Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy : curiouser and curiouser
Post on 30-Dec-2016
B L A C K W E L L P H I L O S O P H Y A N D P O P C U L T U R E S E R I E SThis book has not been approved, licensed, or sponsored by any entity or person
involved in creating or producing Alice in Wonderland, the novels or films.
S E R I E S E D I T O R : W I L L I A M I R W I N E D I T E D B Y R I C H A R D B R I A N DAV I S
ISBN: 978-0-470-55836-2 EAN: 9780470558362
Should the Cheshire Cats 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?R
Is Alice a feminist icon?
$17.95 USA/$21.95 CAN
Cover Design: Paul M cCar thyCover Image: Get t y Images
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 Kings 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.
To learn more about the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series,visit www.andphilosophy.com
Alices 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 infl uence? 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 livedAristotle, Hume, Hobbes, and NietzscheAlice in Wonderland and Philosophy explores lifes ultimate questions through the eyes of perhaps the most endearing heroine in all of literature.
curiouser and curiouser
A L I C E I N W O N D E R L A N D
A N D
P H I L O S O P H Y
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The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture SeriesSeries Editor: William Irwin
South Park and PhilosophyEdited by Robert Arp
Metallica and PhilosophyEdited by William Irwin
Family Guy and PhilosophyEdited by J. Jeremy Wisnewski
The Daily Show and PhilosophyEdited by Jason Holt
Lost and PhilosophyEdited by Sharon Kaye
24 and PhilosophyEdited by Richard Davis, Jennifer Hart Weed, and Ronald Weed
Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy
Edited by Jason T. Eberl
The Offi ce and PhilosophyEdited by J. Jeremy Wisnewski
Batman and PhilosophyEdited by Mark D. White and Robert Arp
House and PhilosophyEdited by Henry Jacoby
Watchmen and PhilosophyEdited by Mark D. White
X-Men and PhilosophyEdited by Rebecca Housel and J. Jeremy Wisnewski
Terminator and PhilosophyEdited by Richard Brown and Kevin Decker
Heroes and PhilosophyEdited by David Kyle Johnson
Twilight and PhilosophyEdited by Rebecca Housel and J. Jeremy Wisnewski
Final Fantasy and PhilosophyEdited by Jason P. Blahuta and Michel S. Beaulieu
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A L I C E I N W O N D E R L A N D
A N D
P H I L O S O P H YC U R I O U S E R A N D C U R I O U S E R
Edited by Richard Brian Davis
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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Copyright 2010 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved
Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New JerseyPublished simultaneously in Canada
Chapter opener design by Forty-Five Degree Design LLC
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data:
Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy : curiouser and curiouser / edited by Richard Brian Davis. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-470-55836-2 (pbk.) 1. Carroll, Lewis, 1832-1898. Alices adventures in Wonderland. 2. Philosophy in literature. 3. LiteraturePhilosophy. I. Davis, Richard Brian, 1963 PR4611.A73A54 2010 823' .8dc22 2009037590Printed in the United States of America
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AC K N OW LE D G M E N T S : Its My Own InventionYeah, Right! ix
Introduction: Youre Late for a Very Important Date 1
PART ON E
WAKE U P, ALICE D EAR
1 Unruly Alice: A Feminist View of Some Adventures in Wonderland 7
Megan S. Lloyd
2 Jam Yesterday, Jam Tomorrow, but Never Jam Today: On Procrastination, Hiking, and . . . the Spice Girls? 19
Mark D. White
3 Nuclear Strategists in Wonderland 33 Ron Hirschbein
4 Youre Nothing but a Pack of Cards!: Alice Doesnt Have a Social Contract 47
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THATS LOG IC
5 Six Impossible Things before Breakfast 61 George A. Dunn and Brian McDonald
6 Reasoning Down the Rabbit-Hole: Logical Lessons in Wonderland 79
David S. Brown
7 Three Ways of Getting It Wrong: Induction in Wonderland 93
8 Is There Such a Thing as a Language? 107 Daniel Whiting
PART TH R E E
WER E ALL MAD H E R E
9 Alice, Perception, and Reality: Jell-O Mistaken for Stones 125
10 How Deep Does the Rabbit-Hole Go?: Drugs and Dreams, Perception and Reality 137
Scott F. Parker
11 Perspectivism and Tragedy: A Nietzschean Interpretation of Alices Adventure 153
12 Wishing It Were Some Other Time: The Temporal Passage of Alice 167
Mark W. Westmoreland
C O N T E N T S
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C O N T E N T S vii
PART FOU R
WHO I N TH E WOR LD AM I?
13 Serious Nonsense 183 Charles Taliaferro and Elizabeth Olson
14 Memory and Muchness: Alice and the Philosophy of Memory 197
C O N T R I B U TO R S : Pawns and Pieces: As Arranged before Commencement of Game 213
I N D E X : Down, Down, Down: What You Will Find at the Bottom 219
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ACKNOWLE DG M E NTS It s My Own Invention Yeah, Right!
Oh, I ve had such a curious dream. Since it seems as though I ve just edited a book, I d better single out a few individu-als for special praise. Thanks are due to Connie Santisteban at Wiley, who was no doubt tempted (at points) to speak the dreaded words of the White Rabbit: Oh my ears and whis-kers, how late it s getting! She didn t. And to Bill Irwin, who pushed me or rather let me jump into the rabbit hole. Working with Bill is sweet: a sort of mixed fl avour of cherry - tart, custard, pineapple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast. And fi nally, to my daughters, Madelyn and Emma, who urged me on at every turn. My wish for you is that you would grow up to be (in Megan Lloyd s words) as unfl appable, confi -dent, assertive as Alice herself. To Madelyn and Emma Davis, I dedicate this book.
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INTRODUCTIONYou re Late for a Very Important Date
You take the blue pill, Morpheus says to Neo in The Matrix , and the story ends . . . . You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit - hole goes. It s a tempting offer, isn t it? For at one time or another in our lives, we ve all wanted to escape from a dull and tedious job, an impossible relationship, from a world in which we often have so little control over what happens to us. Perhaps it s for reasons such as these that our culture has become posi-tively obsessed with the idea of transcending the confi nes of this world for the cool fresh air of another. Whether it s by a red pill, a secret wardrobe, a looking glass, or a rabbit - hole, it doesn t really matter. We ll take it.
Of course, we don t just want to know how deep the rabbit-hole goes. That s a given; after all, it s a portal to another world four thousand miles down, I think. We also want to know how to make sense of what we discover when we sud-denly land thump! thump! in Wonderland and pass through the looking glass. And Alice s Wonderland is an oh! so curious place fi lled with both dangers and delights. Here we encounter blue caterpillars who smoke hookahs, babies who turn into
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2 I N T R O D U CT I O N
pigs, cats whose grins remain after their heads have faded away, and a Mad Hatter who speaks to Time. There is a White Queen who lives backward and remembers forward, and there are trials in which the sentence is handed down fi rst with the evidence and verdict given out only afterward. And you d better be on your best behavior while there. As the Red Queen sees it, beheading is a punishment that fi ts every crime!
We ve spoken of Wonderland s dangers, but what of its delights? Why should anyone want to travel to such a world? As Cheshire Puss tells Alice, you must be mad or you wouldn t have come here. Is Wonderland simply a land of sheer non-sense, or is there a method to Lewis Carroll s madness? Well, as the Duchess wisely observes, Everything s got a moral, if only you can fi nd it. And the moral of the book you now hold in your hands is that there are deep philosophical riches to be had in Alice s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking - Glass, answers to life s ultimate questions, if only you have the proper guide.
You don t have to be blue, a caterpillar, or under the effects of the hookah to ask a deep question like Who in the world am I? As Alice says, That s the great puzzle! Indeed it is. How can I know whether this or that job is right for me , if I don t know who me is ? Indeed, how can I know what I can become in the future? (Hardly any of us, I dare say, is satisfi ed with who we are at present.) And to know the answers to these questions, I must know who I have been . I must remember. But that s often my problem: I forget. What to do? What to do? The Alice - addicted philosophers in this book will clear the air of the hookah smoke and forward you the decryption codes for unlocking your personal identity. And you ll be glad they did.
As you read on, you ll be amazed to discover why nice girls don t make history (and Alice is better than any Disney princess); what the Red Queen can teach us about nuclear strategy; whether we should do more with mushrooms than
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just eat them (and what sort of trip to expect if we do); and how Alice, procrastination, and the Spice Girls are all mysteri-ously connected. What a curious feeling! You can put it all together for the fi rst time. So Read Me . Venture to taste this book, and if fi nding it very nice, we recommend that you very soon fi nish it off.
YO U ' R E L AT E F O R A V E RY I M P O R TA N T DAT E 3
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P A R T O N E
WAKE UP, ALICE DEAR
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UNRULY ALICE: A FEMINIST VIEW OF
SOME ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND
M egan S. L loyd
Come to class ready to discuss and defend your favorite fairy - tale heroine, I told my students in Unruly Women through the Ages. The course began as a survey of feminist arche-types and issues, but it quickly became a forum for a group of rather unruly female students aged eighteen to twenty - two to discuss candidly topics such as date rape, abortion, sexual harassment, battered women, male and female relationships, anorexia and bulimia, and what it means to be a woman today. For one class period, we turned to the realm of fairy tales. To my initial question, I expected students to write about Little Red Riding Hood or Goldilocks, but most students chose a Disney princess Cinderella, Ariel, Belle, Mulan, mostly unruly females going against the fl ow of male rules imposed upon them. Two students, however, chose Alice as their favorite unruly fairy tale character. They argued that
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8 M E G A N S . L LOY D
Alice, unlike other fairy - tale heroines, requires no fairy god-mother, huntsman, or good fairy just her own wits and ingenuity to navigate through Wonderland successfully, keeping her head intact. My students know Alice not through Carroll but through Disne...