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Philosophy paper

Philosophy paper

Postby Dawn » 12 Oct 2006, 16:14

I am working on a Philosophy paper. I chose The Chronicles of Narnia as my topic. I'm still in the information gathering phase, taking notes and trying to figure out how to organize it. I felt the movie was hollow (the paper is supposed to be on a movie) and I have permission to do a more compare and contrast type paper to the book(s) and the movie.

I plan to focus on Aslan and the Witch and the philosophical questions posed by their roles. The questions I feel they pose are: human creation, meaning of life, faith, time perceptions, meaning of life/human creation as the purpose of religion, the problem of evil, etc...

Would anyone care to help focus me and give their thoughts? I guess my main problem is organization and what the point will be... I have done some research on lion symbolism and it's quite obvious why a lion was chosen to be the creator/savior for the books/movie...

Re: Philosophy paper

Postby Stanley Anderson » 12 Oct 2006, 17:39

Dawn wrote:I am working on a Philosophy paper. I chose The Chronicles of Narnia as my topic. I'm still in the information gathering phase, taking notes and trying to figure out how to organize it. I felt the movie was hollow...

Boy, you'll get no disagreement from me there:-) I suggest you look in the Narnia forum here and go to the thread entitled "The Chronicles of Narnia: TLTW&TW DVD", particularly from page 4-and-on-through-the-last-page of that thread's discussion. Also the thread entitled "Discussion of Paul F. Ford's review" (you'll have to go back to page 3 of the list of threads in the Narnia forum to find it). Both of these threads (the comments in my posts in particular, I suppose) talk much about that aspect of the movie.

Not sure if it lines up with your later comments about what you want to focus your paper on, but there might be some ideas there.

I'd be curious to hear what you come up with eventually.
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
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re: Philosophy paper

Postby Dawn » 16 Oct 2006, 16:57

OK... this is a challenging paper for me. So far what I'm doing is explaining the foundation of LWW, I think the The Witch's Nephew is amazing. There are so many ideas brought up in this prequel that I don't want to miss anything important, yet I don't want to spend too much time doing a book report, when I need to relate LWW to my philosophy course.

I was thinking of laying this brief foundation (my instructor has admitted to not reading the books and being unimpressed with the movie) then delving into the philosophical questions.

Thus far, I have gotten to Aslan creating Narnia. So now, I'm pondering my transition from book report to philosophy paper. And these (I think) will be my main points of focus.

~ The movie does not do Aslan justice. The book describes him as very large and shaggy with a bright golden hue. The lion in symbolism is often equated with godliness, power and protectiveness. The name Aslan itself is Turkish for Lion.
- An ancient Buddist ( I think he was worshipped, I haven't gotten too deep into him) is said to have skin, the bright golden hue, like a lion's. Lions are also used frequently in Buddist symbology. So it's really obvious why he would choose a lion to represent a god figure.

~ I have learned that Philosophy is the basis of religion. In that, religions are/were created to answer human questions, such as: why are we here? who created us? How does the world work? How should we live our lives? etc...
- Aslan is the Narnians' God, they have writings of him, faith in his return and the fullfillment of the prophecy. Those that do not posses this "faith" are with the Witch. What is the difference between faith, belief and knowledge?

~ I would also like to touch on knowledge, and what is knowledge? Uncle Andrew posseses knowledge that no one else has, and is thought crazy. Then in LWW Uncle (Digory) makes a statement about logic. His statement closely follows Aristotle's reasoning on logic and knowledge.

~ then there's the question of evil, which is the role the Witch fills. In the movie she is not portrayed nearly as well as in the book. First, she didn't look big enough and second she wasn't indescribably beautiful (or didn't give the impression that even Edmund thought so) nor did she seem as wise, cunning and desperate as she did in the book. I thought in the book she really was wise, in her own self-serving kind of way, though she did prove Socrates correct about the people that believe they posses knowledge.

So these are my jumbles of incoherent ideas that I'm trying to organize in a way that is easy to follow and doesn't :censored: (so to speak) on Lewis's work.


Postby Dawn » 14 Nov 2006, 23:09

okay, here it is, it's due next Tuesday so any comments before then are greatly appreciated. Remember, I have a 5 page max, so it's a bit more vague than I would like. Also, you should know, I typically thoroughly enjoy playing devil's advocate.... I just noticed that the way it came out when I copied & pasted isn't what it will really look like, 'nuf said.

When compared to the writings of C.S. Lewis, the movie Narnia is quite hollow. There are brief moments captured in the movie which illustrate some of the Greek philosophic influence on Lewis’s storytelling.
The movie Narnia is based off the book The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. To fully appreciate these questions I suggest also reading the prequel, The Witch’s Nephew. This prequel explains how Narnia was created and who created it. The book also recalls how Queen Jadis or The White Witch came to dwell in Narnia.
In the movie there are two sides in the classic struggle of good vs. evil. On the side of good are the believers in Aslan, who is the creator and savior. On the side of evil are the White Witch and her followers. I plan to contrast these opposing sides from the standpoint that they are organized religions.
The Aslan believers are in fact quite lucky, in that their faith was appropriately placed and all the prophecies came to pass. We do not have these answers (about faith) for ourselves, but we have them for the creatures of Narnia.
Many people choose to see Aslan as a Christ-like figure. C.S. Lewis himself has denied any intentional likeness.
Aslan takes the form of a lion. The lion across the globe holds many god-like meanings in symbology. In Western cultures the lion symbol on a cemetery, tombstone etc represents the power of God and guards against evil spirits. In Buddhism the lion is associated with royalty and the golden hue is said to be reminiscent of the traditional description of Shakyamuni’s complexion ( To the Chinese it represents wisdom, valor and energy. The lion is also the military emblem of the 2nd rank ( Even in Iran, the symbol for tribal bravery is the lion. The Iranians also associate patience, generosity, manliness, nobility and purity with the lion (
In Turkish Aslan means lion ( With minimal research effort it seems obvious why the author chose a lion to represent the God-like figure.
I feel the filmmaker failed to see this significance and substantially downplayed Aslan. In the movie, there is no golden hue, which is so vividly described in the book. I didn’t get the feeling of creator/savior when Aslan is finally revealed.
The inhabitants of Narnia, without first-hand experience, believe, hope and pray to Aslan as a god. All they have to go on are the teachings of their ancestors and prophesies passed down generations. None of them has seen Aslan, heard Aslan or even touched Aslan, yet they await his return to conquer evil.
From what I have gathered religions provide many answers for people around the world. Religion for them answers the “why” questions. It offers an explanation for creation and guidelines for how to live one’s life. “Aslanity”, as I like to call it, provides these same answers for the creatures of Narnia. They have no physical proof that Aslan exists, yet they find a reason and way to live life; to love and to be just.
The movie adequately illustrates this blind belief and this hope, though the book does a much better job of it. The beavers, for instance, are confused when the children are temporarily unwilling to go to war and fight for Aslan. They have no idea what or who an Aslan is. Had the Narnians’ savior been called Jesus or Christ, the children, in those times, may have rushed to arms to assist in the war against evil and have a role in the fight for good. Only for their brother’s safety and Tumnus (for Lucy) do the children take part in this fight.
When they come face to face with Aslan they understand and feel his godliness which, as I stated earlier, is significantly undermined by the movie. In the movie Aslan holds too many lion-like qualities. Should he not appear to be more than just a lion, as he does in the book, if he is also the creator and therefore God?
The “evil” in the books and movie is the White Witch, or as she calls herself, Queen Jadis. In French the name Jadis actually means old. Her goal is to rule Narnia, but the presence of the four children signifies the passing of a prophecy and her ultimate loss of power. Through the use of her dark magic she encourages others to believe and follow her.
All of the Narnians that are “non-believers” are depicted as ugly, gruesome creatures. Why is this? Even within many of our world’s religions the believers think less of the non-believers and cast them in a negative light. Is their fight any less noble than that of the Aslan followers? They too are fighting to preserve their way of life, yet they are demonized.
These demonized creatures also call her Queen. They have chosen to follow something/someone they can actually hear, see and touch. According to the prophecy the four children are the true kings and queens of Narnia. Considering Jadis has ruled Narnia for 100 years, is her claim to power/superiority that unreasonable? She worked hard and used her abilities to gain her position. It would seem absurd for her to just hand over all the power she worked to achieve and maintain.
I have spent quite some time pondering and discussing the “evilness” of Jadis, trying to understand what is it that makes her deemed evil. Her magic is by no means natural to Narnia, so is her foreignness her evil? Perhaps, it’s her naivety, in that her one asset is her ability to influence/control the Narnians with her magic. In a sense, she has only a hammer and treats all the inhabitants as though they are nails. If closed-mindedness can be equated with evil, then I suppose, her evil label is appropriate.
The primary difference between these two “religions” is what the leader appears to stand for and who they claim to serve. Aslan claims to want to help the Narnians live in love and justice, whereas, Jadis seems to only be looking out for her own well being.
There is one more event in both the movie and book that I cannot in good conscious overlook in this philosophy paper. This small conversation just will not leave my head.
The conversation takes place after Lucy and Edmond both enter Narnia. Edmond lies about having been there saying that they were only pretending. The two older children are concerned about Lucy’s sanity and approach the professor (who was one of the first children in Narnia) for advice.
The conversations vary slightly from movie and book but the gist is the same.
When the children tell him of Narnia the professor asks them what it was like. Of course this baffles the kids because such a thing is “impossible”.
“Don’t they teach logic in school these days? Your sister is usually dishonest and your brother truthful?” The Professor asked.
“Up until now it was the other way around.”
“Logically, if your sister is the more truthful, then she must be telling the truth.”
I think Aristotle (though probably not concerned with a child’s story) would have

laid it out like this: Lucy is the most truthful
Edmond is dishonest
Lucy must be telling the truth
This is an imperfect example of Aristotle’s logic, but seems to fit nicely with where the Professor goes with the conversation.
The Chronicles of Narnia poses many interesting questions about our own creation: who created our universe, why are we here, what do we do with life? Another question may be posed: what IS “good” and “evil”, how do we make such a determination? I still do not have these answers for myself, but when I do, I’ll let you know.
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Postby Dawn » 14 Nov 2006, 23:09

I accidently posted 2x, and it won't let me erase one, so you have this stupid message instead HAHAHAHAHA.
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Postby carol » 15 Nov 2006, 09:19

Hi Dawn. Lots of interesting ideas in your writing.

Can I point out a couple of errors, and then add a few comments?

Edmund is spelled with a "u" not "o", and the prequel is called "The Magician's Nephew" - not "Witch's".

Jadis' wickedness is not merely the fact that she is not Aslan, but that her idea of ruling is about dominating others for the sake of power, not taking care of them for the sake of their good. She used her control to keep the country in winter for 100 years, which meant no food grown, none of the normal cycle of seasons that show lifecycles and growth, none of the healthy input of sunlight and warmth, a general deadness and unproductivity all round.

The Greek writer who the Professor himself refers to is Plato, not Aristotle, although I haven't studied either for a long time so you may be correct in attributing this particular piece of logic to Plato.

EDIT: Oops, I meant to say "to Aristotle".

I like your image of the hammer and nails, and your neologism "Aslanity".
Best wishes!
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Postby Dawn » 15 Nov 2006, 18:37

Thank-you so much. I'll admit I hadn't looked at the exact title in a long time oops... it will be fixed. I did briefly mention her selfishness opposed to Aslan's selflessness after the paragraph of her evilness. I truely appreciate your assistance. In my PHL book this outline of logic is attributed to Aristotle, who was a pupil of Plato.... they had different ideas as to what knowledge is and is obtained.
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Postby Sarah N. » 17 Nov 2006, 19:41

Dawn wrote:Many people choose to see Aslan as a Christ-like figure. C.S. Lewis himself has denied any intentional likeness.

Where did he say this? I don't recall anywhere were he said that, and he seems to make it quite clear that he does mean Aslan as a Christ figure, based on some of his letters to children.

Since this is a philosophy paper, I would re-work your syllogism. It isn't in any form I recognize (two premises, a conclusion, three terms, etc.) but I don't know how picky your teacher is about this.

I am having trouble following the central point of the paper. You begin by saying that you are going to compare the book and the movie, but you only briefly touch on this in relation to Aslan's power/glory/what-have-you, not being accurately reflected in the movie. Next you talk about Aslanity vs. Jadism, and muse on the nature of evil, drawing mostly from the book or movie, but not comparing/contrasting them. Then you throw in Kirk's argument for the consistency of Lucy's truthfulness, and you conclude with the moral questions posed by the book, which does not tie into your introduction about the movie vs. the book. You've got some good ideas, but I would try to give the paper a more standard structure. (My teachers often insist on a standard form, beginning with an introduction, then three or more body paragraphs supporting your main points, and then a conclusion summing up your points, and any additional things this leads you to conclude. It's boring, but it works, and it lets everyone see exactly how your thoughts are laid out. )
Live in the world as if only God and your soul were in it; then your heart will never be made captive by any earthly thing. ~ St. John of the Cross

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