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Freedom is Situated

To say that this freedom is "situated" is to acknowledge that we're all born into a world already brimming with buildings, ideology, poems, commerce, dental hygienists, mythology, bacteria, and hats."

I finished Batman and Philosophy but don't feel clever enough to write about it. It did turn out to be more of a book about Batman than a book about philosophy, but I'm not disappointed. Even though I meant it as a joke, my favorite chapters really did turn out to the be the ones comparing Batman and Superman.

Think about it like this: Superman is a demigod trying to earn people's trust. As such, in his dealings with the public, he has to downplay his distance from them. Therefore, he acts like the Boy Scout, and everyone (with a few notable exceptions) loves him. Batman, on the other hand, is an ordinary human trying to do extraordinary things. He has to create a myth around himself that serves as part of his armor. ... Batman must likewise distance himself from the citizens he protects. It's not enough for criminals to find Batman mysterious -- everyone has to, or the jig is up. Naturally, this creates a lonely, isolated life that is in large part self-imposed.

They had chapters on who is better and on how each of them views friendship (Superman along Aristotelian lines and Batman more like Nietzsche). There was a great argument that Batman is the better "superhero" because he knowingly puts himself into danger and potential death with every deed whereas Superman goes into things knowing he is impervious and unlikely to die; therefore, Batman exhibits greater bravery, and bravery is "superhero trait."

Furthermore, Superman can depend too much on his powers and not on ingenuity. He can underestimate people because he is so much more powerful than others, and he never uses all his strength or abilities against someone because he would do more damage than needed. (My bad summary.) Anyway, the point is Superman would hold back and Batman would not. Also, Superman wouldn't want to hurt a friend, but Batman could (they say). Consequently, in a fight Batman would win. This amused me, because I know people can come to blows over this type of Hero1 versus Hero2 discussions.

There was also a neat Tao-esque chapter discussing, among other things, the effect of Batman's shadow. As Lao-Tzu wrote, "The use of the pot is precisely where there is nothing. When you open doors or windows for a room, it is where there is nothing that they are most useful to the room." Nothingness can be more important than substance, which Bruce uses to "strike fear into the hearts of criminals," as he likes to say (endlessly, I'm afraid).


Mar. 1st, 2009 05:02 pm (UTC)
when it comes down to the "never ending batman vs. superman" debate, it all boils down to "preference" like with anything else (think, star trek vs. star wars)
no matter what fandom or story, someone will always put a "vs" somewhere

however, if you wanna dig deeper into the "philosophical" aspects of batman vs. superman, this is how i have come to realize it over the years

a admirable quality of superman is, that he is a "hero" who does without questioning and he stands for "absolute good" - and i don't have a problem with that, that's how his earth parents raised him, and thats what he has chosen to do

however that is also my biggest problem with superman at the same time ... he's 100% "good" which is UNREAL for any being that exists (ok we're overlooking the fact here that he can fly ... ok!?)
he does without questing, he will bow to his authority figures without even asking why, as seen in "the dark knight returns" (the president asks him to stop batman and superman "tries" to stop batman - i won't mention in detail how not only could he NOT stop batman, but batman also beat the crap out of him and got away with it, hehe)

superman never asks WHY ... and that parallels too much with the "blind patriotism" i hate to begin with in this country (often seen in military people)
i could never just DO something by just being told ... i always have to know what it is that i'm doing and how it's effecting someone else in a bad way

batman on the other hand doesn't HAVE to do what he does, he CHOSE it
he's also a SUPERhero without ANY superpowers ... his superpower is his WILL to fight evil
also the fact that he's disliked by most good and bad guys, he walks a line not many can or would walk ... and when he holds someone up and talks to them the point gets across ... batman isn't "the nice guy" ... but gotham city isn't a nice place ... so he's using fire to fight fire

not to mention if we're reading DETECTIVE COMICS ... batman is a WAY better detective than superman
in the 1998 "the batman/superman movie" (made by the same people who did the 1992 animated series) batman and superman run into each other the first time in metropolis and they want to figure out who each other is ... superman uses is lame-o-vision to look through batman's mask ... batman places a tracker on his cape before that and figures out who superman is .... hehe

so once again, it all comes down to preference

(but we all know/agree how lame superman is)

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