One of the benefits of being a blogger, besides the swarms of groupies throwing themselves at me as I drive my luxurious Honda Civic 94, is the privilege of receiving, once in a blue moon, a free book to review. Which is how “Plato and A Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes”, a humorous journey through the history of philosophy, alighted on my reading desk.
Philosophy is a subject that most of us have an almost total ignorance of, even those like me who put a Doctor of Philosphy after their names. The main reason for this almost pervasive lack of interest is that the discipline of philosophy, as a whole, is often considered to be a dying subject, of no relevance to the modern world—an exclusive prerogative of stuffy, ancient academics and unshaven “intellectuals” at coffee shops. In other words, people who have no life because they spent their lives contemplating the meaning of life.
While it is beyond doubt that a passing knowledge of philosophy isn’t as much of a resume addition as a knowledge of let’s say .NET, it is also true that for people who want to construct arguments, understand opposing points of view, deconstruct the implicit assumptions we make in our speech and are as intrigued by the question “Are Pamela Anderson’s breasts real?” as they are by questions like: “What does it mean for something to be real?”, “What characteristics define Pamela Anderson?” or alternatively “If we take away her breasts, is Pamela Anderson Pamela Anderson?”, a little brush with philosophy may be a rather fulfilling experience.
Continue Reading »