Mister Rogers and Philosophy (Popular Culture and Philosophy)
These days, we’re enjoying a bit of a Mr. Rogers renaissance. With the man being brought to life in big screen form (both biographical and documentary-style), a childhood icon is being introduced and re-introduced to the world at large, and he’s never been needed more. So it’s only natural that the Popular Culture and Philosophy series would turn their curious lens toward the beloved besweatered moral figure who invited us all into his home so often.
And honestly, they’ve created their most enjoyable essay collection yet. Here, the great philosophers (via their knowledgable avatars) don’t nitpick or tear down a cherished property (as has happened in previous editions in the series). Instead, they explore how he engaged children through make-believe, using puppets and objects as bridges to discuss larger issues. They luxuriate in how Mr. Rogers taught us the value of quiet and contemplation and how by treating children as thinking, capable beings, he elevated all of us to a higher level of discourse.
Also, thankfully, they gleefully dispel the idiotic notion that Mr. Rogers “harmed” a generation of kids by teaching them that they’re special, a narrative parroted by morons who see empathy as weakness instead of a valuable trait to be cultivated.
Although there aren’t the laughs you’d find in editions covering Deadpool or the gang from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, this is by far my favorite entry in the series. It analyzes and poses questions, but never seeks to deflate or attack the subject at hand. This is scholarly work that embraces an icon. What more could you ask for?
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