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The Office and Philosophy: Scenes from the Unexamined Life

ISBN: 978-1-4051-7555-5
328 pages
March 2008, Wiley-Blackwell
The Office and Philosophy: Scenes from the Unexamined Life (1405175559) cover image
Just when you thought paper couldn’t be more exciting, this book comes your way! This book—jammed full of paper—unites philosophy with one of the best shows ever: The Office. Addressing both the current American incarnation and the original British version, The Office and Philosophy brings these two wonders of civilization together for a frolic through the mundane yet curiously edifying worlds of Scranton’s Dunder-Mifflin and Slough’s Wernham-Hogg.

Is Michael Scott in denial about death? Are Pam and Jim ever going to figure things out? Is David Brent an essentialist? Surprisingly, The Office can teach us about the mind, Aristotle, and humiliation. Even more surprisingly, paper companies can allow us to better understand business ethics. Don’t believe it? Open this book, and behold its beautiful paper…

Join the philosophical fray as we explore the abstract world of philosophy through concrete scenes of the unexamined life in The Office. You may discover that Gareth Keenan is secretly a brilliant logician, that Dwight Schrute is better off deceiving himself, that David Brent is an example of hyperreality, and that Michael Scott is hopelessly lost (but you probably already knew that!).

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A note to our Suppliers in the US and the UK: Support Philosophy--it uses lots of paper....

A Note to Bitter Brits and Confused Americans....

The Dundies: Some Awards for Making this Book Possible.


Memo 1: Paper Thin Morality.

1. J. Jeremy Wisnewski, Screws and Nails: Paper Tigers and Moral Monsters in The Office (US).

2. Mark D. White, Flirting in The Office: What Can Jim and Pam's Romantic Antics Teach Us about Moral Philosophy? (US).

3. Andrew Terjesen, Can Michael Ever Learn?: Empathy and the Self-Other Gap (US).

4. Wim Vandekerckhove and Eva Tsahuridu, Leaving the Dice Alone: Pointlessness and Helplessness at Wernham-Hogg (UK).

5. Sean McAleer, The Virtues of Humor: What The Office Can Teach Us About Aristotle's Ethics (UK).


Memo 2: Know Thyself!.

6. Stefanie Rocknak, Pam and Jim on the Make: The Epistemology of Self-Deception (US).

7. Randall M. Jensen, What Dwight Doesn't Know Can't Hurt Him--Or Can It?

Deception and Self-Deception in The Office (US).

8. Peter Murphy and Jonathan Evans, Authenticity or Happiness? Michael Scott and the Ethics of Self-Deception (US).

9. John Elia, Humiliation in The Office (and at Home) (US).


Memo 3: Funny and not-so-funny Business.

10. Michael Bray, Laughter between Distraction and Awakening: Marxist Themes in The Office (US).

11. Matthew Meyer and Greg Schneider, Being-in-The Office: Sartre, the Look, and the Viewer (US).

12. Russell Manning, A Boy that Swims Faster than a Shark: Jean Baudrillard Visits The Office (UK).


Memo 4: Mind Your Business! .

13. Rory E. Kraft, Jr., Stakeholders vs. Stockholders in the American Office (US).

14. David Kyle Johnson, Attacking with the North: Affirmative Action and The Office (US).

15. Thomas Nys, Darkies, Dwarves, and Benders: Political (In)Correctness in The Office (UK).

16. Keith Dromm, The Hostile Office: Michael as a Sexual Harasser (US).

17. David Kyle Johnson, The Obscene Watermark: Corporate Responsibility at Dunder-Mifflin (US).


Memo 5: Philosophy at the water-cooler....

18. Robert Arp and Jamie Watson, For L'Amour: Love and Friendship in The Office (US).

19. Thomas Nys, Look at the Ears! The Problem of Natural Kinds(UK).

20. Morgan Luck, Gareth Keenan Investigates Paraconsistent Logic: The Case of the Missing Tim and the Redundancy Paradox (UK).

21. Rick Mayock, Being Your Self in The Office (US).

22. Meg Lonergan and J. Jeremy Wisnewski, Michael Scott is Going to Die (US).


Appendix A, From Our Office to Yours: The University of Scranton and The Office.

Appendix B, Question: What do you need to know about Dwight K. Schrute?

Corporate Filing System (Index).

Employees (Notes on Contributors)
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J. Jeremy Wisnewski is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Hartwick College. He is the author of Wittgenstein and Ethical Inquiry: A Defense of Ethics as Clarification (Continuum, 2007) and the editor of Family Guy and Philosophy (Blackwell, 2007).
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  • Engages the reader in philosophy using one of the funniest shows ever produced
  • Provides insightful and humorous essays by professional philosophers to teach us about life and each other
  • Demonstrates how laughing about human weakness can reveal important access to human understanding
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"An entertaining look at the ethical and philosophical lessons of 'The Office'." (Venue, November 2008)

"I didn't realise what a genius I was till I read this book. (I did know. And I haven't read this book)"
Ricky Gervais

"The Office and Philosophy provides a brilliant examination of life's unexamined, or "willfully ignored" dilemmas: love trysts, unremitting self-denial, H.R. nightmares, and humiliating personnel blunders. Thankfully, we have none of these problems in Scranton." –Chris Doherty, Mayor of Scranton

"I laughed and laughed and laughed...and then I realized I was reading a different book. And then I read this one. It's pretty good, too."
Oscar Nunez, Cast Member ("Oscar Martinez"), The Office

"My philosophy in life is to live more like Dwight Schrute. For instance, since the editor of this book asked me for this blurb, that makes me an assistant editor (and not just an assistant to the editor)."
Jim Bone, mornings, WBSX-97.9X Scranton

“Yet another example of how some popular television shows can make us stop, think and reflect, even as they make us laugh. Who would have thought a show about paper could carry so much weight?”
Ed Robertson, co-author, The Ethics of Star Trek

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