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Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test (The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series) 1st Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0470396858
ISBN-10: 0470396857
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Series Editor: William Irwin

Edited By Mark D. White

Watchmen and Philosophy

{A Rorschach Test}

Blackwell Philosophy And Pop Culture Series

This book has not been approved, licensed, or sponsored by any entity or person

involved in creating or producing Watchmen, the comics, graphic novel, or film.

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.

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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: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A while back I read through "Superheroes and Philosophy: Truth, Justice, and the Socratic Way" and found it varied and fascinating. I decided to dive into another like-minded book and figuring how much metaphysical, philosophical, and psychology was packed into Moore and Gibbon's fantastically crafted "Watchmen" I thought that this would book would mine Watchmen's riches. But it didn't feel like it went as deep as it could have when all was read and done.

This book contains 15 essays and is divided into four sections ("The Politics of Power" "Ethics" "The Metaphysics of Dr. Manhattan" and a fourth section that perhaps is best headed as "Society and Art through the Watchmen's Eyes"). Too many of the individual essays felt to similar within the first three sections and I started to notice that many of the writer's didn't posit a thesis so much as propose an idea and how Watchmen explored the idea, which is fine, but some of the writers placed the thesis into an argument and then proceeded to argue the point but in the end (with much humility?) declined conclusiveness. Aaron Meskin's essay "Why Don't You Go Read a Book or Something? Watchmen as Literature" is a perfect example of this. Meskin clearly wants to place Watchmen into the camp of not just literature, but great literature, and then goes about defining literature through a variety of different ways and then deconstructing (or challenging) the definitions while increasing the size of the definition. But by essay's end he doesn't support a firm conclusion: "If Watchmen is a valuable example of a hybrid art form--and it is!--then it deserves to be taken seriously. It doesn't need to be shown to be literature in order to establish its worth.
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