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Superman and Philosophy: What Would the Man of Steel Do Paperback – March 18, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"As can be noted from my comments above, any book that will make you think or react makes for an interesting read and ‘Superman And Philosophy’ succeeds in doing that. One should always be glad that Superman sees himself as the good scout otherwise the DC Earth would truly be hell."  (SFCrowsnest.org.uk, 1 June 2013)

“And this delightfully appealing tome does exactly that…”  (Comics Review, 25 April 2013)

From the Back Cover

Superman may not have been the first superhero, but ever since his introduction in Action Comics #1 in 1938, he has been the model for every superhero to follow. For 75 years Superman has thrilled millions with his adventures in comic books, television shows, and movies. His popularity transcends all borders because he strikes so many universal themes, such as justice and strength, moral responsibility, identity, and the heroic ideals of perfection, goodness, and nobility.

But he also raises significant philosophical dilemmas. If Superman is that good, for example, why does he so often resort to violence? Could Lex Luthor be right in telling us Superman is the real threat to humanity? Is Superman the realization of Nietzsche’s Übermensch—and is that a good or bad thing? And of course, why can’t Lois tell that Clark Kent is really Superman?

Gathering a veritable league of philosophers, Superman and Philosophy addresses all these questions and more. This book will thrill longtime and brand-new fans of Superman alike and will inspire new ways to think about the Man of Steel!

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (March 18, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118018095
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118018095
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark D. White is Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the College of Staten Island/CUNY, where he teaches courses in philosophy, law, and economics. He is the author of "Kantian Ethics and Economics: Autonomy, Dignity, and Character" (Stanford University Press), "The Manipulation of Choice" and "The Illusion of Well-Being" (both from Palgrave Macmillan), and "The Virtues of Captain America: Modern-Day Lessons on Character from a World War II Superhero" (Wiley-Blackwell), as well as over 50 journal articles and book chapters in the intersections between economics, philosophy, and law. He has edited or co-edited a number of books on these subjects, including "The Thief of Time: Philosophical Essays on Procrastination" (with Chrisoula Andreou) and "Retributivism: Essays on Theory and Policy" (both from Oxford University Press). He is also a frequent contributor and editor in the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series, which introduces readers to basic philosophical concepts using the movies, TV shows, comic books, and music that they love. His latest edited volume in the series is "Superman and Philosophy"; he has also edited or co-edited volumes on Batman, Watchmen, Iron Man, Green Lantern, and the Avengers.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David W. Griffin on August 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Originally I didn't buy this product due to the price, but the price came down and I bought it. I'm glad I did. As a long time superhero fan, I've always thought that the subject of super hero ethics as an interesting topic that gets glossed over in the actual comics. Superman especially has a special place in the DC universe. In many ways, Superman is the hub around which everything in that universe revolves. He's the ethical heart of the Justice League and the example all super heroes are judged against. He's the one who can command the respect of the entire superhero community and indeed normal people as well. Yet he lies to keep his secret identity (mostly to protect his loved ones) and has to make hard choices on a regular basis.

It's worth doing to consider Superman's ethics as representative of how we would want our heroes to act if we had them (and of course we do though they don't fly through the air or shoot fire from their eyes). It's also worth considering these things in light of the newest Superman "re-imagining". The Christopher Reeve movies sought to bring a fairly accurate representative of the comic book Superman to the screen. The last two movies have both taken the character further from not only his representation in the comics but also his fundamental character. Since his reason for being it to embody this fundamental character, these movies, especially the latest one loses this essential aspect making Superman into just another Alien with terrifying power and a dark driven nature. In effect they make Superman into a Kryptonian version of Batman. This book is a good way for modern movie goers to reconnect with what Superman is "supposed" to be and provides a good context for the character.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent look at the mind, the heart, the body, the soul and the spirit of the most iconic and recognizable and original superhero in the world.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jessica on July 15, 2013
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I got it as a gift for a huge superman fan. Any one who is into superman will appreciate this book.
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THE VIEW FROM SPACE

All in all this is an acceptable effort in Wiley-Blackwell's "philosophy and popular culture" series. Editor Mark D. White has done a decent job in putting together a pleasant collection of essays that address a number of the philosophical issues that can be found in the Superman franchise in all of its manifestations: the comic books and all the incarnations and re-boots; the many TV series; and, of course, the movies, one of which will be hitting theaters this Friday. It's worth picking up, but, I think more effort could have been made on a number of fronts. And the presence of numerous typographical and grammatical errors did not help. Overall, it's more than "mild-mannered", but not as "super" as it could have been. Like looking at the phone booth and catching "the Big Blue Boy Scout" right in the middle of changing clothes.

EARTH-TWO

When you think about "the Big Blue Boy Scout" (God how I hated reading that so many times! Stop calling Superman that!), a number of obvious topics come to mind: Superman versus Lex Luthor (check), Superman and the issue of his dual identity (double check), and even Superman as an expression of Nietzsche's "Ubermensch" (gut check!). But I didn't see essays that covered other relevant topics. For example, Superman has his biological parents, with whom he touches base via recordings at the Fortress of Solitude, and his adoptive parents, who found him and raised him in Kansas. What duties does one owe one's parents? Does one owe a duty of friendship to them? I would have liked to have seen Superman's love life investigated. Love is said to be a "second-order" emotion, why was this theme not developed?
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