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Batman and Philosophy: The Dark Knight of the Soul (Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture #9)

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,283 Ratings  ·  120 Reviews
Why doesn't Batman just kill the Joker and end everyone's misery?
Can we hold the Joker morally responsible for his actions?
Is Batman better than Superman?
If everyone followed Batman's example,
would Gotham be a better place?
What is the Tao of the Bat?
Batman is one of the most complex characters ever to appear in comic books, graphic novels, and on the big screen. What
Paperback, 294 pages
Published June 1st 2008 by John Wiley & Sons (first published 2008)
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10th out of 61 books — 12 voters
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For Culture Watchers
99th out of 101 books — 38 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Billie Pritchett
Oct 23, 2015 Billie Pritchett rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Batman and Philosophy was fun, but I would recommend any reader to skip the fourth part, which has to do with issues of identity. Some of my favorite syntheses that emerged in the readings were among Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, and Martin Heidegger vis-a-vis Batman. Here it is in summary form. In some respects, Batman fits the Aristotelian model in that he increases his virtues through their exercise and rears Robin (no innuendo intended) by example. Aristotle advised that if one wanted to be virt ...more
Kevin Wright
Jun 30, 2012 Kevin Wright rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy, batman
Ideally, the Blackwell series of philosophy-meets-pop-culture books simultaneously makes philosophy fun while adding intellectual gravitas to our guilty little pleasures. Given Batman's long history as one of the most complex, resilient and enigmatic characters in all of comics, I had high hopes for this Brave and the Bold-like team-up between the Caped Crusader and the capeless likes of Aristotle, Kant, Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein and Nietzsche.

Batman has become one of the best characters in comi
Jan 28, 2010 Jennifer rated it really liked it
A fun read. Some the essays are mostly discussions of classical philosophical issues with bat-metaphors crammed in ("How does Batman know his batarangs are real?" sorts of things). Some are rather annoying because the author just isn't taking things the least bit seriously ("Oh gosh, I promised my friend I'd have an essay on Batman and it's due this week, well...whatever!"). Others are interesting, light-hearted or serious takes on the intersection of comic books and philosophy. Maybe not surpri ...more
Prithvi Shams
Oct 08, 2015 Prithvi Shams rated it liked it
As more of a philosophy than a comic book fan, I am disappointed. I was expecting an in-depth analysis of the character of Joker and the sociological roots of the crime-haven that is Gotham. Instead, I ended up reading a slightly subtle version of what could easily have been ruminations between the characters of The Big Bang Theory.

This book has more to offer to comic book readers than philosophy aficionados.
(C-) 59% | Very Unsatisfactory
Notes: Not at all captivating, it uses Batman to illustrate philosophical concepts rather than philosophy to illustrate Batman.
May 15, 2009 Kacper rated it did not like it
This book should be renamed "Why did Batman let Robin #2 (Jason Todd) die". Almost every essay is about Jason Todd. Who cares about Jason Todd? Get over Jason Todd.
Sep 20, 2014 Jackie rated it it was ok
The last four chapters of this book stopped me from giving it a single star. While the first 16 chapters use way too many exclamation points and cheesy metaphors and beat certain philosophical theories to a pulp, the last four chapters actually explore different areas of philosophy, and the perspectives of these writers are better explained without using unnecessary fluff. Most of the early chapters rush to make their philosophical points and nothing about philosophy should ever be rushed. I wis ...more
David Shultz
Dec 07, 2014 David Shultz is currently reading it

The book Batman and Philosophy: The Dark Knight of the Soul is about the psychological trials that Batman has to face while protecting Gotham City, as well as maintaining his morals and diving into the mind of the Dark Knight. In this book a group of philosophers and psychologists wrote about how they think Batman's mind works. They go over topics such as, is it ok to make a robin, should Batman just kill the Joker, and other important topics.

One of the most important topics that is discussed i

Feb 11, 2009 Chris rated it liked it
Shelves: batman
Well, I'll be honest and admit some of this book had me pretty dumbfounded. I've never studied philosophy and it would have helped. I did quite like it though. It made good comparisons between Batman and The Joker and also his relationship with other heroes and villains. I found it best to just read the chapters that appealed to me rather than go through the whole book.
Sean Endymion
Jun 08, 2011 Sean Endymion rated it it was ok
I'm so used to essays being arguments, but these are just mostly informational. And truly, it's basic information. The pieces by Jason Howard, David Hart, Carsten Nielson, and "Bat-Tzu" were pretty tasty, but overall, this is a bit of philosophy 101 with Batman thrown in.
Oct 20, 2014 Pedro rated it really liked it
Simples preguntas y simples proposiciones filosóficas son el punto de partida para entender mejor la complejidad de Batman. El libro me gustó mucho porque combina dos cosas que me apasionan: la filosofía y los comics. Los ensayos que componen este libro discuten acerca de la ética persistente en el mundo del Caballero de la Noche. Las razones para no matar al Joker, la decisión de entrenar jóvenes huérfanos para combatir el crimen exponiéndolos a un gran riesgo, la alternativa de usar el dinero ...more
Dec 28, 2008 Ian marked it as to-read
Shelves: comics
My brother got me this for christmas.
Feb 24, 2009 Christina is currently reading it
Ich liebe Batman.
Wesley Fox
May 15, 2015 Wesley Fox rated it it was ok
Shelves: philosophy
In a word, lazy.

The editor, Mark D. White, allowed the contributors to cover much of the same ground. Perhaps if they knew what the others were writing it could have a little more originality. Some contributors seem to know almost nothing about Batman, preferring to talk philosophy then adding "just like Batman" at the end. Rather than a book of the philosophy of the Batman myth, this book largely covers basic philosophical concepts then painfully tries to apply it to whatever the contributor kn
Dave Brown
Feb 02, 2015 Dave Brown rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, philosophy
My curiosity has been easily piqued by books in this vein...that is, popular culture and philosophy examinations. I'm interested in them because the characters and worlds of the books that we read, and programs and films that we watch, provide so much insight into the philosophical and theological through-lines of our generation and culture. Batman has long been one of my favorite superheroes, because his existence on the edge between hero and antihero...the way in which he embraces the darkness ...more
Sep 16, 2009 Oscar rated it really liked it
The whole idea of putting out a book that deals with the philosophy embedded in the world of Batman might seem pretentious, but it works rather well as a whole. The book touches on questions pertaining to Batman's morality, his role in Gotham city, his relationships with his allies and enemies, and the internal dynamics of the city of Gotham itself. Some of the chapters deal solely with Batman's fictional universe as it has been presented in comics, film, and television, while others make connec ...more
Feb 10, 2010 Sophie rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I should know better than to read books like this. Like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy", this sounded interesting and intriguing, but at the end of the day it's really just a bunch of academics trying to find a justification to write about something they really enjoy. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but - okay, I'm probably mostly angry with myself for reading all of this. I do think there are interesting questions that can be asked about Batman, but the way those questions ...more
Nov 06, 2011 Noelle rated it liked it
Built upon the premise of the popular comic book figure, Batman and Philosophy by Mark D. White is a thoughtful arrangement of essays that both entertains and informs its reader. The subjects of the essays range in variety from the elements found in the Batman mythology to their modern philosophical and societal undertones. While each essay is written by a different author, they are coherent in context to one another. Several essays were written in a formal and straightforward style, others inco ...more
Nov 04, 2012 Abdulrahman rated it really liked it
At 1st, I was a little suspicious about philosophy and what it has to do with Batman as a personality, but Batman is my favorite superhero *which is against what this book says as him being a very strong hero*. What this book tries to do or answer is what are the moral examples and principles of Batman as a personality as if it was living in this world.

Deciphering the Batman motives and principles of living and how he has formed his world and system of thought through the years of his living thr
Jul 27, 2011 Ubalstecha rated it really liked it
This was an awesome concept for a book. Use a subject I like, Batman, to teach me about somethings I do not, philosophy. Unfortunately Batman and Philosophy never quite measures up to the concept.

Some of the articles are engrosing, like Tao of the Bat. These are the ones that teach you, effortlessly tying the Batman history and mythology to philosophy.

Unfortunately not all the articles are that good. Some are just OK, but others are dense, dense, dense. These ones put you to sleep.

While some of
Katie Daniels
Feb 12, 2015 Katie Daniels rated it liked it
Far more philosophy then I'm usually comfortable with, interspersed with a number of ethical questions I myself I have pondered, and a great deal of Batman trivia I never needed to know. If you've ever pondered questions like: "Is Batman really better than Superman?" or "Why doesn't Batman just kill the Joker?" then you'll probably enjoy this collection of philosophical musings a great deal.
Apr 30, 2015 Boyd rated it it was amazing
A very good list covering a number of topics, using the best thinkers, and connecting the Batman Universe. A number of topic discussed were

1) Why doesn't Batman just kill the Joker?

2) Can we hold the Joker accountable for his actions?

3) Is Batman better than Superman?

4) Can anyone be Batman?

5) Alfred the loyal servant.

6) Batman and Taoism.
Ali Juma
Aug 07, 2015 Ali Juma rated it liked it
Amusing concept, works to an extent, but drags on a bit too much at times. It tackles a decent amount of topics you'd run across in an Ethics or Philosophy class. Worth checking out if you're into that, albeit it can feel somewhat watered down; but hey, if you need Batman to drag you into being interested in philosophy, that's what needs to be done.
Nov 18, 2015 Michael rated it really liked it
This book helps with the problem I often have with 'the whole point of being philosophical" that being there is rarely a big one, or at least not big enough to Warner so many words on a topic.
Batman is the spoonful of sugar I needed to get through some very thought provoking and, after all, interesting topics.
Nov 24, 2014 Weiti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, 2014
Wegen einiger Schreibfehler und manchmal zu lockerem Ton habe ich schon fast zu drei Sternen tendiert. Jedoch sind die Themen und philosophische Ansätze in Bezug auf das Batman-Universum sehr interessant und machen das auf jeden Fall wieder wett. Darüber hinaus kann man auch super einsteigen, ohne vorher vieles aus der Philosophie gelesen zu haben und erhält doch einen guten Überblick.
Jacob McElroy
Nov 01, 2010 Jacob McElroy rated it really liked it
This book is really less about the Dark Knight than it is an introductory work on basic philosophy. It is really a series of essays written by academics who are fans of Batman. This works out well, though. Instead of being a book solely for comic book geeks with a slight penchant for philosophical inquiry, it is like a philosophy textbook that uses Batman (and his supporting characters) to explain certain ways of viewing the world.
For an aspiring writer, this book is a good example to be looked
Matt Thomas
Having read and enjoyed Batman stories since I was young, and having a BA in Philosophy, I know a little more than average about both topics, and therefore found that most of the ideas and level of detail were a little simplistic. However, someone who knows one and not the other (and is interested in the other) would probably get a good deal of good out of this book. I found that I discovered a few things about aspects of some philosophers and ideas that I wasn't clear on before, because of the ...more
Jul 07, 2010 Ross rated it it was amazing
I think this is one of the best introductory books on philosophy that I've ever read. Filled with many essays on different classical and modern philosophical subjects, it uses surprisingly well researched situations and stories form Batman movies, comics, and yes, even that TV show. The essays are written in a conversational, informal approach (with specific philosophical terms identified explicitly) by actual philosophers (whatever those are), and they seem to have done a surprising amount of r ...more
Alice Urchin
Jan 21, 2014 Alice Urchin rated it it was ok
I liked the concept of this book a lot, but so many of the essays felt like too much of a stretch to me. I really enjoyed the Batman and Psychology book and hoped this book would be similar. I liked the Tao of the Bat section and some of the ethics of killing/not killing parts, but a lot of it was boring and felt like academics just using examples from Batman to talk about philosophical concepts vs. actually exploring interesting philosophical issues in the Batman world.
Feb 18, 2015 Chris rated it it was amazing
"Do you want to know what power is? Real power? It's not ending a life, it's saving it. It's looking in someone's eyes and seeing that spark of recognition that instant, they realize something they'll never forget."

This book is gold. Just further feeds my obsession of learning the virtues of the caped crusader.
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