By Curt Yeomans
To shake, or not to shake? That is the question.
This year's installment of Clayton State University's annual "Philosophy in Society" lecture program will focus on James Bond, the British spy character at the center of a 56-year-old franchise that includes 22 films and several novels by five authors, including creator Ian Fleming. The lecture will take place on Thursday, from 11:10 a.m., to 12:45 p.m., in room 267 of Clayton State's James M. Baker University Center.
The guest lecturer will be Elizabeth Butterfield, an assistant professor of philosophy at Georgia Southern University.
She wrote an essay, entitled "Being Towards Death and Taking Pleasure in Beauty: James Bond and Existentialism," for the 2006 book "James Bond and Philosophy: Questions are Forever," which was edited by Marquette University Associate Professor of Philosophy James B. South and University of Central Arkansas Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion Jacob M. Held.
"The 'Philosophy in Society' lectures are designed to appeal to a broader audience than the more strictly academic philosophy lectures," said Clayton State Assistant Professor of Philosophy Alexander Hall, the organizer of the "Philosophy in Society" lectures. "In the interest of appealing to a broader audience, we look for topics that are well known, and James Bond seemed like a winner."
Hall said there has been a movement in the philosophy community toward bridging a gap between philosophy and pop culture. In recent years, the American Philosophical Society has been encouraging American philosophers to find a way to appeal to more people.
In addition to James Bond, books have been written in recent years on how pop culture institutions, ranging from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to Metallica, relate to philosophical themes.
"All of the philosophers out there are members of society," Hall said. "They are as influenced by pop culture as anyone else. What they are doing is taking their philosophical training, and raising questions about those areas of pop culture that they are involved in."
As for James Bond, Hall said there is fertile ground for philosophical exploration into the character and his adventures. "It's infinitely rich," Hall said. "What do we have here? Well, it's basically sex, death and alcohol. You have gambling, multiple sexual partners, murder, political intrigue, espionage, greed and drinking. It taps into all of the themes we see in society."
Butterfield could not be reached for comment Monday.