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 unravelled 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 humour 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 light-hearted fun? Yes! "The Philosopher's Joke" will amuse and delight, frustrate and annoy, but above all, it will make readers think.