Spider-Man and PhilosophyThe Web of Inquiry
The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series, Band 23 1. Aufl.
Untangle the complex web of philosophical dilemmas of Spidey and his world—in time for the release of The Amazing Spider-Man movie Since Stan Lee and Marvel introduced Spider-Man in Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962, everyone’s favorite webslinger has had a long career in comics, graphic novels, cartoons, movies, and even on Broadway. In this book some of history’s most powerful philosophers help us explore the enduring questions and issues surrounding this beloved superhero: Is Peter Parker to blame for the death of his uncle? Does great power really bring great responsibility? Can Spidey champion justice and be with Mary Jane at the same time? Finding your way through this web of inquiry, you’ll discover answers to these and many other thought-provoking questions. Gives you a fresh perspective and insights on Peter Parker and Spider-Man’s story lines and ideas Examines important philosophical issues and questions, such as: What is it to live a good life? Do our particular talents come with obligations? What role should friendship play in life? Is there any meaning to life? Views Spider-Man through the lens of some of history’s most influential thinkers, from Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and Immanuel Kant to Nietszche, William James, Ayn Rand, and Alasdair MacIntyre
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xi INTRODUCTION 1 PART ONE THE SPECTACULAR LIFE OF SPIDER-MAN? 1 Does Peter Parker Have a Good Life? 7 Neil Mussett 2 What Price Atonement? Peter Parker and the Infinite Debt 22 Taneli Kukkonen 3 “My Name is Peter Parker”: Unmasking the Right and the Good 37 Mark D. White PART TWO RESPONSIBILITY-MAN 4 “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”: Spider-Man, Christian Ethics, and the Problem of Evil 55 Adam Barkman 5 Does Great Power Bring Great Responsibility? Spider-Man and the Good Samaritan 70 J. Keeping 6 With Great Power Comes Great Culpability: How Blameworthy Is Spider-Man for Uncle Ben’s Death? 86 Philip Tallon PART THREE SPIDER-SENSE AND THE SELF 7 Why Is My Spider-Sense Tingling? 103 Andrew Terjesen 8 Red or Black: Perception, Identity, and Self 119 Meaghan P. Godwin 9 With Great Power: Heroism, Villainy, and Bodily Transformation 131 Mark K. Spencer PART FOUR ARACHNIDS “R” US: TECHNOLOGY AND THE HUMAN, ALL TOO HUMAN 10 Transhumanism: Or, Is It Right to Make a Spider-Man? 145 Ron Novy 11 Maximum Clonage: What the Clone Saga Can Teach Us about Human Cloning 159 Jason Southworth and John Timm PART FIVE YOUR FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN 12 Justice versus Romantic Love: Can Spider-Man Champion Justice and Be with Mary Jane at the Same Time? 177 Charles Taliaferro and Tricia Little 13 Love, Friendship, and Being Spider-Man 188 Tony Spanakos 14 Spidey’s Tangled Web of Obligations: Fighting Friends and Dependents Gone Bad 200 Christopher Robichaud PART SIX THE AMAZING SPEAKING SPIDER: JOKES, STORIES, AND THE CHOICES WE MAKE 15 The Quipslinger: The Morality of Spider-Man’s Jokes 217 Daniel P. Malloy 16 The Sound and the Fury behind “One More Day” 231 Mark D. White 17 Spider-Man and the Importance of Getting Your Story Straight 243 Jonathan J. Sanford CONTRIBUTORS 257 INDEX 263
Jonathan J. Sanford is a professor of philosophy and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Franciscan University of Steubenville. William Irwin is a professor of philosophy at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He originated the philosophy and popular culture genre of books as coeditor of the bestselling The Simpsons and Philosophy and has overseen recent titles including Batman and Philosophy, Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy, and Watchmen and Philosophy.
Is Peter Parker to blame for the death of Uncle Ben? What does spider-sense reveal about the nature of perception? Does great power really bring great responsibility? How should Spider-Man fight villains who are former friends? Can Spidey champion justice and be with Mary Jane at the same time? Through decades of web-slinging adventures in comics, television shows, movies, and even on Broadway, Spider-Man has become one of our most beloved and enduring superheroes. Peter's the classic underdog, and like many of us, he's learned to combat the evils in his life with abilities he didn't realize he had. Spider-Man and Philosophy untangles the complex web of philosophical dilemmas of Spidey and his world with the help of some of history's most powerful thinkers, including Plato, Aristotle, Hegel, and Kierkegaard. From the morality of the wall-crawler's jokes to whether he can maintain both of his lives as Peter and as a costumed crusader, from Spider-Man's struggle with infinite debt and guilt to what it takes to live a good life, you'll gain fascinating insights that are as compelling as the Webbed Wonder's ability to climb walls, swing down boulevards, and shoot web bullets at the bad guys.