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Mad Men and Philosophy: Nothing Is as It Seems Paperback – June 1, 2010
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From the Back Cover
Is Don Draper a good man?
What do Peggy, Betty, and Joan teach us about gender equality?
What are the ethics of advertising—or is that a contradiction in terms?
Is Roger Sterling an existential hero?
We're better people than we were in the sixties, right?
With its swirling cigarette smoke, martini lunches, skinny ties, and tight pencil skirts, Mad Men is unquestionably one of the most stylish, sexy, and irresistible shows on television. But the series becomes even more absorbing once you dig deeper into its portrayal of the changing social and political mores of 1960s America and explore the philosophical complexities of its key characters and themes. From Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle to John Kenneth Galbraith, Milton Friedman, and Ayn Rand, Mad Men and Philosophy brings the thinking of some of history's most powerful minds to bear on the world of Don Draper and the Sterling Cooper ad agency. You'll gain insights into a host of compelling Mad Men questions and issues, including happiness, freedom, authenticity, feminism, Don Draper's identity, and more—and have lots to talk about the next time you find yourself around the water cooler.
About the Author
ROD CARVETH is an assistant professor in the department of Communications Media at Fitchburg State College.
JAMES B. SOUTH is chair of the philosophy department at Marquette University. He edited Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy and James Bond and Philosophy.
WILLIAM IRWIN is a professor of philosophy at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. 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 Twilight and Philosophy.
Top customer reviews
Where people's views differ about the show is in the plot lines covering infidelities, sexism, racism, and other human foibles that fuel the drama. The book examines a number of these subjects from its various contributors. The intent, I gather, is to add variety of thought but unfortunately there is so much repetition and duplication in the analysis that after the first third of the book it became the law of diminishing returns. I did enjoy the parts dealing with justification and how often we fool ourselves into believing what we are doing is right (as defined by our own moral code).
And it was great to rediscover standpoint theory or standpoint epistemology which I subscribe to because it is predicated on actual experiences. Also Socrates' "passions prevailing over scruples" is a key theme of Mad Men and is linked to the debate of how different being motivated by self-interest is from actually acting on that self-interest. Truly compelling is Plato's belief that "our emotional responses to fictional drama tend to shape how we respond to events in real life". This notion is deserving of a book dedicated to how aspects of society are now shaped by 'reality television'.
The book also ventures into the debate of just how influential or manipulative advertising is in our daily lives. I tend to favor the theory advanced by contributor Kevin Guilfoy and advanced by economist Milton Friedman who "argues that advertising is informative. not persuasive. Don Draper can't create desire, but even if he could it would not cause us to choose." The book covers the first three seasons and I expect it will become source reading for liberal arts sociology and philosophy programs who trove pop culture as a means of connecting with youthful intellectuals.
I don't want to make this sound like a bad book. It's quite good as a method of learning or re-examining philosophy. Having had both psych and sociology in college, I would have rather seen a more in-depth discussion of the characters that examines why they do what they do, instead of just lessons with a little mad men backstory. This book reminds me a little of when the professors would ask "what was the writer thinking here". But it's not really answering that question either.
Most recent customer reviews
But it was pretty good.
But honestly, I get more out of just watching the "Pitch" and analyzing their pitch, process,...Read more