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Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle…

Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts (2004)

by David Baggett (Editor), Shawn E. Klein (Editor)

Other authors: Gregory Bassham (Contributor), Catherine Jack Deavel (Contributor), David Paul Deavel (Contributor), Jason T. Eberl (Contributor), Mimi R. Gladstein (Contributor)11 more, Diana Mertz Hsieh (Contributor), William Irwin (Series editor), Benjamin J. Bruxvoort Lipscomb (Contributor), Gareth B. Matthews (Contributor), Tom Morris (Contributor), Steven W. Patterson (Contributor), Michael Silberstein (Contributor), W. Christopher Stewart (Contributor), Harald Throsrud (Contributor), Jerry L. Walls (Contributor), Jennifer Hart Weed (Contributor)

Series: Popular Culture and Philosophy (9)

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5371118,724 (3.57)7 / 33



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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Entertaining in spots, but overall too lightweight and, oddly enough, too generic to satisfy either philosophy buffs or Harry Potter fans. The best essays are those that tackle a specific topic (such as why Dumbledore warns Harry about the Mirror of Erised) and explore it in real depth. Most, however, only talk in a general way about themes and characters (and not even the entire series, as this came out before Books 6 and 7 -- my misfortune to get this earlier version and not "The Ultimate Harry Potter ...", which covers all of them). This leads to arguments that are superficial or too short, and too much overlap and even repetition of certain quotes. I also was annoyed by one writer's confusion of Apparating with Portkey use, and another's discussing self-sacrifice only in the context of Jesus on the cross, though others might not have the same issues I did.

I'm not sorry I read the book, but I was glad I'd only borrowed it via my Kindle. The next time I read an entry in the "... and Philosophy" series, I'll probably try one of the later ones, since the Red Sox one I just finished was more recent and considerably better developed. ( )
1 vote bostonian71 | Aug 1, 2014 |
The moral of the Harry Potter books could come straight from Hamlet: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." The Potter universe is, after all, our universe... and more.

This book attempts to extend philosophy to cover the new ground J. K. Rowling has offered. It is, of course, a gimmick, and a gimmick that would have been far better done had the authors waited until the Potter books were finished (the essays were written in the period between books five and six).

Still, there is much of value here. The argument for why Slytherin House should be permitted to continue is profound; the Boethian analysis of good and evil is appealing if perhaps not entirely sound (and, incidentally, show the links between Rowling and the medieval romances, many of which were deeply influenced by Boethius); the discussion of the Mirror of Erised is a brilliant case of extending from a specific case to a general rule.

On the other hand, I came away feeling, "Is that all there is?" The link to Boethius, for instance, is handled far better in studies of Chaucer, and is also a big part of Tom Shippey's studies of J. R. R. Tolkien. As a first look at the topic, the essays in this book are not bad, but they are relatively lightweight. I do not know if this is true of the other topics -- I'm not a philosopher -- but philosophy is supposed to be more profound than this.

And there are a few weak items. The introduction strives much too hard to use "Potterian" language, which is both ambiguous and an artistic failure. The discussion of free will versus determinism that ends the book does a decent job of setting out the problem but gives what is ultimately an arbitrary solution. The discussion of house elves and freedom would be far better informed if the author had realized that house elves are a minor variation on the traditional brownies, and that the changes Rowling made are potentially very significant.

I guess what I'm saying is that this is a fun and interesting, but ultimately lightweight, book. I hope that someday someone will produce a similar book that is not so compromised. ( )
1 vote waltzmn | Mar 24, 2014 |
A compilation of (mostly) fascinating essays that explore what we can philosophically glean from the Harry Potter series. It's a bit dated (copyright 2004) so it was published before the series was finished. Some of my favorites were 'Feminism and Equal Opportunity: Hermione and the Women of Hogwarts', 'Magic, Muggles, and Moral Imagination', and 'Finding the Platform 9 3/4: The Idea of a Different Reality', among others. ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |

No, don’t let the first few words excite you. This is not a new Harry Potter book. I know, let all the excitement just deflates away. Now judging from the summary, you probably think “Wow this must be a great insight and deep analysis on the world of Harry Potter.” Mind you, the last 2 books haven’t been published yet. But even aside from that, this book only touches on the selected topics. The “essay” style is probably not a great choice because they’re all too short and read as just that, a school paper. So it’s safe to say I probably would not have purchased this book had I read it first in the library. If anyone knows any Harry Potter books that are more in depth, then please let me know so I can temporarily get rid of the recurring PPD (post potter depressing) symptoms. ( )
  bubblyair | Nov 28, 2013 |
At least two major factual errors - I forget the first one, but in a chapter towards the end of the book, an author uses a quote that is obviously about portkeys (it even mentions that they were touching the boot) to use as an example of what happens when one apparates. Should have been caught in proofreading, especially as portkeys and apparation are listed separately in a paragraph on the same page.Otherwise, interesting enough. I had issues in the chapter on free will vs determinism, because they decided to get into the theological debate, and yet didn't really go properly into the various sides and left important figures out of it, but hey it is a book on philosophy and not theology - can't get too upset there. ( )
  YoungGeekyLibrarian | Dec 30, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Baggett, DavidEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Klein, Shawn E.Editormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Bassham, GregoryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Deavel, Catherine JackContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Deavel, David PaulContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eberl, Jason T.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gladstein, Mimi R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hsieh, Diana MertzContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Irwin, WilliamSeries editorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lipscomb, Benjamin J. BruxvoortContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Matthews, Gareth B.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Morris, TomContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Patterson, Steven W.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Silberstein, MichaelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stewart, W. ChristopherContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Throsrud, HaraldContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Walls, Jerry L.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Weed, Jennifer HartContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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A Few Start-of-Term Notices

If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts was made possible because of the contributions and collaboration of a mess of Muggles.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Table of Contents:

Gryffindor : the characters of Harry's world. The courageous Harry Potter / Tom Morris -- Dursley duplicity: the morality and psychology of self-deception / Diana Mertz Hsieh -- Voldemort's agents, Malfoy's cronies, and Hagrid's chums : friendship in Harry Potter / Harald Thorsrud -- Feminism and equal opportunity : Hermione and the women of Hogwarts / Mimi Gladstein -- Hufflepuff : morality in Rowling's universe. Heaven, hell, and Harry Potter / Jerry Walls -- Magic, science, and the ethics of technology / Benjamin J. Bruxvoort Lipscomb and W. Christopher Stewart -- The mirror of Erised : why we should heed Dumbledore's warning / Shawn Klein -- Kreacher's lament : S.P.E.W. as a parable on discrimination, indifference, and social justice / Steven W. Patterson -- Slytherin : Knockturn Alley, and the dark arts. Is ambition a virtue? : why Slytherin belongs at Hogwarts / Steven W. Patterson -- A skewed reflection : the nature of evil / David and Catherine Deavel -- Voldemort, Boethius, and the destructive effects of evil / Jennifer Hart Weed -- Magic, muggles, and moral imagination / David Baggett -- Ravenclaw : many-flavored topics in metaphysics. Finding platform 9 ¾ : the idea of a different reality / Gareth B. Matthews -- Space, time, and magic / Michael Silberstein -- Why Voldemort won't just die already : what wizards can teach us about personal identity / Jason Eberl -- The prophecy-driven life : foreknowledge and freedom at Hogwarts / Gregory Bassham.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812694554, Paperback)

Harry Potter has put a spell on millions of readers, and they all want to find out more about the deeper meaning of his adventures. In Harry Potter and Philosophy, 17 experts in the field of philosophy unlock some of Hogwarts' secret panels, uncovering surprising insights that are enlightening both for wizards and for the most discerning muggles. Individual chapters look at such topics as life revealed in the Mirror of Erised; the ethics of magic; Moaning Myrtle, Nearly Headless Nick, and the relation of the mind to the brain; and the character of Hermione as a case of "sublimated feminism." Also examined in this witty collection are how Aristotle would have run a school for wizards; whether the Potter stories undermine religion and morality; how to tell good people from evil ones through the characters in these novels; and what dementors and boggarts can teach readers about happiness, fear, and the soul.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:48 -0400)

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