The Philosophy of Batman

The Batman was wrong.

The Truth is always good enough. Faith without Truth is blind and without guidance.
But the Truth can sometimes be ugly.

Alfred had it right.

The fact that the Truth can sometimes be ugly doesn’t mean we should abet evil by blindfolding faith with irrationality.

Truth is it’s own justification…in the end. But we don’t live in the end, we live in the now.

Batman’s got a point, sometimes a lie is better.

The Joker was doing evil to reveal the truth. When he put bombs on the ferrys and pitted the crew on board one ferry against the other, he was doing it to demonstrate a point.

So knowing the truth can be empowering, but it can come at a heavy price. People can have their lives ruined and people can die because of the revelation of the truth. So people have to decide for themselves whether others need to pay that price, or whether the truth should be kept from others to keep them from having to pay that price.

I have to agree with Batman. I don’t think there is a one size fit all answer to the question. I think there are cases where people are better off not knowing and I think anyone who has had kids would agree.

I don’t think Alfred was making the point you’re suggesting. He was only giving an analysis of the Joker’s motives. He wasn’t suggesting anything about truth. If he was making the case that the Batman should act against the joker, then his argument was only that the Joker is not an ordinary person. He was dehumanizing and legitimizing it by arguing that he is “evil” as you put it and that evil people deserve to die. Alfred wasn’t saying anything about right and wrong save for evil people are allowed to be killed.

Though I don’t agree with any of your analysis, I am glad you brought up the Dark Knight movie. I wanted to give the movie some further thought, but I didn’t find many people, even intelligent people, who could hack what the movie was getting at. Everyone seemed to agree that it was deep and interesting, but no one could quite summarize what the points in the movie were. I think you did a good job on that.

I agree that what Batman says doesn’t make sense. But the ultimate truth seems to be intellectually unattainable. If we are to maintain our pursuit of the truth we need enough faith or at least hope that the effort is worthwhile. Otherwise, our thinking can get stuck in nihilism.

I’ve been thinking about this myself recently, from a completely different angle, mind you. Some of my inspiration comes from this blog.

To all of you who disagree with batman, I ask this. If you have a child and you want him to ride his bicycle, do you tell him about how he can fall and break his neck if he crashes, or do you tell him about the gaping wound he could open if he falls off the bike, or do you keep that information from him so he can have the confidence to ride the bike? Is the child better off knowing the truth?

Why doesn’t Bman just kill the Joker?

We live in the now with the hope/possibility of a later. And even if there is no later, we get the most out of this life (and the next?) by abiding by the principle of enlightened self-interest–which does not allow for lies.

He doesn’t do evil to make a point. As Alfred said, some men just want to watch the world burn. And what point anyway? So someone on one boat blows up the other one. We all contain different amounts of good and evil, cowardice and courage–that is the Truth. And if you go by the results, neither blew the other up and Batman stopped him, showing a large proportion of inherent good, at least among those participants. If the Joker had been a victim on board one of the boats, he’d have pushed the switch in 5 nanoseconds.

And why do you suppose the Joker tells the Truth sometimes? To keep us off balance and guessing. If he always lied…

One of the beauties of Truth is that you can’t/don’t need to discover it all at once. You don’t tell a 3 year-old who’s just had his first experience with death that, “hey, you’re gonna die too someday, maybe even tomorrow”. Same with riding a bike. A Child’s`typical fear shows that he understands the risk; they’ve fallen down often enough learning to walk and had plenty of cuts and bruises. You simply encourage him, answer any questions when he asks, make sure he wears a helmet, and steady him when HE’S ready. Questions, or their absence, is a sign that he’s ready for the Truth or has all he needs for now.

One thing for sure, avoid lies, or you loose credibility and trust…and a piece of your soul.

Matty, mind putting what you’ve been thinking into your own words?

I agree, except I’d say nihilism or materialism, pretty much the same in the end I guess. I don’t really have enough knowledge to say that I believe there is a God, but I have hope.

And the ultimate Truth may be an infinite number of facts away, yet we keep getting further away from total ignorance. (Oooo, that’s a keeper–you can quote me. :sunglasses: )

I’m working on it. I’ll be sure to post the results in here when I’m done. If I’m honest, I’m a little miffed you beat me to the punch… :wink:

Just to pick up on a point that you make about the Joker, I think you’re right to argue that he doesn’t have “a point”, in the sense that he doesn’t have any specific end goal in sight - “some men just want to watch the world burn”, as Alfred explains. However, the character of the Joker does have a point, to my mind, as the symbiotic product of the Batman: the Joker “needs” the Batman to make him possible (think back to the end of the first film and the conversation between Gordon and the Batman), Chaos arises out of, and in response to, Order. This is where I diverge a little from the analysis offered by David Pincus in the link I posted, in seeing the character of Harvey/Two-Face as absolutely essential; where the Batman and the Joker provide the conflict, it is only through the affirmation of Chance by Two-Face that a “resolution” is possible. Understanding the role played here by Chance is essential, for me, to understanding why the Batman chooses the path he does.

Because, as Pincus explains, that would violate his core principles, the ordered structure of his character, when it is better - from a psychological point-of-view, at least - to try and maintain a degree of integrity. You could have some real fun contrasting the Batman with Jack Bauer in this regard, I think! :smiley:

Then Batman is selfish. He’d rather he had a good opinion of himself, than save countless innocent people.

Then your argument is wrong and you agree with batman. You say people deserve the truth, but that you should hide the truth from children. Children are people. Therefore you think people should get the truth and it should be hidden from them, which is what batman was saying.

On your other point, the Joker does do evil to prove a point. He wants to prove that people are ultimately selfish. If people are given the choice to kill another person or die themselves they will kill the other. That was the point of putting the bombs on the ships. The film makers tried to counter that argument by having the people on the boat sacrifice their own lives. I didn’t buy it though. The joker is right. People at their core are selfish.

So you’re saying that children should be treated the same and have the same rights and responsibilities as adults?


I agree. That’s nature and it’s as it should be. But some value their rights and wants above those of others. Some are fearful to stand up for their rights. Some think to put off their gratification to an afterlife. And some, like I try to do, equate the rights of all, and understand that doing so sometimes requires that some (mabye me) risk sacrifice for that principle, and sometimes others (maybe me) may benefit from others who take that risk. These are all forms of selfishness. The one that best promotes good order is the latter.

Think about it. Were you yourself Batman, and faced with the prospect of either 1) saving probably no less than 10 innocent people but at the cost of your conscience and self-image suffering, or 2) not saving them and feel good about yourself (having a good self-image). Which one would you go with?

No, I’m saying children are ignorant. Adults are ignorant too. And being ignorant, can kill you. We lie to children and adults to protect and encourage them.

I used children as an example to illustrate a generally accepted case of when lieing is used to protect someone.

Because becoming the batman, or the joker, are both extreme, but equally valid reactions to living in modern society.

If Batman intentionally killed the Joker, he would also have to kill himself.

Oooh. Good answer. Both are reactions to the injustice they see. Nice insight.

:smiley: I have my moments.

I think the problem here is you are looking at this from the point-of-view of the Batman as a real person rather than as a “character”. (What is important here is that by the end of the film there is only Alfred left who knows the “secret” of the Batman’s true identity, and because Alfred is actively complicit in the deception he does not constitute the link to the “real” world that was provided by Rachel.) I think, from what he says, that Tab (sort of) agrees with me about this point…

Both the saint and the villain are symptoms of the same society, true, but they are more than that. They are also the carriers of the symptoms they exhibit. The son becomes the father. Hence, I can see a non-selfish Batman reason that by killing The Joker, it wouldn’t become necessary for him to also kill himself, because the act of killing the Joker can be seen as society’s way of fighting a virus, before the virus takes over the body, via antibodies, i.e. Batman. A society can react against negative symptoms it manifests via the positive symptoms.

More on this in a bit.

Yah, but an immune system left without anything to mount resistance against, attacks the body [politic].