I was contemplating over some academic materials for my philosophy class which caters mostly to non-philosophy majors. Significantly, for more than half of them, this would be the only philosophy subject they would be taking in their entire undergraduate education. So I decided to scour for not-so-academic materials that can bring life to the class while I illustrate complex theories. I thought that comic books are a great resource for such purpose.
DC’s Batman would be one great learning resource. Seriously, if you think about it, why won’t Batman just kill the villains, especially the Joker? Getting rid of these bad guys will just make his life simpler. Considering Batman and his ideologies and questioning them can captivate students’ interest as they explore some answers relating to philosopher Immanuel Kant’s deontological theory of ethics.
Marvel’s Spider Man also helps shed light onto another philosophical theory: consequentialism. Peter Parker’s moral responsibility can be a springboard in the discussion about the moral rightness of acts.
Nothing is boring, even to the most ordinary students, if they get what interests them: popular culture and the language they use today. As William Irwin, a philosophy professor at King’s College, Pennsylvania puts it:
“This is what philosophy has tried to do from the very beginning … Philosophy starts with Socrates in the streets of Athens taking his message to the people and speaking in their language – agricultural analogies and common mythology.”
So tomorrow I will speak in front of these youngsters in a language they’ll understand and appreciate. To the batmobile!