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The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind the Lord of the Rings

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  769 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
While nothing can equal or replace the adventure in reading Tolkien's masterwork, The Lord of the Rings, Peter Kreeft says that the journey into its underlying philosophy can be another exhilarating adventure.
Thus, Kreeft takes the reader on a voyage of discovery into the philosophical bones of Middle earth. He organizes the philosophical themes in The Lord of the Rings in
Paperback, 237 pages
Published October 1st 2005 by Ignatius Press
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John Gardner
Jun 19, 2011 John Gardner rated it really liked it
This book has been on my reading "wish list" since it came out a few years ago. I finally made time to read it, and I'm so glad I did!

As Kreeft — a Roman Catholic theologian and a professor of philosophy at Boston University — points out in the introduction, The Lord of the Rings is widely considered the greatest book of the twentieth century, though not all literary critics agree. Of course, I would certainly have to join the ranks of those showering accolades upon Tolkien's masterpiece!

This bo
Ahmad Sharabiani
Oct 05, 2016 Ahmad Sharabiani marked it as to-read
The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind the Lord of the Rings, Peter Kreeft
The Elves
Dec 09, 2015 The Elves rated it it was amazing
Peter J. Kreeft’s The Philosophy of Tolkien is a really good book. While he uses this text to reaffirm his own belief in a Christian god, and these elves are not really Christian, we feel certain that his conclusions are an accurate reflection of Tolkien’s own beliefs, for he was a Catholic. Often, it seems to these elves that Mr. Kreeft while appearing to use logic and reason for his affirmation of his Christian beliefs actually, at the last moment, does a sort of intellectual slight of hand an ...more
Stephen Z.
Nov 08, 2012 Stephen Z. rated it it was amazing
Peter Kreeft has blown my mind with his book on Philosophy within Tolkien's works and personal letters. For someone who is not well versed in the terminology of philosophy, this book served to be both a fabulous (and understandable) explanation of what philosophy is, and a deep dwelling on how philosophy impacts the world.

The way that Kreeft highlights certain aspects of the Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and The Similarion, blew me away. I could not put my finger on what drew me deeper into tho
Sep 20, 2015 Prashanth rated it it was amazing
An interesting book which offers a different lense to Tolkien's view. This book doesn't specifically talk about LOTR per se (meaning it's not a direct complimentary book to LOTR), but it does offer nuggets of novel insights to approaching the characters of Tolkien and the world and environment in which he created and how these 2 components tie back to theology and philosophy.

5 stars for me as I have always been a big fan of Kreeft and I love how he writes with utter clarity without sacrificing t
Feb 04, 2013 Vivian rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Kreeft offers a guided tour of basic questions of philosophy and backs up his conjecture of where Tolkien stood on these with passages from his works. As a self-confessed novice (if that) in the realms of philosophy, I appreciated the simplicity of his discussions.

I might add that the reader can easily use the approach the author used in application to any writer or film-maker.

I borrowed this through my library's inter-library loan service and am now compelled to chase down a copy to own. I ma
Mary-Jean Harris
Oh, such a fun and beautiful book! It's almost as good as reading the Lord of the Rings over again. The author really captures the essence of Tolkien's work and brings in fascinating aspects of philosophy, including many CS Lewis quotes. The book looks at the Christian views in Tolkien's work a lot, but there are many other elements of philosophy as well.
Oct 19, 2015 Todd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall a good book; it is brilliant as literary criticism of J.R.R. Tolkien's Fellowship of the Ring trilogy and The Hobbit. It is a reasonably good philosophical work too, though it is written at an elementary level with no assumption that the reader is yet heavily into philosophy. Kreeft seems to intend his book mainly to be read in an introductory philosophy class, along with other works, owing to his use of formal structure and elementary use of philosophical terms and ideas. However, the b ...more
Michael Kenan  Baldwin
Jan 03, 2017 Michael Kenan Baldwin rated it really liked it
Good stuff, 7/10
Dylan Grant
Apr 14, 2016 Dylan Grant rated it really liked it
A really delightful intellectual and spiritual romp. The book is organized around fifty philosophical questions and explores them through Tolkien's works and the works of other popular Christian writers like C.S. Lewis. Peter Kreeft's insights into both Tolkien and life are very thorough and penetrating.

The best part of the book is Kreeft's smooth, clear, and humble prose that can explain complex ethical and theological ideas. Kreeft's kindness comes across in his writing and that is what makes
Goke Akinniranye
Jan 23, 2015 Goke Akinniranye rated it liked it
"Like Socrates, Buddha, and Lao Tzu, Frodo did not see Christ, yet somehow beloved."

"In the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing, there was light and beauty for ever beyond its reach."
-J. R. R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings as quoted in. "The Philosophy of Tolkien"

I thought this book would examine Tolkien's work through a philosophical lens, but instead it was a device for the author to espouse his philosophical, political, and religious (old-school conservative catholic bemoaning big
Jan 15, 2012 Josh rated it really liked it
A nice little book that could serve as an introduction to philosophy. On the whole, I think that reading this prior to rereading Tolkien's works will greatly enhance my understanding of the depth of the author's work. If nothing else, it has increased my motivation to revisit Tolkien's works.

If I have one criticism of the book it is that Kreeft leans a little too heavily on his citations of C.S. Lewis. In the introduction to the book he references the fact that "G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Bell
Jun 19, 2013 Brandon rated it liked it
Shelves: own-kindle
I enjoyed the general content of the book, but the book's attempt to serve both as one that can read cover-to-cover and a reference book is apparent. It can be quite repetitive, which makes sense as a reference piece.

Some of the author's judgements were too general and sweeping for me to accept: No one teaches Tolkien because instructors are progressive and liberal; literary critics, art critics, liturgists are the only ones who don't know good literature, art, or liturgy, etc. Isn't he a profes
Lynn Joshua
Oct 10, 2013 Lynn Joshua rated it it was amazing
“We all, like Frodo, carry a Quest, a Task: our daily duties. They come to us, not from us. We are free only to accept or refuse our task- and, implicitly, our Taskmaster. None of us is a free creator or designer of his own life. "None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself" (Rom 14:7). Either God, or fate, or meaningless chance has laid upon each of us a Task, a Quest, which we would not have chosen for ourselves. We are all Hobbits who love our Shire, or security, our creature ...more
Feb 07, 2016 James rated it liked it
Overall, this is a good book if you fit into the fairly narrow intended audience.. I like the idea of giving introductory philosophical concepts in terms of Tolkien because I'm extraordinarily familiar with his work and have never taken an introductory course in this field. I also have to believe that I'm pretty uncommon in that regard. Kreeft is an entertaining writer who obviously knows what he's talking about. He explains the concepts well and reasonably throughly for an introductory text. Kr ...more
Tamir Feldman
Aug 05, 2016 Tamir Feldman rated it it was ok
The book started with a great promise to me: A discussion about Tolkien's philosophy, which is certainly not in line with today's popular worldview and values. But the book quickly descended into a Christian and Catholic empty propaganda. The writer apparently wrote this book not in order to discuss and think about Tolkien and his worldview, but rather to proselytize his own Catholic faith. I would have expected a philosophy book to raise more questions than answers; here the exclamation marks r ...more
Apr 25, 2011 Israel rated it really liked it
Not only a helpful guide to philosophical aspects of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of The Rings" but also a compact review of various branches of philosophy. Kreeft's book is a practical resource for those desiring to develop further from an introductory understanding of philosophy. "The Lord of The Rings," in conjunction with Kreeft’s book, can be seen to sustain a comprehensive philosophical worldview as held by Tolkien. Kreeft encourages readers and lovers of Tolkien’s writing to consider more f ...more
Apr 25, 2013 Gary rated it it was amazing
This is the kind of book that changes how you think and who you are. It's philosophy written brilliantly and illustrated by Tolkien's masterpieces.

Every page will set of a new train of thought and by far the most of those will be highly profitable as well as stimulating. There are, however, a few odd things taught. Some of these are due to Lewis's influence on the writer; but then most of the best thoughts in the book are due to Lewis as much as Tolkien. Others are due to the fact that the auth
Oct 25, 2008 Anthony rated it it was amazing
Peter Kreeft is probably the most accessible and entertaining man writing in philosophy today, and in this book he turns his uncompromising style to examining the fundamental wordlview that underlay Tolkien's and provides the themes for his great works. This book is valuable for a proper understanding of The Lord of the Rings.
Jan 13, 2010 Richard rated it really liked it
A great read. It provides great insights into the plot, themes and characters in the Lord of the Rings. C.S. Lewis, The Lord of the Rings, and other works from Tolkien's are quoted in each section as he goes through questions asked in philosophy.

Peter Kreeft admiration for the book shines through. I've listened to Peter Kreeft for years; he's a great speaker and writer that targets the mind and heart.
Jeffrey T. Nellermoe
Love for LOTR rekindled!

Peter Kreeft adroitly weaves together the rich tapestry of writings of C.S. Lewis, Tolkein, Plato, and Scripture into a discernible image of the true, good, and beautiful. I am delighted to venture forth again into the world of Middle-Earth but with new eyes to discover what was hidden but now discernible with the help of a guide to life's 50 great philosophical questions. Thank you!
Apr 29, 2013 Dennis rated it liked it
Shelves: school, tolkien
Normally you slap Tolkien on the side of a book and i'm all for it. Admittedly, I have never had luck with any book titled "The Philosophy of ___________" (insert movie Title, or book title) i wasn't greatly astonished with this book falling below Tolkien's bar. It's a good read at time but at other times its rough. All in all, I was able to grab a lot of information from this book but it wasn't easy.
James Hecker
Oct 16, 2014 James Hecker rated it it was amazing
Peter Kreeft, a prolific Catholic Christian author and professor of philosophy guides us through J.R.R Tolkien's world view as made evident to us in his richly Christian, Catholic even, works. The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion and his essays and other works show us how Tolkien wove his beliefs and philosophy thru ought his sub-creation of Middle Earth.
Véronique Meloche
May 16, 2016 Véronique Meloche rated it did not like it
I had to read it throughout the school semester. Whatever redeeming qualities the novel had, presenting accurately Tolkien's philosophy, was ruined by the author providing his own religious opinion. I would have preferred an objective view of Tolkien instead of one-sided, believe-this-or-you-are-wrong, religious propaganda in school.
Cristina Montes
Jan 28, 2010 Cristina Montes rated it it was amazing
Gives fresh insights on LOTR that you will want to look for in your next re-reading. I like the way the author makes you see things in a different way, and at the same time encourages you to explore the themes yourself. My only complaint is that the book is a bit inaccurate on some details.
Michael Laflamme
Dec 14, 2015 Michael Laflamme rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eye opening, and mind expanding!

For some years now, it has been my intention to introduce myself to Peter Kreeft. Allow this book to be your introduction as well. What a gifted thinker!
Luke Evans
Jan 04, 2011 Luke Evans rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Really interesting. Well written and engaging. Kreeft is great to read. Made me want to read LOTR (again).
Graham Heslop
Jul 10, 2015 Graham Heslop rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I have read in a long time. And by far the most superb contribution to the study of Tolkien
Tim Sheppard
Aug 14, 2015 Tim Sheppard rated it really liked it
Philosophy and Fantasy together! A really thought provoking read. I am a big fan of Kreeft and how he brings truth to the front of all things.
R. Fox
Dec 26, 2013 R. Fox rated it really liked it
I heartily recommend this book for anyone who's interested in studying LOTR at a deeper level. It would make a perfect first "about LOTR" book for any Tolkien fan.
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Peter Kreeft is a Catholic apologist, professor of philosophy at Boston College and The King's College, and author of over 45 books including Fundamentals of the Faith , Everything you Ever Wanted to Know about Heaven , and Back to Virtue . Some consider him the best Catholic philosopher currently residing in the United States. His ideas draw heavily from religious and philosophical tradition, ...more
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“We all, like Frodo, carry a Quest, a Task: our daily duties. They come to us, not from us. We are free only to accept or refuse our task- and, implicitly, our Taskmaster. None of us is a free creator or designer of his own life. "None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself" (Rom 14:7). Either God, or fate, or meaningless chance has laid upon each of us a Task, a Quest, which we would not have chosen for ourselves. We are all Hobbits who love our Shire, or security, our creature comforts, whether these are pipeweed, mushrooms, five meals a day, and local gossip, or Starbucks coffees, recreational sex, and politics. But something, some authority not named in The Lord of the Rings (but named in the Silmarillion), has decreed that a Quest should interrupt this delightful Epicurean garden and send us on an odyssey. We are plucked out of our Hobbit holes and plunked down onto a Road.” 26 likes
“It is mercy, not justice or courage or even heroism, that alone can defeat evil.” 18 likes
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