Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dr. Seuss and Philosophy: Notes toward a book proposal

Possible topics include:

  • On Beyond Zebra and the Nature of Linguistic Convention
  • Oh Thinks You Can Think and the Nature of Representation
  • The Lorax and the Interests of Nature
  • Horton Hears a Who and Moral Personhood.
  • Can a Children's Book do Philosophy? Can a Child do Philosophy?
  • The Sneeches vs. the Chieftain in McGrew's Zoo: Race in Dr. Seuess.
  • Adaptations of Suess: Cartoons, Live Action Movies, Video Games and the Nature of Fidelity
  • Yertle the Turtle and the Buddha on the Ethics of Ambition
  • The Grinch and Moral Conversion
  • Green Eggs and Ham and the Universality of Aesthetic Judgments.

Those are the good ones I came up with in the shower just now. (If only I had the chance to shower more often, I would be more creative). Any other ideas? The publishers of these sorts of books are looking mostly for suggestions like On Beyond Zebra and the Nature of Linguistic Convention than Horton Hears a Who and Moral Personhood. They want topics in metaphysics, epistemology, language and mind, rather than ethics, and they especially don't want people simply to repeat the surface content of the book. Bill Irwin at Blackwell has no problem with just using popular culture as a source of examples, rather than extolling the philosophical virtues of a particular work. Publishers of these volumes also seem to go out of their way to avoid touchy issues like the use of racial stereotypes in a bit of pop culture. John Shelton Lawrence in Philosophy Now points out that Star Wars and Philosophy assiduously avoids the obvious racial and gender problems the movies raise. Lets face it: this is a flaw that should be redressed.


Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

Update: Irwin says the publisher nixed Dr. Seuss and philosophy previously. Maybe I'll run it by someone at Open Court.

oudemia said...

I am of course friends of a sort with the owner. Not that that is likely to help. Is Kerry still a boss editor there? Her husband got his PhD in philosophy from Northwestern, analytic guy. They are both very nice. You could work that angle.