Rowlands, Mark 1962-
Rowlands, Mark 1962-
Born September 21, 1962.
Office—University of Hertfordshire, College Lane, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL10 9AB, England. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]
Writer, animal rights activist, and educator. University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, associate professor of philosophy; University College, Cork, Ireland, lecturer in philosophy; University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England, professor of mental and moral philosophy. Guest on television and radio programs.
Supervenience and Materialism, Avebury (Brookfield, VT), 1995.
Animal Rights: A Philosophical Defense, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.
The Body in Mind: Understanding Cognitive Processes, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1999.
The Environmental Crisis: Understanding the Value of Nature, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2000.
The Nature of Consciousness, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2001.
Animals Like Us, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2002.
Externalism: Putting Mind and World Back Together Again, Acumen (Chesham, Bucks, England), 2003.
The Philosopher at the End of the Universe, Ebury (London, England), 2003, published as The Philosopher at the End of the Universe: Philosophy Explained through Science Fiction Films, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Philosophy of Psychology, Acumen Publishing (Chesham, England), 2004.
Everything I Know I Learned from TV, Random House (New York, NY), 2004.
Body Language: Representation in Action, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2006.
Mark Rowlands is a writer, philosopher, and educator at the University of Hertfordshire in England, where he serves as a professor of mental and moral philosophy. He frequently writes on philosophical and ethical subjects, and has produced books designed for general audiences who want a better understanding of the concepts of philosophy. In addition to broad subjects in philosophy, Rowlands's scholarly interests include popular culture and environmentalism, both of which have made their way into his books and written works.
The Nature of Consciousness offers a definition of the characteristics of consciousness and what it is like to have a conscious experience. The phenomenal properties that make up a conscious experience, Rowlands argues, are transcendental. "They are properties by which we are conscious of the nonphenomenal world, but they are not objects of conscious awareness or even linguistic reference," commented Torin Alter on the University of Alabama Department of Philosophy Web site. Alter concluded that "The Nature of Consciousness is a good book. It makes a reasonably strong case for an unpopular view with potentially far-reaching consequences. It is elegantly written, clearly organized, provocative, and, for the most part, well argued."
In The Environmental Crisis: Understanding the Value of Nature, Rowlands asserts that the field of philosophy has failed the natural environment, largely by not providing a theoretical basis for the idea that the "environment can possess value in its own right," noted Arthur H. Westing in the Environment. Without a discernible intrinsic value, the environment is not given worthwhile consideration within philosophy, and the need to maintain, sustain, and renew the environment for its own sake, and by extension humankind and the animal kingdom, is not taken seriously. Rowlands seeks to direct the history and current state of philosophy toward a "proper philosophical understanding of nature in its own right," Westing commented. The Environmental Crisis "is a work that every scholar of philosophy should be required to read, digest, and be provoked by," Westing concluded.
With The Philosopher at the End of the Universe: Philosophy Explained through Science Fiction Films, Rowlands takes a more lighthearted but no less serious look at basic concepts of philosophy. In this book, he is concerned with how important philosophical concepts can be identified and better understood through the vehicle of the modern science fiction film. Rowlands uses the plot and action of individual films to explore a single concept in philosophy. The Terminator provides a context for exploring and understanding the mind-body problem. The concept of personal identity can be examined through the plot of Total Recall. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein illuminates the conflict we experience as we approach and encounter technology. Free will is explored in Minority Report, while the very nature of reality is examined through the abstract cyber-worlds of the Matrix. Higher philosophical concepts received their due as well: the nature and existence of evil is considered within Star Wars, the question of whether or not to be moral is assessed in the Hollow Man, and the very meaning of life and death comes under scrutiny through the lens of Hollywood filmmaking. Rowlands brings in discussion of some of the most prominent thinkers in philosophy, including Kirkegaard, Descartes, Nietzsche, Kant, and Sartre, and applies their concepts to the subjects under scrutiny.
Throughout the book, Rowlands "effectively covers an astonishing number of essential thinkers and positions" through their manifestation in film, remarked Ray Olson in Booklist. "Rowlands writes in a chatty and accessible way. No academic speak here. Sure, some points may make your eyes glaze over in dull incomprehension but as a rule Rowlands anchors his discussions in everyday terms most—if not all of us—would understand, if not identify with," commented a reviewer on Scifimoviepage.com. Library Journal critic Leslie Armour concluded that Rowlands's work contains some "silliness," but that it is "an entertaining book that does contain some insights."
In Everything I Know I Learned from TV, Rowlands takes a similar turn through the theories and concepts of philosophy, this time using popular television programs as the sources of wisdom. Rowlands asserts that we live in an era when high-minded philosophical questions have been replaced by baser everyday concerns and practical questions. His book "is a remarkably successful attempt to integrate these two sorts of question, exploring the problems that have vexed thinkers through the medium of popular television," commented London Independent reviewer Robert Hanks. Homer Simpson becomes an exemplar of the Epicurean ideal of happiness attained through simple desires; Buffy the Vampire Slayer represents the nature of the modern self; television gangster Tony Soprano stands as an example of Plato's vision of the philosopher-king with a Freudian fractured personality; and the women of Sex and the City search for a sense of self and real identity in a type of transcendental fulfillment detached from the sensations and results of actual events. Hanks concluded that "in its rigor and lucidity, and the persuasive, easy way that philosophical dilemmas are attached to everyday life, [Everything I Know I Learned from TV] stands far above most previous efforts to popularize philosophy."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Animals' Agenda, May 1, 1999, Brian Luke, review of Animal Rights: A Philosophical Defense, p. 38.
Booklist, August, 2004, Ray Olson, review of The Philosopher at the End of the Universe: Philosophy Explained through Science Fiction Films, p. 1889.
Choice, March, 1999, M.C. Rose, review of Animal Rights, p. 1280; July 1, 2000, J. White, review of The Body in Mind: Understanding Cognitive Processes, p. 1993; February, 2001, D. Ostergren, review of The Environmental Crisis: Understanding the Value of Nature, p. 1101; February, 2003, M.C. Rose, review of Animals Like Us, p. 996.
Environment, September, 2001, Arthur H. Westing, review of The Environmental Crisis, p. 44.
Environmental Politics, summer, 1999, Marcel Wissenburg, review of Animal Rights, p. 207.
Independent (London, England), January 7, 2005, Robert Hanks, "A Date with Descartes on the Sofa," review of Everything I Know I Learned from TV.
Journal of Economic Literature, June, 2001, review of The Environmental Crisis, p. 740.
Library Journal, July, 2004, Leslie Armour, review of The Philosopher at the End of the Universe, p. 85.
Mind, July, 2000, Lynne Rudder Baker, review of The Body in Mind, p. 644; July, 2004, David M. Rosenthal, review of The Nature of Consciousness, p. 581; January, 2005, Harold Langsam, review of Externalism: Putting Mind and World Back Together Again, p. 193.
Philosophical Quarterly, July, 2001, Gregory McCulloch, review of The Body in Mind, p. 401.
Philosophical Review, January, 1998, Christopher S. Hill, review of Supervenience and Materialism, p. 115; October, 2001, Alan Millar, review of The Body in Mind, p. 621.
Reference & Research Book News, May, 1999, review of Animal Rights, p. 118; February, 2001, review of The Environmental Crisis, p. 56.
Science Fiction Chronicle, June, 2004, Don D'Ammassa, review of The Philosopher at the End of the Universe, p. 46.
Times Literary Supplement, October 17, 2003, Colin McGinn, review of The Philosopher at the End of the Universe, p. 10.
Puttick Agency Web site,http://www.puttick.com/ (January 28, 2008), biography of Mark Rowlands.
Scifimoviepage.com,http://www.scifimoviepage.com/ (January 28, 2008), review of The Philosopher at the End of the Universe.
University of Alabama Department of Philosophy Web site,http://www.ua.edu/ (January 28, 2008), Torin Alter, review of The Nature of Consciousness.