Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar

Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar – Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes

Penguin paperback Cover
Author Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein
Cover artist Paul Buckley
Country United States
Genre Comedy
Publisher Abrams Image (hardcover)
Penguin Group (paperback)
Publication date
May 1, 2007
Pages 208
ISBN 978-0-8109-1493-3
OCLC 71312724
102/.07 22
LC Class BD31 .C38 2006

Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar – Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes is a book that explains basic philosophical concepts through classic jokes. Thomas Wilson Cathcart and Daniel Martin Klein, graduates of Harvard in philosophy, collaborated on the book.

Plato and a Platypus examines the classic categories of philosophy, with concepts explained or illustrated by jokes.

The concept behind the book in the Introduction: “The construction and payoff of jokes and the construction and payoff of philosophical concepts are made out of the same stuff. They tease the mind in the same ways…philosophy and jokes proceed from the same impulse: to confound our sense of the way things are, to flip our worlds upside down, and to ferret out hidden, often uncomfortable, truths about life. What the philosopher calls an insight, the gagster calls a zinger.[1]"

Quote from the book

"A guy comes home from a business trip and finds his wife in bed, a nervous look on her face. He opens the closet to hang up his coat, and finds his best friend standing there, naked. Stunned, he says, "Lenny, what are you doing here?" Lenny shrugs and says, "Everybody's got to be someplace." In this gag, Lenny is giving a Hegelian answer to an existential question. The question is about the existential circumstances in the here-and-now, but the answer is from a grand, universal vantage point, what the latter-day Hegelian Bette Midler called “seeing the world from a distance."


  1. Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar, p.2
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