Posted by : Wendy B Friday, 21 October 2011

November choices for the LeVar's Rainbow Book Club.

Batman and Philosophy: The Dark Knight of the Soul
In this, the latest in Wiley's Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series (South Park and Philosophy, The Office and..., Metallica and...), editors White and Arp assert upfront, and without qualification (apparently, that's the contributors' job), their belief that Batman is "the most complex character ever to appear in comic books and graphic novels." Exploring certain works that have broadened the philosophical undercurrents of the Batman mythos (Frank Miller's Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns are cited often, but rarely the new movies), a raft of professors, students and PhD candidates paint Bruce Wayne's choices as, most often, either utilitarian or deontological, with basic descriptions of these systems helpfully provided for the novice. A few contributions broaden the discussion beyond the well-worn (origin stories of Batman and foes, etc.); casting butler Alfred as Kierkegaard's "knight of faith" to Batman's "knight of infinite resignation," contributor Christopher M. Drohan actually gets close to the archetypal sources that keep the serialized exploits of Batman and other comic heroes from getting stale.

The Ultimate Harry Potter and Philosophy: Hogwarts for Muggles
Harry Potter has been heralded as one of the most popular book series of all time and the philosophical nature of Harry, Hermione, and Ron's quest to rid the world of its ultimate evil is one of the many things that make this series special. The Ultimate Harry Potter and Philosophy covers all seven titles in J.K. Rowling's groundbreaking series and takes fans back to Godric's Hollow to discuss life after death, to consider what moral reasoning drove Harry to choose death, and to debate whether Sirius Black is a man or a dog.

Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test
Alan Moore's Watchmen is set in 1985 and chronicles the alternative history of the United States where the US edges dangerously closer to nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Within this world exists a group of crime busters, who don elaborate costumes to conceal their identity and fight crime, and an intricate plot to kill and discredit these "superheroes."

Alan Moore's Watchmen popularized the graphic novel format, has been named one of Time magazine's top 100 novels, and is now being made into a highly anticipated movie adaptation. This latest book in the popular Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series peers into Moore's deeply philosophical work to parse and deconstruct the ethical issues raised by Watchmen's costumed adventurers, their actions, and their world. From nuclear destruction to utopia, from governmental authority to human morality and social responsibility, it answers questions fans have had for years about Watchmen's ethical quandaries, themes, and characters.

Star Wars and Philosophy
The Star Wars films continue to revolutionize science fiction, creating new standards for cinematographic excellence, and permeating popular culture around the world. The films feature many complex themes ranging from good versus evil and moral development and corruption to religious faith and pragmatism, forgiveness and redemption, and many others.

The essays in this volume tackle the philosophical questions from these blockbuster films including: Was Anakin predestined to fall to the Dark Side? Are the Jedi truly role models of moral virtue? Why would the citizens and protectors of a democratic Republic allow it to descend into a tyrannical empire? Is Yoda a peaceful Zen master or a great warrior, or both? Why is there both a light and a dark side of the Force? Star Wars and Philosophy ponders the depths of these subjects and asks what it truly means to be mindful of the "living force."

The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real
The many faces of Keanu Reeves as hero Neo-Christ, Buddha, Socrates-are explored in these essays on the philosophical implications of the sci-fi martial arts blockbuster The Matrix, collected by the editor of Seinfeld and Philosophy and The Simpsons and Philosophy. According to the academics assembled here, when messianic hacker Neo kick-boxes the Matrix's virtual-reality dream-prison, he is really struggling with some of mankind's biggest conundrums: the nature of truth and reality, the possibility of free will, the mind-body problem and the alienation of labor in late-capitalist society. The tacit goal here is to make philosophy fun for the general reader by orienting it to pop-culture reference points, so while some articles contain rather dense philosophical jargon, most are pitched at the level of a freshman intro course. But only a few chapters delve into the movie's aesthetics; the rest seem to use The Matrix as a peg on which to hang a canned philosophy lecture. The results are occasionally engaging, as with David Mitsuo Nixon's nifty refutation of the "reality is just an illusion" conceit, but they're too often dryly academic and liable to elicit no more than a drowsy "whoa" from the movie's legions of fans.

Lord of the Rings and Philosophy: One Book to Rule Them All
Can power be wielded for good, or must it always corrupt? Does technology destroy the truly human? Is beer essential to the good life? The Lord of the Rings raises many such searching questions, and this book attempts some answers. Divided into five sections concerned with power and the Ring, the quest for happiness, good and evil in Middle-earth, time and mortality, and the relevance of fairy tales, The Lord of the Rings and Philosophy mines Tolkien’s fantasy worlds for wisdom in areas including the menace of technology, addiction and fetishism, the vitality of tradition, the environmental implications of Tolkien's thought, Middle-earth's relationship to Buddhism and Taoism, and more.

Terminator and Philosophy: I'll Be Back, Therefore I Am
Are cyborgs our friends or our enemies? Was it morally right for Skynet to nuke us? Is John Connor free to choose to defend humanity, or not? Is Judgment Day inevitable?

The Terminator series is one of the most popular sci-fi franchises ever created, captivating millions with its edgy depiction of the struggle of humankind for survival against its own creations. This book draws on some of history's philosophical heavy hitters: Descartes, Kant, Karl Marx, and many more. Nineteen leather-clad chapters target with extreme prejudice the mysteries surrounding intriguing philosophical issues raised by the Terminator series, including the morality of terminating other people for the sake of peace, whether we can really use time travel to protect our future resistance leaders in the past, and if Arnold's famous T-101 is a real person or not. You'll say "Hasta la vista, baby" to philosophical confusion as you develop a new appreciation for the complexities of John and Sarah Connor and the battles between Skynet and the human race.

One Response so far.

  1. Mike says:

    What? No Doctor Who and Philosophy? Why would you have a book on the list that I already own?!? :oP

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I also write about geek culture at Women Write About Comics, and I review genre fiction at The BiblioSanctum.

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