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Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts (2004)
by David Baggett, Shawn E. Klein
A somewhat didactic and uninspiring beginning actually yields some very provocative and fruitful chapters on philosophical ideas within the first five Harry Potter books. I do recommend this book quite a bit, and there is an excellent why-Christians-shouldn't-be-afraid-of-Harry-Potter chapter that is really worth it. Embedded within it is a terrific defense of literary imagination to augment and strengthen your faith. Singing. My. Song.
If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts
Interesting lever by which to introduce some fundamental questions (and occasional answers) in philosophy. Made accessible by drawing upon illustrations from the Harry Potter books (but only through The Order of the Phoenix), sketches in moral psychology, metaphysics, and ethical problems give the reader a relaxed, pleasant moment to ponder the big questions.
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.
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Wikipedia in English (1)
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 feminis.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)823.914Literature English & Old English literatures English fiction Modern Period 1901-1999 1945-1999
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