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Philosophy and the Interpretation of Pop Culture

Edited by William Irwin and Jorge J. E. Gracia

Aristotle analyzed the popular art of his time: the tragedies and epics. Why should philosophers today not do likewise? Perhaps we can learn something from children's stories by subverting the dominant paradigm of adult authority and admitting with Socrates that we don't know all the answers. Perhaps Batman has ethical lessons to teach that generalize beyond the pages of comic books. Is it better to like Mozart than it is to like Madonna? Kurt Cobain gave voice to the attitude of a generation, singing, 'Here we are, now entertain us.' Is entertainment a bad thing, or could it actually have value-and not just instrumental value? « less more »
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 288Size: 6 x 9 1/4
978-0-7425-5174-9 • Hardback • November 2006 • $106.00 • (£70.00)
978-0-7425-5175-6 • Paperback • November 2006 • $35.00 • (£23.95)
978-1-4616-4084-4 • eBook • November 2006 • $33.00 • (£22.95)
William Irwin is associate professor of philosophy at King's College, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

Jorge J. E. Gracia is Samuel P. Capen Chair and SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Philosophy at SUNY-Buffalo. He is the author of Surviving Race, Ethinicity, and Nationality (2005).
Part 1 Acknowledgements
Part 2 1. Philosophy Engages Popular Culture: An Introduction
Part 3 Part I: Philosophy and Popular Culture
Chapter 4 2. Philosophy and the Probably Impossible
Chapter 5 3. Philosophy as/and/of Popular Culture
Chapter 6 4. Allusion and Intention in Popular Art
Chapter 7 5. On the Ties That Bind: Characters, the Emotions, and the Popular Fictions
Chapter 8 6. Liking What's Good: Why Should We?
Chapter 9 7. Popular Art and Entertainment Value
Part 10 Part II: Interpretation and Popular Art Forms
Chapter 11 8. Popular Culture and Spontaneous Order: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Tube
Chapter 12 9. From Horror to Hero: Film Interpretations of Stocker's Dracula
Chapter 13 10. Socrates at Story Hour: Philosophy as a Subversive Motif in Children's Literature
Chapter 14 11. Of Batcaves and Clock-Towers: Living Damaged Lives in Gotham City
Chapter 15 12. "American Pie" and the Self-Critique of Rock 'n' Roll
Chapter 16 13. Photography, Popular Epistemology, Flexible Realism, and Holistic Pragmatism
Whether we call it popular culture or mass art, there's plenty of people who think it's like junk food — bad for you. This collection by top scholars makes a strong case that there's not just some nourishment mixed in there, but even some entries worth savoring. Popular culture can educate, arouse emotions, ponder philosophy, and make esoteric allusions that reward aesthetic attention.
Cynthia A. Freeland, Professor and Chair, Department of Philosophy, University of Houston

The variety of approaches and depth of insight in this diverse set of essays makes this volume required reading for all those interested in taking philosophy out of the ivory tower.
Thomas Wartenberg, Professor of Philosophy, Mt. Holyoke College

The analysis of popular culture is a booming industry. Blogs, VH1, The New York Times, heady academic conferences devoted to Buffy the Vampire Slayer: in contrast to a generation ago, it seems that everyone today is taking popular culture seriously. Some of the most insightful observations are coming from philosophers whose work can be found in this book, a rollicking collection of essays that demonstrates how useful philosophy can be in illuminating the products of mass culture.
Robert Thompson, Trustee Professor, Media and Popular Culture and Director, Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture, Syracuse University

The collection is fun. This book will be interesting to aestheticians and people who have been watching the popular culture and philosophy trend closely.
Metapsychology Online Reviews, March 2008

A welcome addition to the ever-growing pile of books on philosophy and popular culture.
Journal of Aesthetic Education, Summer 2008

For too long, philosophers have marginalized or even ignored mass culture. This engaging anthology, which is erudite and readable, sometimes provocative but often very funny, will decisively change the way that mass culture is understood. So go for it!
David Carrier, Champney Family Professor, Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Institute of Art, and Senior Fellow, National Center for th