Saturday, March 19, 2011

Philosophical Fiction

I have been thinking a lot about philosophy lately, in part due to Eric’s recent blog post and a book that I just finished. Philosophy is a funny thing. There is no “right” answer to any question.

Even 1 +1 = 2 would have a philosopher questioning whether it was or not? You can drive yourself mad in the process and some philosophers, like Nietzsche, have. Well, since Eric focused on non-fiction books of philosophy I decided to give you a small taste of philosophy in fiction.

One of the most well-know fictional philosophy books is Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. This novel on the history of philosophy is used as a text in some schools. Originally written in Norwegian, this unique novel has been translated into 53 languages and has sold over 30 million copies. It has also been adapted into a movie and a cd-rom game. Sophie, a 14 year old girl , receives a series of mysterious letters and postcards. Starting with the two messages “Who are you?” and “Where does the world come from?” ; the book moves through the history of philosophy starting with pre-Socrates on to Jean-Paul Sartre. It is a very fantatastical and (based on the sales numbers) readable story. Take a trip into Sophie’s world and see what discoveries you will make!

I just finished reading The Executor by Jesse Kellerman and it is the real reason that I wanted to write this blog. Kellerman (the son of Jonathan and Faye Kellerman) deserves to reach a wide audience. The fact he studied psychology at Harvard shows. Besides featuring a philosophy student, he delves into the psychology of the philosophers themselves, especially Frederick Nietzsche. The theme of free will and does it even exist flows throughout the novel. Joseph Geist is a man of high ideals but very little practical sense. He basically only own the clothes on his back and a half bust of Nietzsche. When his life is disrupted by getting kicked out of Harvard and his girlfriends apartment he is at a loss of what to do. An personal ad for a conversationalist changes his life...and his future! I love books that I can’t figure out how they are going to ends and this was one of them!

Continuing on the theme of Nietzsche, consider the debut novel When Nietzsche Wept by Irvin D Yalom. (a psychologist in his professional life). On January 3, 1889 Frederick Nietzsche experienced a mental collapse when witnessing the whipping of a horse. Joseph Brewer is a mentor of Sigmund Freud. He is asked by a friend of Nietzsche to help him. Nietzsche was a proud man and in order to help him Brewer pretends to be a mental patient himself. The series of conversations between the two men are thought provoking.

There are many other books that I could recommend on this subject but I promised a small taste of them so here they are. I hope that they are as thought provoking to you as they were to me.

No comments:

Post a Comment