I recently finished reading Peter Kreeft’s The Philosophy of Tolkien. It is an excellent book if you like Tolkien and are interested in his ideas. Even if you are not, it is still excellent. As the framework for his book, Kreeft highlights 11 areas of philosophy and 50 questions that Lord of The Rings deals with. Though he notes that this list is far from a complete introduction, it is nonetheless a “representative sample of the most important of them [the questions to be asked],” and specifically, “the ones that make the greatest difference in our lives” (27). So, if you could highlight 50 questions to spend the rest of your life answering, here they are (and you can read Kreeft’s book to see how Tolkien, and Lewis would answer them):
- How big is reality?
- Is the supernatural real?
- Are Platonic Ideas real?
- Does God exist?
- Is life subject to divine providence?
- Are we both fated and free?
- Can we relate to God by “religion”?
- Are angels real?
- Do we have guardian angels?
- Could there be creatures between men and angels, such as Elves?
- Is nature really beautiful?
- Do things have personalities?
- Is there real magic?
- Is death good or bad?
- Is romance more thrilling than sex?
- Why do humans have identity crises?
- What do we most deeply desire?
- Is knowledge always good?
- Is intuition a form of knowledge?
- Is faith (trust) wisdom or ignorance?
- What is truth?
Philosophy of History
- Is history a story?
- Is the past (tradition) a prison or a lighthouse?
- Is history predictable?
- Is there devolution as well as evolution?
- Is human life a tragedy or a comedy?
- Why do we no longer lover glory or splendor?
- Is beauty always good?
Philosophy of Language
- How can words be alive?
- The metaphysics of words: Can words have real power?
- Are there right and wrong words?
- Is there an original, universal, natural language?
- Why is music so powerful?
- Is small beautiful?
- Can war be noble?
Ethics: The War of Good and Evil
- Is evil real?
- How powerful is evil?
- How weak is evil?
- How does evil work?
Ethics: The “Hard” Virtues
- Do principles or consequences make an act good?
- Why must we be heroes?
- Can one go on without hope?
- Is authority oppressive and obedience demeaning?
- Are promises sacred?
Ethics: The “Soft” Virtues
- What is the power of friendship?
- Is humility humiliating?
- What should you give away?
- Does mercy trump justice?
- Is charity a waste?