Gerald Browning

Why read a book about Amy Schumer and philosophy? After all, Amy Schumer is primarily known as a comedian, though she is also an actor, writer, and producer. One reason is that it will be enlightening. Amy Schumer is one of a handful of contemporary comedians filling the role of public philosopher. To be clear, Amy herself does not claim to be offering wisdom. 


This volume contains seventeen fun-filled chapters. One author makes the case that Amy uses humor to encourage her audience to consider important questions, for example, she does this when she discusses the trial of Bill Cosby while evoking fond memories of The Cosby Show. She essentially asks her audience to consider whether they give priority to unconflicted entertainment over justice for rape victims. In another chapter, the author casts a philosophical eye toward the action-comedy film Snatched and finds that it raises questions about responsibility: Is Schumer’s character, Emily, responsible for getting kidnapped in Ecuador? Is Emily responsible for the death of one of her kidnappers? Another author asks whether Snatched can be a great comedy and still get negative reviews? What is the role of art and who determines whether a work of art is good or beautiful? What do Amy Schumer and Friedrich Nietzsche have in common? Is Amy a “sex comic” or an “issue comic”? With her typical self-deprecating comedic style, Amy makes jokes by highlighting the absurd, the illogical, and the hypocritical in gender relations, notions of masculinity and femininity, and superficial values.


But the main reason to read Amy Schumer and Philosophy is that it a pretty awesome read and laughter will most definitely ensue.

Iron Man or Captain America? Which one is superior―as a hero, as a role model, or as a personification of American virtue? Philosophers who take different sides come together in Iron Man versus Captain America to debate these issues and arrive at a deeper understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of these iconic characters. The discussion ranges over politics, religion, ethics, psychology, and metaphysics.


John Altmann argues that Captain America’s thoughtful patriotism, is superior to Iron Man’s individualist-cosmopolitanism. Matthew William Brake also votes for Cap, maintaining that it’s his ability to believe in the impossible that makes him a hero, and in the end, he is vindicated.


Cole Bowman investigates the nature of friendship within the Avengers team, focusing predominantly on the political and social implications of each side of the Civil War as the Avengers are forced to choose between Stark and Rogers. According to Derrida’s Politics of Friendship, Cap is the better friend, but that doesn’t make him the winner!


Aron Ericson’s chapter tracks our heroes’ journeys in the movies, culminating with Civil War, where the original attitudes of Tony (trusts only himself) and Steve (trusts “the system”) are inverted.


Corey Horn’s chapter focuses on one of the many tensions between the sides of Iron Man and Captain America―the side of Security (Iron Man) versus Liberty (Cap). But Maxwell Henderson contends that if we dig deeper into the true heart of the Marvel Civil War, it isn’t really about security or privacy but more about utilitarianism―what’s best for everybody. Henderson explains why Iron Man was wrong about what was best for everybody and discloses what the philosopher Derek Parfit has to say about evaluating society from this perspective.
Daniel Malloy explains that while both Captain America and Iron Man have faced setbacks, only Iron Man has failed at being a hero―and that makes him the better hero! In his other chapter, Malloy shows that where Iron Man trusts technology and systems, Captain America trusts people. Jacob Thomas May explores loss from the two heroes’ points of view and explains why the more tragic losses suffered by Stark clearly make him the better hero and the better person.


Louis Melancon unpacks how Captain America and Iron Man each embodies key facets of America attempts to wage wars: through attrition and the prophylactic of technology; neither satisfactorily resolves conflict and the cycle of violence continues. Clara Nisley tests Captain America and Iron Man’s moral obligations to the Avengers and their shared relationship, establishing Captain America’s associative obligations that do not extend to the arbitration and protection of humans that Iron Man advocates.


Fernando Pagnoni Berns considers that while Iron Man is too much attached to his time (and the thinking that comes with it), Captain America embraces-historical values, and thinks that there are such things as intrinsic human dignity and rights―an ethical imperative.
Christophe Porot claims that the true difference between Captain America and Iron Man stems from the different ways they extend their minds. Cap extends his mind socially while Stark extends his through technology. Heidi Samuelson argues that the true American spirit isn't standing up to bullies, but comes out of the self-interested traditions of liberal capitalism, which is why billionaire, former-arms-industry-giant Tony Stark is ultimately a more appropriate American symbol than Steve Rogers. By contrast, Jeffrey Ewing shows that the core of Captain America: Civil War centers on the challenge superpowers impose on state sovereignty (and the monopoly of coercion it implies).


Nicol Smith finds that Cap and Shell-Head’s clash during the Civil War does not necessarily boil down to the issue of freedom vs. regulation but rather stems from the likelihood that both these iconic heroes are political and ideological wannabe supreme rules or “Leviathans.” Craig Van Pelt reconstructs a debate between Captain America and Iron Man about whether robots can ever have objective moral values, because human bias may influence the design and programming.


James Holt looks into the nature of God within Captain America’s world and how much this draws on the “previous life” of Captain Steve Rogers. Holt’s inquiry focuses on the God of Moses in the burning bush, as contrasted with David Hume’s understanding of religion. Gerald Browning examines our two heroes in a comparison with the Greek gods Hephaestus and Hercules. Christopher Ketcham supposes that, with the yellow bustard wreaking havoc on Earth, God asks Thomas Aquinas to use his logical process from Summa Theologica to figure which one of the two superheroes would be better at fixing an economic meltdown, and which one would be better at preventing a war.


Rob Luzecky and Charlene Elsby argue that gods cannot be heroes, and therefore that the god-like members of the Avengers (Iron Man, with a god’s intelligence; Thor, with a god’s strength, and the Hulk, with a god’s wrath) are not true heroes in the same sense as Captain America. Cap is like Albert Camus’s Sisyphus, heroic in the way that he rallies against abstract entities like the gods and the government.

Deadpool is the super-anti-hero who knows he's in a comic book. His unique situation and blood-stained history give rise to many philosophical puzzles. A group of philosophical Deadpool fans delve into these puzzles in Deadpool and Philosophy. For instance, if you know that someone is writing the script of your life, can you really be a hero?

Is Deadpool really Wade Wilson, or did Wilson have his identity stolen by the monster who is now Deadpool? Are his actions predetermined by the writers, or does he trick the writers into scripting his choices? And what happens when Deadpool breaks into the real world to kill the writers? What kind of existence do literary characters have? How can we call him a moral agent for good when he still commits murder left and right and then left again and then right? Since Deadpool gets paid for his good deeds, can they be truly heroic? And which of the many Deadpool personalities are the real Deadpool? And of course, why does Deadpool love to annoy Wolverine so much?

Deadpool challenges us to think outside the box. Deadpool and Philosophy shows us the profound implications of this most contradictory and perplexing comic book character.

Human/Vampire hybrid Gabriel Brimstone walks between the worlds of the living and the dead. He hunts vampires and slays them with remarkable ease. However, the years have taken their toll on him physically, mentally and emotionally. Guilt-ridden Brimstone must wrestle with his innermost demons by acknowledging his thirst for human blood. While on the hunt for the elusive vampire, Valimus, Brimstone joins a local chapter of AA to face his addiction. Unfortunately, the demons of Culver's Bay are circling and they smell his internal struggles. As Brimstone's fragile psyche begins to crack, he learns of a centuries old prophecy that could spell the end of humanity as we know it. Valimus' endgame is learned and Brimstone knows that it resides within a man known as Richard Stoker. Who is Stoker and what does he have to do with Valimus' plan for world domination? Will Gabriel Brimstone stop this vampire apocalypse and come to terms with what he is?

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Flint Area Writers 2016.

Content by Melodie Bolt.

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