Basic philosophical logic, the type you might encounter in an entry-level Western philosophy course, can seem more obtuse than sophisticated. The rigorous, step-by-step justifications—IF this THEN that, THEREFORE the other thing—have a certain childish ring to them. It’s like that brilliant Louis C.K. routine where his kid’s one repeated question of “Why?” eventually finds him angrily explaining the metaphysical underpinnings of being.
The Philosophy 101 logic puzzles in ir/rational redux capture this mind-bending mix of high-minded intellectual acumen and “isn’t that obvious?” simplicity. You’re trapped in a featureless room with a “perfect” machine that can read your mind—the type of contraption that often features in philosophers’ thought experiments. The machine feeds you certain questions and propositions for you to reason out with deliberate arguments. At one point, for instance, you have to prove, given a set of assumptions, whether it is rational for you to attempt escape from your prison.
The conclusions you have to reach are sometimes obvious, but the challenge of the game is figuring out how to reach them. While the game does take a brief, stupid side turn into the politics of video game censorship, most of the puzzles are amusingly high-minded. The game’s brevity means that the fun is over before a truly tough challenge can get underway. I’d ask why creator Tom Jubert ended the game so soon, but if we start going down that road, we could be here all day.