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xviii + 246 pages


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Hamilton and Philosophy

Revolutionary Thinking

Edited by Robert Arp
Volume 110 in the Popular Culture and Philosophy® series

“Rabinowitz and Arp have assembled sharp and engaged contributors to examine from a rich variety of perspectives one of the most significant cultural events of the decade. A compelling read!”

—R. Barton Palmer, World Cinema Program Director at Clemson University, and co-editor of The Philosophy of Steven Soderbergh

 “Revolutionary or not, Hamilton deserves to be studied seriously. And here we have some smart—and very funny—philosophers to help us out.”

—Roberto Sirvent, Associate Professor of Political and Social Ethics, Hope International University

 “Calling all heroes and scholars! Although only half as long as ‘the other fifty-one’ essays that Hamilton wrote, the twenty-three chapters of this work bring the spirit of the beloved Broadway hit into the classical world of philosophical inquiry. Attacking questions of race, selfhood, freedom, cyborgs, and more, the ragtag volunteer army of philosophers (in need of a shower) who assembled this collection will make you want to talk less and smile more as you pore through their arguments and insights. Don’t throw away your shot to read this!”

—A.G. Holdier, Colorado Technical University, Theater Nerd

“Everyone has crazy ideas. Like history being a collection of simple, straightforward stories that are linked together in a way that makes obvious sense. Or that philosophers come up with their ideas in the sterile environment of an ivory tower. Nothing could be further from the truth. The world is a crazy, messy, unpredictable place, especially in American politics. Think I’m crazy? Read Hamilton and Philosophy. And remember just how crazy our world really is, next time you pull a Hamilton out of your pocket to pay for that morning cup o’ joe.”

—John V. Karavitis, CPA, MBA, and popular writer

 “This volume has an excellent range of chapters on Hamilton’s philosophical legacy, from the historical to the musical. It includes reflections on how stories are told and history is written, and helps to answer the question asked in the finale song of Act 2: Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?”

—Timothy Dale, co-author of Homer Simpson Marches on Washington

“From Socrates to Sartre, coinage to cyborgs, and dueling to Daoism, this collection of philosophical papers about Hamilton spurs anyone with interest in either the historical figure or Broadway smash to how they come alive in the mind—and not just the stage . . . Want to talk about Hamilton on the ten-dollar bill? It’s got that. Want to discuss the aesthetics of the musical? It’s here. Want to tackle the moral implications of a slaver fighting for freedom? Yep.”

—Benjamin W. Mccraw, Department of Philosophy, University of South Carolina Upstate

“With its revolutionary take on the birth of our nation, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award–winning hip-hop opera Hamilton sets the tone from its opening number to its last: this is the story of the all too human Founders’ different philosophies on the creation of a new type of government, but done in an utterly unique way. Fans of the musical, whether history buffs or hip-hop fans or both, will find this collection a worthy and fun read.”

—Pat Brace, Professor of Art, Southwest Minnesota State University

 “Edutainment, cyborgs, and megalopsychos—all are topics of discussion in the newest volume of Popular Culture and Philosophy. Wax philosophical about the latest stage sensation and consider Hamilton—both the man and the musical—in a critical light.”

—Ronda Bowen, Independent Scholar

 “We’re going to be talking about Hamilton for a long time. In this volume we see some of the most reliable philosophical commentators on popular culture react to a play that presents a nation to itself. These essays sing in their own way.”

—Jason Burke Murphy, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Elms College

 “This ‘love letter’ to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tremendous theatrical achievement is full of compelling hooks into those ideas that percolate violently in the mind of every thinking Hamilton fan (and let’s face it, Hamilton itself turns you into a thinking fan both of Hamilton and of Alexander Hamilton) when they listen to the cast album or the mixtape or, even better, finally get to see the show. Beginning with a narration from a ten-dollar bill and ending with a paean to imaginative history, this wonderful collection belongs on the shelf of everyone who appreciates Hamilton’s legacy, or Miranda’s.”

—Roger Travis, Associate Professor of Classics, University of Connecticut

 “This book picks up where Hamilton leaves off, taking the provocative philosophy of Hamilton and giving readers a chance to delve deeper. Like the musical itself, Hamilton and Philosophy does this in a way that’s natural, accessible, and at times humorous. This is what makes Hamilton and Philosophy such a great book: readers can pick it up and, within minutes, they’re engaged in both deeply-rooted philosophical discourse and modern-day relevance.”

—Jack Bowen, author of The Dream Weaver: One Boy’s Journey through the Landscape of Reality

 “A Daoist, Aristotle, a Buddhist, Locke, Kant, and some feminist theorists walk into a bar. They discuss Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton all night long. And the bar is actually more crowded than that in this lively volume. There does not seem to be a perspective missing, nor does it seems like any single feature of the play gets overlooked. If you loved the musical, you’ll love seeing it analyzed by philosophers like this.”

—Jennifer Baker, Department of Philosophy, College of Charleston

 “This is a brilliant companion for engaging the best philosophical musical of our time. Chapters range from the profoundly unconventional to straight-shooting work on virtues and vices, heroism, and life and death in the revolution and on stage.”

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

Aaron Rabinowitz is lucky enough to teach philosophy at Rutgers University during the year and theater and Tai Chi in Connecticut during the summers. Robert Arp has written and edited innumerable philosophy books, both scholarly and popular, including 1001 Ideas that Changed the Way We Think (2013) and Scenario Visualization: An Evolutionary Account of Creative Problem Solving (2008).

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