Harry Potter and Philosophy Essay One: The Courageous Harry Potter

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Harry Potter and Philosophy Essay One: The Courageous Harry Potter

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marraskuu 2, 2009, 8:50 am

I think LT ate my first post, so I apologize if this turns up again. I have a lot of notes that turned out to be somewhat essay question-like (sorry). I figure they should help facilitate discussion though, so I'm going to post my first thought, reply to it if you want or post your own thoughts. I'll be in and out throughout the day to add more of mine. Since HP&Phil only covers the first five books, I thought it would be interesting to further examine Harry's courage in the face of fear as it relates to HBP and DH, so most of my comments revolve around that.

Morris defines courage as "doing what's right, not what's easy. It's doing what seems morally required, rather than what seems physically safe or socially expected. It's doing what's best, overall, rather than necessarily what's best for you." (12-13). Do you agree or disagree? Would you add anything to his definition?

marraskuu 2, 2009, 10:22 am

Okay, perhaps that one was a bit too broad. Here's my next one:

Aristotle's definition of courage is "a midpoint between two extremes in our reaction to danger: the extreme of too little, which he characterizes as cowardice, and the extreme of too much, which he labels as rashness." (13) Can/should the term "rash" ever be applied to Harry? What are the consequences of his rash actions opposed to his courageous actions?

marraskuu 2, 2009, 11:49 am

Okay, I'm going to be out of the office for the rest of the day, so I'm just going to post the rest of what I have. Maybe someone else will post something eventually.

3. Through OotP, the GoF example given (14) is the obvious choice for demonstrating step one, but could we now consider HBP as one big example of Preparing for a Challenge? Can it be extended to Hermione & Ron? Their preparations at the start of DH? How does Harry's preparation compare to Hermione & Rons? Are they equally as important? As regards courage? Confidence?

4. The author states "The best way to get supportive cheerleaders into our lives is to be a cheerleader for others. Harry supports his friends when they need him." (15) and "Harry's friends mean a lot to him. He encourages them." (16) but Morris never gives an example. Can we think of any?

5. All Morris' examples of "surrounding with support" are in encouragement, with no mention of direct support offered by Ron and Hermione. Why? Shouldn't that be an important part of the recipe?

6. Morris doesn't have a lot of examples of positive self talk (17). Why? Are the examples simply not in the books (would that make them too self-helpy?) Is Morris stretching a bit to make Harry conform to Morris' own recipe for courage?

7. Step four, "focus on what's at stake", brings to mind the idea of "The Greater Good" which is of course an important part of DD's philosophy as discovered in DH, which also shows that same philosophy can lead to acts of cowardice (genocide-Grindelwald). Why/How?

8. "Some of the most courageous people in human history have later reported that they didn't feel particularly brave at the time of their great accomplishments, but that they just knew what they had to do and then did it. They were motivated to action by knowing what was at stake. Their convictions overcame their fear. They acted despite being scared, or else claim that they were just too busy to feel either scared or brave, in responding to the needs of the situation."(19) What are some other examples of Harry doing this? Has there been a time when Harry has NOT focused on what's at stake? Is it a defining characteristic of Harry's?

9. Morris uses the golden mist in the maze as a prime example of Harry combining steps 4 and 5 (20). Agree/Disagree?

10. Kierkegaard says"reflection can be halted only by a leap" (21) How does this sum up Harry to you? Examples?

*NOTE* Whenever I've asked for examples, I've come up with a couple myself, if no one else can think of any, I have some that might help with further discussion.

Muokkaaja: marraskuu 2, 2009, 1:09 pm

1) yes I can agree that courage is doing whats best for all regardless of self, but sometimes a courageous act is performed before thought or consideration of anything, you push a child out of the path of a speeding car and get hit yourself, Is that courage? I mean surely when you raced to help that child the best possible scenario in your mind would be both of you safe and sound. If someone said that it was either your life or the life of a child, would you calmly walk out and place yourself in front of that deadly contraption?

Then there are planned acts of courage. Such as Neville waiting in the comman room and prepared to fight to keep Harry and friends from leaving that room

If you were to know that a child would be killed or hurt at a certain time or place and took steps to prevent that child from going there in the first place is that courage. To watch a mugging in New York City and walk on by,is that cowardice? If you were to shout "Hey! You! Police!" and the mugger ran would that be bravery? If the mugger pulled out a gun and shot you then would your actions be called "rash"?

How about the situations where a bystander tries to help someone and gets sued for his pains?

Where is courage in todays world? The soldiers in Iraq?
The police answering a call? A doctor treating a deadly and contagious disease?
Thats courage to me.

marraskuu 2, 2009, 3:52 pm

My book just arrived, hooray! I will try to read this essay tonight so I can contribute to the discussion.

marraskuu 2, 2009, 4:26 pm

Excellent points polly! I'm especially interested in your scenario with the mugger, cowardice vs. courage vs. rashness, it's an interesting question, one I don't have the answer to.

Was anyone else bothered by the "recipe for courage"? The word "recipe" implies that all the elements are needed to be courageous, which is simply not true. As polly mentioned, some of the most courageous acts come without any forethought or preparation and some people show incredible strength without any support system at all. It may just be a terminology thing, perhaps if instead of a "recipe" he'd called it "Strategies for Courage" or something I'd like this essay better.

marraskuu 2, 2009, 5:48 pm

Just to play devil's advocate (although I agree with you), you can also think of a recipe as a guidline more or less. When I'm cooking I often substitute ingrediants or leave ingrediants out.

marraskuu 2, 2009, 6:16 pm

I did think about that, because I do the same when I'm cooking, however, when people ask me for a recipe I'm aware that they are asking me to write down the ingredients and instructions needed for them to get an outcome identical to mine.

marraskuu 5, 2009, 12:34 am

you know upon reflection i found Aristotle's idea of courage, what do i want to say... i thought it didn't pan out.

it might be "rash" to not think of the consequences before you react but is that a bad thing? like polly said about pushing someone out of the way of a moving car, i think that's heroic but Aristotle might not agree.

and as far as "cheerleaders" Harry encourages the nervous Ron when it comes to Quidditch. and encourages the D.A.

and i think that both Ron and Hermione are just as heroic as Harry but are shown in another way or are heroic in there own battles.

marraskuu 7, 2009, 7:47 am

Wow, Polly, excellent points!

I don't have much to add in the way of notes here. I can't seem to get my thoughts translated into words. Mostly, reading this essay just reminded me how much I love Harry.

tammikuu 7, 2010, 10:48 pm

Sorry I'm so far behind you guys! I read the essay a few days ago and then this thread. I have been thinking about all of your interesting viewpoints! When I read the essay I felt like a rash deed isn't more heroic than courageous deed or vice versa. What I took away from it was that both acts could be heroic, but they just come from different places: one from instinct and one from thought.