Bill Irwin Defends Blank and Philosophy

Here. I have nothing in principle against these volumes. In fact, I enjoyed reading one (The Simpsons and Philosophy) and contributed to one (Twilight and Philosophy). What bothers me is that they're proliferating like kudzu. There's only so much room on the philosophy shelves at my local bookstore, and I've noticed over the last 5 years that they are increasingly dominated by philosophy and pop culture volumes.  Which means other stuff is less available. And no, it doesn't seem as if these books are whetting appetites for more philosophy.  Over the same time period, I've also seen the philosophy sections shrink at Borders and Barnes and Noble.  When it comes to this sort of thing, perhaps a little less would be a little more.  That being said, one new volume did catch my eye--Climbing and Philosophy.  Nice topic.

UPDATE:  Climbing and Philosophy is part of a new Blackwell series called Philosophy for Everyone.


Faust said...

Why do you think these books aren't whetting appetites for more philosophy? What are you using to measure?

Jean Kazez said...

My sample size is small, but what I have observed is both a great increase in the number of those volumes AND a shrinking of philosophy sections in bookstores. That certainly goes against the idea that reading "Blank and Philosophy" makes people go out and buy more philosophy of all kinds.

Faust said...

I guess I have not observed the shrinking philosophy space that you have. They've given it 1-2 bookshelves for as long as I can remember : /

Isn't it ironic though, that philosophy, which is supposed to be about things like "what we should be doing" and "what it's all about" get relegated to a tiny corner of the store and tries to entice people with pop culture analysis? Makes me laugh.

Wayne said...

I haven't read what Irwin has to say about it yet... I will when I have more than a minnute free... But Irwin is the guy who started this whole thing off with Seinfield and philosophy.

And I think they're just peachy. Of course, I've contributed to few of them (Buffy, the undead, Golden Compass, Terminator, the upcoming Avatar, and editing Neil Gaiman... I feel like I'm missing one though).

My general argument in defense of them is that Aristotle did it with greek tragedies, people do it all the time with poetry, the existentialists essentially created their own pop-culture for their philosophy.

Does it crowd out more philosophical books at the bookstore? Maybe. But I think many of the essays in the volumes make plenty of references to other works that people might be interested in picking them up. Heck, the show "Lost" has probably done more to promote philosophy than anything else recently, because of all of the philosophical references in it. the more people exposed to it and considering it, especially at a level that they feel comfortable with, the easier it makes my job as an educator.