syrakusos Posted November 13, 2012 Share Posted November 13, 2012 As a fan of The Big Bang Theory, I was disappointed by the shallow content of this book. The Big Bang Theory and Philosophy: Rock, Paper, Scissors, Aristotle, Locke by Dean A. Kowalski, editor (John Wiley & Sons, 2012), spends considerable time weighing Dr. Sheldon Cooper's "selfishness" without getting past Nietzsche and the Utilitarians. While Ayn Rand could be dismissed as a minor 20th century philosopher, any modern book that attempts to address "selfishness" without citing her is clearly lacking in depth. This book also fails on many other grounds.I reviewed it on my blog, Necessary Facts, here; and I added comments to that when I posted about it over on RoR here. What follows is original to MSK's OL.With a few exceptions, each of the seventeen chapters is the work of an academic philosopher teaching at a college. The others have similar jobs that give them a professional standing for reviewing the television series in the context of academic philosophy. Overall, these presentations are written well enough, but are intellectually shallow, facile, unlettered, and occasionally wrong.The worst case of error comes from doctoral candidate in political philosophy Ruth E. Lowe. In Chapter 13 "The Cooper Condundrum: Good Lord, Who's Tolerating Whom?" Attempting to explain that science accepts its limitation as a source of knowledge, Lowe writes that “scientists told us the Earth was flat.” They did not. Lowe joins others here in claims that science only approximates truth, getting ever closer, but never achieving it.Writing about counterfactuals, Adolfas Mackonis (Ph.D from Vilnius University, Lithuania), tosses out the post modernist view that any conditional is valid: anything we can imagine is perhaps real. The topic is degrees of wrongfulness. Comic book store owner Stuart says that Sheldon Cooper could not be more wrong. Cooper replies that wrong is an absolute state having no degrees. Stuart responds that it is somewhat wrong to claim that the tomato is a vegetable, but very wrong to claim that it is a suspension bridge. From that, Dr. Mackonis goes on to find six ways that a counterfactual world would include tomatoes as suspension bridges (man-made, not edible, a structure, etc.). In fact, these are completely arbitrary and irrelevant. Let me say that we can contemplate a counterfactual world where George Washington remained a loyalist. It makes no sense to posit his being a polar bear, or a Polar Bear ice cream bar. Post modernism cannot distinguish between a conditional and the ridiculous.Objectivism also answers other questions that still worry these academics. They cannot reconcile the empirical and the rational or fact and value. Mackonis gives credence to David Hume's claim that it is equally valid to expect the sun to rise or not, as empirical evidence gives no reason to believe either. Even though all of these writers are young, nominally in and of the current generation, they have come no farther than WIttgenstein.Even when considering gender role differences among the women and men, it never occurs to the writers that the humor would not be possible if the roles had not changed in the previous generation. Leslie Winkle can correct Sheldon Cooper's math independent of her gender. Cooper is upset at being found wrong. Winkle's being a woman never enters the equation: she is his peer. The show does deliver plenty of sexual humor, but gender discrimination is not an attribute of this universe where Prof. Mary L. Fisher (author of 60 papers and a book on gender) would be out of a job, unable to explain and enjoy the neurophysiology of gender differences on par with Dr. Leslie Winkle, Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler or Dr. Bernadette Rostenkoswki. In point of fact, Fowler is played by Dr. Miyam Bialik, whose dissertation is on Google Books.For all the many reasons that I enjoy Big Bang Theory, I found this book sadly lacking in depth, nuance, and originality. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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