The real Joon (innerbrat) wrote,
The real Joon

World's Greatest Philosopher

THIRTY DAYS OF MEME: 14: A non-fictional book

I know nothing about philosophy. Nothing at all.

Having read this book, which was a Christmas present from the InnerDad, I now know a very very little about philosophy. Fortunately still, too little to be that little bit of knowledge that is a dangerous thing.

Batman and Philosophy is a series of essays linking various philosophical ideas to reading of the Batman canon. As a reader with a great deal more Batman knowledge than philosophical, it served as an interesting ideas to some basic concepts, particularly in the area of morality, which I hadn't really thought about in the terms presented. Sadly, being a book by multiple authors, the chapters varied in quality and the area I was most looking forward to - The Tao of the Bat, was quite appallingly written and I took nothing from it.

I can't say the book really sold philosophy to me; it gave me some knowledge about it and piqued my interest in some areas, but there's something about the detached way philosophers talk about important subjects, separating themselves from actual implications that leaves a bad taste in my brain - refining life and death morality into hypotheticals seems to take place from a position of extreme privilege, and solicited the same knee-jerk sense of disgust that I get when People On The Internet choose to take 'philosophical' positions when talking about sexism, homophobia, and other important subjects with a greater impact on other people's lives than my own. I don't have a lot of time for it, and I'm not sure that Batman would either.

Still, that's not to say I didn't welcome the chance to learn about utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics &c, I just didn't feel anything in the book striking a major chord for me or persuading me any which way. Occasionally I nodded along and thought 'I agree', occasionally I thought 'Nah, I don't agree', and sometimes I thought 'that's bloody stupid.' I guess I'm just not a philosopher.

I also want to mention that the Batman titles that were cited themselves were selected for their 'mainstream' appeal and therefore weren't necessarily the ones that inform my own opinion of the character. For example, I got a little bit tired of seeing The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One cited as canon sources, as I'm the only Batman fan in the world  who isn't a fan of Frank Miller's take on the character. It's not that I could argue with the points made using that reference, but I wasn't really getting on board with using those works to make a definitive point about the character.

Despite all that, the book is a very entertaining read, and not just because of the chapter explaining why exactly Batman is better than Superman (screw powers; the true measure of a hero is bravery, and it's hard to be truly brave if you're invulnerable). I enjoyed it for the most part, and it did provide me with that very basic introduction to philosophy which, had I been interested in that kind of thing, would have opened up some avenues to explore. As it is, it's a good, enjoyable read and one I recommend.

And of course, I have a book finished now, so if you want to read it, let me know.
Tags: books, dc
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