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David Bowie and Philosophy

Author : Theodore G. Ammon
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Among the topics explored in David Bowie and Philosophy are the nature of Bowie as an institution; Bowie’s work in many platforms, including movies and TV; Bowie’s spanning of low and high art, and his relation to Warhol; the influence of Buddhism and Kabuki theater; the recurring theme of Bowie as a space alien, including “Space Oddity” and The Man Who Fell to Earth; the dystopian element in Bowie’s thinking, displayed in “1984” and the album Outside; the role of fashion in Bowie’s creativity; personal identity as preserved over various divergent personae; the aesthetics of theatrical rock and glam rock; Bowie’s public identification with bisexuality and his influence within the LGBTQ community. Pervasive themes in Bowie’s output include change, time, apocalypse, dancing, mind-body dualism, and spirituality. In the dualistic universe that undergirds his lyrics, body consistently wins over mind, but body is nevertheless on the hook of moral responsibility. There is thus an inherent tension: the overwhelming desires of bodily drives versus the repressive institutions such as church and the omnipresent “They” who would have us do otherwise than our body want. The emergent paradox in Bowie is that for all his alleged sexual indulgences, in the end mind trumps body.

Jimi Hendrix and Philosophy

Author : Theodore G. Ammon
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In his brief career Jimi Hendrix transformed rock music, established himself as the greatest guitarist of all time, and left a rich legacy of original songs and dazzling recordings. In Jimi Hendrix and Philosophy, philosophers come to terms with the experience and the phenomenon of Hendrix, uncovering some surprising implications of Hendrix’s life and work. Much of this book is concerned with the restless polarities and dualities that reveal themselves through Hendrix. His compositions display a preoccupation with the tragic nature of life, moving between the polarities of Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Idea and and Platonic philosophy. Jimi’s “guitar-being” has surprising implications for the philosophical relation between mind and body. There is in Hendrix a duality between innovation and tradition—innovation in psychedelic sonic adventures and tradition in the form of the blues. Hendrix exemplifies the interaction of technology and art, as seen in his use of feedback, varieties of noise, and backwards reel-to-reel playing. How much of the Hendrix phenomenon can be explained by the technological situation and how much by his own unique genius? Everyone knows about Hendrix’s use of feedback in the narrow sense, but feedback can also be viewed as a general phenomenon that arises in complex dynamical systems and emerges at the border of chaos and order. Although critics associate Hendrix’s lifestyle and early death with self-destructive patterns of the Sixties, his actual thoughts as revealed in his songs and writings show a more positive and constructive concern with authentic freedom. What did Hendrix mean when he spoke of “the realities” of conflict conveyed in “Machine Gun”? What is a “Voodoo Chile”? When does noise become music? These and other questions are addressed in Jimi Hendrix and Philosophy. Hendrix’s undying popularity following his death in 1970 has led to the release over the years of a large body of material which Hendrix would never have chosen to make public, raising serious questions about what we owe to the dead and how we view the construction of the artist’s public persona.

Peanuts and Philosophy

Author : Richard Greene
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In Peanuts and Philosophy, twenty philosophers, from a diverse range of perspectives, look at different aspects of the Peanuts canon. How can the thoughts of children, who have yet to become grown-up, help us to become more grown up ourselves? Do we get good results from believing in something like the Great Pumpkin, even though we’re disappointed every time? What can Linus’s reactions to the leukemia of his friend Janice tell us about the stages of grief? Why don’t we settle what’s right and what’s wrong by the simple method of asking Lucy? Is true happiness attainable without a warm puppy? Do some people’s kites have a natural affinity for trees? Is Sally an anarchist, a nihilist, or just a contrarian? Does Linus’s reliance on his blanket help him or hurt him? Is Charlie Brown’s philosophy of life pathetic or inspirational? Other topics include: how the way children think carries general lessons about transcending our limitations; the Utopian quest as illustrated by Charlie’s devotion to the Little Red-Haired Girl; Snoopy’s Red Baron and history as selective memory; the Head Beagle as Big Brother. And, as we would expect, Lucy’s repeated cruel removal of Charlie's football has several philosophical applications.

Red Rising and Philosophy

Author : Courtland Lewis
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Red Rising and Philosophy has gathered together a crew of the wisest Helldivers philosophy can offer. Could humanity's love of physical enhancements cause its extinction? Do people doom humanity by trying to all be the same? Can a person love someone, while at the same time wanting that person destroyed? Is equality always the best principle on which to organize society? What is evil, and how does it exist in contemporary life? Does one remain the same person, even after changing every physical aspect of one's body? Is it moral to sell oneself into slavery, whether it’s through sex or manual labor? Is it ethical to sell one's children into slavery, on the promise that their children will live in peace and tranquility? These questions and more are what make Brown’s Red Rising trilogy such an impactful story. Brown pulls no punches, and philosophy works best in such an environment. Red Rising and Philosophy is not for the timid or the faint at heart. It’s not The Passage, since no one will die from reading it, but reading it could be a life-changing experience.

Mr Robot and Philosophy

Author : Richard Greene
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Mr. Robot has been hailed, not only as one of the most haunting and unnerving dramas ever to appear on television, but also as the first accurate popular presentation of how computer hacking and cyberterrorism actually work. Mr. Robot and Philosophy is aimed at thoughtful fans of this addictive show who will welcome the opportunity to explore Elliot Alderson's world from a philosophical perspective. The developing story of Mr. Robot constantly raises ethical and metaphysical issues. What happens to our personal identity when it’s extended into cyberspace and an array of electronic devices? Are we in control of our online lives or are we being controlled? What does our right to privacy mean in a world where millions of people can observe what we’re doing and saying? Is a virtual currency true money and could it replace traditional money? Can there be healthy forms of drug addiction? Can some types of so-called mental illness be useful and beneficial? Does it make any sense to unleash destruction upon the existing corporate economic structures, and can we expect something better to emerge from the ruins of a digital meltdown?

The X Files and Philosophy

Author : Robert Arp
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In The X-Files and Philosophy, thirty-six fearless philosophers seek for the truth which is out there, in here, at least somewhere, or (as the postmodernists claim) nowhere. One big issue is whether the weird and unexplained happenings, including the existence of entities unknown to traditional science, might really exist. And if they did, what would be the proper way to behave towards them? Some of these entities seem to flout conventional laws of nature—but perhaps we need to allow for different, as yet undiscovered, laws. If such fabulous entities really exist, what do we owe them? And if they don’t exist, why do we imagine they do? In The X-Files, regular science is represented by Scully and usually turns out to be wrong, while open-minded credulity or pseudoscience is represented by Mulder and usually turns out to be right, or at least somehow on the right track. Scully demands objective, repeatable evidence, and she usually gets it, with Mulder’s help, in astounding and unwelcome ways. What lessons should we take from the finding of The X-Files that respectable science is nearly always wrong and outrageous speculative imagination nearly always right?

The Ultimate Game of Thrones and Philosophy

Author : Eric J. Silverman
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The Ultimate Game of Thrones and Philosophy treats fans to dozens of new essays by experts who examine philosophical questions raised by the Game of Thrones story. This ultimate analysis provides the most comprehensive discussion to date and engages the Game of Thrones universe through the end of Season Six of the HBO series. Ned Stark, Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow, Joffrey, Cersei, Brienne, Arya, Stannis, and many other characters are used to apply the traditional philosophical questions that everyone faces. How should political leaders be chosen in Westeros and beyond? Is power merely an illusion? Is it immoral to enjoy overly violent and sexual stories like Game of Thrones? How should morally ambiguous individuals such as Jamie Lannister: The Kingslayer and Savior of King’s Landing be evaluated? Can anyone be trusted in a society like Westeros? What rules should govern sexual relationships in a world of love, incest, rape, and arranged marriage? How does disability shape identity for individuals like Tyrion, Bran, and others? How would one know whether there is a God in the Game of Thrones universe and what he is like?

Hamilton and Philosophy

Author : Aaron Rabinowitz
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In Hamilton and Philosophy, professional thinkers expose, examine, and ponder the deep and controversial implications of this runaway hit Broadway musical. One cluster of questions relates to the matter of historical accuracy in relation to entertainment. To what extent is Hamilton genuine history, or is it more a reflection of America today than in the eighteenth century? What happens when history becomes dramatic art, and is some falsification of history unavoidable? One point of view is that the real Alexander Hamilton was an outsider, and any objective approach to Hamilton has to be that of an outsider. Politics always involves a debate over who is on the margins and who is allowed into the center. Then there is the question of emphasizing Hamilton’s revolutionary aspect, when he was autocratic and not truly democratic. But this can be defended as presenting a contradictory personality in a unique historical moment. Hamilton’s character is also one that blends ambition, thirst for fame, and concern for his immortal legacy, with inability to see his own limitations, yet combined with devotion to honor and the cultivation of virtue. Hamilton’s evident ambition led him to be likened to Macbeth and Shakespearean tragedy can explain much of his life.

American Horror Story and Philosophy

Author : Richard Greene
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In American Horror Story and Philosophy, philosophers with varying backgrounds and interests explore different aspects of this popular “erotic thriller” TV show, with its enthusiastic cult following and strong critical approval. The result is a collection of intriguing and provocative thoughts on deeper questions prompted by the creepy side of the human imagination. As an “anthology show,” American Horror Story has a unique structure in the horror genre because it explores distinct subgenres of horror in each season. As a result, each season raises its own set of philosophical issues. The show’s first season, Murder House, is a traditional haunted house story. Philosophical topics expounded here include: the moral issues pertaining to featuring a mass murderer as one of the season’s main protagonists; the problem of other minds—when I see an old hag, how can I know that you don’t see a sexy maid? And whether it is rationally justified to fear the Piggy Man. Season Two, Asylum, takes place inside a mid-twentieth-century mental hospital. Among other classic horror subgenres, this season includes story lines featuring demonic possession and space aliens. Chapters inspired by this season include such topics as: the ethics of investigative reporting and whistleblowing; personal identity and demonic possession; philosophical problems arising from eugenics; and the ethics and efficacy of torture. Season Three, Coven, focuses on witchcraft in the contemporary world. Chapters motivated by this season include: sisterhood and feminism as starkly demonstrated in a coven; the metaphysics of traditional voodoo zombies (in contrast to the currently fashionable “infected” zombies); the uses of violent revenge; and the metaphysics of reanimation. Season Four, Freak Show, takes place in a circus. Philosophical writers look at life under the Big Top as an example of “life imitating art”; several puzzles about personal identity and identity politics (crystallized in the two-headed girl, the bearded lady, and the lobster boy); the ethical question of honor and virtue among thieves; as well as several topics in social and political philosophy. Season Five, Hotel, is, among other disturbing material, about vampires. Chapters inspired by this season include: the ethics of creating vampire progeny; LGBT-related philosophical issues; and existentialism as it applies to serial killers, Season Six, Roanoke, often considered the most creative of the seasons so far, partly because of its employment of the style of documentaries with dramatic re-enactments, and its mimicry of The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. Among the philosophical themes explored here are what happens to moral obligations under the Blood Moon; the proper role of truth in storytelling; and the defensibility of cultural imperialism.

Orphan Black and Philosophy

Author : Richard Greene
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In Orphan Black, several apparently unconnected women discover that they are exact physical doubles, that there are more of them out there, that they are all illegally produced clones, and that someone is having them killed. They find themselves in the midst of a secret and violent struggle between a fundamentalist religious group, a fanatical cult of superhuman biological enhancement, a clandestine department of the military, and a giant biotech corporation. Law enforcement is powerless and easily manipulated by these sinister forces. The clones are forced to form their own Clone Club, led by the resourceful Sarah Manning, to defend themselves against their numerous enemies and to find out exactly where they came from and why. Orphan Black continually raises philosophical issues, as well as ethical and policy questions deserving philosophical analysis. What makes a person a unique individual? Why is it so important for us to know where we came from? Should we have a say in whether a clone is made of us? Is it immoral to generate clones with built-in health problems or personality defects — and if so, does that mean that producers of clones must practice eugenic selection? What light does the behavior of members of the Clone Club shed on the nature-nurture debate? Is it relevant that most are heterosexual, one is a lesbian, and one is a transgendered male? This TV show shows us problems of biotechnology which will soon be vital everyday issues. But what kind of a future faces us when human clones are commonplace? Will groups of human clones have a tight bond of solidarity making them a threat to democracy? If the world is going to be taken over by an evil conspiracy, would it better be a scientific cult like Neolution or a religious cult like the Prolethians? Should biotech corporations be able to own the copyright on human DNA sequences? What rules of morality apply when you can’t trust the police and powerful groups are ready to murder you?