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Superheroes: The Best of Philosophy and Pop Culture (Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture)

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3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  355 ratings  ·  66 reviews
Explore the philosophical depths of Batman, Superman, Captain America, and your other favorite superheroes—FOR FREE!

Behind the cool costumes, special powers, and unflagging determination to fight evil you’ll find fascinating philosophical questions and concerns deep in the hearts and minds of your favorite comic book heroes.

Why doesn't Batman just kill the Joker and end ev

...more
Kindle Edition, 157 pages
Published June 24th 2011 by Wiley
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Community Reviews

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Kirstine
When I first saw the title of the book, I couldn't believe my eyes. There are few things I love more than superheroes, and one of those is philosophy. So to say that this was the perfect book for me, is a slight underestimation (and on top of that it was FREE, halleluja).

It didn't disappoint me either. I know how exhaustingly difficult it can be to wrap ones head around various philosophical ideas and theories, but William Irwin does an excellent job at keeping it on a level you understand. It's...more
Bufo Calvin
I'm not sure which the average person finds more frivolous: comic books or philosophy. ;)

The truth, though, is that we are probably influenced more by both than we realize.

Maybe you don't call it philosophy when you debate the merits of what somebody in the news did, or simply say, "That's not right," but that's really what it is.

One of my literary heroes, Doc Savage, has had a great influence in making me a better person. Even though the Doc Savage oath wasn't part of the original stories, I've...more
H.L. Reasby
This was a really fun, surprisingly quick read. Some great insights into our favorite heroes (Captain America, Batman, Spider-Man, and others) are presented and the contributors do a wonderful job of keeping the writing light and easy to understand even as it covers such heavy topics as what it means to be a person.
Kerry Fine
This book is great! I am not a huge comic book fan, but the analogies used here put some of the more complicated questions of philosophy into a context that makes them easier to understand. I admit, I am a bit out of practice when it comes to philosophical thought, so this book was the perfect reintroduction for me.
Arya
The one thing that I really liked about this book is how it captures the essence of what really matters in superheroes comics. More than the pretty graphics and the whole justice conversation, this Superheroes: The Best of Philosophy and Pop Culture actually highlights the moral questions that comes with being a superhero. It's not just about having powers and means to do justice, it's about defining justice and measuring how you can do what's right causing the minimal possible damage. It's nice...more
Jade
For a comic book fan and a philosophy fan that book was super interesting and fun! I really enjoyed the essay on why Batman doesn't kill the Joker or the one on the Green Lanterns. It's not a perfect book and some essays were less good than others but overall a great read.
Alan Ryker
A really fun and thought-provoking read. These people know both their philosophy (as expected) and their comic books (did not expect that). my only complaint is that it focuses too much on ethics at the expense of other philosophical topics.
Amy
Although I generally approach texts with the word "philosophy" in the title with some trepidation, I quite enjoyed this book. It offered the reader some insights into the major tenets of major philosophers by using superheroes as models. The Green Lantern stories embody Aristotle's theory of morality as a balance of emotion and reason. Why doesn't Batman kill the Joker? Because, according to deontologists, the act must always be justifiable on its own merits, and if we accept that killing is wro...more
Tiara
This is my 4th venture into the Pop Culture and Philosophy series. I've previously read Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test, X-Men and Philosophy: Astonishing Insight and Uncanny Argument in the Mutant X-Verse, and Batman and Philosophy: The Dark Knight of the Soul.This book is a culmination of the best essays from various comic related books in the series.

A few of these I'd already read in the previously mentioned books, but there were quite a few that I hadn't read. These essays touch o...more
Tom Schulte
This is free for the Kindle! Anyway, with the Avengers individual movies largely behind us, the group epic less than a year way and so many other superhero flicks: Spider Man, Green Lantern, etc., this is a great read for someone more interested in philosophy than comics, per se. I think The Watchmen was the only comic of any kind I have read in my adult life, but I couldn’t walk about of the Green Lantern movie without referencing the august philosophical work Schopenhauer’s World as Will and I...more
Tom Schulte
This is free for the Kindle! Anyway, with the Avengers individual movies largely behind us, the group epic less than a year way and so many other superhero flicks: Spider Man, Green Lantern, etc., this is a great read for someone more interested in philosophy than comics, per se. I think The Watchmen was the only comic of any kind I have read in my adult life, but I couldn’t walk about of the Green Lantern movie without referencing the august philosophical work Schopenhauer’s World as Will and I...more
Matthew

This book is most effective when it shows a comic book character, gives textual examples of that character's consistent ideology, and then surveys the philosophers who founded/explained that particular worldview for the very first time. In these kinds of sections, the comic book and philosophy explorations interweave seamlessly, creating good layers of thought. I would give these sections 4 stars.

Other sections of this book (and keep in mind that chapters were written by different authors), do...more
Nadyne
First sentence: "Philosophy can change your life, but it may take a superhero for you to realize it."

P. 99: "Perhaps the most surprising emotion that one might advocate as the proper impetus for action is avaris."

Last sentence: "In the X-Verse we should be less dubious of Emma Frost working with the X-Men; the less catlike Beast should question whether, even if the secondary mutation were reversed, he would be the character they miss; and the next time Jean Grey comes back from the dead, we shou...more
T.L. Barrett
I loved, loved, loved this book! Reading this was like having a group of fellow comic fans and philosophers over for a very long and exciting discussion. I devoured this. If you want to look differently at the world and at your favorite comic characters, then this is the book for you. I realize that this is a hook for people to get into the series with examples from different works, but I have to say, one of my favorites was unique to this volume (Captain America and the Virtue of Modesty). I pu...more
Mscout
Building on a growing trend of "Philosophy and..." books that run the gamut of pop cultures, Superheroes is a great way to introduce people to philosophy, especially those who might not be otherwise inclined. A series of essays, the work covers both the Marvel and DC universes as well as philosophers from Plato through to Derek Parfit (b. 1942). It would be easy to dismiss this series as nothing more than philosophical fluff dumbed-down for the masses, but I think one would be missing something...more
Leo Polovets
I don’t read comic books, but this title sounded like a very fun read. Sadly, I couldn’t finish this book. I read the first chapter and skimmed a few more, but couldn’t continue because of a glaring problem: the book assumes you are intimately familiar with various superhero stories. Here are a few sample sentences from a chapter on Thor: “Indeed, when Odin deliberates on Thor’s punishment, he is advised by no less than Seidring the Merciless, who reminds him that ‘justice is justice.’ Odin deci...more
Dennis Schvejda
This free Kindle book served as an introduction to the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series, books I've been meaning to check out. The concept of using pop culture as a springboard to philosophical questions continues a long tradition...

"Philosophers of old understood this and came up with their own memorable examples to illustrate their theories, from Plato’s (428–348 BCE) allegory of the cave to Descartes’ (1596–1650) evil deceiver and beyond. In this book, we continue that long traditi...more
chris bach
A good read

A good read

very much enjoyed this. makes philosophy more interesting and understandable. I'd be interested in other characters and comparisons in a second book
Antonio Ortega
Good selection of philosophers and heroes. Mostly a philosophy book, but the super hero aspect makes for very obvious examples.
Paul
IT is an okay preview, but doesn't give you the meat of the concet.
Corey
3.5 stars. A decent collection of essays.
Simon Evangelist
it was good. taught philosophy through comic book characters. I can't wait to read the other books in the series.
Ron Fitzwater
A fun vacation read.
Amanda
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It assumes no knowledge of either comics or philosophy on the part of the reader, a fact that I especially appreciated. However, that doesn't mean they talk down to the reader. Everything is explained, analyzed, and related to real-world situations through the use of superheroes and other bits of pop culture. Each essay's footnotes are detailed and offer other resources for further reading. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys philosophy or comics or...more
Bandit
I think this technique should be utilized more. As a huge fan of superheroes and someone with more than a passing interest in philosophy, I love the way this book works. A variety of authors write an essay on a different philosophical concept using a superhero of their choice. The results are enlightening as well as entertaining and most of the writers are surprisingly or unexpectedly funny, which makes the reading ever easier. Makes one think...and want to read more comics. Recommended.
Adam Graham
What are the deep implications of Superhero comics? This book has some answers. In reality, it's a sampler for a series of books on various superhero books on philosophies. Most of the articles are fairly engaging (except for the Iron Man one which was rather dry and without a lot of comic book details.) The authors make their heroes relevant philosophical issues for heroes such as Batman, Captain America, and others. While I'm not big into philosophy I did enjoy the book.
Matt
An interesting overview of many philosophical ideas and important people in the field, using superheroes as an excellent reference point for people who have trouble with academic texts while still maintaining the air of legitimate authority in the field, it is a great introduction for those new to philosophy and provides interesting insight into those who are more well read. overall the book was really effective, very interesting, and easy to read.
Luffy Monkey D.
The lowest score is the perfect score for this potboiler of a sham book and I really hate myself for thinking this was going to be any good. I have always prided myself of not buy self help books, however low I got to be in the past. But this book is on that level. For example, it tries to justifies, through Philosophy, why Batman is right not to kill the Joker, ever, even if it means endangering lives of more people. What utter rubbish.
Rob Weisel
Fun read on the plane to NY.
Candy
Umm ... Why doesn't Batman just kill the Joker? Now I get it!
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On Captain America's Modesty 1 7 Nov 29, 2012 09:32AM  
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- B.A. in philosophy, Summa Cum Laude, Fordham University, 1992. Full Presidential Scholarship.

- Dissertation "Harmonizing Hermeneutics: The Normative and Descriptive Approaches, Interpretation and Criticism," Buffalo, 1996, 226 pp. Awarded the Perry Prize for Outstanding Dissertations in Philosophy.

- Ph.D. in philosophy, The State University of New York at Buffalo, June 1, 1996. Presidential Fell...more
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