Some people may be put off by the academic language and many references to history (which a widely-read person will recognize), especially early in the book. For me, my patience was pretty quickly rewarded. Listening to the sample will give a good sense of this. This author is digging through (and mapping out) something absolutely vital: what we see as good, right, wrong, by ourselves and in groups, and then, how we really act in situations that challenge us in these ways. The author takes us through history and all kinds of ways of thought from ancient times through the present (spanning philosophy, various branches of science, folkways and religions, tracing right up into the recent cognitive psychology) showing the sort of grab-bag we use, in arriving at who to be, what to do, and how to react. I find the language to be crackling English prose with an ideally English narrator, but I admit I do have a high verbal IQ and lots of education. If you like to take apart what you and others feel and do, and you like a bigger context in history and various ways of thought, it's ideal.
I never imagined ethics could be so much fun. (OK, full disclosure, I'm an ethics dweeb, but ---). This appeals to the (better nature of the) 19-year-old boy inside me, but make no mistake: it's wild but serious and SMART. The cartoonish thought-experiments are uneven here and there, but I haven't ever had so much fun and thought-provocation in 3 hours of my time. This is just how I like to teach the endless stream of 19-year-olds passing through my classes. And the price is right. Oh, and yes, of COURSE I would eat my cat. What, you wouldn't?
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
In the Tao of Pooh (1982) Benjamin Hoff entertainingly uses Taoist philosophy to explain Winnie the Pooh, and Winnie the Pooh to explain Taoist philosophy. He begins by distinguishing among Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism by describing a traditional Chinese allegorical scroll painting in which the three founders of each philosophy are standing around a jar of vinegar after tasting of it. Confucius has a sour expression on his face (because he finds life out of harmony with the past and with heaven and in need of traditional rules, rituals, and regulations to correct it), Buddha has a bitter expression (because he finds life in the world to be full of desires, traps, illusions, pain, and suffering and better off transcended to Nirvana), while Lao-tse is smiling (because he sees the natural balance and harmony and universal laws in all things in the world according to their own natures and knows that things are only sour if we meddle with them).
Hoff talks with Pooh, Piglet, and Rabbit as he is "writing" The Tao of Pooh, explains Taoism through simple expositions of the philosophy as exemplified by great scenes and characters from Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) and The House at Pooh Corner (1928), and encourages us to adopt the Lao-tse and Winnie-the-Pooh approach to life. For the bear of little brain is an ideal embodiment of the Taoist "Simplicity of the Uncarved Block"--he is his simple self just as he is, unpretentious and stress-free and happy just being, just enjoying the simple pleasures of life in the now, like eating honey and hanging out with Piglet and Christopher Robin. Modeling ourselves on Pooh, we would accept our weak points and utilize them as strong ones without trying unnaturally to improve (carve) ourselves or to learn many things for the sake of being clever (like Rabbit) or appearing wise (like Owl) or complaining (like Eeyore). For "The learned are not wise and the wise are not learned." Let's not, then, become "Confusionist, Dessicated Scholars" (Pooh's mangling of "Confuciunist, Dedicated Scholars"). Let's not meddle with the natural order and balance of things. Let's not rush madly about saving time and being busy for the sake of being busy. Instead, let's be simple, natural, empty, and intuitive. Because I love the Winnie-the-Pooh books, I really enjoyed gaining a basic idea of Taoism through them.
It was great fun listening to Simon Vance reading Milne's text as well as Hoff's pastiches of it. I confess, however, that after having listened to Judi Dench as the narrator and Jane Horrocks as Piglet and Stephen Fry as Pooh in the perfect dramatizations of the Pooh books (also available on Audible), I found Simon Vance's voice to be a little bit thin and lacking the depth and character to bring the animals to life pleasurably.
And it is true that The Tao of Pooh would be more easily understood as a physical book, because then you could easily stop and ponder the ideas and re-read and savor the prose and enjoy the original Shepherd illustrations, whereas with the audiobook you tend to feel compelled to go with the flow (I did re-listen to several chapters and found the ideas and examples sinking in more deeply the second time).
I recommend the Tao of Pooh not to little kids in general but to people who love the Pooh books and who are interested in Taoism or who like Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea books and want to learn about a BIG source for her ideas on magic and balance and so on. Ogion and Lao-tse and Pooh would all get along famously!