The Wizard of Oz and Philosophy
Wicked Wisdom of the West
Edited by Randall E. Auxier and Phil Seng
Volume 37 in the Popular Culture and Philosophy® series
Have you ever had that feeling you're not in Kansas anymore? Most philosophers and people with imagination spend more time exploring Oz than they do dealing with the gray world of everyday life.
The Wizard of Oz has replaced both Shakespeare and the King James Bible as the common reference point of language and culture. We all know what it means to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, and how thoughts of lions and tigers and bears combine for comically fearful effect. We know that the Yellow Brick Road goes through the Haunted Forest, and what to sing on the death of a Wicked Witch.
But the scripture leaves us with many puzzles, too. Why would anyone want to get out of Oz and back into Kansas? Why does water melt a witch? Must we dream before we can understand reality? How do we acquire the virtues of courage, heart, and intelligence? Is the Wicked Witch really wicked or does she merely have a wicked reputation? Why does the little dog Toto play such a decisive role in the course of human events? Thankfully, enlightenment is always right here at your fingertips, whenever you really want it—but no one can teach you this: you must learn it for yourself. Simply tap your heels together and open The Wizard of Oz and Philosophy.
"What a great book! For those of us who can't imagine a childhood without The Wizard of Oz, this book reveals that it has just as much to say to us as adults. How satisfying to revisit Dorothy and her companions, the Wizard and the Witches (and Toto, too) while retracing the Yellow Brick Road with new insights that help us understand just why this movie is so timeless."
— Josef Steiff, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Independent Filmmaking
"The Wizard of Oz has helped to form our sense of good and evil, dream and waking, courage and heart. This excellent book explores all these aspects and more."
— Crispin Sartwell, author of Six Names of Beauty
"The Wizard of Oz and Philosophy offers wonderful insights into the twentieth century's greatest tale."
—Chris Chandler, storyteller and songwriter
Randall E. Auxier is Professor of Philosophy at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. He is Editor of the Library of Living Philosophers and of the scholarly journal The Pluralist. He co-edited Bruce Springsteen and Philosophy: Darkness on the Edge of Truth. Phillip S. Seng is Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and has published several scholarly articles on philosophy applied to movies.