Meet Harry Potter and the Philosophy Class

St. Cloud University offering class focused on the boy wizard
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 10, 2017 8:28 AM CDT
Meet Harry Potter and the Philosophy Class
Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint are shown in a scene from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2."   (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures)

A Minnesota university is mixing the magical world of Harry Potter into philosophy teachings. St. Cloud State University professor Carolyn Hartz is applying Aristotle's work on friendship to character relationships in JK Rowling's books about the boy wizard, the St. Cloud Times reports. The class discusses ethics, logic, love, the human soul, and nature while examining the stories. "These are fundamental human concerns," Hartz said. "Philosophy is, in my view, critical thinking about fundamental areas of human concern." Rowling's stories provide understandable examples of philosophy concepts that can be difficult to comprehend, said Miles Nelson, a second-year student who took the course last spring. He said the class also shows the depth in Rowling's work that many people may not have realized if they read the Harry Potter books when they were children, per the AP.

Nelson said he was inspired to minor in philosophy after taking the course. "This class really solidified how much I love thinking about hard problems and questions with hard answers," Nelson said. Hartz's office is full of Harry Potter references, including a time turner necklace, a logic puzzle from the first book, and red stones that resemble the sorcerer's stone from the first book. "Most of the students in the class are Harry Potter nerds. That's why they sign up for it," she said. "I tell them: 'You can bring your wands, but you can't use them on exams.'" Hartz has considered teaching philosophy through other pieces of pop culture, such as video games or the HBO's Game of Thrones. "Maybe next year it might help tide people over to the final season," she said. (More Harry Potter stories.)

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