were ample and done well.

The second half simultaneously needed to be cut significantly or expanded massively. The author laboriously spends way too much time on the moral exhaustion of tangentially supporting/not supporting(via capitalistic consumption) people who have done bad things. On the other hand, it is at this point that the author begins to take his own definitions of good and bad for granted, offering no self analysis as to why something is bad or good beyond perceived harm to others. This, in turn, leads to the biggest weakness of the book, which is that he offers no compelling case for the secular person to involve themselves in moral behavior at all (the brief mention of Aristotelian flourishing does not offer a comprehensive answer compatible with the author’s own wide ranging ethical code). He talks about bad people, good people, right and wrong actions, etc., but fails to set up why these things could be defined as right or wrong. He points out the weakness of Sartre’s existentialism requiring good actions even though Sartre doesn’t believe in meaning, but then does the exact same thing himself.

Additionally, this lack of analysis coincides with the ever present liberal henpecking about how bad and stupid republicans are, and while yes, they are, can we please talk about something else for once? I do applaud him on somehow not mentioning Trump though, because it must have been difficult.

The repetitive nature of the book starting at chapter 10, along with the lack of deep analysis on the author’s own moral code, deeply impacted my enjoyment of the book, but I would still recommend it to the layperson interested in getting a general handle on things.
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,798 reviews2,388 followers
January 12, 2022

4.5 Stars

’How to Be Perfect takes the delightful, funny lessons of The Good Place, and applies them to everyday life.’ - Ted Danson

’Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’ - Samuel Beckett

’Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.’ - Maya Angelou

I’ve never contemplated whether either philosophy or ethics could be considered entertaining, at least not in and of themselves, but in Michael Schur’s hands it is very entertaining, while at the same time sneaking in some very thought-provoking moments. Why? He addresses that on the first page in his dedication, in the second sentence of the second paragraph in this book. Because morality matters.

Schur, for those who don’t know, is the creator of The Good Place, co-creator of Parks and Recreation, television writer, producer, creator and co-creator, the shows he’s worked on in one capacity or another, also include The Office, Hacks, and Rutherford Falls, and others.

This is, more or less, a guide to living ethically, sharing the thoughts of many of the world’s more scholarly deep thinkers over more time, which sounds as though it would be terribly unfunny, but while there are ‘scholarly thoughts’ included, he manages to translate these excavations into something which is easily understandable, relatable, heartfelt and very often humorous. There are occasional delves into more serious concepts including moral obligations (deontology), utilitarianism, existentialism, and the ubuntu philosophy - a belief in the universal bond of sharing that connects us all.

The perfect blend of humour alongside a serious exploration into how to live a more ethical and considered - and considerate - life while offering entertainment at the same time.

Pub Date: 25 Jan 2022

Many thanks for the ARC provided by Simon & Schuster
Profile Image for David.
671 reviews337 followers
March 22, 2022
If you, like me, still harbour dreams of waxing eloquently on Wittgenstein, noodling aloud over the nihilism of Nietzsche, or articulating your profound ideas about Aristotle — but the thought of actually reading these philosophers feels just a little too exhausting — this is the book for you. 2,500 years of philosophical thought rendered in short pithy chapters like “Do I Have to Return My Shopping Cart to the Shopping Cart Rack Thingy? I Mean… It’s All the Way Over There” and the one I'm currently wrestling with; "This Sandwich Is Morally Problematic. But It’s Also Delicious. Can I Still Eat It?”

Turns out being good is hard. Even Schur admits that 80% of the time when faced with a morally problematic issue the decision is never perfect. But 20% of the time, if you're thinking about it with some rigour, there is the realization that “Oh, you know what? This other thing I could do is just slightly better so I’m going to do that instead.” There are no hard and fast rules, but there's value in the thinking.

Also, I did not realize how many permutations of runaway trolleys and unwitting victims there are. Someone should really contact the trolley control board.
Profile Image for Maede.
287 reviews412 followers
December 6, 2022
چطور کامل باشیم!

عنوان کتاب ترسناکه تا اینکه می‌فهمی مایکل شور نویسنده و تولید کننده‌ی سریال‌هایی مثل
The Office - Parks and Recreation - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - The Good Place
این کتاب رو نوشته. کتابی در مورد اخلاق و فلسفه! چرا یک کمدی‌نویس باید اصلا در این مورد بنویسه؟ چون خودش در زندگیش به یک مشکل اخلاقی برمی‌خوره، در فلسفه اخلاق به دنبال جواب سوالش می‌گرده و در این مسیر یادگیری، سریال «جای خوب» و این کتاب هم متولد می‌شن

اینجا کمدی‌نویسی داریم که داره اخلاق رو از منظر جرمی بنتام، کانت و بسیاری از مکتب‌های دیگه یاد میده و این کار رو انقدر خوب با استفاده از مثال‌های کاربردی و لحن شوخ‌طبعانه انجام میده که من الان به راحتی می‌تونم بگم که در این مورد از این کتاب از هر کتاب دیگری بیشتر یاد گرفتم. الان می‌تونم از دید کانت، ارسطو یا فایده‌گرایی به مسائل اخلاقی نگاه کنم و از جوانب مختلف بررسیشون کنم

در مورد اخلاقیات و درست و غلط همیشه یا به دنبال سوال‌های سخت مثل سوال معروف قطار می‌ریم و یا مسائل بزرگی مثل دروغ و قتل رو بررسی می‌کنیم. اما در این کتاب سوال‌ها و شرایطی داریم که در زندگی معمولی خیلی باهاشون مواجه می‌شیم:
آیا باید سبد خرید رو در پارکینگ رها کنیم یا سر جاش برگردونیم؟
آیا باید از هنرمندان و تیم‌هایی که با ارزش‌های ما موافق نیستند دوری کنیم؟ مثلاً تکلیف مایکل جکسون و وودی آلن و نامجو چیه؟

در مدت خوندن کتاب در این روزهای سخت ایران در پاییز ۱۴۰۱ با خودم فکر می‌کردم «آره، همه‌ی این‌ها درست، ولی دغدغه‌های امروز ما کجا و این‌ها کجا. درسته، این‌ها مهمند، اما الان مشکلات ما از این‌ها خیلی بزرگتره» برام جالب بود که نویسنده به این مسئله هم کاملاً و با جزئیات پرداخت و توضیح داد که مسئولیت افراد بر اساس شرایطشون متفاوته و بعضی افراد بازی زندگی رو با آواتار‌هایی بازی می‌کنند که قدرتشون از بقیه بیشتره

اگر مثل من هنوز در فلسفه و اخلاق تازه کارید و دوست دارید هم یاد بگیرید و هم مطالب براتون مرور بشه، خوندن این کتاب رو به شدت توصیه می‌کنم. با این کتاب از پادکستی آشنا شدم و فکر کردم که بد نیست کتابی که نویسنده‌ی سریال‌های مورد علاقه‌م نوشته رو بخونم و چقدر سورپرایز خوشایندی بود. اگر سراغ کتاب رفتید، نسخه صوتی رو از دست ندید که با کمک بازیگران سریال «جای خوب» خوانده شده و حرف نداره

این کانال جدیدیه که بعد از بسته شدن قبلی درست کردم و کتاب‌ها و ریویو‌ها رو اینجا می‌گذارم
Maede's Books

Profile Image for Tanya.
500 reviews271 followers
April 14, 2022
I love Mike Schur’s TV work, and The Good Place is no exception—a wholesome, funny, and thought-provoking fantasy-comedy about what it means to be a good (i.e. ethical) human being, and how hard it can be to strive for that goal in a complex world full of complicated decisions and moral booby traps.

How to Be Perfect was born from him writing and producing that show, and is essentially a philosophy primer; a dummies’ guide to leading an ethical life, drawing on 2500 years of philosophical schools of thought from around the world, applied to everyday situations and decisions everyone can relate to. With a good helping of wit and humor (and some help from actual philosophy scholars), Schur makes concepts like virtue ethics, deontology, utalitarianism, contractualism, ubuntu, and existentialism both palatable and understandable to the masses, starting with easy ethical questions like “should I punch my friend in the face for no reason?” (all schools of Western moral philosophy agree: No), and working his way up to more complex and relevant moral issues, such as whether we can (and should) separate the art from the (problematic) artist.

While there are some references to characters and scenes from the show that fans will appreciate, having seen it is by no means a pre-requisite in order to enjoy this book. The footnotes were delightful, and some of the scenarios most silly in the best of ways: If you’ve ever dipped into Kant’s treatise on the categorical imperative, you know that moral philosophy isn’t fun by any stretch of the definition, yet Schur cheerfully guides us through some confusing and thorny ethical theories and conundrums with ease, making it both educational, entertaining, and funny.

The title and tagline are a hilarious false advertisement—in fact, a whole chapter is spent making a case for why “moral perfection” is both impossible to attain, and a bad idea to even attempt—but even though by the end of this we won’t know how to be perfect, we will have the tools and the inspiration to be better, embracing our inevitable failures while still trying to be an all-around kinder person.


Note: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jamie.
37 reviews5 followers
February 24, 2022
I thought this was a book highlighting the theories of famous moral philosophers. In actuality it’s the author using the ideas of moral philosophers to not-so-subtly shame people/ideas he disagrees with. (Even though he tells a personal story in the book about how cringey he felt when he and his wife unintentionally publicly shamed a guy.) Would not recommend.
Profile Image for David Wineberg.
Author 2 books733 followers
January 3, 2022
The television show The Good Place led its cast and crew to new places intellectually. A situation comedy about eternal damnation based on moral philosophy and ethics requires new and different smarts. Thinking is required, not just gags. Chief among the team was Michael Schur, its creator and comedy writer par excellence (Saturday Night Live, The Office (US), Parks & Recreation, ...). He has assembled what he has researched and learned in How to be Perfect. Which is not. Thus making it perfect.

Schur has set himself a difficult task, recapping the top lines of various philosophers and philosophies from Aristotle, who everyone knows from 2500 years ago, to today's philosophers, who nobody knows at all. To make the trip bearable, he acts as his own worst enemy, adding comments normally reserved for a sidekick who just doesn't get it. Or he'll make up a totally absurd quote, and just to be sure you don't believe it, adds an endnote admitting the fraud (Thus assuming people read endnotes, to which all I can say is Ha! But these are often funny and worthwhile. Even the Acknowledgements attempt to be humorous).

He likes his fictional examples to be absolutely clear: “Damon never used deodorant, and clipped his toenails on the dining room table, and cleaned the Cheeto dust off his fingers by wiping them on my cat.” He really tries to ease the pain of having readers wade through what amounts to a Philosophy 101 textbook if not for the humor and the casual style he employs so well here.

It does get tiresome though, as every philosophy can be destroyed by simply taking it to its logical conclusion. Making everyone and everything equal is not possible, nor even desirable. Things change too quickly, as do external circumstances and societal standards. Laws that once worked are useless now. (Or as George Carlin pointed out when Catholics were finally allowed meat on Fridays: "But I bet there's a bunch of guys doing eternity on a meat rap.") Following every rule there is must eventually lead to mass murder and/or suicide. Everyone cannot be happy all the time. Looking out only for yourself leads to dystopia. Thinking of others first and foremost leads to bankruptcy and poverty if you think there's still another dollar you could donate to a good cause. Every single philosophy ends up being impossible to implement. Which makes most of the chapters rather predictable.

But the ideas are interesting.

Take luck for example. Schur is clear he has it in spades. He lists nearly two dozen times his life and career jumped the queue, vaulting him into the top echelons of Hollywood. He knows he is lucky, and that his luck has the staying power of a Jenga tower, ready to collapse at any time. This has the perverse effect of making him worry when he wins money in casinos. He'd rather lose some just to show he's ready to, as long as it's not everything.

But he doesn't cite Daniel Dennett, the reigning world champion philosopher of our time, who had the temerity to claim that luck simply evens out over a lifetime, so it's not worth bothering over. (Tell that to a child with terminal cancer, DD. Or to Warren Buffett, who never fails to credit luck as his primary source of success. Just sayin' since Schur doesn't.)

It's also made easier by Schur's allusions, just when thing are getting too academic: "Humans are better than other creatures because we can think and reason and philosophize. Those arguments make sense until you see a bunch of kids on a speedboat during spring break chugging vodka from an ice luge shaped like a shotgun, and then you start to think maybe like otters and butterflies have it more figured out than we do."

Then it turns out he was inspired as a child by Woody Allen's Sleeper, followed immediately by Allen's first three books. The rest might be history for Schur, but his hero turned out to be, shall we say, a dirty old man. What does Schur do about following such a reprehensible character, all the way to total success? He's embarrassed. This is how philosophies crater. What was sacred turned out to be profane. Fooled ya.

He invents the concept of moral exhaustion, the impossible situation of weighing doing the best good. Is this charity bona fide? Do they deploy more of their donations than this other one? Do they publish a success ratio? Should we not buy frivolous things that make us happy for a moment, when we could be donating cash to save actual lives? How much joy are we allowed when people are suffering elsewhere? Again, bankruptcy and poverty are there to guide your decisions on doing the most possible good.

There are references that will be familiar to fans of The Good Place. And if if they aren't familiar, they will still cause a smile to crack: "Several times over the course of The Good Place we had someone say, to Chidi, 'This is why everyone hates moral philosophers.' I never truly understood why that's funny until I began writing this book."

Schur says the whole concept for the show began from his guilt-ridden obsession of tipping at his local Starbucks, by dumping the change from his $1.73 coffee into the tip jar, first making sure the barista noticed. Did he want credit for tipping? Is 27 cents from a rich Hollywood writer/producer the road to salvation for his soul? And on and on, just like early Woody Allen, in fact.

One terrific waste of time are philosophic thought experiments. There are a zillion of them, dreamed up by academics to torture students. A trolley's brakes fail, and it will kill five men working on the track ahead, unless you throw a switch which will divert it to another track where it will kill one person innocently standing there. Which do you choose? The what-ifs are endless, making the whole exercise pointless, proving once again no one's philosophy works in every situation (Interestingly, though unmentioned in the book, this has become a real life problem as self-driving vehicles need to be programmed with a decision, one way or the other).

Whole chapters are devoted to burning issues like Should I punch my best friend in the face? and Should I praise my co-worker's ugly shirt? Should I always return the shopping cart to the collection area? The what-ifs take over, expanding to encompass the universe. I remember from school a what-if that went: What if the child you sponsored and saved from starvation and imminent death grew up to join the army, became a general, overthrew the government, had hundreds of thousands killed, tens of thousands more tortured and jailed for life, raided the country's reserves so he could be a billionaire, and thereby forced the whole nation into abject poverty (and all for just pennies per day! Give now!). This is how philosophy self destructs before your eyes.

But, Schur can also clarify things well: "Consider for a second his (Descarte's) famous Enlightenment formulation Cogito, ergo sum—the aforementioned 'I think, therefore I am'—which, again, is one of the very foundations of Western thought. When we place it next to this ubuntu formulation—'I am, because we are'—well, man oh man, that’s a pretty big difference. Descartes saw his own singular consciousness as proof of existence. Practitioners of ubuntu see our existence as conditional on others’ existence. Someone could write a very interesting book on the sorts of civilizations and laws and citizens that emerge from each of these two utterances. Not me, though—it sounds really hard. But someone."

One of the highlights for me came in an unpromising chapter on apologizing. It seemed mainly aimed at his children's difficulty overcoming their pride and making apologies to each other. But there is a lovely segment dedicated to America's First Child, Senator Ted Cruz, who called Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a "f***ing bitch" right on the Capitol steps. In his very public non-apology, he cited the media's misreporting of the incident, the fact he has a wife and two daughters, and that he not only never said those words but if he did he was sorry if anyone took offense. In a line by line deconstruction, Schur points out all the ways this was not an apology, and how to look out for any such tactics from anyone claiming to apologize. Delightful.

In the end, it turns out he wrote the book for his two children, now preteens, to assure himself they would be on the right track. But the only way that would work is if they don't follow his train of thought into the moral morass of every philosophy and religion in the world.

It all boils down to Everything In Moderation, because that's all we know that works. Mostly.

David Wineberg
Profile Image for Mandalorian Jedi.
45 reviews3 followers
February 6, 2022
It’s not informative, not interesting, not clever or funny; it’s just not good.

If you are reading “How To Be Perfect” hoping to learn something about Moral Philosophy in an entertaining way, I’m sorry, you’re going to miss out on both counts. It tries really, really, hard to be clever and funny, like the stupid title indicates, but fails. It kind of, half-heartedly tries to be interesting and informative, but alas, comes up short.

The author also demonstrates that he didn’t exactly digest the information he is presenting to you. Not by using his own moral failings as “funny” examples through the book, but by actually making morally dubious decisions in this book, like by attacking people he disagrees with, be they politicians or just everyday people who don’t see the world exactly as he does. People who make different decisions than the author are, terrible or awful, sometimes “monsters” or idiots. The author just can’t seem to accept that people make different choices, or hold different values than him, even though he claims to understand that he, like everyone, isn’t perfect. Apparently, he gets the benefit of the doubt, but you don’t if you disagree with his worldview.

I shall now include the only funny part of the book. The author “slams” Donald Trump’s son-in-law for having no qualifications for conducting treaty negotiations in the Middle East, because he said he’d read 25 books about the subject, AND THERE STILL ISN’T PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST (let’s not focus on the fact that the Abraham Accords turned into a series of groundbreaking treaties between Israel and its neighbors [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham...]). Did you get the joke? No, not the Jared Kushner being a “failure” thing; that Kushner was an idiot for trying to do something significant after just reading some stupid books about it, being written by an author with no qualifications to write a philosophy book who just read some books... well, it’s funnier than anything he intended to be funny in this book.

So, if you get the chance to read this book, pass. And, if you do actually subject yourself to reading it, just remember, you have a strict moral obligation to be honest in your review of the book, as I did.
Profile Image for Kassidy Williams.
62 reviews1 follower
February 23, 2022
This book was tough to finish. I for one do not like ethics in general so I was hoping this books would spice things up and make ethics a little more fun. It didn’t.

Mike shows his liberal, left-wing biases throughout the book which was a bummer because again, I was hoping for a more fun view on ethics.

I was also hoping for more background into the decision making behind “The Good Place” being a fan of the show but there was only a few mentions of the show.

I gave it 2 stars because it was a good book to listen to/read at night to put me to sleep.
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 11 books2,532 followers
April 12, 2022
Accessible, brilliant, funny, enlightening exploration of how to achieve not perfection but true human goodness, how to be a thoughtful, useful member of the species. For such a deep dive into complicated thought, it is remarkably clear and understandable. Recommended to me by a friend as “the best book I’ve ever read,” I won’t go that far, but I think it’s invaluable. Very funny, very smart, very honorable piece of work.
Profile Image for Lizzie Jones.
722 reviews15 followers
July 27, 2022
Interesting for sure. First half gets 4 stars, second half gets 1.5, so I guess we will call this one a 2.75, and round up to 3.

This is a little like getting your toes wet by dipping feet into several different philosophical pools. It's a superficial overview of many ideas, and it is, for the most part, well-explained. I like Mike Schur as a writer. He's clearly incredibly witty and funny, and he's written some of the funniest stuff television has ever seen. You'll recognize his writing style in this book as well, and there were many times I laughed out loud, or at least smirked to myself after a really well-placed joke. The tone is mostly light and conversational, which I really liked.

If you've watched The Good Place, there is some overlap here. He uses some of the same jokes, situations, and examples as the characters do in The Good Place. I listened to the audio (he narrates himself, and he does an exceptional job) and he even has the main characters from The Good Place contributing their voices to read parts, which is fun. He tries to explain things succinctly without dumbing them down too much, and I think the balance is great. I really enjoyed learning about how different philosophers would handle different moral conundrums. Sometimes it got a liiiiiittle silly, but not enough to turn me off to the book as a whole.

Though I agree with many of the ideas presented in this book, I certainly disagree strongly with some, and I disagree with many of Schur's applications of said ideas. He's a little much sometimes, and I had a hard time relating with him when he got up on his moral high horse. There are variations of the idea "sometimes people need to be shamed into submission" throughout the book and I can't get behind that. I do believe that accountability matters, but I do not agree that shaming is ever the way to go. He needs to read a little less Kant and a little more Brene Brown, I think. I am troubled by the social justice warrior mindset as a whole. I think public shaming is extremely dangerous, especially when normal people all take it upon themselves to "punish" someone they believe is in the wrong. When you have over a million people "punishing" you, it can't be fair.

I also struggled with his boycotting any person or organization that does something that goes against his personal beliefs. I believe that it is okay for someone to have a different opinion, different politics, and different priorities than I do. Schur makes an error in his writing that I think takes the book down several notches: he gets a little too personal. Now, I think sharing personal stories and opinions is completely fine when writing a book like this, but this takes that a few steps too far. This book becomes a recording of Mike Schur's morality- his likes and dislikes and his definition of right and wrong. Hint: he strongly dislikes all republicans, rich people who don't give away enough money, anti-maskers, and pineapple on pizza, and he loooves pointing out the flaws of ancient philosophers when judged by today's standards. As I said, it is completely fine for him to feel this way and I don't have a problem with it, but when he makes the second half of the book a place for him to basically tell you where everyone should stand on various social, political, and moral issues, it becomes a book about HIM, and not a book about philosophy. I think he needs to walk down the middle of all of the aisles a little more, acknowledging the goodness on both sides, and show how people can apply ethics and philosophy, despite their politics. He also calls out some people and practices pretty harshly and it comes across as very judgmental. This is unfortunate because he also shares a personal experience of when he judged and shamed a man pretty publicly, then realized his error and apologized. I thought that story was effective and thought-provoking, but to see him lambast Chick-fil-a and Bill Gates and anti-maskers only a few chapters later made me scratch my head a bit. Even if the people and businesses you're calling out were legitimately bad people and even if they were in the wrong, is this the right place to hold a court of public opinion? Schur seems to think so, but I disagree and I think it lowers the quality of his book.
Profile Image for Tom Ragaert.
17 reviews
May 7, 2022
Not really for people who watched The Good Place because Michael Schur is basically a real life Chidi and we're Eleanor. Minus the jokes.
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,771 reviews1,771 followers
May 23, 2023
Very entertaining, and very educational! And for those of you who haven't yet watched The Good Place, I recommend that you stop reading this review and just go watch that show instead. It would be a much better way to spend your time. This is relevant because Mike Schur, the author of How to Be Perfect, is the creator of The Good Place, and this is a book he wrote because of his experience on that show.

It is NOT a behind the scenes book at all, so if you read the blurb and somehow came away with the idea that it was going to be about the show, it's not. This is a book that is basically 300 pages of Schur wrestling personally with ethics by walking us through the philosophers and their philosophies that personally resonated with him the most. It's funny and educational at the same time. And the audio version, which is the way to go if you like audiobooks, is narrated mostly by Schur, but cameos from the cast of The Good Place feature throughout; they read quotes from philosophers, basically, and Ted Danson also reads all the chapter headers in his Michael voice, and it is perfect.

My only complaint, and why this didn't get five stars, is that Schur was really influenced by the still-living philosopher Peter Singer, who is a utilitarianist. Read the book or use Google if you're curious about what that is, but long story short, his philosophy (which Schur doesn't agree with for the most part) has led Singer to some pretty inhumane conclusions about humans with disabilities. I was made aware of him when I read Disability Visibility a couple years back, and one of the essays was by a disability activist he debated, essentially about her right to exist. It really turned me off, and I do find it disappointing that Schur writes these extremely controversial opinions off in a one-sentence footnote.

[4 stars for the book, but 5 stars for the audiobook, so we'll call it a 4.5]
Profile Image for Ellis.
123 reviews16 followers
January 17, 2022
I requested this book from NetGalley solely because of Michael Schur's name. I'm a big sitcom fan and Schur's been a part of some of my favorite shows, including Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Parks and Rec. Funnily enough, I haven't seen The Good Place yet (I know, I know, I'll get to it eventually) and I also realized during this book that I'm not particularly interested in the philosophy of ethics. Don't get me wrong, I can enjoy a good moral debate between friends and I like watching characters grapple with moral questions in the context of the story, but it turns out I'm just not that into ethics in this medium.

That being said, I thought this book was well-written and clear. Schur obviously did quite a bit of research on the topic, and his application of these ideas is relevant and accessible. I appreciated the humor throughout and I thought the letter to his kids at the end was sweet. Even though I wasn't necessarily interested in the topics, it was still entertaining enough. Still, I'm not expecting to retain much information from this book.

If you don't have a basic understanding of ethics and you're interested in learning about it, this is a pretty good place to start (pun intended). It wasn't my cup of tea, but I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who can get something out of it.

Thank you, NetGalley, for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sian McQuillan.
19 reviews40 followers
January 5, 2022
I want to start this review by saying just one thing: moral exhaustion. Personally feel like this could actually catch on – and might be something a lot of people have experienced, myself included.

How to Be Perfect is a fun and lighthearted look at the philosophy of ethics through the lens of some of the most historically renowned philosophers, such as Kant, Aristotle, Camus, and many more. I’ve never read any of these philosophers but I can assume that Schur’s book presents them in a much more palatable and enjoyable way. However, this did spark my interest to read more about many of the theories discussed.

By taking a look at their theories and applying them to modern, everyday, (and sometimes) trivial situations, Schur creates a really enjoyable and informative read. A lot of the themes and theories discussed are similar to those in his TV series The Good Place, so any fans of the show will enjoy the references.

I really love Schur’s perspective and tone of voice. He puts forth these moral teachings in a fun and informative way without coming across judgemental or self-righteous. At times he feels like a friendly mentor, who is happy to admit his own failings and won’t judge you for getting things wrong sometimes. He presents the information in a fun and balanced way that didn’t leave me feeling like a completely immoral person, while still making me take a look at some of my own attitudes and encouraging me to continually strive for better.

He references various contemporary events and current affairs to present his points and apply his theories, which adds to the enjoyment and ease of understanding, especially if you are familiar with each of the events mentioned.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would love to read/watch more from Schur in the future!

Disclaimer: I was sent an ARC of this book by Quercus Books in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Joe.
Author 25 books18 followers
February 27, 2022
When I was about 20, my friends and I would buy some cheap beer and retire to the treehouse in my backyard, (sometimes there were other substances involved). We called it the "philosophy tree."

We thought we had it all figured out. We had read Nietzsche and Sartre and some others of their ilk. We thought we understood everything, but in reality we understood very little.

Eventually we outgrew that tree. People went off to school, got jobs, had kids.

It's funny to think about how self-important we were back then. With the right kind of eyes (or when I smell marijuana wafting through the air) I sometimes remember those conversations and chuckle.

This book was a quite a bit like that,

I work as a psychologist now, and often see people in their early twenties. And frequently they are in the same kind of place I was back then. Overly philosophical. Quick to rant against the evils of "society." Alienated. Angry.

I often talk to them about paralysis by analysis. Try and help them get out of their own heads a little. Encourage them to embrace experiences. To lighten up a little.

I have little tolerance for endless rambling on about philosophy. This was clearly the wrong book for me. Was hoping it might be more about the use of humor as a coping mechanism and tool to regain perspective when we lose it.

This book wasn't that. Not by a long shot.

I liked the Good Place, but didn't like this book at all. Mostly it was just boring.
Profile Image for Schizanthus Nerd.
1,189 reviews248 followers
December 27, 2022
So, you’re currently season 1 Eleanor but you want to be season 4 Eleanor. How are you going to go about scoring enough points to get into the good place when you don’t have a Chidi in your life? Written by the guy who created Chidi, this book is the next best thing.

Each time I watched Chidi stand at the blackboard I’d feel like I should be taking notes. I wanted to enrol in his class. Now I don’t have to. Michael Schur has read a bunch of long, dry moral philosophy books so you don’t have to. This is your crash course, a road map for map for ethical dilemmas:
What are we doing?
Why are we doing it?
Is there something we could be doing that’s better?
Why is it better?
There’s the “Big Three”:

* Virtue ethics - “What makes a person good or bad?”
* Deontology - “the study of duties or obligations”
* Utilitarianism - a branch of consequentialism, “which cares only about the results or consequences of our actions”.

There’s ubuntu, pragmatism and existentialism.
Life is anguish. Welcome to existentialism!
There’s the trolley problem!


It’s about trying to do better while acknowledging that no matter how hard we try, we’re not always going to get it right. So it’s also about learning to accept failure.

As soon as I began reading I imagined Chidi teaching me. I thought he’d be the perfect one to narrate the audiobook but then I encountered a problem. Michael Schur has a sense of humour that’s evident in his writing. Chidi? Not so much, and given Chidi’s extreme difficulty in making decisions, it’s likely we’d all be dead before he decided if he was going to sign up for the gig or not. Then my brain helpfully suggested Alan Tudyk for the job and it was all over; I couldn’t move past him and I found myself hearing everything I was reading in his voice. This entertained me as much as the content.

I borrowed this book from the library but plan to buy my own copy so I can continue my journey to season 4 Eleanor. I may have to check out the audiobook to see what it’s like to experience this book without Alan Tudyk in my head.
The trying is important. Keep trying.
I’m not holding the author’s views on pizza against him, but suspect the opposite may not be true.

Blog - https://schizanthusnerd.com
Profile Image for Reza.
61 reviews11 followers
December 15, 2022
این کتاب رو از متن خوبی که Maede نوشته بود، شناختم و کلا موضوعات فلسفه اخلاق برام جذابه و چه خوب که اینجا یه کمدین خیلی خودمونی به این مسائل پرداخته و اینکه کاراکتر Mose رو تو آفیس خیلی دوست داشتم و نمیدونستم که بازیگرش، قلم خوبی هم داره.
تعیین اینکه چه کاری خوبه و چه کاری بد، خیلی وقتا راحت نیست.
اصن خوبی چیه؟ کی مشخص می‌کنه چی خوبه چی بد؟ چه مقدار از خوبی برای خوب بودن نیازه؟ کی مشخص میکنه یه کاری مفید و سودمنده یا نه؟
کتاب، خیلی عمیق نیست و نباید به عنوان یه متن صرفاً ��لسفی بهش نگاه کرد ولی نویسنده تلاش میکنه چیزهایی رو که یادگرفته و تجربیاتش در این زمینه رو به زبونی که بلده، بیان کنه و در مورد نظریات فلاسفه هم نقطه‌نظرهای خودشو بگه. چنتا از معروف ترین مثالهای دوراهی اخلاقی‌ رو هم راجع بهشون بحث میکنه؛ مثل ماشینی که ترمز بریده و یه سمت یه نفر ایستاده و سمت دیگه چند نفر و حالا باید کدوم رو زیر گرفت⁦:⁠-⁠)⁩ یا اینکه باید چرخ خرید رو جلوی صندوق فروشگاه رها کرد یا گذاشت سر جاش؟ و دیدگاه‌های فلاسفه اخلاق مثل کانت و بنتام و ارسطو و... رو مقایسه میکنه. میتونست کوتاه‌تر باشه، یه خورده جملات تکراری تو ذوق میزنه. در کل زبان و بیان کتاب شیرینه و مثالهاش هم ملموس و امروزیه.
Profile Image for Siria.
1,861 reviews1,358 followers
January 15, 2023
In many ways, How to Be Perfect is a distillation of what Michael Schur read and talked about while working on the TV show The Good Place—if you've already watched the show, many of the thinkers discussed here will be at least familiar as names mentioned on the show.

This makes the book a quick primer to philosophy (with a focus mostly on various strands of Western philosophy) and what it can tell us about what it means to be a good person. The tongue-in-cheek title is a clue to the wry approach—with a heavy sprinkle of Dad jokes—that Schur takes here, approached from what seems to be broadly a secular humanist approach. Schur's not trying to be comprehensive or definitive here, just to get the reader to think more and to be aware of the complexity of ethical dilemmas, and in that respect I think the book works very well. (Also because let's be honest: I am never going to read Kant.)
Profile Image for Gaetano Venezia.
323 reviews30 followers
April 13, 2022
A humorous, airy overview of Western moral philosophy which starts off strong but gets bogged down by its own moral failings and unphilosophic turns.
The first half of How to Be Perfect explains the three most frequently discussed moral theories in Western philosophy: Aristotle’s virtue ethics, Kant’s deontology, and Mill’s utilitarianism. This is the same material most Intro to Philosophy and Moral Philosophy classes are going to get. (Context/disclaimer: I have an MA in philosophy so almost none of the information was new; I was more focused on presentation and accuracy.) These sections are straightforward and show the strength of Schur’s presentation.

Schur uses extensive humor and asides while still getting all the major points right (but see my quibbles about his minor points after the break). I imagine most students would find this introduction more entertaining than most philosophy classes. (Now, whether entertainment value is a good metric or an effective teaching strategy for an introduction to a difficult subject like philosophy is a different argument, and something I struggled with in my own teaching.)

Unfortunately, the second half of the book peters out as Schur starts to apply the above moral theories to various contemporary problems—both serious and trite. When difficulties are encountered, Schur brings in a new branch of philosophy to sidestep the issue at hand. Thus we get moral pit stops at existentialism, Ubuntu, moral luck, effective altruism, and a few other concepts.

Throughout the book, Schur does provide useful overviews and recommendations; he encourages the reader to use various perspectives to come their moral conclusions; he cautions them to be realistic and optimistic about their ability to make change. This sounds fine, but in practice Schur himself often skims over these points too quickly. In an attempt to cover a lot of ground and suffuse the text with humor, Schur has ignored a core element of philosophy: rigorous argumentation and systematization. One can certainly use moral theories for self-help inspiration, but such an approach doesn’t really tap into what is distinctive about philosophy. And one easily could take self-help inspiration from various sources that might be more effective than moral philosophy.

Furthermore, Schur’s arguments are only good insofar as he uses widely shared values for reasoning about generic examples. But Schur is wont to wallop on straw men. There are various unfair and controversial cheap shots fired throughout the book; the pandemic and anti-masking movement are the most frequent targets of abuse. The problem is that we are still in the middle of the pandemic and it is not at all clear what the best strategy or guidance will be in the long-term. Many of our moral decisions depend on what the medical scientists say about the virus, what social scientists say about human behavior, what political theorists say about rights, and so on. There are reasonable concerns a lot of people have about moral and political imperatives which require reshaping the world.

Schur sees none of that nuance. He paints the mask skeptics as mere country hicks with illusions of patriotic grandeur (Ch. 8, 5:31:30). But those paragons of social progressivism and liberalism, Sweden and Denmark, have been more on the anti-masking side of the debate (as reported by The New Yorker and The Atlantic!).

I’m sort of astounded that such blatant, self-satisfied idiocy could’ve been published under the auspices of academics and a whole crew of editors and supporting cast. Such dynamics serve as surprising support for conservative claims of bias in media.

Schur’s last saving grace—humor—also eventually fails in its over-reliance on the formulation: "X person is the worst Y." This hyperbolic rudeness is somewhat similar to Simon Rich’s humor, but doesn’t hit as hard, probably because Schur is limited by trying to explain difficult philosophical topics and relies on the same tricks and targets too much.

Had Schur held onto the stronger philosophical focus in the first half and been more philosophical in his arguments, this could’ve served as a culturally important introduction to philosophy. As it stands, the book works mostly as a piece of memorabilia for "The Good Place"'s fan club. That said, I have seen some of "The Good Place" and enjoy how it blends humor and philosophy—so I did still enjoy speed-reading this curio.
Schur describes the history of morality is described as an explicit conversation and argument over what matters in moral decision making and what constitutes the good. However, among other disciplines, like economics, sociology, or anthropology, much of morality can be seen as implicit and tied together with more conditional notions like self-interest, incentives, social norms, identity-formation, etc.

“Aristotle 100% thought slavery was okay.” (Ch. 5, 3:49:15) I wrote a whole undergrad paper on Aristotle and ancient Greek understandings of slavery (and it was apparently good enough to help me get into my MA program). Suffice to say, Schur doesn’t really know what he’s talking about. Aristotle’s position on slavery is different than what we might expect because the very words and concepts for slaves, the cultural context, and Aristotle’s philosophy are fairly different than the corresponding concepts, culture, and philosophy of colonial chattel slavery.

Schur describes pragmatism’s search for meaning through William James’s metaphor of a corridor full of doors leading to different rooms. Schur says the pragmatist finds truth behind those doors (Ch. 6, 4:18:15). But this is a very counterintuitive framing for pragmatism, a philosophy which is one of the least concerned with objective truth—instead favoring the conditionally useful, practical, and “pragmatic” as it were.
Profile Image for Milan.
110 reviews13 followers
November 24, 2022
Porque gostei? É difícil imaginar que um livro que fala sobre filosofia moral possa ser interessante ao ponto de para mim ser quase um “page-turner”! De uma forma leve e descontraída, aborda temas como ética, deontologia, existencialismo, utilitarismo, whatatboutism, filosofia ubuntu, Kant, Aristotle, Sartre, Camus, de uma forma compreensível e com exemplos práticos. Começa com questões éticas mais simples "Devo mentir e dizer ao meu amigo que gosto da sua roupa feia?”, e avança para questões morais mais complexas e relevantes, como se "podemos (e devemos) gostar de arte se o artista for problemático?" ou "devo preocupar-me em ser bom quando não há consequências por ser mau?". Agarrem nas vossas pipocas porque as respostas a estas e outras perguntas estão neste livro!

Quem deve ler? Bem… qualquer pessoa que aprecie filosofia e queira saber mais sobre filosofia moral. É fácil de ler e vale a pena porque podemos sempre aprender qualquer coisa de útil para a nossa vida. Numa época em que livros como “A Arte Subtil de Saber Dizer que Se F*da” se tornam best-sellers, preferia que este é que fosse um best-seller.

Boas leituras!
Profile Image for Sofia.
467 reviews44 followers
August 9, 2022
This takes the delightful and funny lessons from the good place and applies them to everyday life! If you loved the good place, this is a must read!! I listened to the audiobook which was such an amazing experience, it wasn’t only the main narrator but the cast of the good place also narrated parts of it!!
Profile Image for Nancy.
1,502 reviews348 followers
February 10, 2022
We came to The Good Place late. During the 2020 lockdown my husband and I found The Good Place and loved it. It was funny with great acting and we laughed but it also had depth and made us think, an intelligent show. I also came late to How To Be Perfect , after seeing it promoted as by Michael Schur, creator of The Good Place.

This book is an account of my own journey through moral philosophy, but it’s also about learning to accept failure–or really, to embrace it–as a necessary and beneficial by-product of our efforts to try, learn, and improve.
from How to be Perfect by Michael Schur

Subtitled ‘The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question,’ Schur’s book is a condensation of thousands of years of ethical philosophy. I became interested in philosophy in a high school college prep survey class on World Literature covering philosophy, science, fiction, and poetry. Every week found me in the library, reading the original works my teacher covered in a mimeographed page.

The book is classified as humor! Schur has written some wonderful sitcoms. So, you know he can be funny. He uses this skill to entertain us while explaining the complex moral applications of diverse ethical schools including Aristotle, Kant, Utilitarianism, and Existentialism.

Schur considers moral problems through the lenses of these differing philosophies, trying them on for size to see how they fit. Should we return our shopping cart to the rack? Should I run into a burning building to rescue those inside? (My husband’s great-uncle actually did this and was severely burned and disfigured.) Can we build up ‘ethical credit’ for good deeds to offset our selfish ones? What is the limit of giving–should we help others to our own detriment? Should all people be held to the same standards? He explains why Ayn Rand is a bad novelist and even worse thinker. And, he covers the importance of learning how to apologize sincerely.

He draws from his own experience. While discussing how to handle the disparity between what we love and the morality of the creator of what we love, he considers Woody Allen’s influence him and how to justify continuing to enjoy his work after learning about his personal life.

This is a real issue for me. I constantly find myself avoiding purchases for companies or artists whose values are abhorrent to me. Nearly every week some news comes through that makes me reconsider where I shop and what I buy and who I donate to.

What we do matters. Being good is hard and perfection impossible. In the end, Schur returns to the ancient Greeks and sums up with two bits of wisdom.

Know thyself. And, nothing in excess.

I received a free egalley from the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.
Profile Image for Meg.
205 reviews10 followers
March 16, 2022
This book was great but it did not answer the most pressing questions of life: What is Manny Jacinto up to these days? And when will he be on my TV again?
Profile Image for Dan Connors.
332 reviews44 followers
June 6, 2022

One of my favorite classes in college was introductory philosophy. It opened my mind to questions I had never considered before and sent me on a years-long journey of discovery. People today could use a lot more mind-opening and soul-searching, but in our distracted age of disinformation and polarization, we seem to be more lost as to what the truly important questions and ideas really are.

Books today rarely delve into the world of philosophy, but the creator of The Good Place, Michael Schur has done just that, with entertaining bits of comedy to make it all go down easier. The Good Place was a situation comedy from 2016-2020 that looked humorously at the afterlife and how we judge goodness and evil. How to be Perfect had me with its clever cover, and then I found out that the audio book was narrated by Schur along with his Good Place colleagues like Ted Danson and Kristen Bell. This book turns out to be a fun mixture of important questions and bizarre, funny footnotes that raise consciousness while amusing the reader at the same time.

Philosophers are generally interested in two basic questions:
- How can we know anything? (Epistemology)
- How can we be good people? (Ethics)
Schur takes an in-depth look at the second question, with some relevant situations that apply to many of us in real life. He asks questions about morality and gives a basic introduction to the three main schools of philosophic thought- Aristotle's golden mean, Utilitiarianism, and Kant's categorical imperative.

The golden mean was proposed to be a magic middle-ground between self-interest and community interest, where our behavior is just right. Many of our dilemmas revolve around pursuing self-interest or helping others, and the extremes of both can be destructive, with the former being the most debated in moral circles. Aristotle said that our purpose was to flourish, and we do that by doing virtuous things, but not too many as to make us miserable.

Utilitarianism is the philosophy of capitalism and greatest goods for all. Things are good if they create the most good in the aggregate, even if they have some bad side-effects. Fossil fuels are moral in this very mathematical way of looking at things because they provide enough jobs, products, and economic growth as a good to outweigh the environmental downsides like climate change and pollution.
Utilitarian math can be very subjective, however, and Schur visits the famous trolley problem to show many instances where it falls short.

The categorical imperative is an unyielding principle that says we should act as if everybody else will act the same way. If you're okay with everybody going over the speed limit, cheating on taxes, or murdering, then it's moral for you too. Kant modifies it a bit to only treat people as and end in themselves, and never as a means to an end. We tend to excuse our own moral failings while judging those of others harshly, but some kind of universally applied code of ethics is what most religions shoot for.

This heavy moral thought is lightened up by the humor of Schur's discussions, starting with chapter titles like:
- I did something unselfish. What's in it for me?
- Should I punch my friend in the face for no reason?
- Do I have to return my shopping cart? I mean it's way over there...
- This sandwich is morally problematic, but also delicious. Can I eat it?

Three of my favorite issues brought up by Schur involve moral exhaustion, moral currency, and moral opportunity costs.

Moral exhaustion has to do with the title of this book and our desire to be perfect but our all-too-human tendency to screw up. What if you know you should do something for others, but you just don't feel in the mood? We all have a limit to our morality, and are willing to buy products that are ethically compromised. Many unselfish acts like charity are complicated by selfish motives like tax deductions and social status-seeking.

Moral currency is the mental accounting that we all do when we think we've been good and earned some points towards being bad for a little bit. If you go to church on Sunday morning, do you build up your "God bank account" to the point where you can be an asshole on Sunday afternoon? Many of the worst deeds ever done by humans came from a sense of moral license that they had somehow "earned" the right to be temporarily evil. Schur points out that this is a slippery slope and diverts us from our earnest attempts to be moral and good.

Moral opportunity cost come from all the things we don't do by living our lives as we want. Schur points to an extravagant purchase of a $800 autographed baseball bat that he spend money on. How do we justify buying collectibles, yachts, designer clothing, and other extravagances when people are starving or homeless in the world? We waste a lot of money on things that don't make us safer (military and guns), healthier (plastic surgery), or happier (stuff), and the question needs to be asked what the missed opportunity was here. On the other hand, we need things like comedy, art, and music that are unpractical and frivolous to survive as well.

Schur gets personal with the story of how he got to the top of the entertainment industry with The Good Place. He recounts many lucky breaks that led to positions with successful tv shows like The Office, Saturday Night Live, and Parks and Recreation that propelled his career upward. He claims that much of success is just dumb luck, and the biggest factors are often our of our own control. He admits that as a straight white male his life is on the lowest difficulty setting there is, and his Jenga tower of luck could have crashed had the unfortunate things that happen to many others also happened to him.

I loved this book. It was funny, thought-provoking, and almost perfect. Schur credits Todd May, a philosophy professor at Clemson and his main consultant for The Good Place's many philosophical quandaries. There are so few books out there that approach the questions of this book, and we could use many more like this one as we fly blindly into the 21st century with both truth and morality hanging by a thread.

Profile Image for Laurelin.
325 reviews
March 15, 2023
How to Be Perfect is delightful, witty, and thought-provoking, and everyone should read (or better yet listen) to it. End of review.

But really, I absolutely loved my experience listening to the audiobook of How to Be Perfect. I may be biased because Parks and Recreation is my favorite show and I love author Michael Schur's brand of comedy, but I think everyone has something to gain from engaging with these moral questions and thinking about the way they can apply these lessons in their everyday lives. This book introduced me to Aristotle, consequentialism, and Kant . . . and I, in turn, would not shut up about them on long walks with my boyfriend (who was just happy I wasn't talking his ear off about cadavers anymore).

As I listened to the audiobook, I laughed (including the actors from the Good Place in the narration was a stroke of genius), I learned, and I got close to tears when Schur shared the lessons he learned with his children. Overall, if you're a fan of Schur's work or you're just really interested in learning about ethics (in a fun way), you'll probably like How to Be Perfect - and even if you don't like audiobooks, give this one a listen. You won't be disappointed.
Profile Image for Andrea McDowell.
582 reviews334 followers
March 21, 2022
This was really cute. It felt a lot like watching The Good Place, so judge accordingly (assisted by a number of the show's actors participating in the narration of the audiobook). Which I watched three times, around the time of Echo's surgeries: once on my own, when they were at their dad's for their last few pre-surgery visits; once with them, starting just before the first surgery and wrapping up before the second; and then the third time when Echo insisted on putting it on when their dad came over to visit after surgery number 2. I enjoyed all three viewings even though it was many seasons of TV repeated in the course of at most two months.

So "it felt a lot like watching The Good Place" is a) something I have a fair bit of experience with and b) high praise.

I have questions coming of this:

1. Are there no shopping cart corrals in LA? There is an entire chapter about whether or not it is really required to take your cart back to the store, or if it's ok to leave it in the parking lot near your car. Which just made me wonder if they're all barbarians. Obviously the right thing to do is to bring it to the corral; only a monster leaves their cart in the parking lot near the car. (If you're reading this and thinking, 'sure, there's a corral, inside/right beside the store,' that's not the same thing. Around here are there are several corrals scattered evenly throughout any given parking lot. You are never more than four or five parking spots from a corral. The corral is basically the store saying, in steel infrastructure, "This is where we want you to put the cart when you're done shopping," so that's what you do, and every once in a while a store employee comes out to get all the carts from the corrals. You can get an Ontarian to foam at the mouth if you start talking about people who don't put the cart back in the corral when they're done; and many people can also get worked up about people who don't push the cart well back into the corral to make space for the next person and ideally lined up with the other carts to minimize work for the person who has to collect them.)

2. I think 'happiness pump' and 'cptsd' are pretty well interchangeable. Hands up if you have come out of a traumatically abusive relationship convinced that if you don't spend all your time making other people happy or improving their lives, you don't deserve to live.

3. Pete Singer & other utilitarians are way more dickish than given credit for here. Believing that disabled children can be killed at birth and it doesn't count as murder is not a minor variation from moral ethics, and this only got an itty bitty footnote in a large section otherwise extolling Singer's philosophy. Ugh. Also, I read Robert Sawyer's Quantum Night, which is a doorstopper of a book trying to prove how fabulous Singer is and in the process doing the exact opposite in the most outlandish anti-scientific story I've ever read, and even though that was five years ago now, I've still not recovered to the point where I'm able to do anything but shudder and break out in hives when someone mentions him.

Still, on the whole, I appreciated this book, its humour and its earnest do-gooderish intentions to make us all slightly better and more caring people. I miss The Good Place. I may need to watch it again.

TRIGGER WARNING: If you are conservative or a Trump voter you will almost certainly not enjoy this book. There is no quarter given to racism, misogyny, sexual violence, abuse, xenophobia, homophobia, ableism, or any other kind of formerly sanctioned hatred. Based on the reviews I skimmed before posting, if you think confederate flags are nifty and that progressives/liberals calling out racism/hatred is just as bad as using slurs, beating someone up because they're gay, or raping someone, you won't enjoy it.
Profile Image for Sandra.
361 reviews11 followers
January 30, 2022
This book is even more like reading the tv show The Good Place than I thought it would be, which is a good thing because I really liked the show. It takes the situational comedy out (a bit, not completely) and goes into slightly more depth on the schools of ethics while maintaining a light comedic tone.

It's a good reminder for some, a good starting place for others, and perhaps a good perpetual reference for others that we are all living in a world with other people and we need to strive to be better people to keep that world functioning well. We do owe things to our fellow persons, and to ourselves, and this book offers a sort-of quick-start guide to determining what "better" means (and how "better" will generally lead to happier/more fulfilled as well).

My one real disappointment: it didn't end with (or even include) the phrase "pobody's nerfect"
Profile Image for Jay.
175 reviews14 followers
September 21, 2022
I need to let this simmer for a while before I write an analytical “review”. Suffice it to say that the book was intellectually challenging but not too rough for a serious run-through of the philosophies of Aristotle, Bentham, Kant, Sartre, Camus, and T. M. Scanlon (“Who???”) leavened with a lot of humor. As for am I “more perfect” for having put some serious time and thought into this (I actually read it aloud to my Significant Other - who still loves me), let’s just say “No flies on me!”
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