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The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview…
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The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind The Lord of the Rings

by Peter Kreeft

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This book analyzes philosophical themes in light of LOTR. It could be used to teach philosophy itself, using LOTR. It is very different in scope from TLOTR and Philosophy. ( )
  neverstopreading | Apr 3, 2018 |
The Philosophy Of Tolkien – The Worldview Behind Lord Of The Rings by Peter Kreeft Ph.D. is quite an insightful book, in which Kreeft searches for philosophical gems of wisdom embedded by J.R.R. Tolkien within his magnum opus, Lord of the Rings.

Sprinkled generously throughout the book are extrapolations regarding Tolkien’s philosophical view, which are employed in answering some of the most vital and profound philosophical questions. The questions revolving around this regard: metaphysics (all-that is), philosophical theology (God), angelology (angels), cosmology (the cosmos), anthropology (man), epistemology (knowledge), philosophy of history, aesthetics (beauty), linguistics (philosophy of language), political philosophy and ethics.

Along with commentary about fifty of the greatest questions that have been ever asked regarding the topics above, the book features quite a few references to Lord Of The Rings as well as “three works of Tolkien’s that form the most authentic commendatory on it: his essay “On Fairy-Stories”, The Silmarillion, and The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.”[1]

To help break down those fifty questions, Kreeft presents a variety of tools “for understanding each of the philosophical issues The Lord Of the Rings treats:

a. An explanation of the meaning and importance of the question;
b. a key quotation from The Lord of the Rings showing how Tolkien answered the question (many more passages are given in the Concordance to The Lord of the Rings in the Appendix);
c. a quotation from Tolkien’s other writings (usually a letter) that explains or comments on the them in The Lord of the Rings;
d. a quotation from C.S. Lewis, Tolkien’s closest friend, showing the same philosophy directly stated.”[2]

As in his other works, Kreeft does a reliable job of not only introducing the topic to the reader and helping the reader get to ‘know’ the ghost of J.R.R. Tolkien and everything he stood for, but he also supplants that with reasonable analysis in showing why each of the philosophical questions answered by this particular book are important.

Kreeft opts to begin the book with an apt introduction not only telling the reader what the he seeks to accomplish, but also detailing comprehensive insights that tackle many of the questions the reader might have. Kreeft even goes on to state the five dimensions that make any story great, and why and how The Lord of The Rings attains all those five dimensions.

Beyond that, and perhaps, more importantly, the following is the main reason why The Lord of the Rings has appealed so much to our culture:

“The Lord of the Rings heals our culture as well as our souls. It gives us the most rare and precious thing in modern literature: the heroic. It is a call to heroism; it is a horn like the horn of Rohan, which Merry received from Théoden and used to rouse the Hobbits of the Shire from their sheepish niceness and passivity to throw off their tyrants, first in their souls and then in their society.”[3]

And in an age where authoritarianism, tyranny and fascism are becoming more mainstream, a book like this may perhaps help individuals rise out of their doldrums and help them become cognizant of the freedoms they are so quickly losing. That’s a whole different story, though.

Another great strength of this book is that it shows why both philosophy and literature are joined at the hip. This is because:

“They [philosophy and literature] can work like two lenses of a pair of binoculars. Philosophy argues abstractly. Literature argues too – it persuades, it changes the reader – but concretely. Philosophy says truth, literature shows truth.”[4]

Finally, this book also features a Bibliography, as well as an Appendix that feature countless references which address the philosophy of Tolkien.

Whether you’re searching for an engaging book that goes into the deeper philosophical outlook of The Lord of the Rings, or perhaps a book that might serve as an introduction to philosophy, or simply a research tool that features a lot of substance regarding L.O.T.R. and Tolkien’s philosophy, ruminate upon getting this book, for it does all that, and more.

__________________________________________________​
Footnotes:

[1] Peter Kreeft Ph.D., The Philosophy Of Tolkien – The Worldview Behind Lord Of The Rings, p. 10.
[2] Ibid., p. 11.
[3] Ibid., pp. 16-17.
[4] Ibid., p. 21.
__________________________________________________​ ( )
  ZyPhReX | Apr 25, 2017 |
I think this was a good premise that ultimately failed in the execution. I didn't mind the focus on Christian philosophy (its from a religious publisher) but I do object to the frequently dismissive and insulting tone the author took toward those who disagree with his philosophy. In addition to the off-putting lack of open-mindedness I feel the author bit off way more than he could chew. He attempted to cover 50 philosophical questions in 225 pages. Basically this left him enough time to briefly explain the question, provide one quote each from Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, then move on. I would have preferred a much deeper exploration of perhaps five or ten questions rather than the shotgun approach the author took. ( )
1 vote Jthierer | Oct 11, 2008 |
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While nothing can equal or replace the adventure in reading Tolkien’s masterwork, The Lord of the Rings, Peter Kreeft says that the journey into its underlying philosophy can be another exhilarating adventure.
Thus, Kreeft takes the reader on a voyage of discovery into the philosophical bones of Middle earth. He organizes the philosophical themes in The Lord of the Rings into 50 categories, accompanied by over 1,000 references to the text of Lord. Since many of the great questions of philosophy are included in the 50-theme outline, this book can also be read as an engaging introduction to philosophy. For each of the philosophical topics in Lord, Kreeft presents tools by which they can be understood. Illustrated.
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While nothing can equal or replace the adventure in reading Tolkien's masterwork, The Lord of the Rings, Peter Kreeft says that the journey into its underlying philosophy can be another exhilarating adventure. Thus, Kreeft takes the reader on a voyage of discovery into the philosophical bones of Middle earth. He organizes the philosophical themes in The Lord of the Rings into 50 categories, accompanied by over 1,000 references to the text of Lord.Since many of the great questions of philosophy are included in the 50-theme outline, this book can also be read as an engaging introduction to philosophy. For each of the philosophical topics in Lord, Kreeft presents tools by which they can be understood. Illustrated.… (more)

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