Saturday, December 14, 2013

House and Philosophy ed by Henry Jacob and William Irwin


House and Philosophy:  Everybody Lies edited by Henry Jacoby and William Irwin is another in the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series which I have enjoyed, some volumes in the series more than others.  This one is not my favorite of the series.  Much of this may be due to the book being published before the television show was completed, forcing the various writers to resort to the same few episodes, leaving the same ones referenced over and over again.

However, I think the greatest weakness of this particular volume lies more in the character Gregory House himself.  It seemed inevitable that many of the essays would be rooted in classical Greek philosophy, Socratic thought, and Aristotle arrogance.  That this book seemed to fall into this trap is disappointing, even if it is unsurprising.  That is why the few essays that dare to explore other philosophical thought and relate it to the series seem to rise so far above the rest.

 “House of Sartre: ‘Hell is Other People’” by Jennifer L McMahon, “Is There a Daoist in the House?” by Peter Vernezze, “Love:  The Only Risk House Can’t Take” by Sara Protasi are the essays that especially stand out.  This is not to suggest I did not enjoy any of the classical approaches.  Melanie Frappier’s “’Being Nice is Overrated’: House and Socrates on the Necessity of Conflict” was as insightful as any of the others. 

It can be challenging, when a subject matter lends itself so naturally to specific interpretations.  Not unlike, I would imagine, the challenge of interpreting the Bible from a Taoist perspective.  However, a more balanced approach to a topic is something to which I have become accustomed in this series and I was understandably disappointed in this volume as a result.  Interesting in spite of its limitations.  Given that these books are presumably written for fans more than philosophers or those interested in philosophy, the book will undoubtedly disappoint because it is not inclusive enough.  For the philosophy minded who are inclined to relate their ideals with contemporary culture, this book will be mildly interesting albeit ungratifying.

There are better books in the series, some reviewed in this blog.  I would recommend those before reading this book.  And then, don’t read this one unless you truly appreciate the show and want to explore it from a different angle.  Otherwise, read another book or watch the show.  I enjoyed it, yes, but I didn’t love it. 

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