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Superheroes: The Best of Philosophy and Pop Culture (The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series) by [Irwin, William]
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Superheroes: The Best of Philosophy and Pop Culture (The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series) Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • File Size: 600 KB
  • Print Length: 157 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley (June 24, 2011)
  • Publication Date: June 24, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005CDYQOQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,114 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Elizabeth B. Waniewski on July 19, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very thought provoking. I keep thinking about the issues brought up in this book. I love that. I talk to my kids about Spiderman, and what's a good life, my friend about the trolly experiment. Good stuff.
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Unlike some of my philosophy colleagues, I am an avid fan, supporter and even occasional contributor to the various "and philosophy" series that in the past few years have revolutionized how philosophers present their discipline to the public. Let's face it, when it comes to talking to the layperson, philosophers have a few things to learn from science popularizers, and they are finally learning how to play the game! I teach a class using one of these books, on philosophy and science fiction, and it is a huge success, with a degree of student involvement simply unheard of in any of the other courses we offer. Indeed, I am considering using this book, together with a similar one (the present volume is more of a free extended preview than a full book) for a future offering. At any rate, superheroes -- both of the Marvel and DC variety -- present a number of philosophical themes to ponder. From the question of whether Captain America embodies the Aristotelian virtue of modesty to whether Spiderman is living a good (in the philosophical sense) life; from the issue of whether Superman truly is an American icon to the concept of justice as far as Odin's (Thor's father) is concerned. I particularly enjoyed Jason Southworth's essay on "The blackest night for Aristotle's account of emotions," which draws on the Green Lantern series, and Mark White's "Why doesn't Batman kill the Joker?" which explores the differences between deontology and utilitarianism and features gut wrenching "actual" dialogue between Batman himself and the second Robin, temporarily back from the dead ("Bruce, I forgive you for not saving me. But why . . . why on God's Earth--is he still alive?"). This is a fun book that will revive your interest in both comic books and philosophy, and will make you want to buy other entries in the series (my favorite: "Green Lantern and Philosophy: No Evil Shall Escape This Book," though for full disclosure I have to say that one of my students contributed a chapter).
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This book has a great way of viewing your favorite superheroes through a Philosophic standpoint. It gives new excitement to the superheroes of our youth.
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Inspired me to spend a few hours on Wikipedia not only investigating the philosophy that was written about, but also the gaps in superhero knowledge I have. I don't think I'll be able to think about Wolverine the same way again, that's for sure...
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My older sister once asked me with a look of amused condescension why I liked superhero comics. I was about 10 at the time. I told her it was because the conflicts were big, the stakes high (I'm sure I didn't say it that well). Later I learned how close to the truth I was.

Superheroes may have super powers, but they fight super villains. And in those magnified conflicts we intuitively internalize the metaphor and apply it to our own struggles. That is the insight this book (for free) seeks to bring to our attention and clarify. Not the superhero battles, but the struggles to find meaning and purpose and even happiness, even as they battle to save the world.

I especially liked the connection of the particular superhero's moral and philosophical struggles with the particular philosopher who dealt with that question. Iron man with Descartes over the power and meaning of technology and Spider-Man with Thomas Aquinas and what does it mean to live a Good Life were two of my favorites.

Comic book readers have always been smarter than the critics of comic books have ever admitted (and smarter than the critics, too). This book and the series it is promoting understand that fact and give us comic lovers more of the meat of understanding we were perhaps looking for as boys and teens.

I own two of the books in this series (Matrix and House) and while not every article tickles my tummy I definitely enjoyed both books and this book, too.

Download now for Pete's sake. It's Free!
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This is a neat kindle book put out by the publishers Blackwell. I typically think of their academic books that they published but apparently they have a series on Philosophy and Pop Culture. In this book various contributors explore how superheroes are complex characters that have become the myths of our times. In the introduction the book notes that while philosophers specialize in nuance articulation of philosophy often those who are unfamiliar with the more technical expression of philosophy “gets” their philosophy through the more familiar medium of movies, comics, music and video games. This is a good book for those not as familiar with philosophy to see how philosophy is put in action; it is also a good book for those who are naïve not to see that there are worldview undercurrents in popular culture and entertainment to see that comics and films about superhero are not “value-free” or done in a vacuum apart from a worldview. I think those who do enjoy philosophy will also find this book interesting in showing examples of various philosophy and isms displayed in the comics. I think the book is insightful. For instance I enjoyed the discussion about Captain America and the virtue of humility. I especially enjoyed the chapter on the discussion of why Batman doesn’t kill Joker. I admit it has also made me wanting more and seeing some of the discussion has made me see how various philosophies are inadequate; but to the end that this book is an exploration of philosophies and superheroes this book accomplished it’s goal.
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