Sunday, January 06, 2008

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar

Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes, by Thomas Cathcart and & Daniel Klein.

One of the joys of having grown children is that sometimes they can purchase you gifts that are really fun, such is the case with this witty, very funny and actually quite educational little book on exploration of philosophy through jokes. The essence of the book is that many jokes have as their basis a philosophical problem being exposed in a whimsical way-as non-philosophers, we are just usually unaware of the potential deeper thought behind what makes it funny.

There are way too many to pick from here, but I'll just do a couple of examples to give a flavor. Anyone that enjoys jokes will like the book, one that has any interest at all in thought will love it.

"An irishman walks into a bar and orders 3 pints and proceeds to drink them down by taking a sip from each one in turn until they are gone. He then orders 3 more, and the bartender says, "You know, they would be less likely to go flat if you bought them one at a time".

The man says, "Yeah, I know that but I have two brothers, one in the States and one in Australia. When we went our separate ways, we promised we would drink this way in memory of the days we drank together. Each of these is for one of my brothers and and the third is for me."

The bartender is touched and the guy becomes a regular at the bar and always orders the same way.

One day he comes in and only orders two pints. The other regulars notice and silence falls over the bar. When he comes to the bar for his 2nd round, the bartender offers his condolences.

The Irishman responds, "Oh, no, everyone's fine. I just joined the Mormon Church, and I had to quit drinking."

The following joke shows the difficulty of reasoning from a false premise:

"An old cowboy is sitting at a bar and a young lady comes in and sits down beside him. She asks him "Are you a real cowboy"?

He replies, "Well, Ive spent my whole life on the ranch herding cattle, mending fences and branding calves, so I guess I am."

She says, "Well, I'm a lesbian. I spend my whole day thinking about women. As soon as I get up in the morning I think about women. When I shower or watch TV, everything seems to make me think about women."

A little later, a couple comes in and sits down next to the old cowboy and asks him, "Are you a real cowboy"?

He replies, "I always thought I was, but I just found out I'm a lesbian".

Ok, so this isn't a very good "summary", but I have to do one more since readers of this Blog know that I like to poke fun at empiricists.

"A man is worried that his wife is losing his hearing so he consults a doctor. The doctor suggest that he try a simple at home test on her: Stand behind her and ask her a question, first from 20 feet away, then from ten feet, and finally right behind her.

So the man goes home and sees his wife cooking facing the stove. From the door he asks, "What's for dinner tonight?", no answer.

Ten feet behind her he asks, "What's for dinner tonight?" Still no answer.
Finally, right behind her he says, "What's for dinner tonight?"

His wife turns around and says, "For the third time-chicken!"

I love this one  -- replace the man by "human perception" and one sees the limits of empiricism.

Extremely fun book and one that must be read to be appreciated.

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