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The Hobbit and Philosophy
31 October 2012
"An epic story like this is a perfect lens for studying philosophy, and philosophy is the perfect lens through which to better understand the themes and deeper meaning of Tolkien's classic."
The Hobbit is one of the best-loved stories of modern times. Everyone knows the epic tale of Bilbo Baggins, who leaves the confines of his home to travel to new lands, meet new creatures, and embrace the adventurous side of his nature, all the while gaining in maturity and wisdom. But what would you do in Bilbo's hairy feet? Would you remain safe and comfy inside your hobbit-hole or, like him, set forth on a life-changing journey? Joined by a merry band of philosophers (who much like hobbits "have a fund of wisdom and wise sayings that men have mostly never heard of or forgotten long ago"), Bassham and Bronson select the latter, setting forth for Middle Earth to discover what Bilbo and the great thinkers can teach us about growth and human potential...
As this enjoyable book reveals, Middle Earth provides the setting for a wealth of philosophical conundrums. Are adventures simply "nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable things" that "make you late for dinner" or can they be exciting and potentially life-changing? Was life better in pre-industrial times when there was "less noise and more green"? What duties do friends have to one another? Should mercy be extended even to those who deserve to die?
Drawing on Tolkien's own life and the works of some of the world's deepest thinkers, including Confucius, Plato, Kant, Aristotle and William Blake, the authors of this book join Bilbo on his journey from the Shire and back again, bringing fresh insights into all of the main characters and pondering small slimy creatures, riddles, rings, magic, and hairy feet as they go. The main lesson in clear: only by confronting challenges and taking risks can we grow and discover what we are capable of becoming. Someone as ordinary as Bilbo Baggins didn't shy away, and neither should we...