The Puzzle of Personal Identity: How Comic Books Illuminate Real World Issues
The superhero genre of comic books lends itself to explorations concerning the metaphysical puzzles of personal identity over time. This Olio will survey storylines in the Marvel and DC universes involving characters such as Deadpool, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Rogue, Jean Grey, The Hulk, Swamp Thing, Batman, and Superman, which present thought experiments that raise questions about whether or not a person’s identity can survive radical physical changes, mind control, consciousness switching, memory deletion, memory absorption, and more!
We will also discuss the ramifications of how we answer these questions about events in fictional universes on how we should understand our actual practices concerning identity and moral responsibility, criminality and mental illness in the real world.
Teacher: Ben Abelson
Ben Abelson is an assistant professor in the philosophy department at Mercy College. His primary research interests are personal identity, the nature of responsibility, the foundations of psychology and psychotherapy as well as the impact of emotions on behavior, the relationship between art and pop culture, and the influence of science fiction on philosophy.