The Lord of the Rings

Use this forum to have philosophical discussions about aesthetics and art. What is art? What is beauty? What makes art good? You can also use this forum to discuss philosophy in the arts, namely to discuss the philosophical points in any particular movie, TV show, book or story.
Post Reply
Groktruth
Posts: 649
Joined: January 21st, 2011, 7:19 pm

Re: The Lord of the Rings

Post by Groktruth » May 3rd, 2012, 3:51 pm

Belinda wrote:Groktruth wrote:
The Ring was clearly a tool, created with a longing for it's master,
Groktruth has separated Sauron and The Ring into master and tool, while I see them as equal though different versions of the same evil. Therefore Groktruth's idea is Platonic, because in Grok's view Sauron is The Ring's superior and master. I think that Grok is right as to Tolkien's intentions as a Catholic. However it could be more useful for modern people to view The Ring as transportable evil, rather than as tool of master evil.

To A Poster, thanks for the information about Virgin Mary and Elbereth. Poster's explanation of Elbereth and Mariolatry makes me feel partial to Mariolatry.If JC is consubstantial with God, then it's necessary to have someone more human like Mary to intercede with the Almighty, as the more Earthly Mary protects the idea of the Almighty against idolatry.
In terms of symbols, remember that the whole tale is set in "middle earth," and that this is followed by a rise of men, wherein the other beings/peoples fade into legend. This I suspect reflects what I think Tolkein was trying to say about past mythologies, present religious views, and mature faith. Again, I draw attention to an Inkling theme, evil working through the abolition of men, the basic meaning of the word, abomination, or ab-homination. Praying to Mary would be a childish thing, to eventually be put away, as faith grows for the actually continuous one-ness from God the Father through Yeshua to us. Prayer begins as purely subjective, a heart-cry. But, as faith grows, so the theology asserts, prayer adds the legal constraint, without diminishing the subjective component. So, the little child rushes into the court-room crying to their father judge. "Daddy, Daddy," The more mature child, with no less hope and love, keeps the legal civilities, speaking as well to "Your Honor." Both touch their daddy's heart, but the latter makes a better case for the just resolution of their complaint. Mary prayers are comforting, but they leave little evidence of "cleansing the shire."

User avatar
Kingkool
Posts: 306
Joined: February 1st, 2012, 11:22 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Alexander the Great

Re: The Lord of the Rings

Post by Kingkool » May 3rd, 2012, 10:15 pm

It was intersing how orcs were portrayed. They were all portrayed as evil, and not a single one betrayed Sauron. Do you think this is because they are actually all evil, or because they are afraid of Sauron?
“In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”- Douglas Adams A Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy

Belinda
Contributor
Posts: 13760
Joined: July 10th, 2008, 7:02 pm
Location: UK

Re: The Lord of the Rings

Post by Belinda » May 5th, 2012, 3:26 am

Grok, I don't think that praying to Mary is childish because so many adults do in fact need an object of prayer. Adults need objects of prayer in the same way that adults need symbols in art, or characters in a film play or novel.We most of us need to see the particular before we can see the general: Mary or JC before we can see God.

I am saying all this as a pantheist but I can and do appreciate the theist vision. As a pantheist I silently pray not to be weakened by wishful thinking about God's Providence.

(As a pantheist I believe in nature not the transcendent monogod.)

I agree that at the end of LOTR the people were bereft of elves. Tolkien was no simpleton who believed that angels and elves really exist or existed , so he was using the passing of time as a symbol for the contrast between the wished for world in which God and angels intervene with wonderful help, and the world in which human beings are alone with only the culture and their own reason and goodness to support them. In this connection Arwen was Christlike because she renounced her elvish status to become a mortal, because she loved (a) mortal man.

****************************

A Poster he Or I wrote:

I know that the RCC has dedicated investigators for debunking claims of miracles, so I suppose they have a duty here. It just seems so bass-ackwards that something as psychologically understandable as a cult of hope, around an established iconic spriritual figure, arising in a war-torn region, should be harrassed and discredited, while the previous Pope made a hobby of beatifying more people than any Pope in history, and he doesn't have to answer to anybody.

Yes, now that you mention it, it seems so to me too. There are times when hope against hope is on the side of life. Do you think that popes are too inclined to support the institution's theology and not pragmatically support the people? Is this the same sort of error that caused the RCC paedophile priests whitewash? If so, I call the error 'idolatry' because ideas are being valued more than living people.

-- Updated Sat May 05, 2012 2:46 am to add the following --
Kingkool wrote:It was intersing how orcs were portrayed. They were all portrayed as evil, and not a single one betrayed Sauron. Do you think this is because they are actually all evil, or because they are afraid of Sauron?
I guess none of us want to be orcs, and it is a warning to us how easily we may be seduced by Sauron and become his unthinking creatures. To answer your question, I think what we commonly call orcish behaviour is 'brutalised'.
Socialist

Groktruth
Posts: 649
Joined: January 21st, 2011, 7:19 pm

Re: The Lord of the Rings

Post by Groktruth » May 5th, 2012, 11:07 am

Belinda,

I ought to have written child-like, not childish. Thank you for the correction.

I don't know where Tolkien was in regard to Lewis' Miracles. I do know that Lewis wanted his fiction to prepare people for functioning with sound theology, and described Tolkien's works as "good beyond hope." Seems like he hoped that Tolkien had the same goal. But, in the movie, Shadowlands, Lewis is portrayed as grieved that his efforts to get a miracle for Joy's healing had failed. Somewhere else, he was troubled by the great gap in theological experience between what was promised scripturally re such divine interventions, and what was realized. But, this was all before the Charismatic movement, that produced millions of testimonies of such miracles, deliverances, and so on. Angels, and orcs are very real to many, and in normal epistemological thinking, quite reasonably so.

A Poster He or I
Posts: 1104
Joined: March 18th, 2011, 4:57 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Anaximander

Re: The Lord of the Rings

Post by A Poster He or I » May 5th, 2012, 1:05 pm

Belinda,
Do you think that popes are too inclined to support the institution's theology and not pragmatically support the people?
Most definitely. However, if the institution really understood Christianity then the support of the people would not be motivated by pragmatic principles, but by a holistic view of what a Christian community really is supposed to be, and would be part of its theological viewpoint!
Is this the same sort of error that caused the RCC paedophile priests whitewash?
Definitely. Essentially, I see an institution that is so 100% convinced that it holds the high-hand of morality and moral sanction, that it is incapable of questioning its own assumptions. The cover-up is then justified by the intended end result--a purely pragmatic approach. This is so ironic, given that pragmatism is such a secular mentality.
If so, I call the error 'idolatry' because ideas are being valued more than living people.
Agreed. I'm delighted how Barfield seems to resonate with you. Me too.

Kingkool,

Regarding orcs, I always loved the extended dialog between Shagrat and Gorbag that Sam Gamgee overhears at Cirith Ungol. From their conversation, it seems to me that they are the perfect example of "thralls:" they have freedom to direct their own immediate actions without oversight, but their will is ultimately bound to servitude of their master. On some level, both Shagrat and Gorbag are aware of this, I think, because their all-consuming cynicism and distrust of everything seems like a natural consequence of someone who has no reason to live but is compelled to live and serve anyway. For this reason, I think orcs are not innately evil, but they are beyond hope of redemption, at least in Tolkien's eyes.

Belinda
Contributor
Posts: 13760
Joined: July 10th, 2008, 7:02 pm
Location: UK

Re: The Lord of the Rings

Post by Belinda » May 6th, 2012, 3:05 am

Poster, I think we are using 'pragmatic' in different ways. I do agree with your last.

For instance, I believe that Jesus was right, and pragmatic, when he told the disciples it was okay to take and eat seeds on the Sabbath.Thus for me 'pragmatic' in the context meant that unreasoning interpretation of some law was bad whereas feeding real people is both morally justifiable and practical.
Socialist

Mmfiore
Posts: 52
Joined: January 12th, 2012, 2:19 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Einstein
Location: Florida

Re: The Lord of the Rings

Post by Mmfiore » May 7th, 2012, 3:08 pm

I love the books as well. I have often wondered if the inspiration that Tolkien received might have come to him from another world or dimension where all of this story may have actually taken place. If this is so I would like to incarnate into this realm. I would love to live in the Shire.

A Poster He or I
Posts: 1104
Joined: March 18th, 2011, 4:57 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Anaximander

Re: The Lord of the Rings

Post by A Poster He or I » May 7th, 2012, 5:24 pm

Motivated by Kingkool's orc question, a thought occurs to me about orcs.

Tolkien makes clear that orcs originated from captured, mutilated elves, since Morgoth could not create life, only corrupt it. If they can avoid being slain, elves are immortal which implies that orcs are also immortal. Actual death--as humans understand it--is "the Gift of Illuvatar" and is reserved to humans (although Tolkien is very ambiguous about what happens to other sentient species such as Dwarves and Ents). The Valar cannot grant death, nor take it away, so logically orcs are tied to the fate of the Firstborn (elves) whose slain spirits reside in the Halls of Mandos until the end of the world. Somehow I cannot imagine Mandos, a Vala, managing the spirits of orcs side-by-side with elves.

Furthermore, one can imagine that the Valar would make no judgement against orcs, given that their corrupt nature is the doing of Morgoth and not innate to their original elven nature. The Valar would pity the orcs and grant them their birthright as Firstborn: to sing with the Children of Illuvatar at the end of the world.

Yet Tolkien treats orcs exactly like vermin, showing no remorse or even a second thought when they are slain and not one word concerning the possibility of reform or redemption. Very odd for a writer of such Christian sensibilities.

Scottie
Posts: 105
Joined: December 24th, 2011, 12:54 pm

Re: The Lord of the Rings

Post by Scottie » May 7th, 2012, 8:29 pm

Look at Samwise' treatment of Gollum. There were points where I really felt sorry for Gollum because he showed glimmers of longing to return to a time when he wasn't completely corrupt and in thrall to the ring. At every point Sam crushed, rather than offer understanding, help, or grace to Gollum. Admittedly, it would have been hard and Gollum was treacherous but Frodo showed signs of understanding where Sam didn't. Add to this that Gollum's treatment at the hands of Sauron meant that Gollum had no allegiance to Sauron either. Gollum's desire was totally self serving, as it always had been, and so the longing to kill Sam for personal vendetta eclipsed any desire for redemption.

The inevitability of everything leading up to Gollum's death at Mount Doom is offered as a sort of subset of a grand design which is quite allegorical in many ways.
There is no smiley. . .

User avatar
Kingkool
Posts: 306
Joined: February 1st, 2012, 11:22 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Alexander the Great

Re: The Lord of the Rings

Post by Kingkool » May 8th, 2012, 10:16 am

Scottie wrote:Look at Samwise' treatment of Gollum. There were points where I really felt sorry for Gollum because he showed glimmers of longing to return to a time when he wasn't completely corrupt and in thrall to the ring. At every point Sam crushed, rather than offer understanding, help, or grace to Gollum. Admittedly, it would have been hard and Gollum was treacherous but Frodo showed signs of understanding where Sam didn't. Add to this that Gollum's treatment at the hands of Sauron meant that Gollum had no allegiance to Sauron either. Gollum's desire was totally self serving, as it always had been, and so the longing to kill Sam for personal vendetta eclipsed any desire for redemption.

The inevitability of everything leading up to Gollum's death at Mount Doom is offered as a sort of subset of a grand design which is quite allegorical in many ways.
I think that if Frodo had simply explained that what he did was to save Gollum's life, then Gollum either would not have turned back to the ring, or would have at least taken long enough to destroy the ring.
“In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”- Douglas Adams A Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy

Belinda
Contributor
Posts: 13760
Joined: July 10th, 2008, 7:02 pm
Location: UK

Re: The Lord of the Rings

Post by Belinda » May 10th, 2012, 4:03 am

Groktruth wrote, regarding objects of prayer:
I ought to have written child-like, not childish. Thank you for the correction.
I was not correcting you. Child- like or childish is neither here nor there. The point is that nobody can comprehend the general or the abstract until particulars are experienced either actually or vicariously. The theological need for avatars and epiphanies is just this, that God is incomprehensible without particular and comprehensible epiphanies of God. Jesus said as much regarding himself.
Socialist

User avatar
Kingkool
Posts: 306
Joined: February 1st, 2012, 11:22 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Alexander the Great

Re: The Lord of the Rings

Post by Kingkool » May 10th, 2012, 8:51 pm

One of my favourite characters was Treebeard. A true lover of nature, and wood. Mostly because he is nature and wood, but I digress. Now I'm going from the book, not the movie, and it's a bit different in the book.

Why do you think it took so long for Treebeard to see all that was happening, and finally do something about the evil things happeing around him?

And as a side note, it kept saying that hobbits were not in "The Old Lists". I find it amazing that something so wise and old could have overlooked something as amazing as Hobbits.
“In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”- Douglas Adams A Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy

Belinda
Contributor
Posts: 13760
Joined: July 10th, 2008, 7:02 pm
Location: UK

Re: The Lord of the Rings

Post by Belinda » May 11th, 2012, 5:57 am

Well, I thought it was because the Earth's natural resources are plentiful, or once were, and it took a long long time before the signs appeared that the Earth was not a cornucopia and that end of natural resources is in sight.

-- Updated Sat May 12, 2012 2:23 am to add the following --
Belinda wrote:Well, I thought it was because the Earth's natural resources are plentiful, or once were, and it took a long long time before the signs appeared that the Earth was not a cornucopia and that end of natural resources is in sight.
Unfortunately Treebeard is not as selective as Tolkien portrayed him. :(
Socialist

A Poster He or I
Posts: 1104
Joined: March 18th, 2011, 4:57 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Anaximander

Re: The Lord of the Rings

Post by A Poster He or I » May 12th, 2012, 11:37 am

Why do you think it took so long for Treebeard to see all that was happening, and finally do something about the evil things happeing around him?
For me, the Ents almost serve as a proxy for Gaia herself. They are the conscience of Middle Earth itself. Maybe the Hegelian World Spirit? As such, they are as conservative as one can possibly be and the passage of Time is merely incidental to them. They remain placid and still for eons, then may erupt in sudden awakening with catastrophic results.

The Silmarillion states that Eru made "The Shepherds of the Trees" at the request of Yavana, a Vala, to protect her trees and gardens from the axes of the Dwarves (whom the Vala Aulë conjured into existence without Eru's consent). By the time of LOTR, most of the Ents had grown "treeish" and the Valar had been silent for ages. Seems to me it is to Treebeard's credit that he was able to be roused at all.
And as a side note, it kept saying that hobbits were not in "The Old Lists". I find it amazing that something so wise and old could have overlooked something as amazing as Hobbits.
Tolkien is vague on the origins of Hobbits, but what he does say suggests that Hobbits as a distinct race didn't exist before the Third Age. The Hobbits have no histories of themselves before settling the Shire somewhere around the beginning of that Age's 2nd millenium. Even Gollum is mentioned as coming from stock who might be "the ancestors of the Stoors" (the Stoors being one of the 3 breeds of Hobbits). I imagine these fisher-folk of the Anduin river valley would have just been a breed of diminutive Men whose diminutive stature and distinctive character became augmented over time by isolation.

The Ents meanwhile were almost completely inactive in the Third Age, confined to Fangorn Forest, no longer receiving news of the world. Back in the days when they wandered the world and conversed with elves, the ancestors of the hobbits would not have been considered a separate race.

Groktruth
Posts: 649
Joined: January 21st, 2011, 7:19 pm

Re: The Lord of the Rings

Post by Groktruth » May 15th, 2012, 7:48 pm

Belinda wrote:Groktruth wrote, regarding objects of prayer:
I ought to have written child-like, not childish. Thank you for the correction.
I was not correcting you. Child- like or childish is neither here nor there. The point is that nobody can comprehend the general or the abstract until particulars are experienced either actually or vicariously. The theological need for avatars and epiphanies is just this, that God is incomprehensible without particular and comprehensible epiphanies of God. Jesus said as much regarding himself.
Agreed. Childish, though, stays that way, while child-like is growing to maturity. Compare kids to children. The first have fun, the second enjoy learning and preparing for adulthood, with vision. God is always somewhat incomprehended, but defines life as knowing Him (and His Son), in a very intimate sense. That is, life is the process of steady increase in comprehending Him better and better. Gandalf was a constant study, according to Merry and Pippin, of "closeness," where his extensive knowledge of "God" and His ways directed his ways and words, but was itself only alluded to. Along with a challenge to dig in and find out more. And, a constant admission that, despite being Gandalf, he had a lot to learn.

Post Reply