ContemporaryHow To Be Perfect by Michael Schur

How To Be Perfect by Michael Schur


Don’t read this book around anyone asleep, you may wake them with your laughter (sorry about that kids)

The study of classical and contemporary philosophy has historically been consigned to lofty academic halls, saturated in impenetrable, tedious text that only the most dedicated can decipher. No more.

Michael Schur is well known for his TV work including The Office, Brooklyn 99, Parks & Recreation and The Good Place, the latter about a dead woman in Heaven trying to hide her immoral life. Light, frothy & harebrained, its brilliance was the underlying exploration of ethical philosophy woven into the plot as she grapples with what it is to be good. 

How to be Perfect, essentially “ethics for dummies” results from his research & collaboration with professors for the show, surveying the history of moral philosophy across thousands of years pursuing answers to some of life’s hardest questions in a highly accessible, funny way. 

The tone of writing is deliberately informal and conversational, in the same breath Schur references classical literature and topical pop culture (example A: Shakespeare & Fast & Furious films). This breaks up convoluted, deep concepts – he literally drags ancient philosophy into the present day with a wry smile. I was honestly laughing at every other footnote which Schur uses constantly as a comedic device.

He distills the teachings of Aristotle and Socrates together with more recent figures such as Mill, Bentham, Hieronymi & Singer into breezy, engrossing chapters that are hilariously titled but simultaneously makes sharp observations that are compelling and thought provoking.

The world has changed immeasurably & he posits “moral exhaustion”, the impact of cancel culture & fear of judgement & intense scrutiny that the most inane action can invite online. A review in the Times stated this book “might pull off the unprecedented feat of getting otherwise sane & healthy people to read Immanuel Kant” which I think is high praise. Entertaining, witty, clever and educational, this will appeal to a large spectrum of readers, young & old ~ Chaya

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