Hawk's Nest

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The Rings of Tolkien and Plato: Lessons in Power, Choice, and Morality
"Why be moral? What kind of life should I choose? What kind of person should I become? These are the fundamental questions of ethics, or moral philosophy. In Tolkien’s tale of the One Ring of Power we find the answer to the challenge to the moral life first proposed by Plato almost 2,400 years ago. Faced with the ability to satisfy one’s desires without limit and without consequences, can a person choose the path of virtue and renounce immense power? For Plato, the answer was yes, for the moral person can realize that a life of immoral power will corrupt the heart and soul. Power without love, friendship, and personal fulfillment will lead to unhappiness, a fundamental unhappiness that is beyond relief.

In Tolkien’s characters we see vindication of this Platonic vision of the importance and meaning of the moral life.
Interesting essay from a book which delves into the parallels between Plato's work and Tolkien's.


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