Ted Cohen was an original and captivating essayist known for his inquisitive intelligence, wit, charm, and a deeply humane feel for life. For Cohen, writing was a way of discovering, and also celebrating, the depth and complexity of things overlooked by most professional philosophers and aestheticians—but not by most people. Whether writing about the rules of baseball, of driving, or of Kant’s Third Critique; about Hitchcock, ceramics, or jokes, Cohen proved that if you study the world with a bemused but honest attentiveness, you can find something to philosophize about more or less anywhere.
This collection, edited and introduced by philosopher Daniel Herwitz, brings together some of Cohen’s best work to capture the unique style that made Cohen one of the most beloved philosophers of his generation. Among the perceptive, engaging, and laugh-out-loud funny reflections on movies, sports, art, language, and life included here are Cohen’s classic papers on metaphor and his Pushcart Prize–winning essay on baseball, as well as memoir, fiction, and even poetry. Full of free-spirited inventiveness, these Serious Larks would be equally at home outside Thoreau’s cabin on the waters of Walden Pond as they are here, proving that intelligence, sensitivity, and good humor can be found in philosophical writing after all.
University of Chicago Press, 2018.