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Superheroes and Philosophy: Truth, Justice, and the Socratic Way (Popular Culture and Philosophy) Paperback – May 10, 2005

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Superheroes and Philosophy: Truth, Justice, and the Socratic Way (Popular Culture and Philosophy) + The Psychology of Superheroes: An Unauthorized Exploration (Psychology of Popular Culture) + Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"Superman's costume always bugged me when I was a kid… So you need a secret identity – cool. But what’s the deal with all the rainbow-hued Spandex masks and costumes?... I found the answer to this great metaphysical dilemma in the book Superheroes and Philosophy, edited by Tom Morris and Matt Morris. In various essays, college philosophy professors and others ruminate on profound issues raised by the superhero lifestyle, such as how Batgirl reflects Nietzsche’s moral perfectionism." – Rick de Yampert, Daytona Beach News-Journal, December 15, 2006

About the Author

Tom Morris is the former Notre Dame philosophy professor whose classes became a campus legend, and whose nationwide speaking engagements have electrified the boardrooms of corporate America. His best-selling popular philosophy books include If Aristotle Ran General Motors and Philosophy for Dummies. Filmmaker and comics aficionado Matt Morris is a survivor of Harvard and UNCChapel Hill. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Popular Culture and Philosophy (Book 13)
  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Open Court; 1St Edition edition (May 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812695739
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812695731
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Brian Bear on July 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
I am not a great fan of comic books and have never really been into them in any way. I have also not really been impressed by the movies made from the more popular comic book heroes, (though X-Men was very cool). "Superheroes and Philosophy" proved to be an excellent choice of read despite these issues for me.

If you are likewise someone who has never read a comic book, or does not have Daredevil Issue #134, don't worry! Even if you missed the movies, don't worry! The contributors to the book have written their essays in such a way that anyone can enjoy them. Also, some superheroes are such cultural icons that any familiarity with the comics or the movies is basically unnecessary. The essays quote some of the comic books, but even the most unfamiliar characters pose no problem due to the explanations given.

Another aspect that was notable is that not all of the contributors are philosophers in the strict sense. Some of them are working in the industry of the superheroes for the companies that publish the books themselves. Shattering my previously held mythical belief that people who wrote comics were just adults going through prolonged puberty, some these contributors made the most astute and detailed observations about their craft. I was singularly impressed with the reflections they made on their own work, and the characters with which they dealt.

Other contributors made their essays relevant by focusing on the challenges that superheroes present to us and the questions they raise over how we live life. Bringing the more personal element into philosophy as shown through various heroes drew the concepts into reality and made them less abstract and more "concrete".
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. J. Kwashnak VINE VOICE on May 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It With the concepts of the selfless fight for others, the need and use of secret identities for personal protection and the tendency of wearing one's underwear on the outside in your costume, the area of superheroes is a rich vein of topics for the discussion of philosophy. Anyone who has read comics as a kid (or an adult), watched the cartoons or movie exploits of super heroes can relate to the topics presented in these essays. Using "everyday life" of these heroes the authors look at why heroes would use powers for good, or even why be costumed heroes at all instead of using abilities for personal gain. And are the heroes and their everyday identities the same person, or are the secret identity and the superhero two distinct entities? The examinations cover the "zap" "pow" of classic superheroes like Superman, to the darker and more questionable "heroes" of more recent work such as The Watchmen. With such a broad and rich area to work with, it is refreshing to see so many essays mining different examples of superherodom to examine. Not all essays are great, but overall the book is interesting and fun reading, and yet again helps examine philosophical ideas through more popular arenas's Philosophy.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mark Alfred on July 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
It's a good read that will stimulate some little grey cells. Topics such as moral relativism, identity (is Banner or Hulk the "real" one?), why do what's right, and so on are addressed in a pretty interesting way.

I agree with Eliott S! Maggin when he said "There is a right and a wrong in the universe, and most of the time it is not that hard to tell the difference."

If you also agree about the unexamined life not being worth living, look into this book. Even the author biographies are funny!

This is a much much better investment than those dopey The Science of Superheroes or ...Villains etc books.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. M. Richards on July 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
I might be biased, since I did major in Philosophy and Religion...but I loved this book. Each essay was interesting and well-written, providing just enough background on the philospohies being discussed that it was easy to follow. Philosophy can be stodgy and dizzying at times, but pairing it with the themes found in popular comic books (and movie counterparts) makes it a much easier read. Thought-provoking and fun, this collection of essays will have you not only analyzing the lives of your favorite heroes, but your own life as well.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Peter Jurchen on March 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
I used to read comics as a kid, but didn't really get "into" the messages they gave (Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns) until college. This book, a collection of essays detailing certain philosophical aspects of characters, motives, etc., is great backup material for anyone wishing to dig more into the entire genre of comics. Even though the authors of the essay are, for the most part, very educated people, the philosophy terms used are clear and the writing itself enjoyable to read. I read it in a weekend on a bus, but there was enough "meat" in it to make it worth reading again.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kendal B. Hunter on January 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
"Superman and Batman are the Plato and Aristotle of the comic-book world." (262).

If you agree with this, if you understand it, and if you find it both funny and accurate, then get this book.

*

I'm a fan of the "Philosophy And" series. Philosophy lurks everywhere, if we have our eyes open. Additionally, Neil Postman in his book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business makes the case that television is a form of epistemology. The same holds true for comic books. Since epistemology is a branch of philosophy, and comic books are a means of epistemology, then they demand our attention.

The book is a fun romp, with serendipitous discoveries. If you are a fan of such things, they buy this book.

However, I would rate most of the essays about a B+, or an A-. They are interesting, but many times the authors fall into a methodological trap. Philosophy can be defined two ways. One is the study of what people have said about things. The other is the love of wisdom. Too often the authors seem to take ideas and quotes to bolster their points. And they are very good at compare and contrast. But for wisdom, especially the love of wisdom, this is lacking.

Chapter 17 on the identify question which uses the Hulk/Banner as a case study, ignores multiple personality disorders. For a good discussion of time travel, read Chapter 18 by Richard Hanley.

Part of the problem has to do with the structure. They should have begun with metaphysics. Chapter 1 should be an overview along with 11 on comic book wisdom. Chapter 2 should be chapter 1, and the followed by all of Part 4.
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