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Customer reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
Kant And The Platypus: Essays On Language And Cognition
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on 15 November 2014
I suppose a great book as I enjoy Eco's more philosophical output than literary but definitely NOT for a layman who's used to read The name of the rose. Very dense book. Lots of thinking involved, lots. Didn't finish though so I can't judge it from technical point of view on its conclusions etc
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on 10 August 2015
One of the best books....
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on 8 November 2000
I'm neither a linguist nor a semiotician, but I found this book fascinating even though large portions of it are inaccessible to the average punter. Eco is trying to put his finger on just how we go about giving names to things, and distinguishing on thing from another. Such questions can seem excessively abstract to non-philosophers but Eco uses examples brilliantly to show how these questions are relevant in the real world. In particular, he uses the curious history of the categorising of the duck-billed platypus as a symbol of the difficulty of labelling something that appears to exist in a space between all known categories. These examples allow digressions on subjects such as Marco Polo's encounter with a rhinoceros (or was it a unicorn?), which are entertaining in their own right, while being linked perfectly to to the subject at hand. Large portions of the book are jargon-packed discussions of semiotic theory, but it's worth skimming them, because there is plenty to engage your interest along the way, and the conclusion is very satisfying, even if the questions haven't been answered absolutely. I give the book 4 rather than 5 stars because I was annoyed at the way quotations in Latin, German, French, etc. are left untranslated, sometimes at crucial points in the argument. This is neither big nor clever; indeed, it simply repels the interested layman.
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on 11 January 2000
I read The Fabric Of Reality and found it a very enjoyable, stimulating and interesting read. I was hoping this book would provide a similar read in the area of semiotics, but so far it has just been incredibly hard work. It is very difficult to read and impossible for me to understand in places. I do not have in-depth knowledge of philosophy, meta-physics or whatever the heck it is he's talking about. I think this is working against me. The numerous references to external works are extremely intimidating.
I gave it 3 stars because I haven't finish it yet and would like to give the author benefit of the doubt for what was left. All in all, if before buying this book I had tried to read the first chapter I wouldn't have wound up wasting 20 sheets on it.
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on 2 September 2008
It's rare that I fail to finish a book, but this is one of the times I failed. I am absolutely fascinated by the subject matter - how do we understand knowledge, how do we create meaningful categories for stuff and how does this create inherent limits to our understanding and knowledge? But I could not get to grips with Eco's deeply academic rendering of the subject.

The back cover describes this book as "full of jokes, connundra and startling insights". Sorry, but I didn't see this - just pages full of esoteric discussions that required hours of study to deconvolute into something meaningful. After trying four times, I have now given up - this book goes to Oxfam, with good luck to a more persevering reader.
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on 26 August 2014
Great, Thanks!
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