Batman and Philosophy: The Dark Knight of the Soul

Batman and Philosophy: The Dark Knight of the Soul

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by Mark D. White
     
 

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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

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Overview

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 philosophical trials does this superhero confront in order to keep Gotham safe? Combing through seventy years of comic books, television shows, and movies, Batman and Philosophy explores how the Dark Knight grapples with ethical conundrums, moral responsibility, his identity crisis, the moral weight he carries to avenge his murdered parents, and much more. How does this caped crusader measure up against the teachings of Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Kierkegaard, and Lao Tzu?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
In this, the latest in Wiley’s Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series (South Park and Philosophy, The Office and…, Metallica and…), editors White and Arp assert upfront, and without qualification (apparently, that’s the contributors’ job), their belief that Batman is “the most complex character ever to appear in comic books and graphic novels.” Exploring certain works that have broadened the philosophical undercurrents of the Batman mythos (Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns are cited often, but rarely the new movies), a raft of professors, students and PhD candidates paint Bruce Wayne’s choices as, most often, either utilitarian or deontological, with basic descriptions of these systems helpfully provided for the novice. A few contributions broaden the discussion beyond the well-worn (origin stories of Batman and foes, etc.); casting butler Alfred as Kierkegaard’s “knight of faith” to Batman’s “knight of infinite resignation,” contributor Christopher M. Drohan actually gets close to the archetypal sources that keep the serialized exploits of Batman and other comic heroes from getting stale. Unfortunately, most of these essays get old fast. (July) (Publishers Weekly, July 28, 2008)
Library Journal

White (political science, economics, & philosophy, Coll. of Staten Island/CUNY) and Arp (research associate, National Ctr. for Biomedical Ontology, Univ. at Buffalo; ed., South Park and Philosophy) use the story of a comic book figure-Batman-to deal with myriad philosophical questions. White contributes two of the 20 chapters, and the other 18 are written by various philosophy scholars. The writing in each chapter is engaging as the detailed story of Batman's fictional life and experiences unfold. The philosophical questions concern, e.g., the nature of personal identity; responsibility, or lack of it, for action, including the so-called insane act; free will vs. determinism; the nature of moral acts; social obligation; political commitment; and the ethics of right and wrong. Scattered throughout the chapters are pertinent insights from well-known philosophers of the past and present, including Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Hobbes, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein. There are extensive footnotes for each chapter so that readers can turn to original sources. This philosophical examination of Batman's actions through nearly 70 years of comic books, television shows, and movies is highly recommended for all libraries.
—Leon H. Brody

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780470270301
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
06/16/2008
Series:
Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series, #2
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
195,317
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Mark D. White is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science, Economics, and Philosophy at the College of Staten Island/CUNY.

Robert Arp is a postdoctoral research associate through the National Center for Biomedical Ontology at the University at Buffalo, and edited South Park and Philosophy.

William Irwin is a professor of philosophy at King's College, Pennsylvania, and has coedited The Simpsons and Philosophy and edited Seinfeld and Philosophy, The Matrix and Philosophy, and Metallica and Philosophy.

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