Harry Potter and Philosophy Essay Six: Magic, Science and the Ethics of Technology

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Harry Potter and Philosophy Essay Six: Magic, Science and the Ethics of Technology

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marraskuu 10, 2009, 8:30 am

1. "What we mean when we use the word "magic" reflects hindsight. We look at the past from a perspective conditioned by the triumph of modern science. According to Lynn Thorndike's massive, eight-volume History of Magic and Experimental Science...rather than insisting that modern science replaced magic after the seventeenth century, it is more accurate to say that it largely absorbed it." (78) This explanation makes so much sense! I immediately started thinking about alchemy in the middle ages and how, while today most people would consider it magic, it was the scientists and clergy who were attempting it.

2. Haha! Two paragraphs later and the authors are talking about alchemy too! "Paracelsus expanded the scope of alchemy to include the successful development of metallic medicines for curing illnesses against which more conventional Renaissance treatments were ineffective. In this way, his work was a clear precursor to modern chemical research." This is why I like reading philosophy, it makes me think about things in ways that I haven't before, synapses fire and suddenly I'm understanding things in a whole new way.

3. I've always thought of many of Harry's classes as having direct correlations in the Muggle world, many of those, scientific. (Chemistry -> Potions, Physics -> Charms and Transfiguration, Astronomy).

4. Isn't it interesting that this essay was published long before anyone had heard the word "horcrux"? "What we learn here, as we said, is that one must become corrupt to master {Cruciatus} or any of the Unforgiveable Curses. To become proficient in the Dark Arts, one must damage one's character in a particular way - one must oneself over to the desire for domination." "Dumbledore says to Voldemort that Voldemort's greatest weakness is his failure to understand that there is something worse than death. A philosopher reading this cannot but be put in mind of Plato's Gorgias, where Socrates contrasts a life deoted to avoiding suffering and death with a life devoted to avoiding unjust action, and argues that the fist life is ultimately self-destructive, damaging one's soul and cutting one off from both friendship and freedom." (emphasis added) (85-86)

5. "What 'something' or 'attitude' can {Mr. Weasley} be talking about, other than contempt for Muggles, who are, in the face of magical powers, particularly vulnerable to domination? The community binds itself not to tamper with Muggle life, not to protect itself from physical harm, but to protect the character of individual witches and wizards and of the wizard community as a whole, and, not coincidentally, to protect others susceptible to domination." I'm really starting to realize just how far-reaching the series theme of tolerance and acceptance goes.

6. I'm not surprised the Amish came up!

7. "Such self-restrictions will be part of the fabric of carefully structured educational programs, ones that include as a central component 'technology education.' This is not technology education as commonly practiced: teaching children how to use computers...Rather, the required education is an education in the ways computers (and other technologies) encourage us to think about the treat our surroundings, and in how to make choices among possible uses of them." (91) In this day of "cyber-bullying" and "sexting" this is so true!

marraskuu 10, 2009, 6:38 pm

My major was math (or maths) and I am an actuary. The relationship of science and magic as described in the first part is not at a surprise to me. I am a little disappointed by the way they related the ethical lessons in the magical world to our world. They spent a lot of time on the details of the Dark Arts and their effect on those practicing them. Then there is very little about how that relates to us. They mention choosing the sex of one's baby as teaser without expanding on it.

Is this a dark art? Is it going a step too far in controlling nature?

The point about teaching children about the ethics of computer use is important and not well developed. I was hoping for more.

marraskuu 13, 2009, 8:20 am

This essay could not hold my attention but yes I could see a corelation between most of Harry's lesson and ones available in any school today.

marraskuu 13, 2009, 8:35 am

I agree with you dad, I kept waiting for them to get to the promised ethical correlations with Muggle science and felt disappointed with what we were given. It's like they wrote their introduction and then forgot to do everything it promised.

helmikuu 26, 2011, 1:54 pm

This was not my favorite essay. It brought up a number of interesting points but it never came all together.