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The Chronicles of Narnia and Philosophy

Author: Gregory Bassham
Publisher: Open Court
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The Chronicles of Narnia series has entertained millions of readers, both children and adults, since the appearance of the first book in 1950. Here, scholars turn the lens of philosophy on these timeless tales. Engagingly written for a lay audience, these essays consider a wealth of topics centered on the ethical, spiritual, mythic, and moral resonances in the adventures of Aslan, the Pevensie children, and the rest of the colorful cast. Do the spectacular events in Narnia give readers a simplistic view of human choice and decision making? Does Aslan offer a solution to the problem of evil? What does the character of Susan tell readers about Lewis’s view of gender? How does Lewis address the Nietzschean “master morality” embraced by most of the villains of the Chronicles? With these and a wide range of other questions, this provocative book takes a fresh view of the world of Narnia and expands readers’ experience of it.


Narnia and the Fields of Arbol

Author: Matthew T. Dickerson
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
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The remarkable breadth of C. S. Lewis's (1898--1963) work is nearly as legendary as the fantastical tales he so inventively crafted. A variety of themes emerge in his literary output, which spans the genres of nonfiction, fantasy, science fiction, and children's literature, but much of the scholarship examining his work focuses on religion or philosophy. Overshadowed are Lewis's views on nature and his concern for environmental stewardship, which are present in most of his work. In Narnia and the Fields of Arbol: The Environmental Vision of C. S. Lewis, authors Matthew Dickerson and David O'Hara illuminate this important yet overlooked aspect of the author's visionary work. Dickerson and O'Hara go beyond traditional theological discussions of Lewis's writing to investigate themes of sustainability, stewardship of natural resources, and humanity's relationship to wilderness. The authors examine the environmental and ecological underpinnings of Lewis's work by exploring his best-known works of fantasy, including the seven books of the Chronicles of Narnia and the three novels collectively referred to as the Space Trilogy. Taken together, these works reveal Lewis's enduring environmental concerns, and Dickerson and O'Hara offer a new understanding of his pioneering style of fiction. An avid outdoorsman, Lewis deftly combined an active imagination with a deep appreciation for the natural world. Narnia and the Fields of Arbol, the first book-length work on the subject, explores the marriage of Lewis's environmental passion with his skill as a novelist and finds the author's legacy to have as much in common with the agrarian environmentalism of Wendell Berry as it does with the fantasy of J. R. R. Tolkien. In an era of increasing concern about deforestation, climate change, and other environmental issues, Lewis's work remains as pertinent as ever. The widespread adaption of his work in film lends credence to the author's staying power as an influential voice in both fantastical fiction and environmental literature. With Narnia and the Fields of Arbol, Dickerson and O'Hara have written a timely work of scholarship that offers a fresh perspective on one of the most celebrated authors in literary history.


The Wizard of Oz and Philosophy

Author: Randall E. Auxier
Publisher: Open Court
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From the bedtime story by L. Frank Baum to the classic 1939 film, no story has captured the imaginations of generations of children — and adults — like The Wizard of Oz. The story of Dorothy’s journey through Oz, the colorful characters, places, songs, and dialogue have permeated popular culture around the world. The contributors to this volume take a very close look at The Wizard of Oz and ask the tough questions about this wonderful tale. They wonder if someone can possess a virtue without knowing it, and if the realm of Oz was really the dream or if Kansas was the dream. Why does water melt the Wicked Witch of the West and why does Toto seem to know what the other characters can’t seem to figure out? The articles included tackle these compelling questions and more, encouraging readers to have discussions of their own.


Mr Monk and Philosophy

Author: D. E. Wittkower
Publisher: Open Court
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Mr. Monk and Philosophy is a carefully and neatly organized collection of eighteen chapters divided into exactly six groups of precisely three chapters each. Drawing on a wide range of philosophers—from Aristotle and Diogenes, to Siddhartha Gautama and St. Thomas Aquinas, to David Hume and Karl Popper—the authors ask how Adrian Monk solves his cases, why he is the way he is, how he thinks, and what we can learn from him. Some of the authors suggest Monk is a kind of tragic hero, whose flaws help us live out and expunge the fear and anxiety we all experience; that he is more than just his personality or memories, but something more individual and indefinable; and that his most distinctive traits are not the traits that make him a detective, but those that make him a friend. His most notable trait is the dedication he shows to his late wife, Trudy. Other authors explore how Monk encounters the world, arguing that his genius comes not from logic or reasoning, but from his ability to see his surroundings in a pre-conceptualized way; that there isn’t as much distance between his rational beliefs about crimes and evidence and his irrational phobic beliefs as there might seem; and that his phobias have themselves made him approach himself and the world as something to be overcome. Just how does Mr. Monk come to his conclusions? Does he use inductive, deductive, or abductive reasoning? Is he dependent on a false notion of the law of noncontradiction? Is it possible that his reasoning might have more to do with constructing harmonious stories than it does with evidence, causes, or insights? Some contributors ponder Monk's name and what it means given his views on religion. Some authors argue that Mr. Monk's approach to the world is fundamentally similar to that of medieval monastic orders; that his rituals and deductive ‘dancing’ show how he exhibits a kind of shamanism; and that he acts in accordance with the Bodhisattva ideal, bringing others to enlightenment through circumstances and by accident, even though he has no such intention or goal. In one chapter, the author asks how the character Monk is related to other similar characters, arguing that Monk and House are closely related characters, each based on the conflict between reason and emotion which exemplifies the motif of the “troubled genius;” that Monk and House both pursue ethical practices and goals even as they fail at the everyday face-to-face ethics of normal social interactions; and that great detectives all, through their flaws, help us to understand and forgive ourselves for our flaws. And finally, there are several chapters in which the authors consider Monk from the psychologist’s perspective, discussing how Monk’s relationship with Trudy, while having unhealthy codependent elements, demonstrates some important aspects of successful romantic partnerships; how laughter plays a difficult role in mental illness, and the difficult position that the show and therapists are placed in when having to treat seriously disorders that are both tragic and comic; and how, from a psychoanalytic perspective, Monk’s inability to mourn shows us why we both reject and are drawn towards death. In the words of author D. E. Wittkower, "In order to be sure that the reader is able to enjoy the book, every chapter will have an even number of words. You’ll thank me later."


Led Zeppelin and Philosophy

Author: Scott Calef
Publisher: Open Court
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Led Zeppelin, who bestrode the world of rock like a colossus, have continually grown in popularity and influence since their official winding up in 1980. They exasperated critics and eluded classification, synthesizing blues, rock, folk, rockabilly, funk, classical, country, Indian, and Arabic techniques. They performed the alchemical trick of transmuting base led into gold—and platinum—and diamond. They did what they would, finding wisdom through personal excess and artistic self-discipline. “Not a coda to Zeppelin’s legacy, but a blast of metaphysical graffiti as relevant today as the first time we heard the opening chords of ‘Stairway to Heaven’. From Kant to ‘Kashmir’, from Freud to ‘Fool in the Rain’, Calef and company explore Zeppelin’s music in an introspective, suggestive manner worthy of both a blistering Page solo and a bawdy Bonham stomp.” —BRANDON W. FORBES, co-editor of Radiohead and Philosophy “Led Zeppelin’s albums, personalities, live performances, art work, myths, influences, and more, all come under the microscope. Compelling insights and observations add more depth to a subject that continues to thrill and inspire. Each chapter is driven by an unquenchable thirst for Zeppelin knowledge and pulls the reader deeper into the world of Led Zeppelin . . .” —DAVE LEWIS, editor, Tight But Loose


Supervillains and Philosophy

Author: Ben Dyer
Publisher: Open Court
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The devil gets his due in the latest entry in the Pop Culture and Philosophy series. Supervillains and Philosophy features an international cabal of philosophers and comics industry professionals conspiring to reveal the dark details — and deeper meanings — lurking behind today’s most popular comic book monsters. Whether it’s their moral justification for world domination or the wavering boundaries they share with the modern anti-hero, everyone's favorite villains generate as much attention as their heroic counterparts. The 20 essays in this accessible book explore the nature of supervillainy, examine the boundaries of good and evil, offer helpful advice to prospective supervillains, and untangle diabolical puzzles of identity and consciousness. All the legends are here, from Dr. Doom and the Spectre to the Joker and the Watchmen, reconsidered through the lens of classic and modern philosophy.


Movies and the Meaning of Life

Author: Kimberly A. Blessing
Publisher: Open Court
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"The meaning of life is the most urgent of questions," said the existentiallist thinker Albert Camus. And no less a philosopher than Woody Allen has wondered:"How is it possible to find meaning in a finite world, given my waist and shirt size?" "Movies and the Meaning of Life" looks at popular and cult movies, examining their assumptions and insights on meaning-of-life questions: What is reality and how can I know it? (The Truman Show, Contact, Waking Life); How do I find myself and my true identity? (Fight Club, Being John Malkovich, Boys Don't Cry, Memento); How do I find meaning from my interactions with others? (Pulp Fiction, Shadowlands, Chasing Amy); What is the chief purpose in life? (American Beauty, Life is Beautiful, The Shawshank Redemption); and How ought I live my life? (Pleasantville, Spiderman, Minority Report, Groundhog Day).


C S Lewis on Death and Dying

Author: Karen Armer
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By now, many of us have already experienced the death of a precious loved one. Certainly, all of us will face death for ourselves one day. In "C.S. Lewis on Death and Dying," author Karen Armer weaves a dramatic tapestry which tells the story of Lewis's life focusing on his spiritual and philosophical quest for answers about death. The author brilliantly captures the complexity of this man, once an avowed Atheist whose life journey led him to an unwavering faith in God through Christ. To the world, C.S. Lewis does not need an introduction. He was the esteemed author of "The Chronicles of Narnia," among many classics. He was a maverick writer whose limitless imagination made him one of the most fascinating authors in modern history. C.S. Lewis was also a strangely tormented man whose struggle with faith and philosophy inspired his well loved masterpieces. Now, forty four years after the death of Clive Staples Lewis in 1963, author Karen Armer unravels the mystery behind the man, his spiritual journey, and his legacy to literary history.


Bruce Springsteen and Philosophy

Author: Randall E. Auxier
Publisher: Open Court
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Known as the working man's poet, the Boardwalk prophet, or simply, the Boss. If "love is a banquet at which we feed," Bruce Springsteen has provided much food for thought. In this collection of metaphysical probes, a gang of E-street philosophers will undress Bruce's deeper mysteries like irresistible Jersey girls. Can Springsteen settle the nature-nurture debate through his song "Born to Run"? What do the famous philosopher Ricuoer and Springsteen have in common in their depiction of time? These die-hard Springsteen fans, who just happen to be philosophers, compile an entertaining handbook to the field of Springsteen studies, covering topics like Springsteen's connection to Marx and the proletariat, Springsteen's concept of the soul, and his status as a poet.


Johnny Cash and Philosophy

Author: John Huss
Publisher: Open Court
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Interest in the Man in Black has grown since his death in 2003, with increased record sales, cover videos by groups like Nine Inch Nails, and the 2006 biopic Walk the Line cementing his fame. This book honors Cash by examining the many philosophical issues and concepts within his music. From the gender confusion of “A Boy Named Sue” to the ethics of "shooting a man just to watch him die,” philosophers who are fans of Johnny Cash explore the meaning and continuing importance of his work and legacy.