Books: The Undead and Philosophy


The Undead and Philosophy is volume 22 in the wonderful Popular Culture and Philosophy series.

The Undead and Philosophy

It’s a collection of essays by various professional philosophers about the philosophical significance of zombie and vampire stories, with a few digressions into specials cases, like bioethics of the Frankenstein monster and the problematic case of the not-quite-undead “Infected” people from the 28 Days Later films.

Some of the topics I found most interesting were discussions of the ethical considerations between zombies and vampires. Vampires are fully self-aware, so staking them without due process is somewhat problematic from a human rights standpoint. Zombies, on the other hand, are not “people,” and can be dispatched without ethical consideration. This, of course leads to discussion about why zombies are not people in a way that vampires are, and what exactly does it take to be considered a “person.”

There are also a few essays on political philosophy, which I found interesting. During a zombie outbreak, should you adopt an “every man for himself” individualistic strategy, or band together in more communitarian groups? The Romero films explore these themes in some depth.

Framing the obscure ideas of philosophy in terms of pop culture is a great way to make philosophy accessible to non-academics, and The Undead and Philosophy makes it fun and kind of silly.

Like the rest of the series, the book is not available for Kindle, which burns my ass to no end, but nevertheless, I give it 4 Jihadis out of 5.

4 Jihadis out of 5

If you want a taste of what the book is like, you can read Wayne Yuen’s essay on “The Bloody Connection Between Vampires and Vegetarians” online for free. It’s probably a representative sample of what the rest of the book is like.