Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy by Josef Steiff
The Footprints of a Gigantic Mind (Popular Culture & Philosophy)

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Synopsis

This entertaining collection of essays shows that Sherlock Holmes sees things others don’t. He sees the world in a different way, and by so doing, allows us to see that same world – and human behavior – in different ways as well. Oh, sure, there have been countless detectives who have followed in his footsteps and who seem to rival his abilities. Just turn on the TV or browse the local bookshop and you’ll find idiosyncratic super sleuths using forensics and reasoning to solve a whole host of crimes and misdeeds.

And yet no one rivals our dear, dear Holmes. Why does Sherlock reign, even more than a century later, as king? Can this mystery be solved? Unable to reach either Holmes or Watson (or Doyle for that matter, though we’ve tried every medium we can think of), we’ve been forced to gather our own team of investigators to practice their powers of observation and perception, to apply their own reasoning and methodologies to the task at hand. The results, I fear, have led us to a number of cases that must be solved first.

Is Holmes simply eccentric or a sociopath? Is he human or something from the holodeck? Is he as dangerous on the page as he is in person? Wait – does he even exist? For that matter, do you? (I fear several investigators have been forced to take a much needed holiday after wrestling with that one.)

What is the source of his faculty of observation and facility for deduction? Systematic training as Watson surmises? Genetic? Or is he just really lucky?

And is this whole logic thing compatible with emotions? Are Holmes and Watson good friends or soul mates? Just what is the nature of friendship? Do they complete each other or just get on each other’s nerves? And why all the secrecy? Disguises? Deceptions?

The plot thickens. What is the essence of consciousness? Is the observable world subject to our intentions? Why does Holmes debunk mysticism when Doyle so readily embraces it? Why is Holmes our favorite drug user?

Our notebooks are filled with clues and, dare I say, answers. Is there more than one way to define the concept, justice? Is hope necessary in the world? Is boredom? Play? Can any thing really be understood? Objectively?

And just what is the last unresolved mystery involving Sherlock Holmes? The game that's afoot isn't just the thing being pursued but the fun to be had as well.
 

About Josef Steiff

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Josef Steiff is the assistant chair and director of film development in the Department of Film and Video at Columbia College Chicago. An independent filmmaker, he has worked as a director, producer, cinematographer, and editor with budgets ranging from $100 to $100,000+. Steiff is also a staff writer for "Film Monthly" and has served as assistant editor of "Wide Angle Film Quarterly,
 
Published October 11, 2011 by Open Court. 386 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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