"[This book] is a fascinating look at the fantasy and philosophy of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. The two men were friends and fellow professors at Oxford, renowned Christian thinkers who both 'found it necessary to create for the purposes of their fiction other worlds—not utopias or dystopias, but different worlds.'" --.
Thirteen dwarves and a wizard invade the quiet abode of Bilbo Baggins in an effort to recruit him for an expedition, the purported purpose of which is to recover stolen treasure and exact vengeance on Smaug the dragon, the robber who had cruelly killed a large portion of Thorin's family and friends. Although most readers and critics approach J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit as a children's story, an unserious dress-rehearsal-sketch of The Lord of the Rings at best, and (...) in spite of the fact that, as Nicholas Boyle notes, "there is something embarrassing" about discussing Tolkien's work in an academic context, for "it is so obviously not real literature," The Hobbit, with its "Secondary World" of fantastical creatures... (shrink)
Fantasy can thus be explained as a sudden glimpse of the underlying reality or truth. It is not only a consolation for the sorrow of this world, but an answer to that question, ‘Is it true?’ J. R. Tolkien.
However, Stein's self-images are more than appropriations of a male identity and masculine interests. Several of them are irrelevant to categories of sex and gender. In part, Stein is an obsessive psychologist, a Euclid of behavior, searching for "bottom natures," the substratum of individuality. She also tries to diagram psychic genotypes, patterns into which all individuals might fit. Although she plays with femaleness/maleness as categories, she also investigates an opposition of impetuousness and passivity, fire and phlegm; a variety of regional (...) and national types; and the dualism of the "dependent independent," who tends to resist. In part, as she puzzles her way towards knowing and understanding, she presents herself as engaged in aural and oral acts, listening and hearing before speaking and telling. That sense of perception as physical also emerges in a passage in which she, as perceiver/describer, first incorporates and then linguistically discharges the world: "Mostly always when I am filled up with it I tell it, sometimes I have to tell it, sometimes I like to tell it, sometimes I keep on with telling it."1 · 1. The Making of Americans: Being a History of a Family's Progress , p. 325. Catharine R. Stimpson, associate professor of English at Barnard College, is the editor of Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society and the author of J.R.R. Tolkien as well as other essays and fiction. See also: "Visual Rhetoric in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas" by Paul K. Alkon in Vol. 1, No. 4; "Gertrude Stein, the Cone Sisters, and the Puzzle of Female Friendship" by Carolyn Burke in Vol. 8, No. 3. (shrink)
Equality in the present age has become an idol, in much the same way as property was in the age of Locke. Many people worship it, and think that it provides the key to the proper understanding of politics, and that on it alone can a genuinely just society be reconstructed. This is a mistake. Although, like property, it is a useful concept, and although, like property, there are occasions when we want to have it in practice, it is not (...) a fundamental concept any more than property is, nor can having it vouchsafe to us the good life. In an earlier paper I argued against equality by showing that the concept of equality was confused and that many of the arguments i egalitarians adduced were either invalid or else supported conclusions I which were not really egalitarian at all. Many egalitarians, however, have complained that my arguments were not fair, because I had failed to elucidate the concept adequately, or because the position I attacked was not one that any egalitarian really wished to maintain, or because I had overlooked other arguments which were effective in establishing egalitarian conclusions, or because the positive counter-arguments of my own I put forward more as a matter of taste than of serious political commitment. In this paper, therefore, I want to elucidate the concept more fully, concede what I should to my critics, point out that, even so, their conclusions do not follow, and give further reasons not only for supposing that egalitarian arguments are invalid but for discerning positive merits in some forms of inequality. (shrink)
Plato was the first feminist. In the Republic he puts forward the view that women are just the same as men, only not quite so good. It is a view which has often been expressed in recent years, and generates strong passions. Some of these have deep biological origins, which a philosopher can only hope to recognize and not to assuage. But much of the heat engendered is due to unnecessary friction between views which are certainly compatible and probably correct. (...) And here a philosopher can help. If we can divide the issues neatly, at the joints, then we need not quarrel with one another for saying something, probably true, because what is being maintained is misconstrued and taken to mean something else, probably false. (shrink)
Whatever good or ill it did to Guy Fawkes, his resuscitation at the hands of Bernard Williams has, by any utilitarian reckoning, been a Good Thing. A casual glance at the literature that has accumulated over the past thirty-five years leaves no doubt that the topic has been reduplicated many times over, to the great enjoyment of undergraduates, who have been able to write science fiction under the guise of essays in the Philosophy of Mind, and of dons, who in (...) an age of cvs and Assessments, have been able to notch up page after page of counter-replies to replies to rebuttals of previous papers, not to mention an often welcome tally of references in the citation index. But the actual arguments adduced by Williams can be turned to support a much more traditional view of the self, as a necessarily unique agent whose individuality is established by his capacity for autonomous action. (shrink)
Limits to Action: The Allocation of Individual Behavior presents the ideas and methods in the study of how individual organisms allocate their limited time and energy and the consequences of such allocation. The book is a survey of individual resource allocation, emphasizing the relationships of the concepts of utility, reinforcement, and Darwinian fitness. The chapters are arranged beginning with plants and general evolutionary considerations, through animal behavior in nature and laboratory, and ending with human behavior in suburb and institution. Topics (...) discussed include operant conditioning; the principle of diminishing returns; and issues in relation to mating strategies. Biologists, sociologists, economists, and psychologists will find the book interesting. (shrink)
The poetic power of J. R. R. Tolkien's “Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son” and the eloquence of his pendant essay “Ofermod” largely gave Maldon criticism its subsequent focus and direction. As his followers were to do, Tolkien based his view of the poem on a few lines and made little reference to the text as a whole: he described his verse drama, the poetic embodiment of his response to the poem, as “an extended comment on lines 89, 90 (...) of the original: ða se eorl ongan for his ofermode alyfan landes to fela laþere ðeode, ‘then the earl in his overmastering pride actually yielded ground to the enemy, as he should not have done’” . Tolkien noted that much earlier criticism of the poem depended on another pair of lines —. (shrink)
In this article, Lucas maintains the falseness of Mechanism - the attempt to explain minds as machines - by means of Incompleteness Theorem of Gödel. Gödel’s theorem shows that in any system consistent and adequate for simple arithmetic there are formulae which cannot be proved in the system but that human minds can recognize as true; Lucas points out in his turn that Gödel’s theorem applies to machines because a machine is the concrete instantiation of a formal system: therefore, for (...) every machine consistent and able of doing simple arithmetic, there is a formula that it can’t produce as true but that we can see to be true, and so human minds and machines have to be different. Lucas considers as well in this article some possible objections to his argument: for any Gödelian formula we could, for instance, construct a machine able to produce it or we could put the Gödelian formulae that we had proved as axioms of a further machine. However - as Lucas underlines - for every of such machines we could again formulate another Gödelian formula, the Gödelian formula of these machines, that they are not able to proof but that we can recognize as true. More general arguments, such as the possibility to escape Gödelian argument by suggesting that Gödel’s theorem applies to consistent systems while we could be inconsistent ones, are moreover refuted by Lucas by maintaining that our inconsistency corresponds to occasional malfunctioning of a machine and not to his normal inconsistency; indeed, a inconsistent machine is characterized by producing any statement, on the contrary human being are selective and not disposed to assert anything. (shrink)
Suppose for a moment, that J.R.R. Tolkien, the famous author of the cult fantasy saga Lord of the Rings, did not publish anything of his writings during his lifetime; suppose that after his death the manuscripts of all his writings are lying on his table. Where, then, is the Middlearth, the glorious land of hobbits, dwarfs, elfs and human heroes, situated? We might be tempted to say that it is within our world, namely inside the pile of the papers (...) on the writer’s table - for it exists solely through the letters written on these papers. However, to say this would be wrong - surely we do not expect that should the heroes of the book walk in a straight line long enough, they would cross the boundaries of the book and appear in Mr. Tolkien’s room. Middlearth is, of course, not within our world - despite existing solely due to certain things which are within it. Now the situation is not substantially different actually, when Middlearth does not exist solely through a single pile of papers, but rather through millions of printed copies of Tolkien’s books and through the minds of millions of their readers. Again, the land exists exclusively through the existence of entities which are parts of our world, but this does not mean that the land itself is a part of our world. The point of this anecdotal excursion is now that this relationship between our world and Middlearth is, in a sense, similar to the relationship between our physical space of things and „the space of reasons“ ; or between „the causal story“ and „the justificatory story“. Like Middlearth, the space of reasons exists exclusively due to us, humans, and our minds, and in this sense we might be tempted to situate it in our world, to see it as a certain, perhaps scattered, compartment of the world of things within which we live; but just as in the case of Middlearth, this might be dangerously misguiding. (shrink)
_A philosophical exploration of J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved classic—just in time for the December 2012 release of Peter Jackson's new film adaptation, _The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey__ J.R.R. Tolkien's _The Hobbit_ is one of the best-loved fantasy books of all time and the enchanting "prequel" to _The Lord of the Rings_. With the help of some of history's great philosophers, this book ponders a host of deep questions raised in this timeless tale, such as: Are adventures simply "nasty, disturbing, (...) uncomfortable things" that "make you late for dinner," or are they exciting and potentially life-changing events? What duties do friends have to one another? Should mercy be extended even to those who deserve to die? Gives you new insights into _The Hobbit_'s central characters, including Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, Gollum, and Thorin and their exploits, from the Shire through Mirkwood to the Lonely Mountain Explores key questions about _The Hobbit_'s story and themes, including: Was the Arkenstone really Bilbo's to give? How should Smaug's treasure have been distributed? Did Thorin leave his "beautiful golden harp" at Bag-End when he headed out into the Wild? Draws on the insights of some of the world's deepest thinkers, from Confucius, Plato, and Aristotle to Immanuel Kant, William Blake, and contemporary American philosopher Thomas Nagel From the happy halls of Elrond's Last Homely House to Gollum's "slimy island of rock," this is a must read for longtime Tolkien fans as well as those discovering Bilbo Baggins and his adventures "there and back again" for the first time. (shrink)