alice in wonderland and philosophy : curiouser and curiouser

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  • 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

    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.

    Alice IN






    D P





    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

    No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or trans-mitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, (978) 750-8400, fax (978) 646-8600, or on the web at Requests to the Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Permissions Department, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030, (201) 748-6011, fax (201) 748-6008, or online at

    Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: While the publisher and the author have used their best efforts in preparing this book, they make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this book and specifi cally disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fi tness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales representatives or written sales materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation. You should consult with a professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for any loss of profi t or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

    For general information about our other products and services, please contact our Customer Care Department within the United States at (800) 762-2974, outside the United States at (317) 572-3993 or fax (317) 572-4002.

    Wiley also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some content that appears in print may not be available in electronic books. For more information about Wiley products, visit our web site at

    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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  • v


    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



    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

    Dennis Knepp

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  • vi



    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

    Brendan Shea

    8 Is There Such a Thing as a Language? 107 Daniel Whiting



    9 Alice, Perception, and Reality: Jell-O Mistaken for Stones 125

    Robert Arp

    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

    Rick Mayock

    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



    13 Serious Nonsense 183 Charles Taliaferro and Elizabeth Olson

    14 Memory and Muchness: Alice and the Philosophy of Memory 197

    Tyler Shores

    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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  • ix

    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.