Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Tolkien and the metaphysical

"What is the meaning of objects which have no existence but have meaning? Do these matter more than objects which have existence but no meaning? Is meaning more important than reality? What does Tolkien think is the answer to this more metaphysical question?" 
This is the questions posed by one of our fellow classmates on Tuesday which captured my attention. First and foremost I feel fairly confident in stating that the questions above could easily fill a few volumes. Having said that I'm going to now attempt to concisely give some form of an answer. For much of what is referred to as the Modern Period of Western Philosophy, starting circa 1600, Ontology has been a point of contention. On this subject of Ontology it seems to be a fairly common theme among the more Christian oriented philosophers that there needs to be a metaphysical realm of existence. Philosophers like Berkeley appear to have been inspired to argue for this metaphysical largely due to the Judeo-Christian belief system centered around God existing separate from our physical realm of understanding. Although it would be easy to lump Tolkien, considering his devout Catholic ways, in with these Christian philosophers, I find Tolkien to be far too complex to find a solution in that. I do believe Tolkien placed extra importance on the metaphysical when it came to art. For Tolkien true art is sourced in the metaphysical not in the physical world. Any thoughts? Counter examples?

1 comment:

Vairë said...

I don't know that Tolkien distinguishes between the metaphysical and physical. Through "enchantment," they were wrought as one by Eru Illuvatar. Both, as in the catholic denomination of christianity, share an equally important role. Tolkien nods often to that relationship in the Silmarillion.