The Ultimate Harry Potter and Philosophy: Hogwarts for Muggles Paperback – Sep 14 2010
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'Packed with interesting ideas and insights...an ideal companion for anyone interested in unraveling the subtext and exploring the greater issues.' (Planet-Print Blog.com, July 2011).
From the Back Cover
Is it always wrong to use a love potion?
Is death something to be feared . . . or "mastered"?
What can Severus Snape teach us about the possibility of redemption?
Is love the most powerful magic of all?
J. K. Rowling's wildly popular Harry Potter books may appear to be simple children's tales on the surface, but like Hogwarts, they conceal many hidden chambers, trapdoors, and perplexing secrets. Drawing on all seven books in the Harry Potter series, The Ultimate Harry Potter and Philosophy offers a powerful brew of insights about good and evil, love, death, power, sacrifice, and hope. Is it true, as Dumbledore says, that our choices reveal far more about us than our abilities do? Is there an afterlife, and what might it be like? Here's a Pensieve for your thoughts. So take a healthy slug of Baruffio's Brain Elixir and join Bassham's Army of talented philosophers in exploring the mind-stretching deeper questions of the Potter books and films.
To learn more about the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series, visit www.andphilosophy.com
BLACKWELL PHILOSOPHY AND POP CULTURE SERIES
This book has not been approved, licensed, or sponsored by any entity or person involved in creating or producing Harry Potter, the book series, or films.See all Product Description
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In any collection with many writers, there are going to be some essays that are a pleasure to read, that reference the theme well (in this case, of the written world of Harry Potter), and are coherent. There are a few of these better writers sprinkled about the book.
However, too many of the essays in this book are not thematically as on-target as I'd like. Some of the writers are densely wordy and stray a bit far away from Harry Potter and Hogwarts, instead pounding the pulpit of their particular philosophical agenda.
It's fair enough that not all philosophers are also good writers. And some readers may prefer more philosophical meat and less of the 'fun of looking at the Wizarding world' elements that I enjoy. So perhaps there is a balance in this book - something for the pop culture fans, and something for people looking more for a philosophy text.
While encompassing all seven volumes of the Harry Potter series, the essays focus on the meat of the final books - the Half-Blood Prince and the Deadly Hallows. Still with the focus on just two books, the writers find different aspects to work with so there is very little overlap of themes, examples or even quotes. The essays are all of high quality - highly readable and accessible to the non-philosopher reader. The philosophical aspects branch out further from the basic stalwarts of philosophy including Aristotle, Plato, Kant and Descartes to look at more modern writings in philosophy and examine topics of gender and feminism, patriotism and house loyalty, libertarianism and what is quality education. The section on politics is very strong and looks at an aspect of the Harry Potter's world that usually garners less attention. Also examined is the nature of reality in regards to the magical world of the books' setting and whether or not Rowling has the ability or the right to add on interpretations to the world after she has penned the last word of Deadly Hallows.
It is nice to see a series that is so well constructed and full of potential examination get the level of study it does, and this volume is a welcome addition to the field. This volume, especially taken in conjunction with the previous volume on Harry Potter and Philosophy is a fascinating and enjoyable examination of a richly envisioned world that entertains as well as gives such food for further thought.
This will very likely go down in my short list of books I enjoy from this series. I wish I could find the first volume but I apparently am not getting any wiser from reading these books as I keep lending things to my children who, because they don't have the same drive to read things in a timely manner, tend to misplace my books rather than actually read them.
But I digress. The essays run the gamut from Plato to Heidegger, from feminist interpretation to political orientation. I was especially looking forward to certain essays, including one on authorial authority, and another on identity and what determines the self.
I confess, there is one essay that has a concluding sentence I found so incredibly offensive as to make me put the book down altogether for an entire day. I am genuinely disappointed that the editor did not ask that the conclusion of this one essay be modified to at least remove this one sentence and I would be surprised if I were the only reader who didn't take offense. I am choosing not to identify the essay in question to allow other readers to approach the collection with an open mind.
Where this book soars is in its ability to address deep philosophical issues in light of Harry Potter. This is not a philosophy book for philosophers so much as it is a philosophy book for Harry Potter fans nor is it a fanbook about Harry Potter. Other literary resources are mentioned in relationship to Harry Potter and/or the philosophical idea being addressed. There are frequent quotes not only from Rowling's writings but from the usual people one would expect to find in one of these books: Plato, William James, Aristotle, et al. I learned a few surprising tidbits along the way about the series and Rowling's intentions while having the supreme pleasure of seeing Harry Potter from slightly different perspectives.
Highly recommended to any Harry Potter fans who want to dip slightly into philosophy as well.
However, for the die-hard fan looking for something new, this is worth picking up. There is a large variety of themes to the essays including: destiny, patriotism (eg House loyalty), and more than one on death. One essay even tackles the bombshell Rowling dropped that Dumbledore was gay. I started every essay; if it got too scholarly I moved on. That is not too say that some people won't enjoy those essays. Like the Pop Culture and Philosophy series itself, there's something here for everyone. But those unsure may want to check this out of the library rather than buy it. Recommended.
On the one hand Harry Potter can and should be enjoyed on its own merits, without referring, interpreting, or deconstructing. On the other hand, as with any epic work of literature (especially one with such popular appeal) scholarly discussion of relevant themes helps pave the road for broader acceptance among those who would hold their noses up at the idea of adults who enjoy reading children's fantasy.