Metallica and Philosophy: A Crash Course in Brain Surgery


Hit the lights and jump in the fire, you’re about to enter the School of Rock! Today’s lecture will be a crash course in brain surgery. This hard and fast lesson is taught by instructors who graduated from the old school—they actually paid $5.98 for The $5.98 EP. But back before these philosophy professors cut their hair, they were lieutenants in the Metal Militia.

  • A provocative study of the ‘thinking man’s’...
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Hit the lights and jump in the fire, you’re about to enter the School of Rock! Today’s lecture will be a crash course in brain surgery. This hard and fast lesson is taught by instructors who graduated from the old school—they actually paid $5.98 for The $5.98 EP. But back before these philosophy professors cut their hair, they were lieutenants in the Metal Militia.

  • A provocative study of the ‘thinking man’s’ metal band
  • Maps out the connections between Aristotle, Nietzsche, Marx, Kierkegaard, and Metallica, to demonstrate the band’s philosophical significance
  • Uses themes in Metallica’s work to illuminate topics such as freedom, truth, identity, existentialism, questions of life and death, metaphysics, epistemology, the mind-body problem, morality, justice, and what we owe one another
  • Draws on Metallica’s lyrical content, Lars Ulrich’s relationship with Napster, as well as the documentary Some Kind of Monster
  • Serves as a guide for thinking through the work of one of the greatest rock bands of all time
  • Compiled by the editor of Seinfeld and Philosophy: A Book about Everything and Nothing and The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D’oh! of Homer
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The most elucidative dissertation on Metallica ever written. And a kick-ass read to boot!!!”
Scott Ian, guitarist for Anthrax

“Like philosophy itself, Metallica’s music can scare the uninitiated, who fear their brains will hurt. This book makes both philosophy and Metallica accessible to the curious while deepening the experience of those already in the know.”
Theodore Gracyk, author of Rhythm and Noise and Listening to Popular Music

Metallica and Philosophy is, at long last, the book which finally gives everyone’s favorite headbangers due credit for being intelligent, questioning, and even cerebral.”
Joel McIver, author of Justice For All: The Truth About Metallica

“Not just heavy metal, not just rock n’ roll, not just angst oranger or conceptual analysis, but a monster in a category of its own that shows us something dangerous about ourselves and our post-industrial culture.”
Dale Jacquette, Pennsylvania State University

"Intellectual snobs and proud low-brows alike may dismiss this as a joke- though obviously not respected academic publishers Blackwell ... as an introduction to some of the major schools of thought, it is no less worthy than popular books like Sophie's World that have also sought to bring philosophy to the mass market."
Tommy Udo, Metal Hammer

A “provocative study” on one of metal’s greatest bands, this paperback examines the connection between Metallica and highly regarded philosophers like Aristotle and Nietzsche, and “uses themes in Metallica’s work to illuminate topics such as death, metaphysics, epistemology, the mind-body problem, morality, justice and what we owe one another.” Edited by a college professor, chapters include “Alcoholica: When Sweet Amber Becomes The Master Of Puppets,” “To Live and Die: Metallica and The Meaning Of Life” and “Boys Interrupted: The Drama Of Male Bonding In Some Kind Of Monster.”
Metal Edge Magazine

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405163484
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 2/28/2007
  • Series: Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series, #5
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 963,927
  • Product dimensions: 6.05 (w) x 9.08 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

William Irwin is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at King's College, Pennsylvania. He has edited Seinfeld and Philosophy: A Book about Everything and Nothing; The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer (with Mark T. Conard and Aeon J. Skoble); and Critical Thinking: A Student's Introduction (with Gregory Bassham, H. Nardone, and J. Wallace). He is also the author of Intentionalist Interpretation: A Philosophical Explanation and Defense and editor of The Death and Resurrection of the Author.

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Table of Contents

Who’s Who in the Metal Miltia.

Heroes of the Day: Acknowledgments.

Hit the Lights.


1. Whisper Things Into My Brain: Metallica, Emotion, and Morality.

Robert Fudge.

2. This Search Goes On: Christian, Warrior, Buddhist.

William Irwin.

3. Alcoholica: When Sweet Amber Becomes the Master of Puppets.

Bart Engelen.

4. Through the Mist and the Madness: Metallica’s Message of Nonconformity, Individuality, and Truth.

Thomas Nys.


5. The Metal Militia and the Existentialists’ Club.

J. Jeremy Wisnewski.

6. The Struggle Within: Hetfield, Kierkegaard, and the Pursuit of Authenticity.

Philip Lindholm.

7. Metallica, Nietzsche, and Marx: The Immorality of Morality.

Peter S. Fosl.

8. Metallica’s Existential Freedom: From We to I and Back Again.

Rachael Sotos.


9. To Live is to Die: Metallica and the Meaning of Life.

Scott Calef.

10. Madness in the Mirror of Reason: Metallica and Foucault on Insanity and Confinement.

Brian K. Cameron.

11. Ride the Lightning: Why Not Execute Killers?.

Thom Brooks.

12. Living and Dying as One: Suffering and the Ethics of Euthanasia.

Jason T. Eberl.

13. Fade to Black: Absurdity, Suicide, and the Downward Spiral.

Justin Donhauser and Kimberly A. Blessing.


14. Believer, Deceiver: Metallica, Perception, and Reality.

Robert Arp.

15. Trapped in Myself: “One” and the Mind-Body Problem.

Joanna Corwin.

16. Is It Still Metallica? On the Identity of Rock Bands Over Time.

Manuel Bremer and Daniel Cohnitz.


17. Metallica Drops a Load: What Do Bands and Fans Owe Each Other?.

Mark D. White.

18. The Unsocial Sociability of Humans and Metal Gods.

Niall Scott.

19. Boys Interrupted: The Drama of Male Bonding in Some Kind of Monster.

Judith Grant.

20. Justice for All? Metallica’s Argument Against Napster and Internet File Sharing.

Robert A. Delfino.

The Phantom Lord’s Index

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2008

    Mostly good, but 'course' crashed SEVERELY with ending chapters

    This book showed promise with the 'Suicide,' 'Capital Punishment,' 'Existentialism,' etc., chapters. Signs of thinking and research were fairly obvious. No worries here. However, the last section (containing the last 4 chapters)...failed to show any real intellectual output in fact they came across as 'shout out' as opposed to getting a point across. Personal opinions were offered, but they more like politicians telling the masses what they want to hear except the chapters were simply imposing mindless and pointless tripe on the unknowing readers. As a side note, the next to last chapter seemed to represent some 'Inferiority Complex.' Why? Answer: Extreme view taken against something not understood. Conclusion: The first bulk is excellent, but there was a horrendous 'brain drain' with the final chapters.

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