Mr. Monk is the latest in a long series of brilliant detectives, but like most such characters, his genius brings along with it serious flaws. We love detective stories, but, like Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe before him, we love the man of genius himself, even when we don’t admire everything about him, or, indeed, wish to be like him.
Monk and Philosophy is an edited volume in Open Court Publishing Company’s Popular Culture and Philosophy series. We solicit proposals for book chapters that will engage philosophical issues within or relevant to the television series Monk, written for a general audience. Chapters should be lively, engaging, and entertaining. Preferably, they should help a fan of the show understand why she enjoys the show so much, and what she can take from the show that helps her better understand herself and our world.
Topics might include:
• What counts as evidence? How do we make inferences? Why can’t we do what Monk does?
• Abduction and the pitfalls of inference to the best explanation
• Problems with practical reasoning that Monk is able (somehow) to avoid—confirmation bias, false premises, etc.
• Phenomenology of perception, and what Monk sees that others can’t
• Why is he named “Monk”? Is he a contemporary ascetic?
• Monk’s habits and Aristotle’s virtues
• Freud’s theory of repetition compulsion, trauma, and mourning
• How is genius tied to madness?
• Why do we (well, some of us) have a “will to truth,” if the truth doesn’t help us to be happy?
• Cynicism, Diogenes and Monk: shunning social norms and the search for an honest man
• The nature of friendship, and Monk’s relationships with Sharona, Natalie, and Stottlemeyer
• Is “courage” the same thing for everybody? Does Monk display a kind of moral virtue in simply leaving the house at all?
• Why are we charmed by and why do we sympathize with eccentricities in fictional characters that we consider flaws, failings and vices in real people?
We welcome submissions from any philosophical perspective, and from theoretically based interdisciplinary perspectives. Relevant figures, in addition to those mentioned above, might include James, Dewey, and Hume. Relevant areas, in addition to those mentioned above, might include philosophy of law, professional ethics, and aesthetics. (Aesthetics? Well, do you remember Monk’s confrontation with a painting in the first episode?) Chapters comparing different characters in philosophically relevant ways are also welcome, for example: Monk v. Holmes, Monk v. Wolfe, Monk v. House.
Proposals should be 200-400 words, and should be quick, lively presentations of the topics and questions to be addressed in the full chapter. We are planning this book on a very tight schedule! We want to be sure to get the book on the shelves before the series finale—preferably well before it.
Proposals due by April 1st. Notification of acceptance shortly thereafter. Full chapters of about 4000 words due by June 16th. Please be sure, before you send in a proposal, that you’re willing and able to set aside a chunk of the first part of your summer to get this done!
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