Book Review: The Philosophy Of Tolkien – The Worldview Behind Lord Of The Rings by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.

Philosophy Of Tolkien
TheBreakaway | BreakawayConciousness
Zy Marquiez
April 6, 2017

Featured within the February Book Haul, The Philosophy Of Tolkien – The Worldview Behind Lord Of The Rings by Peter Kreeft Ph.D. is quite an insightful book, in which Kreeft searches for philosophical gems of wisdom embedded by J.R.R. Tolkien within his magnum opus, Lord of the Rings.

Sprinkled generously throughout the book are extrapolations regarding Tolkien’s philosophical view, which are employed in answering some of the most vital and profound philosophical questions.  The questions revolving around this regard: metaphysics (all-that is), philosophical theology (God), angelology (angels), cosmology (the cosmos), anthropology (man), epistemology (knowledge), philosophy of history, aesthetics (beauty), linguistics (philosophy of language), political philosophy and ethics.

Along with commentary about fifty of the greatest questions that have been ever asked regarding the topics above, the book features quite a few references to Lord Of The Rings as well as “three works of Tolkien’s that form the most authentic commendatory on it: his essay “On Fairy-Stories”, The Silmarillion, and The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.”[1]

To help break down those fifty questions, Kreeft presents a variety of tools “for understanding each of the philosophical issues The Lord Of the Rings treats:

a.  An explanation of the meaning and importance of the question;
b.  a  key quotation from The Lord of the Rings showing how Tolkien answered the question (many more passages are given in the Concordance to The Lord of the Rings in the Appendix);
c.  a quotation from Tolkien’s other writings (usually a letter) that explains or comments on the them in The Lord of the Rings;
d.  a quotation from C.S. Lewis, Tolkien’s closest friend, showing the same philosophy directly stated.”[2]

As in his other works, Kreeft does a reliable job of not only introducing the topic to the reader and helping the reader get to ‘know’ the ghost of J.R.R. Tolkien and everything he stood for, but he also supplants that with reasonable analysis in showing why each of the philosophical questions answered by this particular book are important.

Kreeft opts to begin the book with an apt introduction not only telling the reader what the he seeks to accomplish, but also detailing comprehensive insights that tackle many of the questions the reader might have.  Kreeft even goes on to state the five dimensions that make any story great, and why and how The Lord of The Rings attains all those five dimensions.

Beyond that, and perhaps, more importantly, the following is the main reason why The Lord of the Rings has appealed so much to our culture:

The Lord of the Rings heals our culture as well as our souls.  It gives us the most rare and precious thing in modern literature: the heroic.  It is a call to heroism; it is a horn like the horn of Rohan, which Merry received from Théoden and used to rouse the Hobbits of the Shire from their sheepish niceness and passivity to throw off their tyrants, first in their souls and then in their society.”[3]

And in an age where authoritarianism, tyranny and fascism are becoming more mainstream, a book like this may perhaps help individuals rise out of their doldrums and help them become cognizant of the freedoms they are so quickly losing.  That’s a whole different story, though.

Another great strength of this book is that it shows why both philosophy and literature are joined at the hip.  This is because:

“They [philosophy and literature] can work like two lenses of a pair of binoculars.  Philosophy argues abstractly.  Literature argues too – it persuades, it changes the reader – but concretely.  Philosophy says truth, literature shows truth.”[4]

Finally, this book also features a Bibliography, as well as an Appendix that feature countless references which address the philosophy of Tolkien.

Whether you’re searching for an engaging book that goes into the deeper philosophical outlook of The Lord of the Rings, or perhaps a book that might serve as an introduction to philosophy, or simply a research tool that features a lot of substance regarding L.O.T.R. and Tolkien’s philosophy, ruminate upon getting this book, for it does all that, and more.

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Footnotes:

[1] Peter Kreeft Ph.D., The Philosophy Of Tolkien – The Worldview Behind Lord Of The Rings, p. 10.
[2] Ibid., p. 11.
[3] Ibid., pp. 16-17.
[4] Ibid., p. 21.
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Suggested Book Reviews and video:

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit by Corey Olsen Ph.D.
On The Shoulders Of Hobbits – The Road To Virtue With Tolkien & Lewis by Louis Markos Ph.D.
The Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
How To Read J.R.R. Tolkien [Video]
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This article is free and open source. You are encouraged and have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.
___________________________________________________________
About The Author:

Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, researcher, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, humanitarian, and freelance writer who studies and mirrors regularly subjects like Consciousness, Education, Creativity, The Individual, Ancient History & Ancient Civilizations, Forbidden Archaeology, Big Pharma, Alternative Health, Space, Geoengineering, Social Engineering, Propaganda, and much more.

His own personal blog is BreakawayConsciousnessBlog.wordpress.com where his personal work is shared, while TheBreakaway.wordpress.com serves as a media portal which mirrors vital information usually ignored by mainstream press, but still highly crucial to our individual understanding of various facets of the world.

7 Phenomenal Books For Homeschooling, Self-Directed Learners & Autodidacts

Books1
TheBreakaway | BreakawayConciousness
Zy Marquiez
March 26, 2017

“A mind needs books like as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.”
– George R.R. Martin A Song Of Ice And Fire

“If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Real books disgust the totalitarian mind because they generate uncontrollable mental growth – and it cannot be monitored.”
– John Taylor Gatto, A Different Kind Of Teacher, p. 82.

Education is the most vital component of an individual’s repertoire.  Without it, the individual is like a ship without a rudder, drifting aimlessly amidst the seas of life

For that reason it is imperative to make sure individuals continue to educate themselves, no matter what stage of life they are in.  This is why the following list has been composed.

Each of the books reviewed below offer abundant wisdom from which to learn from.  Considering we are in an age where public schooling is about conformity, division, dumbing people down, and more, it would be wise for individuals to take their own education into their hands.

The books below will help individuals cement a firm foundation upon to be able to extract the most out of life and their individual journey.  If you wish to read more about the books, press the link on the book titles to heads towards the reviews.

Book #1:  Socratic Logic V3.1 by Peter Kreeft Ph.D

Out of all of these  7 books, this is hands down the most demanding one.  My contention though is that this book will net the most benefits because it couples into all the other subjects and areas of life, and well as each of your everyday endeavors.   While the other books below might be useful to you throughout your life, the lessons of this book will be useful every single day.  This is because logic is employed in everyday life, even if we sometimes do it automatically.

Although requiring considerable effort, the book is a much easier read than Aristotle’s Organnon, while still covering the core dynamics.  I would suggest still reading that one proceeding this one to make sure you have a firm grasp of logic.

Book #2:  The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Grammar, Logic & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D.

Historically, the Trivium was taught as part of classical education.  That is no longer the case, however.  Because of that, it is imperative that books discussing classical education as The Trivium be ruminated upon since the trivium is one of the leading reasons why education decades and centuries ago was vastly superior than it is now.

The Trivium encompasses all aspects of grammar, logic and rhetoric.  This book is a thorough presentation on general grammar, fallacies, syllogisms, a solid logic introduction, enthymemes, poetics, figurative language , all with a hefty dose of examples from which to learn from.

Just as a house cannot be complete without a foundation, an individual’s education, no matter the age, cannot be complete without knowledge of the Trivium.

Book #3:  How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren

The title says it all.  If you want to extract the most out of all types of books, this book is a must read.  In fact, it would be a mistake not to have it because not following many of these tenets would mean only fractional understanding of certain subjects.  The book really is phenomenal and highly recommended.  It’s been popular for decades, and with good reason.

Book #4:  Philosophy 101 – An Introduction To Philosophy Via Plato’s Apology by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.

If you want an easy-to-follow introduction to philosophy, that is accessible to lay people but also stimulating enough to get your brain cells churning, ponder this book.  It’s a very unique way of looking at philosophy.

Book #5: 
The Complete Workbook For Arguments – A Complete Course In Critical Thinking [2nd Ed.] by David R. Morrow & Anthony Weston

This book hones your critical thinking skills better than any critical thinking class in high school does, seeing as there are no critical thinking courses in high school, and few in college.  This is ironic, because for a public school system that continues to fail, one would figure critical thinking would be at the top of agenda to implement within public schooling.  The book is affordable, has ample exercises, uses a reasonable approach that builds on itself and is easy to follow.  It’s complex enough, but not overly so.  It’s a book that’s referenced often and highly valuable.

Book #6: 
The Imaginative Argument – A Practical Manifesto For Writers by Frank L. Cioffi

Now, this piece by Cioffi brings outside-of-the-box thinking to argumentation to boot.  The author takes a rather unique approach I’ve never seen before, and one I wished was available in public schooling, but of course isn’t.  The book covers everything from essays, thesis, creative writing, paragraph design, audience considerations, writing prompts, fallacies and more.  If you’re a regular writer of any type, even if it’s not argumentation per se, I would still say this is a must read.  Or at least consider it.  As part of a homeschooling and self-directed course, this is definitely a must have though.

Book #7: Sherlock Holmes – The Complete Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle

This one’s an outside-of-the-box suggestion, but with good reason.  Sherlock Holmes hands down is the best book from which to learn critical thinking in fiction form.  If you have any suggestions to add, or better, I would really like to hear them because I am always open-minded and would like to read similar books in fictional form since it allows a reader to enjoy leisure time, while also honing the mind simultaneously.

Holmes uses his usual analytical approach that’s incisive in logic and precise in detail to solve every single case.  Some cases offer more for learning than others, but the book as a whole is something every person should read and is part of an individual’s robust cultural literacy as well.

What we as individuals accomplish in life, especially if you want to live life to the fullest, is directly proportional to what we know and are capable of.  Without robust capabilities an individual is like a leaf in the wind, merely flowing aimlessly in the wind without chosen direction.

This is why it’s crucial to make sure your education stands on firm ground.  Without it, we’re only merely ghosts of ourselves, carrying out only a fraction of what would be possible within our lives.

It’s never too late to get educated.

Seek to better yourself, every single day.

Seek to learn every day, from every person, in every instance.

Not only will that help solidify your intellectual faculties in an ironclad manner, but it will also imbue your life with more meaning than you could ever imagine.

After all, if we don’t continue our education, we surrender ourselves to self-chosen ignorance.

And who wants to do that?

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This article is free and open source. You are encouraged and have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.
___________________________________________________________
About The Author:

Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, researcher, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, humanitarian, and freelance writer who studies and mirrors regularly subjects like Consciousness, Education, Creativity, The Individual, Ancient History & Ancient Civilizations, Forbidden Archaeology, Big Pharma, Alternative Health, Space, Geoengineering, Social Engineering, Propaganda, and much more.

His own personal blog is BreakawayConsciousnessBlog.wordpress.com where his personal work is shared, while TheBreakaway.wordpress.com serves as a media portal which mirrors vital information usually ignored by mainstream press, but still highly crucial to our individual understanding of various facets of the world.

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Suggested resources reviewed below for those seeking ideas to self-teach and become autodidacts:

7 Phenomenal Books For Homeschoolers, Self-Directed Learners & Autodidacts
13 Great Reasons To Study Logic
Socratic Logic V3.1 by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Grammar & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D.
How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren
Philosophy 101 – An Introduction To Philosophy Via Plato’s Apology by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
The Complete Workbook For Arguments – A Complete Course In Critical Thinking [2nd Ed.] by David R. Morrow & Anthony Weston
The Imaginative Argument – A Practical Manifesto For Writers by Frank L. Cioffi
Sherlock Holmes – The Complete Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle

The following books reviewed below cover the disturbing issues within the public schooling system:

Rotten To The Common Core by Dr. Joseph P. Farrell Ph.D.& Gary Lawrence
Dumbing Us Down – The Hidden Curriculum Of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
A Different Kind Of Teacher – Solving The Crisis Of American Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
Weapons Of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto
Drilling Through The Core, by Sandra Stotsky & Contributors

Book Review: Sherlock Holmes – The Complete Novels & Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle

A Veritable Critical Thinking Continuum Wrapped Up In Fiction

SherlockHolmes
TheBreakaway | BreakawayConciousness
Zy Marquiez
March 20, 2017

Ironically, it was through the most serendipitous of circumstances that this novel was suggested to me.  Following a lengthy discourse with my economics professor a long time ago in which I asked what he thought was the best way to learn logic, he, in his classic fashion, suggests not a textbook, but Sherlock Holmes!  At the time, thought it was a joke myself.  Interestingly enough, he wasn’t joking.

Here, now, many years later, the adventures of Sherlock Holmes were the way that yours truly was introduced to logic, and great fiction to boot, too.

Arthur Conan Doyle’s magnum opus, Sherlock Holmes, features characters that are rather unique but very believable; the setting is always top-tier and authentic, the mysteries abound, and there’s puzzles wrapped in enigmas all woven into phenomenal fiction as well.  This is one of the great reasons rereading this series is so easy and serves as a fictional fall back for reading, especially when a lot of modern fiction is quite lacking.

In more modern times, there have been great mystery writers, and many imitators in countless ways, but none has truly come close to creating a fun, readable, witty, critical thinking, logical, and intriguing series in the way that Arthur Conan Doyle did when the Sherlock Holmes series.  Those who attempt to follow in the author’s footsteps fall quite short, even when the authors have a template of what worked in the past.  This is why, after my third reading of this series, it’s still a great as ever, and nothing really compares.  And what’s more, there’s always something to learn from it, too.

Let’s boil it down.  Great fiction is great, because it allows wonder, and sparks the imagination like nothing else.  Sherlock Holmes definitely creates an auspicious and believable adventure upon which any curious mind would love to venture.

This fictional series does way more than that though.  If it had only sparked imagination, it would have been a really good, or even great series.  But even so, it offers so much more.  Sherlock Holmes is a veritable crashcourse into how to critically think and employ logic, wrapped up in a fantastic fictional package that is as timeless as it is robust.

For me, this book falls within what Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren referred to as the top tier of books.  As the authors note in their landmark How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading:

“Of the few thousand such books there is a much smaller number – here the number is probably less than a hundred – that cannot be exhausted by even the very best reading you can manage.  How do you recognize this?  Again it is rather mysterious, but when you have closed the book after reading analytically to the best of your ability, and place it back on the shelf, you have a sneaking suspicion that there is more there than you got….In fact, you cannot put your finger on it, but you know it is there.  You find that you cannot forget the book, that you keep thinking about it and your reaction to it.  Finally, you return to it.  And remarkable things happen.”[1][Bold Emphasis Added]

Furthermore, the authors elucidate:

“…if the book belongs to the highest class – the very small number of inexhaustible books – you discover on returning that the book seems to have grown with you.  You see new things in it – whole new sets of new things – that you did not see before.  Your previous understanding of the book is not invalidated; it is just as true as it ever was, and in the same ways that it was true before.  But now it is true in still other ways, too.”[2] [Bold Emphasis Added]

For me, this book – all of its fictional stories – accomplishes all of the above and more.

Sure, there are many other books that offer many life lessons, and the classics are riddled with them. However, none teach the individual the foundation for critical thinking and logic like Sherlock Holmes does.  This is why this stands above and beyond countless other books when it comes to those two crucial points for me personally.

If you homeschool, if you’re an autodidact, a self-directed learner, or simply someone that wants to read a great book, then read this.  You will not regret it.

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Footnotes:

[1] Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren, How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading, p. 333.
[2] Ibid., p. 333.
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This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.
__________________________________________________
About The Author:

Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, researcher, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, humanitarian, and freelance writer who studies regularly subjects like Consciousness, Education, Creativity, The Individual, Ancient History & Ancient Civilizations, Forbidden Archaeology, Big Pharma, Alternative Health, Space, Geoengineering, Social Engineering, Propaganda, and much more.

His own personal blog is BreakawayConsciousnessBlog.wordpress.com where his personal work is shared, while TheBreakaway.wordpress.com serves as a media portal which mirrors vital information usually ignored by mainstream press, but still highly crucial to our individual understanding of various facets of the world.

 

Homeschoolers under attack by officials conducting unannounced visits

Image: Homeschoolers under attack by officials conducting unannounced visits

Source: NaturalNews.com
Thomas Dishaw
March 13, 2017

School officials in Paris, KY are attempting to overstep their boundaries by conducting unannounced visits to homeschooling families. According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), these visits are a clear violation of a state-wide agreement that was implemented to protect a family’s constitutional right to privacy.

The school officials claim they are only there to help the parents, but part of their plan to help involves demanding information from parents about attendance records and curriculum. They have even asked to meet the children to question them in some instances. One home school parent, Jenny Griffith, who received one of these visits said “I got the impression that district staff could become more difficult if I didn’t cooperate in answering their questions or bring out my child to meet them. I tried to handle the situation as civilly as possible, without adding any threat to them.” The officials also told her that the district intends on visiting every homeschooling family three times a year.

After being alerted of these visits, the HSLDA quickly got involved and warned parents of this threat to their fourth amendment rights. On the HSLDA website, they spell out for their members what their rights are and how they should handle the situation. According to Kentucky laws, a homeschool program operates as a private school. While private schools are required to keep attendance and scholarship records (i.e. report cards) in the same manner as the local public school, homeschooling parents do not need to open their homes and present these documents simply because a school official comes knocking

TJ Schmidt, a contact attorney for Kentucky through the HSLDA, also said that unless school officials receive some report or have some evidence that the parents are not educating their children, no further inquiry should be made. This agreement, known as the Best Practices Document, has been in place for more than 20 years. Schmidt also assured families that he and Cindy West, a local CHEK representative and veteran homeschooling mom in Bourbon County, have contacted the Paris Independent School District and are objecting to the visits on behalf of the parents. They expect the visits to cease but promise to monitor the situation. (RELATED: Get all the news Google is trying to hide at Censored.news.)

This is not the first time that the HSLDA has had to step in when dealing with a Kentucky school district. In 2015 homeschooling families in Gallatin County, KY received a packet from Roxann Booth, the director of pupil personnel, letting them know county officials would visit the home of every homeschool program through the coming school year. The packet also contained forms that requested detailed information not required by state law.

When the HSLDA was alerted about this violation Schmidt wrote a letter to Ms. Booth on behalf of the families informing her that the information requested went well beyond what is required under Kentucky law. And because home visits would violate each homeschooling individual’s privacy rights the HSLDA would legally challenge any attempt to carry out these visits. Within two weeks, every homeschooling family received a follow-up letter from Ms. Booth apologizing for the demands for additional information and the challenge to the legitimacy of their homeschool programs.

Public schools do not want any challenge to their plans to turn all of our children into politically correct social justice warriors with no ability to think for themselves. As we see from these examples, they know very well where the lines are but are more than willing to cross them until someone is brave enough to stand up and tell them that they refuse to conform.

Read More At: NaturalNews.com

Sources:

HSLDA.org

HSLDA.org

Offthegridnews.com

Dialectical Thinking – Zeno, Socrates, Kant, Marx by Tommi Juhani Hanjijarvi Ph.D.

DLT
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
March 10, 2017

This particular book is a great foray for those beginning to delve into dialectics.

In Dialectical Thinking – Zeno, Socrates, Kant, Marx by Tommi Juhani Hanjijarvi Ph.D., the author seeks to show how valuable dialectical thinking is as he examines the minds of former dialecticians.

To accomplish this, Hanjijarvi sifts through critical data points spoken by the likes of Socrates, Kant, Zeno and Marx.  The author does make it a point to supplant additional data and couple it to specific dialectics discussed when the need arises.

For instance, while analyzing Marx’s foray into dialectics, the author delves into information brought about by Engel, Bernstein, Lenin and such.

As the author makes clear, dialectics have extensive uses.  More importantly, as the author argues “Dialectics are always about the dynamics of the self.”

Being someone who is delving into formal dialectics for the first time, it was quite mentally invigorating seeing the different dialectics employed by the great dialecticians.  Moreover, it was also interesting to note where some of their ruminations dovetailed and what paths it led them on.  That said, there were times that the text demanded a bit more from the readers as its complexity increased some.  Still, what the book offers is plenty even if it might be intricate at certain junctures.

These days, the benefit of thinking from opposite spectrums, as dialecticians do and this book showcases, would be a great skillset for individuals to learn.  Rarely do people put themselves on both sides of an equation; people usually end up just simply fostering their points of views without taking the other person’s view into consideration.  For instance, the mainstream media is the greatest purveyor of this and shuns anybody who wishes to think outside the box or question anything that is passed off as fact.  And if they show two sides to a coin, it’s always to stoke the flames of the divide and conquer left right paradigm that we see manifesting in countless forms.

Of course, in reality, there are many sides to countless issues.  This reason is why this type of book is vital, since it helps lay a solid foundation as an introductory volume into the discipline of dialectics.

Thinking unilaterally about incisive issues won’t help people think critically, nor will it help people to think outside the box.  Predictably, this prevents individuals from grasping crucial issues at their core.

For those reasons, and many others, this book is definitely to be considered for the inquiring individual.  In fact, am even going to suggest this book to some friends for homeschooling.  Look forward to reading more books like this.

As an introduction to the dialectical thinking employed by some of the greatest dialecticians, this book carries out its premise rather well.

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This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.

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Suggested resources reviewed below for those seeking ideas to self-teach and become autodidacts:

Socratic Logic V3.1 by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Grammar & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D.
How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren
Philosophy 101 – An Introduction To Philosophy Via Plato’s Apology by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
The Complete Workbook For Arguments – A Complete Course In Critical Thinking [2nd Ed.] by David R. Morrow & Anthony Weston
The Imaginative Argument – A Practical Manifesto For Writers by Frank L. Cioffi

The following books reviewed below cover the disturbing issues within the public schooling system:

Rotten To The Common Core by Dr. Joseph P. Farrell Ph.D.& Gary Lawrence
Dumbing Us Down – The Hidden Curriculum Of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
A Different Kind Of Teacher – Solving The Crisis Of American Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
Weapons Of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto
Drilling Through The Core, by Sandra Stotsky & Contributors

Book Review: The Hobbit By J.R.R. Tolkien

thehobbitlotr

TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
March 2, 2017

“Real books disgust the totalitarian mind because they generate uncontrollable mental growth – and it cannot be monitored.”
John Taylor Gatto, A Different Kind Of Teacher, p. 82.

“Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry.  When we consider a book, we musn’t ask ourselves what it says but what it means.”
– Umberto Eco, The Name Of The Rose

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is one of his landmark pieces, which is part of Tolkien’s legendarium.  Tolkien’s legendarium revolves around the world of Arda.

Unknown to many, The Legendarium was created by Tolkien to serve as fictional mythology about the remote past of Earth, in which Middle Earth is the main stage.

The Legendarium is composed by phenomenal fiction such as The Lord of the Rings and also The Hobbit, as previously mentioned.  But also, the Legendarium features works such as The Silmarillion, The History of the Middle-Earth, The History Of The Hobbit, and more.

Undoubtedly one of the most significant books in the 20th Century, The Hobbit takes us through the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, whose life early on echoes predictability, comfort and simplicity.

However, after an unexpected party, Bilbo’s life changes most auspiciously.  After repeatedly stating he was not interested in being privy to an adventure, Bilbo was tricked into going by his guests, the dwarves, appealing to Bilbo’s more adventurous side – his Tookish side. There in the adventure begins.

On Bilbo’s quest to the Lonely Mountain, he and his companions traverse through Rivendel, the Misty Mountains, the dark forest of Mirkwood and even Lake Town, before anchoring at the Desolation of Smaug for the apex of the story.

On the way, Bilbo and his gang run into all sorts of folks: elves, humans, eagles, wargs, orcs, and even intricate characters such as Beorn and Gollum, all of which serve to make this phenomenal fantasy into one of the most intriguing mental escapes any fictional book has ever accomplished.

Throughout the epic, Bilbo’s journey mirrors that of the readers in the time which Tolkien published the story in 1937.  Just as Bilbo was reticent of going in the journey, being rather conservative, and being comfortable in his rather run-of-the-mill cookie-cutter everyday life, so were the people of the time of Tolkien a bit reserved about venturing on a journey into the realm of epic fantasy.  Mainstream folks weren’t interested in fantasy, and some even felt askance to it.  This was the reason why Tolkien used Bilbo as an analogy for the reader to familiarize itself with this Universe.

In fact, as medieval literature specialist and writer Corey Olsen Ph.D. puts it in his in-depth book, Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit:

“Bilbo’s initial perspective is so narrow, so domesticated, that being made late for dinner apparently counts as very serious hazard.  When Gandalf suggests sending him on an adventure, Bilbo runs into the house in panic.”[1][Emphasis On Original]

That’s how reticent Bilbo was!

These very circumstances, which mirror those of the readers of the time, are best exemplified by the following words:

“Tolkien was very aware of the artistic challenge he faced in writing a work of fantasy, especially since fantasy literature was far from the literary mainstream in the early twentieth century.  He knew that when they encountered his story in The Hobbit, his readers would have to leave their mundane and comfortable world behind and invest their imaginations in a world that contains magic and unexpected marvels.  In chapter One, Tolkien gives us a model for this very process within the story itself.  We begin in our safe and predictable world, and in the first chapter, we find ourselves in a world of wizard and dwarves and dragons.  In this transition, we find ourselves coming alongside a protagonist who is struggling through the exactly the same process, a character who himself internalizes the conflict between the mundane and the marvelous   Our first introduction to this magical, grim, and dangerous world of adventure is also his introduction, and his reluctance and difficulty in adjusting to it give us time to ease past our own discomfort and reservations.  Bilbo Baggins serves as a perfect touchstone for readers, both exploring and embodying the trickier frontier between the predictable and the unexpected.”[2]

And yet, no matter what Bilbo thought on the surface, deep down inside part of his deepest self was quite intrigued with the prospect of an adventure.  This insight is best viewed in the following passage, which takes place right when the dwarves begin an impromptu musical performance at his abode:

“Bilbo “forgot everything else, and was swept away into dark lands under strange moons, far over The Water and very far from his hobbit-hole under The Hill”.  He is transported into the land of the dwarves, and their song even brings him to share for a moment their own perspective and experience.  As they sing, he “felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves.”  For a little while, Bilbo is moved by the music and the poetry of the dwarves, and he steps imaginatively out of his little world and into their story.  At this moment, “something Tookish woke up inside him,” and Bilbo finds that there is a part of him that desires adventure after all.”[3]

Once Bilbo’s imagination is unleashed it was like Pandora ’s Box, and there was no putting it back.

The contrast within Bilbo is best noticed when compared with Gandalf, as each represent two sides of the same coin.

As Olsen elucidates:

“Bilbo’s settled, Baggins life is like prose, plain and businesslike, and the magical world of Gandalf and the dwarves is more like poetry, full of wonder and marvels, but also strange and sorcerous like Gandalf’s smokerings. Bilbo may adhere to the Baggins point of view, but his Tookish heritage does give him a tendency toward that other, adventurous life, a tendency that is lurking beneath the surface when Bilbo meets Gandalf.”[4]

This tendency towards  what’s intriguing and portentous is what helps Bilbo grow throughout the journey as he finds the core of his Tookish side, and uses it to help himself and his newfound friends in this journey.

Intriguingly, as Bilbo grows accustomed to the wondrous and imaginative changes that magic brings about, so did the readers of the time.

The best part of this The Hobbit is that it’s so in depth and profound that there’s much to be had from it.

Truth be told, as Louis Markos Ph.D. notes in his book, On The Shoulders Of Hobbits – The Road To Virtue With Tolkien And Lewis:

“So greatly did The Hobbit delight adults and children hungry for the lost realm of fairy tales that the cried out for a sequel.  In response, Tolkien spent the next decade and a half crafting a far richer and more mature work that would ratchet up its predecessor from a humble fairy tale to a full-scale epic in the tradition of The Iliad, The Odyssey, and Beowulf.”[5]

The Hobbit is truly an upper echelon book.  This book resides within a class of books that belongs in an entirely different realm.  Some of the greatest books of all literature treat life as a journey, and this book is no different.  Moreover, not only that, but the book is so in depth, and offers so many subtle themes, that people for ages will be learning from it.

Touching upon this very subject, Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren speak about these type of books in their own touchstone piece, How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading:

“There is a second class of books from which you can learn – both how to read and how to live.  Less than one out of every hundred books belongs in this class – probably it is more like one in a thousand, or even one in ten thousand.  These are the good books, the ones that were carefully wrought by the authors, the ones that convey to the reader significant insights about subjects of enduring interest to human beings.  There are in all probably no more than a few thousand of such books.”[6]

The Hobbit offers many profound lessons of life.  Through fantasy fiction Tolkien creates a story which is analogous to what each of our own journeys are individually.  And just as life offers us countless lessons from which to learn from, so offers The Hobbit many germane gems of wisdom that are for the taking which are woven throughout the story.

In sum, the best reason to read this book is encapsulated in the following words by Markos:

“All ages at all times need stories, but our needs them so much more…The stories that we need are precisely those that will beckon us to follow their heroes along the Road; that will embody for us the true nature of good and evil, virtue and vice, and then challenge us to engage the struggle between the two…”[7]

And The Hobbit, for those very salient reasons, and more, is just one of those stories.

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Sources:

[1] Corey Olsen Ph.D., Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, p. 21.
[2] Ibid., p. 35.
[3] Ibid., p. 24.
[4] Ibid., p. 23.
[5] Louis Markos Ph.D., On The Shoulders Of Hobbits – The Road To Virtue With Tolkien And Lewis, pp. 13-14.
[6] Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren, How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading, pp. 332-333.
[7]Louis Markos Ph.D., On The Shoulders Of Hobbits – The Road To Virtue With Tolkien And Lewis, p. 187.
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This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.

Book Review: A Workbook For Arguments – A Complete Course In Critical Thinking [2nd Ed.] by David R. Morrow & Anthony Weston

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TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
March 1, 2017

Having read A Rulebook For Arguments by Anthony Weston and finding it quite useful, the prospect of reading a book along very similar lines but offering more expanded thought seemed quite intriguing.  Thankfully, the following book delivered in spades.

A Workbook For Arguments – A Complete Course In Critical Thinking by David R. Morrow & Anthony Weston is a very comprehensive, incisive, and detailed foray into what it takes to create a critical thinker.

Not only does A Workbook For Arguments contain the text from A Rulebook For Arguments with further extensions which help the reader become more robust with the content broken down, but it also features simple, and yet acute advice for the individual to become more apt in argumentation.

In conjunction with that the authors break down about half the exercises in the book with model responses in the back of the book.  Most of these exercise detail real world issues one is likely to hear often, detailing the pros and cons of whatever answers were employed, and how each of those may affect an individual or society as a whole.

Also included in the book is a rundown of some of the most common fallacies, which is also useful since fallacies are employed far more often than most realize, and aren’t really taught in school, when in all actuality they should be.  Knowing these fallacies is vital to understand not only someone else’s argument and their inherent flaws, but also in constructing and fine-tuning one’s own.

Arguably, the most important part of this book is that from the beginning it guides the reader through the steps in constructing a critical argument in a very logical fashion.  Consistently throughout the book, new topics continually build on the prior ones, rather than there being no coherent design.

Personally, this is the kind of book whose contents should be mandatory to learn in school and should definitely not be overlooked for homeschooling, autodidacts and self-teachers.

Simply stated, anyone who is seeking to employ critical thinking, use logic in argumentation and become more robust in most key aspects of argumentation should get this book, if not file it under careful consideration.  If you think about it, even if it was priced at double or triple the price, it would STILL be worth it, because college courses covering the same subject are often more costly, and offer barely a fraction of what’s here, IF they offer anything of such high quality.

If you happened to have read A Rulebook For Arguments, and appreciated it, then get this one.  You will not regret it.  It’s worth it in more ways individuals could imagine.
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Suggested Book Review Reading:

Socratic Logic V3.1 by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Grammar & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D.
How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren
Philosophy 101 – An Introduction To Philosophy Via Plato’s Apology by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
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This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.