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Ultimate Game of Thrones and Philosophy 

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ISBN 978-0-8126-9950-0


x + 278 pages


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The Ultimate Game of Thrones and Philosophy

You Think or Die

Edited by Eric J. Silverman and Robert Arp
Volume 105 in the Popular Culture and Philosophy® series

Game of Thrones isn’t just beautiful and exhilarating. It’s deep, and this collection of essays shows it. From investigations of the ethics of violence and sexuality to reflections on matters of faith, knowledge, and political power, this volume, like Game of Thrones itself, collects a vast world of thought and feeling. It does so, too, in a way that’s both fascinating and accessible. The North may remember, but the authors of these chapters know how to think! Winter’s coming, so sharpen not only your swords but also your ideas.”

—Peter S. Fosl, Professor and Chair of Philosophy, Transylvania University

 “Just as the three-eyed raven appears to Bran Stark in his vision-dreams, inspiring his quest beyond the wall to the cave where his body resides, this book shall stimulate, counsel, and enlighten the reader about the multifarious philosophical themes at work in the people who battle for the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms. It’s fire for the passionate soul and food for thought. After all, don’t forget, winter is coming!”

—Kimberly Baltzer-Jaray, author of Doorway to the World of Essences (2011) and contributor to Clear and Present Thinking: A Handbook in Logic and Rationality (2013)

 “A highly addictive show deserves a highly addictive analysis. The Ultimate Game of Thrones and Philosophy is the definitive source for all of us who didn’t want the experience to end with viewing but aren’t satisfied with the ordinary water-cooler banter. Although this volume doesn’t include nearly as much gratuitous nudity or violence (or any for that matter) it is the essential Game of Thrones companion.”

—Daniel Miori, author and medical practitioner

 “In a world where you never really know whom you can trust, and losing is never an option, it pays to have a reliable guide on hand at all times. If you can’t call on Tyrion Lannister, then this book is your guide. It’s filled with clear-cut answers to the exhausting range of philosophical questions raised in Game of Thrones. You’ll soon be sitting on your very own Iron Throne—with one sword for each question!”

—John V. Karavitis, CPA, MBA, popular writer on pop culture and philosophy

 “The Ultimate Game of Thrones and Philosophy traverses the vast lands of Westeros and the territory north of the Wall and across the Narrow Sea to examine, among other things, who may be truly worthy to sit on the Iron Throne. Like any mega-popular television franchise, Game of Thrones tells us just as much about ourselves as about the fictional kings, queens, bastards, and broken things who populate this world.
The maesters of this book help us understand why we love this show—and the books on which it is based—so much, even when it frustrates or disturbs us. You don’t have to travel to the Citadel or pray to ‘the old gods and the new’ to gain insight into the human condition so aptly depicted by Game of Thrones and the thirty-one chapters in this scholarly tome.”

—Jason T. Eberl, Semler Endowed Chair for Medical Ethics, Professor of Philosophy, College of Osteopathic Medicine, Marian University

 “The best of fantasy is rooted in reality, and in Westeros we find ourselves, our demons (aka the Lannisters), and our better angels, even if the latter are quite rare, and named Jon Snow. The authors in this book use Game of Thrones to explore our shared human condition. From Jon Snow as moral exemplar to the redemption of the Hound, readers will learn about themselves by engaging their favorite, and most hated, residents of the Seven Kingdoms. Westeros should look familiar, it’s our world—a world of injustice and cruelty. But it’s also a world of redemption, sacrifice, honor, and integrity. All this is captured in The Ultimate Game of Thrones and Philosophy.”

—Jacob M. Held, Director of the UCA Core, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy and Religion, University of Central Arkansas

 “The Ultimate Game of Thrones and Philosophy takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the Seven Kingdoms with critical essays including those on the humor of Tyrion, why we love to hate Joffrey, questioning the meaning of prophecy for Daenerys and Stannis, the “misshapen” Christ analogs in Jon Snow’s resurrection, Brienne of Tarth and feminine recognition, the ambiguity of Jaime Lannister as sinner and savior, and whether Samwell Tarly will save them all by delving into the Citadel library in Oldtown. Readers will enjoy exploring deeper thinking on their favorite characters and the major themes of the series up to and including Season Six.”

 —Patricia L. Brace, Professor of Art, Southwest Minnesota State University

 “A must read for any fan of Game of Thrones who has the slightest interest in philosophy. From morality, politics, sex, and the family in Westeros to the philosophy of art as it relates to the Game of Thrones saga, this book covers a wide variety of philosophically interesting subjects in thirty-one provocative and entertaining essays.”

—Greg Littmann, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

 “In unfolding the philosophical issues raised by Game of Thrones, this book is crucial for anyone prowling the seven kingdoms. Find out with Freud about the true meaning of our hate for vile Joffrey and what Karl Marx has to say on who’s really pulling the strings in Westeros. Apart from solving Varys’s riddle, the authors also shed light on the moral significance of characters like Bran and Aemon. And with their guidelines on when (and whom!) to trust in times of treachery, the Iron Throne will soon be yours!”

—Janelle Pötzsch, Ruhr-University Bochum, co-editor of Dracula and Philosophy: Dying to Know (2015)

 “Game of Thrones is an intense fantasy thriller that is, at its heart, an intellectual show, and its hardcore fans appreciate its cerebral core. That’s why any dedicated fan of the show will become engrossed in the thought-provoking chapters of The Ultimate Game of Thrones and Philosophy, written by top scholars who are also loyal Game of Thrones fans, skewering many of the philosophical ideas in Game of Thrones—ideas that you have long been thinking about yourself!”

—James Rocha, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, California State University at Fresno

 “Do you ever feel like the whole world is out to get you, that your life is filled with horrifying violence and gratuitous sex, and that you just want to spend your days guarding your homeland from weird ice walkers, solving esoteric riddles from creepy advisors, or giving birth to shadow spawn? Well, prepare yourself for the real game of thrones— philosophy! The Ultimate Game of Thrones and Philosophy will twist and turn you through adventures of truth, reality, disabilities, deception, faith, your hatred of Joffrey, a little incest, and of course, your favorite imp, Tyrion.”

—Courtland Lewis, editor of The Philosophy of Forgiveness (2016), and co-editor of Red Rising and Philosophy: Break the Chains! (2016)

 “Bertrand Russell once observed: ‘Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so’. The Ultimate Game of Thrones and Philosophy helps us improve our chances of staying alive by reflecting on real-life issues—freedom, power, sex, evil, and honor—while holding our own lives up to the same sort of examination. This book exposes the real richness of Game of Thrones while also bringing that same richness to our own existence.”

—Jack Bowen, author of If You Can Read This: The Philosophy of Bumper Stickers (2010) and The Dream Weaver: One Boy’s Journey through the Landscape of Reality (2006)

“Like the army of White Walkers, a rich and expansive Game of Thrones and philosophy book has been a long time coming. This exciting volume covers an incredible diversity of topics from ethics to epistemology to sex. Any thoughtful fan of the Game of Thrones universe will find this book of insightful essays more welcome than the end of Joffrey’s wedding feast.”

—Benjamin McCraw, philosophy instructor at the University of South Carolina Upstate, and co-editor of The Problem of Evil: New Philosophical Directions (2015) and The Concept of Hell (2015).

ERIC J. SILVERMAN is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Christopher Newport University. He is author of The Prudence of Love (2010) and coeditor of Paradise Understood: New Philosophical Essays about Heaven (2017). ROBERT ARP has written and edited many works in both academic and popular philosophy, including The Devil and Philosophy: The Nature of His Game (2014), 1001 Ideas that Changed the Way We Think (2013), and What’s Good on TV? Teaching Ethics through Television (2010).

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