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New Fall 2012 course

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Old Main, USU


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• Is the world eternal? YES
• Do humans have contra-causal free will (i.e., can humans do otherwise)? NO
• Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? YES
• Do humans have souls? YES
• Are there natural rights? YES
• Is it morally permissible to eat meat? NO
• Is the unexamined life worth living? NO
• Is truth subjectivity? YES
• Is virtue necessary for happiness? YES
• Can a computer have a mind? YES
• Can humans know reality as it is in itself? YES
• Is hell other people? YES
• Can art be created accidentally? NO
• Can we change the past? NO
• Are numbers real? NO
• Is it always better to know the truth? YES

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Fall 2012 I have the opportunity to teach a special seminar:

Inkling Philosophy: J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis on Myth and Truth.

Banner listing: PHIL 4900 ST: Tolkien and CS Lewis on Myth, cross-listed under RELS 4910-004 ST: Tolkien and CS Lewis on Myth.

MWF 9:30-10:20

Course Description:

In this course we will first read what Tolkien and Lewis have to say about myth and then we will read some of Tolkien’s and Lewis’ myths.  In reading about myth, we will seek to understand their philosophy of myth, asking questions about myth and its relation to truth, symbolic language and the limits of natural reason, and the role of the imagination in belief.  Then we will read some of their myths (Lord of the Rings, Narnia, etc) to see how perennial truths about God, man, and the universe can be expressed in, and perhaps only in, myth.

No pre-requisites or previous philosophical experience required.  But note that this is a 4000 level course so it will be reading intensive.  Those unable or unwilling to take on thick reading assignments should look elsewhere.



  1. […] or cosmopolitanism (which isn’t a surprise, given Tolkien’s own views). I imagine that Kleiner’s upcoming course on Tolkien and Lewis will raise this issue at some point, perhaps connecting it with MacIntyre’s After […]


  2. Mike says:

    What I never got around to reading from Lewis and Tolkien was their academic work, what they wrote that underwent peer review. I would love to have a list of those pieces.


    • Kleiner says:

      I do not have a ready list. But you might check out Tom Shippey’s JRR Tolkien: Author of the Century. It looks at Tolkien from the perspective of his academic work on language. Might be a good starting point.
      With Lewis, you could read The Discarded Image as a starting point. It is Lewis’ last book (I think) and is based on his lectures on Medieval and Renaissance Lit.


  3. Zachary says:

    I’m very glad that Tolkien will be given a semester’s length of intensive study; Lewis will be a welcome extra. Discussing the ‘..limits of natural reason, and the role of the imagination in belief’ would be fascinating in the context of something as unique as ‘The Ainulindalë’ from Tolkien’s *The Silmarillion*. Looking forward to next Fall; thanks for putting this class to together, Prof. Kleiner!


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