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Watching the Watchmen

  • Mar 18, 2009
WATCHMEN AND PHILOSOPHY is a book released under Wiley's popular "Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture" series. This series of books is an attempt to introduce different types of philosophy and philosophical arguments into the public spectrum by focusing on one particular current piece of popular culture and examining the philosophical questions and issues that piece of pop culture raises and examining them in ways that the common laymen can understand. The books are usually divided into a series of 15-20 essays, each written by a different author or authors. Other titles in the series have included HOUSE AND PHILOSOPHY, BATMAN AND PHILOSOPHY, THE SIMPSONS AND PHILOSOPHY, STAR WARS AND PHILOSOPHY, and HARRY POTTER AND PHILOSOPHY.

The WATCHMEN graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons is a major part of the American zeitgeist right now because of the release of the live motion picture based upon the book. Since its publication, WATCHMEN has been an excellent book to use to explore, discuss, and examine philosophical issues. WATCHMEN AND PHILOSOPHY takes several of the ideas the book raises and examines them and explains them so that the average reader can understand them.

The book examines all of the main characters in the novel and uses them and their actions to explore such philosophical topics as ethics, emotivism, retributivism, consequentialism, the concept of an ubermensch, utilitarianism, deontology, authoritarianism, hedonism, egalitarianism, etc. One chapter of the book compares who was the better feminist: Laurie or her mother, Sally. Another chapter argues that Nite Owl is the real hero of the novel because of his pot belly and another examines whether WATCHMEN is really literature or just another comic book with more words and pictures than usual. There is a wide variety of perspectives in the book and I enjoyed that. For instance, Rorschach is usually seen as being the hero of the story (there were people in the theatre I saw the movie who yelled at the screen in anger when Dr. Manhattan faced off against Rorschach). However, a couple of the essays in the book attempted to illustrate either that Rorschach wasn't a hero or that he was no better than Ozymandias. I don't agree with those arguments, but it was intellectually stimulating seeing why the authors believed what they were saying.

I enjoyed reading WATCHMEN AND PHILOSOPHY. It's not difficult to read and I found it interesting with just the right dose of humor. Recommended for fans of WATCHMEN or those interested in learning more about WATCHMEN.

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About this book


Alan Moore's Watchmen is set in 1985 and chronicles the alternative history of the United States where the US edges dangerously closer to nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Within this world exists a group of crime busters, who don elaborate costumes to conceal their identity and fight crime, and an intricate plot to kill and discredit these "superheroes."

Alan Moore's Watchmen popularized the graphic novel format, has been named one of Time magazine's top 100 novels, and is now being made into a highly anticipated movie adaptation. This latest book in the popular Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series peers into Moore's deeply philosophical work to parse and deconstruct the ethical issues raised by Watchmen's costumed adventurers, their actions, and their world. From nuclear destruction to utopia, from governmental authority to human morality and social responsibility, it answers questions fans have had for years about Watchmen's ethical quandaries, themes, and characters.
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ISBN-10: 0470396857
ISBN-13: 978-0470396858
Author: Mark D. White
Publisher: Wiley

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