Thursday, May 04, 2006

Pop Culture And Philosophy Series

I like to talk philosophy with people. Most people don't really like to talk philosophy, though. Mostly, they just like to tell you what they think about life, the universe and everything. And I encourage that. Clever, aren't I?

So, a few years back, I discovered these books called "The Pop Culture and Philosophy Series". It's a really cool idea, actually. Take pop culture phenomena like The Simpsons and use examples from them to explain and illuminate philosophical concepts, from Manichaeism to the Categorical Imperative and beyond. They generally have twelve to fifteen articles from various current thinkers who tend to love the particular phenomenon under discussion. I've managed to work my way through five of them so far: Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars and Superheroes.

By reading through these books, I've discovered something interesting. The more religious connotations something has, the less Christians think about it. For example, the BtVS volume has only one article concerning the existance of God, and God is only mentioned in passing in a couple of other chapters. I'd like to remind everyone that Buffy and crew carry crosses and holy water that damage vampires. Because they're HOLY! They fight Demons! From various Hell-Dimensions!

But the Superheroes volume is absolutely God-ridden. I don't know what it is about an alien from Krypton, a man dressed up as a bat / spider or a woman with a mystical gauntlet that rips her clothes off before destroy "the evil" that makes people think of Jesus, but there's something that does. There are at least seven articles that come to the conclusion that God must exist for morality to exist in this book. Why do so many authors come to this conclusion? Well, usually because any other reasoning contradicts our intuition.

Which should be an obvious conclusion, because we all know that the universe is required to conform to our intuition, right? What horse-puckey. There's one article that actively attacks naturalism as a personal philosophy because it violates our intuition that someone can be moral without there being the threat of ultimate punishment. Although the author tries to put it in terms of justice, instead. But when you get down to brass tacks, he's talking about divine retribution.

Apparently, the fact that superheroes are moral beings who fight crime when they don't have to do so stems directly from the supposed existance of a deity. And of course, it's almost always the Christian deity. Only one of the articles even mentions non-Judeo-Christian religious traditions.

It's really kind of depressing. It seems that the farther along they go in this series of books, the more God-ridden they get. But there's some potential light at the end of the tunnel. There's one coming out this year entitled Poker and Philosophy. I'm interested to see if they can somehow inject Jesus into aces over eights.

{Insert Dead Man's Hand joke here.}

1 Comments:

Blogger Ranson said...

That's easy: There is an absolute meta-reality outside the game that trumps the rules as they are laid out.

In other words, a Smith & Wesson beats four aces.

10:55 AM  

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"Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul..." -- Mark Twain

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Fire does not wait for the sun to be hot,

Nor the wind for the moon, to be cool.

-- the Zenrin Kushu