This book, A Cabinet of Philosophical Curiosities: A Collection of Puzzles, Oddities, Riddles, and Dilemmas, by Roy Sorensen, is aptly named. It is collection, like a jumbled junk drawer, of interesting verbal, mathematical, lingual, and geometric anomalies. Lewis Carroll, Jonathan Swift, David Hume, and Freud (among others) appear on the pages. Some are quite interesting, but others less so. The anecdotes and riddles are not organized – there is number play next to philosophy, squeezed between riddles. This can be quite irritating, and comes across as poorly organized rambling at times. For example, there is a short, interesting essay on vision surrounding the presentation of some visual ‘riddles’, like hidden pictures, that lasts several pages. But this was directly following a slight bit of historical trivia about Theodore Roosevelt’s penchant for star-gazing. The riddles are somewhat interesting, but mostly exploit the vagueness of the English language and the wording of the riddle.
“Immanuel Kant never permits lying –even to save an innocent life. Yet he sometimes permits deception, even verbal deception — as long as what you assert is true.”
The concepts would be interesting, but they are not explained fully or clearly sometimes, which detracts from the enjoy-ability. This book was definitely an odd assortment of riddles and concepts. It will be an engaging afternoon read, or enjoyable for dipping into occasionally, if you don’t expect too much.