Monday, May 24, 2010

The Philosophy of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings

Here are the relevant excerpts from my Tolkien class syllabus. The stuff I removed was admin stuff like papers, participation points, academic dishonesty policies, and when our final exam is scheduled. The usual.

Texts: JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Peter Kreeft, The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind The Lord of the Rings.

Objective: To discover the vision of truth conveyed via the imagination in JRRT's greatest work. We will find that, with the 'veil of familiarity' removed, the great perennial philosophical truths about God, man, and the universe are presented to the mind and heart of the reader, proposed as exemplars for a profoundly wise life both in theory and in practice: the real existence and relevance of God, the nature of man as a rational animal, the objectivity of moral standards, the robust power of the human mind to know the truth with certainty, and excellence as mandatum. Tolkien himself was alive with the love of truth and the knowledge of goodness, and deliberately suffused his work with this spirit.

Method: The course will proceed by both lectures and class discussion. In this discussion, familiarity with the reading is of course required, and ensuing questions, debate, and commentary are both encouraged and expected. It remains, however, to the instructor to provide intellectual order and discipline.

Miscellany: (all that stuff about unexcused absences and laptops/recorders that I mentioned earlier)

And that's it. Yes, the syllabus is filled with yucky touchy-feely language like "heart" (as the seat of morality, not the biological organ), "God", and "love" but I'm going to try and enjoy it as much as possible regardless. I will document my experience and hopefully keep you as abreast of the proceedings as you like. In the meantime, off to dinner, and (in the great tradition of Hobbits everywhere) supper after that.

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