Philosophers, more even than poets and composers, set themselves apart from common humanity to engage in their uncommonly rarefied practices. In the unlikely event of their productions becoming even vaguely well known they shun publicity. Their obituaries and encyclopaedic entries condense life long achievements into garbled accounts of their philosophies, dates of publication of their more respectable works and odd biographical details.
Fortunately, in Philosophical Tales Martin Cohen has compiled highly entertaining accounts of all too human aspects of thirty philosophers, presumably the more quirky of the breed. But of course the whole point of the exercise is selection of behaviours exponent of, or in marked contrast to, their perpetrators' stated philosophies. Schopenhauer, an example of the former, and Marx, of the latter, appear prominently on the cover. Raul Gonzalez III's illustrations complement the text admirably. His Augustine is a masterpiece, suitable for reproduction as a missal book mark.
Philosophical Tales is both readable and enjoyable with the added advantage that potted versions of their philosophies, required to appreciate the relevance of accounts of their misdemeanours, illuminate these thirty philosophers' works remarkably well. They are longer than encyclopaedia entries, shorter than extended essays and allow a generally rounded account....
Philosophers are frequently pompous; Cohen's own, tongue-in-cheek, Pompous Footnotes show him consciously capable of the genre but so do several judgements of his with which I totally disagree, such as the one above. However, as the objective of this book is to entertain and stimulate, let no one be in any doubt that it achieves both admirably.