The Philosopher's Joke: Essays in Form and Content

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Prometheus Books, 1990 - Philosophy - 122 pages
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This unorthodox volume of related literary-philosophical essays is sure to ruffle a few feathers by making merry with the styles of philosophy fashionable today, and in each of the last four decades. Beginning with a strictly formalistic treatment of the relationship of perfection of form to truth of content in literature, Watson (author of the widely reviewed work, The Philosopher's Diet) comes full circle to a concluding essay in which the content of life is unraveled as a pig's meaningless "tale." In between, the reader is taken on a Cook's Tour of hopping and skipping, meaning, seducing, dying, and dreaming in such alluring essays as "The Seducer and the Seduced," "Ape Dreams," and "A Pig's Tail." The chapters focus on one or more fundamental arguments so dear to philosophers of many stripes, but are written with an attention to style not found in conventional philosophy.

Writing in a discipline for which a robust sense of humor applied to the pursuit of "serious" philosophy is apt to mean professional oblivion, Watson aims his wittiest salvos at the Dogmatic and Edifying Intent of popular philosophical objectives. He highlights the stylistic conceits and ambiguity that often turn quite ordinary statements into ponderous pendantics. Are these pieces parodies or not? Does Watson really hold the positions he sets forth, or is he making lighthearted fun? Yes!

The Philosopher's Joke will amuse and delight, frustrate and annoy, but above all, it will make readers think.

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The Relation of Truth of Content to Perfection of Form in Literature The 1950s
Hopping and Skipping The 1960s
What Does It All Mean? The 1970s

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About the author (1990)

Richard A. Watson is a professor of philosophy specializing in Cartesianism at Washington University. In addition to a number of scholarly books, he has published a didactic trilogy: "The Philosopher's Diet: How to Lose Weight and Change the World, The Philosopher"'"s Joke: Essays in Form and Content, "and "The Philosopher's Demise: Learning French.

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