Philosophy and Pop Culture; or, Why Watching Monty Python is the best preparation for Philosophy 1000

by Anna Blanch on August 13, 2009

In a 2007 article Asma argues that philosophy is increasingly paying attention to pop culture. In the Chronicle of Higher Education article, Looking Up From the Gutter: Philosophy and Popular Culture Stephen T. Asma wrote of his, and his discipline growing interest in the interesections between philosophy and pop culture. (you may need to access the article from your institutions proxy through your electronic library). Julie Heyward’s provocative discussion of Asma’s article on the Philosophy of Photography forum is insightful.

Earlier that same year, in their column The Meaning (wink, wink) of Life, George Reisch and Edward Slowik argue that the convergance of philosophy and pop culture can open whole realms of research to scholars and insights to students and readers. In this regular column, titled Pop Goes Philosophy the authors explore the Open Court Publishing Company’s series Philosophy and Pop Culture and share some of the off the wall, insightful, perspective shifting, weirdest, or most puzzling ideas including Ed Slowik’s conclusion that viewing every Monty Python DVD, will actually increase your chances of doing better in Philosophy 1000.

Asma refers to the Simpsons and Philosophy (2001) book in his article. This book is part of Open Court Publishing’s Series on Pop Culture and Philosophy. In a similar vein, Blackwell has the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series. Bleckwell describes their work as a measure of sugar with the medicine, in an effort to redress the “bad public relations problem” philosophy has had “for centuries now” – how very economic!

This series aims to change that, showing that philosophy is relevant to your
life – and not just for answering the big questions like “To be or not to be?”
but for answering the little questions, “To watch or not to watch South Park?”
Thinking deeply about TV, movies, and music doesn’t make you a “complete idiot.”
In fact it might make you a philosopher, someone who believes the unexamined
life is not worth living and the unexamined cartoon is not worth watching.

Is it just a self-aggrandising vanity to justify our pop-culture consumption habits?

This is the full list of Open Court Publishing Company’s Series
Seinfeld and Philosophy: A Book about Everything and Nothing (2000)
The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D’oh! of Homer (2001)
The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real (2002)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale (2003)
The Lord of the Rings and Philosophy: One Book to Rule Them All (2003)
Baseball and Philosophy: Thinking Outside the Batter’s Box (2004)
The Sopranos and Philosophy: I Kill Therefore I Am (2004)
Woody Allen and Philosophy: You Mean My Whole Fallacy is Wrong? (2004)
Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts (2004)
Mel Gibson’s Passion and Philosophy: The Cross, the Questions, the Controversy (2004)
More Matrix and Philosophy: Revolutions and Reloaded Decoded (2005)
Star Wars and Philosophy: More Powerful Than You Can Possibly Imagine (2005)
Superheroes and Philosophy: Truth, Justice, and the Socratic Way (2005)
The Atkins Diet and Philosophy: Chewing the Fat with Kant and Nietzsche (2005)
The Chronicles of Narnia and Philosophy: The Lion, the Witch, and the Worldview (2005)
Hip Hop and Philosophy: Rhyme 2 Reason (2005)
Bob Dylan and Philosophy: It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Thinking) (2006)
Harley-Davidson and Philosophy: Full-Throttle Aristotle (2006)
Monty Python and Philosophy: Nudge Nudge, Think Think! (2006)
Poker and Philosophy: Pocket Rockets and Philosopher Kings (2006)
U2 and Philosophy: How to Decipher an Atomic Band (2006)
The Undead and Philosophy: Chicken Soup for the Soulless (2006)
James Bond and Philosophy: Questions Are Forever (2006)
Bullshit and Philosophy: Guaranteed to Get Perfect Results Every Time (2006)
The Beatles and Philosophy: Nothing You Can Think That Can’t Be Thunk (2006)
South Park and Philosophy: Bigger, Longer, and More Penetrating (2007)
Hitchcock and Philosophy: Dial M for Metaphysics (2007)
The Grateful Dead and Philosophy: Getting High Minded about Love and Haight (2007)
Quentin Tarantino and Philosophy: How to Philosophize with a Pair of Pliers and a Blowtorch (2007)
Pink Floyd and Philosophy: Careful with that Axiom, Eugene! (2007)
Johnny Cash and Philosophy: The Burning Ring of Truth (2008)
Bruce Springsteen and Philosophy: Darkness on the Edge of Truth (2008)
Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy: Mission Accomplished or Mission Frakked Up? (2008)
iPod and Philosophy: iCon of an ePoch (2008)
Star Trek and Philosophy: The Wrath of Kant (2008)
The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy: I Link Therefore I Am (2008)
The Wizard of Oz and Philosophy: Wicked Wisdom of the West (2008)
Radiohead and Philosophy: Fitter Happier More Deductive (2009)
Jimmy Buffett and Philosophy: The Porpoise Driven Life (2009)
Transformers and Philosophy: More Than Meets the Miind (2009)
Stephen Colbert and Philosophy: I Am Philosophy (And So Can You!) (2009)
Supervillains and Philosophy: Sometimes, Evil Is Its Own Reward (2009)
The Golden Compass and Philosophy
Led Zeppelin and Philosophy
World of Warcraft and Philosophy

Wiley-Blackwell’s Catalogue is as follows:
South Park and Philosophy: You Know, I Learned Something Today (December 2006) by Robert Arp (Editor).
Metallica and Philosophy: A Crash Course in Brain Surgery (April 2007) by William Irwin (Editor). Family Guy and Philosophy (August 2007) by J. Jeremy Wisnewski (Editor). The Daily Show and Philosophy: Moments of Zen in the Art of Fake News (September 2007) by Jason Holt (Editor)
Lost and Philosophy: The Island Has Its Reasons (November 2007) by Sharon M. Kaye (Editor)24 and Philosophy: The World According to Jack (November 2007) by Jennifer Hart Weed (Editor), Richard Brian Davis (Editor), Ronald Weed (Editor) Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy: Knowledge Here Begins Out There (January 2008)
by Jason T. Eberl (Editor)
The Office and Philosophy: Scenes from the Unexamined Life (March 2008) by J. Jeremy Wisnewski (Editor)
Batman and Philosophy: The Dark Knight of the Soul (June 2008) by William Irwin (Series Editor), Mark D. White (Editor), Robert Arp (Editor) House and Philosophy: Everybody Lies (December 2008) by William Irwin (Editor), Henry Jacoby Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test (January 2009) by William Irwin (Editor), Mark D. White (Editor)
X-Men and Philosophy: Astonishing Insight and Uncanny Argument in the Mutant X-Verse (March 2009) by William Irwin (Editor), Rebecca Housel (Editor), J. Jeremy Wisnewski (Editor)
Terminator and Philosophy: I’ll Be Back, Therefore I Am (April 2009) by William Irwin, Richard Brown, Kevin S. Decker
Heroes and Philosophy: Buy the Book, Save the World (August 2009) by William Irwin (Series Editor), David K. Johnson (Editor) Twilight and Philosophy: Vampires, Vegetarians, and the Pursuit of Immortality (September 2009) by William Irwin (Series Editor), Rebecca Housel (Editor), J. Jeremy Wisnewski (Editor)
September 2009 Final Fantasy and Philosophy: The Ultimate Walkthrough (October 2009) by William Irwin (Editor), Jason P. Blahuta (Editor), Michel S. Beaulieu (Editor) Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy (January 2010) by William Irwin, Richard Brian Davis

If the intersections between popular culture, media, the arts, and philisophy facsinate you then you might be interested in these calls for papers or abstracts from Open Court Publishing Company (I’d love to hear about anything you decide to submit!):
Monk and Philosophy
Soccer and Philosophy (pdf)
Oz 2009: The Yellow Brick Road in the 21st Century (conference; pdf)
Anime and Philosophy and Manga and Philosophy (pdf)
World of Warcraft and Philosophy
Red Sox and Philosophy (pdf)

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