Alice In Wonderland and Philosophy: Curiouser and Curiouser

Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy by William Irwin: Book Cover

Back of the book:
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 lifes ultimate questions through the eyes of perhaps the most endearing heroine in all of literature.

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?

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My thoughts: I haven’t studied philosophy since my college days so I hardly feel qualified to analyze or debate any of the viewpoints expressed by the various authors. I can say each section of Alice In Wonderland And Philosophy: Curiouser and Curiouser is interesting, sometimes humorous, and definitely thought-provoking.

I found Scott F. Parker’s “How Deep Does The Rabbit-Hole Go?: Drugs and Dreams, Perception and Reality” interesting. Parker wrote about the possible drug references in the book as well as the hallucinogen experiences of some notable people before and during Lewis Carroll’s time, and also his own experience.

The book is divided into four sections that address various aspects of Alice in Wonderland. Each writer includes notes which are helpful. There is a contributors section that lists a brief bio of each writer. An index is also included. This book would be enjoyed by students of philosophy and popular culture, and of course, Lewis Carroll fans.

Now I have a confession: I’ve never read the original Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland in its entirety nor have I seen the movie(s). I was more of a Nancy Drew reader as a young girl and Alice just seemed kind of silly. It simply didn’t appeal to me. But, fan of Alice in Wonderland or not, I think “Curiouser and Curiouser” is an interesting book.

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Information about The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series which includes Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy: Curiouser and Curiouser:

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, and a healthy helping of popular culture clears the cobwebs from Kant. Philosophy has had a public relations problem for a few centuries now. This series aims to change that, showing that philosophy is relevant to your life- and not just for answering the big questions like “To be or not to be?” but for answering the little questions: “To watch or not to watch House?” Thinking deeply about TV, movies, and music doesn’t make you a “complete idiot.” In fact it might make you a philosopher, someone who believes the unexamined life is not worth living and the unexamined cartoon is not worth watching.

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About the Editors:
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, PA. 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, and Watchmen and Philosophy.

For more about The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture

Review copy from FSB Associates