It can easy to get the blues, especially with all of the division and turmoil in the world. But author Kate Davies has a different way of look at the world: one that can make us more hopeful, positive, and willing to pitch in and help. She calls it intrinsic hope, and it may be just what we all need this holiday season.
Kate Davies, author, Intrinsic Hope: Living courageously in troubled times
Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture. What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.
Two years ago, NBC debuted a strange new comedy show called The Good Place. It was written by Michael Schur, a writer on The Office and the creator of Parks & Recreation, so people were willing to get it a change… but it’s logline was pretty out-there. It’s a half-hour comedy about people who died in the afterlife and, specifically, about Eleanor Shellstrop, a bad person who made it to heaven the good place thanks to a clerical error.
Usually, sitcoms and comedies are much simpler: A group of friends living in New York. A workplace comedy about a paper company or a superstore. Simpler is better, because each episode can take on a whole new identity. What The Good Place did was different. It was a comedy telling one story instead of endless stories. It’s serialized, every episode needs to be seen in order and, by the way, it’s phenomenal.
Sure, it’s a very high concept show about the afterlife and philosophy and, poignantly, what we owe to each other as human beings. It dives into what thinkers like Soren Kierkegaard and Plato thought about the universe, but it also never loses sight of its mission to entertain. The show began as a vehicle for Ted Danson and Kristen Bell and has evolved into a true ensemble, and now truly allows castmembers William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, Darcy Carden and Manny Jacinto to shine.
I don’t want to say too much, because the show is a rollercoaster ride with surprises and fun world-building that will translate better on the screen. Seasons one and two of The Good Place are now streaming on Netflix. Season three premieres Thursday night, that’s September 27, on NBC.
You’ll have a blast, learn actual philosophy, and suddenly enter an inside joke with millions on the internet whenever you watch a Jacksonville Jaguars game. That will make sense, I promise.
Philosophy is not often considered a light conversational topic, and it even more rarely is associated with being humorous. However, Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, authors of Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes, would disagree.
“It’s not that philosophy’s so funny, it’s that the jokes explain philosophical ideas, and somehow make it funny,” said Klein. Cathcart and Klein use the storylines of jokes that do not initially appear to have any relation to philosophy, and then find a way to apply a philosophical belief to it allowing for the meaning to become more clear. According to Cathcart the study of philosophy arms people with the skills needed to think, argue, and make a point more clearly.
Listen to Klein and Cathcart explain some philosophical thought by using jokes, and hear their opinion on whether they think the deepest thinkers of the past would have benefitted from using jokes to explain their ideas.
Thomas Cathcart, co-author of Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes
Daniel Klein, co-author of Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes
Often, philosophy is so dense and hard to fully process that it feels impossible to understand and enjoy. Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein are trying to fix that problem. They explains some of the deepest thinkers of all time, like Immanuel Kant or John Locke, with humor.
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Often, philosophy is so dense and hard to fully process that it feels impossible to understand and enjoy. Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein are trying to fix that problem. Their book, Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar explains some of the deepest thinkers of all time, like Immanuel Kant or John Locke, with humor. Both authors join the show to tell stories, crack jokes, and clarify some of the big ideas of philosophy.