Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test
Alan Moore's Watchmen popularized the graphic novel format, has been named one of Time magazine's top 100 novels, and is now being made into a highly anticipated movie adaptation. This latest book in the popular Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series peers into Moore's deeply philosophical work to parse and deconstruct the ethical issues raised by Watchmen's costumed adventurers, their actions, and their world. From nuclear destruction to utopia, from governmental authority to human morality and social responsibility, it answers questions fans have had for years about Watchmen's ethical quandaries, themes, and characters.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: They Left It Entirely in My Hands ix
Introduction: A Rorschach Test 1
THE POLITICS OF POWER: WHO WATCHES THE WATCHMEN?
1 The Superman Exists, and He’s American: Morality in the Face of Absolute Power 5
2 Can We Steer This Rudderless World? Kant, Rorschach, Retributivism, and Honor 19
Jacob M. Held
3 Super-Vigilantes and the Keene Act 33
4 Superheroes and Supermen: Finding Nietzsche’s Übermensch in Watchmen 47
THE VEIDT PLAN: WATCHMEN AND ETHICS
5 Means, Ends, and the Critique of Pure Superheroes 63
J. Robert Loftis
6 The Virtues of Nite Owl’s Potbelly 79
Mark D. White
7 Rorschach: When Telling the Truth Is Wrong 91
THE METAPHYSICS OF DR. MANHATTAN
8 Dr. Manhattan, I Presume? 103
9 A Timely Encounter: Dr. Manhattan and Henri Bergson 115
Christopher M. Drohan
10 Free Will and Foreknowledge: Does Jon Really Know What Laurie Will Do Next, and Can She Do Otherwise? 125
11 I’m Just a Puppet Who Can See the Strings: Dr. Manhattan as a Stoic Sage 137
THIS IS NOT YOUR FATHER’S COMIC BOOK
12 “Why Don’t You Go Read a Book or Something?” Watchmen as Literature 157
13 Watchwomen 173
Sarah Donovan and Nick Richardson
14 Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis: The Ambiguously Gay Duo 185
15 What’s So Goddamned Funny? The Comedian and Rorschach on Life’s Way 197
CONTRIBUTORS: Who Writes about the Watchmen? 215
INDEX: After the Masquerade 221
William Irwin is a professor of philosophy at King's College. 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, House and Philosophy, and Watchmen and Philosophy.
Watchmen is widely considered the greatest graphic novel of all time, receiving critical acclaim by both the comics and mainstream press. Along with the highly anticipated movie adaption, Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test (Wiley, $17.95; January 2009) is the ideal companion book for the most avid fan. The bok provides all the philosophical insight into the story that will make readers view Watchmen in a completely new light.
The philosophy that Alan Moore explores in Watchmen is what makes it one of the most fascinating and complex comics ever written. Watchmen and Philosophy peers deeply into this philosophical work to deconstruct the ethical issues raised by Watchmen's costumed adventurers, their actions, and their world. From nuclear destruction to utopia, governmental authority and social responsibility, it answers questions fans have had for years.
Alan Moore's Watchmen is set in 1985 and chronicles the alternative history of the United States where the US edges dangerously closer to nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Within this world exists a group of crime busters, who don elaborate costumes to conceal their identity and fight crime. Moore uses the story as a means to reflect contemporary anxieties and to deconstruct the concept of “superhero.” Watchmen is widely considered to be Alan Moore’s masterpiece and the comic series that changed the genre forever.
Watchmen and Philosophy is the latest in the popular Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series, edited by William Irwin, the originator of the philosophy and pop culture book genre. This series answers some of life’s eternal philosophical questions through the pop culture lens of our most popular TV shows and movies, which includes Batman and Philosophy: The Dark Knight of the Soul and the recent House and Philosophy: Everybody Lies.