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 and contributors to 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. n 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. Contributors: David L.G. Arnold, Daniel Barwick, Eric Bronson, Paul A. Cantor, Mark T. Conard, Gerald J. Erion, Raja Halwani, Jason Holt, William Irwin, Kelley Dean Jolley, Deborah Knight, James Lawler, J.R. Lombardo, Carl Matheson, Jennifer L. McMahon, Aeon J. Skoble, Dale E. and James J. Snow, David Vessey, James J. Wallace, and Joseph A. Zeccardi ''Each essay provides a hilarious but incisive springboard to some aspect of philosophy. ''
No doubt Aristotle just rolled over in his grave. An essay called "Homer and Aristotle" would appear to be a treatise on two ancient Greek thinkers; in this case, it's a depiction of Homer Simpson's Aristotelian virtues. Raja Halwani's "Homeric" essay is amusing, though, and moreover, it actually ends up being enlightening, especially for those just learning Aristotle's ethics. Bart may be a Nietzschean without knowing it; Mr. Burns is a cipher for unhappiness (except when he eats "so-called iced-cream"); and Ned Flanders raises questions about neighborly love. The Simpsons and Philosophy
has a lot to say about The Simpsons
, and even more to say about philosophy.
The book collects 18 essays into an unpretentious, tongue-in-cheek, and surprisingly intelligent look at philosophy through the lens of Matt Groening's vaunted animated series. The editors are quick to point out that they don't think The Simpsons "is the equivalent of history's best works of literature ... but it nevertheless is just deep enough, and certainly funny enough, to warrant serious attention." The writers of the book are mostly professional philosophers, and they are appropriately erudite. But what is truly astonishing, even for a confessed Simpsons addict, is their breadth of Simpsons knowledge, spanning all 12 seasons of the show's history. The Simpsons and Philosophy is obviously not intended to be a turning point in modern thought, but it is an excellent introduction to some core elements of philosophy. --Eric de Place