Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Mr. Jackson or Gandalf the Grey?

When asked to think of a metaphor to describe what philosophy is to me, for some reason the first thing that came to mind was Lord of the Rings. I think it was because the day we were initially asked to come up with an analogy for this project, Mr. Albright was substituting for our class and I was reminded of my English 11 class with him in which we got to spend several classes watching the first Lord of the Rings movie. At first I didn’t take the idea seriously but I couldn’t think of anything better so after some thought I decided to roll with it and surprisingly, it came together quite nicely. For those who haven’t seen it, the first Lord of the Rings movie, in simple terms, is about a group (the fellowship) who travel to Mordor to destroy a ring with dangerous powers. As Boromir put it, “One does not simply walk into Mordor”. The fellowship’s journey is a long one. So long in fact that they don’t even arrive at their destination by the end of the first movie. 

The idea of a lengthy journey that does not necessarily end at the predicted destination, to me, quite closely resembles philosophy. Like the first Lord of the Rings movie, philosophy to me is more about the journey than the destination. When discussing new concepts and ideas, we may not always arrive at the destination we predicted. Sometimes in fact, we may not arrive at any concrete “destination” at all but that does not mean we are not richer for the journey. When discussing questions that may not have one right answer, it’s important to accept and appreciate the value in the “journey” that philosophical discussion can take you on. Another way in which the fellowship’s journey resembles philosophy is in its reliance on many individuals working together. Philosophy is reliant on the efforts of many through collaboration and the sharing of ideas the same way the fellowship was reliant on each other for survival. Each individual’s journey into philosophy is reliant on other people to allow it to progress.

Mr. Jackson as Gandalf, courtesy of me.

Essentially, philosophy is Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. It is a quest at the end of which we may not arrive at our intended destination yet we are still better off for the journey. A quest that’s main purpose is to enrich your life along the way as it takes you to places you never expected. You are Frodo and philosophy is your quest to Mordor. And Mr. Jackson, as your teacher and as your guide, is Gandalf (which only seems fitting because of the beard). 


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