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 Platypus Walk Into a Bar . . . is a not-so-reverent crash course through the great philosophical thinkers and traditions, from Existentialism (What do Hegel and Bette Midler have in common?) to Logic (Sherlock Holmes never deduced anything). Philosophy 101 for those who like to take the heavy stuff lightly, this is a joy to read—and finally, it all makes sense!
Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein first made a name for themselves with the outrageously funny New York Times bestseller Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar. Now they turn their attention to the Big D and share the timeless wisdom of the great philosophers, theologians, psychotherapists, and wiseguys. From angels to zombies and everything in between, Cathcart and Klein offer a fearless and irreverent history of how we approach death, why we embrace life, and whether there really is a hereafter. As hilarious as it is enlightening, Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates is a must-read for anyone and everyone who ever expects to die.
As a young college student studying philosophy, Klein filled a notebook with short quotes from the world’s greatest thinkers, hoping to find some guidance on how to live the best life he could. Now, from the vantage point of his eighth decade, Klein revisits the wisdom he relished in his youth with this collection of philosophical gems, adding new ones that strike a chord with him at the end of his life. From Epicurus to Emerson and Camus to the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, each pithy extract is annotated with Klein’s inimitable charm and insights. In these pages, our favorite jokester–philosopher tackles life’s biggest questions, leaving us chuckling and enlightened.
A trolley is careering out of control. Up ahead are five workers; on a spur to the right stands a lone individual. You, a bystander, happen to be standing next to a switch that could divert the trolley, which would save the five, but sacrifice the one―do you pull it? Or say you’re watching from an overpass. The only way to save the workers is to drop a heavy object in the trolley’s path. And you’re standing next to a really fat man…. This ethical conundrum―based on British philosopher Philippa Foot’s 1967 thought experiment―has inspired decades of lively argument around the world. Now Thomas Cathcart, coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar, brings his sharp intelligence, quirky humor, and gift for popularizing serious ideas to “the trolley problem.” Framing the issue as a possible crime that is to be tried in the Court of Public Opinion, Cathcart explores philosophy and ethics, intuition and logic. Along the way he makes connections to the Utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham, Kant’s limits of reason, St. Thomas Aquinas’s fascinating Principle of Double Effect, and more. Read with an open mind, this provocative book will challenge your deepest held notions of right and wrong. Would you divert the trolley? Kill one to save five? Would you throw the fat man off the bridge?
After being advised by his dentist to get tooth implants, Daniel Klein decides to stick with his dentures and instead use the money to make a trip to the Greek island Hydra and discover the secrets of aging happily. Drawing on the inspiring lives of his Greek friends and philosophers ranging from Epicurus to Sartre, Klein uncovers the simple pleasures that are available late in life, as well as the refined pleasures that only a mature mind can fully appreciate. A travel book, a witty and accessible meditation, and an optimistic guide to living well, Travels with Epicurus is a delightful jaunt to the Aegean and through the terrain of old age that only a free spirit like Klein could lead.
Small. almost imperceptible changes are rippling through the New England village of Grandville, altering it in ways its inhabitants cannot yet imagine. Laced through a narrative of one recent year in Grandville's history are stories that reach back to a 17th century family in Rotterdam, and 18th century migration by a farmer's lonely son in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and a 19th century underground railway journey by a gifted runaway slave. Each episode comes to bear on Grandville now. Klein frames this multi-layered story with some fundamental questions in philosophy: Does every event, no matter how small or distant in the past influence all events that follow? Is life merely a drama we dispassionately observe? Does it take courage to live in the "eternal now?" As a portrayal of small town life, The History of Nowis reminiscent of Richard Russo's glorious novels about rural America. Its everyday encounters ring true, its dialogue glitters with wit, and its seamlessly integrated storylines create a consummate picture of one small place ineluctably connected to all places.