Apr 22, 2018  
2013-2014 Undergraduate Catalog 
    
2013-2014 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

FYS 1004 - From Socrates to Snape; From Descartes to Dumbledore: The Philosophy of Harry Potter

Hours: 4
The Harry Potter novels are enjoyable reads, but they are also full of philosophically important ideas. In this seminar we will look at the Harry Potter novels through the lens of philosophy and use those novels as a springboard for discussion of such questions as these: What is the nature and value of friendship? Is Harry really courageous? What do the Death Eaters teach us about the nature of evil? What does Prof. Trelawney’s ability to foretell the future mean for our ability to act freely? Is the sort of time travel practiced by Hermione possible? Is the cultural purity pursued by the Death Eaters really such a bad thing? Is patriotism a virtue (like loyalty to one’s house) or a vice (like adherence to the racist view of Voldemort)? What makes it the case that the Lord Voldemort who killed Harry’s parents is the same person who returned to fight Harry so many years later given that he didn’t have a body during the intervening time? What do the Horcruxes teach us about the nature of the soul? What do Quidditch and the Tri-Wizard Tournament tell us about the value of extra- and co-curricular activities as part of a college education? Do they detract from a student’s education, or do they add to it? If so, how? And finally, while on the topic of education, if Hogwarts is the pinnacle of education in the wizarding world, why are there no literature, science, philosophy, or arts courses? And what does that tell us about the sort of education we should value?