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Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates: Using Philosophy (and Jokes!) to Explore Life, Death, the Afterlife, and Everything in Between [Kindle Edition]

Thomas Cathcart , Daniel Klein
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description


Q. Why are there almost as many jokes about death as there are about sex?

A. Because they both scare the pants off us.

Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein first made a name for themselves with the outrageously funny New York Times bestseller Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar. Now they turn their attention to the Big D and share the timeless wisdom of the great philosophers, theologians, psychotherapists, and wiseguys. From angels to zombies and everything in between, Cathcart and Klein offer a fearless and irreverent history of how we approach death, why we embrace life, and whether there really is a hereafter. As hilarious as it is enlightening, Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates is a must-read for anyone and everyone who ever expects to die.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1402 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (29 Aug. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002N83HHU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • : Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #417,114 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars
3.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sequel a bit disappointing 28 Aug. 2011
By Tomas
The authors first book was great, witty and funny.
I had expected the second book to be as funny but sorry to say
it is not. there is a lot of philosophy but much less humor
than in the first book. Disappointing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Their book on Plato was much better. 9 Mar. 2015
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is such a low level attempt at the subject. The philosophy is shallow and the jokes are of the type seen on television, i.e. based on sarcasm and sexual activity. Their book on Plato was much better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars funny 20 Mar. 2014
By suzanne
Format:Kindle Edition
Made me laugh during those miserable moments in the middle of the night. An enjoyable way to pass a pensive hour
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 29 Mar. 2015
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Weird book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  63 reviews
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and Helpful 29 Aug. 2009
By W. A. Carpenter - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates" is a surprisingly funny and nuanced view of the meaning of life, with special emphasis on the views of classical philosophers. The format will be familiar to those that have read Cathcart and Klein's "Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar" -- some serious philosophy, a good joke or two, and a series of delightful cartoons on relevant topics.

Surprisingly supported by the jokes and cartoons, the authors carefully consider some serious philosophical issues while clearly explaining background concepts. I was a Philosophy major in college many years ago, and it was delightful to see how easily the authors clearly explained some rather difficult concepts in Existentialism, classic philosophy (Plato and Aristotle), depth psychology (Freud and Jung), Buddhism, religion, and cybernetics as they explored issues like the survival of personality after death, the existence of heaven and hell, and the meaning of life.

There's a lot to learn from this book but it never feels dull or academic. Perhaps my only criticism is the repeated use of nicknames for famous philosophers. The first time Martin Heidegger is referred to as "Marty" is mildly amusing, but it quickly becomes tiresome as the gag is repeated many times. On the plus side, they quote Woody Allen often.

All in all, a refreshing and vigorous example of the best use of philosophy as a means to clarify thinking and beliefs. Highly recommended.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cartoons Are Killers! 16 Oct. 2009
By The Spinozanator - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have several relatives in the "very old" generation and they're dropping like flies. As a result, I have tried to brush up on my ability to converse easily with those who have almost finished their bucket list. My particular approach is to minimize the religious and maximize the use of humor. Some of them have fallen hard enough for the threats about "the other place" and I feel it is my job to reassure them that they'll at least be well-remembered. So far, this book is my best resource.

You're in luck if you would like to be knowledgable about the great philosophers who addressed death but reading about them puts you to sleep. They're all here, interspersed with hilarious cartoons and correctly presented by the authors. The format of the book lends itself well to painless learning.

If you are approaching the finish line yourself, let me provide for you the recommendation of Mark Twain. I had read it before, but this book presents it again: "When approaching the Pearley Gates, leave your dog behind. If entrance were based on merit, he would be admitted and you would be left behind."

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A joyous romp through the valley of the shadow of death and beyond 14 Sept. 2009
By Jojoleb - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My guess is that over time this review will be buried six feet underneath a heaping pile of other positive reviews, but Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein deliver big on death and dying in their educational and uproarious book Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates.

Cathcart and Klein try to explain the philosophical and theological underpinnings of death and dying to the lay person. It is a book for those of us who have a deep desire to contemplate the meaning of our existence, but are not quite able to see the light through the opaque language of the philosophers. Cathcart and Klein are able to simplify these complex concepts and make them understandable to the average guy. By giving us concrete examples to illustrate the concepts and infusing all this with humor, the book never drags. It remains interesting, funny, incredibly readable, and edutaining.

And speaking of edutainment, the book is written like Sesame Street for adults. There is always a lot going on. Like Plato, who illustrated his philosophy by writing dialogs, Cathcart and Klein write their book as a dialoge. So instead of Socrates speaking with various Athenians, Cathcart and Klein write an irreverent dialogue between themselves and their `neighbor' Daryl. The authors illustrate the concepts as answers to fundamental questions posed by Daryl. Interspersed with this are jokes that illustrate the concepts discussed. If that weren't enough, the book also contains a huge number of cartoons (possibly from the New Yorker or at very least in that style) that further illustrate the concepts and numerous humorous quotations to round everything out. In the hands of some authors this kind of juggling might become confusing, but in the hands of Cathcart and Klein, the four kinds of narrative all come together and really enhance understanding. The humor really helps here. Not only does it keep the reader entertained but keeps an otherwise morbid subject matter from becoming tiresome. In an odd way, the humor keeps the book about death alive.

As for the caveats, this book covers a lot of introductory material, but it is still introductory. Dabblers such as me will find this entertaining and interesting, but anyone who really wants to plumb to the depths of philosophy will be disappointed. All the high concepts are there for the lay person, but this is not an advanced philosophy text. Moreover, the authors don't stick with any one concept long enough to explore it thoroughly. This did not bother me, as the book is really supposed to be an introduction to these concepts, but might frustrate someone who wants a little more than the book was designed to deliver.

As to the humor, you may recognize some very, very old jokes. But Cathcart and Klein really do use the jokes to illustrate concepts and they have a knack for retelling the jokes rather well. Some of the jokes bombed with me, but they come in rapid succession. So even though it can be hit or miss, there are enough hits to keep the laughter going. Just to forewarn, some of the jokes are politically incorrect, but the authors seem to pick on women and men equally so my guess is that no one will get too offended.

All an all, a joyous romp through the valley of the shadow of death and the afterlife. It's hard to imagine a book like that, but here it is.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Death Rarely Sounds Like So Much Fun 15 Oct. 2009
By Eric Gross - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I believe this is the second in a series of books by these authors seeking to both make available to the non professional reader the findings and insights of some of the most respected philosophers, but also to try to apply these principles to some of the most crucial aspects of life. The these of this book is trying to make sense of death and of course, when we try to make sense of death, we are also, simultaneously, working to make sense of this life. The authors succeed moderately on each level. Of course, not to give away too much at the outset, but life fails to offer itself to making much tangible sense and thus death our struggling to understand our dying doesn't help matters much. This is the reason why this book, ultimately, offers not all that much. Only the easy questions get a satisfying answer, but the hard ones remain unanswered, proving, once again, that philosophy can only take one so far.
I did love the use of New Yorker cartoons mixed in with the text. There are some really great ones included.
This was fun reading and if you're interested in some mildly stimulating fun and this could be the book for you.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Philosophy and humor all rolled into one. Wonderful!!! 6 Sept. 2009
By Caliaha - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I don't have a lot of time for reading, but this book totally engulfed me; I couldn't put it down!!!

During a time when I have been facing middle age and the aging of my parents, I have been contemplating the whole "death" thing. This book talks about so many things that are somewhat taboo in our society and helps dealing with death in a humorous but very straight forward manner. Religious-types may not care for the book, but as a spiritual person that has never been involved in traditional structured religion I found it absolutely intriguing!!!

The book is broken into 7 sections includes funny comics throughout the book. Here are the topics discussed:

Dead! Whatcha Gonna Do About It?
Eternity When You Least Expect It
Immortality the Old-fashioned Way, On the Soul Train
Post Mortem Life: Postcards
Death as a Lifestyle Choice
Biotechnology: Stop the Presses!
The End

They look at philosophers viewpoints over history and the whole death-anxiety that exists in our society. Throughout the book they include life situation scenes that are hilarious. I love the kick in the butt to religion. This book is not just a funny book about death, but will really help you look death straight in the eyes from a new point of view. Loved it!!!
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