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The Big Bang Theory and Philosophy: Rock, Paper, Scissors, Aristotle, Locke




The Big Bang Theory and Philosophy: Rock, Paper, Scissors, Aristotle, Locke

William Irwin (Series Editor), Dean A. Kowalski (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-118-07455-8 April 2012 288 Pages


A lighthearted meditation on the philosophical quandaries of the hit television show The Big Bang Theory

Ever wonder what Aristotle might say about the life Sheldon Cooper leads? Why Thomas Hobbes would applaud the roommate agreement? Who Immanuel Kant would treat with "haughty derision" for weaving "un-unravelable webs?" And—most importantly—whether Wil Wheaton is truly evil? Of course you have. Bazinga!

This book mines the deep thinking of some of history's most potent philosophical minds to explore your most pressing questions about The Big Bang Theory and its nerdy genius characters. You might find other philosophy books on science and cosmology, but only this one refers to Darth Vader Force-chokes, cloning Leonard Nimoy, and oompa-loompa-like engineers. Fo-shizzle.

  • Gives you irresistibly geek-worthy insights on your favorite Big Bang Theory characters, story lines, and ideas
  • Examines important themes involving ethics and virtue, science, semiotics, religion, and the human condition
  • Brings the thinking of some of the world's greatest philosophers to bear on The Big Bang Theory, from Aristotle and Plato to Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Simone de Beauvoir, and more

Essential reading for every Big Bang Theory fan, this book explores whether comic-book-wielding geeks can lead the good life, and whether they can know enough science to "tear the mask off nature and stare at the face of God."

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: “Unraveling the Mysteries” 1

Part One “It All Began On A Warm Summer’s Evening In Greece”: Aristotelian Insights

1 Aristotle on Sheldon Cooper: Ancient Greek Meets Modern Geek 7
Greg Littmann

2 “You’re a Sucky, Sucky Friend”: Seeking Aristotelian Friendship in The Big Bang Theory 21
Dean A. Kowalski

3 The Big Bang Theory on the Use and Abuse of Modern Technology 35
Kenneth Wayne Sayles III

Part Two “Is It Wrong To Say I Love Our Killer Robot?”: Ethics And Virtue

4 Feeling Bad about Feeling Good: Is It Morally Wrong to Laugh at Sheldon? 51
W. Scott Clifton

5 . . . But Is Wil Wheaton Evil? 65
Donna Marie Smith

6 Do We Need a Roommate Agreement?: Pleasure, Selfishness, and Virtue in The Big Bang Theory 80
Gregory L. Bock and Jeffrey L. Bock

Part Three “Perhaps You Mean A Different Thing Than I Do When You Say ‘Science’”: Science, Scientism, And Religion

7 Getting Fundamental about Doing Physics in The Big Bang Theory 99
Jonathan Lawhead

8 Sheldon, Leonard, and Leslie: The Three Faces of Quantum Gravity 112
Andrew Zimmerman Jones

9 The One Paradigm to Rule Them All: Scientism and The Big Bang Theory 128
Massimo Pigliucci

10 Cooper Considerations: Science, Religion, and Family 144
Adam Barkman and Dean A. Kowalski

Part Four “I Need Your Opinion On A Matter Of Semiotics”: Language And Meaning

11 Wittgenstein and Language Games in The Big Bang Theory 161
Janelle Pötzsch

12 “I’m Afraid You Couldn’t Be More Wrong!”: Sheldon and Being Right about Being Wrong 175
Adolfas Mackonis

13 The Cooper Conundrum: Good Lord, Who’s Tolerating Whom? 189
Ruth E. Lowe

14 The Mendacity Bifurcation 203
Don Fallis

Part Five “The Human Experience That Has Always Eluded Me”: The Human Condition

15 Mothers and Sons of The Big Bang Theory 219
Ashley Barkman

16 Penny, Sheldon, and Personal Growth through Difference 233
Nicholas G. Evans

17 Deconstructing the Women of The Big Bang Theory: So Much More Than Girlfriends 244
Mark D. White and Maryanne L. Fisher

The Episode Compendium: “Hey, It’s a Big Menu—There’s Two Pages Just for Desserts” 257

Contributors:“But If We Were Part of the Team . . . We Could Drink for Free in Any Bar in Any College Town” 261

Index: “Cornucopia . . . Let’s Make That Our Word of the Day” 267