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"Finally I understand what it is I've been laughing at all these years."--Jimmy Kimmel From the best-selling author of Why Does the World Exist? comes this outrageous, uproarious compendium of absurdity, filth, racy paradox, and gratuitous offensiveness--just the kind of mature philosophical reflection readers have come to expect from the ever-entertaining Jim Holt. Indeed, Stop Me If You've Heard This is the first book to trace the evolution of the joke all the way from the standup comics of ancient Athens to the comedy-club Seinfelds of today. After exploring humor's history in Part One, Holt delves into philosophy in Part Two: Wall Street jokes; jokes about rednecks and atheists, bulimics and politicians; jokes you missed if you didn't go to a Catholic girls' school; jokes about logic and existence itself . . . all became fodder for the grand theories of Aristotle, Kant, Freud, and Wittgenstein in this heady mix of the high and low, of the ribald and profound, from America's most beloved philosophical pundit.
The Washington Post Notable Non-Fiction of 2013 "I can imagine few more enjoyable ways of thinking than to read this book."--Sarah Bakewell, New York Times Book Review, front-page review Tackling the "darkest question in all of philosophy" with "raffish erudition" (Dwight Garner, New York Times), author Jim Holt explores the greatest metaphysical mystery of all: why is there something rather than nothing? This runaway bestseller, which has captured the imagination of critics and the public alike, traces our latest efforts to grasp the origins of the universe. Holt adopts the role of cosmological detective, traveling the globe to interview a host of celebrated scientists, philosophers, and writers, "testing the contentions of one against the theories of the other" (Jeremy Bernstein, Wall Street Journal). As he interrogates his list of ontological culprits, the brilliant yet slyly humorous Holt contends that we might have been too narrow in limiting our suspects to God versus the Big Bang. This "deft and consuming" (David Ulin, Los Angeles Times) narrative humanizes the profound questions of meaning and existence it confronts.
The metaphysical mystery of how we came into existence remains the most fractious and fascinating questions of all time. The brilliant yet slyly humorous Jim Holt examines our latest efforts to grasp the origins of the universe, contending that we have been too narrow in limiting our suspects to God versus the Big Bang. The result is Why Does the World Exist? -- a work that becomes philosophy in its own right. Book jacket.