Philosophy A to Z:

Adventures in the Paradoxical

Truth is plural, semantic ambiguity is objective. Meaning is not in the head, but shared and multiple. This theory is put to the implicit test and passes in high-flying multicolour in these philosophical scripts, penned by best-selling philosopher Michael Picard to show the paradoxes, puns and paralogisms that result from the opposite assumptions. Refuting thoughts he sympathetically renders, Picard is known as a populariser who breaks things, seeking to reveal to the innocent masses the traditional follies and riches of his beloved and often benighted Philosophy.

Rebelling against an elite and crippling education in esoteric-analytic philosophy, Picard climbed down the ivory tower, dissembling in cafes and cavorting with the great, thinking unwashed, to whom these writings are compassionately addressed. Dip anywhere into this box of therapeutic chocolates, and you will find no mere confection, but gravity and guile, substance and subterfuge, and a profusion of ways to skin the philosophical cat. Playing all sides, Picard cannot lose. The result is a winning playfulness, a provocative profundity, a rational ploy to reveal the cheat of reason which pretends to know the single final total truth.

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From Book Review by Luisa de Paula, published in Philosophical Practice, July 2015, 10.2: 1608-11

“paradox is the real engine of Picard’s philosophical writings”

“Reading Michael Picard’s essays should shake up all those staid and simple meanings you usually attach to words and concepts, along with the attitudes and frame of mind they drag into your everyday life. The side-effects of such a shake-up is fated to produce on your daily routine could be as unpredictable as they are inescapable. Don’t expect a smooth ferry ride over calm and conceptually untroubled waters, but a whirling philosophical roller-coaster ride that will make your head spin.”

“Picard’s essays demonstrate philosophy’s resistance to being trapped in a closed system of knowledge in parallel with the practical resources it offers to broaden our horizons.”

“Philosophy from A to Z does not pretend to be anything other than a desktop reference, a reverse guidebook which encourages change by disentangling some of the unconscious instructions and static truths with a multi-faceted perspective.”

“professional practitioners will find each chapter filled with fresh and spirited ideas to facilitate their own cafés or similar philosophical activities.”

“All in all, it would be hard to find a real antecedent to which Philosophy from A to Z might be effectively compared. … Michael Picard’s book is the first specifically designed to provide café content and suggest topics to be addressed together with a practical illustration of their handling. This exclusive point of view was directly born from the author’s first-hand pioneering experience.”

“With his solid and pioneering experience in facilitating cafés, Picard is well acquainted with the risks involved in playing host to a mundane happening, but he has also found ways of getting around such obstacles. In charting his way through the adventure of philosophical cafés, Picard’s book is an inspiration to both trailblazer practitioners and professors teaching in a regular classroom. If they are attentive readers, these lasts can find several enlightening tips to help play down their authoritarian role and the halo of detachment surrounding philosophy while playing up their students’ interest and motivation.”

“Philosophy from A to Z clearly illustrates an effective way of maintaining the balance between the values of socializing and rigorous thinking, whose complementary dynamics are at the core of any philosophical practice worthy of the name. Independent of the café-philo experience that inspired it, the book is a precious source for conversation and meditation, the latter, according to the different and often opposing perspectives that we discover within ourselves as we deal with a certain idea or life situation. …. In the spirit of café-philo, the book speaks to each and every person who looks to philosophy for guidance on the intricate paths of life.”