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Chautauqua Lecture Explores "The Beauty of Philosophy Through Jokes"

RICHMOND, Ky. – “Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar.”

It’s the playfully provocative title of a New York Times bestselling book by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, who will speak at Eastern Kentucky University Thursday, Oct. 3, as a part of the institution’s year-long Chautauqua series.

The pair’s lecture, entitled “Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: The Beauty of Philosophy through Jokes,” will begin at 7:30 p.m. in O’Donnell Hall of the Whitlock Building (formerly Student Success Building). The event, free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and Religion, the Office of Graduate Education and Research, and the Honors Program.

The presenters say their talk will explore the aesthetic synchrony between philosophical concepts and old jokes.

“Your philosophy professor probably never told you, but there is an entire library of good, smart jokes that illuminate lots of key philosophical concepts,” Cathcart and Klein say.  “That’s because the construction and payoff of jokes and the construction and payoff of philosophical concepts are made out of the same stuff. They both confound our sense of the way things are, flip our worlds upside down, and ferret out hidden, often uncomfortable, truths about life. What the philosopher calls an insight, the gagster calls a zinger.”

According to their official biographies, after majoring in philosophy at Harvard, Cathcart and Klein “pursued the usual philosophical careers. Cathcart was a probation officer, worked with street gangs in Chicago … was chief operating officer of a hospital and executive director of a hospice for people with HIV/AIDS, all the while going to and dropping out of various divinity schools. Meanwhile, Klein wrote jokes for various comedians, including Flip Wilson and Lily Tomlin, designed stunts for Candid Camera, co-created the board game Group Therapy, and then settled down to the literary life, ghost writing a best-selling sex manual and penning several thrillers, mysteries, and novels.” His novel, “The History of Now,” won ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year-Silver Award in Literary Fiction (2009).

In addition to “Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar,” which was a New York Times bestseller, Cathcart and Klein also authored “Heidegger and a Hippo Walk through Those Pearly Gates.” Cathcart’s latest book is “The Trolley Problem or Would You Throw the Fat Guy off the Bridge?”  Klein’s latest is “Travels with Epicurus.”

For more information, visit or contact Chautauqua Lecture Coordinator Dr. Minh Nguyen at

Published on September 23, 2013

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