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1984 and Philosophy 

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ISBN 978-0-8126-9979-1


xii + 304 pages


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1984 and Philosophy

Is Resistance Futile?

Edited by Ezio Di Nucci and Stefan Storrie
Volume 116 in the Popular Culture and Philosophy® series

Praise for 1984 and Philosophy

“Big Brother has been watching you for some time now in the forms of video surveillance at gas stations, fire stations, police stations, grocery stores, department stores, street corners, and even nurseries through nanny cams; the Party has always been in power, whether that be the Independent Party, the Federalist Party, the Republican Party, or the Democratic Party; and Newspeak—that obviously not ungood lingo that causes us to doublethink that 2 + 2 = 5—is just political correctness in sheep’s clothing. Why does Nineteen Eighty-Four resonate today as much as it did in 1984 or 1949? Because the topics discussed are deeply philosophical . . . and scary as sh@t.”

—Robert Arp, author of 1001 Ideas that Changed the Way We Think (2013)

 “The Two Minutes Hate has been expanded to a full hour of Hate with Hannity . . . Be careful what you say to Alexa (Big Sister?). She remembers more than they told you. This collection of essays by would-be Winston Smiths will not make you love Big Brother, but they might help you face down the O’Brien (or the O’Reilly) in your life.”

—Randall E. Auxier, author of Metaphysical Graffiti: Deep Cuts in the Philosophy of Rock (2017)

 “Thought police, fake news, neoliberalism, mass incarceration, the pressure to continuously function like our technology, anyone? This team of philosophers present us with various philosophical and political views that help put Orwell’s issues in their proper context. The volume reads like one long, entertaining discussion of the ideas Orwell so artfully presented to us, surely for the sake of provoking analyses like these. While fans of 1984 will love this volume, it is also going to create some new admirers of Orwell’s genius.”

—Jennifer Baker, Professor of Philosophy, College of Charleston

“If ‘Freedom Is Slavery’, may philosophy be the liberator. In the fight against oppression, 1984 and Philosophy is an exceptional tool. Read carefully, however, Big Brother is watching.”

—Jim Berti, co-editor, Rush and Philosophy: Heart and Mind United (2011)

 “For over thirty years, 1984 has been a fictional benchmark for such monumental issues as freedom and paternalism, knowledge and ignorance, artificial intelligence and politics. And now, more than ever, it’s important we truly grapple with these issues, in the real world. 1984 and Philosophy does this for us. It’s great popular philosophical writing referencing an iconic novel, all the while, framing the world we currently inhabit.”

 —Jack Bowen, author of A Journey through the Landscape of Philosophy (2007)

“It’s the best book they already know you will be reading!”

 —Gerald Browning, author of Demon in My Head (2011)

 “When crowd sizes grow by half a million in a speech act, when little white lies are no big deal, when cyber wars deploy millions of bots to colonize minds, and when a Resistance forms to counteract this new normal, it’s time to revisit 1984. From the waist down (Winston and Julia) to the neck up (thought control through tweets), this book offer the philosophical antidote to what ails us, as well as laughs galore.”

—Marlene Clark, author of Juxtapositions: Ideas for College Writers (2007)

“Technological advances and recent concerns over censorship make many of the themes in 1984 extremely relevant. The authors in this book unpack many of the philosophical concerns over these issues. A great read!”

 —Marc W. Cole, University of Leeds

 “The cautionary messages of 1984 are as timely as ever, and the political and technological developments of the twenty-first century make Orwell’s warnings even more urgent. Big Brother may be watching, but fortunately the essays collected here help us navigate a world in which truth and resistance may still be possible.”

—Timothy Dale, co-editor of Homer Simpson Marches on Washington: Dissent through American Popular Culture

 “Orwell’s monumental 1984 may be even more important today than when it was first published, and the international array of philosophers whose essays are collected in this book explains why. Their essays broach important topics such as torture, mass surveillance, revolution, resistance to authoritarianism, news and media, freedom, history, and thought control. It’s fascinating reading for people with any interest in philosophy and a must-read for anyone with even a single political bone in their body.”

—Peter S. Fosl, co-author of The Philosopher’s Toolkit (2002)

 “Philosophy is the love of wisdom, but the only universal truth is the love of Big Brother.”

—Nathaniel Goldberg, author of Kantian Conceptual Geography (2014)

 “Winston Smith learns in excruciatingly painful detail how a fascist regime operates. But, even as the rats eat his face, he never learns why. This book reveals Big Brother’s real thoughts.”

—Kevin Guilfoy, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Carroll University

 “In today’s political climate, it’s more important than ever before to consider the political and philosophical message of Orwell’s 1984.”

—David Kyle Johnson, author of The Myths that Stole Christmas (2015)

 “Why are we still having serious discussions about 1984? It’s because concerns about control of bodies, state oppression, alternative facts, federal-level spying, identity politics, techno-augmentation and body modifications, and social media concerns are as real for us today as for the people in Oceania. The contributors to this book tackle these, and other, issues by examining how George Orwell, through Winston, brings discussions about these key social issues into sharp relief to help shed light on what it means to speak truth to power. The most important question raised by 1984 and Philosophy is whether resistance is futile. The answer is No.”

 —Clint Jones, co-editor of The Individual and Utopia (2015)

 “This book is doubleplusgood. Between the coverage of how Big Brother is our friend and how we can all participate in positive nationalism we come to see how we can crimestop.”

 —Rory E. Kraft, Jr., York College of Pennsylvania

 “Is there a more pointed, potent allegory of contemporary civilization than Orwell’s prescient post-World War II book, 1984? Supposing one lives through the rise of fascism, as the author did, its recrudescence seems highly plausible. Couple that return with advancing technologies that outpace human care and control, and tyranny’s reassertion will be that much more vicious and capacious. The best way to counter the Thought Police is to think. This capable roster of scholars and critics does just that: discern ways to defend freedom, articulate the distinctions between truth and falsity in an age of simulacrum, and advance prospects for responding philosophically to the dictates of an encroaching tyranny that is anything but a fiction.”

—David LaRocca, editor of The Philosophy of War Films (2014)

 “1984 and Philosophy offers a kaleidoscope of ideas about a multifaceted gem of twentieth-century literature. In a post-factual, post-truth, fake news world, where Big Brother seems just behind Big Data, the very survival of democracy depends on philosophical choice.”

—James Lawler, author of The God Tube: Uncovering the Hidden Spiritual Message in Pop Culture

“The Party would like you know that this book is subversive and dangerous; the Ministry of Truth has concluded that it fails to live up to the standards of our carefully crafted society. Anyone reading this book will be confused by its philosophical discussions of sexual enlightenment, government resistance, media manipulation, and doublethink. The Party has warned you!”

 —Courtland Lewis, author of Way of the Doctor: Doctor Who’s Pocketbook Guide to the Good Life (2017)

 “Irony abounds in high schoolers being forced to read 1984. The richness and, as recent history seems to indicate, the relevance of Orwell’s work could be lost. 1984 and Philosophy has salvaged this essential read for another generation. It’s an important companion to the original and whether you buy it for the radical flair it will give your classroom discussion or simply as a born-again reader, partake and enjoy . . . BIG BROTHER DEMANDS IT!”

—Dan Miori, author, physician assistant, dissolute bastard

 “Philosophers have always reflected on the good life and what makes for a just society. Today, with good reason, they’re beginning to think more about the bad life and how to transform an unjust time. This book is full of fascinating attempts to use the warnings of the recent past to shed new light on our shocking present.”

—Tom Morris, author of The Oasis Within (2015) and Philosophy for Dummies (1999)

“The reception of Orwell’s novel has gone through various stages. Until the end of the Cold War, the emphasis was on the politics and the cruelty of living in a totalitarian state. More recently, the focus has been on surveillance. This volume finally brings together these and other approaches in a meaningful way, with reference to the current political climate. An excellent and timely collection of essays, which demonstrates why Orwell’s great novel still matters!”

—Michael Nagenborg, co-editor of Ethics and Robotics (2009)

 “Beware! If Ignorance is Strength, this book will turn you into a ninety-eight-pound weakling.

—Eric J. Silverman, author of The Prudence of Love (2010)

 “Have you ever wondered how those online retailers knew about your favorite kind of double-stuffed Oreo? Were you surprised when they recommended the perfect gift for your niece’s First Communion? Big Brother might still be watching but so are his younger siblings Google, Facebook, and Amazon. This enlightening volume is a must-read for those of us wondering what it means to watch and be watched in today’s frightening digital age.”

 —Roberto Sirvent, author of Embracing Vulnerability (2014)

“This is an indispensable companion for anyone remotely interested in resisting Newspeak, the though police. and the other despotic tools of the super state in Orwell’s brilliant dystopian classic.”

—Charles Taliaferro, Chair of the Department of Philosophy, St. Olaf College

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