Avatar and PhilosophyLearning to See
The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series 1. Aufl.
James Cameron’s critically acclaimed movie Avatar was nominated for nine Academy Awards and received countless accolades for its breath-taking visuals and use of 3D technology. But beyond its cinematic splendour, can Avatar also offer us insights into business ethics, empathy, disability, and the relationship between mind and body? Can getting to know the Na’vi, an alien species, enlarge our vision and help us to “see” both our world and ourselves in new ways? Avatar and Philosophy is a revealing journey through the world of Pandora and the huge range of philosophical themes raised by James Cameron’s groundbreaking film Explores philosophical issues such as religion, morality, aesthetics, empathy, identity, the relationship of mind and body, environmental and business ethics, technology, and just war theory Examines a wide range of topics from the blockbuster movie, including attitudes toward nature, our responsibilities to nonhuman species, colonialism, disability, and communitarian ethics Written by an esteemed group of philosophers who are avid fans of Avatar themselves Explains philosophical concepts in an enjoyable and accessible manner that will appeal to all levels of readers With a new trilogy of sequels now announced, this is the ideal entry point for understanding the world of Pandora for fans and newcomers alike
Acknowledgments: I See These People viii Introduction: Time to Wake Up 1 George A. Dunn Part I Seeing Eywa: “I’m With Her, Jake. She’s Real!” 5 1 The Silence of Our Mother: Eywa as the Voice of Feminine Care Ethics 7 George A. Dunn and Nicolas Michaud 2 “Eywa Will Provide”: Pantheism, Christianity, and the Value of Nature 19 Jason T. Eberl 3 The Tantra of Avatar 36 Asra Q. Nomani Part II Seeing the Na’vi: “You Will Teach Him Our Ways” 49 4 Learning to See the Na’vi 51 Stephanie Adair 5 It Doesn’t Take an Avatar: How to Empathize with a Blue-Skinned Alien 62 Andrew Terjesen 6 “I See You” through a Glass Darkly: Avatar and the Limits of Empathy 74 Massimiliano Cappuccio Part III Seeing Nature: “Try to See the Forest through Her Eyes” 87 7 Seeing the Na’vi Way: Respecting Life and Mind in All Organisms 89 Kyle Burchett 8 They’re Not Just Goddamn Trees: Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature and the Avatar of Spirit 104 James Lawler 9 “Everything Is Backwards Now”: Avatar, Anthropocentrism, and Relational Reason 115 Jeremy David Bendik-Keymer Part IV Seeing Our Bodies: “They’ve Got Great Muscle Tone” 125 10 The Identity of Avatars and Na’vi Wisdom 127 Kevin S. Decker 11 “I Got This”: Disability, Stigma, and Jake Sully’s Rejected Body 139 Ryan Smock 12 “See the World We Come From”: Spiritual versus Technological Transcendence in Avatar 151 Dan Dinello Part V Seeing Our Political Communities: “Sky People Cannot See” 165 13 “We Will Fight Terror with Terror”: Avatar and Just War Theory 167 Joseph J. Foy 14 The Community and the Individual in Avatar 180 Dale Murray 15 Avatar and Colonialism 190 Nathan Eckstrand Part VI Seeing Our Ethical Responsibilities: “Sometimes Your Entire Life Boils Down to One Insane Move” 201 16 “All That Cheddar”: Lessons in Business Ethics from the RDA Corporation 203 Matthew Brophy 17 “We Have an Indigenous Population of Humanoids Called the Na’vi”: Native American Philosophy in Avatar 215 Dennis Knepp 18 I See Animals: The Na’vi and Respect for Other Creatures 226 Wayne Yuen Part VII Seeing the Movie: “You Are Not Gonna Believe Where I Am” 239 19 The Digital Cabinet of Curiosities: Avatar and the Phenomenology of 3D Worlds 241 Robert Furze and Pat Brereton Notes on Contributors: Our Avatar Drivers 252 Index: My Last Video Log 258
George A. Dunn is a Lecturer at the University of Indianapolis and the Ningbo Institute of Technology, Zhejiang University, China. A writer on pop culture and philosophy, Dunn is the editor of Veronica Mars and Philosophy (Wiley, 2014) and co-editor of Sons of Anarchy and Philosophy (Wiley, 2013), The Hunger Games and Philosophy (Wiley, 2012), and True Blood and Philosophy (Wiley, 2010). William Irwin (series editor) is Professor of Philosophy at King’s College. He originated the philosophy and popular culture genre of books as co-editor of the bestselling The Simpsons and Philosophy and has overseen titles including House and Philosophy, Batman and Philosophy, and South Park and Philosophy.
What is empathy and can the Na’vi tsaheylu help us to achieve it? How are mind, body, and personal identity related for an avatar-driver? Does it take an avatar to understand and value the culture of the Na’vi? What can we learn from the Na’vi about respecting the natural world? Can religious beliefs help to foster a concern for the environment? James Cameron’s critically acclaimed movie Avatar was nominated for nine Academy Awards and received countless accolades for its breath-taking visuals and use of 3D technology. But beyond its cinematic splendour, can Avatar also offer us insights into environmental ethics, business ethics, empathy, disability, and the relationship between mind and body? Can getting to know the Na’vi, an alien species, enlarge our vision and help us to “see” both our world and ourselves in new ways? Written by an esteemed group of philosophers and fellow fans, the book explains philosophical concepts in a fun and accessible manner that will appeal to all levels of readers. It explores issues such as religion, morality, aesthetics, empathy, identity, the relationship of mind and body, environmental and business ethics, technology, and just war theory. It examines a wide range of topics from James Cameron’s blockbuster, including attitudes toward nature, our responsibilities to nonhuman species, colonialism, disability, and communitarian ethics. Full of philosophical insights for even the most knowledgeable film buff, this is an engaging look at one of the most thought-provoking and popular movies of recent years.
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