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Book title: Philosophy and Terry Pratchett

Edited by Jacob M. Held & James B. South

It is only expected that any book that has a title that says PHILOSOPHY AND INSERT POP CULTURE PHENOMENON HERE will be met with suspicion among the laymen. After all, what’s a philosopher but “someone who’s bright enough to find a job with no heavy lifting”.

You get the feeling that they’re just making things up.

And most of those books with the title that says PHILOSOPHY AND INSERT POP CULTURE PHENOMENON HERE sometimes do really just make things up. Even when the source material is too thin or too mundane to even be considered worthy of brain cycles.

But not Terry Pratchett and his Discworld. Not beloved series Discworld whose breadth, depth and range of possible philosophical musings could give any professional philosopher a run for their money.

Philosophy and Terry Pratchett, Published 2014

Philosophy and Terry Pratchett, Published 2014

When I showed Philosophy and Terry Pratchett around (shout out to Discworld Monthly folks on Facebook), It was met with uneven feedback and it’s not hard to see why.

Philosophy and Terry Pratchett is a collection of 13 essays that presents Discworld (and other books by Terry Pratchett) through a philosophical lens. What does Discworld say about gender identity? Does Lord Vetinari intuitively channel Friederich Hayek on the administration of Ankh-Morpork? What can we learn about ethics from Death? And also what in all of Dungeons Dimension monstrosity does Modal Realism got to do with a world being Disc shaped? These are just a few of the topics discussed in the book. There are many more that might help you rethink those stories you’ve loved all these years, certain themes that made you think for a while but without the philosopher’s tools, was left unrealized. And on that note, I find this volume a great help.

There is bound to be a few articles that are a bit tenuous, but mostly it is well thought out. Many articles stood out for me. Those articles are worth having this book on your shelf. And it wouldn’t hurt if you entertain the idea that Sir Terry Pratchett may have created a more complex world than the one that is supported by four giant elephants on top of a giant turtle. Or maybe that’s the point. Maybe it’s the finger that does the pointing that matters. Or maybe there’s no finger at all. I’m no longer sure. You shouldn’t muck about philosophy at three in the morning!

But there you go. For folks who love Discworld and wants to know if this book’s got it or not, well it’s got it, but we all know of course that there’s more to the Disc than can be thought of in our philosophy.

Well, what do you think?

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SFF Book Reviews

random thoughts about fantasy & science fiction books


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