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Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy: Curiouser and Curiouser [Paperback]

William Irwin , Richard Brian Davis
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 12 2010 The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series (Book 20)
The perfect companion to Lewis Carroll's classic book and director Tim Burton's March 2010 remake of Alice in Wonderland

Alice?s Adventures in Wonderland has fascinated children and adults alike for generations. Why does Lewis Carroll introduce us to such oddities as blue caterpillars who smoke hookahs, cats whose grins remain after their heads have faded away, and a White Queen who lives backwards and remembers forwards? Is it all just nonsense? Was Carroll under the influence? This book probes the deeper underlying meaning in the Alice books, and reveals a world rich with philosophical life lessons. Tapping into some of the greatest philosophical minds that ever lived?Aristotle, Hume, Hobbes, and Nietzsche?Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy explores life?s ultimate questions through the eyes of perhaps the most endearing heroine in all of literature.

  • Looks at compelling issues such as perception and reality as well as how logic fares in a world of lunacy, the Mad Hatter, clocks, and temporal passage
  • Offers new insights into favorite Alice in Wonderland characters and scenes, including the Mad Hatter and his tea party, the violent Queen of Hearts, and the grinning Cheshire Cat

Accessible and entertaining, Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy will enrich your experience of Alice's timeless adventures with new meaning and fun.


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From the Back Cover

  • Should the Cheshire Cat's grin make us reconsider the nature of reality?

  • Can Humpty Dumpty make words mean whatever he says they mean?

  • Can drugs take us down the rabbit-hole?

  • Is Alice a feminist icon?

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has fascinated children and adults alike for generations. Why does Lewis Carroll introduce us to such oddities as a blue caterpillar who smokes a hookah, a cat whose grin remains after its head has faded away, and a White Queen who lives backward and remembers forward? Is it all just nonsense? Was Carroll under the influence? This book probes the deeper underlying meaning in the Alice books and reveals a world rich with philosophical life lessons. Tapping into some of the greatest philosophical minds that ever lived—Aristotle, Hume, Hobbes, and Nietzsche—Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy explores life's ultimate questions through the eyes of perhaps the most endearing heroine in all of literature.

To learn more about the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series, visit www.andphilosophy.com

About the Author

RICHARD BRIAN DAVIS is an associate professor of philosophy at Tyndale University College and the coeditor of 24 and Philosophy.

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, House and Philosophy, and Watchmen and Philosophy.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Not another criticism! Yes and you'll love it Oct. 21 2013
By bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Just when you think you have heard the last word on Alice, we find we have only scratched the surface. Other criticisms are stogy and formal with references to the classics in philosophy.

Break out of the box. Compare to contemporary movies. Not saying that we do not have the classic comparisons to Aristotle, Hume, Hobbs, and Nietzsche, but also Neo of Matrix fame, and the Spice girls among others.

Still for this that do not see the new, that is alright as it is very useful for someone to say what you know but in a different way.

Alice in Verse: The Lost Rhymes of Wonderland by J. T. Holden
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Serious Nonsense June 13 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am a huge Alice in Wonderland fan. One who was a tad disappointed with the 'Annotated Alice'. I wanted to know more about Wonderland and the thoughts behind it. This book about philosophy and Wonderland in some ways fulfilled this desire. This book contains 14 contributions from different scholars, each of whom take different (philosophical) perspectives on Wonderland.

The good thing about the book is that it does offer a very wide range of topics: from a feminist view on Wonderland to metaphysical issues, issues about language or time and even thoughts on nuclear war and Wonderland. There are definitely a few chapters in there, while entertaining, that do not merit the name of philosophy, though.
The second good thing is that the book is definitely not a boring read. Most authors are very well aware that they are writing for an audience who probably doesn't really know all that much about philosophy. Most chapters are quite accessible and the authors endeavoured to really use Alice-like language and refer a lot to the Alice books.
The last good thing is that I actually got a few perspectives on Alice that I never had before.

Now for the downsides: the book is very diverse due to the multitude of contributors and topics. It's not one comprehensive view. Most authors only scratch the surface and employ very little philosophy to make a sometimes obvious point. Some authors seem unable to make any point whatsoever and sometimes even contradict themselves (e.g. "Alice is very Nietzschean in her exploration of Wonderland" and a next page explains how Alice certainly isn't Nietzschean because she wants to structure her experiences).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book Feb. 24 2010
By The Smoking Pen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Smartly written, loaded with insights, facts, historical references, and a wee bit of conjecture. An excellent companion piece that no Alice in Wonderland fan should be without.

I also highly recommend:

Alice in Verse: The Lost Rhymes of Wonderland -- without question, the best Wonderland/Looking-Glass book since the original.

and

The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition -- as its subtitle indicates, this is THE definitive edition of Carroll's original books.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars MaryinHB [...] April 11 2010
By Mary Bookhounds - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Here is another book that came into my house and was instantly claimed by my son. This is a series of essays brings up some excellent points about Lewis Carroll, his history and the impact on today's world. The fact that Alice In Wonderland is still relevant today shows what a great author Carroll was and how thoughtful this child's tale actually is. Of course, there are the expected such as drugs and Alice, but there is the unexpected as well, like nuclear weapons and the Red Queen. I think you may want to go back and reread Alice a few more times after this book.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review from The Neverending Shelf June 12 2010
By Kate B. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy gives readers an in-depth and academic look into the world of Alice in Wonderland. Journey deep into the rabbit hole to discover the lasting effects that Alice in Wonderland has had on our society and its pop culture.

Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy is broken down into four sections, which are then broken down further into essays. Each essay is written by various authors and professors who discuss topics from feminism to philosophy to even drug usage. You may be thinking, what does this have to do with Alice in Wonderland the novel? The truth is a lot. On the surface, Lewis Carroll's classic seems to be just about a young girl who travels down the rabbit hole to discover a new world and a great adventure. But the truth is, as with many novels, the novel is filled with many diverse layers. And it is those layers that Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy discusses.

If you are a die-hard Alice in Wonderland fan, then this is definitely going to be a must read for you. However, those who are looking for an enlightening look at the world of Alice in Wonderland, should definitely give this novel a try. You will not be disappointed.

Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy is very well-written in an academic and intellectual way, but it is never dry. The authors infuse humor and pop culture references through out to keep readers entertained as well as relevant. I had a blast reading this novel, and discovered a new outlook on one of my most beloved tales. Fantastic read!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Mad Look at Philosophy and a Children's Lit Classic April 19 2010
By David P. Whelan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Picture a book of philosophy essays by various academics and you might, as I did, have been a bit dubious about what you were about to read. I was utterly taken with Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy, edited by Richard Brian Davis, part of a series of pop culture philosophy books put out by Wiley and edited by Professor William Irwin. Other titles include The Simpsons and Philosophy, Batman and Philosophy, etc.

The book consists of a collection of essays by primarily philosophy and literature faculty and grad students from the US, UK, and Canada. As such, you get a variety of styles and looks at Alice, so if you don't like one, you can quickly skip forward and see what comes next. While I love non-fiction, I found one or two of the essays a bit hard going.

But it was worth it to get through them all. I don't think I have ever learned so much about philosophers like David Hume, or John Locke, or Nietzsche, as I did in the essays that dealt with them. Having philosophy placed in the context of a well-known book, even a fairy tale like Alice, helped to make some concepts like "will to ignorance" and "matters of fact" easy to understand.

Readers will be exposed to quite a variety of philosophers as well, in quick bites as the authors move through their takes on the story. All are well written and many have citations you can follow up, if necessary. Some, like Prof. White's essay, are downright funny. My favorites were Prof. White's essay on procrastination ("Jam Yesterday, Jam Tomorrow"), Profs. Dunn and McDonald's on nonsense ("6 Impossible Things Before Breakfast"), and soon-to-be Dr. Shea's look at inductive reasoning ("Three Ways of Getting it Wrong: Induction in Wonderland"). Also enjoyable was Prof. Lloyd's view of "Unruly Alice" and a feminist slant on Alice.

This book balances scholarly writing with accessible reading. Citations are at the end of the essay, not in the text, and the authors cover a lot of ground and seem to be making an obvious attempt to keep up a readable pace. Anyone interested in philosophy at a relatively high level, and probably high school age or older, will find this a great way to learn something new about both Alice in Wonderland and philosophy.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Twas brillig, as I dreamt that they had done a better job on this book... July 8 2010
By John V. Karavitis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
John V. Karavitis I enjoy reading books from this series. You get re-exposed to a large number of different philosophers and philosophical topics, and the fact that the essays are tied to a pop culture TV series or movie makes the reading that much more enjoyable. I knew about Alice In Wonderland (who hasn't heard of it), and was looking forward to reading this book. All in all it's a decent entry in the series, but a number of the essays were weak, in fact, a couple of them were downright silly/incomprehensible, and a couple more meandered on their discussion. In my humble opinion, at the very least you can can skip the very two first essays and not miss a beat. The one that I enjoyed best was Brendan Shea's "Three Ways of Getting It Wrong: Induction in Wonderland", where we go from Hume (induction as the way we learn about the world) to Quine (the theory of underdetermination as a limitation to theories about how the world works) as we re-visit epistomology. Regardless of how good or bad these entries in the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series are, you will always find an essay or two that are real gems. Recommended, but watch out for that first step into the rabbit hole, it's a long way down. John V. Karavitis
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