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ISBN 978-0-8126-9731-5


384 pages

Fall 2011

Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy

The Footprints of a Gigantic Mind

Edited by Josef Steiff
Volume 61 in the Popular Culture and Philosophy® series

The best and wisest of men or a heartless machine? Crusader for justice or cynical egoist? Mr. Holmes, the brain of Baker Street, continues to fascinate, to baffle, and to be interpreted very differently—by, among others, Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett, Robert Downey Jr., and Benedict Cumberbatch, without losing his unmistakable identity.

Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy applies observation and deduction to the ultimate “three pipe problem,” the meaning of Sherlock Holmes.

“The game’s afoot, and the name of the game is Holmes-Spotting! Open Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy and you’ll find Holmes as an android named Data, a half-Vulcan named Spock, and a Vicodin-addicted physician named House. But this fascinating and surprising book takes the game to a higher level, spotting Holmes as hip-hop song, as hard-boiled true-crime detective, as animated animal, or as enlightened Buddhist.”

—Sara Livingston, writer, blogger, girl detective

“Sherlock Holmes holds a special place in the hearts of philosophers and thinkers, showing us an inspired example of how much we can learn from what others hardly notice—and a case study of what it would be like to live with such an intellect. In Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy, Josef Steiff gives us a collection of chapters that look at Holmes with the same intensity Holmes looks at trouser-stains.”

—Gary Hardcastle, co-editor of Monty Python and Philosophy

“Holmes is constantly judging others, mentally noting their odd behavior, and ascribing anomalies to those characteristics that ultimately reveal their darkest deeds. But rarely has anyone peered through the magnifying glass at the great detective’s own personality. Everything’s covered in Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy, from obsession and good manners to sexuality and drugs.”

—Del Harvey, publisher,

“Re-imagined time and time again for over a century, Sherlock Holmes continues to captivate and mystify us. Is it the man (uh, I mean, the character)? Is it his method? Is it all really so elementary? This fun and compelling book is a must-have for the devotee, casual fan, or newcomer, as it investigates Holmes and his mystique in a way Holmes himself would appreciate.”

—Peter C. Rufa, online consultant, boy detective

Josef Steiff is Associate Chair of Film and Video at Columbia College in Chicago. He wrote The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Independent Filmmaking (2005) and has co-edited Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy: Mission Accomplished or Mission Frakked Up? (2008), Anime and Philosophy: Wide Eyed Wonder (2010), and Manga and Philosophy: Fullmetal Metaphysician (2010).

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