Brain Pickings

Arrested Development & Philosophy: They’ve Made a Huge Mistake


From Dr. Fünke to Freud, or what the use and abuse of language can teach us about family dynamics.

It’s been a grand year for Arrested Development fans, from the merry-making announcement of a new season to a LEGO rendition of the Bluth universe. This month, it gets even better: Arrested Development and Philosophy: They’ve Made a Huge Mistake enlists 23 contemporary philosophers in dissecting the cult comedy through the kaleidoscopic lens of various schools of thought, from Plato to Aristotle to Freud. Part of the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series (which features other such fine titles as Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy: Curiouser and Curiouser, Doctor Who and Philosophy: Bigger on the Inside, and The Ultimate Harry Potter and Philosophy: Hogwarts for Muggles), it offers a witty yet surprisingly — or, perhaps, unsurprisingly — insightful meditation on everything from the follies of blind religion (“Don’t Know Thyself: Gob and the Wisdom of Bad Faith” by Daniel P. Malloy) to gender identity (“To Bias Tobias” by Darci Doll) to narrative and how we find meaning (“And Now the Story of a Wealthy Family Who Lost Everything” by Tyler Shores).

We philosophers really need to know the truth (about everything!); we need to know so badly that we even need you to know. If you don’t, we’re unhappy. On the other side of the debate is…basically, everyone else. Sure, when we’re being uncharitable, we’ll point to the MR. F’s and “moron jocks” (Steve Holt (!)) who prefer ignorance, but when we’re being fair, philosophers will admit that there are plenty of smart people who seem to think we’re wrong about self-knowledge being the key to happiness. Since there are no smart people on television, let’s take the Bluths as our guides in reconsidering whether ignorance really is bliss.”

Enlightening, entertaining, and all-around refreshing, you can be sure Arrested Development and Philosophy is no huge mistake.

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