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Spider-Man and Philosophy: The Web of Inquiry

William Irwin (Series Editor), Jonathan J. Sanford (Editor)
ISBN: 978-1-118-21575-3
288 pages
April 2012
Spider-Man and Philosophy: The Web of Inquiry (1118215753) cover image
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


 

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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

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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.

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