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Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test (The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series) Paperback – January 20, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0470396858 ISBN-10: 0470396857 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (January 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470396857
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470396858
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #565,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Can we justify Ozymandias's grand plan?

Does Dr. Manhattan really know what's going to happen in the future?

Is the Comedian actually a comedian (or just a jerk)?

Can either Silk Spectre be considered a feminist?

Does Nite Owl's paunch actually make him virtuous?

Watchmen is the most critically acclaimed graphic novel ever published and turned the world of comic superheroes on its head. This masterpiece of realistic storytelling, dialogue, and artwork, courtesy of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, raises a host of compelling philosophical questions. How do Ozymandias and Rorschach justify their actions? What are the political ramifications of the Comedian's work for the government? How do we explain the nature of Dr. Manhattan? And can a graphic novel be considered literature? Whether you're reading Watchmen for the first time or have been a fan for more than twenty years, Watchmen and Philosophy will help you read deeper into the philosophical questions and the revolutionary story that changed comic fiction forever.

About the Author

Mark D. White is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science, Economics, and Philosophy at the College of Staten Island/CUNY and coeditor of Batman and Philosophy.
William Irwin is a professor of philosophy at King's College. He originated the philosophy and popular culture genre of books as coeditor of the bestselling The Simpsons and Philosophy and has overseen recent titles, including Batman and Philosophy, House and Philosophy, and Watchmen and Philosophy.

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Customer Reviews

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That kind of stuff - if you liked the movie, I really think you'll enjoy this book.
J. Acuna
I'm not a philosophy buff by nature - never even took a course in it - but this book never really was too far over my head for me to grasp the concepts.
Jonathan
If you're interested in either topic, I highly recommend this book as an excellent, intellectually simulating summer read.
Ariel Brennan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan VINE VOICE on January 18, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
*Spoiler alert: If you have not yet read Watchmen, read it before picking up this book or reading the rest of my review.

This is the second book I have read in the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series, the other being Batman and Philosophy: The Dark Knight of the Soul. This book is somewhat shorter, but makes up for it in not really having a weak or overly technical section (like the middle third of Batman and Philosophy). I'm not a philosophy buff by nature - never even took a course in it - but this book never really was too far over my head for me to grasp the concepts.

This book tackles a lot of issues implied in the graphic novel, mainly focusing on Ozymandias and the ethics of his scheme to trick the world into peace, Rorschach's view of justice and the aspect of time (and, consequently, predestination and free will) with regard to Dr. Manhattan. There are also a few interesting chapters, like one proposing that Nite Owl's pot belly actually makes him a better hero and another that considers if Watchmen is bona fide literature or not. I particularly liked chapters three through five, which do a lot to challenge the reader to figure out who the "good guy" in the story really is.

That's not to say the book is without its shortcomings. In particular, I was disappointed that the Comedian wasn't covered more. As one of the central characters - and the only character to be in all the major time periods of the novel (Minutemen-era (1940s), Crimebusters-era (1970s), and the actual setting of the story (1985)) - and especially with his deep psychological profile, you would think more than one chapter out of fifteen would really delve into him (although it is a very engaging chapter).
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By David Crumm on March 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
This cool new Wiley paperback explores lots of philosophical and spiritual questions related to the landmark comic book series and, in effect, the new film as well. If you're trying to discuss the movie in a small group, it's a good idea to grab a copy of this book.

The themes of the original "Watchmen," which first was published decades ago, couldn't be more timely today. Among the major questions explored in the original comic books (and in this new Wiley companion volume) are themes about authority in our rapidly changing and deeply troubled world.

Who should we regard as heroes? What standards should we require? If super-powerful figures claim the right to be called heroes, should we trust them? As people become extremely powerful in our world, can they betray us? Or, even worse in some cases, can they be so oblivious to the needs of their neighbors that they wind up causing great damage? Is it even possible to be a really super hero today?

This cultural milestone is so complex that -- to crack open a discussion in a small group you're going to need some help. Between these covers, you'll find lots of intriguing pointers.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. J. Kwashnak VINE VOICE on April 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
The Watchmen graphic novel has garnered an increasing amount of attention with the recent release of the movie version of the graphic novel. What was developed by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons is considered by many to be a masterpiece, combining stunning drawings with equally stunning story line, full of action, politics and many questions - some answered, some not. In creating heroes and anti-heroes in Watchmen the duo pose a lot of questions about right, wrong and the grey area in-between. It is in this ambiguity that Mark D. White and his fellow authors search for meaning and answers to philosophical questions. Each of the authors take on different aspect of the novel, happily with very little overlap on topics. (See The Matrix and Philosophy for repetition on the same quotes again and again). Most of the essays are succinct and quite accessible while exploring topics such as feminism and stoicism. Most of the essays enhance the enjoyment of the book and continues to make the reader think. The large clunker that keeps a star from this book is Robert Arp's discussion of homosexuality is well thought out, but only superficially relates to Watchmen, and delves deeper even into where the topic of Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis being gay comes from. This aside a great thought provoking novel gets a great through provoking discussion making the reader continue thinking and learning even after the story is over.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By tvtv3 TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
WATCHMEN AND PHILOSOPHY is a book released under Wiley's popular "Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture" series. This series of books is an attempt to introduce different types of philosophy and philosophical arguments into the public spectrum by focusing on one particular current piece of popular culture and examining the philosophical questions and issues that piece of pop culture raises and examining them in ways that the common laymen can understand. The books are usually divided into a series of 15-20 essays, each written by a different author or authors. Other titles in the series have included HOUSE AND PHILOSOPHY, BATMAN AND PHILOSOPHY, THE SIMPSONS AND PHILOSOPHY, STAR WARS AND PHILOSOPHY, and HARRY POTTER AND PHILOSOPHY.

The WATCHMEN graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons is a major part of the American zeitgeist right now because of the release of the live motion picture based upon the book. Since its publication, WATCHMEN has been an excellent book to use to explore, discuss, and examine philosophical issues. WATCHMEN AND PHILOSOPHY takes several of the ideas the book raises and examines them and explains them so that the average reader can understand them.

The book examines all of the main characters in the novel and uses them and their actions to explore such philosophical topics as ethics, emotivism, retributivism, consequentialism, the concept of an ubermensch, utilitarianism, deontology, authoritarianism, hedonism, egalitarianism, etc. One chapter of the book compares who was the better feminist: Laurie or her mother, Sally. Another chapter argues that Nite Owl is the real hero of the novel because of his pot belly and another examines whether WATCHMEN is really literature or just another comic book with more words and pictures than usual.
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