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Popular Culture and Philosophy #2: The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'Oh! of Homerby William (edt) Irwin
Synopses & Reviews
No less an authority than Homer Simpson himself has declared: "Cartoons don't have any deep meaning. They're just stupid drawings that give you a cheap laugh." Don't have a cow, man. Here comes a squadron of erudite scholars with the guts to challenge even Homer's pessimistic view of his family's historic plight.
Does Homer Simpson really exhibit Aristotelian virtues? Can we learn from Maggie about the value of silence? Is Bart the kind of individual Nietzsche was trying to warn us about? How does Lisa illuminate American ambivalence toward intellectuals?
Here we can find out about irony and the meaning of life, the politics of the nuclear family, Marxism in Springfield, the elusiveness of happiness, popular parody as a form of tribute, and why we need animated TV shows. As if all that weren't enough, this book actually contains the worst philosophy essay ever.
Now that we have The Simpsons and Philosophy, we can all rub our hands together and say, in a slow, sinister, breathy voice: "Excellent..."
"Each essay provides a hilarious but incisive springboard to some aspect of philosophy. Can we learn something about the nature of happiness from the unhappy, miserly Mr. Burns? What are Springfield's sexual politics? What makes Bart Simpson a Heideggerian thinker? Could Bart be the Nietzschean ideal? These are the kind of 'meaty philosophical issues' TV viewers can expect to find covered by the 21 contributors to this entertaining book, with interpretations drawn from the works of Sartre, Kant, Karl Marx, Virginia Woolf, Roland Barthes and others." Publishers Weekly
"From 'Thus Spake Bart,' an essay comparing Bart, the bad boy of Springfield, and Nietzsche, philosophy's ultimate bad boy, to explication of the aesthetic philosophy of the allusions the show is famous for making, the book is consistently successful. Even the impenetrable Immanuel Kant becomes outright hilarious in a rollicking analysis of the virtue of duty in Springfield....[T]hese pieces make erudite concepts accessible by viewing things through the lens of a great cartoon series." John Green, Booklist
"What a great book! The chapters are by turns fun, profound, and instructive. You'll be surprised at what wisdon lurks in these pages." Tom Morris, author of If Aristotle Ran General Motors
"Not only is The Simpsons and Philosophy highly educational, it enhances the viewing and re-viewing of the Simpsons episodes..." Professor Per Broman, Butler University, Indianapolis
"The authors in this volume really immerse themselves in The Simpsons, and the result is this absolutely unique book. Go for it!" Professor David Carrier, Carnegie Mellon University
Book News Annotation:
Irwin (philosophy, King's College, PA) and his co-editors present 18 essays that look at the philosophical implications and underpinnings of the popular animated satire The Simpsons. Contributed by academics specializing in philosophy and literature, the essays explore the moral universe of the five major characters in the Simpsons (including a reflection on baby Maggie's silence as a protest against stifling society) and use situations on episodes of the show to look at a variety of philosophical questions, including the nature of hypocrisy, the sexual politics of the show, the example of neighborly love skewered by the depiction of Ned Flanders, and a Marxist critique of the show as being an opiate that distracts us from the true realities of capitalist evils.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The Simpsons is one of the most literary and intelligent comedies on television today — fertile ground for questions such as: Does Nietzsche justify Bart's bad behavior? Is hypocrisy always unethical? What is Lisa's conception of the Good? From the editor of the widely-praised Seinfeld and Philosophy, The Simpsons and Philosophy is an insightful and humorous look at the philosophical tenets of America's favorite animated family that will delight Simpsons fans and philosophy aficionados alike.
Twenty-one philosophers and academics discuss and debate the absurd, hyper-ironic, strangely familiar world that is Springfield, the town without a state. In exploring the thought of key philosophers including Aristotle, Marx, Camus, Sartre, Heidegger, and Kant through episode plots and the characters' antics, the contributors tackle issues like irony and the meaning of life, American anti-intellectualism, and existential rebellion. The volume also includes an episode guide and a chronology of philosophers which lists the names and dates of the major thinkers in the history of philosophy, accompanied by a representative quote from each.
This unconventional and lighthearted introduction to the ideas of the major Western philosophers examines The Simpsons — TVs favorite animated family. The authors look beyond the jokes, the crudeness, the attacks on society — and see a clever display of irony, social criticism, and philosophical thought. The writers begin with an examination of the characters. Does Homer actually display Aristotles virtues of character? In what way does Bart exemplify American pragmatism? The book also examines the ethics and themes of the show, and concludes with discussions of how the series reflects the work of Aristotle, Marx, Camus, Sartre, and other thinkers.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Meditations on Springfield? 1
Part I The Characters 5
1. Homer and Aristotle 7
2. Lisa and American Anti-intellectualism 25
3. Why Maggie Matters: Sounds of Silence, East and West 34
4. Marge's Moral Motivation 46
5. Thus Spake Bart: On Nietzsche and the Virtues of Being Bad 59
Part II Simpsonian Themes 79
6. The Simpsons and Allusion: "Worst Essay Ever" 81
7. Popular Parody: The Simpsons Meets the Crime Film 93
8. The Simpsons, Hyper-Irony, and the Meaning of Life 108
9. Simpsonian Sexual Politics 126
Part III I Didn't Do It: Ethics and The Simpsons 145
10. The Moral World of the Simpson Family: A Kantian Perspective 147
11. The Simpsons: Atomistic Politics and the Nuclear Family 160
12. Springfield Hypocrisy 179
13. Enjoying the so-called "Iced Cream": Mr. Burns, Satan, and Happiness 191
14. Hey-diddily-ho, Neighboreenos: Ned Flanders and Neighborly Love 202
15. The Function of Fiction: The Heuristic Value of Homer 215
Part IV The Simpsons and the Philosophers 233
16. A (Karl, not Groucho) Marxist in Springfield 235
17. "And the Rest Writes Itself": Roland Barthes Watches The Simpsons 252
18. What Bart Calls Thinking 269
Episode List 283
Based on Ideas By 290
Featuring the Voices Of 296
What Our Readers Are Saying
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