O my friend, why do you who are a citizen of the great and mighty and wise city of Athens, care so much about laying up the greatest amount of money and honor and reputation, and so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul, which you never regard or heed at all?...
I say again that the greatest good of man is daily to converse about virtue, and all that concerning which you hear me examining myself and others, and that the life which is unexamined is not worth living...
I am that gadfly which God has given
LET'S BEGIN IN THE GARDEN...
CHAPTER I: THE GARDEN OF EDEN
I. HEAD NOTE ON THE LITERARY POINT OF VIEW. Click here for a review...
A. FROM WHAT POINTS OF VIEW ARE THE NOVEL NARRATED?
B. WHY IS THE POINT OF VIEW YOU SELECTED CHOSEN FROM A PHILOSOPHICAL PERSPECTIVE?
II. Questions from the teacher:
A. Who are you? Thus Sophie begins her quest. In what way has she already formulated an answer? With what does she seem most concerned? See page 5.
B. Notice the reference to the mirror, and recall our discussion of the mimetic theory. The mirror will be an important symbol as the novel progresses. Trace its use as an important motif.
C. Sophie is asked another question: Where does the world come from--and a certain discomfort surfaces as she ponders both its origin and a response. Why?
D. There is are references to a DEN and GARDEN on pages 7 and 8. Why? Examine the primary source excerpt from Plato below and the diagram. The den (cave) is the root archetype metaphor in western philosophy. (Note that Chapter II will use a different metaphor for the same construct).
E. Philosophy asks us to treat first principles as assumptions, an idea Plato termed the DIALECTIC. We will be doing much deconstruction of commonly held ideas to strengthen or deconstruct them, but remember, deconstruction is easy and superficial with substantiative reconstruction. Note what Sophie considers:
2. the duration of the world
3. the nature of God's existence
4. the creation myth (and note that J.RR. Tolkien of Beowulf and Lord of the Rings fame and a devout Catholic called the gospels the greatest fairy tales every told. What did he mean?)
5. the fairness of life.
III. Sophie's third letter will, in a (deliberately) confusing manner, introduce Hilde Knag who apparently has a connection to Sophie. Perhaps Sophie's father and Hilde's, assigned to a UN Battalion, will be connected. Making connection between apparent opposites is an important goal for Sophie and for us. Look at the last paragraph on page 11. Why is the word INTERCONNECTED so vital to understanding Sophie's quest. Note Gaarder uses (and will use) several archetypes not the least of which is the journey. Others will become apparent as the novel progresses.
IV. Significantly as the chapter concludes, Sophie's intellectual curiosity is peaked. She wants to know why Hilde's father would deliberately confuse his daughter by sending birthday wishes and a present c/o her? At the moment, Sophie and we do not have sufficient information, so...
V. The following should be kept in mind as you read:
1. THE INTENTION OF THE AUTHOR IS TO PRODUCE IN SOPHIE A STATE OF _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ THAT WILL EVENTUALLY LEAD TO _ _ _ _ _ _ (RECALL THE 'GADFLY' METAPHOR).
2. THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM IS TO ADMIT IGNORANCE--SOCRATES
3. JUST TELL US... (What is wrong with this perspective from a philosophical perspective?)
4. WHAT IS THE MYTHOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF BEGINNING WITH "EDEN" ?--CONSIDER BELOW GENESIS AS SEEN BY SACRED SCRIPTURE, JOHN LOCKE, JOSEPH CAMPBELL AND JRR TOLKIEN. DO THEY ALL SEE THE MYTH IN THE SAME WAY? WHAT ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF MYTH ACCORDING TO CAMPBELL? CLICK HERE.
MOST OF THE SOPHIE CHAPTERS WILL HAVE PRIMARY TEXT EXCERPTS FROM THE PHILOSOPHERS AND POETS DISCUSSED. THESE SHOULD BE EXAMINED TO ADD DEPTH TO GAARDER'S CONTEXTS:
GEN 2:8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he
put the man whom he had formed.
GEN 2:9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil...
GEN 2:15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of
Eden to dress it and to keep it.
GEN 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
GEN 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
GEN 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
GEN 2:19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
GEN 2:20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
GEN 2:21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
GEN 2:22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
GEN 2:23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
GEN 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
GEN 2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
Chapter III: -
GEN 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
GEN 3:2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
GEN 3:3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
GEN 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
GEN 3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
GEN 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
GEN 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
GEN 3:8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
GEN 3:9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
GEN 3:10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
GEN 3:11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
GEN 3:12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
GEN 3:13 And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
GEN 3:14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
GEN 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
GEN 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
GEN 3:17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life...
GEN 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
GEN 3:23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
GEN 3:24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
JOHN LOCKE: SECOND TREATISE ON GOVERNMENT; CHAPTER VI
Adam was created a perfect man, his body and mind in full possession of their strength and reason, and so was capable, from the first instant of his being to provide for his own support and preservation, and govern his actions according to the dictates of the law of reason which God had implanted in him. From him the world is peopled with his descendants, who are all born infants, weak and helpless, without knowledge or understanding: but to supply the defects of this imperfect state, till the improvement of growth and age hath removed them, Adam and Eve, and after them all parents were, by the law of nature, under an obligation to preserve, nourish, and educate the children they had begotten; not as their own workmanship, but the workmanship of their own maker, the Almighty, to whom they were to be accountable for them.
The law, that was to govern Adam, was the same that was to govern all his posterity, the law of reason. But his offspring having another way of entrance into the world, different from him, by a natural birth, that produced them ignorant and without the use of reason, they were not presently under that law; for no body can be under a law, which is not promulgated to him; and this law being promulgated or made known by reason only, he that is not come to the use of his reason, cannot be said to be under this law; and Adams children, being not presently as soon as born under this law of reason, were not presently free: for law, in its true notion, is not so much the limitation as the direction of a free and intelligent agent to his proper interest, and prescribes no farther than is for the general good of those under that law: could they be happier without it, the law, as an useless thing, would of itself vanish; and that ill deserves the name of confinement which hedges us in only from bogs and precipices. So that, however it may be mistaken, the end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom: for in all the states of created beings capable of laws, where there is no law, there is no freedom. For liberty is to be free from restraint and violence from others; which cannot be, where there is no law: but freedom is not, as we are told, a liberty for every man to do what he lists: (for who could be free, when every other mans humour might domineer over him?) but a liberty to dispose, and order as he lists, his person, actions, possessions, and his whole property, within the allowance of those laws under which he is, and therein not to be subject to the arbitrary will of another, but freely follow his own.
JOSEPH CAMPBELL: THE POWER OF MYTH:
Without...knowledge, we'd all be a bunch of babies still in Eden, without any participation in life."
The first function of a mythology is to waken and maintain in the individual a sense of wonder and participation in the mystery of this finally inscrutable universe...the second function is to fill every particle and quarter of the current cosmological image with its measure of this mystical import...the third function...is the sociological one of validating and maintaining whatever moral system and manner of life-customs may be peculiar to the local culture...the fourth, and final, essential function of mythology, then, is the pedagogical one of conducting individuals in harmony through the passages of human life, from the stages of dependency in childhood to the responsibilities of maturity, and on to old age... The principal method of mythology is the poetic, that of analogy.. death by sleep, or vice versa; and the experiences of sleep then as the (supposed) experiences of death; the light of the sun as of consciousness; the darkness of caves, or of the ocean depth, as of death, or of the womb.
A. SOPHIE AMUNDSEN AND THE GARDEN:
1. SHE HAS AN IMAGINATION
2. HER NAME MEANS: _ _ _ _ _ _
3. HER STORY WHICH WE SHALL READ TAKES ITS CUE FROM THE PRIMARY SOURCES QUOTED. AS YOU CONSIDER HER EDUCATION AND YOUR OWN, REFER FREQUENTLY TO THESE MYTHS AND THEIR VARIATIONS. THEY RAISE QUESTIONS ESSENTIAL TO HER AND US LEAVING THE CAVE...SHE IS AGE 15--WHY IS THAT IMPORTANT?
STATE AND SOUL...
B. MAN AND NATURE--note how the meaning of NATURE will change over time. The novel will trace its evolution.
C. LINGUISTICS AND IDENTITY. DISCOVER WHAT TOLKIEN THOUGHT ABOUT WORDS. WHY TO HIM WERE THEY ALIVE?
D. EXPERIENCES: LIFE; DEATH; MORTALITY.
E. SOPHIE AND BY IMPLICATION HILDE ARE BOTH IN THE DEN: DIAGRAM FOLLOWED BY TEXT:
PLATO: REPUBLIC VII: ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE:
And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: --Behold! human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.
And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.
You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.
Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?
True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?
And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows?
Yes, he said.
And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them?
And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow?
No question, he replied.
To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the
shadows of the images.
That is certain.
And now look again, and see what will naturally follow it' the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows;
and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision, -what will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them, -will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?
And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take and take in the objects of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearer than the things which are now being shown to him?
True, he now
And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he 's forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities.
Not all in a moment, he said.
He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day?
Last of he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.
He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the season and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have been accustomed to behold?
Clearly, he said, he would first see the sun and then reason about him.
And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the den and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?
Certainly, he would...
THIS IS THE ROOT ARCHETYPE METAPHOR FOR WESTERN PHILOSOPHY. WHY?
THESE VARIATIONS OF MYTH FROM THE GREEKS TO THE PRESENT IDENTIFY BUT DO NOT ANSWER THE QUESTIONS WE MUST ANSWER TO DEFINE OURSELVES AS THINKING BEINGS WHO WISH TO SURVIVE AND MAKE A BETTER WORLD. TO QUOTE WORF OF STAR TREK FAME: "THESE ARE OUR STORIES; THEY TELL US WHO WE ARE."
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION
THAT A PHILOSOPHER CAN ASK?
WHAT IS MEAN BY ACQUIRING A PHILOSOPHICAL
KEEP IN MIND AS YOU READ THAT SOPHIE'S
PHILOSOPHICAL QUEST IS DRAMATIZED
BY THE PUZZLES SHE MUST SOLVE IN
HER OWN LIFE.
I HAVE PROVIDED A LIST OF WEB RESOURCES
AND PRIMARY SOURCES ON THIS SITE THAT
MAY BE FOUND BY CLICKING ON
THE FOLLOWING AUTHORS ARE WORTH INVESTIGATING:
PLATO--allegory of the cave and line--see the Supplementary Readings and click here.
SHAKESPEARE--Harold Bloom believes that Shakespeare invented personality, so it is hard to find any philosophical question that the "bard" did not examine. See Hamlet.
WORDSWORTH--see the Supplementary Readings for his poetry and my British Literature Site
JOSEPH CAMPBELL--go to a library and discover what Campbell believed about the functions of mythology: SEE: THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES.