Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Harry Potter and Philosophy

Rate this topic


Carla
 Share

Recommended Posts

While browsing the philosophy section of my local Borders yesterday, I noticed a book called Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts displayed somewhat prominently (cover faced out rather than just the spine out). Today, I went to the philosophy section of the local Barnes and Noble and saw the same book, similarly displayed. For fun, I decided to take a look at it--my first thought was, "good, it says 'If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts,' and not Plato!" Opening up to the table of contents, I found that the second essay was, "Dursley Duplicity: The Morality and Psychology of Self-Deception," written by Diana Mertz Hsieh!

Diana posts here from time to time, and also runs a great Objectivist blog called NoodleFood. I couldn't bring myself to drop the cash on the book, but I did browse quickly through her footnotes, to see (to my even greater pleasure) that Diana cites OPAR. You can see Diana's summary of the essay here.

What a great way to inject some Objectivist perspective into popular culture! Has anyone read the essay and/or more of the collection?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Carla!

I have been quite remiss in not mentioning the publication of that essay on my blog. You finally broken the back of my procrastination. :-) In addition to the brief comments below, I should mention that I do not merely cite OPAR in the essay, I also explicitly discuss Ayn Rand's idea of the benevolent universe premise toward the end.

Here's what I just wrote about my essay and the volume on NoodleFood:

It's a good essay, I think, perhaps even my best work to date. So I'm pleased to have it published in a volume that is likely to be fairly widely read. In general, I do recommend the volume. As expected, I disagreed at least in part with many of the essays. Yet all were clear, and many were quite interesting. (I particularly enjoyed the essay on Slytherin and ambition, as it got me thinking about the relationship between various virtues and other character traits which are related to virtues but not virtues themselves.) Also, the subtitle ("If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts") is very apt, as most of the essays were Aristotelian in flavor.

Here's the Amazon link: <A HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0812694554/dianahsieh-20"><I>Harry Potter and Philosophy</I></A>.

Edited by dianahsieh
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In addition to the brief comments below, I should mention that I do not merely cite OPAR in the essay, I also explicitly discuss Ayn Rand's idea of the benevolent universe premise toward the end. 

Oh, even better! I was on my lunch break, so I didn't have time to look further.

In general, I do recommend the volume. As expected, I disagreed at least in part with many of the essays. Yet all were clear, and many were quite interesting. (I particularly enjoyed the essay on Slytherin and ambition, as it got me thinking about the relationship between various virtues and other character traits which are related to virtues but not virtues themselves.) Also, the subtitle ("If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts") is very apt, as most of the essays were Aristotelian in flavor.

Maybe I'll get it, then. I always thought it was too bad that Slytherin, the house associated with "great ambition," was also associated with evil wizards or bullies. It might be interesting to look at it more closely, though.

Congratulations on the publication!

Edited by Carla
Link to comment
Share on other sites

...It's a good essay, I think, perhaps even my best work to date.  So I'm pleased to have it published in a volume that is likely to be fairly widely read.  In general, I do recommend the volume.  As expected, I disagreed at least in part with many of the essays.  Yet all were clear, and many were quite interesting.  (I particularly enjoyed the essay on Slytherin and ambition, as it got me thinking about the relationship between various virtues and other character traits which are related to virtues but not virtues themselves.)  Also, the subtitle ("If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts") is very apt, as most of the essays were Aristotelian in flavor...

0812694554/dianahsieh-20"><I>Harry Potter and Philosophy</I></A>.

That book made a good first impression (Aristotle) and a bad second one. I skimmed it and was not impressed. I am an avid Harry Potter fan, quite an obsessive poster on mugglenet's New Clues forum, and I did not find anything in my very brief skimming of the book that was anything particularly deep or interesting. Obviously, I completely missed your essay.:o I think I may have to go back to the bookstore...

Anyway, congratulations on being published. I think I will have to read that book after I finish The Plot Thickens. <_<

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That book made a good first impression (Aristotle) and a bad second one. I skimmed it and was not impressed. I am an avid Harry Potter fan, quite an obsessive poster on mugglenet's New Clues forum, and I did not find anything in my very brief skimming of the book that was anything particularly deep or interesting. Obviously, I completely missed your essay.:o  I think I may have to go back to the bookstore...

I worry that you are misconstruing the purpose of the volume. It was designed to examine some of the philosophic issues raised in the <I>Harry Potter</I> novels -- for an audience that is expected to be fairly young and thus generally unfamiliar with the standard concerns, methods, and positions of philosophy. In addition, the essays don't presume the encyclopedic knowledge of and obsession with the novels common among us hard-core fanatics. :-)

I think the volume served its intended purpose quite well, particularly given its generally Aristotelian slant. Of course, it's not that an older person with a greater knowledge of philosophy won't enjoy the volume, but they should keep their expectations reasonable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You are right. I apologize. I was nine when I read the first Harry Potter book, so more often than not, I forget that I am no longer in the target audience for most Harry Potter related material. :P I found the book in the philosophy section of Borders, and I must admit that it did not occur to me that it was for children. So naturally, compared to Oxford's guide to so and so or the Niccomacean Ethics, I found it rather simplistic. Anyway, sorry. :nuke:

Incidentally, have you read The Plot Thickens? It is a very interesting volume of essays written by HP "sleuths." The essays are pretty much based on Galadriel Water's New Clues to Book Five, and are very interesting, if you like trying to figure out the mystery before it happens.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You are right. I apologize. I was nine when I read the first Harry Potter book, so more often than not, I forget that I am no longer in the target audience for most Harry Potter related material.  :nuke:  I found the book in the philosophy section of Borders, and I must admit that it did not occur to me that it was for children. So naturally, compared to Oxford's guide to so and so or the Niccomacean Ethics, I found it rather simplistic. Anyway, sorry.

Well, the volume isn't intended for "children" any more than it is intended for professional philosophers. (In my experience, a person really isn't able to think about philosophy directly until about 15 or so, i.e. until the transition between childhood and adulthood.) The volume is aimed more toward the philosophical novice, although even the expert may find material of interest in it. I suspect that you found the volume "rather simplistic" upon first glance due to your prior exposure to philosophy, not your age (whatever that may be). In any case, you might not wish to form such a solid opinion until you have at least read an essay or two.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That book made a good first impression (Aristotle) and a bad second one. I skimmed it and was not impressed. I am an avid Harry Potter fan, quite an obsessive poster on mugglenet's New Clues forum, and I did not find anything in my very brief skimming of the book that was anything particularly deep or interesting. Obviously, I completely missed your essay.B)  I think I may have to go back to the bookstore...

That's funny. The exact same thing happened to me! Ha ha. I am not an "avid" Harry Potter fan, although have have read all of the books multiple times. Anyway, if you (or anyone else for that matter) reads the whole thing, let me know how it is.

Zak

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, the volume isn't intended for "children" any more than it is intended for professional philosophers.  (In my experience, a person really isn't able to think about philosophy directly until about 15 or so, i.e. until the transition between childhood and adulthood.)  The volume is aimed more toward the philosophical novice, although even the expert may find material of interest in it.  I suspect that you found the volume "rather simplistic" upon first glance due to your prior exposure to philosophy, not your age (whatever that may be).  In any case, you might not wish to form such a solid opinion until you have at least read an essay or two.

Of course, I have already expressed an interest in going back to look more closely. I am 15 BTW. :P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 6 months later...
  • 1 year later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...