Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book Review: Dead Philosophers

Mention the subject of philosophy and the average person will move away from you quickly! Philosophy and philosophers often are viewed as drab individuals (or metaphysical misfits) who spend far too much time asking ontological questions which lead to ambiguous or incomprehensible answers.

Tell your parents you want to pursue a degree in philosophy and a good deal of them will think you're on drugs, trying to avoid getting a job or you've gone insane. Yes, for the general public, philosophy is a non-starter, at best.

If you're one of the millions of people who would rather visit your friendly proctologist than spend a few scant seconds thinking about the meaning of life, then have I got a book for you!! The Book of Dead Philosophers by Simon Critchley is not your typical volume.

In fact, I dare say it is one of the oddest books I've read in quite some time and I don't mean that in a negative light either. The premise of the book is to introduce the average person to the subject of philosophy in a most unique way. Critchley provides brief information on over 200 dead philosophers -- if one is still alive, he/she didn't make the cut.

In discussing these dead souls, Critchley focuses on the concept of death and what each one of them thought about it...well, prior actually to dying. He then tells us, when known, HOW they died and if their deaths were congruent with their beliefs on the topic.

One normally doesn't associate the word whimsy with philosophy, but this informative book indeed is whimsical. In fact, in places, you will have a great deal of difficulty suppressing guffaws of laughter. It's one of the best educational vehicles I've read that goes to great lengths to appear non-educational. In other words, you will learn in spite of yourself!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are unmoderated, so you can write whatever you want.