The Ultimate Harry Potter and Philosophy

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Table of Contents

The Blackwell PhilosophDQG3RS&XOWXr e Series
Title Page
CopULJKW3DJe
Dedication
For ewor d
Acknowledgments
Introduction

PAR T ONE - THE HORCRUX OF THE MA TTER: DESTINY,
IDENTITY, AND THE SOUL

Chapter 1 - THE SOUL IN HARR Y POTTER

Philosophical Conceptions of the Soul
Ghosts and “Going On”
The Dementor’s Kiss
Horcruxes
A Plausible V iew?
NOTES

Chapter 2 - SIRIUS BLACK

Mind-Bod'LVWLQFWLRQs
Whose Reasons?
A Step in the Right Direction
A Unified Self
NOTES

Chapter 3 - DESTINY IN THE WIZARDING WORLD

Varieties of Prophecy
Fallible Prophecies
Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
Destiny
A Rodent’ s Destiny

Time T ravel and Fixed T ime
NOTES

PAR T TWO - THE MOST POWERFUL MAGIC OF ALL
Chapter 4 - CHOOSING LOVE

Snape and the Man6SOHQGRUHG7KLQg
The Abandoned Bos
Snape the Occlumens
Snape’ s Choice
A Work in Progress
NOTES

Chapter 5 - LOVE POTION NO. 9¾

Violentl3LQN3URGXFWs
Little Hangleton
Real Love or Mere Infatuation?
Not His Mother ’s Son
NOTES

Chapter 6 - HARR Y POTTER, RADICAL FEMINISM, AND THE
POWER OF LOVE

The Feminist Debate So Far
Radical vs. Liberal Feminism
More Wonderful and More T errible than Death
The Triumph of Love
NOTES

PAR T THREE - POTTER WATCH: FREEDOM AND
POLITICS
Chapter 7 - P ATRIOTISM, HOUSE LOY ALTY, AND THE
OBLIGA TIONS OF BELONGING

The Dangers of Patriotism
Death Eaters and Discrimination

The Sorting Hat Speaks: Division and Divisiveness
Patriotism and Global Conflict
Patriotism Restored
The Importance of Community
Human Flourishing and the Preservation of DLQJ&XOWXUHs
NOTES

Chapter 8 - DUMBLEDORE’S POLITICS

Is Dumbledore a Libertarian?
Barton’s Libertarian Interpretation of the Potter Series
NOTES

Chapter 9 - DUMBLEDORE, PLA TO, AND THE LUST FOR POWER

Plato and Dumbledore: Separated at Birth?
Fudge and Umbridge: The Lessons of Obviousl Unfit Power-
Brokers
Voldemort and Dumbledore: T wo Tempted b3RZHr
Harr
s Cloak, the Ring of GJHVDQGWKHT emptations of Power
NOTES

PAR T FOUR - THE ROOM OF REQUIREMENT : A POTTER
POTPOURRI
Chapter 10 - IS DUMBLEDORE GAY? WHO’S TO SAY?

Truth in Fiction
So, Is Dumbledore Ga?
Closing Speculations: Genre
NOTES

Chapter 1 1 - CHOICES VS. ABILITIES

Choices
How Revealing Are Our Choices?
Abilities
How Revealing Are Our Abilities?

BeRQG&KRLFHVToward a Deeper Self-Understanding
The Ultimate Measure of a Person
NOTES

Chapter 12 - THE MAGIC OF PERSONAL TRANSFORMA TION

Positioning Our Prejudgments
The Ignorance of Ickle DudleNLQs
BetraHGE Biases
Dangerous Dreams
The Cost of Overconfidence
Memories Help Make Meaning
Moving Past Misdirection
NOTES

Chapter 13 - JUST IN YOUR HEAD?

Tell Me One Last Thing
What Is Real?
Going Mental
Rowling as an Inkling
Harr
s Near-Death Experience
NOTES

Chapter 14 - A PENSIEVE FOR YOUR THOUGHTS?

“A Swirling, Silver0DVV.
The Hallows of the Mind
Confundus!
Mischief Managed
Lumos!
NOTES

Chapter 15 - A HOGW ARTS EDUCA TION

The Good
The Ugly

Like Bertie Bott’s Ever)ODYRU%HDQVD0Lx
NOTES

PAR T FIVE - BEYOND THE VEIL: DEA TH, HOPE, AND
MEANING
Chapter 16 - THE REAL SECRET OF THE PHOENIX

Remorse and Death
The Inversion of Voldemort
The Integrit2EMHFWLRn
The Fantas2EMHFWLRn
Fawkes’s Secret
NOTES

Chapter 17 - BEYOND GODRIC’S HOLLOW

Death and Philosophy
The Approaching Battle
King’s Cross Station
Reap a Destiny
NOTES

Chapter 18 - WHY HARR Y AND SOCRATES DECIDE TO DIE

Fulfillment for Muggles and W izards
Voldemort and the Sophists
The Common Good versus the Greater Good
Two KeVWRWKH*RRG/LIe
The End of the Story
NOTES

CONTRIBUT ORS
THE MARAUDER’S INDEX

The B la ck w ell P hilo so p hy a n d P op C ult u re
S erie s
Series Editor: W illiam Irwin

South Park and Philosophy
Edited b5REHUW$Up
Metallica and Philosophy
Edited bWilliam Irwin
Famil*X and Philosophy
Edited b--Hr emWisnewski
The Dail6KRZDQG3KLORVRSKy
Edited b-DVRQ+ROt
Lost and Philosophy
Edited b6KDr on Kae
24 and Philosophy
Edited b5LFKDr d Davis, Jennifer Hart Weed, and Ronald Weed
Battlestar Galactica and
Philosophy
Edited b-DVRQT . Eberl
The Office and Philosophy
Edited b--Hr emWisnewski
Batman and Philosophy
Edited b0DUN':KLWHDQG5REHUW$Up
House and Philosophy
Edited b+HQU Jacoby
Watchmen and Philosophy
Edited b0DUN':KLWe
X-Men and Philosophy
Edited b5HEHFFD+RXVHODQG--Hr emWisnewski
Terminator and Philosophy
Edited b5LFKDr d Brown and Kevin Decker
Heroes and Philosophy
Edited b'DYLG.le Johnson
Twilight and Philosophy
Edited b5HEHFFD+RXVHODQG--Hr emWisnewski
Final FantasDQG3KLORVRSKy

Edited b-DVRQP. Blahuta and Michel S. Beaulieu
Iron Man and Philosophy
Edited b0DUN':KLWe
Alice in Wonderland and
Philosophy
Edited b5LFKDr d Brian Davis
True Blood and Philosophy
Edited b*HRr ge A. Dunn and Rebecca Housel
Mad Men and Philosophy
Edited b5RG&DUYHWKDQG-DPHV6RXWh
30 Rock and Philosophy
Edited b--Hr emWisnewski

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LibrarRI&RQJUHVV&DWDORJLQJLQ3XEOLFDWLRQ'DWD:
The ultimate Harr3RWWHUDQGSKLORVRSK : Hogwarts for Muggles / edited b*UHJRU Bassham.
p. cm.—(The Blackwell philosophDQGSRSFXOWXUHVHULHV)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-470-39825-8 (paper: alk. paper);
ISBN 978-0-470-62708-2 (ebk);
ISBN 978-0-470-62734-1 (ebk);
ISBN 978-0-470-62735-8 (ebk)
1. Rowling, J. K.—Philosophy . 2. Rowling, J. K.—Themes, motives. 3. Rowling, J. K.—
Characters. 4. Potter, Harr )LFWLWLRXVFKDUDFWHU +RJZDUWV6FKRRORIW itchcraft and Wizardry
(ImaginarRrganization) 6. PhilosophLQOLWHUDWXUH&KLOGUHQ
s stories, English—HistorDQd
criticism. 8. FantasILFWLRQ(QJOLVK +LVWRU and criticism. I. Bassham, Gregory , 1959-
PR6068.093Z8888 2010
823’.914—dc22
2010016880

For David Baggett
more books

FO REW ORD
Tom Morris



In 2004, there was an important literarHYHQWLQYROYLQJ+DUU Potter
that didn’ t require sleepSDUHQWVWRVKRZXSEHIRUHPLGQLJKWDWERRNVWRUHs
around the world with hSHUDFWLYHZHOOFRVWXPHGFKLOGUHQWUHPEOLQJLn
anticipation of a new adventure and completelXQDEOHWRVOHHS,WGLGQ
t
involve J. K. Rowling writing something new or even leaving her home for
a special appearance, and it never sparked front-page newspaper headlines
or special television news bulletins. It was the surprising publication of an
unexpected book: Harr3RWWHUDQG3KLORVRSK: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts ,
edited bWKHSKLORVRSKHUV'DYLG%DJJHWWDQG6KDZQ.OHLQ.
What made this a remarkable occurrence for HarrDQGKLVIDQVDQGWKe
broader world of readers is that it demonstrated the range and depth of
attention this ongoing storZDVUHFHLYLQJQRWRQO among kids, teens, and
imaginative RXQJDGXOWVEXWDOVRWKURXJKRXWWKHSURIHVVRULDOUDQNVRIWKe
academic world. The wizards of wisdom in our colleges and universities
were taking note of Harr
s remarkable storDQGZHUHILQGLQJLQLWJUHDt
ideas and lessons for life. Courage, duplicity , friendship, happiness, justice,
love, and ambition joined issues of good, evil, death, and freedom, among
manRWKHUWRSLFVLQWKLVUHPDUNDEOHH[DPLQDWLRQRIWKHPHVWREHIRXQGLn
the adventures of Harr3RWWHUDVWKH unfolded before us, book after book.
When I was initiallDVNHGWRZULWHDQHVVD for that first collective
philosophical look at the deeper themes in the Potter tales, I must admit that
I was simplSHUSOH[HG$WWKHWLPH,ZDVQ
t a Potter reader. I thought these
were just books for kids. But after one of the editors of the project
vigorouslDVVXUHGPHWKDWWKH+DUU Potter stories were for everRQHDQd
were enthralling people of all ages around the globe, I cracked open the first
volume mainlRXWRIFXULRVLW and then, like manDGXOWVEHIRUHPHZDs
instantlKRRNHG,QQRWLPHDWDOOZKHQHYHU,SUHSDUHGWRVLWGRZQWRUHDG,
I felt a strange ur ge to dress up in black robes and a tall, pointed hat. I
breezed through the first four volumes, which were then the onlRQHVLn
print, and subsequentlEHJDQWRUHDGHDFKRQHDJDLQVORZOy , while

awaiting the new books, savoring the intricacies of the storDQGWKHVSDUNs
of wisdom I started to see everZKHUH.
BWKHWLPHWKHVHULHVZDVFRPSOHWH,KDGUHDGPRVWRIWKHVHYHQODrge
volumes six times through, and with deeper insights as mUHZDUGHDFh
time. There was much more going on in Harr
s world than met the casual
glance, and far beRQGWKHKLGGHQVNXOOGXJJHU and secret machinations of
the manFKDUDFWHUV,GHDVZHUHSHUFRODWLQJXQGHUWKHVXUIDFH5HDOZLVGRm
was suffused throughout the pages. The former classics major Joanne
Rowling was not merelDPDVWHUIXOVWRUteller , but was also a talented
weaver of profound perspectives on some of the things that matter most in
our lives.
I was inspired. I quicklZURWHDQHVVD on what I saw as one of Harry
Potter’s central attributes, his courage, and then could not stop writing. In
no time at all, I had written an entire book of mRZQH[DPLQLQJWKe
philosophical insights to be found in these incredible stories that were
linking the generations like perhaps nothing else in our time. I had to wrap
up mERRNDQGVHQGLWLQIRUSXEOLFDWLRQULJKWDIWHU5RZOLQJ
s sixth
volume of her planned seven installments came out. So I ended up holding
mSKLORVRSKLFDOEUHDWKIRUDJRRGZKLOHLQDQWLFLSDWLRQRIWKHFRQFOXGLQg
storOLQHDQGZKDWLWZRXOGVD about mWDNHRQWKHHDUOLHUERRNV,
m
happWRUHSRUWWKDW,ZDVDEOHWREUHDWKHDJUHDWVLJKRIUHOLHIZKHQWKe
series ended and all of mPDMRULQWHUSUHWDWLRQVKDGKHOGXS%XW,KDGQRt
had the last word, as a philosopher, on HarrDQGKLVIULHQGV.
This exciting new book that RXQRZKDYHEHIRUHou, The Ultimate
Harr3RWWHUDQG3KLORVRSK: Hogwarts for Muggles , is a fresh and
distinctive report on the great ideas in the series. All of the authors of the
chapters have had the advantage of thinking through their chosen issues and
writing up their conclusions after the entire Potter storOLQHZDVFRPSOHWe
and Rowling had even had her saLQSXEOLFDERXWWKLQJVWKDWQHYHUPDGHLt
into the pages of the official texts. The philosophers and other top Harry
Potter experts who are gathered together here of fer new voices and new
perspectives on manRIWKHPRVWLPSRUWDQWLGHDVWKDWFRPHXSLQWKHERRNs
—some of which can be genuinelOLIHFKDQJLQJ5HDGLQJWKLVERRNZLOOEe
like putting on a Philosophical De-coder Ring. It will show RXYLWDl
aspects of the deepest storWKDWOLHVEHKLQGWKHVHIDPRXVQRYHOV.
The dust has settled and the air has cleared. The great battle is over , and
the surviving characters have gone on with their lives. It’s time to take stock

and cast a long view over the most remarkable literarSKHQRPHQRQRIRXr
time and to see what it saVDERXWVRPHRIWKHXOWLPDWHLVVXHVZHIDFHLQRXr
lives. As RXUHDGWKHVHSDJHVDQGSHUVRQDOO grapple with their important
issues, RXZLOOH[SHULHQFHDQHZWKHUHDOPDJLFWKDWZLOOIRUHYHUDQLPDWH-.
K. Rowling’s immortal tales.

ACK NO W LED G M EN TS
Some House Points I’d Like to A ward
Someone must have spiked m&KRFRODWH&DXOGURQVZLWK)HOL[)HOLFLV,
because this book has been a pure pleasure to work on from beginning to
end. House points are due to the long-suf fering contributors for their efforts,
patience, and good humor through the long gestation of this book. I am
grateful to Potter scholars John Granger and T ravis Prinzi for answering my
queries and providing helpful feedback at various stages of the project.
Drafts of several chapters were helpfullGLVFXVVHGE mVWXGHQWVLn
Honors Philosoph,,FODVVDW.LQJ
s College. Thanks are due to all of the
good Muggles at Wiley, particularl&RQQLH6DQWLVWHEDQ/LVD%XUVWLQHr , and
Eric Nelson, for believing in this project and seeing it through to
completion. I am deeplLQGHEWHGWRTom Morris, public philosopher
extraordinaire, for agreeing to write the foreword. Kudos, also, to the
biggest Mugwump of all, series editor Bill Irwin, whose editorial skill and
passion for using insights from popular culture to teach philosophFRQWLQXe
to be second to none. A special word of thanks is due to Dave Baggett, who
was exceptionallJHQHURXVZLWKKLVDGYLFHFULWLFLVPDQGWLPH)LQDOOy , I
must thank those who share Bassham Burrow with me and make it a place
of love, laughter, and warmth: Mia and DODQ/RYHLVWUXO the most
powerful magic of all!

IN TR O DUCTIO N
Harr3RWWHUDQGWKH(QFKDQWPHQWRI3KLORVRSKy
Let’ s plaDOLWWOHZRUGDVVRFLDWLRQJDPH:KDWFRPHVWRPLQGZKHn
RXKHDUWKHZRUG philosophy ? Deep. Dense. Complex. In short, heavVWXIf ,
right?
So, what’ s the connection between philosophDQGWKH3RWWHUERRNVDQd
films? How can there be anUHDOSKLORVRSK—or an good philosoph Ln
fantasZRUNVDLPHGSULPDULO at kids? Eas!
Philosophy , as Plato said, begins in wonder . And kids wonder about
everWKLQJ7KH’re naturallFXULRXVTXHVWLRQLQJDQGHDJHUWROHDUQ2IWHn
theXQGHUVWDQGDORWPRUHWKDQDGXOWVJLYHWKHPFUHGLWIRr .
That’s wh-.5RZOLQJ OLNH-55T olkien, C. S. Lewis, and other
great children’s writers—doesn’ t hesitate to raise complex issues and pose
challenging questions. Of course, Rowling realizes that most of her readers
won’t grasp all of the subtleties and complexities of the issues she raises.
But she also knows that RXQJUHDGHUV OLNH)DQJJQDZLQJRQDODr ge,
meatGUDJRQERQH FDQJHWDJUHDWGHDORIQRXULVKPHQWIURPIRRGVWKHy
can’t completelGLJHVW.
This book is for Rowling fans who want to explore some of the deeper
issues posed in the Potter books and films. What is love? Is it, as Rowling
saVWKHPRVWSRZHUIXOPDJLFRIDOO",VWKHUHDQDIWHUOLIH",IVRZKDWPLJKt
it be like? Is death something to be feared—or “mastered,” as Harry
ultimatelZDVDEOHWRGR"'RSHRSOHKDYHVRXOV",IVRKRZDUHWKH related
to their bodies? Can souls, if theH[LVWEHGLYLGHGDVV oldemort
fragmented his bPHDQVRIWKH+RUFUX[HV":KDWFDQVKDSHVKLIWHUVOLNe
Animagi and boggarts teach us about personal identitDQGWKHVHOI"'RHs
power inevitablFRUUXSW",V+RJZDUWVDPRGHOVFKRRORUDUHWKHUHUHDl
shortcomings with the education students receive there? Is it true, as Albus
Dumbledore saVWKDWRXUFKRLFHVUHYHDOIDUPRUHDERXWXVWKDQRXr
abilities do? What can the complex and intriguing character of Severus
Snape teach us about moral conflict, character judgment, and the possibility
of redemption? Would it ever be ethical to use a love potion? Is it true, as
Kingsle6KDFNOHEROWSURFODLPVWKDW>H@YHU human life is worth the
same”? Is it true, as Dumbledore saVWKDWVRPHWKLQJFDQEHUHDOHYHQLILt
exists onlLQVLGHDSHUVRQ
s head?

This is a book written for Potter fans by Potter fans, most of whom
happen to be professional philosophers in their nine-to-five lives. Like other
volumes in the Blackwell PhilosophDQG3RS&XOWXUH6HULHVLWXVHs
popular culture—in this case, the Potter books and films—as a hook to
teach and popularize the ideas of the great thinkers. Some of the chapters
explore the philosophRIWKH3RWWHUERRNV WKHEDVLFYDOXHVDQGWKHELJ-
picture assumptions that underlie the series—while others use themes from
the books as a waWRGLVFXVVYDULRXVSKLORVRSKLFDOLGHDVDQGSHUVSHFWLYHV.
Like others involved in the popular culture and philosophPRYHPHQWRXr
hope is to bring philosophRXWRIWKHLYLHGKDOOVRIDFDGHPLDDQGPDNHLWs
methods, resources, and critical spirit available to all.
Several of the philosophers who contributed to this book also
contributed to Harr3RWWHUDQG3KLORVRSKy (Chicago: Open Court, 2004;
coedited b'DYLG%DJJHWWDQG6KDZQ(.OHLQ ,QVRPHZDs, this book is
a follow-up to that earlier volume. The earlier book covered onlWKHILUVt
five volumes in the Potter series. Some of it, therefore, was guesswork,
because manRIWKHLPSRUWDQWUHYHODWLRQVDQGSORWGHYHORSPHQWVRFFXr
onlLQWKHODVWWZRERRNVRIWKHVHULHV7KLVYROXPHFRYHUVWKHHQWLUe
seven-book saga and focuses particularlRQGHYHORSPHQWVLQWKHFOLPDFWLc
final two books.
So, the wait is over. The facultKDVDVVHPEOHGIRURQHODVWWLPHWKe
Great Hall, ablaze with light, is buzzing with excitement, and the long
wooden tables groan with delectable things to eat. Once more, it’ s time to
don RXUUREHVWDNHDJHQHURXVQLSRI%DUXffio’s Brain Elixir , and prepare
for a philosophical feast. It’ s going to be a great HDr.


All references to the Harr3RWWHUQRYHOVDUHWDNHQIURPWKHIROORZLQg
American editions, published b6FKRODVWLF,QFLQ1HZY ork: Sorcerer’s
Stone (1998); Chamber of Secr ets (1999); Prisoner of Azkaban (1999);
Goblet of Fire (2000); Order of the Phoenix (2003); Half-Blood Prince
(2005); Deathl+DOORZs (2007).

PA RT O NE
THE HORCRUX OF THE MA TTER: DESTINY,
IDENTITY, AND THE SOUL

1
THE SOUL IN HARRY POTTER
Scott Sehon



Souls plaDKXJHSDUWLQWKH+DUU Potter saga. At dif ferent points in the
books, Harry, Sirius Black, and Dudle'XUVOH narrowlDYRLGKDYLQJWKHLr
souls sucked out bGHPHQWRUV%DUW Crouch Jr . does not escape this fate.
And notoriously, Lord Voldemort intentionallFUHDWHVVL[+RUFUX[HVDQd
unintentionallFUHDWHVDVHYHQWKLQ+DUUy , therebGLYLGLQJKLVRZQVRXl
into eight parts, all of which must be destroHGEHIRUHV oldemort can die.
So, what is the soul? In Harr
s world, people have souls that generally
survive bodilGHDWK%XWLWLVQRWHQWLUHO obvious how souls work and
what their nature is. Over the centuries, philosophers and theologians have
proposed and debated various accounts of the soul. In this chapter , we’ll
surveVRPHRIWKRVHDFFRXQWVEHIRUHWXUQLQJWRWKHTXHVWLRQVRIKRZVRXOs
work in J. K. Rowling’s books and whether her picture of the soul is
plausible.

Philosophical Conceptions of the Soul
While competing conceptions of the soul are legion, we’ll focus here on
five different philosophical views.

The L if e -S ou rc e V ie w
According to some ancient Greek philosophers, the soul accounts for
life itself. In this view , the essential difference between living and nonliving
things is that living things have a soul and nonliving things do not. Y et
because the lowest animals and even plants are alive, this means that all
plants and animals have souls. Blast-Ended Skrewts and even gillZHHd
would have souls, according to this view. These daVQRWWRRPDQ people
think that this conception of the soul is correct.

The S en tie n ce V ie w
According to a second conception, the soul is responsible for sentience ,
the abilitVRPHRr ganisms have to feel pleasure and pain and sense the
world around them. If an or ganism is consciouslDZDUHRILWVVXUURXQGLQJV,
then the organism feels , it has experiences. According to the sentience view ,
the soul is responsible for sentience, along with all higher -level thought.
Plants, one assumes, do not have sentient awareness and so, in this
conception, would not have souls. (Of course, in the universe of Harry
Potter some magical plants, like the Whomping Willow, do have some
direct sensation of the world and would thus have souls.)

The C arte sia n V ie w
A third view of the soul further narrows the scope of ensouled
or ganisms. According to a view associated with the philosopher René
Descartes (1596-1650), the soul is not responsible for sensation and
awareness. Descartes thought that those features of mental life could be
accounted for bSXUHO material causes; however , he believed that mere
material causes would never be able to explain our abilitWRXVHODQJXDJe
and formulate complex beliefs. For this, we need souls. So Descartes said
that our immaterial soul is responsible onlIRUKLJKHr -level cognitive
functions, including beliefs, desires, and, especially, our abilitWRXVe
language.
One consequence of the Cartesian view is that nonhuman animals do
not have souls—at least, if those animals lack linguistic abilitDQGKLJKHr -
level thought. Descartes was willing to accept this and thought that
nonhuman animals were entirelVRXOOHVV6RPHRIWKHPDJLFDOFUHDWXUHVLn
the Harr3RWWHUVWRULHVPLJKWEOXUWKLVGLVWLQFWLRQZLWKLQWKH&DUWHVLDn
view. For instance, owls seem to understand human speech, although they
don’t speak in return, and magical pets like Crookshanks seem much more
intelligent than RXUDYHUDJHFDW.
According to the life-source, sentience, and Cartesian views, the soul is
usuallWKRXJKWWREHVRPHVRUWRILPPDWHULDOVXEVWDQFHVRPHWKLQJQRt
made of matter but still associated with, or connected to, a person’ s material
body. If souls are in fact like that, then there is a possibilitWKDWWKHVRXl
could survive a person’ s bodilGHDWK2QWKHRWKHUKDQGWKHUHDUHPDQy
philosophers and scientists who would denWKHH[LVWHQFHRIDVRXOLIZKDt
we mean bDVRXOLVVRPHVRUWRIHQWLW independent of the brain and the
body. This leads to a fourth view of the soul: materialism.

Mate ria lis m
Materialists hold that ultimatelWKHUHLVQRWKLQJEXWPDWWHUDQGSKsical
forces. All mental functioning, including language and emotions, is due to
phVLFDOSURFHVVHVLQWKHEUDLQDQGWKHUHVLPSO is no extra entitDERYe
and beRQGWKLV1HHGOHVVWRVDy , according to a materialist view, there is no
life after death; with bodilGHDWKWKHSURFHVVHVWKDWXQGHUOLHRXUPHQWDl
and emotional life simplFHDVHDQGWKDW
s all there is to it.

The S en tim en ta l V ie w
In everGD talk, the word soul is often used in a waWKDWGRHVQRt
clearlFRUUHVSRQGZLWKDQ of the more abstract conceptions just discussed.
From the Hoag&DUPLFKDHOWXQHZHKDYH+HDUWDQGVRXO,IHOOLQORYe
with RX+HDUWDQGVRXOWKHZD a fool would do, madly .”
Or we might speak of a person seeking his or her soul mate. W e talk of
people having good souls. We might describe music or art as soulful or as
soulless.
These sorts of everGD sentimentalist uses of the word soul need not be
taken to implDQ particular metaphVLFDOYLHw . That is, theGRQ
t commit
one to anYLHZRQZKLFKWKHVRXOLVDQDFWXDOVXEVWDQFHH[LVWLQg
independentlRIWKHERGy . If we say, “Unlike her later work, the artist’ s
earlSDLQWLQJVZHUHVRXOOHVVFOHDUO we are not suggesting that the artist
literallODFNHGDQGWKHQODWHUVRPHKRZREWDLQHGDQLPPDWHULDOVRXO5DWKHr ,
we are suggesting that the artist’s earlZRUNZDVXQLQVSLUHGRUVRPHKRw
lacked genuine emotional depth. Or if I saWKDW,ORYHKHr , heart and soul,
or that we are soul mates, I am commenting about the emotional depth of
mDWWDFKPHQWDQGWKHGHHSFRQQHFWLRQZHIHHOIRUHDFKRWKHr . 1 If we say
that someone has bared her soul, we mean she has let us see through the
superficial trappings and down to what is most deeplLPSRUWDQWWRKHr .
These uses of the word soul are essentiallPHWDSKRULFDOZDs of talking
about that which makes us most human and makes life most full: our
deepest emotions, our abilitWRORYHRXUPRUDOFRQVFLHQFH0DWHULDOLVt
philosophers don’t need to renounce anRIWKHVHZDs of talking and
certainlGRQ
t need to go back and translate Hoag&DUPLFKDHO
s lULFVLQWo
some sort of thesis about brain states (“C-fibers firing, I fell in love with
RX .
With these sundrRSWLRQVRQWKHWDEOHZHDUHQRZUHDG to turn to
Harr3RWWHUDQGWU to place the conception of the soul as developed in the
story . To foreshadow , we’ll see that Rowling’ s picture of the soul is an
interesting mix of views. In manZDs, it seems that her conception of the
soul is closest to the sentimental view , but she combines it with a
metaphVLFVWKDWLQFRUSRUDWHVSDUWVRIWKH&DUWHVLDQDQGVHQWLHQFHYLHZV.

Ghosts and “Going On”
Materialism is the dominant view among philosophers and scientists in
our world today. But materialism is false in the world of Harr3RWWHr ,
where souls tSLFDOO survive bodilGHDWK+HUHLV+HUPLRQH*UDQJHr ’s
explanation of souls:
“Look, if I picked up a sword right now, Ron, and ran RX throu gh
with it, I wouldn’ t damage RXUVRXODWDOO.
“Which would be a real comfort to me, I’m sure,” said Ron. Harry
laughed.
“It should be, actuall But m point is that whatever happens to
RXUERGy , RXUVRXOZLOOVXUYLYHXQWRXFKHGVDLG+HUPLRQH 2
So we know that in Rowling’ s world, the soul survives destruction of
the body. BeRQGWKHIDFWRIVXUYLYDOLW
s not entirelFOHDUZKDWKDSSHQVWo
the soul of a deceased person. In Order of the Phoenix , in the room at the
MinistrRI0DJLFZKHUH6LULXVGLHVWKHUHLVDPsterious archwaZLWKa
veil, and both HarrDQG/XQD/RYHJRRGKHDUYRLFHVIURPEHond the veil.
Luna’ s interpretation is that dead people exist just beRQGDQGWKDWZHZLOl
see them again. Later , Nearl+HDGOHVV1LFNWHOOV+DUU that the recently
killed Sirius will have “gone on,” but he has no further light to shed on
what happens in the ordinarFDVH1LFNRIFRXUVHLVDJKRVWDQGKe
explains to HarrWKDWDZL]DUGLVDEOHWRDYRLGJRLQJRQE remaining
behind as a ghostlLPSULQWRIKLVIRUPHUVHOI+HVDs that few wizards
choose this path, and perhaps it is not too hard to see why . Nick lives on,
sort of, in a ghostlLPLWDWLRQRIDERGy, one that can see and be seen, hear
and be heard, but that otherwise walks through walls and has few phVLFDl
effects. Rowling’ s ghosts apparentlLQGXFHDQLF sensation when a person
has contact with them, and Moaning MUWOHLVVRPHKRZDEOHWRPDNe
splashes in toilets, but beRQGWKLVWKH seem to mostlODFNERGLO ef fects.
Voldemort presumablFRXOGKDYHKDGWKLVVRUWRILPPRUWDOLW all along, but
it is a form of immortalitGHYRLGRIUHDOSKsical contact and, more
important for V oldemort, devoid of power .

Besides being a ghost, there are several other waVLQZKLFKVRXOVFDn
appear on earth after their bodies have died. First, there is the case of
Voldemort himself, who, because of his Horcruxes, survives bodilGHDWh
when his killing curse aimed at bab+DUU backfires. W e’ll talk more about
Horcruxes later, but at this point it is worth noting that when V oldemort’s
soul continues, it is in an incrediblZHDNIRUPKHODWHUGHVFULEHVKLs
condition at the time as “less than spirit, less than the meanest ghost.” 3 In
that state, V oldemort needs to attach himself to a living bodWRKDYHDQy
phVLFDOHffects at all.
Second, there is the semi-ghostlFRQGLWLRQLQZKLFK+DUU twice sees
his departed loved ones. In the graveDUGVFHQHLQ Goblet of Fir e , Cedric
Diggory, Bertha Jorkins, Frank BrFHDQG+DUU’ s parents appear out of
Voldemort’ s wand. These ghostlILJXUHVORRNWR+DUU much more solid
than ordinarJKRVWVDQGWKH have enough of a phVLFDOSUHVHQFHWKDt
James Potter tells HarrWKDWWKH will give him some time to escape once
the wand connection is broken. Similarly , when HarrXVHVWKH5HVXUUHFWLRn
Stone in Deathl+DOORZs he sees Sirius, Remus Lupin, and his parents, and
it seems that theDUHDJDLQDWOHDVWLQVRPHVHQVHUHDO/HVVVXEVWDQWLDl
than living bodies and here onlWHPSRUDULOy , theDUHQRQHWKHOHVVQRWPHUe
ghosts; theDUHGHVFULEHGDVQHLWKHUJKRVWQRUWUXO flesh.” 4
So, it seems that although souls normallJRRQLQVRPHXQGHVFULEHd
way, disembodied souls can staRUUHWXUQWRHDUWKLQFHUWDLQFLUFXPVWDQFHV,
and when theGRWKH take one of a varietRIIRUPVUDQJLQJIURm
Voldemort’ s almost entirelQRQSKsical state to Nick’ s ghostlVWDWHWRWKe
temporarEXWVOLJKWO more substantial phVLFDOVWDWHVRIWKHVRXOVEURXJKt
back bWKH5HVXUUHFWLRQ6WRQH 5 All of this would be impossible if
materialism were true. So, materialism is false within the Potter universe.
But to learn more about the nature of souls, we need to consider dementors
and Horcruxes.

The Dementor’s Kiss
Dementors suck good feelings and happPHPRULHVRXWRISHRSOH.
W orse than that, theFDQGHVWUR RXUVRXO$V/XSLQH[SODLQVWR+DUU:
“Y ou see, the dementor lowers its hood onl to use its last and
worst weapon.”
“What’ s that?”
“The call it the Dementor ’s Kiss,” said Lupin, with a sligh tly
twisted smile. “It’s what dementors do to those the wish to destroy
utterly . I suppose there must be some kind of mouth under there,
because the clamp their jaws upon the mouth of the victim and—and
suck out his soul.”
[. . .]
“What—theNLOO ".
“Oh no,” said Lupin. “Much worse than that. You can exist without
RXU soul, RX know , as long as RXU brain and heart are still working.
But Ru’ll have no sense of self anPRUH no memory , no . . . an WKLQJ.
There’ s no chance at all of recovery . Y ou’ll just—exist. As an empty
shell. And RXUVRXOLVJRQHIRUHYHUORVW 6
This is verLQWHUHVWLQJ$ZL]DUG
s soul normallVXUYLYHVERGLO death,
and the natural further assumption would be that souls are immortal. But
with dementors around, not all souls achieve this happVWDWHIRUGHPHQWRUs
can apparentlGHVWUR souls completely . You can still exist even without
RXUVRXOKRZHYHr . Lupin’s words here are open to more than one
interpretation. He might merelPHDQour body can still exist and keep
functioning biologicallDVORQJDVour or gans are still intact. According to
this reading, the Dementor’s Kiss would leave the victim in something like
a permanent vegetative state, in which basic metabolic functions continue
but in which there is no substantial mental life at all. Y et if this is what
Lupin means, it’s odd that he portraVLWDVWKHFRQWLQXHGH[LVWHQFHRIWKe
person but in a state worse than death. If the soul is the source of all
conscious mental life, and if all of that disappears after the Dementor ’s

Kiss, then it would seem more appropriate to saWKDWWKHSHUVRQWUXO is no
more, that the emptVKHOORIDERG is just that—a bodEXWQRWDSHUVRQ.
Because Lupin is insistent that a person can continue to exist without a
soul, a different picture seems to be suggested. This is speculative, but
here’s mJXHVV$VRXOOHVVSHUVRQVWLOOKDVVHQVDWLRQVDQGHYHQWKRXJKWs
about the passing show . After the Kiss was applied, Bart&URXFK-r . may
have still recognized that there were people in the room, but he had no idea
who theZHUHRUZKR he was, for he had no substantial memorRUVHQVHRf
self. Accordingly, perhaps we should think of existence after the
Dementor’s Kiss as akin to a severe case of dementia or Alzheimer ’s
disease—perhaps similar to the condition Lockhart found himself in after
one of his memorFKDUPVEDFNILUHG.
The Dementor ’s Kiss would appear to rule out at least two, if not three,
of the remaining conceptions of the soul. If one can be alive without one’ s
soul, then the soul cannot be the source of life itself, and so the life-source
view cannot be correct. And if a victim of the Dementor’s Kiss still has
sensations, and even a bodLQDYHJHWDWLYHVWDWHPD be somewhat
responsive to sensorVWLPXOLWKHQWKHVHQWLHQFHYLHZDOVRVHHPVUXOHGRXW.
Moreover , if the Dementor ’s Kiss does allow someone to think, feel, and
notice the passing show , albeit lacking memories or a sense of self, then
even the Cartesian view seems unlikely . According to the Cartesian view,
the soul is that which is responsible for our higher -level functions, our
abilitWRKDYHEHOLHIVDQGHVSHFLDOOy, to understand language. In the
interpretation I have suggested, the Kiss might leave those abilities at least
partiallLQWDFWGHVSLWHWKHVRXOLWVHOIEHLQJXWWHUO destroHG.

Horcruxes
A central plot element for the Harr3RWWHUVWRU as a whole is T om
Riddle’s quest to defeat death using Horcruxes. Professor Horace Slughorn
explains to a RXQJ5LGGOHZKDWKDSSHQVZKHQDZL]DUGFUHDWHVD+RUFUX[:
“ ‘Well, RXVSOLWour soul, RXVHH
VDLG6OXJKRUQ DQGKLGHSDUWRILWLn
an object outside the body . Then, even if one’s bodLVDWWDFNHGRr
destroHGRQHFDQQRWGLHIRUSDUWRIWKHVRXOUHPDLQVHDUWKERXQGDQd
undamaged.’ ” 7
Indeed, later, when Voldemort attacks the infant HarrXVLQJWKHA vada
Kedavra curse that rebounds then destroVVoldermort’s body, Voldemort
himself remains alive, albeit as “less than spirit, less than the meanest
ghost.” 8
The RXQJ5LGGOHSUHVVHV6OXJKRUQIXUWKHUDQGDVNVKRZRQHVSOLWs
one’ s soul. Slughorn answers, “BDQDFWRIHYLO WKHVXSUHPHDFWRIHYLO.
BFRPPLWWLQJPXUGHr . Killing rips the soul apart. The wizard intent upon
creating a Horcrux would use the damage to his advantage: He would
encase the torn portion—.” 9 Slughorn does not answer Riddle’ s further
question about exactlKRZRQHHQFDVHVWKHVRXORWKHUWKDQVDing that
there is a spell. Riddle then asks, “Can RXRQO split RXUVRXORQFH?
Wouldn’ t it be better , make RXVWURQJHr , to have RXUVRXOLQPRUHSLHFHVI
mean, for instance, isn’ t seven the most powerfullPDJLFQXPEHr , wouldn’t
seven—?” 10 Slughorn is horrified that Riddle would apparentlWKLQNRf
killing repeatedlWRGRWKLVEXWKHDOVRZDUQVDJDLQVWLWIRUDQRWKHUUHDVRQ.
He has alreadWROG5LGGOHWKDWWKHVRXOLVVXSSRVHGWRUHPDLQLQWDFWDQd
whole” and that splitting “it is an act of violation, it is against nature.” 11
T wo points from Slughorn’ s words are worth emphasizing. First, that it
requires a supreme act of evil to make the soul such that it can be ripped,
and, second, that the soul is therebGDPDJHGRUPDGHXQVWDEOHDQGWKDt
ripping it more than once presumablLQFUHDVHVWKHGDPDJH7KLVLVDSRLQt
that Hermione makes as well, after she read Secrets of the Darkest Art ,
which, along with other dark magic books, she summoned from
Dumbledore’ s office after his death: “ ‘And the more I’ve read about

[Horcruxes],’ said Hermione, ‘the more horrible theVHHPDQGWKHOHVVI
can believe that he actuallPDGHVL[,WZDUQVLQWKLVERRNKRZXQVWDEOe
RXPDNHWKHUHVWRIour soul bULSSLQJLWDQGWKDW
s just bPDNLQJRQe
Horcrux!’ ” 12
Although both Slughorn and Secrets of the Darkest Art are clear that
ripping the soul damages it, it is not immediatelREYLRXVKRZWKHGDPDJe
to the soul translates into harm to the living human being. There is, after all,
no indication that V oldemort’s mental faculties or magical abilities are in
anZD diminished. Indeed, Dumbledore warns Harry , “Never forget,
though, that while his soul maEHGDPDJHGEHond repair , his brain and his
magical powers remain intact. It will take uncommon skill and power to kill
a wizard like Voldemort even without his Horcruxes.” 13
This seems quite clearlWRUXOHRXWWKH&DUWHVLDQYLHw , according to
which the soul is responsible for all higher-level thought. If a Cartesian soul
were horriblGDPDJHGWKHQRQH
s thoughts, skills, and, presumably ,
magical abilities would be damaged as well, but all of this is left intact in
Voldemort. Because V oldemort’s sensorDELOLWLHVVHHPXQKDUPHGWRR,
despite his damaged soul, it seems that the sentience view is also excluded.
Rather than applLQJWKH&DUWHVLDQRUVHQWLHQFHYLHZV5RZOLQJDGRSWs
the sentimental view of the soul, according to which the soul is associated
with that which makes us most human, with our capacitWRORYHDQGRXr
moral conscience. This was alreadVXJJHVWHGE the fact that one rips and
damages the soul bFRPPLWWLQJWKHVXSUHPHO evil act of murder . If the
soul is associated with what makes us deeplKXPDQDQGJRRGWKHQLWDt
least makes poetic sense that the soul would be damaged bFRPPLWWLQJWKe
ultimate evil. The keHYLGHQFHOLHVLQZKDWVHHPHGGLfferent about
Voldemort after he damaged his soul so badlQRWKLVKLJKHUFRJQLWLYe
functions, but his humanity . Dumbledore tells Harry , “Lord Voldemort has
seemed to grow less human with the passing HDUVDQGWKHWUDQVIRUPDWLRn
he has under gone seemed to me to be onlH[SOLFDEOHLIKLVVRXOZDs
mutilated beRQGWKHUHDOPVRIZKDWZHPLJKWFDOO XVXDOHYLO
. 14
Specifically, after ripping his soul and creating Horcruxes, the handsome
RXQJTom Riddle under goes a significant phVLFDOWUDQVIRUPDWLRQ)HZRf
us look better as we age, but with Riddle/V oldemort, the change is extreme.
In Goblet of Fire , when he has completelUHJDLQHGKLVERG in the
graveDUGKHLVGHVFULEHGDVZKLWHUWKDQDVNXOOZLWKZLGHOLYLGVFDUOHt
eHVDQGDQRVHWKDWZDVIODWDVDVQDNH
s with slits for nostrils.” 15

Voldemort’ s change in appearance is Rowling’ s metaphor for what was
happening to Voldemort on a deep emotional and moral level. Of course,
the child Riddle in the orphanage alreadKDGDVLJQLILFDQWO sinister side to
him, and there is no evidence that he ever trulORYHGDQone, but in his
earlGDs at Hogwarts he at least had the abilitWRFKDUPSHRSOH+HZDVa
leader among his peers, even among older students, and he accomplished
this through personalitUDWKHUWKDQIHDr . He charmed Professor Slughorn,
who predicted that Riddle would become Minister of Magic, and managed
to get him to discuss Horcruxes, which was a banned topic at Hogwarts. By
the time Riddle begins his reign of terror as Lord V oldemort, however, all
indications are that Death Eaters continue to follow him out of fear , rather
than because of anWKLQJUHPRWHO approximating devotion. Even Bellatrix
Lestrange, his most devoted follower near the end, seems worshipful of his
power but hardl charmed . That capacity, Riddle’s most human attribute,
seems to have utterlGLVDSSHDUHGDIWHUKLVVRXOZDVULSSHGLQWRVHYHn
pieces (eight, if RXFRXQW+DUU as the seventh Horcrux).
Voldemort might have been able to repair his damaged soul, but not by
use of a potion or an appropriate incantation (not even with the Elder
W and). Rather , according to Secrets of the Darkest Art , a ripped soul can
perhaps be repaired through remorse ; as Hermione puts it, “Y ou’ve got to
reallIHHOZKDWou’ve done.” 16 In none of the other views of the soul
would there be anUHDVRQIRUWKHSDUWLFXODUHPRWLRQRIUHPRUVHWRKDYHa
special effect on the immaterial soul. But according to the sentimental view ,
the soul is most closelFRQQHFWHGZLWKRXUGHHSHVWHPRWLRQVDQGRXUPRUDl
conscience. Our goodness and humanitDUHGDPDJHGE evil actions, but
we can go some waVWRZDUGUHVWRULQJWKDWJRRGQHVVDQGKXPDQLW if we
feel genuine remorse. In the climactic scene, HarrLQIDFWVXJJHVWVWo
Voldemort that he “be a man” and trWRIHHOVRPHUHPRUVH. 17 V oldemort, of
course, having gone so far beRQGHYHQWKHXVXDOHYLOIHHOVQRLQFOLQDWLRn
toward remorse, and V oldemort is finallNLOOHGZKHQKLVRZQNLOOLQJFXUVH,
shot from the Elder Wand of which HarrLVWKHPDVWHr , rebounds off
Harr
s Expelliarmus.

A Plausible View?
If Rowling indeed adopts the sentimental conception of the soul, she
does so with an interesting twist. The sentimental view is not a
philosophical theorGHYHORSHGE theologians or philosophers but rather a
distillation of various waVZHXVHWKHZRUG soul . These ordinarXVHVRf
the word could easilEHWDNHQDVPHWDSKRULFDODQGGRQRWQHFHVVDULO imply
that there reallLVVRPHVRUWRILQGHSHQGHQWDQGLPPDWHULDOHQWLW that
explains our deepest emotional commitments and moral conscience. Even
materialists can and do use the word soul as a perfectlJRRGPHWDSKRr . But
within the Harr3RWWHUXQLYHUVH5RZOLQJFOHDUO also presupposes a
metaphVLFDOYLHZWKDWWKHVRXOLVLQGHSHQGHQWRIWKHERGy , is not harmed
bQRUPDOSKsical events, and can even survive the destruction of the
body. In other words, Rowling takes the metaphVLFDOSLFWXUHQRUPDOOy
associated with the more philosophical views of the soul (especiallWKe
sentience view and the Cartesian view) and combines it with the
metaphorical picture suggested bWKHVHQWLPHQWDOYLHw .
So, does Rowling offer a theorRIWKHVRXOWKDWLVOLNHO to be true?
ProbablQRWEXWWKHLVVXHVDUHFRQWHQWLRXV)LUVWPDQ philosophers and
scientists plausiblDr gue that there is no good evidence for the existence of
an immaterial substance that is causallUHVSRQVLEOHIRUDQthing above and
beRQGZKDWWKHKXPDQERG does. It would be possible to have such
evidence somedaLIQHXURVFLHQWLVWVVDZWKDWWKHUHZHUHHYHQWVWKDt
happened in brains with no observable phVLFDOFDXVHWKHQWKLVZRXOGDt
least be an indication that the events had an immaterial cause. But we have
not seen anVXFKEUDLQHYHQWVXSWRQRw .
Moreover, philosophers have pointed out for centuries that it is dif ficult
to see how an immaterial soul would even be able to interact with a purely
material body. If the soul is not made of matter and does not have phVLFDl
properties, then it is mVWHULRXVKRZLWFRXOGFDXVHWKHKXPDQERG to move
or how anWKLQJLQWKHPDWHULDOZRUOGZRXOGKDYHDQ ef fect on it. This
kind of dualism of mind and bodZRXOGEHRXWVLGHDQthing of which we

have experience. Dualism is not incoherent, and it is possible that it is
correct, but it faces substantial obstacles. 18
Finally, Rowling’ s combination of an implausible metaphVLFVZLWKWKe
sentimental view of the soul probablPDNHVWKHSUREOHPVZRUVHUDWKHr
than better. It is especiallLPSODXVLEOHWKDWWKHUHZRXOGEHDQLPPDWHULDl
part of us that is specificallUHVSRQVLEOHIRURQO our deepest emotions and
moral traits but not for other psFKRORJLFDOFDSDFLWLHV7KHVHWUDLWVPDy
seem linked to us because theDUHDr guablZKDWPDNHVXVPRVWKXPDQ,
but from the standpoint of scientific psFKRORJy , there is nothing that is so
different in kind here. So there seems to be no need to postulate something
altogether dif ferent from the brain to explain these traits. In addition, as
mentioned earlier , within the storWKHLPPDWHULDOVRXOFDQVRPHWLPHs
remain on earth with a varietRIGLf ferent phVLFDOSRZHUVRUSUHVHQFHV,
depending on whether the soul is here as a ghost, as something conjured by
the Resurrection Stone, or as a bare soul saved from destruction ba
Horcrux. If, as we’ve seen, it would be dif ficult to explain how an
immaterial soul could interact at all with the phVLFDOZRUOGWKHQLWZRXOd
be even more difficult to explain whWKHVRXOZRXOGKDYHGLf ferent
phVLFDODELOLWLHVGHSHQGLQJRQZKDWPDJLFVSHOOLVDWZRUN.
Of course, the implausibilitRI5RZOLQJ
s metaphVLFVLVQRWDVWULNe
against her work of fiction. After all, it is also extremelXQOLNHO that there
are witches, wizards, and magic in the real world. And Rowling’ s picture of
the soul does have a waRIPDNLQJYLYLGZKDWZHFDUHDERXWRUZKDWZe
hope we care about. Besides, talk of souls, Horcruxes, dementors, and
magic makes for a terrific story, and that’s reason enough. 19

NOTES
1 Originally, the idea maKDYHEHHQGLf ferent: according to some
mWKVRXUVRXOVZHUHVSOLWLQWZRDQGILQGLQJRQH
s soul mate literally
meant finding one’s other half. But such an overtlPHWDSKsical picture is
clearlQRWSUHVXSSRVHGLQRXUFROORTXLDOXVHVRIWKHSKUDVH.
2 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 104.
3 Goblet of Fire , p. 653.
4 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 698.
5 When HarrGLHVLQWKH)RUELGGHQ)RUHVWWRZDUGWKHHQGRI Deathly
Hallows , he finds himself with Dumbledore in a place that appears to him
as King’s Cross Station. One interpretation is that he is in a waVWDWLRn
between death and the afterlife. Even so, HarrOHDUQVQRWKLQJDERXWZKDt
will happen if he decides to die by , say, taking a train. Dumbledore merely
saVWKDWWKHWUDLQZRXOGWDNHKLPRQ0RUHRYHr , Rowling is deliberately
ambiguous about whether this is some real sequence of events in which
HarrDFWXDOO encounters Dumbledore’s postmortem self or whether it’s
simplDYLVLRQRUDGUHDPLQ+DUU’ s mind.
6 Prisoner of Azkaban , p. 247.
7 Half-Blood Prince , p. 497.
8 Goblet of Fire , p. 653.
9 Half-Blood Prince , p. 498.
10 Ibid., p. 498.
11 Ibid.
12 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 103.
13 Half-Blood Prince , p. 509.
14 Ibid., p. 502.
15 Goblet of Fir e , p. 643.
16 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 103.
17 Ibid., p. 741.
18 For more detailed recent ar guments of this sort, see Scott Sehon,
Teleological Realism: Mind, Agency , and Explanation (Cambridge, MA:

MIT Press, 2005), chap. 2; and Jaegwon Kim, PhilosophRI0LQd
(Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2005), chap. 2.
19 Special thanks to Josephine Sehon and HaGHQ6DUWRULVIRUears of
reading and discussing Harr3RWWHUDQGIRUXVHIXOFRPPHQWVRQHDUOLHr
drafts of this chapter .

2
SIRIUS BLACK
Man or Dog?


Eric Saidel



Imagine RXUVHOIYLUWXDOO imprisoned, cooped up inside, unable to go
outdoors for several months. Now, finally, RXJHWWRJRRXWVLGHY ou’re
free to do anWKLQJou want—RXFDQUXQDURXQGHQMR the fresh air , go to
a movie, do whatever RXZLVK:KDWZRXOGou do?
Now suppose RXKDGDWDLOWould RXGRDQthing different? Would
RXUXQDURXQGLQFLUFOHVWUing to bite RXUWDLO"1HLWKHUZRXOG,2GGOy
enough, this is exactlZKDW6LULXV%ODFNGRHVLQ Order of the Phoenix when
he transforms into a dog in order to escort HarrWRWKH+RJZDUWV([SUHVVDt
the beginning of the school HDr . And he does it because he’s excited to be
outside. Or so J. K. Rowling tells us. This behavior strikes me as so strange
that I’d ask Sirius about it if I could. Unfortunately , I can’t, as Sirius is no
longer alive. 1 So we’ll have to trWRDQVZHUWKLVTXHVWLRQXVLQJWKHWRROVRf
philosophy . Fortunately , even though most philosophers are Muggles, we

can use the same skills of rational analVLVWKDWHQDEOHG$OEXV'XPEOHGRUe
to discover the twelve uses of dragon’s blood. So, let’s push on.
Chasing his tail wouldn’ t be so strange if Sirius were a dog. But he’ s not
a dog. He’s a man in a dog’ s body. Or is he? How can we best describe
Sirius: as a man who is sometimes in a dog’ s bod DQGVRPHWLPHVLQa
man’s bod DVDGRJZKRLVVRPHWLPHVLQDPDQ
s bod DQGVRPHWLPHVLn
a dog’s bod RUDVVRPHRQHZKRLVVRPHWLPHVDGRJDQGVRPHWLPHVa
man? If the answer is the last, then what is that “someone” who staVWKe
same while Sirius changes between being a dog and being a man?
Sirius is not the onlRQHZKRWUDQVIRUPVLQWKH3RWWHUVHULHV'XULQJWKe
course of the seven books, we come into contact with other Animagi (Peter
Pettigrew , Rita Skeeter , Professor McGonagall), as well as werewolves
(Remus Lupin and Fenrir GreEDFN ERJJDUWVDQGWKHIUHTXHQWXVHRf
PolMXLFH3RWLRQ 2 Several transformers behave in odd and sometimes
illuminating waV. 3 For example, a transformed Lupin would attack Harry ,
Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger , and as Mad-EH0RRGy , Barty
Crouch Jr. is the one of the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers
HarrHYHUKDVHYHQJRLQJEHond the call of dutWRWHDFK+DUU to resist
the Imperius Curse. 4 WhGRWKH do these odd things?
This is a question about their identities, about what makes them who
theDUH,WLVDOVRDTXHVWLRQDERXWWKHUHODWLRQVKLSEHWZHHQRQH
s mind and
one’s body . It seems obvious that Padfoot’ s bodLVDGRJ
s body, but is his
mind a dog’ s mind or a man’ s mind? Let’s see whether we can answer these
questions. The path we follow will be full of twists and turns, like a Snitch
trLQJWRDYRLGD6HHNHr , but if we keep our eHRQWKHJROGZHVKRXOGEe
able to catch it.

Mind-Bod'LVWLQFWLRQs
When Sirius transforms into a dog, sometimes he acts as if he’s a man,
and other times he acts as if he’s a dog. WhGRHVWKHWUDQVIRUPHGSHUVRn
sometimes act as if he is his normal self and other times act as if he is the
person or the animal he has transformed into? Answering this question
requires us to understand just what a transformed person is. Put simply ,
when Sirius transforms, does he become a dog, or is he still a man?
Both of these options are too crude. Sirius transformed is not merela
dog: a dog would not do manRIWKHWKLQJVWKDW3DGIRRWGRHV IRUH[DPSOH,
standing on his hind legs, putting his forelegs on Harr
s shoulders, and
looking HarrLQWKHHe when HarrJRHVRff to school in Order of the
Phoenix ). Nor is Padfoot still a man: manRIWKHWKLQJV3DGIRRWGRHV IRr
example, chasing his tail) are more appropriate for a dog than for Sirius.
The transformed person isn’ t whollWKHREMHFWKH
s transformed into or
whollWKHSHUVRQKHZDVEHIRUHKHWUDQVIRUPHG2EYLRXVOy , then, the
answer is that Padfoot is part man and part dog.
Since the time of René Descartes (1596-1650), who is generally
considered to be the father of modern philosophy, there has been a natural
waWRWKLQNRIKRZSHRSOHPLJKWEHGLYLGHGZHWKLQNRIHDFKLQGLYLGXDl
as being made up of two distinct parts—namely, a mind and a body. So
perhaps when we saWKDW3DGIRRWLVSDUW6LULXVDQGSDUWGRJZHPHDQWKDt
he has the mind of one of them and the bodRIWKHRWKHr . There are four
possibilities here:
1. Padfoot has the mind of Sirius and the bodRIDGRJ.
2. Padfoot has the mind of a dog and the bodRIDGRJ.
3. Padfoot has the mind of Sirius and the bodRI6LULXV.
4. Padfoot has the mind of a dog and the bodRI6LULXV.
The last two options would seem to be nonstarters: we can tell by
looking at Padfoot that he doesn’t have the bodRI6LULXV+HORRNVQRWKLQg
like Sirius—or anRWKHUPDQIRUWKDWPDWWHr . But this dismissal is too
superficial: If Padfoot doesn’t have Sirius’s body, then what happens to
Sirius’ s bodZKHQKHWUDQVIRUPV":KHUHGRHVLWJR",W
s all verZHOOIRr

Professor McGonagall to assert that vanished objects go “into non-being,
which is to say, everWKLQJEXWLWVHHPVLPSODXVLEOHWKDW6LULXV
s bodZLOl
go into nonbeing when he transforms into Padfoot and then will come out
of nonbeing when he transforms back. 5 What’s more plausible is that
Sirius’s bodLWVHOIFKDQJHV%HIRUHKHWUDQVIRUPVLWLVWKHSKsical bodRf
a man, and afterward it is the bodRIDGRJ%XWLWLVWKHVDPHSKsical
stuff, somehow rearranged. That is, if the bodKDVDQHf fect on what
Padfoot does, the effect isn’t going to come from his having Sirius’ s human
body, because even if Padfoot does literallKDYH6LULXV
s body, it is
phVLFDOO the bodRIDGRJ. 6
What of the other two options? Both are problematic, for similar
reasons. Why , if Padfoot has the mind of Sirius, does he chase his tail? And
why, if he has the mind of a dog, does he stand on his hind legs at King’ s
Cross Station? (Mrs. WeasleFKDVWLVHVKLPKLVVLQJ)RUKHDYHQ
s sake act
more like a dog, Sirius!” 7) These are the questions with which we started.
Thinking about Padfoot as divided between mind and bodGRHVQ
t get us
anZKHUH.

Whose Reasons?
Sirius has no reason to chase his tail, but perhaps Padfoot does. When
Lupin is human, he has no reason to attack his students, but perhaps when
he’s a werewolf, he does have reason to do so. Perhaps it would be helpful
to recast our inquiries in terms of reasons. Thus, we might wonder not
whether the mind involved is Sirius’ s or Padfoot’s, but whether the reasons
causing the action are Sirius’ s or Padfoot’s. This sort of strategLVDJRRd
one: usually, asking specific questions rather than general questions will
LHOGDQVZHUVWKDWDUHKHOSIXOUDWKHUWKDQYDJXH)RUWKDWUHDVRQDVNLQg
questions about reasons, rather than about minds, is likelWRSURYLGHPRUe
interesting answers. Unfortunately , no sooner do I make this suggestion
than I start to see problems.
First, the answer to this question seems to lead us in the wrong
direction: if anRQHKDVUHDVRQWRFKDVHKLVWDLOLW
s Padfoot, not Sirius. But,
surely, if anWKLQJRI6LULXVLVOHIWDIWHUKHEHFRPHVDGRJLWZRXOGEHKLs
reasons for acting. It would be bizarre to saWKDWLQWUDQVIRUPLQJRQHORVHs
one’s reasons for acting. One transforms presumablDVDPHDQVRf
achieving one’ s goals, as an expression of one’ s reasons. If transforming
were to cause RXWRQRORQJHUDFWWRDFKLHYHour goals, whZRXOGou
ever transform?
We can see this more clearlLQFRQVLGHULQJVRPHRIWKHH[DPSOHVRf
PolMXLFHWUDQVIRUPDWLRQW e expect the transformed individual to act for
his or her reasons, not for those of the being he transformed into. This
indeed is what we find. If the shape one takes when one transforms is the
source of one’s reasons for acting, then we might have expected HarrDQd
Ron to act to achieve whatever goals Crabbe and GoOHKDYHZKHQ+DUUy
and Ron transform in Chamber of Secr ets . But theGRQ
t; theDFWIRUWKHLr
own reasons. Similarly , when theWUDQVIRUPLQ Deathl+DOORZs , Harry
transforms into Albert Runcorn, a Death Eater , and Ron transforms into
Reginald Cattermole, a man whose wife is on trial for “stealing magic.”
Runcorn and Cattermole have no reason to cooperate and everUHDVRQWo
hate each other. As Runcorn, HarrKDVQRUHDVRQWRUHPRYH0RRG’ s mad

eHIURP'RORUHV8PEULGJH
s door or to warn Arthur WeasleWKDWKH
s
being watched, but HarrGRHVKDYHUHDVRQWRGRWKHVHWKLQJVDQGVRKHDs
Runcorn, does them. As Cattermole, Ron has reason to accompanKLVZLIe
to her hearing, but he doesn’ t do this. Ron and HarrDFWDFFRUGLQJWRWKHLr
own reasons, not according to the reasons of Runcorn and Cattermole. So
whZRXOG3DGIRRWDFWIRUGRJJ reasons, rather than for Sirius’ s reasons?
Framing the puzzle in terms of reasons moves us no closer to solving it.
Finally, reasons have nothing to do with Sirius’ s tail-chasing behavior.
Dogs don’t chase their tails when the
UHH[FLWHGEHFDXVHWKH have reason
to do so; theFKDVHWKHLUWDLOVZKHQWKH’re excited, because, I assume, it’ s
fun or it feels good. (Perhaps theGRVREHFDXVHWKH think their tails are
foreign objects, but Sirius knows better than that!) Similarly, I suspect that
Lupin doesn’t acquire a reason to attack Harry , Ron, and Hermione when he
transforms. Instead, he would attack them because it’ s in his blood to do so.
His reasons would lead him to refrain from attacking them. AnVROXWLRQWo
our puzzle in terms of reasons will fail to explain Sirius’ s and Lupin’s
behaviors.

A Step in the Right Direction
Let’s reconsider the distinction between mind and body . In the current
context, this distinction suggests an explanatorVWUDWHJ: some of our acts
can be explained bWDONLQJDERXWRXUPLQGVDERXWWKHPHQWDOFDXVHVRIWKe
action. Other actions can be explained bWDONLQJDERXWRXUERGLHVDERXt
the phVLFDOFDXVHVRIWKHDFWLRQ,QWKLVOLJKWSHUKDSVWKHUHDVRQ3DGIRRt
chases his tail has to do with his having the bodRIDGRJ1RWHYHUthing
that Padfoot does is explained bWDONLQJDERXWKLV 6LULXV
s—mind; some
of the things he does are properlH[SODLQHGE talking about his doggy
body.
Consider this alternate history . Suppose that while at Hogwarts, when
Sirius had learned that his friend Lupin was a werewolf and so decided to
become an Animagus to keep Lupin companZKHQKHWUDQVIRUPHG6LULXs
decided to become a bear. (Sirius’s main concerns would have been met had
he been a bear: bears are dif ferent from humans, so the werewolf bites
presumablZRXOGQ
t infect him while transformed, and a bear would have
been powerful enough to keep the werewolf in check.) Now , imagine him in
Order of the Phoenix , outside for the first time in months. W ould he have
chased his tail? That seems unlikely. He would have done whatever it is that
bears do when theDUHH[FLWHGDQGIHHOLQJSDUWLFXODUO good. He might
have—if Winnie the Pooh is anJXLGH ZULWWHQDVRQJDQGLQGXOJHGLn
some honey . But as Padfoot, as a dog, he chases his tail. So, perhaps the
correct explanation of Padfoot’ s behavior is that his bodLVDGRJ
s body,
and dogs chase their tails when the
UHH[FLWHG.
Let’s pause for a moment and review the ground we’ve covered. I
started bZRQGHULQJDERXWFHUWDLQRI3DGIRRW
s behaviors. We might think
that transformation is just a reallJRRGGLVJXLVHWKDWLW
s like putting on a
costume. In that case, Padfoot would actuallEH6LULXVORRNLQJOLNHDGRJ.
These behaviors tell us otherwise: theDUHEHKDYLRUVWKDW6LULXVZRXOd
never engage in, no matter what clothing he was wearing. So, we can draw
one conclusion alreadWUDQVIRUPDWLRQLVQRWMXVWDUHDOO good disguise.
Somehow, transformation simplWUDQVIRUPVou. But we still wonder , why

does Padfoot do these things? One possibilitLVWKDWWKHUHDVRQVWKe
transformed individual has for acting become the reasons that his chosen
embodiment had. In that case, Padfoot would act for a dog’s reasons. But
some of the things Padfoot does are things that Sirius—the man, but not the
dog—has reason to do. So much for that solution. Another possible solution
is that Padfoot is part man and part dog. I rejected this solution earlier
because it doesn’t make sense of Padfoot’ s humanlike behaviors. But
perhaps I was too hastLIZHILUVWDGRSWWKHWKHRU that some of the things
one does can be explained bRQH
s bodDQGVRPHE one’s mind, then we
can saWKDWGRJV GRJV
ERGLHV VRPHWLPHVFKDVHWKHLUWDLOVDQGEHFDXVe
Padfoot has a dog’s body, he chases his tail.
Let’s push a bit deeper here. This theorEULQJVZLWKLWRWKHUFRVWVDQd
commitments, some of which we maQRWOLNH$FFRUGLQJWRWKLVWKHRUy ,
we’re able to explain the oddities in Padfoot’s behavior because he has a
dog’s body . Presumably , Padfoot’s having a dog’ s bodH[SODLQVKLs
behavior because for animals the phVLFDOERG sometimes trumps reason.
That seems odd to me. Perhaps RXWKLQNWKDWVRPHDQLPDOVLQFOXGLQg
dogs, don’t reason verZHOORUGRQ
t do things for reasons, so, for them,
talk of the reasons for their behavior is misplaced. If that’ s what RXWKLQN,
then RXWKLQNWKDWWKHWKLQJVWKRVHDQLPDOVGRLVEHVWH[SODLQHGE facts
about their bodies. But how could this explain Padfoot’s behavior? He has a
mind—a human mind—and we think that some of the things he does he
performs as a consequence of having this mind (such as standing on his
hind legs when saLQJJRRGEe to HarrDW.LQJ
s Cross Station). What is
it about having the bodRIDGRJWKDWDSSDUHQWO makes it hard for Sirius to
control that bod?
Consider as well what we have to saWRIXOO explain Padfoot’ s
behavior. Remember , the idea here is that some behavior is caused bRQH
s
mind and some bRQH
s body. Because Padfoot is a dog, he chases his tail,
as dogs do. But whGRGRJVFKDVHWKHLUWDLOV"3UHVXPDEOy , because it feels
good. But what could feeling good mean in this case? To whom does it feel
good? Does it feel good to Sirius, the human being? I doubt it; Sirius never
chases his tail. Does it feel good to Padfoot, the dog? It might. After all, it
feels good to other dogs to chase their tails. But Padfoot has a human mind.
Isn’t it in the mind that his feeling resides? If so, then this explanation tells
us that Padfoot chases his tail in order to cause good feelings in Sirius’ s
mind. And this is odd because, as we noted, Sirius never chases his own tail

(or, for that matter , his own rear end). But if feeling resides in the body ,
then we have to saWKDW3DGIRRW
s bodKDVUHDVRQVIRUDFWLQJDVLWGRHV,
and Padfoot’s mind (which is Sirius’ s mind) has reasons for acting as it
does. It’s possible, then, that these reasons could clash. Sirius might end up
later saLQJWR+DUUy , “I didn’t want to chase mWDLO ,ZDQWHGWRZDOk
with RX EXWP bodZDQWHGWRFKDVHP tail.” This would be quite odd,
to saWKHOHDVW.

A Unified Self
So, I don’t think this theor WKDWPLQGVDQGERGLHVDUHGLVWLQFWDQGWKDt
some of the things one does can be explained bRQH
s mind and other
things bRQH
s bod LVDJRRGH[SODQDWLRQIRU3DGIRRW
s odd behavior.
The problem, I think, stems from the waWKHWKHRU invites us to think
about minds and bodies. I’ve been talking about the relation between
Sirius’s mind and his bod DV3DGIRRW LQDZD that comes naturallZKHn
we adopt this distinction: that the mind directs the bodOLNHDFDSWDLn
directing a ship. That is, that theDUHZKROO distinct entities and the mind
must somehow bring the bodWRREH its will. This is what it feels like
sometimes. For example, athletes talk of asking their bodies to run faster or
jump higher . But even Descartes, the author of this distinction, rejects this
waRIWKLQNLQJDERXWWKHUHODWLRQEHWZHHQPLQGDQGERGy . “I am not only
lodged in mERGy, like a pilot in his ship. But, besides, . . . I am joined to it
verFORVHO and indeed so compounded and intermingled with mERGy ,
that I form, as it were, a single whole with it.” 8 Even Descartes, that is,
rejects the idea that the bodDQGWKHPLQGDUHFRPSOHWHO distinct. TheDUe
interwoven entities, not distinct, but reallDXQLWVRWKDWGHWDLOVDERXWRQe
have an effect on the other . Think of how RXIHHOZKHQou are sick, or
how RXIHOWZKHQou were learning to ride RXUELNH7KHSKsical state
of RXUERG has a direct ef fect on how RXWKLQNDERXWWKHZRUOGRQWKe
state of RXUPLQG,GRQ
t think it would be an exaggeration to saWKDt
RXUERG has a direct effect on who RXDUH. 9
How can this be? Let me draw RXUDWWHQWLRQWRDFRXSOHRIGHWDLOVIURm
Deathl+DOORZs . First, when Ron, Harry, and Hermione take the PolMXLFe
Potion and sneak into the MinistrRI0DJLF+DUU is now in the bodRf
Runcorn, a much larger and more phVLFDOO intimidating man than Harry .
He proceeds to act in un-HarrOLNHZDs. He “thunders” with a “powerful
voice,” dominating the Atrium and causing the wizards there to freeze. He
also punches a wizard with “an enormous fist.” What’ s noteworthKHUHLs
not that Harr5XQFRUQ
s bodLVODrge and so has the enormous fist and the
powerful voice that naturallJRZLWKDODr ge man. What’s noteworthLs

that these are Harr
s acts, done for Harr
s reasons—remember, Runcorn
is in league with the Death Eaters—but the acts are natural onlLn
Runcorn’s body. In his own body , HarrZRXOGQ
t have “thundered” “Stop!”
He might have HOOHGLWEXWKHSUREDEO would have chosen some other ,
more productive action, given that his voice doesn’t conveWKHVDPHSRZHr
that Runcorn’s does. Nor would striking the wizard seem to be such an
obvious choice. These are the right choices for HarrWRPDNHLQWKLs
situation, given Harr
s reasons and Runcorn’ s body. (Contrast this with a
detail that, I suggest, Rowling gets wrong: when HarrWUDQVIRUPVLQWo
Runcorn, he judges “from his well-muscled arms” that he is “powerfully
built.” 10 MVXVSLFLRQLVWKDW+DUU would feel powerfullEXLOWKHZRXOd
have no need to observe his well-muscled arms in order to judge that he is
powerfullEXLOW2QWKHRWKHUKDQG5RZOLQJ
s descriptions of Harr
s
feelings in other similar situations, such as the natural feeling he has when
submerged in the lake after he eats gillZHHGDUHVSRWRQ) 11
Second, even though HarrKDVWDNHQ3ROjuice Potion before Bill
W easleDQG)OHXU'HODFRXr ’s wedding, Luna Lovegood is able to
recognize him. She sees HarrLQ%DUQ W easle
s” facial expression. This
shouldn’ t be possible if there is a distinction between Harr
s mind and
Barn
s body. Barn
s facial expressions should be his own; theVKRXOGEe
the facial expressions his bodPDNHVHYHQZKHQLW
s Harr
s mind that’ s
causing them. Consider this thought experiment: suppose we were able to
hook up RXUEUDLQWRVRPHRQHHOVH
s body, so that RXUEUDLQour
thoughts, controlled the other person’ s body. Likewise, the sensorLQSXWs
that the bodUHFHLYHVZRXOGEHUHODed to RXUEUDLQ7KHQVXSSRVHZHWHOl
RX YLDWKHRWKHUSHUVRQ DVKRFNLQJVHFUHWEXWRQHWKDWWKHRWKHUSHUVRn
alreadNQHw . What will happen? First, RXZLOOEHVXUSULVHGEXWour host
will not be surprised. Second, RXUKRVW
s face will register the surprise that
RXIHHO QRWWKHVXUSULVHWKDWour host feels, for she is not surprised). W ill
that face look like RXUIDFHVXUSULVHG"1RLW
s not RXUIDFH,WZLOOORRk
like RXUKRVW
s face, surprised. Friends of RXUKRVWZLOOUHPDUNRQWKLV:
“WhGRHV0DU look surprised? She knew such-and-such already .” They
won’t wonder wh0DU is making that peculiar expression (RXUVXUSULVHd
expression), because MarZRQ
t be making that expression; she’ll be
making her normal surprised expression. But when HarrWUDQVIRUPVLQWo
Barny, Barn
s expression becomes Harr
s. Similarly, when HarrDQG5Rn
run into Arthur W easleZKLOHLQILOWUDWLQJWKH0LQLVWU of Magic, Harry

realizes that Ron is not looking his father in the eHVIRUIHDUWKDWKLVIDWKHr
will recognize him if he does so.
The first scenario is an example of one’s new bodDffecting how one
thinks and acts. The second is an example of one’ s mind affecting how
one’s new bodORRNV,
PVXJJHVWLQJWKDWWKHPLQGDQGWKHERG of the
transformed person is a unified whole, not a pairing of discrete elements.
Otherwise, we cannot make sense of the behaviors in which the transformed
person engages. Does this help with understanding Padfoot’ s behaviors? It
seems that it does: Padfoot is neither man nor dog, but a combination of the
two, so he chases his tail because it feels good, as do other dogs.
What about Crouch and Mood"2QHWKLQJZHPLJKWQRWLFHDERXt
Animagi and werewolves is that theEHFRPHGLfferent kinds of beings
when theWUDQVIRUP,W
s no wonder that some of Padfoot’ s behaviors are
odd. When he behaves like a human, he’ s doing odd things for a dog, and
when he behaves like a dog, his behavior is odd for a human. When
someone uses PolMXLFHWRWUDQVIRUPKRZHYHr , he or she remains human,
and so that person’s bodGRHVQ
t engage in such odd behavior . But I’ll bet
that some behaviors that didn’ t feel right before would feel right after
transforming. Think about the transformations we Muggles under go:
activities that felt right before we lost a lot of weight feel odd afterward
(and vice versa). Riding a bike feels alien and awkward until one learns
how, and then it feels like the most natural thing in the world. W e do things
that change our bodies, and as a result, we change how we interact with the
world. When we change our bodies in this way, we are at root changing
who we are. I think at least part of the explanation for Crouch’ s behavior
when he is MoodLVWKDWFHUWDLQDFWLRQVMXVWIHHOULJKWIRUKLP.
Crouch/MoodLVOLNH3DGIRRWDQGOLNHWKHUHVWRIXVDQLQGLYLVLEOHZKROH,
made up of mind and body, both of which contribute to the identitRIWKe
whole.
So, is Sirius a man or a dog? 12 That depends on what he looks like.
When he looks like a man, he’ s a man. When he looks like a dog, he’ s
neither. Padfoot—Sirius, when he looks like a dog—is a third kind of thing,
reducible to neither a dog nor a man. He’ s a unique kind of being—a man-
dog—that combines features of both humans and dogs. This view , I claim,
makes the most sense of Rowling’s text and accords well with our best
contemporarWKHRULHVRIWKHVHOI$V'HVFDUWHVVDLGPLQGDQGERG truly
do form a “single whole.” The nature of this entitLVGHWHUPLQHGE both

one’s mind and one’ s body, even if one’ s bodKDSSHQVWREHWKHERG of a
dog.

NOTES
1 The Resurrection Stone being irretrievablORVWZHFDQ
t use that
avenue of inquiry. Of course, RXPLJKWWKLQNWKHUH
s a more fundamental
problem: Sirius is a fictional character . Details, details. Regardless, I think
we can learn something about real people if we paFDUHIXODWWHQWLRQWRWKLs
mVWHU about Sirius. So I plan to ignore the peskGHWDLOWKDW6LULXVLs
fictional and instead treat Rowling as if she were a historian of a previously
unknown part of reality. I’ll take what she saVWREHUHODWLYHO accurate,
with the goal of making sense of Sirius’ s behavior and perhaps shedding
some light on ourselves in the process.
2 Unlike the rest of these transformers, boggarts are not examples of
humans transformed into other shapes.
3 Tolkien fans will recognize similarities between Rowling’ s Animagi
and J. R. R. Tolkien’s “skin-changers,” such as Beorn in The Hobbit .
Tolkien clearlSUHVHQWV%HRUQDVDKXPDQZKRFDQPDJLFDOO transform his
human bodLQWRWKHERG of a lar ge bear. His behavior as a bear is quite
unhuman. Interestingly , in contrast to the wa5RZOLQJWpicallSRUWUDs
Animagi, Beorn has bearlike habits when he is in human form, such as a
taste for honey, a lack of interest in wealth or jewels, and an “appalling”
temper.
4 You might agree with me that Crouch/Mood
s behavior is out of
character for Crouch. If so, then RXDUHOLNHO to find his behavior just as
puzzling as Sirius’s behavior. Or RXPLJKWWKLQNWKDW&URXFKLVVLPSOy
trLQJWRPDNHKLPVHOIILWLQEHWWHUDW+RJZDUWV8QVFLHQWLILFSROOLQJWHOOs
me that I am in the minority . So be it. I’ll touch, but not dwell, on
Crouch/Mood
s behavior further on.
5 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 591.
6 PolMXLFHFDVHVDUHPXFKFOHDUHUZKHQ+DUU becomes Gregory
GoOHLW
s not the case that GoOHKDVWZRERGLHVRQHLQWKHFORVHWWKe
other in the SlWKHULQFRPPRQURRP,QVWHDG+DUU’ s bodQRZORRNVOLNe
GoOH
s, as if theZHUHLGHQWLFDOWZLQV.
7 Order of the Phoenix , p. 183.

8 René Descartes, Meditations , translated bF. E. Sutcliffe
(Harmondworth, UK: Penguin Books, 1968), p. 159.
9 As an aside, I don’ t want to leave the impression that Descartes had
this view. His view was quite the opposite, for although he did think the
mind and the bodZHUHWLJKWO joined,” he also thought that the mind and
the bodZHUHHVVHQWLDOO distinct. The view I am proposing is that the mind
and the bodWRJHWKHUIRUPDZKROHWKDWLVWKHVHOI7KHPLQG,VXJJHVW,
cannot exist without the body .
10 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 240.
11 When HarrWDNHV3ROjuice in Chamber of Secr ets , Rowling reports
that “GoOH
s low rasp of a voice issued from his mouth” (p. 217). Compare
this to the movie, which depicts HarrDVWUing to imitate GoOH
s voice. I
hope that RXDJUHHZLWKPHWKDW5RZOLQJLVPRUHDFFXUDWHRQWKLVSRLQt
than the movie is: the voice with which HarrVSHDNVLVGHWHUPLQHGE his
body. If his bodLVVKDSHGOLNH*Rle’ s, then his voice should sound like
GoOH
s.
12 There are other related questions particular to the world of Harry
Potter that are worth investigating. For example, notice that even when
adopting the bodRID0XJJOHZLWFKHVDQGZL]DUGVUHWDLQWKHLUPDJLFDl
powers. So, what’ s the source of one’ s magical powers? And how does the
shape a boggart takes af fect its identit",Q Prisoner of Azkaban , Harr
s
Patronus onlSUHYHQWVWKHERJJDUWGHPHQWRUIURPERWKHULQJKLPEXt
(unlike the portraDOLQWKHPRYLH /XSLQQHHGVWRXVHWKH5LGGLNXOXs
charm to force the boggart back into the chest. This suggests that while the
boggart might be af fected bWKHERG it adopts (the boggart as Severus
Snape moves the wa6QDSHPRYHV VRPHWKLQJRILWVERJJDUWQHVs
remains; one needs magic appropriate to boggarts to deal with it
completely. These questions are worth pursuing, but we don’ t have time
here. Those of RXSXUVXLQJour N.E.W.T.s in T ransfiguration should write
eighteen inches on these questions.

3
DESTINY IN THE WIZARDING WORLD
Jerem3LHUFe



The Potter stories portra3URIHVVRU6bill Trelawney, Hogwarts’
Divination teacher , as an “old fraud” whose sooth-saLQJFRPHVLn
pseudoscientific trappings. She teaches various techniques for predicting
the future, including tea leaves, planetarRUELWVSDOPUHDGLQJGUHDm
interpretation, tarot cards, and crVWDOEDOOV(DFKPHWKRGKDVUXOHVIRr
students to follow, but theKDYHOLWWOHVFLHQWLILFEDVLVT relawne
s
predictions often turn out wrong, such as her constantlUHSHDWHGIRUHFDVWRf
Harr
s premature death. She also accepts others’ fabricated predictions that
fit her preconceived ideas, for example, when she awards HarrDQG5Rn
WeasleWRSPDUNVIRUSUHGLFWLQJWUDJLFPLVIRUWXQHVLQWKHLULPPHGLDWe
futures.
Nevertheless, at least two of T relawne
s prophecies are dif ferent.
Professor Dumbledore calls them her onlWZRUHDOSUHGLFWLRQV. 1
Normally, TrelawneVSHDNVLQVXFKHODVWLFJHQHUDOLWLHVDERXWFRPPRQ-
enough occurrences that she’ll usuallILQGVRPHWKLQJWKDWILWV$VFLHQFH-
minded Muggle like V ernon DurslePLJKWUHMHFWGLYLQDWLRQDVDUHOLDEOe

predictor. What do the alignment of the planets and the random assignment
of tarot cards in a deck have to do with the processes that lead to certain
events happening rather than others? But this is a magical world, even if the
DursleVGRQ
t like it. Couldn’ t magic connect tea leaves or dreams with
actual future events?
Unfortunately, TrelawneXVXDOO comes across as a complete fraud, and
her usual methods are probablHLWKHUQRQPDJLFDORUXQUHOLDEOHPDJLF.
Professor McGonagall tells Harr
s class that divination “is one of the most
imprecise branches of magic. I shall not conceal from RXWKDW,KDYHYHUy
little patience with it. True Seers are verUDUHDQG3URIHVVRUT relawne.
2 She stops short to avoid speaking ill of a colleague, but the point is clear .
SELOOTrelawneLVQ
t a true Seer.
Similarly, the centaur Firenze distinguishes between T relawneDQd
genuine Seers. “SELOOTrelawnePD have Seen, I do not know .... But she
wastes her time, in the main, on the self-flattering nonsense humans call
fortune-telling.” 3 He respects and practices prophecy, despite
acknowledging its fallibility, but he distinguishes it from the nonsense of
fortune-telling. That raises a question about genuine prophecies. What does
it mean to saWKH’re real, and how are theGLf ferent from the others?
Even Dumbledore, skeptical about most divination, acknowledges two of
Trelawne
s predictions as dif ferent, and Firenze also admits the possibility .
So, what is this distinction?

Varieties of Pr ophecy
Do “real predictions” derive from what will actuallKDSSHQ",VWKe
future “fixed” so that there’ s just one future? Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.)
gets credit for first raising this issue. 4 Is it true when HarrILUVWDWWHQGs
Hogwarts that he’ll have a final face-of f with Voldemort seven HDUVODWHU?
If the future is fixed, there’ s onlRQHIXWXUHDQGLWZLOOKDSSHQ7KLs
isn’t to saWKDWLWZLOOKDSSHQQRPDWWHUZKDWDQone does. It could happen
because of what theGRDQGLIWKH did something else, a dif ferent future
would happen. But part of the fixed future is what the
OOGR%HLQJIL[Hd
also doesn’t necessarilPHDQWKHIXWXUHLVSUHGHWHUPLQHG3HRSOHZKo
believe the future is fixed maQRWEHGHWHUPLQLVWVDOWKRXJKVRPHDUH.
Prophecies can be fallible or infallible. An infallible prophecLs
guaranteed to be true. It couldn’ t have been wrong. BFRQWUDVWIDOOLEOe
prophecies could be wrong. False prophecies are fallible because the
Ue
actuallZURQJEXWWUXHSURSKHFLHVFDQDOVREHIDOOLEOH$OOLWWDNHVLs
possiblJHWWLQJLWZURQJ)DOOLELOLW isn’ t about how sure we can be of
whether a prophecZLOOFRPHWUXH,PLJKWEHYHU unsure of an infallible
prophecLI,GRQ
t understand its secure basis. I might be verVXUHRIa
fallible prophecy, even a false one, if I lack crucial facts.
ExactlKRZGRHVD6HHUJDLQDFFHVVWRLQIRUPDWLRQLQDSURSKHF? Here
are several possibilities:
1. A prophec might be a fall ible prediction based on human
observations through the five senses. Muggle weather reports and
Trelawne
s prophecies are like this.
2. If the future isn’t fixed, all of the information in the univer se
wouldn’ t be enough to guarante e a correct prediction. But there might
be enou gh to expect probabilities. Perhaps the Seer gains access to
possible or likel futures. MaEH Trelawne sees possible futures but
can’t discern the most likel ones and must speak in vague
generalities. Dumbledore saV “The consequences of our actions are
alwaV so comp licated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very

difficult business indeed.... Professor Trelawney , bless her, is living
proof of that.” 5
3. A prophec might be a fallible prediction based on a limite d
understanding of a deterministic world. If the future is predetermined
b the current state of the world and the laws of nature, and the Seer
has impe rfect access to it through signs of what causes it, then the Seer
views a fixed future. Magic derives information from the natural forces
that lead to that future, but it ma not give perfect information. Or the
Seer might magicall behold a fixed future without interpreting it
correctly, perhaps because of partial information.
4. A soothsae r ma be skille d at using predictions to mak e
people do things. Such a “Seer ” could influence people b knowing
how an audience is likel to respond to a prophecy . As we’ll see
shortly , Dumbledore thinks Trelawne
s first “real prediction” led
Voldemort to choose Harr to kill, marking Harr as his equal.
Trelawne didn’t intend anWKLn g, but the prophec plaV a role in its
own fulfillment.
5. An infallible prediction might come from a complete
understanding of the determ inistic processes that guaran tee an
outcome. This would need an all-knowing being or magical forces
influenced bGHWHUPLQLVWLFSURFHVVHV.
6. An infallible prediction might come from infallible access to
the actual future. This might be b magic or through someone who has
direct contact with the future, perhaps a divine being or a person with
cross-time communication. Or a Seer might have the abilit to see into
the actual future (not merelLQWRSRVVLEOHIXWXUHV .
7. Finally , a prophec could combine fallibilit and infallibility ,
with infallible access to some fixed fact about the future and fallibility
about another aspect. The fallibilit might come either from imperfect
access to a fixed fact or from information about likelIXWXUHV.
So, the question before us is what kind of prophec3URIHVVRr
Trelawne
s genuine prophecies are, as opposed to her usual fortune-telling.

Fallible Prophecies
Most of Trelawne
s predictions are perfect examples of the first
categor IDOOLEOHSUHGLFWLRQVEDVHGRQVHQVRU experience. The
UHXVXDOOy
vague or open-ended enough to find something to fit them, but there maEe
no guarantee, and it won’ t alwaVILWZHOO.
It’s easWRVHHKRZJHQHUDOSURSKHFLHVPLJKWDWEHVWEHRQO probable,
even if some are very likely . Trelawne
s predictions don’ t come from an
infallible source but from her abilitWRSUHGLFWOLNHO enough things,
sometimes based on background information. ManRIKHUSUHGLFWLRQVDUe
easWRIXOILOO2WKHUVPD happen to be right bDFFLGHQW6RPHDUHIDOVH,
such as her forecasts of Harr
s imminent death.
Dumbledore seems to treat all prophecies as fallible when he tells Harry
that the first of Trelawne
s real prophecies didn’ t have to come true:
“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches....
Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month
dies . . . and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have
power the Dark Lord knows not . . . and either must die at the hand of
the other for neither can live while the other survives.” 6
Dumbledore suggests to HarrWKDWVRPHSURSKHFLHVWXUQRXWWREHIDOVH.
“Do RXWKLQNHYHU prophecLQWKH+DOORI3URSKHF has been fulfilled?” 7
He continues, “The prophecGRHVQRWPHDQou have to do anWKLQJ.
In other words, RXDUHIUHHWRFKRRVHour way , quite free to turn RXUEDFk
on the prophec. 8 Voldemort’ s obsession with the prophecZLOOOHDGKLm
to seek out Harry , and as a result, the
OODOPRVWFHUWDLQO face of f, but not
because this was “fated” bWKHSURSKHFy.
So, prophecies can varLQOLNHOLKRRG,VWKDWWKHGLVWLQJXLVKLQJIDFWRr
between “real predictions” and Trelawne
s usual saLQJV"6RPHDUHOLNHOy
to be true because the
UHEDVHGRQKHUSHUFHSWLRQVRIZKDWWHQGVWRKDSSHQ,
and she makes them vague enough to be likely . Others are more genuine
because the
UHPRUHOLNHOy. This is a difference of degree. The
UHERWh
matters of likelihood, although some are more likely . But when
Dumbledore treats two prophecies as special, doesn’ t it seem as if the
Ue

more special than that? Indeed, there’s still something different about them.
The two “real predictions” were purelLQYROXQWDU and have a magical
source. TheDUHQ
t categorZKLFKLQYROYHVDFWLYHO paLQJDWWHQWLRQ.
TrelawnePXVWKDYHKDGDVWURQJHUFRQQHFWLRQZLWKWKHIXWXUHDn
occasional abilitWRFRQQHFWZLWKDQDFWXDOIL[HGIXWXUH FDWHJRU 3) or
possible futures (categor .
There are also some indications that Professor T relawneKDs
inconsistent access to the future or to possible futures, even when
conscious. Consider the following example when HarrLVKHDGLQJWRKLs
first private lesson with Dumbledore in Half-Blood Prince :
Harr proceeded through deserted corridors, though he had to step
hastil behind a statue when Professor Trelawne appeared around a
corner, muttering to herself as she shuffled a pack of dirtORRNLQg
plaLQJFDUGVUHDGLQJWKHPDVVKHZDONHG.
“Two of spades: conflict,” she murmured, as she passed the place
where Harr crouched, hidden. “Seven of spades: an ill omen. Ten of
spades: violence. Knave of spades: a dark RXQJ man, possibly
troubled, one who dislikes the questioner—” She stopped dead, right
on the other side of Harr
s statue. “Well, that can’t be right,” she said,
annoHG and Harr heard her reshuf fling vigorousl as she set off
again, leaving nothing but a whif f of cooking sherrEHKLQGKHr. 9
What she saVFRXOGHDVLO applWR+DUUy , but she has no inkling of his
presence. Is that likelWREHDFRLQFLGHQFH?
HarrHQFRXQWHUVKHUDJDLQRQKLVZD to his last appointment with
Dumbledore before theOHDYHIRUVoldemort’s cave:
“If Dum bledore chooses to ignore the warnings the cards show— ”
Her bon hand closed suddenl around Harr
s wrist. “Again and
again, no matter how I la them out—” And she pulled a card
dramaticall from underneath her shawls. “—the lightning -struck
tower,” she whispered. “Calamity. Disaster . Coming nearer all the
time.” 10
This is so vague that it might just be categorEXWWKHWRZHULs
significant in light of the book’ s finale, which not onlLQFOXGHs
Dumbledore’s death but even leads to a bigger disaster , as the Death Eaters
seize power.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
Dumbledore suggests that T relawne
s first real prediction might be
self-fulfilling. He tells Harry , “It maQRWKDYHPHDQWou at all,” because
Neville Longbottom had been born a daHDUOLHr , and his parents had also
thrice defied Voldemort. 11 But then a few paragraphs later , he tells Harry,
“There is no doubt that it is RXEHFDXVHV oldemort’s choice to go after
Harry, rather than Neville, led to his marking HarrDVKLVHTXDO$FFRUGLQg
to Dumbledore’ s interpretation, the prophecGLGQ
t itself determine
whether it was about HarrRU1HYLOOHV oldemort’s choice of HarrPDGHLt
true of Harry . He wouldn’ t have attacked HarrKDGWKHUHQRWEHHQa
prophecy, and so the prophecOHGKLPWRIXOILOOWKDWSDUWRILWVHOI.
Alexander of Aphrodisias, a philosopher during the late first and early
second centuries, discussed self-fulfilling predictions. In the storRf
Oedipus, Apollo makes a prophecWR.LQJ/DLXVWKDWKLVIXWXUHVRQZLOl
kill him. Some of Alexander ’s contemporaries believed that Apollo’ s
prophecFDXVHG/DLXVWRWU to kill his son, which eventuallOHG2HGLSXs
to kill his father (without knowing it was his father). Alexander gives a
number of arguments against this position, but one response is telling:
Well, if someone saV these things, how does he . . . preserve
prophec . . . ? For prophec is thought to be prediction of the things
that are going to happen, but the make Apollo the author of the things
he predicts.... How is this not the deed of him who prophesied, rather
than revelation of the things that were going to be? 12
We can imagine someone seeming to foretell the future but reallMXVt
causing the events that lead to the predicted future. Alexander saVLW
s not a
genuine prophecXQOHVVLW
s alreadWUXHWKDWWKRVHHYHQWVDUHJRLQJWo
happen, and the speaker predicts them because he knows the
OOKDSSHQ,f
the words are simplDQDWWHPSWWRPDQLSXODWHHYHQWVWKH’re not a genuine
prophecy.
A real prophecFRXOGFDXVHZKDWLWGHVFULEHVEXWWKLVLVQ
t true of
Trelawne
s first prophecy . It didn’t cause Voldemort to go after Harry . He
could have gone after Neville, but Dumbledore notices he chose HarrDVa

“half-blood, like himself. He saw himself in RXEHIRUHKHKDGHYHUVHHn
RX. 13 What made him choose HarrZDVQ
t the prophecy, which didn’t
cause him to go after anRQe . Dumbledore suggests that if V oldemort had
heard the whole prophecy, he might not have been so hasty . When Harry
asks whVoldemort hadn’ t waited to figure out which one it was (or , I
might add, killed both), Dumbledore saVV oldemort had incomplete
information because his sp ODWHUUHYHDOHGDV6HYHUXV6QDSH ZDVWKURZn
out of the room halfwaWKURXJKWKHSURSKHF:
“Consequently, he could not warn his master that to attack Ru
would be to risk transferring power to RX DJDLQ marking Ru as his
equal. So Voldemort never knew that there might be danger in
attacking RX that it might be wise to wait or learn more. He did not
know that RXZRXOGKDYH SRZHUWKH'DUN/RUGNQRZVQRW
. 14
The prophecE itself couldn’ t have made Voldemort do anWKLQJ+e
heard some of the prophecy , but it didn’t ensure anWKLQJ,WFRXOGQ
t
control how much Snape heard. If V oldemort had heard the rest, he might
not have chosen to do anWKLQJ6RLWGRHVQ
t seem as if the self-fulfilling
interpretation of prophecies is a good waWRGLVWLQJXLVKUHDOSUHGLFWLRQV.
from Professor Trelawne
s usual prophecies.

Destiny
In a 2007 interview with a Dutch newspaper, J. K. Rowling said that her
use of Professor TrelawneUHIOHFWHGKHUYLHZWKDWWKHUH
s no such thing as
destiny. 15 What does this denial of destinDPRXQWWR?
A compatibilist about freedom and predetermination thinks we can be
free even if our choices are determined bWKLQJVRXWVLGHRXUFRQWURO6RPe
compatibilists saWKHUH
s just one possible outcome, the actual future. Other
compatibilists speak of possible choices, meaning we can consider various
options and then pick one, even if our deliberation is predetermined by
things outside our control. A libertarian about freedom holds that we have
options because there’s nothing that guarantees our choices ahead of time.
This is more than compatibilism allows, because the libertarian considers
predetermined choices unfree.
Some libertarians believe in a fixed future, meaning there are truths now
about what will happen. You might have man possible futures open to RX,
even if there’ s onlRQH actual future that will happen. 16 Other libertarians,
thinking that such truths about future choices would threaten our freedom,
insist on an open future, where statements about our future free choices are
neither true nor false (until those choices are made).
The most natural denial of destinLVWKHRSHQIXWXUHYLHw . No future
statements about people’s free choices are true or false. Y et someone
denLQJGHVWLQ could mean that there are possible futures open to us,
without denLQJWKDWRQO one of them is the actual future. It’ s possible
Rowling means just that, in which case she might even be a compatibilist,
although this kind of language is more tSLFDORIDOLEHUWDULDQ.
Dumbledore tells HarrWKDWWKHSURSKHF about him doesn’t have to be
fulfilled just because it’s a real prophecy. Does Dumbledore mean there’ s
no fact about whether it will be fulfilled, and it becomes a genuine
prophecRQO when the foretold event occurs or is guaranteed to happen?
Or does he mean the prophecGRHVQ
t make HarrRUVoldemort do
anWKLQJ":KDWLWSUHGLFWVLVWKHDFWXDOIXWXUHEXWRWKHUIXWXUHVDUe

possible. We need to delve more deeplLQWRWKH3RWWHUERRNVWRVHHZKDt
kind of destinWKHUHLVDQGLVQ
t in Harr
s world.

A Rodent’s Destiny
In Prisoner of Azkaban , Professor T relawnePDNHVDVHFRQGUHDl
prediction”:
“The Dark Lord lies alone and friendless, abandoned b his
followers. His servant has been chained these twelve HDUV Tonight,
before midnight . . . the servant will break free and set out to rejoin his
master . The Dark Lord will rise again with his servant’ s aid, greater
and more terrible than ever he was. Tonight . . . before midnight . . .
the servant . . . will set out . . . to rejoin ... his master .” 17
If the prophecWKDWRQHRIVoldemort’s followers would go to him that
night was overwhelminglOLNHOy , then Wormtail must have been extremely
likelWRHVFDSHWKDWQLJKW2WKHUIROORZHUVZKRZHUHFDSDEOHRIJRLQJZHUe
unlikelWRWUy . If Remus Lupin had remembered to take his W olfsbane
potion to manage his werewolf transformation or someone had responded
more quicklZKHQWormtail transformed, W ormtail might not have
escaped. If a “real prediction” involves greater likelihood, this should be a
likelRXWFRPH,WGRHVQ
t seem likely, so this particular prophecLVKDUGWo
see as fallible but likely .
The earlier prophecLVVLPLODr . Even if Voldemort was likelWRJRDIWHr
Harry, how probable was it that W ormtail would become secret-keeper at
the last minute? Voldemort wouldn’ t otherwise have marked HarrDQd
given him power “the Dark Lord knows not.” If V oldemort hadn’t told
Snape his plan, Snape wouldn’ t have begged for Lil3RWWHUWREHVSDUHG,
and LilZRXOGQ
t have had to make a voluntarSURWHFWLYHVDFULILFH$JDLQ,
HarrZRXOGQ
t have been marked. Thus, this prediction also seems to be
“real” in some stronger sense than simplEHLQJOLNHO but fallible.”

Time T ravel and Fixed T ime
To make sense of Rowling’ s views on prophecDQGGHVWLQy , we must
consider what she saVDERXWWLPHWUDYHO,IWLPHWUDYHOFDQFKDQJHWKHSDVW,
it allows serious paradoxes, such as the case Hermione Granger mentions of
killing RXUSDVWVHOIEHIRUHou could travel back and kill RXUVHOI,Iou
did that, RXZRXOGQ
t have lived long enough to go back in time to have
done it. You can’t change the past according to the fixed-time theory , and
that means RXZRQ
t kill RXUVHOIYou alreadVXUYLYHGVRLWZRQ
t
happen because it didn’t happen. In Harr
s one instance of time travel,
Hermione and he travel back in time three hours, carefullDYRLGLQJEHLQg
seen. TheDFFRPSOLVKZKDWWKH set out to do, saving Buckbeak and Sirius
Black. There’s never anLQGLFDWLRQRIDFKDQJH7KHHQWLUHDFFRXQWILWs
nicelZLWKZKDWZHDOUHDG knew about that three-hour period.
We find out the second time around that later -HarrFDVWWKHVWDg
Patronus that saved earlier-HarrIURPWKHGHPHQWRUV$IL[HGYLHZRIWLPe
fits this best. If HarrLVVDYHGE the Patronus stag the first time around and
then casts it the second time around, the best explanation is that Harr
s
later self was there all along. Yet future events cause those present actions,
which means the future must happen a certain waIRU+DUU and Hermione
to have been able to travel back in time to do these things. A fixed view of
time allows for this.
Nevertheless, Hermione describes time travel in a waWKDWDOORZs
changing the past. “We’re breaking one of the most important wizarding
laws! Nobod
s supposed to change time, nobod. 18 She adds later,
“Professor McGonagall told me what awful things have happened when
wizards have meddled with time.... Loads of them ended up killing their
past or future selves bPLVWDNH. 19 If we trust a trustworthFKDUDFWHr
reporting on another trustworthFKDUDFWHr ’s statements, then in Harr
s
world the past can be changed. That would mean time isn’ t fixed.
It’s highlXQOLNHO that McGonagall is lLQJRUWKDW+HUPLRQe
misinterprets her or lies about it to Harry . It’s possible (but still unlikel)
that the MinistrRI0DJLFKDVVSUHDGPLVLQIRUPDWLRQDERXWDJXDUGHd

magical subject and that even McGonagall doesn’t know the truth. Some
maILQGWKDWDVWUHWFK%XWWKHDOWHUQDWLYHLIWKHVWRULHVDUHWREHFRQVLVWHQW,
is to take “time travel” in cases of changing the past as possibilitWUDYHl
and not time travel. 20 TheWUDYHOWRDQRWKHUSRVVLEOHWLPHOLQH7KHRQe
time-travel case in the novels does seem to be genuine time travel, so it’ s
not clear what mechanism would make it possibilitWUDYHOLQRQO past-
changing cases.
Aside from these puzzles about time travel, perhaps the most
compelling argument for fixed time is that it fits best with current phVLFV.
Absolute space-time is often considered incompatible with special
relativity. An open future requires an absolute present moment, after which
little is fixed. But there is no absolute present. What we call the present is
relative to a frame of reference. There can’ t be an absolute future if special
relativitLVFRUUHFW. 21
With a fixed future and prophetic access to it, T relawne
s first
prophecGRHVQ
t just happen to get it right, despite being unlikely . It is
guaranteed to be right, even if manRIWKHHYHQWVDORQJWKHSDWKWo
fulfilling it seem unlikely. We might even conclude something stronger than
simplWKDWWKHIXWXUHLVIL[HG0DQ unlikelHYHQWVKDSSHQWROHDGWRa
prophesied event. A lot of chance events could have gone the other waWo
prevent the prophec
s fulfillment.
HarrDQGKLVIULHQGVGHIHDWV oldemort and his followers, despite
overwhelming odds, partlIURPVKHHUOXFNDQGLWIXOILOOVDSURSKHFy .
That’s hard to make sense of without a stronger connection between the
prophecDQGWKHDFWXDOIXWXUH,WVHHPVOXFN that HarrDQGKLVIULHQGs
have spent time in Moaning MUWOH
s bathroom making PolMXLFH3RWLRQ,
which helps them locate the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets. They
might have tried something different to figure out what Draco MalfoNQHw
or might have brewed the potion elsewhere. Their choice of that bathroom
allows HarrWRILQGWKH&KDPEHr , save GinnWeasle
s life, destroa
Horcrux, make the Sword of Grf findor capable of destroLQJIXUWKHr
Horcruxes, leave behind the basilisk fang to destroWKH&XS+RUFUX[DQd
alert Dumbledore to the fact that V oldemort must have made more than one
Horcrux. A fair amount depends on where theKDSSHQWRFKRRVHWREUHw
that potion.
ManRWKHUHYHQWVWKDWFRXOGKDYHJRQHRWKHUZLVHDUHFUXFLDOWRWKLQJs
working out in the end. Harr
s luck from Felix Felicis accomplishes a lot

more than he realizes, including seeminglXQOXFN things such as
Dumbledore’s death but also his obtaining Horace Slughorn’ s memorRf
Voldemort wanting to divide his soul into seven pieces bPDNLQJH[DFWOy
six Horcruxes. HarrKDGWKDWSRWLRQEHFDXVHKHKDGUHFHLYHG6QDSH
s
former Potions book, and that occurred onlEHFDXVH'XPEOHGRUHIDLOHGWo
inform HarrWKDWKHFRXOGWDNH3RWLRQVDQG+DUU’s change in
circumstances with Potions depended on Slughorn coming back to teach.
In the second half of Deathl+DOORZs , HarrDQGKLVIULHQGVKDSSHQWo
be captured bWKHJURXSWKDWKDG*ULSKRRN7KH arrive at Malfo0DQRr
during Voldemort’ s absence, after the fake Sword of Grf findor was stored
with a Horcrux whose location theGLGQ
t know. Snape had gotten the real
sword into their hands for it to be there for Bellatrix Lestrange to see it and
freak out, leading HarrWRVXVSHFWWKDWWKHKLGLQJSODFHRIWKHIDNHVZRUd
also contains a Horcrux.
HarrODWHUDUULYHVDWWKH6KULHNLQJ6KDFNMXVWDVV oldemort is about to
kill Snape, allowing Snape to conve'XPEOHGRUH
s last message to Harry.
All of these events rest on luck. Y ou might wonder whether some force
guided things along to ensure that the prophecZRXOGEHIXOILOOHG7KHIDFt
that so manFKDQFHHYHQWVOHGWRWKHSURSKHF’ s fulfillment might suggest
the influence of some divine being.
This would be a stronger destinWKDQPHUHO a fixed future, because it
involves the deliberate intentions of an intelligent being. Man&KULVWLDQV,
for example, have interpreted the Potter books to reflect a strong view of
divine providence, with God having a plan for the universe. That might
mean God predetermines all of our actions bPHDQVRISULRUHYHQWVFDXVLQg
them. But it could as easilLQYROYHOLEHUWDULDQIUHHGRPDVORQJDV*Rd
knows what people would do in all possible circumstances and therefore
knows infalliblZKDWIUHHFKRLFHVWKH maPDNH.
These luckFLUFXPVWDQFHVVHHPIDUWRRHDV if there isn’ t someone
guiding events toward certain outcomes. Such a view maQRWILWZKDt
Rowling intended to saZKHQVKHGHQLHGGHVWLQ and what Dumbledore
saVZKHQKHLQVLVWVWKDW+DUU or Voldemort could have done something
contrarWRWKHSURSKHFy. It’s hard to be sure what Rowling meant (and what
she meant Dumbledore to mean). But the storPDNHVEHWWHUVHQVHLIWKHUHLs
a deeper , providential explanation of the luckRFFXUUHQFHV,IQRW+DUUy
and his friends are just incrediblOXFN! 22

NOTES
1 Prisoner of Azkaban , p. 426.
2 Ibid., p. 109.
3 Order of the Phoenix , p. 603.
4 “On Interpretation,” chap. 9, reprinted in Aristotle: Intr oductory
Readings , edited bTerence Irwin and Gail Fine (Indianapolis: Hackett,
1996), pp. 11-15.
5 Prisoner of Azkaban , p. 426.
6 Order of the Phoenix , p. 841.
7 Half-Blood Prince , p. 510.
8 Ibid., p. 512.
9 Ibid., pp. 195-196.
10 Ibid., p. 543.
11 Or der of the Phoenix , p. 842.
12 Alexander ’s “On Fate,” 30-31, reprinted in V oices of Ancient
Philosoph$Q,QWr oductor5HDGHr , edited b-XOLD$QQDV 1HZY ork:
Oxford Universit3UHVV S.
13 Order of the Phoenix , p. 842.
14 Ibid., p. 843.
15 Volkskrant , November 2007. The interview is in Dutch, but it has
been translated into English at www .the-leak-
cauldron.or g/2007/11/19/new-interview-with-j-k-rowling-for -release-of-
dutch-edition-of-deathlKDOORZs (or http://tinXUOFRPpazb4 ). My
discussion relies entirelRQWKDW(QJOLVKWUDQVODWLRQ.
16 For an excellent defense of the compatibilitRIIRUHNQRZOHGJHDQd
libertarian freedom, see Gregor%DVVKDP
s chapter, “The Prophec'ULYHn
Life: Fate and Freedom at Hogwarts,” in Harr3RWWHUDQG3KLORVRSK: If
Aristotle Ran Hogwarts , edited b'DYLG%DJJHWWDQG6KDZQ(.OHLn
(Chicago: Open Court, 2004), pp. 223-225.
17 Prisoner of Azkaban , p. 324.
18 Ibid., p. 398.
19 Ibid., p. 399.

20 For a more in-depth discussion of time travel in the Potter novels,
see Michael Silberstein, “Space, Time, and Magic,” in Harr3RWWHUDQd
Philosophy , pp. 192-199.
21 This objection is developed in much more depth in Theodore Sider ,
Four-Dimensionalism: An OntologRI3HUVLVWHQFHDQGT ime (New York:
Oxford Universit3UHVV SS7KLVFKDSWHUDOVRGLVFXVVHVRWKHr
difficulties that arise if RXGHQ the fixed view of time.
22 Thanks to W ink&KLQ-RQDWKDQ,FKLNDZD3HWHU.LUN%HQ0XUSKy ,
Tim O’Keefe, Samantha Pierce, Re5Hnoso, and Brandon W atson for
comments at various stages of this chapter’s development.

PA RT T W O
THE MOST POWERFUL MAGIC OF ALL

4
CHOOSING LOVE
The Redemption of Severus Snape


Catherine Jack Deavel and David Paul Deavel



Although HarrIHOWDVDYDJHSOHDVXUHLQEODPLQJ6QDSHIRU6LULXs
Black’s death, easing his own sense of guilt, he can’ t get Professor
Dumbledore to agree. 1 In fact, Dumbledore finds Severus Snape completely
trustworthy, despite all appearances to the contrary . It might be tempting to
chalk up Harr
s suspicion to emotional immaturity , but, other than
Dumbledore, no members of the Order of the Phoenix trust Snape
wholeheartedly. After Snape kills Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall
murmurs, “We all wondered ... but [Dumbledore] trusted . . . alwaV. 2 She
continues, “He alwaVKLQWHGWKDWKHKDGDQLURQFODGUHDVRQIRUWUXVWLQg
Snape. . . . Dumbledore told me explicitlWKDW6QDSH
s repentance was
absolutelJHQXLQH 3 With so manOLYHVDWVWDNHKRZFRXOG'XPEOHGRUe
be so certain that Snape is loDODQGWUXVWZRUWK? 4

In a word, the answer is love—not Dumbledore’s love for Snape, nor
Snape’s for Harry , but Snape’ s love for Lil3RWWHr , Harr
s mother .
Although LilGRHVQ
t reciprocate Snape’s romantic love, Snape never stops
loving her, and that love eventuallOHDGVKRZHYHUFLUFXLWRXVOy , to his
redemption.
Enlightened contemporarUHDGHUVPLJKWVPLOHLQGXOJHQWO at the
rhetoric of love and redemption, chalking it up to J. K. Rowling’ s
sentimentality. After all, whWKLQNWKDWORYHLVDJRRGUHDVRQWRWUXVt
Snape? Clearly , Snape dislikes, even hates, Harry , Sirius, and others.
Shouldn’t Dumbledore worrWKDWWKLVPDOLFHPLJKWZLQWKHGD?
Furthermore, whWKLQNWKDW6QDSHKDVEHHQUHGHHPHG",VQ
t his hate
alreadHYLGHQFHWRWKHFRQWUDU? If he were redeemed, one might ar gue,
then these feelings would be gone. Appeals to love and its transforming
power are, of course, ubiquitous in literature, but aren’t such notions, at
root, just old-fashioned, quaint, and simplistic? What would a philosopher
saDERXWVXFKDWKLQJ"$VLWKDSSHQVSKLORVRSKHUVKDYHKDGTXLWHDORWWo
saDERXWORYH7KH have explored the nature of love, the varieties of love,
and even the waORYHFDQEOLQGXVDQGOHDGWRPLVWDNHVLQMXGJPHQW7Ke
Potter series, and Snape in particular, offers us a chance to explore these
issues as well.

Snape and the Man6SOHQGRred Thing
From Plato (around 428-348 B.C.E.) to C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), love
has been a recurring and prominent theme among great thinkers. Whatever
its source or ultimate significance, the manVSOHQGRUHGWKLQJRIORYHKDs
served as the inspiration for poets and plaZULJKWVQRYHOLVWVDQGHVVDists,
philosophers and theologians. The prominence of love as a theme in the
Potter books is hard to miss. Lil
s love saves and protects Harry. Harr
s
love defeats Professor Quirrell and prevents Lord V oldemort from
possessing Harr
s soul. And Voldemort’s fatal weakness, Dumbledore tells
us, is that he never understood that love is the most powerful magic of all.
In her refusal to water down love to something merelUKHWRULFDORr
sentimental, Rowling joins some elite philosophical company . Greek
philosophers distinguished between three kinds of love: eros, philia , and
agape Eros, or erotic love, is the tSHRIORYHIRXQGLQURPDQWLc
relationships. Mr . and Mrs. Weasley, Ron W easleDQG+HUPLRQH*UDQJHr ,
and HarrDQG*LQQ WeasleDUHJRRGH[DPSOHVRIVXFKORYH,QW estern
philosophy, the most famous analVLVRIHURWLFORYHLVFRQWDLQHGLQ3ODWR
s
SPSRVLXm , where Plato seeks to show how crude phVLFDOGHVLUHVFDQEe
progressivelUHILQHGWRGUDZWKHVRXOXSZDUGWRWKLQJVEHDXWLIXODQd
divine. Philia is friendship love. It’s important to see that friendship is
indeed a kind of love—rendering poignant and sad Dumbledore’ s
observation that Voldemort never had a friend or even wanted one. In fact,
for ancient Greeks and Romans, friendship was generallEHOLHYHGWREe
superior to romantic love. 5 The third tSHRIORYHDJDSHLVXQLYHUVDOVHOI-
giving, and unconditional love. When the Gospel writers tell us that “God is
love,” it is agape that theKDYHLQPLQG.
Traditional philosophical accounts of love help us make sense of
Snape’ s complicated character because theHPSKDVL]HWKDWORYHLVQRt
primarilDIHHOLQJEXWDFKRLFHDQDFWRIWKHZLOO,GHDOOy , our emotions will
be in harmonZLWKZKDWZHXQGHUVWDQGWREHWKHJRRGEXWZHFDQDFWIRr
the good even when our emotions rebel. The fact that Snape continues to
have conflicted emotions does not prove that he has not been transformed

bORYHTo the contrary , Snape’s abilitWRDFWFRQVLVWHQWO for the good of
others, despite his emotional indif ference to or even dislike of these
individuals, testifies to the strength of his love for Lily .

The Abandoned Bos
Snape is an intriguing character, in part because he shares origins
similar to Voldemort’s and Harr
s. Like HarrDQGV oldemort, Snape hails
from a mixed bloodline, which raises suspicions and hatreds in parts of both
the Muggle and the wizard worlds. Desperate to associate himself with his
mother’s family , the Princes, and downplaKLV0XJJOHDQFHVWUy , Snape
dubs himself “the Half-Blood Prince.” Having grown up in a home with
feuding parents, Snape finds his first real taste of home at Hogwarts—again
like HarrDQGVoldemort—using his magical powers and forming alliances
in the wizard world. As HarrREVHUYHVKHDQGV oldemort and Snape, “the
abandoned boVKDGDOOIRXQGKRPHWKHUH>DW+RJZDUWV@. 6 All three also
tended toward SlWKHULQZLWKRQO HarrQRWHQGLQJXSWKHUH.
Of course, HarrDQGVoldemort took verGLfferent paths. Voldemort
opted for power over love, selfishness over altruism, conquest over the
vulnerabilitRIIULHQGVKLSDQGJHQXLQHUHODWLRQVKLSVRIDQ sort. In sharp
contrast, HarrRSHQHGKLVKHDUWWRIULHQGVDQGZDVZLOOLQJWRVDFULILFe
himself for those he loved. Rather than choosing a fragmented psFKHOLNe
Voldemort’ s, HarrDOORZHGKLVIULHQGVWRPDNHKLPDEHWWHUSHUVRQRf
integritDQGZKROHQHVV.
Much ink has been devoted to the patterns of good and evil that Harry
and Voldemort respectivelUHSUHVHQWEXWZKDWDERXWWKLVWKLUGORVWERy ,
that complicated amalgam of darkness and light, Dumbledore’s double
agent and killer, Harr
s protector and adversar":KDWPDNHV6QDSHWLFN?

Snape the Occlumens
Snape is a complicated character not simplEHFDXVHKHLVDGRXEOe
agent, but because his loDOWLHVWUXO have been divided in the past, and his
reason and emotions continue to be divided. Initially, Snape had been a
Death Eater; after Snape’s repentance, Dumbledore asks him to plaWKe
dangerous role of informant when the Dark Lord returns. T o do so, Snape
must gain Voldemort’s complete trust. He must betraQHLWKHUKLVORaltWo
Dumbledore nor his pledge to protect V oldemort’s enemies, especially
Harry. His anger at and sometimes hatred of Harr DQGRWKHUV DUHUHDOEXt
equallUHDODUHKLVFRQVWDQWVHOIULVNDQGFRXUDJHLQILJKWLQJV oldemort.
Snape doesn’t choose to protect HarrDQGWKHRWKHUHQHPLHVRf
Voldemort because of great personal af fection for them—the warm fuzzies
associated with toda
s often waterDQGVXSHUILFLDOQRWLRQVRIORYH2n
the contrary, he chooses to act for what he knows to be their good despite
stronglGLVOLNLQJPDQ of them. Love that is understood as the desire for
the good of the other can be found not onlLQ5RZOLQJ
s depictions, but in
writers on love who range from Aristotle to Aquinas to M. Scott Peck,
despite the cultural and temporal distances among them. TheVKDUHLn
common an understanding of love expressed in friendship as willing the
good of another for the other’s own sake. 7 Over and over , the decision is
stark in the Potter books between the option of furthering one’ s own
apparent good at the expense of others or sacrificing it for the good of
others. Love requires self-sacrifice, binds one’s happiness to the good of
another, makes one vulnerable to loss and grief, and strengthens one’ s
commitment to the good.
These thinkers also emphasize that strong feelings become morally
good or bad when theLQIOXHQFHRXUUHDVRQDQGZLOOWKDWLVZKHQIHHOLQJs
affect both our understanding of what is good or bad and how we act.
ParticularlLQ6QDSH
s case, love is not primarilIRXQGLQIHHOLQJVEXWLn
actions. Love changes the course of his beliefs, alliances, and actions; he
repents because of love, and he finds redemption bFKRRVLQJWRDFWIRr

love. 8 In short, it is Snape’s love for LilWKDWSULPDULO motivates the
actions leading to his redemption.
Once Dumbledore realizes that V oldemort and HarrFDQVKDUHHDFh
other’s thoughts and emotions, he asks Snape to teach Harr2FFOXPHQFy , a
magical technique for sealing “the mind against magical intrusion and
influence.” 9 Voldemort is remarkablDFFRPSOLVKHGDWJDLQLQJDFFHVVWo
others’ thoughts and memories, making the detection of lies almost certain.
“OnlWKRVHVNLOOHGDW2FFOXPHQFy ,” Snape saVDUHDEOHWRVKXWGRZn
those feelings and memories that contradict the lie, and so utter falsehoods
in his presence without detection.” 10 As Dumbledore’s double agent, Snape
regularlDFKLHYHVZKDWIHZPDQDJHHYHQRQFHVXFFHVVIXOO lLQJWo
Voldemort’ s face. Snape succeeds not onlE intelligence and cunning,
revealing enough information to appear to be a valuable informant while
withholding the most significant points, but also bVKHHUPDJLFDOSURZHVV.
Snape’s skill at OcclumencUHYHDOVERWKKLVVWUHQJWKDQGKLVZHDNQHVs
of character . The successful Occlumens empties personal emotion,
something HarrFDQ
t do. Snape fumes, “Fools who wear their hearts
proudlRQWKHLUVOHHYHVZKRFDQQRWFRQWUROWKHLUHPRWLRQVZKRZDOORZLn
sad memories and allow themselves to be provoked this easil ZHDk
people, in other words—theVWDQGQRFKDQFHDJDLQVW>V oldemort’s]
powers!” 11 Snape survives not bJLYLQJXSKLVORYHIRU/LO the way
V oldemort had renounced love and friendship. Rather , Snape conceals his
love from Voldemort. Although this abilitWRKLGHPHPRULHVDQGHPRWLRQs
is crucial to his role as a double agent, it also isolates Snape from
friendship. The final chapters of Deathl+DOORZs reveal the depth of
Snape’s sacrifice and courage. As he laVGing from Nagini’ s bite, Snape
transmits to HarrDIORRGRIPHPRULHVFKURQLFOLQJERWK6QDSH
s love for
LilDQGKLVVHFUHWSURWHFWLRQRIVoldemort’s enemies. Snape remains the
consummate Occlumens. His memories cannot be taken; thePXVWEe
offered freely . OnlZKLOHGing does he permit HarrDFFHVVWRKLs
thoughts and feelings, revealing that HarrLVD+RUFUX[DQGVKRZLQJKLm
what must be done to defeat V oldemort.

Snape’s Choice
From childhood, Snape loves Lil(YDQVDOWKRXJKVHOILVKO at first. He
watches her with “undisguised greed,” while dreaming of Hogwarts as an
escape from his familDQGDZD of gaining acceptance in the wizarding
world, despite his half-Muggle bloodline. 12 At Hogwarts, though, he is still
an awkward outsider , now fighting with James Potter , for whom everWKLQJ,
especiallPDJLFDQG4XLGGLWFKFRPHVVRHDVLOy . Worse, Snape knows that
James is also in love with Lily .
Snape’s love for LilEHJLQVWRUHGHHPKLPHYHUVRVORZO at first.
When LilLVDFKLOGVKHDVNV6QDSHZKHWKHULWPDNHVDGLf ference being
Muggle-born, to which, after hesitating, he answers no. When LilLVa
teenager, having refuted Snape’ s earlier false belief in the superioritRf
wizard blood, she defends Snape against James and his friends, onlWRKDYe
the mortified Snape call her a Mudblood. He apologizes, but LilUHIXVHVWo
defend him anPRUHW ith the friendship broken, Snape chooses Dark
Magic and the Death Eaters. Later , though, he would remember this painful
and costlOHVVRQDQGDVKHDGPDVWHr , rebuke Phineas Nigellus’s portrait for
referring to Hermione Granger as a Mudblood.
After dutifullUHSRUWLQJWRV oldemort the prophecKHRYHUKHDUGDERXt
the child who would challenge the Dark Lord, Snape begs Dumbledore to
protect Lily. Dumbledore asks, “Could RXQRWDVNIRUPHUF for the
mother, in exchange for the son?” Snape assures Dumbledore he has tried,
to which Dumbledore responds, “Y ou disgust me. . . . You do not care, then,
about the deaths of her husband and child? TheFDQGLHDVORQJDVou get
what RXZDQW". 13 Snape’s love is not HWSXUHKHGRHVQRWORYH/LO as
what Aristotle calls a “second self.” 14 Rather, he desires Lil
s good as it
relates to him. If he had desired Lil
s good for her own sake, he would
want to protect those most precious to her , too. Snape relents, promising
“anWKLQJLQUHWXUQIRU'XPEOHGRUH
s protection of the family. After Lil
s
murder, Dumbledore asks Snape to act on his love for LilE protecting her
beloved son.

Snape’s romantic love for LilLVWDLQWHGZLWKVHOILVKQHVVDWILUVWEXWKLs
love deepens as he accepts the role Dumbledore proposes. Plato reflects on
a similar deepening of love in the SPSRVLXm , which presents various
characters attempting to describe and praise love. In the SPSRVLXm ,
Socrates’ teacher , Diotima, claims, “Love is wanting to possess the good
forever.” 15 This “possession” of the good is not the satisfaction of selfish
desire in a superficial eros, which values the beloved for what he or she
provides to the one who loves, but is instead a relationship to the beloved
that draws the one who loves toward the beloved as a free-standing good.
Someone who loves seeks “giving birth in beauty ,” either to children or to
ideas and virtue. 16 Love opens itself to the eternal bH[WHQGLQJWKHORYHRf
parents to their children or bEXLOGLQJYLUWXHDQGORYHRIZKDWLs
transcendent in the one who loves. Rowling gives examples of both. Out of
love, James and LilZLOOLQJO sacrifice themselves for each other and for
Harry. Snape’ s romantic love for Lily , though unrequited, graduallGRHs
“bring to birth” virtue in Snape. After Snape commits himself to fighting
Voldemort, the earlier selfishness eventuallIDGHV.
Reflecting on the refinement of romantic love in the context of the
Christian tradition, Pope Benedict XVI comments that “love looks to the
eternal. Love is indeed ‘ecstasy ,’ not in the sense of a moment of
intoxication, but rather as a journey , an ongoing exodus out of the closed
inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving.” 17 Snape’s
love for LilSXVKHVKLPEHond selfish desire and changes him
fundamentally . Snape’s ongoing love for Lily , even after her death, spurs
him to choose actions that graduallPDNHKLVORYHPRUHOLNHKHUVWXUQHd
toward the good of others and capable of self-sacrifice. His love for Lily
makes him place himself, like James and Lily , between Voldemort and
Harry.

A Work in Pr ogress
Snape’ s decision to fight V oldemort and shield HarrUHPDLQVVWHDGIDVW,
but his character doesn’ t change instantly. Here we see the damage of vice
and the work of virtue: both are habits, built up over time. Changing one’ s
feelings and behavior requires vigilance and effort. Demanding that
Dumbledore keep his role secret, Snape still rages at his school-day
tormentors, seeing in HarrDOORI-DPHV
s arrogance and reveling in Harr
s
failures and detentions. 18 Harr
s phVLFDOUHVHPEODQFHWR-DPHVEOLQGs
Snape to the shared character traits between HarrDQGKLVPRWKHr . Snape’s
patterns of behavior and emotion continue to block friendships, but at least
his actions unite him to the cause of those battling V oldemort.
Snape also continues to share, partially, Voldemort’ s false assessment
that those who guide their actions bORYHDUHZHDN6QDSHVSLWVWKLVLQVXOt
at HarrGXULQJ2FFOXPHQF lessons: HarrLVZHDNEHFDXVHKHFDQQRWORFk
awaWKRXJKWVDQGIHHOLQJVRIORYH/LNHZLVHZKHQ6QDSHHQFRXQWHUs
NPSKDGRUDT onks’s changed Patronus, he sneers, “I think RXZHUHEHWWHr
off with the old one.... The new one looks weak.” 19 On rare occasions, “a
great shock . . . [or] an emotional upheaval” can alter a Patronus. 20 Tonks
has fallen in love with Remus Lupin (a werewolf), and her Patronus is now
a wolf. Presumably , the wolf itself doesn’ t “look weak.” Instead, the change
is evidence of her love, or , alternately, evidence that love has transformed
her. It is this love—particularlRIWKHGHVSLVHG/XSLQ WKDW6QDSHILQGs
weak. But Snape’ s own Patronus, a doe, of fers eloquent testimonDJDLQVt
his assertion. Snape’s love for LilDOWHUHGKLV3DWURQXVWRPDWFKKHUV+Ls
strongest defense against magical threats is now an emblem of his beloved
and his transformation bORYH GHVSLWH6QDSH
s abilitWREORFNRXWKLs
emotions and memories.
Snape’s Patronus reflects Aristotle’ s notion of the beloved as a second
self; it is both a magical extension of himself and a manifestation of his
love for Lily. Similarly, HarrLVSURWHFWHGE the love of his parents: his
Patronus is James’ s stag, and Lil
s self-sacrificial love literallEHFRPHs
part of his body, protecting him from V oldemort. In contrast, V oldemort

protects himself bPDNLQJ+RUFUX[HV,QORYHRQHHQWUXVWVSDUWRIRQH
s
soul to another, in a fashion: a friend shares another ’s joVDQGVRUURZVDQd
acts for his good, even when sacrifice is required. Friendship strengthens
the soul’ s integritIULHQGVEHFRPHEHWWHUSHRSOHE acting for the other ’s
good and building virtue. In short, loving makes us more fullKXPDQ%Xt
V oldemort entrusts his soul to objects, which cannot share his joVDQd
sorrows or require anWKLQJRIKLPW ith the Horcruxes, Voldemort has
eight “selves,” but each division of his soul makes V oldemort less human.
Snape can act courageouslQRWEHFDXVHKLVSUHYLRXVEHOLHIVDQd
emotions have been thoroughlSXrged, but because he deliberatelFKRRVHs
to act according to love—in the sense of doing what’ s best for the other.
Here, Harr
s and Snape’ s courage are similar because, for each, an act of
the will is required to for go what he wants and consciouslFKRRVHVHOI-
sacrifice instead. HarrVKRZVWKDWORYHFRQTXHUVGHDWKE freelVDFULILFLQg
himself. Rather than simplUHDFWLQJ HYHQYLUWXRXVO), HarrFKRRVHs
consciously. HarrREVHUYHVKRZPXFKHDVLHUDGHDWKFKRVHQLQWKHPRPHQt
—like throwing himself in front of a curse, as his parents did—would have
been. 21 Similarly, Snape hasn’ t made his sacrifice for good in a single
dramatic act. 22 He has consciouslFKRVHQIRUears the perilous balancing
act of protecting HarrZKLOHPDVTXHUDGLQJDVD'HDWK(DWHr . This task is all
the more difficult (and clearlDQDFWRIZLOO EHFDXVH6QDSHDFWVSULPDULOy
for the love of Lily , not of Harry. He wills Harr
s good for the mother ’s
sake, but he acts to protect HarrQRQHWKHOHVV.
Finally , love is the keWR6QDSH
s redemption because it allows him to
feel remorse, an emotion he shares with HarrEXWQRWZLWKV oldemort. Evil
acts damage the soul, but remorse can begin to knit it together , heal it, and
make it whole. Snape’s remorse does not in itself eradicate HDUVRf
resentment; the difference is that he doesn’ t allow anger and hatred to
decide his actions. Despite these feelings, he can choose to act for the good.
These actions are a testament both to his love for LilDQGWRWKHVXEVWDQFe
of his redemption. Snape’ s love and remorse are manifest not primarilLn
his emotional states but in his ongoing acts of the will to pursue the good of
another.
HarrVKRZVUHPRUVHLQIRr giving Snape, purifLQJKLPVHOIDVZHOO.
Throughout the series, Snape and HarrZDJHDSULYDWHEDWWOHPDUNHGEy
guarded suspicion and outright loathing. After Sirius’ s death, HarrEODPHs
Snape for goading Sirius into rushing to the fight at the Ministr6QDSe

had placed himself forever and irrevocablEHond the possibilitRf
Harr
s forgiveness bKLVDWWLWXGHWRZDUG6LULXV. 23 In the final scenes of
Deathl+DOORZs , however , we see that HarrKDVIRr given Snape. Years
later, HarrWHOOVKLVPLGGOHFKLOG$OEXV6HYHUXVou were named for
two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a SlWKHULQDQGKHZDs
probablWKHEUDYHVWPDQ,HYHUNQHw .” 24 HarrDQG*LQQ name their
children for people who fought Voldemort and chose to sacrifice their own
good for that of others—James, Lily , Dumbledore, and Snape.
Love does not transform easilRULPPHGLDWHOy . But what we see in
Severus Snape is that love can radicallWUDQVIRUPDOLIH6QDSHGRHVQ
t get
the girl, but his deep love for LilFKDQJHVKLVEHOLHIVDQGDFWLRQV7KLVORYe
motivates Snape to persevere in his dangerous and lonelUROHRIGRXEOe
agent. Through love, Snape is capable of self-sacrifice, like Lil DQd
Harry.

NOTES
1 Order of the Phoenix , p. 833.
2 Half-Blood Prince , p. 615.
3 Ibid., p. 616.
4 It is also possible, of course, that Dumbledore attained “ironclad”
proof of Snape’ s loDOW through Legilimenc SHUKDSVZLWK6QDSH
s
consent).
5 Aristotle, for example, devotes about a fifth of the Nicomachean
Ethics , his great work on human happiness and fulfillment, to the topic of
friendship.
6 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 697.
7 Aristotle states, “[T]hose who desire the good of their friends for the
friends’ sake are most trulIULHQGVEHFDXVHHDFKORYHVWKHRWKHUIRUZKDt
he is, and not for anLQFLGHQWDOTXDOLWy,” Nicomachean Ethics , 1156b10.
Thomas Aquinas cites Aristotle explicitlZKHQKHFODLPVWRORYHLVWo
will the good of another ,” Summa Theologica , I-II, 26, 4 ad. In a similar
vein, the late M. Scott Peck defines love as the “the will to extend one’ s self
for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” See
M. Scott Peck, The Road Less T raveled: A New PsFKRORJ of Love,
Traditional V alues and Spiritual Gr owth (New York: Simon & Schuster ,
1978), p. 81.
8 Of course, not all of Snape’ s actions are good, judged either from an
external or an internal criterion. From an external standpoint, Snape’ s
killing of Dumbledore is not objectivelJRRGEXWZLWKLQWKHORJLFRIWKe
books, it seems to be presented as good in at least some sense, or at least
permissible. Moreover, Snape’s continued hostile action toward Sirius is
clearlQRWJRRGQRULVKLVEXOOing of students. But the ar gument is not that
Snape becomes perfect through love, but that, overall, Snape eventuallDFWs
for the good of others.
9 Order of the Phoenix , p. 530.
10 Ibid., p. 531.
11 Ibid., p. 536.

12 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 663.
13 Ibid., p. 677.
14 Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics , 1166a31.
15 SPSRVLXm , 206a, translated b$OH[DQGHU1HKDPDVDQG3DXl
Woodruf f, in Plato: Complete W orks , edited b-RKQ0&RRSHr
(Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997).
16 SPSRVLXm , 206b. See also 208e and the following paragraphs. The
general points about the nature of love cited earlier fit well with the
portraDORIORYHLQWKH3RWWHUERRNV/LO Potter ’s mother -love is the central
example of love in the series. Note, too, that MollW easle
s duel with
Bellatrix Lestrange, in which she fights expresslWRSURWHFWKHUFKLOGUHn
(and the children of others), is given pride of place in the final battle,
second onlWR+DUU’ s duel with Voldemort.
17 Deus Caritas Est , paragraph 6. Benedict continues his Christian
analVLVRIORYHFODLPLQJWKDWWKLVVHOIJLIWRf fers both “authentic self-
discoverDQGLQGHHGWKHGLVFRYHU of God: ‘Whoever seeks to gain his life
will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it’ (Luke 17:33)” (ibid.).
Harr
s sacrifice of his life at the end of Deathl+DOORZs appears to operate
on this same principle.
18 Resigned, Dumbledore agrees: “I shall never reveal the best of RX.
Deathl+DOORZs , p. 679.
19 Half-Blood Prince , p. 160.
20 Ibid., p. 340.
21 The Christian allusions, especiallLQ Deathl+DOORZs , are
unmistakable, among them the hero who conquers death bVDFULILFLQJKLs
life willinglWRVDYHRWKHUVWKH6FULSWXUHYHUVHVRQWKHWRPEVWRQHVLn
Godric’ s Hollow , the affirmation of immortal souls, and the choice of
King’s Cross Station as Harr
s between-worlds destination.
22 Despite insisting on secrecDERXWKLVUROH6QDSHEHFRPHVHQUDJHd
at Harr
s accusation of cowardice, presumablEHFDXVHRIWKHSXUSRVHDQd
the on-going risk of his task.
23 Half-Blood Prince , p. 161.
24 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 758.

5
LOVE POTION NO. 9¾
Gregor%DVVKDm



In the Muggle world people spend vast sums of moneRQSHUIXPHV,
bodVSUDs, cosmetics, jewelry, pheromones, bodVFXOSWLQJVNLPSy
clothing, gPPHPEHUVKLSVWDQQLQJVDORQVGLHWSURJUDPVDQGRWKHUPHDQs
of increasing phVLFDODWWUDFWLYHQHVVDQGVWLUULQJURPDQWLFLQWHUHVW,QWKe
wizarding world there are far more powerful and reliable attractants:
magical love potions. Yet there are obvious ethical issues regarding the use
of such potions, particularlWKH non consensual use, as occurs in two key
episodes in the Harr3RWWHUVWRULHV6RZKDWGRPDJLFDOORYHSRWLRQVKDYe
to teach us about love, infatuation, and the ethical treatment of others? In
particular, what can we learn from Merope Gaunt’ s use of a love potion to
ensnare Tom Riddle Sr . (Voldemort’ s father), and her eventual decision to
stop using the potion, at great cost to herself and her unborn son?

Violentl3LQN3r oducts
Love potions not onlPDNHIRUIDVFLQDWLQJWKRXJKWH[SHULPHQWV,
the
UHDOVRDQLPSRUWDQWSDUWRIWKH+DUU Potter plot. In Chamber of
Secrets , Professor Lockhart at one point jokinglHQFRXUDJHVWKHVWXGHQWVDt
Hogwarts to ask Professor Snape how to whip up a love potion, and in
Prisoner of Azkaban , Mrs.W easleWHOOVKHUGDXJKWHr , Ginny, and Hermione
Granger about a love potion she made as a RXQJJLUO.
But in Half-Blood Prince , we find several significant references to love
potions. The first happens in Diagon Alley , at WeasleV
W izard Wheezes,
Fred and Geor ge’s magic shop:
Near the window was an arra of violentl pink products around
which a cluster of excited girls was giggling enthusiastically .
Hermione and GinnERWKKXQJEDFNORRNLQJZDUy .
“There RX go,” said Fred proudly . “Best range of love potions
RX
OOILQGDQwhere.”
GinnUDLVHGDQHebrow skeptically . “Do theZRUN"VKHDVNHG.
“Certainl the work, for up to twentIRXU hours at a time
depending on the weight of the boLQTXHVWLRQ.
“. . . an d the attractiveness of the girl,” said Geor ge, reappear ing
suddenlDWWKHLUVLGH. 1
So, in Harr
s world, love potions are legal, apparentlZRUNRQO on
males (although this isn’ t explicitlVWDWHG YDU in potencGHSHQGLQJRn
the weight of the boDQGWKHDWWUDFWLYHQHVVRIWKHJLUODQGZRUNIRURQO a
limited time without a fresh dose.
The next appearance of love potions comes at Hogwarts, in the newly
installed Professor Slughorn’ s Potions classroom, where Hermione’ s
showing her stuff:
“Now, th is one here . . . HV m dear?” said Slughorn, now looking
slightlEHPXVHGDV+HUPLRQH
s hand punched the air again.
“It’s Amortentia!”
“It is indeed. It seems almost foolish to ask,” said Slughorn, who
was looking mightil impressed, “but I assume RX know what it

does?”
“It’s the most powerful love potion in the world!” said Hermione.
“Quite right! You recognized it, I suppose, b its distinctive
mother -of-pearl sheen?”
“And the steam rising in characteristic spirals,” said Hermione
enthusiastically , “and it’s supposed to smell differentl to each of us,
according to what attracts us, and I can smell freshl mown grass and
new parchment and—”
But she turned slightlSLQNDQGGLGQRWFRPSOHWHWKHVHQWHQFH. 2
On the next page, Slughorn reveals more about this love potion:
“Amortentia doesn’t reall create love , of course. It is impossible
to manufacture or imitate love. No, this will simpl cause a po werful
infatuation or obsession. It is probabl the most dangerous and
powerful potion in this room—oh HV he said, nodding gravel at
Malfo and Nott, both of whom were smirking skeptically . “When Ru
have seen as much of life as I have, RX will not underestim ate the
power of obsessive love.” 3
Later in Half-Blood Prince , we learn just how dangerous and powerful a
love potion can be, when Ron unwittinglHDWVDER[RI&KRFRODWe
Cauldrons spiked with love potion and becomes madlLQIDWXDWHGZLWh
Romilda V ane. From that episode, we discover that love potions act almost
instantaneouslWKDWWKH cause obsessive thoughts, intense excitement, and
violent emotions; that theFDQVWUHQJWKHQRYHUWLPHDQGWKDWWKH can be
cured bPHDQVRIDVLPSOHDQWLGRWH.
So, what kind of person would actuallXVHDORYHSRWLRQ",QRXUILQDl
snippet from Half-Blood Prince , we are introduced to one: V oldemort’s
mother.

Little Hangleton
Merope Gaunt, the local tramp’s daughter, harbors a secret, burning
passion for T om Riddle, the wealthVTXLUH
s son. An unlikelSDLr, but
Merope is a witch whose powers give her a chance to plot her escape from
the desperate life she has led for eighteen HDUVXQGHUWKHVXEMXJDWLRQRIKHr
father and brother. “Can RXQRWWKLQNRIDQ measure Merope could have
taken to make Tom Riddle forget his Muggle companion, and fall in love
with her instead?” 4 Albus Dumbledore asks Harry . To which HarrRf fers
two guesses: the Imperius Curse and a love potion.
The Imperius Curse, of course, is one of the three “unfor givable curses”
in the magical world; it robs victims of their will and is, as a result, a prime
example of how magic in Harr
s world can but must not be used to
manipulate and exploit others, especiallWKHPRVWYXOQHUDEOH/RYHSRWLRQV,
we’ve seen, aren’t illegal in Harr
s world. Perhaps the
UHQRWFRQVLGHUHd
as dangerous as the Imperius Curse, because theGRQ
t last as long,
produce onlURPDQWLFIHHOLQJV DVRSSRVHGWRVDy, homicidal intentions),
and don’t result in total control of the af fected person. But it’s instructive
that HarrVHHVDSDUWLFXODUHf fect and correctlQDUURZVGRZQWKHOLNHOy
causes to either the Imperius Curse or a love potion, reminding us of
Slughorn’s sober warnings of the love potion’ s dangers.
After Harr
s two guesses, Dumbledore continues,
“Ver good. Personally , I am inclined to think that she used a love
potion. I am sure it would have seemed more romantic to her , and I do
not think it wou ld have been ver dif ficult, some hot day, when Riddle
was riding alone , to persuade him to take a drink of water . In an case,
within a few months . . . the village of Little Hangleton enjoHG a
tremendous scandal. You can imagine the gossip it caused when the
squire’ s son ran of f with the tramp’ s daughter, Merope.” 5
Dumbledore continues bHQJDJLQJLQVRPHJXHVVZRUN:
“You see, within a few months of their runawa marriage, Tom
Riddle reappear ed at the manor house in Little Hangleton without his
wife. The rumor flew around the neighborhood that he was talking of

being ‘hoodwinked’ and ‘taken in.’ What he meant, I am sure, is that
he had been under an enchan tment that had now lifted, though I
daresa he did not dare use those precise words for fear of being
thought insane.” 6
After HarrDVNVZK the love potion stopped working, Dumbledore
adds,
“Again, this is guesswork . . . but I believe that Merope, who was
deepl in love with her husband, could not bear to continue enslaving
him b magical means. I believe that she made the choice to stop
giving him the potion. Perhaps, besotted as she was, she had convinced
herself that he would b now have fallen in love with her in return.
Perhaps she thought he would sta for the bab
s sake. If so, she was
wrong on both counts. He left her, never saw her again, and never
troubled to discover what became of his son.” 7
HarrWKHQDVNVDJDLQZKHWKHULW
s important to know all of this about
Voldemort’ s past, to which Dumbledore replies, “V erLPSRUWDQW,WKLQN.
and “It has everWKLQJWRGRZLWKWKHSURSKHFy .” What does this love potion
narrative add to the story, and what might it have to do with the prophecy
about Harr
s defeat of Voldemort? 8

Real Love or Mere Infatuation?
So, here’s a question: Did Merope Gaunt, V oldemort’s mother, love
Tom Riddle Sr .? She was certainlLQIDWXDWHGZLWKKLPDWWUDFWHGWRKLP,
willing to go to extraordinarOHQJWKVWRKDYHKLP%XWGLGVKHORYHKLP?
Dumbledore saVVKHGLGEXWDQRWKHUSRVVLEOHDQVZHULVQRDQGKHUH
s
the case for it: She didn’t love him, or at least she didn’ t love him very
deeply, exactlEHFDXVe she was willing to use a love potion on him.
Presumably , a love potion, after all, robs a person of his free will. This is
what makes love pills or potions an ideal thought experiment to elicit the
recognition that real freedom requires more than doing what we want to do.
Doing what we want to do maEHQHFHVVDU for freedom, but it’ s not
sufficient; we must also have the freedom to do otherwise . T om lacked such
“libertarian” freedom.
Some philosophers, including Harr)UDQNIXUWGHQ that the abilitWo
do otherwise is necessarIRUJHQXLQHIUHHGRP7KLVYLHZHVSHFLDOOy
appeals to those who think that everWKLQJZHGRLVVWULFWO determined by
the laws of the phVLFDOXQLYHUVHRUE the sovereign plan of God. They
tSLFDOO accept compatibilism : the idea that free will is consistent with
strict determination of all of our actions and choices. Y et even
compatibilists will likelGHQ that Tom Riddle Sr. freelORYHG0HURSH.
Wh"%HFDXVHHYHQLIT om was doing what he wanted bORYLQJKHr , he
wouldn’t have wanted to love her as a result of a magical inducement.
How much could Merope have loved T om if giving him the potion
deprived him of his freedom? It wasn’ t that she loved him too much ; she
didn’t love him enough , if at all. It was selfish of her . She wanted what was
in her interests, not his . She maKDYHIHOWDPRURXVDf fection or entertained
an unhealthREVHVVLRQIRUKLPEXWFOHDUO she did not feel the deep love
that respects the true interests and considered preferences of the beloved.
Not onlGLGVKHWDNHDZD Riddle’ s freedom, enslaving him bWKe
potion, she robbed him of the chance to grow in the “relationship,” and I
use that term loosely, for although love can be one-way , relationships by
their nature are not. Merope didn’t create a relationship that provided a

context for Riddle to remain committed despite fluctuating feelings, to grow
more in love as time goes on, to attain love’s deeper reaches after the
phVLFDODWWUDFWLRQDQGWKHLQLWLDOH[FLWHPHQWIDGHRUWREHFRPHDEHWWHr
person as the rough edges of his personalitJHWVPRRWKHGRXWLQWKHPXWXDl
self-giving of a real and reciprocal loving relationship. No, she subjected
him to magic that coerced his will into becoming obsessed with her . She
could have treated him like dirt after that, and still he’d go on stupidly
relishing and accepting whatever she dealt him, for that’s the nature of the
potion. This is surelDVLWXDWLRQWKDWLQYLWHVDEXVHEXWLW
s hardla
paradigm of love.
Incidentally, this shows us what’ s wrong with using a love potion even
on oneself to develop feelings for another , a person we perhaps deem
worthRIORYLQJWe’re inclined to think it’ s at least not as bad to use a
potion on oneself as it is to administer it to another person, because the
issue of free will doesn’ t arise in the same way. BFKRRVLQJWRWDNHWKe
potion, our free will is intact. This isn’ t obviouslFRUUHFWEXWVXSSRVHZe
grant it. Still, there’s the other issue of becoming a certain kind of person.
Think how easLWZRXOGEHWRWDNHWKHSRWLRQ UDWKHUWKDQZRUNLQJKDUGLn
the relationship to remain committed despite challenges and to grow as a
person through relational hardships. W ith all of the challenges removed, we
would lose terrific opportunities to become better persons through the
relationship. 9

Not His Mother’s Son
I could imagine that sort of storIRU0HURSHDQGLW
s the direction I
originallDQWLFLSDWHGWKLVFKDSWHUWRJR,W
s no shock, I had figured, that a
character so thoroughlHYLODQGGHVSLFDEOHDVV oldemort would hail from
such troubled beginnings. It’s not a stretch that a man who never loved
would have come from a loveless union generated and sustained bPDJLc
alone. Nor would it be surprising that a character who from his earliest
HDUVKDUERUHGVXFKIRQGQHVVIRUFUXHOW and domination would have a
mother willing to coerce the will of her mate and a father who would so
callouslQHJOHFWKLVFKLOGDIWHUWKHHQFKDQWPHQWOLIWHG.
This view of Merope and Voldemort seems to make a good deal of
sense. Its onlGUDZEDFNVRIDUDV,FDQVHHLVWKDWLW
s wrong. Especially
where Merope is concerned, the contrast between her and Voldemort is far
more important than the comparison . Voldemort’ s problem is not that he’ s
his mother’s son, which in manZDs he isn’ t. No, the problem is that
Voldemort is more like his grandfather Marvolo Gaunt and his ancestor
Salazar SlWKHULQ0 point in excluding Merope from the list is that she
illustrates how , in Harr
s world, choices—not innate talent or biological
ancestrRUPDJLFDOSHGLJUHH PRVWVKDSHFKDUDFWHUVDQGGHVWLQLHV.
Merope is a character who ought to elicit from us compassion and no
small amount of respect. What she did to win Riddle was wrong, and
radicallVREXWJRRGSHRSOHVRPHWLPHVGREDGWKLQJV,W
s not the
occasional misdeed that defines us but the habitual practice, the settled
character, the persistent pattern of choices that put us on our life’ s
trajectory. We are what we consistently do, as Aristotle put it. Her action
was wrong, HVEXW,
PQRWFRQYLQFHGVKHZDVYHU bad at all. T o the
contrary, she shows a remarkable character , all the more so in the face of all
the obstacles she had to overcome and the temptations she had to resist.
What matters is not merelZKHUHVKHHQGHGXSEXWDOVRWKHGLVWDQFHVKe
had to travel to get there.
What matters is the ultimate trajectorKHUOLIHWRRNDQGQRWPHUHO the
projected track of her worst decisions. Unfortunately , Voldemort, if

anWKLQJHQGHGXSIROORZLQJLQWKHIRRWVWHSVRIZKHUHKLVPRWKHU was
headed until she came to her senses. Whereas she eventuallVWRSSHGJRLQg
in the direction of the dark side, he embraced it wholeheartedly. The blood
of SlWKHULQFRXUVHGWKURXJKHDFKRIWKHPEXWWKHLUOLYHVZHQWLn
diametricallRSSRVLWHGLUHFWLRQV,IQRWKLQJHOVHWKLVLOOXVWUDWHVRQFHPRUH,
the primacRIFKRLFHLQ+DUU’ s world.
Critics have sometimes complained about the shortage of redeemed
characters in the Potter books, but Merope is a prime example of one: a
character whose background was as tragic as anRQH
s, whose capacitIRr
misusing magic was as great as anRQH
s, whose temptations to engage in
the Dark Arts were as strong as anRQH
s, HWZKRVHOLIHVKRZHGWKDWQRt
even a person like that is destined for darkness. And if even she wasn’t,
then Voldemort wasn’ t, for his upbringing was no more tragic than hers. If
his destinHQGHGXSEHond redemption, it was because his own choices,
over time, for ged a mutilated character from which there was no escape.
Character maEHGHVWLQy , but this makes more sense and is more just if
character is the culmination of a trulIUHHVHWRIFKRLFHVUDWKHUWKDQWKe
inevitable outcome of “blood” or fate. This possibilitRIWUXHIUHHGRPRf
goods potentiallEXWQHHGOHVVO lost, imbues the Potter books with an
element of tragedWKDW
s often a feature of great literature.
Consider again Merope’ s tragic home life: phVLFDOYHUEDODQd
emotional abuse; a condition of virtual domestic slaverDQDEVHQFHRIORYe
and affirmation; an abundance of violence and meanness. None of this
makes her ensnarement of Riddle right, but—and this is part of Rowling’ s
nuanced moral analVLV LWRXJKWWRVRIWHQRXUFULWLFDOMXGJPHQWRI0HURSH,
especiallVLQFHRIKHURZQYROLWLRQVKHHYHQWXDOO gave up using the
potion. At the risk of losing the love of her life, her unborn child’s father,
and perhaps the first happiness she ever experienced, at the risk of rejection
and terrible pain—pain that did in fact practicallNLOOKHUZLWKDEURNHn
heart—she did the right thing, choosing character over power , realitRYHr
appearance, forgiveness over resentment. And she chose love over hate,
letting Riddle leave because that was his choice, despite her continued love
for him, indeed, because of her love for him. And despite Riddle’ s
abandonment of her, she still named her son after him, so gracious was her
character, which reminds us of Dumbledore’ s eventual gracious response to
Muggles, despite their cruel and devastating mistreatment of his sister .
Voldemort, in contrast, chose to exact revenge for his father ’s abandonment

bNLOOLQJERWKKLVIDWKHUDQGKLVJUDQGSDUHQWVDQGE rejecting his Muggle
name and heritage.
The contemporarSKLORVRSKHUWilliam Hasker offers an analVLVRf
freedom quite relevant to Merope’ s predicament:
All sorts of experiences and relationships acquire a special value
because the involve love, trust, and affection that are freel bestowed.
The love potions that appear in man fair stories (and in the Harry
Potter series) can become a trap; the one who has used the potion finds
that he wants to be loved for his own sake and not because of the
potion, yet fears the loss of the beloved’ s af fection if the potio n is no
longer used. 10
Merope came to a crossroads in her short, tragic life: through magic she
could continue to manipulate Riddle, or she could stop, though at great
personal cost. Merope did the right thing. She gave up using her magical
powers altogether after Riddle left her , refusing to use them even to save
her own life. It might have been grief that led to the loss of her powers, but
Dumbledore is virtuallFHUWDLQWKDWLQVWHDGVKHQRORQJHU wanted to be a
witch. Perhaps she saw its potential for abuse, especiallZLWKLQKHUVHOIDQd
she refused to indulge it anPRUH6KHPD have recognized within herself
the call to the dark side, as it were, and realized that the best waWRDYRLGLt
was bUHQRXQFLQJPDJLFDOWRJHWKHr, never again subjecting another to the
sort of tUDQQ that she herself had been subjected to bKHUIDPLOy . She had
experienced firsthand what that led to and no longer wanted anSDUWRILW.
Certain behavior can skip a generation. The child of an alcoholic not
uncommonlVHHVWKHXJOLQHVVRIWKHDGGLFWLRQDQGUHDFWVDJDLQVWLWSHUKDSs
bEHFRPLQJDULJLGWHHWRWDOHr, and then his children react against that , and
the pattern recurs. Merope so reacted against magic and its abuses and
retained such potential for love that she was willing to suf fer and be
vulnerable. Exhibiting what Voldemort could onlWKLQNRIDVZHDNQHVVVKe
was willing to fall preWRZKDWKHFRQVLGHUHGWKHZRUVWWKLQJRIDOOGHDWK.
Merope chose the death of her body , rather than the death of her character
and her own pain before the domination of another . Her love for Riddle had
made her vulnerable to hurt and rejection, as all love does, and her aversion
to hurting others the waVKHKHUVHOIKDGEHHQKXUWFRQWULEXWHGWRKHr
premature death. Not surprisingly, given her horrible upbringing, she lacked
some of the good qualities that Harr
s mother had. But nonetheless,

Merope did all that she could to battle the forces of unforgiving fate to
break free from the pattern of magical manipulation and coercion. 11
In this sense, V oldemort is radicallXQOLNHKLVPRWKHr , who, despite her
tragic history, still retained tenderness of heart and the capacitIRUORYH,
whereas Voldemort never loved another , never even had a genuine friend or
wanted one. And this wasn’t because of his tragic beginnings and certainly
not because of his mother’s moral failing but, among other reasons, because
he rejected the pain, vulnerability , and weakness that caring for another as
much as for himself inevitablLQYROYHV+HZDQWHGWREHXQWRXFKDEOHDQd
he got his wish, losing his verKXPDQLW in the process.
Remember that Dumbledore said that he wasn’ t as concerned about the
RXQJVoldemort’ s abilitWRVSHDNWRVQDNHVDVKHZDVDERXWKLVREYLRXs
instincts for cruelty , secrecy, and domination. V oldemort’s abilities didn’ t
define him; his choices did, and sowing his choices reaped a character and a
destinRIGDUNQHVV. 12 He might have chosen not to love in order to avoid
dependencRUZHDNQHVVEXWKLVKDELWXDOXQZLOOLQJQHVVWRRSHQKLVKHDUWWo
another led to the loss of his capacitWRGRLWDOWRJHWKHr . 13 What we see in
Voldemort is a picture of where the definitive choice of evil and the
rejection of love lead: a character in love onlZLWKKLPVHOIEXWZKRHQGVXp
harming and fragmenting himself in irremediable waV.
Tragically , Voldemort learned from the worst his mother did, rather than
from the best , hating what he should have loved, and imitating with reckless
abandon what she herself rejected. All of this, of course, onlEROVWHUVWKe
contrast between V oldemort and Harry . So much of what distinguishes
HarrIURPVoldemort is that Harry , despite his troubled past and tragic life,
never loses his abilitWRORYH+HGRHVQ
t harden his heart and start to care
onlDERXWKLPVHOI+HGRHVQ
t cut himself off from others. Far more than
Voldemort, he remains his mother ’s son—the mother whose courage and
sacrificial love keep HarrVDIHIURPWKHZRUVWV oldemort can dish out. 14
Her love unleashes a more ancient and powerful magic than anSRWLRQFDn
hope to imitate or Voldemort can hope to defeat or even understand. 15

NOTES
1 Half-Blood Prince , pp. 120-121.
2 Ibid., p. 185.
3 Ibid., p. 186. One wonders why, in Harr
s world, love potions remain
legal if the
UHVRGDQJHURXVDQGSRWHQWLDOO manipulative. TheDUHQ
t
allowed at Hogwarts, but theFDQEHODZIXOO bought, sold, and used,
apparentlHYHQE the underaged. This is an example (one of man RIKRw
dangerous things are permitted in the wizarding world that would never be
allowed in our own. (Of course, wizards might well saWKHVDPHDERXWRXr
dangerous firearms, automobiles, and nuclear weapons.)
4 Ibid., p. 213.
5 Ibid.
6 Ibid., p. 214.
7 Ibid.
8 In The Tales of Beedle the Bar d (New York: Scholastic, 2008), pp. 56-
57, Dumbledore’ s commentarRQ7KHW arlock’s Hair+HDUWLQFOXGHs
this reference to love potions:
[The tale] addresses one of the greatest, and least acknowledged,
temptations of magic: the quest for invulnerability .... To hurt is as
human as to brea the. Nevertheless, we wizards seem particularly prone
to the idea that we can bend the nature of existence to our will.... Of
course, the centuries-old trade in love potions shows that our fictional
wizard is hardl alone in seeking to control the unpredictable course of
love. The search for a true love potion continues to this day, but no
such elixir has HW been created, and leading potioneers doubt that it is
possible.
Dumbledore even adds this footnote: “Hector Dagworth-Granger ,
founder of the Most Extraordinar6RFLHW of Potioneers, explains:
‘Powerful infatuations can be induced bWKHVNLOOIXOSRWLRQHHr, but never
HWKDVDQone managed to create the trulXQEUHDNDEOHHWHUQDO,
unconditional attachment that alone can be called Love.’”

9 Here’s an analog6RPHWLPHVSHRSOHQHHGPHGLFDWLRQWRGHDOZLWh
psFKRORJLFDOVWUXJJOHV%XWLPDJLQHDFDVHLQZKLFKDGHSUHVVHGSDWLHQt
has a chance to become medicated to deal with the problem, when what he
reallQHHGVLVWRZRUNWKURXJKLVVXHVRIDQJHURUUHVHQWPHQW+Rw
tempting it would be for such a patient simplWRSRSDSLOOUDWKHUWKDQWo
deal with the underlLQJFDXVHV7KHSLOOZRXOGFHUWDLQO be easier , but it
wouldn’t offer the real solution required. It would deal onlZLWKWKe
sPSWRPVQRWZLWKWKHUHDOFDXVH3XOOLQJRXWZHHGVDWWKHLUURRWVPD be
harder than simplVSUDing them to make them temporarilJRDZDy , but,
ultimately, it’s more ef fective and enduring.
10 William Hasker , The Triumph of God over Evil: TheodicIRUa
World of Suffering (Downers Grove, IL: InterV arsit3UHVV S.
Hasker continues, “For that matter , individuals without free will would not,
in the true sense, be human beings at all; at least this is the case if, as seems
highlSODXVLEOHWKHFDSDFLW for free choice is an essential characteristic of
human beings as such. If so, then to saWKDWIUHHZLOOVKRXOGQRWH[LVWLVWo
saWKDWZHKXPDQVVKRXOGQRWH[LVW,WPD be possible to saWKDWDQd
perhaps even to mean it, but the cost of doing so is verKLJK,ELG.
11 Merope, Dumbledore saVJDYHXSOHDYLQJKHUFKLOGEHKLQG6XUHOy ,
it would have been better had she not given up but rather persevered, at
least for the child’s sake. Perhaps Voldemort wouldn’ t have emerged if she
had. Although this is true, Merope’ s giving up was likelQRWHQRXJKLn
Rowling’s universe to ensure that V oldemort would emerge. Presumably, he
had a choice in the matter and could have chosen a dif ferent path, despite
the loss of his mother. So even if Merope’s death was a contributing factor ,
it was onlRQHDPRQJRWKHUV7KHQDWXUHRIKRZ0HURSHJDYHXSLVDOVRDn
interesting question. If she committed suicide, for example, then my
speculative argument in this chapter for her redemption, admittedla
redemption onlSDUWLDODQGLPSHUIHFWZRXOGEHXQGHUPLQHG%XWVKHPDy
have simplEHHQWLUHGKDYLQJORVWWKHZLOOWROLYHVKHPD have done the
best she could. And in contrast to V oldemort’s doing all in his power to
avoid death, Merope’ s willingness to accept it seems practicallYLUWXRXV.
She’s not responsible for doing more than the best she could, and it does
good to remember that Dumbledore himself saVQRWWRMXGJHKHUWRo
harshly .
12 For more on this theme, see mFKDSWHURQDELOLWLHVYHUVXVFKRLFHVLn
this volume, “Choices vs. Abilities: Dumbledore on Self-Understanding.”

13 It’s a function of literature, the philosopher Noël Carroll reminds us,
to magnifDQGWKHUHE clarifWKHSDWWHUQVWKDWVKDSHKXPDQDf fairs in order
that we maGLVFHUQVXFKUHJXODULWLHVZKHQWKH appear less
diagrammaticallLQWKHIOHVK6HH1RO&DUUROO- Vertigo and the
Pathologies of Romantic Love,” in Hitchcock and Philosoph'LDO0IRr
MetaphVLFs , edited b'DYLG%DJJHWWDQGW illiam Drumin (Chicago: Open
Court, 2007), p. 112.
14 In the final book, Snape casts HarrLQQHJDWLYHWHUPVFRQFOXGLQJ,
“He is his father over again.” T o which Dumbledore replies, “In looks,
perhaps, but his deepest nature is much more like his mother ’s,” Deathly
Hallows , p. 684.
15 Thanks to Mark Foreman, Laura Jones, Noah Levin, and especially
Dave Baggett for their insightful comments on an earlier draft.

6
HARRY POTTER, RADICAL FEMINISM, AND THE
POWER OF LOVE
Anne Collins Smith



Love is a force in the Potter universe that crosses hierarchical
boundaries and defeats the powerful. And, curiously , love is most
efficacious in combating evil in J. K. Rowling’ s world when it makes no
attempt to compete at all. Self-sacrifice and kindness bring unexpected
rewards; love and compassion overwhelm greed and ambition, overcoming
them without attempting to defeat them. In other words, Rowling’ s world
resonates with the values of radical feminism. Perhaps that sounds strange.
So, to demVWLI this claim, we’ll begin with a surveRIFRQWHPSRUDUy
feminist scholarship on Harr3RWWHUHQURXWHWRDQXQGHUVWDQGLQJRIUDGLFDl
feminism, culminating in an examination of the role of love in the Potter
books.

The Feminist Debate So Far
Feminist commentators are divided on Rowling’s series. Two general
schools of interpretation prevail: those who consider the series sexist, and
those who consider it progressive.
Some writers, such as Christine Schoefer , Elizabeth Heilman, and Eliza
Dresang, have argued that the Potter books perpetuate traditional gender
stereotSHVDQGUHLQIRUFHQHJDWLYHJHQGHUSRUWUDals in the minds of RXQg
readers. 1 Ximena Gallardo-C. and C. Jason Smith, in their joint article
“Cinderfella,” offer a startling and exciting feminist interpretation of the
motifs and sPEROLVPLQWKHVHULHVEXWWKHy , too, claim that the books are
sexist, at least on the surface. 2
Others writers, for example, Edmund Kern, Mimi Gladstein, and Sarah
Zettel, have claimed that Rowling provides a balanced view of the sexes
that includes strong female characters and an egalitarian magical society . 3
TheDrgue that the books are not sexist and indeed of fer good role models
for RXQJUHDGHUV.
Although these two schools of interpretation are generallRSSRVHG,
theDUHQRWFRPSOHWHO black-and-white. Dresang, for example, of fers a
highlQXDQFHGSHUVSHFWLYHRQ+HUPLRQH*UDQJHr’s capacitIRUVHOI-
determination even within a societWKDW'UHVDQJFRQVLGHUVSDWULDUFKDO;
Kern willinglDGPLWVWKDWWKHERRNVDUHVODQWHGWRZDUGPDOHFKDUDFWHUV,
even as he disputes the fairness of some accusations of sexism.
This dispute between the two schools of interpretation primarilIRFXVHs
on the portraDORIIHPDOHFKDUDFWHUVLQWKHVHULHV,Q+DUU Potter ’s Girl
T rouble,” Christine Schoefer observes that there are no female characters in
the series who approach the level of the male characters: “No girl is
brilliantlKHURLFWKHZD HarrLVQRZRPDQLVH[SHULHQFHGDQGZLVHOLNe
Professor Dumbledore.” 4 Elizabeth Heilman ar gues that the books
“replicate some of the most demeaning, HWIDPLOLDr , culture stereotSHVIRr
both males and females.” 5 Gallardo-C. and Smith claim that “the Harry
Potter books resonate with gender stereotSHVRIWKHZRUVWVRUW. 6

In response, Kern, Zettel, and Gladstein offer eloquent pleas for the
importance of context. TheDFNQRZOHGJHWKHH[LVWHQFHRIIHPDOe
characters who displaQHJDWLYHWUDLWVWUDGLWLRQDOO associated with feminine
stereotSHVEXWWKH also observe that there are numerous parallel
depictions of male characters who displaQHJDWLYHPDVFXOLQHWUDLWV.HUn
observes, for example, that “the ‘silliness’ of Lavender and Parvati mirrors
the juvenile antics of Dean and Seamus,” and that Hermione’ s accident with
the PolMXLFH3RWLRQVKRXOGEHUHDGLQSDUDOOHOWR5RQ
s accident with the
slug-eating spell. 7 Zettel points out that “Madam Pince the librarian goes
irrational when she thinks a student has written in a book. But then, Filch
the caretaker wants the students whipped and chained for littering.” 8
Gladstein juxtaposes “incompetent TrelawneZLWKIDNH*LOGHURy
Lockhart.” 9 Expanding on their point bUHIHUULQJWRFKDUDFWHUVQRt
available to some earlier commentators, these authors also point to villains
such as Dolores Umbridge and Bellatrix Lestrange, who command as much
fear and respect as anRIWKHPDOH'HDWK(DWHUV.
Among the various negative feminine stereotSHVWKHDFWRIJLJJOLQJLs
a lightning rod for feminist commentary . Dresang comments that “[t]he
pervasive description of girls as silly, giggling, and light-headed
undermines [Rowling’s] more gender-balanced depiction of girls’
opportunities in the patriarchal hierarchy .” 10 Heilman states that this
giggling undermines the sportsmanship of the girls who pla4XLGGLWFK:
“Even as sports team members, the girls exhibit girlish behavior bJLJJOLQg
at the possibilitRISODing with the handsome new captain and seeker ,
Cedric Diggory. . . . Quidditch is not the onlFRQWH[WIRUJLJJOLQJ7Ke
second two books are littered with references to giggling girls.” 11 Zettel
acknowledges such criticisms and of fers a pointed comeback:
Critics deride the girls at Hogwarts because the are shown to
giggle and shriek and generall make a lot of noise. Some real live
girls do giggle and shriek. Some are quiet and serious. Some like pink
and ruffles. Som e like athletics and blue jeans. We see them all at
Hogwarts. I rej ect the notio n that we must tell girls that the onl way
to be valid human beings is to turn themselves into bos .12

Radical vs. Liberal Feminism
Although Zettel does not identifKHUVHOIDVDUDGLFDOIHPLQLVWKHr
response to these critics highlights a major point of disagreement between
liberal and radical feminism. Liberal feminism, historicallJURXQGHGLQWKe
writings of MarWollstonecraft (1759-1797), Harriet T aORU0LOO -
1858), and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), holds the once-controversial view
that women are people—that is, intelligent, autonomous beings—and
should be treated as such. Sometimes characterized as “first-wave
feminism,” the feminism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries drew
inspiration from Enlightenment philosophers, emphasizing individual rights
and responsibilities and arguing that these should be applied to women as
well as to men. 13
The liberal-feminist view that women are people maVHHPHQWLUHOy
reasonable but in actualitLVVXUSULVLQJO problematic. There’ s an inherent
assumption in liberal feminism that “people” is a gender-neutral term, but in
fact our concept of what “people” means has been shaped bDVRFLHWy
whose intellectual life has long been dominated bPHQ0RUHRYHr , while
liberal feminism is optimistic in its belief that women, given equal
opportunity, will achieve equal status with men socially , politically, and
economically , it overlooks the possibilitWKDWZRPHQPD have interests,
strengths, and abilities dif ferent from those of men, which maOHDGZRPHn
to prefer different measures of success.
There are examples of liberal feminism among both the supporters and
the detractors of the Potter series. Gladstein, a supporter of the series,
praises Professor McGonagall, who has succeeded in rising to a powerful
position within the Hogwarts hierarchVKHDOVRVSHDNVLQVXSSRUWRf
Hermione, whose logical acumen and love of learning fall into a
traditionallPDVFXOLQHSDWWHUQRIUDWLRQDOLW and inquiry . These characters
have succeeded on masculine terms, and their successes are rightlSUDLVHG.
Characters who have achieved different sorts of success, however, maQRt
receive their full due within the context of liberal feminism. Gladstein, for
example, highlights MollWeasle
s “active and assertive” participation in

the Order of the Phoenix in the later books but onlEULHIO mentions her
earlier role as a mother. 14
We can also see a tendencWRZDUGOLEHUDOIHPLQLVPLQVRPHRIWKRVe
who take a more negative view of the series. Heilman, for example,
comments on Rowling’ s tendencWRGHSLFWJLUOVWXGHQWVLQJURXSV7KLs
repeated grouping . . . reinforces the idea of the sociological construct of the
communal and friendlJLUOFRPSDUHGWRWKHLQGLYLGXDODQGFRPSHWLWLYe
boy.” She claims that this reinforces “the inferior position of females,”
which suggests that she considers being communal rather than individual,
friendlUDWKHUWKDQFRPSHWLWLYHDVDQLQGLFDWLRQRIDFWXDORUSHUFHLYHd
inferiority . 15
This tendencRIOLEHUDOIHPLQLVPWRGRZQSOD roles and traits
traditionallDVVRFLDWHGZLWKZRPHQLVSDUWRIWKHUHDVRQWKDWDGLf ferent
form of feminism, radical feminism, evolved as part of the “second wave”
of feminism in the 1960s and the 1970s. Radical feminism takes its name
from the Latin word radix , meaning “root,” and holds that the root cause of
women’s oppression is the “sex/gender sVWHPDVHWRIVRFLDOH[SHFWDWLRQs
that force identities onto people in such a waWKDWDSHUVRQ
s phVLFDl
sexual identification necessarilGHWHUPLQHVWKDWSHUVRQ
s personality,
permissible social roles, and acceptable economic occupations. In a
patriarchal society , these expectations will tend to privilege men and
disempower women. 16 For example, in the United States within living
memory, women used to be shunted into a handful of acceptable “pink-
collar” jobs such as nurses, secretaries, and schoolteachers.
Although radical feminists disagree on exactlKRZWRIL[WKHSUREOHP,
theRIWHQIRFXVRQWKHFKDUDFWHULVWLFVWKDWDUHWUDGLWLRQDOO labeled
masculine or feminine bVRFLHW and consider waVLQZKLFKWKHVe
characteristics can be freed from rigid categorizations, such as the following
contrasted pairs:

Traits T raditionall&RQVLGHr ed
Masculine
Traits T raditionall&RQVLGHr ed
Feminine
control love
independence interdependence
individualism community
hierarchy networking

domination sharing
competition cooperation
aggression compassion
reason emotion



Some radical feminists feel that our societZRXOGEHQHILWIURPSHRSOe
in general becoming more androgQRXVVRWKDWPHQDQGZRPHQFRXOd
freelPL[DQGPDWFKZKDWHYHUFKDUDFWHULVWLFVDSSHDOPRVWWRWKHm
individually. In this way , both men and women would become “people,” but
our understanding of what people are would no longer be limited to the
guidelines laid down bDPDOHGRPLQDWHGVRFLHWy . Other radical feminists
feel that the values traditionallFRQVLGHUHGIHPLQLQHZRXOGEHQHILWRXr
societPRVWDQGVKRXOGEHDGRSWHGE men and women alike, thus shifting
the definition of “people” to a more feminine-centric model. 17
Some scholarlFRPPHQWDULHVRQWKH3RWWHUVHULHVH[HPSOLI radical
feminism. For example, Zettel emphasizes the importance of Molly
Weasle
s household management, pointing out that “she’ s successfully
raising seven kids on a tight budget. Honestly, the woman should get a
medal.” 18 In a more serious vein, Zettel argues that for “an author to show
that onlWUDGLWLRQDOPDOHSRZHUDQGSODFHPDWWHULVWRGLVFRXQWDQGEHOLWWOe
the hard and complex lives of our peers and our ancestresses.” 19 Zettel’s
willingness to praise female characters who have succeeded on terms other
than traditional masculine ones would be welcomed bUDGLFDOIHPLQLVWV.
Another article that of fers a radical-feminist perspective on the Potter
series is Gallardo-C. and Smith’ s “Cinderfella.” Although these authors
criticize the gender stereotSHVSUHVHQWRQWKHVXUIDFHRIWKHVHULHVWKHy
move to a deeper level to present a radical-feminist interpretation of the
good and evil sides of the conflict. The evil characters, theSRLQWRXW,
displaSKDOOLFSRZHUDQGDPELWLRQDQGDUHDJJUHVVLYHDQGSRZHr -
hungry.” 20 This would applHYHQWRIHPDOHFKDUDFWHUVVXFKDV8PEULGJH,
who, despite her stereotSLFDOO feminine taste in clothing and of fice
decoration, demonstrates an ongoing obsession with traditionallPDVFXOLQe
values such as control, hierarchy, and structure in her takeover of Hogwarts
in Order of the Phoenix and in her creation of her own bureaucracWo

persecute Muggle-born magic users in Deathl+DOORZs . On the other hand,
Harr
s own choices and decisions “belie a preference for the feminine,”
and his compatriots exhibit traditionallIHPLQLQHFKDUDFWHULVWLFVVXFKDs
“kindness, selflessness, a desire for intimacZLWKRWKHUVDQd
responsibility .” 21 In this way, these authors ar gue that Rowling associates
good with values traditionallFRQVLGHUHGIHPLQLQHDQGHYLOZLWKYDOXHs
traditionallFRQVLGHUHGPDVFXOLQH.
This association of good with qualities such as love and compassion is
something radical feminists have in common with earlier philosophers and
theologians, who also felt that such traits needed to be integrated into our
understanding and practice of humanity . From St. Gertrude the Great’s
emphasis on loving-kindness as an essential feature of God’ s nature and a
crucial one for humans to imitate, to Gandhi’s campaign of nonviolent civil
disobedience in which he proclaimed that “life without love is death,” to C.
S. Lewis’s careful analVLVRIHDFKRIWKHYDULRXVWpes of love as necessary
for the fulfillment of humanity , manWKLQNHUVKDYHHPSKDVL]HGWKe
importance of traits such as love, kindness, and compassion. 22
Radical feminists argue not onlWKDWWKHVHWUDLWVKDYHEHHQWUDGLWLRQDOOy
assigned to women, rather than valued bVRFLHW as a whole, but that this
has been done in a particularlKDUPIXOZDy . Women are encouraged to be
so altruistic that theGRQ
t stand up for themselves, and theVXEPLWPHHNOy
to traditional forms of oppression for fear that anDWWHPSWDWDVVHUWLYHQHVs
will be seen as a lack of femininity . 23 Meanwhile, men are damaged as well,
because living up to a macho ideal that emphasizes competition and
independence is a stressful and incomplete waWREHKXPDQ$V+HDWKHr
Booth, Evi Goldfield, and Sue Munaker wrote, “As long as artificially
constructed, mWKLFDOO based images of masculine and feminine are the
onlDOWHUQDWLYHERWKPHQDQGZRPHQDUHJRLQJWRILQGFRQIOLFWEHWZHHn
their imposed sexual identitDQGWKHLUJRDOVDVKXPDQEHLQJV. 24

More Wonderful and Mor e Terrible than Death
As mentioned at the outset, love, traditionallLGHQWLILHGDVDIHPLQLQe
characteristic, occupies a position of particular importance in Rowling’ s
universe, and her depiction of it resonates with radical feminism. Again and
again, we see Harr
s capacitWRORYHDQGEHORYHGSURWHFWKLPIURPHYLl
and enable him to protect others.
We learn about the importance of love in the first book, when the love
imprinted on Harr
s skin bKLVPRWKHr ’s sacrifice saves Harr
s life.
Professor Quirrell, whose bod/RUGV oldemort inhabits, finds that he
cannot bear to touch HarrEHFDXVHRIWKHLQYLVLEOHPDUNOHIWE the love of
Harr
s mother . This is the first example in the series in which we see that
love resists evil ef fortlessly, without deliberate action on Harr
s part. We
then learn from Dumbledore that this same love saved HarrIURm
Voldemort’ s earlier attempt to kill him in infancy . Love is not wielded as a
weapon; it simplRYHUZKHOPVHYLOE its verH[LVWHQFH. 25
This love, however, is extrinsic to Harr
s own nature. In Sorcerer’s
Stone , he is saved bKLVPRWKHr ’s love for him, not bKLVRZQORYHIRr
others. It is significant that this love is literallLQKLVVNLQRQWKHRXWVLGH,
rather than, say , in his heart, on the inside. As the books progress, however ,
we see Harr
s intrinsic abilitWRORYHRWKHUVEHFRPHPRUHDQGPRUe
important.
In Prisoner of Azkaban , HarrVDYHVWKHOLIHRI3HWHU3HWWLJUHw , not out
of love for the traitor who betraHG+DUU’ s parents, but out of love for
Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. HarrGRHVQRWZDQWKLVIDWKHr ’s friends to
become murderers; he cares more about them than about his own desire for
vengeance. The consequences of this deeplXQVHOILVKDFWLRQDUHPXOWLSOH;
ultimately , Pettigrew’ s debt to HarrVDYHV+DUU’ s life, although that was
not Harr
s motivation for saving him.
In the later books, Rowling continues to emphasize Harr
s love for
others. In Order of the Phoenix , near the end of the confrontation at the
MinistrRI0DJLF+DUU is brieflSRVVHVVHGE V oldemort. HarrLVQRt
strong enough to repel Voldemort, and he resigns himself to the possibility

of death. The thought enters his mind that death would reunite him with his
beloved godfather: “ And I’ll see Sirius again . And as Harr
s heart filled
with emotion, the creature’ s coils loosened, the pain was gone.” 26 Harry
does not deliberatelVHWKLVORYHIRU6LULXVDJDLQVWV oldemort’s will; had he
done so, love would take its place as another weapon in the arsenal of
masculine competition. Instead, V oldemort simplFDQQRWEHDUWREHLQLWs
presence; once again, love overwhelms evil without ef fort.
In explaining the incident in the MinistrRI0DJLF'XPEOHGRUe
describes “a force that is at once more wonderful and more terrible than
death, than human intelligence, than forces of nature.... It is the power ...
that RXSRVVHVVLQVXFKTXDQWLWLHVDQGZKLFKVoldemort has not at all. That
power . . . saved RXIURPSRVVHVVLRQE Voldemort, because he could not
bear to reside in a bodVRIXOORIWKHIRUFHKHGHWHVWV. 27 This power, of
course, is love. As Dumbledore explains, “In the end, it mattered not that
RXFRXOGQRWFORVHour mind. It was RXUKHDUWWKDWVDYHGou.” 28
Dumbledore’ s explanation demonstrates a preference for traditionally
feminine characteristics over traditionallPDVFXOLQHRQHVEHFDXVHUHDVRQ,
the power of the mind, is traditionallLGHQWLILHGDVPDVFXOLQHZKLOe
emotion, the power of the heart, is traditionallFRQVLGHUHGIHPLQLQH.
In Half-Blood Prince , Dumbledore states that love is the “power the
Dark Lord knows not” that is mentioned in the prophecDERXWV oldemort
and his self-chosen enemy. 29 Dumbledore further explains that this power is
what kept HarrIURPVXFFXPELQJWRWKHWHPSWDWLRQVRIWKH'DUN$UWVDQd
from LHOGLQJWRWKHPRUHRUGLQDU temptations of using his magical
abilities to obtain selfish goals such as wealth or immortality . He is forced
to explain these things to HarrEHFDXVH+DUU does not realize them; again,
love has not functioned as a conscious barrier that HarrKDVGHOLEHUDWHOy
raised in order to fight against these temptations, but as a qualitZLWKLn
himself that keeps him from even being tempted in the first place.
Love achieves even greater importance in the final volume, Deathly
Hallows , functioning at multiple levels in different parts of the book.
Harr
s abilitWRORYHXQVHOILVKO is not confined to humans but extends to
loving other beings as well, which bears unexpected benefits. Remembering
Dumbledore’ s critical remarks in Order of the Phoenix about Sirius’ s
neglectful treatment of the house-elf Kreacher , moved b.UHDFKHr’s story
of his dreadful journeZLWK5HJXOXV%ODFNWRUHSODFHWKH+RUFUX[ORFNHt
with a replica, and stirred b+HUPLRQH
s sPSDWKHWLFH[SODQDWLRQRf

Kreacher’s psFKRORJy , HarrEHJLQVWRWUHDW.UHDFKHUZLWKNLQGQHVV$Va
result, Kreacher eagerlDVVLVWV+DUU in locating the real locket bWUDFNLQg
down the thief, Mundungus Fletcher , who is able to tell HarrLWs
whereabouts. Harr
s respectful treatment of the goblin Griphook also
makes possible the recoverRIDQREMHFWWKDWFDQEHXVHGWRGHVWURy
Horcruxes, the Sword of Grf findor. And, of course, Harr
s constant
kindness toward DobbLVUHZDUGHGZKHQ'REE saves Harr
s life at the
cost of his own.
Harr
s most surprising act of love, however , is his attempt to redeem
Voldemort himself. Harr
s plea to Voldemort to feel remorse, with the
recognition that this would enable him to heal and reunite the surviving
fragments of his shattered soul, is an astonishing act of compassion that
shocks Voldemort “beRQGDQ revelation or taunt.” 30 “‘It’s RXURQHODVt
chance,’ said Harry , ‘it’s all RX
YHJRWOHIW,
YHVHHQZKDWou’ll be
otherwise ... be a man . . . trWU for some remorse.’” 31 Of course,
Voldemort does not recognize Harr
s appeal as an act of compassion. A
hSHUPDVFXOLQHILJXUHREVHVVHGZLWKGRPLQDWLRQDQGFRQWUROKHIDLOVWo
understand the genuine power of traditionallIHPLQLQHYDOXHVDIODZWKDt
has alreadFDXVHGKLPWRRYHUORRNWKHFDSDELOLWLHVRIKRXVHHOYHVDQGWKe
true motivation of his supposed all6HYHUXV6QDSH.
Harr
s choice of words here reveals a remarkable aspect of Rowling’ s
worldview. When HarrXr ges Voldemort to “be a man,” he is implicitly
claiming that V oldemort’s actions to date have not demonstrated manhood,
that Voldemort’ s hSHUPDVFXOLQLW is not in fact true manhood at all.
Instead, Harr
s understanding of manhood is one that is fullKXPDQ,
incorporating traditionallIHPLQLQHWUDLWVDVZHOODVWUDGLWLRQDOO masculine
ones. As Terri DoughtZURWHLQKHUHVVD comparing the Potter series to
other contemporarERRNVDLPHGDWDGROHVFHQWPDOHV7KH+DUU Potter
books do not problematize masculinity .” 32 In contrast to the protagonists of
contemporarERRNVWKDWGHSLFWoung men struggling with little guidance
toward a violent and alienated adulthood, HarrKDVDQXPEHURISRVLWLYe
adult male role models, such as Dumbledore, Rubeus Hagrid, and Lupin,
who do not hesitate to express traits such as reassurance or sPSDWKy , and
who are able to assure HarrWKDWKHLVJURZLQJLQWRWKHULJKWVRUWRf
boy.” 33 In the Potter books, the right sort of boy , indeed, the right sort of
man, is not onlVWURQJDQGEUDYHEXWNLQGDQGORYLQJDVZHOO.

Less surprising than Harr
s attempt to redeem Voldemort is his
willingness to LHOGKLVRZQOLIHWRSURWHFWWKHRQHVKHORYHV7KHRXWFRPe
of this act, however, is also surprising to V oldemort; HarrLVQRWLQIDFW,
killed, and his act of sacrifice of fers magical protection to his compatriots.
Meanwhile, Harr
s masterRIWKH(OGHUW and contrasts sharplZLWKWKe
attempts bRWKHUZL]DUGVWRREWDLQLWKHQHYHUVHWVRXWGHOLEHUDWHO to
acquire it, and he does not intend to use it for destructive purposes. The
onlVSHOOKHFDVWVLQWKHILQDOVKRZGRZQLVGHIHQVLYH+DUU does not
engage in a “duel to the death” with V oldemort. The fact that he is
successful without attempting to compete shows again that in this series,
love is more important than aggression.

The Triumph of Love
In Rowling’ s world, love does not enter into combat, which would mean
that it was participating in and implicitlSURPRWLQJWKHPDVFXOLQHVWUXFWXUH.
From a radical-feminist perspective, when love overcomes hatred, it does so
without deigning to enter into anVRUWRIFRQWHVWEXWVLPSO and naturally
overwhelms evil bLWVYHU presence. Although the successes of Hermione
and McGonagall maPDUNWKHSUHVHQFHRIOLEHUDOIHPLQLVPLQ5RZOLQJ
s
creation, the ultimate triumph of love and compassion over selfishness and
ambition clearlSURYLGHVDQRYHUDUFKLQJZRUOGYLHZWKDWLVPRUHLQOLQe
with radical feminism.

NOTES
1 Christine Schoefer, “Harr3RWWHr’s Girl T rouble,” on Salon.com ,
Januar,
http://archive.salon.com/books/feature/2000/01/13/potter/index.html ;
Elizabeth E. Heilman, “Blue W izards and Pink Witches: Representations of
Gender IdentitDQG3RZHr ,” in Critical Perspectives on Harr3RWWHr ,
edited b(OL]DEHWK(+HLOPDQ 1HZY ork: Routledge, 2003), pp. 221-239;
Eliza T. Dresang, “Hermione Granger and the Heritage of Gender ,” in The
IvorTower and Harr3RWWHr , edited b/DQD:KLWHG &ROXPELD:
UniversitRI0LVVRXUL3UHVV SS1 1-242.
2 Ximena Gallardo-C. and C. Jason Smith, “Cinderfella: J. K.
Rowling’s WilW eb of Gender ,” in Reading Harr3RWWHU&ULWLFDO(VVDs ,
edited b*LVHOOH/L]D$QDWRO W estport, CT: Praeger, 2003), pp. 191-203.
3 Edmund M. Kern, The Wisdom of Harr3RWWHU:KDW2XU)DYRULWe
Hero Teaches Us about Moral Choices (Amherst, NY : Prometheus Books,
2003); Mimi R. Gladstein, “Feminism and Equal Opportunit+HUPLRQe
and the Women of Hogwarts,” in Harr3RWWHUDQG3KLORVRSK: If Aristotle
Ran Hogwarts , edited b'DYLG%DJJHWWDQG6KDZQ(.OHLQ &KLFDJR:
Open Court, 2004), pp. 49-59; Sarah Zettel, “Hermione Granger and the
Charge of Sexism,” in Mapping the W orld of the Sorcerer’s Appr entice ,
edited b0HUFHGHV/DFNH and Leah W ilson (Dallas: Benbella Books,
2005), pp. 83-99.
4 Schoefer, “Harr3RWWHr ’s Girl T rouble,” p. 1.
5 Heilman, “Blue W izards and Pink Witches,” p. 222.
6 Gallardo-C. and Smith, “Cinderfella: J. K. Rowling’ s WilW eb of
Gender ,” p. 191.
7 Kern, The Wisdom of Harr3RWWHr , p. 149.
8 Zettel, “Hermione Granger and the Char ge of Sexism,” p. 99.
9 Gladstein, “Feminism and Equal Opportunit+HUPLRQHDQGWKe
Women of Hogwarts,” p. 59.
10 Dresang, “Hermione Granger and the Heritage of Gender ,” p. 237.
11 Heilman, “Blue W izards and Pink Witches,” p. 226.

12 Zettel, “Hermione Granger and the Charge of Sexism,” p. 98
(emphasis added).
13 Sondra Farganis, Situating Feminism: Fr om Thought to Action ,
volume 2 in the series Contemporar6RFLDO7KHRUy (Thousand Oaks, CA:
SAGE, 1994).
14 Gladstein, “Feminism and Equal Opportunit+HUPLRQHDQGWKe
Women of Hogwarts,” p. 58.
15 Heilman, “Blue W izards and Pink Witches,” p. 228.
16 Rosemarie Putnam T ong, Feminist Thought: A Mor e Comprehensive
Introduction , 3rd ed. (Boulder , CO: Westview Press, 2009), p. 51.
17 Ibid., p. 54f f.
18 Zettel, “Hermione Granger and the Char ge of Sexism,” p. 90.
19 Ibid., pp. 91-92.
20 Gallardo-C. and Smith, “Cinderfella,” p. 200.
21 Ibid., pp. 199, 200.
22 Gertrude of Helfta, The Herald of Divine Love ( Legatus Divinae
Pietatis ), translated and edited b0Drgaret Winkworth (New Y ork: Paulist
Press, 1993); M. K. Gandhi, The WaWR*Rd (Berkeley , CA: Berkele+LOOs
Books, 1999), p. 56; C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves (New York: Harcourt
Brace Jovanovich, 1960).
23 For a surprisinglUHFHQWH[DPSOHVHH6KDQNDUV edantam’s eH-
opening article about research showing that contemporarZRUNLQJZRPHn
are reluctant to ask for raises: “Salary , Gender and the Social Cost of
Haggling,” Washington Post , JulS$.
24 Heather Booth, Evi Goldfield, and Sue Munaker , “Toward a Radical
Movement,” in Radical Feminism: A Documentar5HDGHr , edited by
Barbara A. Crow (New Y ork: New York Universit3UHVV S.
25 This notion of achieving ef fects without striving, through
“nonaction,” is reminiscent of the T aoist concept of wu-wei .
26 Order of the Phoenix , p. 816.
27 Ibid., p. 842.
28 Ibid., p. 844.
29 Half-Blood Prince , p. 509.
30 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 741.
31 Ibid., p. 741; the ellipses are Rowling’ s.
32 Terri Doughty , “Locating Harr3RWWHULQWKH %Rs’ Book’ Market,”
in The IvorTower and Harr3RWWHr , edited b/DQD:KLWHG &ROXPELD:

UniversitRI0LVVRXUL3UHVV S.
33 Ibid., pp. 253-254.

PA RT T H REE
POTTER WATCH: FREEDOM AND POLITICS

7
PA TRIOTISM, HOUSE LOY ALTY, AND THE
OBLIGA TIONS OF BELONGING
Andrew P . Mills



When RXHQWHU+RJZDUWVLQour first HDr , the Sorting Hat assigns Ru
to one of four “Houses”: Grffindor, SlWKHULQ+Xf flepuff, or Ravenclaw .
Each House has its own colors, mascots, and traditions, and the Houses
form the social structure of the school. House members live together , eat
together, take classes together , and compete together—on and of f the
Quidditch field—to win honor and glorIRUWKHLU+RXVHV.
Being in a House at Hogwarts affects the waou treat other people.
After all, we think that as a good Grf findor, Hermione Granger should
support the Grf findor Quidditch team, help Grf findor earn points toward
the House Cup bGRLQJZHOOLQFODVV DQGE helping Ron W easleDQd
HarrZLWKWKHLUKRPHZRUN DQGLQRWKHUZDs give preferential treatment
to the other Grffindors. Indeed, if Hermione were not to care about the
welfare of her fellow Grf findors, or if she weren’t upset when she cost the
House points, we’d count that as a moral failing of hers. And worse, if she
were to help Vincent Crabbe and Gregor*Rle—members of SlWKHULQ&

with their homework or were to sabotage Harr
s Nimbus 2000 so that
Hufflepuf f would win that week’ s Quidditch match, Hermione would
rightlEHDFFXVHGRIEHWUDing her House and of being a disloDODQd
unpatriotic Grffindor. One of the manWKLQJVZHDGPLUHDERXW+HUPLRQH,
Ron, and especiall+DUU is that theDUHORal and dedicated to one
another and to their friends. That theDUHSDWULRWLF*Uf findors” is one of
their virtues.
But is patriotism of this sort reallDYLUWXH"0DQ of us think that it is.
What else would explain whZHGHPDQGWKDWRXUSROLWLFDOOHDGHUVEe
patriotic, whZHUDLVHRXUFKLOGUHQWRORYHWKHLUKRPHODQGDQGZK we
admire soldiers who risk their lives in service to their countr"Y et in spite
of this, there are some powerful arguments that claim that patriotism is a
vice —that if we’re in favor of patriotism, we’re similar in important was
to Voldemort and the Death Eaters. So, which is it? Is patriotism a virtue? A
vice? Or does it depend on the circumstances?

The Dangers of Patriotism
Those who consider patriotism a virtue maEHWKLQNLQJWKDWWRODFk
patriotism is to be selfish. Patriotism, as the U.S. politician and presidential
candidate Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965) once wrote, “means putting country
before self.” 1 A patriot might risk her life to defend her countrDQGWKXs
sacrifice her personal interests so that her nation might prosper. That a
patriot should put her countr
s interests ahead of her own is admirable, but
what should her attitude be toward the interests of other countries? Here,
too, it seems the patriot should give preference to her own countr
s
interests. Being a patriotic Grffindor means that Hermione should sacrifice
some of her free time to help Ron and HarrZLWKWKHLUKRPHZRUN VRWKDt
the House won’t lose anPRUHSRLQWV EXWLWDOVRPHDQVWKDW+HUPLRQe
should put the interests of Grf findor ahead of the interests of the other
Houses. Similarly, being a patriotic American means preferring America’ s
well-being over the well-being of all other countries—thus, the injunction
to “bu$PHULFDQDQGVRVXSSRUWWKH86HFRQRPy. But it’s just this
aspect of giving preference to our own countrRYHUDOORWKHUVWKDWFDXVHs
the problems and makes patriotism look like a vice.
The Russian author Leo T olsto  FDOOHGSDWULRWLVPWKe
desire for the exclusive good of one’ s own nation” and thought it was this
verGHVLUHWKDWSURGXFHGZDr. 2 Emma Goldman (1869-1940), a Lithuanian-
born social activist who spent much of her life working and writing in
America, felt similarly. She wrote,
[C]onceit, arrogance, and egotism are the essentials of patriotism....
Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one
surrounded b an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being
born on some particular spot, consider themselves better, nobler ,
grander , more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting an other
spot. It is, theref ore, the dut of everRQH on that chosen spot to fight,
kill, and die in the attempt to impose his superiorit upon all the
others. 3

Patriotism thus seems to involve, if TolstoDQG*ROGPDQDUHULJKWa
Voldemort-like sense of superioritRXUQDWLRQLVWKHEHVWWKHFLWL]HQVRf
our nation are better than the citizens of other nations, and those other
nations must serve our interests bJLYLQJXVUHVRXUFHVZHQHHGRUEHKDYLQg
in the waVZHZDQWWKHPWREHKDYH DQGLIWKH won’ t do it voluntarily,
we’ll force them to do so at the tip of a wand. Or at the barrel of a gun.

Death Eaters and Discrimination
We can appreciate this criticism of patriotism even more bWKLQNLQg
about the Death Eaters. Those in league with V oldemort believe that some
wizards—“purebloods,” theFDOOWKHP DUHPRUDOO more worthWKDn
other wizards (whom theGHULVLYHO call “Mudbloods”), and that Muggles
barelUHJLVWHURQWKHPRUDOUDGDr. But anVXFKYLHw, which counts some
subset of the population as morallVXSHULRUWRWKHUHVWUXQVFRXQWHUWRa
long tradition in ethics according to which acting morallPHDQVWUHDWLQg
everRQH PDQRUZRPDQEODFNRUZKLWH&KULVWLDQRU0XVOLP0XJJOHRr
wizard—as having equal moral worth.
Utilitarians such as the English philosophers Jerem%HQWKDP -
1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) have some basic disagreements
with the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) concerning the
nature of ethics. Both camps, however , agree that a fundamental principle
of moralitLVWKDWDOOSHRSOHDUHRIHTXDOPRUDOZRUWK8WLOLWDULDQVKROGWKDt
actions are to be judged according to their ef fects on the sentient creatures
(creatures who can feel pleasure and pain) who are af fected bWKHP$Qd
all such creatures count equally. “Each to count for one, and none for more
than one,” as Bentham famouslSXWLW7KH0LQLVWHURI0DJLF
s pain or
pleasure is no more important than that felt bWKHORZOLHVWKRXVHHOIRUWKe
ugliest Blast-Ended Skrewt.
Although Kant disagreed with the utilitarians over what it takes for a
being to count morall PHUHVHQWLHQFHZDVQ
t enough for him), he did
agree that everRQHZKRPDWWHUVPRUDOO matters equally . To act morally ,
RXPXVW.DQWVDLGDFWLQVXFKDZD that RXDOZDs treat humanity ,
whether in RXURZQSHUVRQRULQWKHSHUVRQRIDQ other, never simplDVa
means, but alwaVDWWKHVDPHWLPHDVDQHQG. 4 All people must be treated
as beings whose life projects—their “ends”—are equallYDOXDEOHDQGQo
one should be used merelWRVHUYHWKHHQGVRIVRPHRQHHOVH+DUU’ s allies
know this: in the dark daVGHVFULEHGLQ Deathl+DOORZs , the hosts of the
underground radio program Potterwatch remind their listeners to save their
Muggle neighbors from Death Eater attacks, on the grounds that “[e]very

human life is worth the same, and worth saving.” 5 Hermione goes even
further, extending this principle to nonhumans, as part of her tireless and
thankless ef fort to liberate the Hogwarts house-elves. Recall her horror
when she realizes that the meals at Hogwarts are prepared bKRXVHHOYHs
or, as she puts it, “slave labor .” To do something about the situation, she
starts S.P .E.W., the SocietIRUWKH3URPRWLRQRI(OILVKW elfare.
This principle of equality, however expressed, explains what’ s wrong
with racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, and all other forms of discrimination.
Each of these views violates the idea that everRQHGHVHUYHVHTXDOPRUDl
consideration. White racists think the suf fering of black people is of less
importance than the suffering of white people. Male sexists think that it’ s all
right for women to be subservient to men, and so on. But, as Goldman and
TolstoVHHLWSDWULRWLVPLVQRGLf ferent. After all, how is giving preferential
treatment to RXUFRXQWUmen—which is what patriotism seems to require
—anGLfferent from giving preferential treatment to those who share RXr
ancestrRUVNLQFRORURUJHQGHU"'RHVQ
t the idea that we should treat all
people as having equal moral worth conflict with the idea that some people
are to be given preferential treatment because of some characteristic (such
as race, gender, or ancestr WKH had no control over? It’ s justifiable to
morallGLVFULPLQDWHDJDLQVWVRPHRQHEHFDXVHRIVRPHWKLQJKHRUVKHKDs
done (like using one of the Unforgivable Curses), but it seems unjustifiable
to base moral worth on something he or she can’ t control, such as whether
either of the person’s parents is a Muggle or which countrWKHSDUHQWZDs
born in.

The Sorting Hat Speaks: Division and Divisiveness
So far, then, it looks like we must view patriotism as a vice—as the
moral equivalent of racism or sexism—and that we must view the loDOWy
that Grf findors show to their House not as something admirable, but as a
position morallHTXLYDOHQWWRWKH'HDWK(DWHUV
YLHZWKDWRQO pureblood
wizards are morallZRUWKy , and that wizards of mixed parentage and
Muggles are morallLQIHULRr . But there’s another problem with patriotism,
one that even the Sorting Hat could see: patriotism divides us when we
should be united. Solving global crises requires international cooperation,
but such cooperation is dif ficult when we see other countries as our rivals.
The Sorting Hat recognizes the problem with, well, sorting Hogwarts
students at the beginning of Harr
s fifth HDU:
Though condemned I am to split RX
Still I worrWKDWLW
s wrong,
Though I must fulfill mGXW
And must quarter everear
Still I wonder whether sorting
MaQRWEULQJWKHHQG,IHDr .
Oh, know the perils, read the signs,
The warning historVKRZV
For our Hogwarts is in danger
From external, deadlIRHV
And we must unite inside her
Or we’ll crumble from within. 6
With division comes divisiveness, and what maKDYHVWDUWHGRXWDs
harmless sorting for noble ends will end up as the basis for opposition and
hatred.
Think, too, of the T riwizard Tournament. As Albus Dumbledore
describes it, the tournament is “a friendlFRPSHWLWLRQDQGLVDPRVt
excellent waRIHVWDEOLVKLQJWLHVEHWZHHQoung witches and wizards of
different nationalities.” 7 But after it gets underway , Ron is unable to see
Hermione’s friendship with V iktor Krum, the champion from the foreign

Durmstrang school, as anWKLQJRWKHUWKDQGLVORal behavior. Because
Hermione is friendlZLWK.UXP5RQDFFXVHVKHURIKHOSLQJ.UXPVROYe
his egg, part of the second task of the tournament:
“I’d never help him work out that egg!” said Hermione, looking
outraged. “ Never . How could RX sa something like that—I want
HarrWRZLQWKHWRXUQDPHQW+DUU knows that, don’ t RX+DUU?”
“You’ve got a funnZD of showing it,” sneered Ron.
“This whole tournament’ s supp osed to be about getting to know
foreign wizards and making friends with them!” said Hermione hotly .
“No it isn’t!” shouted Ron. “It’ s about winning!” 8
With views like Ron’ s, it’s no wonder that Dumbledore has to remind
everRQHRIWKHSRLQWRIWKHWRXUQDPHQW DQGWKDWZLQQLQJLVQ
t it. “The
Triwizard T ournament’ s aim was to further and promote magical
understanding. In light of... Lord V oldemort’s return, such ties are more
important than ever before,” Dumbledore saV,QGHHG'XPEOHGRUHVHHs
that it is this verGLYLVLRQWKDWV oldemort banks on: “[W]e are onlDs
strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. Lord V oldemort’s gift
for spreading discord and enmitLVYHU great. W e can fight it bVKRZLQg
an equallVWURQJERQGRIIULHQGVKLSDQGWUXVW. 9 Dumbledore could just as
easilEHWDONLQJDERXWWKHHQYLURQPHQWDOWKUHDWSRVHGE global warming or
the wars that grow out of manQDWLRQV
WKLUVWIRUPRUHRLO6WURQJERQGVRf
international friendship and trust are just as necessarLQWKHILJKWDJDLQVt
global crises as theDUHLQWKHILJKWDJDLQVWTom Riddle. The formation of
Dumbledore’s Arm ZKLFKLQFOXGHVVWXGHQWVIURPDOORIWKH+RXVHs
except SlWKHULQ VKRZVWKDW+RXVH RUQDWLRQDO GLYLVLRQVPDWWHUOLWWOe
when everRQHLVDf fected equallE an external threat, and that unifLQJLn
the face of that threat can be an ef fective response to it.

Patriotism and Global Conflict
Let’s consider one more possible problem with patriotism before we
look for a waWRPDNHVHQVHRILW0DQ people think being patriotic
simplUHTXLUHVou to “love RXUFRXQWUy .” That’s good as far as it goes,
but what does someone who loves her countrGR"+HUH
s one possible
answer. If RXORYHour country , doesn’t that mean wanting RXr
countrPHQWROLYHZHOODQGWRKDYHDOORIWKHWUDSSLQJVRIWKHJRRGOLIH?
Yet living the tSLFDO$PHULFDQPLGGOHFODVVOLIH ZLWKDODr ge house in the
suburbs, cars, vacations, large TVs, high-calorie meals, and so forth) costs a
lot of moneDQGFRQVXPHVDVLJQLILFDQWDPRXQWRIWKHZRUOG
s scarce
resources. It looks like the onlZD to maintain this “good life” for us and
our countrPHQLVHLWKHUWRH[SORLWWKHSHRSOHRIRWKHUFRXQWULHV WKH have
to work cheaply, so that we can af ford the goods thePDNHDQGWKH have
to go without cars and lar ge houses, so that the price of oil and other
essential resources staVORZIRUXV RUIRUXVWRXVHPRUHWKDQRXUIDLr
share of the world’s resources, thus denLQJWKHPWRRWKHUV(LWKHUZDy , it
might be thought that our well-being depends on other people living much
less well than we do. (Think again of the house-elves at Hogwarts: how
much does the well-being of the students depend on the horrid working
conditions of the enslaved elves?) If this line of thought is right, and if we
agree that everRQHFRXQWVHTXDOOy, it seems to follow that we will have to
significantlFXUWDLORXUOLIHVWles and dial down our high standards of living
so that others can climb out of backbreaking poverty . So, then, if “loving
RXUFRXQWU” means endorsing the high standard of living that RXr
countrPHQHQMRy, this will mean taking steps to exploit the citizens of
other countries, and that is tantamount—isn’ t it?—to thinking that the well-
being of RXUIHOORZ$PHULFDQVLVPRUHLPSRUWDQWWKDQWKHZHOOEHLQJRf
other people. And that sounds prettFORVHWRWKHLGHDWKDWWKHSHRSOHRf
RXUFRXQWU are morallVXSHULRUWRWKHSHRSOHRIRWKHUFRXQWULHV.
Of course, there are a number of “ifs” in this line of reasoning and quite
a few possible objections. You might think that raising the standard of
living in other countries actuallVHUYHVWREHQHILWRXUHFRQRP—the more

moneWKDWSHRSOHLQRWKHUFRXQWULHVKDYHWKHPRUHVWXff of ours theFDn
buy, and the less foreign aid from us theZLOOQHHG%XWHYHQVRWKHLVVXe
of scarce resources helps us see the possible conflict between patriotism and
the moral point of view that gives equal moral standing to all persons.
Accordingly , if we wish to maintain the view that patriotism is a virtue, we
have to figure out a waWRXQGHUVWDQGSDWULRWLVPVRWKDWLWGRHVQ
t conflict
with the powerfullDWWUDFWLYHYLHZWKDWDOOSHRSOH RIZKDWHYHUQDWLRQDOLWy
—are of equal moral worth. Let’s now look at how we can do that.

Patriotism Restored
We’ve seen some major dangers of patriotism: it promotes an
unjustified sense that we are morallEHWWHUWKDQ them , it maOHDGWo
economic imperialism, and it maSUHYHQWXQLWHGDFWLRQLQVLWXDWLRQVZKHUe
working across national boundaries is crucial to solving shared problems.
But let’ s not write of f patriotism just HWPDbe we just haven’ t understood
it properly. Martha Nussbaum, a leading contemporar$PHULFDn
philosopher , tries to find room for national bonds and loDOWLHVLQZKDWVKe
calls a “cosmopolitan” worldview: one in which we see ourselves as
citizens of the world and recognize our obligations to all people, not onlWo
our neighbors and countrPHQ%HFDXVH1XVVEDXP
s cosmopolitanism
embraces the equal moral worth of all people in different clothing, she
might offer us a waWREHSDWULRWLFEXWQRWMRLQWKH'DUN/RUG.
To see how Nussbaum finds room for patriotism within a moral view
that saVDOOSHRSOHDUHRIHTXDOPRUDOZRUWKOHW
s think back to the
Hogwarts Houses again. Imagine that we think that all Hogwarts students
are equallGHVHUYLQJRIDQHGXFDWLRQDQGZHQHHGWRILJXUHRXWWKHPRVt
effective waWRSURYLGHWKHPZLWKWKHEHVWHGXFDWLRQZHFDQW e want all
of them to be properlKRXVHGDQGIHGWROHDUQWKHLUVXEMHFWVDQGWRJURw
into responsible, educated wizards. The education of each student is as
important as that of everRWKHUVWXGHQWYet this verGHVLUH URRWHGDVLt
is, in the equal moral worth of all students—might lead us to endorse
sorting the students into Houses. Small Houses, with their more intimate
common rooms and dormitories, maEHWKHEHVWZD to keep an eHRn
everRQHDGPLQLVWHU+RJZDUWVDQGIRVWHUWKHIULHQGVKLSDQGPXWXDl
support that are necessarIRUVWXGHQWVWRVXFFHHGDWVFKRRO7Ke
competition for the House Cup will motivate students to do well in their
classes: because theZLOOZDQWWKHLU+RXVHWRZLQWKH will studKDUGVo
that theFDQDQVZHUWKHLUWHDFKHUV
TXHVWLRQVFRUUHFWO and earn their House
points toward the Cup. In other words, we might reasonablWKLQNWKDWDVLn
a family, fostering a sense of House loDOWy , pride, and patriotism will be the
most effective waWRPHHWRXUJRDORISURYLGLQJDTXDOLW education for all

students. The reason, in other words, that Hermione should give special
preference to the other Grffindors is not because Grffindor students are
somehow morallVXSHULRUWRWKHVWXGHQWVRIRWKHU+RXVHV RIFRXUVHWKHy
aren’t—but rather because if everVWXGHQWJLYHVWKLVVRUWRISUHIHUHQWLDl
treatment to the members of his or her own House, then all students will
succeed and receive the education theGHVHUYH1XVVEDXPPDNHVWKHSRLQt
in terms of parents caring for their children:
To give one’ s ow n sphere special care is justifiable in universa list
terms, and I think this is its most compelling justification. To take one
example, we do not reall think our own children are morall more
important than other people’ s children, even though almost all of us
who have childr en would give our own children far more love and care
than we give others’. It is good for children, on the whole, that things
work this way, and that is why our special care is good, rather than
selfish. 10
So, we maHQGRUVHWKHVSHFLDOUHJDUGIRURXURZQFRXQWUmen that
patriotism involves, but we are justified in doing so, according to
Nussbaum, onlWRWKHH[WHQWWKDWVXFKDQDWWLWXGHVHUYHVWKHLQWHUHVWVRIDOl
people and doesn’ t require that others suf fer so that we maSURVSHr . If
Americans give special care and attention to other Americans, and Chinese
give that same sort of care and attention to other Chinese, and similarly
with all of the citizens of each country , then everRQHZLOO DWOHDVWLn
theor EHWDNHQFDUHRIDQGSURVSHr. Patriotism can thus be a virtue when it
serves the interests of the citizens of all countries; it becomes a vice when it
fosters and promotes injustice and inequality . Figuring out when this occurs
can be difficult, as Ron’ s struggles with the point of the T riwizard
Tournament demonstrate, but it seems that Nussbaum leaves us a good deal
of room to be patriots while still respecting the rights of people in other
countries.

The Importance of Community
Being a loDODQGSDWULRWLFPHPEHURIDJURXSGRHVQ
t necessarilPHDn
that RXUHJDUGWKHPHPEHUVRIour group as morallVXSHULRUWRHYHUone
else. That is the difference between the patriotism of a Grf findor and the
bigotrRID6Otherin. But what is the value of group membership itself? Is
RXUZHOOEHLQJGHSHQGHQWRQour being a member of a well-defined
communitZLWKFOHDUERXQGDULHVDQGDQXQVXOOLHGFRQQHFWLRQWRLWs
historical traditions? Or might life in a communitZKRVHULFKFXOWXUDl
traditions are insulated from the rest of the world be stifling and an
inauthentic response to our modern situation?
It’s prettFOHDUKRZWKH'HDWK(DWHUVZLWKWKHLUPDQWUDRISUHVHUYLQg
the puritRIZL]DUGLQJEORRGZRXOGDQVZHUWKLVTXHVWLRQT o thrive,
wizards must keep their kind free from anLQWUXVLRQIURPWKHQRQZL]DUGLQg
world. So afraid of the outside world are theWKDWVoldemort kills the
Hogwarts Muggle Studies teacher, whose crime, aside from liking Muggles,
was advocating cultural mixing and “the dwindling of the purebloods.” 11
The Death Eaters clearlWKLQNWKDWIORXULVKLQJDVDZL]DUG OLYLQJWKHJRRd
wizard life—requires being a member of the wizarding community , a
communitWKH believe must be kept pure and undiluted.
The idea that human flourishing requires membership in a community
that is united bFRPPRQWUDGLWLRQVDQGFXOWXUDOSUDFWLFHV DQLGHDWDNHQWo
violent extremes bWKH'HDWK(DWHUV LVNQRZQLQSROLWLFDOSKLORVRSK as
“communitarianism.” Communitarians believe that participation in the life
of some particular communitSURYLGHVPHDQLQJIRURXUOLYHVDQGLVWKe
source of our value sVWHPV,QGHHGGUDZLQJRQ$ULVWRWOH
s claim that
human beings are “political animals” and so can’t achieve their full
humanitRXWVLGHRIDSROLV URXJKOy, a small political communit VRPe
communitarians assert that our verLGHQWLWLHVDUHWLHGWRWKHFRPPXQLW we
are a part of. To understand how our identities are “constructed” bRXr
membership in communities, think of Harr
s identitDVWKH%R Who
Lived.” This is central to how HarrVHHVKLPVHOIKRZHYHUone else sees
him, and what he takes as his obligations and values. NearlHYHUthing

about HarrLVFHQWHUHGRQWKLVUROHKHKDVSODed in the wizarding world.
Removed from that world, with its history, alliances, familUHODWLRQVDQd
traditions, HarrZRXOGQ
t know who he is or what he should do. Indeed, we
get a sense of how HarrLV without the wizarding communitZKHQZHVHe
his life lived “under the stairs,” before he enrolls at Hogwarts. His misery
could be ascribed to his removal from his home community .
Strong versions of communitarianism see communitPHPEHUVKLSDVa
basic human need—like the need for food and shelter—which can seem
reasonable once we recognize the importance of having a sense of who we
are, a set of values, a meaning, and a life purpose. The crucial point is that
according to communitarians, we get these onlIURPEHORQJLQJWRJURXSs
united bFRPPRQWUDGLWLRQVPHPRULHVFXOWXUDOSUDFWLFHVDQGVRRQ,f
such communities are so essential to our well-being, there’s good reason to
think that we should work to preserve these communities and ensure that
theGRQRWGLVDSSHDULQWRWKHFXOWXUDOPHOWLQJSRW$FFRUGLQJWo
communitarians, our well-being is threatened when we are removed from
these meaning-conferring communities or when our communitLs
threatened from outside bWKHIRUFHVRIDVVLPLODWLRQRUPRGHUQLWy .
But, of course, communitarians would have problems with the Death
Eaters’ tactics. Preserving strong cultural bonds is all well and good, but,
surely, that doesn’ t require violence and acts of domination. Surely , the
mixed-blood wizards and other magical creatures need not be persecuted,
and Muggles need not be killed in order for the wizarding communitWo
preserve its identity. Matters get a little trickier when preserving cultural
traditions involves violations of the libertRIPHPEHUVRIWKDWFXOWXUH.
Recent debates about the treatment of women in certain cultures—from
female genital mutilation in certain traditional African cultures to the social
oppression of women in certain Islamic cultures, just to name two—turn on
the question of whether preserving cultural traditions or safeguarding
individual libertLVPRUHLPSRUWDQW,IZHFDQ
t figure out how to preserve
our culture without oppressing others, we maKDYHDJRRGUHDVRQWo
rethink communitarianism.

Human Flourishing and the Preservation of DLQJ&XOWXres
Let’s saZHILJXUHRXWDZD to draw this line and decide to preserve
certain cultures that are under threat of dLQJRXWRUEHLQJDVVLPLODWHG,s
that a good thing? Is it worth our time and ef fort to do so? Does something
bad take place when a minoritFXOWXUH VXFKDVWKH$PLVKRU1DWLYe
American tribes) gets swamped bWKHUHOHQWOHVVWLGHRIPRGHUQLW? W ould
it be bad if all of the centaurs left the Forbidden Forest and assimilated into
the wizarding world, taking jobs at Hogwarts (as Firenze did), in the
MinistrRI0DJLFRUDW=RQNR
s Joke Shop? Should special steps be taken
to preserve dLQJRUWKUHDWHQHGFXOWXUHV"&RPPXQLWDULDQLVPSURYLGHVRQe
reason for doing so: the well-being of the people of that culture depends on
its continued preservation. The implication is that if a culture dies out, its
people will be cast adrift in the modern world and will suf fer as a
consequence of no longer belonging to their home culture, with its history
and ancestral traditions. Is that right? Do people really, as the contemporary
philosopher JeremWaldron puts it, “need their rootedness in the particular
culture in which theDQGWKHLUDQFHVWRUVZHUHUHDUHGLQWKHZD theQHHd
food, clothing, and shelter”? 12
So, which view of human well-being is correct? The communitarian
view that people need rootedness in a traditional culture in order to live full
human lives? Or the cosmopolitan view that true human flourishing
requires being a sort of cultural immigrant who moves among many
cultures, mixing and integrating bits and pieces of dif ferent traditions?
According to some philosophers, one powerful reason in favor of the
cosmopolitan view of the good life is that it is the onlUHDVRQDEOHUHVSRQVe
to life in the modern world. Perhaps centuries ago, when human
communities were largelLVRODWHGIURPRQHDQRWKHr , the good life required
continual membership in some traditional community . But in a modern,
interconnected world, where people of different faiths, ethnicities, races,
and nationalities mix everGDy, whether online or on the streets of London,
Mumbai, or New York, human flourishing requires an abilitWRPRYe
comfortablDPRQJGLf ferent traditions. As Waldron puts it, the

hEULG lifestOH of the true cosmopolitan is the onl appropriate
response to the modern world in which we live. We live in a world
formed b technolog and trade ; b economic, religious, and political
imperialism and their offspring, b mass migration and the dispersion
of cultural influences. In this context, to immerse oneself in the
traditional practices of, say, abo riginal culture might be a fasc inating
anthropological experiment, but it involves an artificial dislocation
from what actuallLVJRLQJRQLQWKHZRUOG. 13
Earlier , we saw cosmopolitanism as a view about the equal moral worth
of all persons; here, cosmopolitanism is being of fered as a view about what
is necessarIRUKXPDQIORXULVKLQJ,W
s more a view about the value of
mixing and moving between cultures than it is about the moral worth of
people, but the Harr3RWWHUERRNVPDNHVWURQJDr guments in favor of both
kinds of cosmopolitanism. In rejecting the racist view of Lord V oldemort,
the books take a stand in favor of the equal moral worth of all persons. But
when we think about how HarrZDVDEOHWRGHIHDWVoldemort, we see that
much of his success was due to his abilitWRPRYHDPRQJFXOWXUHVDQGKLs
willingness to work together with people from different ethnic groups.
HarrFDQPRYHDVHDVLO in the Muggle world as he can in the wizarding
world; his best friends are the pureblood wizard Ron, the Muggle-born
wizard Hermione, and the half-human, half-giant Rubeus Hagrid. He talks
to snakes, works with centaurs and goblins, and even befriends a house-elf,
a hippogriff, and a phoenix. Intercultural fluencLVSHUKDSVEHVt
demonstrated bWKHPDQ characters who are part-this and part-that. In
addition to Hagrid, there’ s the werewolf Remus Lupin, the Animagus Sirius
Black, the part-veela Fleur Delacour , and the half-human, half-horse
Firenze. If there’s a moral lesson at the heart of the Harr3RWWHUERRNVLWLs
an endorsement of both sorts of cosmopolitanism—the idea that all people
are of equal moral worth, and that flourishing in the modern world requires
an embrace of other cultures and an abilitWRQDYLJDWHDPRQJWKHP. 14

NOTES
1 Adlai Stevenson, “The Nature of Patriotism,” in Lend Me Your Ears:
Great Speeches in History , edited bW illiam Safire (New Y ork: W. W.
Norton, 1992), p. 70.
2 Leo T olstoy, “Patriotism or Peace,” in The Complete W orks of Count
Tolstoy , vol. 20, edited and translated b/HRW iener (London: J. M. Dent
& Co., 1905), p. 472.
3 Emma Goldman, “Patriotism: A Menace to Liberty ,” in Anarchism
and Other Essas (New Y ork: Mother Earth Publishing Association, 1910),
pp. 134-135.
4 Immanuel Kant, Groundwork for the MetaphVLFRI0RUDOs , translated
b+-3DWRQ 1HZY ork: Harper Torchbooks, 1964), p. 96.
5 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 440.
6 Order of the Phoenix , pp. 206-207.
7 Goblet of Fir e , p. 187.
8 Ibid., pp. 422-423.
9 Ibid., p. 723.
10 Martha Nussbaum, “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism,” in For Love
of Country (Boston: Beacon Press, 2002), p. 13.
11 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 12.
12 JeremW aldron, “Minorit&XOWXUHVDQGWKH&RVPRSROLWDn
Alternative,” UniversitRI0LFKLJDQ-RXUQDORI/DZ5HIRUm 25, no. 3-4
(1991-1992): 762.
13 Ibid., p. 763.
14 Thanks to Anne Gilson LaLonde for helpful comments on an earlier
draft of this essay .

8
DUMBLEDORE’S POLITICS
Beth Admiraal and Regan Lance Reitsma



Political libertarianism teaches that the primarYDOXHWKDWJRYHUQPHQt
should protect and respect is the personal libertRIHDFKRILWVFLWL]HQV.
According to standard libertarian thinking, personal libertLVRIVXFh
significant moral value that the onlPRUDOO justifiable political state is
highlUHVWULFWHG,WVRQO legitimate task is to protect its citizens from force,
fraud, and theft.
Is Albus Dumbledore a political libertarian? Even more, does the Harry
Potter series support a libertarian political agenda? Several Potter
commentators seem to think so. In Harr3RWWHUDQG,PDJLQDWLRn , Travis
Prinzi ar gues that “it is not dif ficult to see” in Dumbledore’ s behavior and
attitudes a small-government libertarian.” 1 And Prinzi describes the Potter
series as a “political fairWDOHZLWKDQHPEHGGHGSROLWLFDOSKLORVRSKy ,
whose “libertarian element” is “crucial to the plot and moralitRI+DUUy
Potter.” 2 In the article “Harr3RWWHUDQGWKH+DOI&UD]HG%XUHDXFUDFy ,”
Benjamin Barton, a law professor at the UniversitRITennessee, argues
that the Potter series contains “an impregnable invective against

government,” an attack that he encourages the libertarian movement in
America to take advantage of. 3 (Listen up, ardent lovers of liberty.)
Potter fans might wonder wh3ULQ]LDQG%DUWRQPDNHWKHVHFODLPV.
The Potter series doesn’t read like a libertarian manifesto. W ouldn’t an
extended ar gument for a libertarian political philosophQHHGWRVSHDk
overtlDQGRIWHQDVPDQ libertarians do, about the virtues of the free
market and the vices of the modern, liberal welfarist state, not to mention
about the follRIHQJDJLQJLQHQWDQJOLQJDOOLDQFHVZLWKLQWHUQDWLRQDl
organizations akin to the United Nations ? 4 But market deregulation,
antiwelfarism, and a conspicuouslUREXVWFRQFHSWLRQRIQDWLRQDl
sovereigntVLPSO aren’ t major themes in the Potter books.
Also, there isn’t anGLUHFWHYLGHQFHWKDW'XPEOHGRUHIDYRUVDPLQLPDl
“nightwatchman” state. Though he at various times holds several very
influential positions within the wizarding world—Headmaster of Hogwarts
School of Witchcraft and W izardry, the Supreme Mugwump of the
International Confederation of W izards, and the Chief Warlock of the
Wizengamot—at no point does he advocate anJHQHUDOSROLWLFDl
philosophPRQDUFKLVWFRPPXQLVWIDVFLVWOLEHUDOGHPRFUDWLFOLEHUWDULDQ,
anarchist, or other . And nowhere does Dumbledore spout anRIWKHVWRFk
slogans commonlDVVRFLDWHGZLWKOLEHUWDULDQWKHRUL]LQJ+HQHYHr
pronounces, for instance, that “the government that governs least governs
best” or that each person has “a natural right to full self-ownership.”
On what grounds, then, do Prinzi and Barton base their libertarian
interpretations?

Is Dumbledore a Libertarian?
Prinzi gives three basic ar guments for the thesis that Dumbledore is
“libertarian-minded.” 5 First, Dumbledore is suspicious of political power .
Second, he advocates personal freedom and political equality . Third, he has
a “hands-off management stOHWKDWILWVZLWKDOLEHUWDULDQEHOLHILQDKDQGV-
off, laissez-faire government. Let’ s consider these three arguments.
First, Prinzi points out that Dumbledore clearlGLVWUXVWVSROLWLFDOSRZHr .
How could he not, since he so often sees it misused? The MinistrRf
Magic, instead of being a help in time of need, is often an obstacle to
defeating Voldemort. The MinistrZDVFRPSOHWHO inef fective in preventing
Voldemort’ s reign of terror during the Dark Lord’ s first rise to power. And
as Voldemort’ s evil forces steadilDQGRPLQRXVO gather again in Goblet of
Fire , PercW easleDQGRWKHUVDWWKH0LQLVWU are hard at work writing an
officious policDERXWFDXOGURQERWWRPWKLFNQHVV$OOWKHZKLOH,
Dumbledore must work behind the scenes to undermine the Dark Lord’ s
plans. Also, the MinistrRSHUDWHVXQMXVWO in suspending Dumbledore from
his duties in Chamber of Secrets , in condemning Buckbeak in Prisoner of
Azkaban , in charging HarrZLWKXQGHUDJHXVHRIPDJLFLQ Order of the
Phoenix , and in trLQJWRLPSRVH0LQLVWU control over Hogwarts that same
HDr . Each time, Dumbledore must find a waWRVWHHUWKHFRXUVHRIHYHQWs
to a just conclusion. Dumbledore is, no doubt, smart enough to draw the
conclusion that people in power often cannot be trusted.
What’ s more, Dumbledore clearlXQGHUVWDQGVILUVWKDQGKRZFRUUXSWLQg
power can be. In Deathl+DOORZs , he admits that “power was mZHDNQHVs
and mWHPSWDWLRQDQGVDs that he turned down the post of Minister of
Magic several times because he had “learned that I was not to be trusted
with power .” 6
Do these considerations show that Dumbledore is “libertarian-minded”?
No. This ar gument is a non sequitur . The conclusion simplGRHVQ
t follow
from the supporting evidence, for libertarians do not have a monopolRn
the idea that power corrupts. Political theorists of a varietRISHUVXDVLRQs
accept this claim. The U.S. political sVWHPZKLFKWRGD is far from

libertarian, attempts to limit the “corrupting influence of power” by
implementing a sVWHPRIFKHFNVDQGEDODQFHV1RRQHEUDQFKRIWKe
federal government—the executive, the judicial, or the legislative—is
allowed to have overriding power over the other two. The point is that there
are mechanisms to limit the power of anRQHSHUVRQRUDQ one
government agency, other than bLPSOHPHQWLQJDOLEHUWDULDQSROLWLFDl
sVWHP,QIDFW/RUG$FWRQZKRFRLQHGWKHIDPRXVVDing that “power
corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely ,” was a traditional
Catholic who did not favor a minimal, nonmoralistic state.
Prinzi’s second ar gument is that Dumbledore shares with the libertarian
tradition a strong devotion to the value of personal liberty . No doubt, he
does. It is one of his most notable and praiseworthWUDLWV)RULQVWDQFH,
Dumbledore’s treatment of the enslaved house-elves who work at Hogwarts
reflects such devotion. Dumbledore thinks the institution of house-elf
servitude should end. As Prinzi is right to emphasize, Dumbledore happens
to favor, for strategic reasons, a gradual approach to changing the sVWHP. 7
He chooses not to call for the immediate emancipation of house-elves
because the elves, having been educated (or , as Hermione saV,
“brainwashed”) to take pride in their identitDVVHUYDQWVZRXOGEHGHHSOy
offended bWKHLGHDWKDWWKH want to be free. Dumbledore understands this
and of fers the house-elves the right to be paid for their work and to receive
time of f but doesn’ t compel them to accept paPHQWRUYDFDWLRQWLPH.
Dumbledore’ s policDOORZVWKHKRXVHHOYHVWROLYHZLWKWKHLGHDRIJUHDWHr
freedom and, when theDUHUHDGy , to decide for themselves when they
would prefer to be free. This gradualism itself can be seen as a waRf
respecting the personal freedom of the house-elves (though it amounts to
letting them, for the time being, choose to be less free).
Like libertarians, Dumbledore is tolerant of unpopular minoritJURXSV,
and he often speaks up for victims of discrimination. For example, he works
to save the lives of the last giants of Britain. The giants, given their brutish
natures, do present a serious threat to the safetRIERWK0XJJOHVDQd
wizards, and so Dumbledore takes it upon himself to learn what is
necessarWRLQWHUDFWZLWKWKHVHVORZZLWWHGDQGLPSXOVLYHFUHDWXUHVILQGa
place for them to live, and suppress a “safetPRYHPHQWWRKDYHWKHm
killed. Dumbledore is also willing to hire teachers at Hogwarts who belong
to despised minorities, such as the half-giant Rubeus Hagrid, the werewolf
Remus Lupin, and the centaur Firenze. Finally , Dumbledore consistently

opposes purebloodism and wizarding claims of superiority, saLQJWKDWLt
matters not what someone is born, but what theJURZWREH. 8 Dumbledore
has, Prinzi concludes, a libertarian attitude toward personal freedom and the
equalitRIHDFKPHPEHURIWKHZL]DUGLQJZRUOG.
Dumbledore clearlGRHVSODFHDKLJKYDOXHRQSURWHFWLQJWKHLQGLYLGXDl
autonomRIHDFKSHUVRQ%XWDJDLQOLEHUWDULDQVDUHQ
t the onlSROLWLFDl
theorists who sing the praises of liberty. ManSROLWLFDOWKHRULVWV OLEHUDOV,
for instance—would endorse the emancipation of house-elves and equal
rights for minoritJURXSV,I3ULQ]LZDQWVWRFRQYLQFHXVWKDW'XPEOHGRUe
has the heart and the mind of a libertarian, he should provide evidence that
Dumbledore’s personal outlook has content that is distinctly libertarian.
What sets political libertarianism apart from other strands within the liberal
tradition is its commitment to the primacy of personal liberty . A libertarian
not onlEHOLHYHVLQDPRUDOULJKWWRSHUVRQDOOLEHUWy , but construes this right
in a strikinglUREXVWZDy. 9 Let’s consider three notable waVWKDt
libertarians restrict government interference with personal liberty , then ask
whether Dumbledore advocates similar restrictions. Prinzi seems to think he
does.
First, libertarians oppose laws that restrict people’s libertIRUWKHLr
own good.” Liberal regimes often require the use of seatbelts or motorcFOe
helmets, prohibit steroid use bDWKOHWHVIRUELGSHRSOHIURPVZLPPLQJDt
certain beaches without a lifeguard, and extract moneIRUUHWLUHPHQt
savings. TheMXVWLI these practices, at least in part, on the grounds that
these rules prevent people from harming themselves. But a properly
respectful government, libertarians believe, will not be paternalistic; it will
let its citizens make their own decisions, even if those choices will
predictablKDYHQHJDWLYHFRQVHTXHQFHV6HFRQGOLEHUWDULDQVRSSRVHODZs
that outlaw “victimless crimes” or “harmless immoralities” such as
prostitution, gaVH[UHFUHDWLRQDOGUXJXVHDQGJDPEOLQJ7KH believe that
a government should not limit freedom simplEHFDXVHDQDFWLVFRQVLGHUHd
immoral. A state is under a positive obligation to protect the libertDQGWKe
propertRILWVFLWL]HQVEXWDV-RKQ/RFNHPLJKWKDYHSXWLWDFLYLl
magistrate” should not concern himself with the “care of souls.” 10 Third,
libertarians are deeplFULWLFDORIEXUHDXFUDWLFDWWHPSWVWRKHOSWKe
disadvantaged or to redistribute wealth in order to reduce economic
inequality. When a state takes moneIURPWKHKDYHVDQGJLYHVLWWRWKe
“have-nots,” libertarians see this as “state-sanctioned theft” or “forced

labor.” ManOLEHUWDULDQVZRXOGDJUHHWKDWDSULYDWHDFWRIFKDULW—a
personal donation to Oxfam, sa LVPRUDOO praiseworthy . But if a
government forciblWDNHVour hard-earned moneDQGJLYHVLWRXWDs
“welfare,” that’s simplUREEHU bDQRWKHUQDPH.
At its heart, political libertarianism has a muscular conception of the
moral life. It thinks in radicallLQGLYLGXDOLVWLFWHUPVVWURQJO admires
personal intelligence, creativity , strength, and initiative; views freedom as
the “master” political value; is stronglVNHSWLFDORIJRYHUQPHQWSRZHUDQd
bureaucratic solutions; and places considerable faith in the “invisible hand”
of the market to create wealth and prosperity .
With this brief sketch of libertarianism in hand, let’ s return to our
discussion of Dumbledore’s political views. Prinzi’s third argument—his
appeal to Dumbledore’ s “hands-off management stOH FRXOGEe
construed as his strongest attempt to reveal that Dumbledore not onlVKDUHs
several values in common with libertarianism, but has a notablOLEHUWDULDn
mind-set. Dumbledore has, as Prinzi puts it, a “willingness to let the people
under his char ge live and be free.” 11 Libertarians, as we’ve seen, believe
that the state should not legislate paternalistic rules; rather , it should permit
its citizens to make their own decisions, however unwise. Dumbledore,
Prinzi claims, also takes this view. As headmaster, Dumbledore lar gely
permits facultDQGVWXGHQWVWRGRDVWKH please,” despite the manSRRr
decisions theRIWHQDQGSUHGLFWDEO make. Dumbledore presumablGRHVQ
t
endorse Professor Binns’s deadlGXOOOHFWXULQJ+DJULG
s use of dangerous
magical creatures, or Professor SELOOT relawne
s wackWHDFKLQg
methods. Nor , even more significantly , does Dumbledore intervene to
protect students against humiliation, bias, and cruelty . For instance, he
permits Severus Snape to hang Neville Longbottom upside down in front of
class, to take significant points from Grffindor unjustly, and to withhold
medical treatment from Hermione Granger when one of Draco Malfo
s
spells inadvertentlPDNHVKHUWHHWKJURZKXPLOLDWLQJO long. Dumbledore
can’t be accused, to saWKHOHDVWRIEHLQJDPHGGOLQJKHDGPDVWHr .
Even more conspicuous than the manXQIRUWXQDWHWKLQJVWKDWKDSSHQDt
Hogwarts under Dumbledore’s watch is his approach to Harry . It seems to
us, as we read through the series, that one of Dumbledore’ s most striking
features is his absence. Dumbledore doesn’t raise and educate orphaned
Harry. He hardlFRQWDFWVDORQHO HarrGXULQJKLVSDLQIXOVXPPHUVZLWh
the DursleV+HGRHVQ
t stand bHOHYHQear-old Harr
s side as the boy

confronts Voldemort for the first time—or , for that matter, the second and
third times, in the Chamber of Secrets and in the graveDUGDW/LWWOe
Hangleton. Dumbledore does give Harry , true enough, the tools necessary
to fight Voldemort. But these tools do not guarantee RXQJ+DUU’ s victor;
theOHDYHVRPXFKIRU+DUU himself to do. WhLVQ
t Dumbledore there,
right beside Harr"(YHQZKHQ'XPEOHGRUHLVSKsicallSUHVHQW+DUUy
often finds Dumbledore terse and emotionallGLVWDQW:KDWGRHVDOORIWKLs
saDERXW'XPEOHGRUH?
HarrLVQ
t the onlRQHZKRILQGV'XPEOHGRUHLQH[SOLFDEO distant and
disengaged. AmFXV&DUURw , the Death Eater, mocks Dumbledore:
“AlwaVWKHVDPHZHUHQ
t HK'XPEy, talking and doing nothing,
nothing.” 12 Red Hen, a popular Potter commentator , calls Dumbledore “one
of the verELJJHVW QRQFKRFRODWH IURJVLQWKHZL]DUGLQJZRUOGZKRKDs
squandered the chance to reform wizarding societIRUGHFDGHV. 13
Prinzi has a more charitable interpretation. He thinks Dumbledore
makes a principled choice not to micromanage other people’s lives or to
constantl$SSDUDWHLQWRVDYHWKHGDy . It isn’t that Dumbledore is lazy ,
weak, or indifferent. Instead, Dumbledore believes that a leader is under
significant restrictions against the use of coercive power , and he is willing
to work within these self-imposed moral constraints. Dumbledore has,
Prinzi thinks, a verUREXVWFRQFHSWLRQRISHUVRQDODXWRQRPy , one that
implies that leaders ought to refrain from interfering with the choices other
people make. Prinzi is even willing to claim that the motive that leads
Dumbledore to stand bDV+RJZDUWVWHDFKHUVPLVWUHDWVWXGHQWVLVGHHSOy
libertarian. Dumbledore has, Prinzi thinks, the libertarian’s “muscular” view
of human life; he admires self-reliance and views life as a testing ground
that gives people the opportunitWROHDUQWKHOLIHVNLOOVDQGGHYHORSWKe
personal resolve necessarWRPDNHLWLQDWRXJKZRUOG$V'XPEOHGRUe
saVWR6HYHUXV6QDSH,WKDVEHHQHVVHQWLDO to let [Harr@ trKLs
strength .” 14
Prinzi’ s argument that Dumbledore’ s management stOHUHIOHFWVa
libertarian mind-set is unconvincing, though. For one thing, as libertarians
would point out, managing a school is verGLf ferent from running a
government. Although libertarians oppose the government’ s use of
coercion, theRIWHQILQGFRHUFLRQDSSURSULDWHZLWKLQWKHIDPLO and within
private institutions like Hogwarts. And the idea that personal freedom
should be the “master value”—whether or not it makes sense in politics—

makes no sense in running a school for teens and preteens. Libertarian
ideals are grounded in the idea that adults should be permitted to govern
their own lives, because theKDYHWKHDELOLW to deliberate and make their
own choices. But this reasoning can’t sensiblEHDSSOLHGWRHOHYHQear-old
children whose intellectual powers are still developing. 15
For the sake of argument, though, let’ s permit the analogEHWZHHn
Hogwarts and a political society , and let’s take Dumbledore to be the head
bureaucrat of this societRIWHDFKHUVDQGVWXGHQWV(YHQLIZHJUDQWWKLs
assumption, Prinzi’ s argument doesn’ t succeed. For libertarian thinking
wouldn’t lead a person to do what Dumbledore did, namely , stand bDs
students are bullied, mistreated, and endangered bIDFXOWy . Libertarianism
is not anarchism. 16 According to libertarian thinking, a person in a position
of political power is under a moral obligation to intervene to protect those
under his supervision from abuse. This is the central purpose of a political
state. A clear-thinking libertarian bureaucrat would have intervened to
prevent teachers from endangering students or treating them cruellRr
unfairly. Also, a good libertarian leader would have required professors to
live up to their contractual obligations to educate students. Dumbledore’ s
failure to address the abusive behavior and the lousSHGDJRJ of bad
teachers doesn’t reflect standard libertarian thinking.
Prinzi claims that Dumbledore permits facultWRPLVWUHDWSXSLOs
because doing so will foster self-reliance in students and so strengthen their
moral fiber. But this reasoning is deeplLQFRQVLVWHQWZLWKOLEHUWDULDn
thinking. Libertarians believe that the political state should not take it upon
itself to make its citizens into better people. The state is not char ged with
making its citizens decent, responsible, tough, courageous, or anWKLQJHOVe
—onlVDIH7KHUHDVRQWKDWOLEHUWDULDQVSUDLVHWKHYLUWXHRIVHOIUHOLDQFHLs
not because theZDQWEXUHDXFUDWVWRWHDFKLWEXWEHFDXVHWKH recognize
that in a societLQZKLFKSHRSOHGRQRWUHFHLYHVLJQLILFDQWSURWHFWLRQIURPa
well-intentioned, paternalistic state, this virtue is crucial. It’s clear that
Dumbledore does think he has the obligation or at least the prerogative to
inculcate moral virtues in his students. But then it’s important to notice that
his “management stOHGRHVQRWUHIOHFWEHOLHIVDERXWWKHSURSHUVWUXFWXUHRf
a government. It reflects his views about the proper behavior of
headmasters.

Barton’s Libertarian Interpr etation of the Potter Series
Prinzi’s arguments do not stand up to analVLV6RZKDWDERXW%DUWRQ
s
libertarian interpretation? He argues that “J. K. Rowling’s strikingly
negative portrait of the MinistrRI0DJLFDQGLWVEXUHDXFUDWVLVHYLGHQFe
that the Potter series as a whole has an implicit libertarian political agenda.
Is this true?
As Barton persuasivelDr gues, the Potter books offer a scathing portrait
of the Ministry. It’s dif ficult to imagine a more hard-hitting indictment than
Barton’ s own point-bSRLQWDQDOsis:
What would Ru think of a government that engaged in this list of
tUDQQLFDO activities: tortured children for lLQJ designed its prison
specificall to suck all life and hope out of the inmates; placed citizens
in that prison without a hearing; ordered the death penalt without a
trial; allowed the powerful, rich or famous to control polic;
selectivel prosecuted crimes (the powerful go unpunished and the
unpopular face trumped-up charges); conducted criminal trials without
defense counsel; used truth serum to force confessions; maintained
constant surveillance over all citizens; offered no elections and no
democratic lawmaking process; and controlled the press? 17
When confronted with political leadership as brutal and oppressive as
this, it’ s easWRILQGourself wondering, exasperated, whether the proper
cure isn’ t to strip government of its power . But if this is the cure Barton
means to encourage, his argument is unsound. A justifiable sense of
exasperation at the MinistrRI0DJLFLVQRWDQLQYHFWLYHDJDLQVt
government” itself. More to the point, there isn’ t anFRPSHOOLQJUHDVRQWo
think that the Potter series succumbs to this exasperation.
To start with, the MinistrRI0DJLFLVQRWDOWRJHWKHUFRUUXSW,WLQFOXGHs
good people and good laws. Arthur W easley, though hampered bDYHUy
sketchJUDVSRIKRZ0XJJOHDUWLIDFWVZRUNLVKDUGZRUNLQJDQGKRQHVW.
Dumbledore himself, except for a brief hiatus, holds the position of the
Chief W arlock of the W izengamot, a bureaucratic position, and he is not a
bungling incompetent. In Order of the Phoenix , the majoritRIWKe

members of the Wizengamot, a judicial body , vote in Harr
s favor when he
is brought up on bogus char ges. The MinistrRI0DJLFDOWKRXJKLWLQFOXGHs
man2UZHOOLDQVRXQGLQJEXUHDXVKDVEHHQODr gelHffective in keeping the
existence of wizards secret from Muggles for manFHQWXULHVDQGLn
restraining wizards from using their magical powers to rule the world. The
MinistrDOVRVXSSRUWVDQGHQIRUFHVPDQ sensible rules. For instance, when
HarrLVFKDr ged with violating the rule against underage wizardrLQWKe
presence of a Muggle, the rule makes a sensible exception for cases of self-
defense. Not to mention, it is the MinistrWKDWKDGWKHZLVGRPWRDSSRLQt
Dumbledore to the post of Headmaster of Hogwarts.
No doubt, the MinistrRI0DJLFLVIDUWRRRIWHQEXQJOLQJLQFRPSHWHQW,
and even positivelFRUUXSW6HYHUDOWRS0LQLVWU of ficials, including
Minister of Magic Pius Thicknesse, become Voldemort’s puppets bEHLQg
placed under the Imperius Curse. ManKLJKUDQNLQJRf ficials, such as
Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge and ex-Head of Magical Law
Enforcement Bart&URXFK6r., are autocratic and power-hungry. Others,
such as Dolores Umbridge and Albert Runcorn, are downright evil. And
some are just “dodderROGIRROVOLNHWKHPHPEHUVRIWKH&RPPLWWHHRn
the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures. 18 In summary , the premise of
Barton’s argument is an exaggeration but verFORVHWRWKHWUXWK WKe
MinistrRI0DJLFLVDORXV bureaucracy .
The most questionable aspect of Barton’s argument, though, is not its
premise but its inference. WhFRQFOXGHIURPWKHIDFWWKDWWKH3RWWHUVHULHs
presents a portrait of bad governance, that the series advocates a minimal,
“nightwatchman” libertarian government? Is it that Barton assumes that less
of a bad thing is better , and so a smaller MinistrZRXOGEHEHWWHU",IVRKLs
reasoning should lead him to favor political anarchism, which calls for the
total abolition of government. Even if we set this glib retort aside, why
think that when it comes to government, smaller is necessarilEHWWHU",f
seven of the Justices on the Supreme Court were corrupt and demonstrably
biased in their judgments, the proper response would be to replace the
judges, not to down-size to a two-justice court. In brief, the proper antidote
to bad governance is better governance, and it would take an ar gument, a
verFRPSOH[Drgument, to show that a government with a libertarian
structure is the proper cure for the tSHVRIFRUUXSWLRQDQGLQHf ficiency
evident in the MinistrRI0DJLF'RHVWKH3RWWHUVHULHVPDNHRUHYHn
gesture at this argument?

We are willing to grant that a careful evaluation of the MinistrRf
Magic provides strong grounds for thinking that a good government would
put in place stringent safeguards to protect citizens from torture, barbarous
punishments, unfair trials, and bureaucrats wielding truth serum. But it is a
further question, once these safeguards are in place, whether a good
government would do no mor e than protect the liberty , the property, and the
bodilLQWHJULW of its citizens. Where is the evidence that the Potter series
accepts a right to libertDVUREXVWDVWKHOLEHUWDULDQWKHRU does? Or that the
series, as a whole, is antiwelfare, or antipaternalism, or anti-United Nations,
or as confident in the free market as standard libertarianism?
Barton claims—rather exuberantl WKDW-.5RZOLQJZLOOGRPRUe
for libertarianism than anRQHVLQFH-RKQ6WXDUW0LOO. 19 Who knows? His
prediction, though not particularlSODXVLEOHFRXOGWXUQRXWWREHWUXH%XWLf
a considerable number of readers do happen to infer , from the Potter series,
that libertarianism is the best political theory, theZLOOEHJXLOW of the same
leap in logic as Barton.
It’s worth noting that if there is a libertarian agenda in the Potter series,
it is not likelWREHWKHUHEHFDXVHRIWKHDXWKRr ’s intent. Rowling began
writing the Harr3RWWHUVHULHVZKLOHVKHZDVRQZHOIDUHDQGKDVH[SUHVVHd
no regret for that. Indeed, in voicing her own political views, Rowling has
not supported libertarian values. On the contrary , she supported Barack
Obama and Hillar&OLQWRQLQWKH86SUHVLGHQWLDOHOHFWLRQGRQDWHd
£1 million to the British Labour Party, and has said that her real-life hero is
Robert F. Kenned KDUGO a paragon of “small government”! 20
The Potter books do raise important questions about what a good
government and good political leadership would be like. No doubt, the
MinistrIDLOVWRUHVSHFWDPRQJRWKHUWKLQJVIUHHGRPDQGHTXDOLWy , and it
would be verLQWHUHVWLQJWRDVN:KDW
s the best waWRIL[WKH0LQLVWU of
Magic?” But libertarians will have to do more than point to the poor
example set bWKH0LQLVWU or to the good example set bKXPEOe
Dumbledore to argue soundlIRUDOLEHUWDULDQSKLORVRSKy .

NOTES
1 Travis Prinzi, Harr3RWWHUDQG,PDJLQDWLRQ7KHW aEHWZHHQTwo
Worlds (Allentown, P A: Zossima Press, 2009), p. 236.
2 Ibid., p. 239. At times, Prinzi stresses the importance of the libertarian
threads in the Potter series. For example, in his “succinct summarRIWKe
political philosophXQGHUOing the Harr3RWWHUVHULHV3ULQ]LOLVWV)DELDn
gradualist, libertarian, and Christian themes (p. 241). At other times Prinzi
speaks more modestlWKHUHLVLQWKH3RWWHUVHULHVSOHQW to make a
libertarian happ S DQGOLEHUWDULDQHOHPHQWVDUHHYLGHQWLQWKe
series” (p. 238). W e will be evaluating the less modest claims. In a personal
communication, Prinzi notes that he does not claim that Dumbledore is a
political libertarian in anUREXVWRURYHUWVHQVH+LVFODLPUDWKHr , is that
Dumbledore is broadlOLEHUWDULDQLQKLVSHUVRQDOLQWHUDFWLRQVZLWKSHRSOH,
in his respect for individual moral choice, and in the waKHKROGVSRVLWLRQs
of power, and that this “lends credence to an intentionallOLEHUWDULDn
reading of the series.” W e are grateful to Prinzi for this clarification. As this
chapter makes clear, we think of libertarianism as essentiallD political
view and thus find it misleading to speak of “libertarian elements” in the
Potter books that have no reference to small government, individual
freedoms, economic liberties, foreign entanglements, or other political
themes characteristic of classic and contemporarOLEHUWDULDQLVP)Rr
Prinzi’s own, more fullDUWLFXODWHGWDNHRQ'XPEOHGRUH
s politics, see his
Harr3RWWHUDQG,PDJLQDWLRn , chapters 11 and 12.
3 “Harr3RWWHUDQGWKH+DOI&UD]HG%XUHDXFUDFy ,” Michigan Law
Review 104 (Ma DYDLODEOHRQOLQHDt
www.michiganlawreview .org/archive/104/6/Barton.pdf . See also Andrew
Morris, “Making Legal Space for Moral Choice,” Texas W esleDQ/Dw
Review 12:1 (2005): 473-480.
4 The full quotation, from Thomas Jef ferson’s first inaugural address, is
“Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations. Entangling
alliances with none.” The phrase has been used more recentlDVWKHWLWOHRf

several essaVE the U.S. representative and libertarian presidential
candidate Ron Paul.
5 Prinzi, Harr3RWWHUDQG,PDJLQDWLRn , pp. 236, 239.
6 Deathl+DOORZs , pp. 717, 718.
7 EspeciallLQFRPSDULVRQWR+HUPLRQH*UDQJHr. When Hermione
learns that Hogwarts has house-elves, she forms S.P .E.W., the SocietIRr
the Promotion of Elfish W elfare, which advocates for fair wages and
working conditions. A house-elf is freed from servitude if his master gives
him an article of clothing, so Hermione begins to leave socks and woolly
hats for the house-elves.
8 Goblet of Fire , p. 708.
9 Libertarians are often described as being against “big government.”
This description, though true, isn’ t verSUHFLVH3HUKDSVLWLVPRUe
illuminating to situate libertarianism between anarchism and modern
liberalism. Anarchists, libertarians, and modern liberals each agree that
there is a moral right to libertEXWGLVDJUHH VLJQLILFDQWO—about how
robust this right is. The anarchist believes in the strongest conception of this
right. He claims that anSROLWLFDOVWDWHE its verQDWXUHYLRODWHs
individual rights so significantlWKDWDSROLWLFDOVWDWHLVPRUDOO unjustified.
Freedom should reign; no person or group should be given the bureaucratic
authoritWRUHVWULFWOLEHUW in anZDy . A modern liberal, on the other hand,
believes in a considerablZHDNHUFRQFHSWLRQRIWKHPRUDOULJKWWROLEHUWy .
She thinks, first, that a political state should pursue political goals other
than protecting and respecting personal libertDQGVHFRQGWKDWWKHSXUVXLt
of some of these political goals justifies restricting the personal freedom of
citizens. Libertarians stand between these two broad views; their conception
of the right to libertLVOHVVUREXVWWKDQWKHDQDUFKLVW
s, more robust than the
modern liberal’s.
10 John Locke, A Letter Concerning T oleration (Indianapolis: Hackett,
1983; originallSXEOLVKHG S.
11 Prinzi, Harr3RWWHUDQG,PDJLQDWLRn , pp. 234-235.
12 Half-Blood Prince , p. 594.
13 Red Hen, “Case in Point: Albus Dumbledore,” www .redhen-
publications.com/Dumbledore.html .
14 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 687 (emphasis added).
15 Libertarians usuallGHIHQGWKHLUFRQFHSWLRQRIWKHQLJKWZDWFKPDn
state bDSSHDOWRDQDWXUDOULJKWWRSHUVRQDOOLEHUWy , often interpreted as a

“moral right to full self-ownership.” If RXKDYHDSURSHUW right to a
material object—a laptop, sa WKDWPHDQVWKDWou get to decide who gets
to use the laptop; RXGHVHUYHFRPSHQVDWLRQIURPDQbodZKRVWHDOVRr
breaks it; and RXKDYHWKHULJKWWRVHOORUJLYHWKHODSWRSWRZKRPHYHUou
choose. Libertarians believe that people also have these same ownership
rights over their own persons. A person has complete authoritWRGHFLGe
what happens to her property, which includes her body. It is her right to
decide whether to accept medical treatment, to take recreational drugs, to
have sexual relations with another person, to join the military , and so on. If
the state fails to respect this set of rights, it fails to treat the citizen with the
dignitWKDWVKHDVDSHUVRQGHVHUYHV7KHVWDQGDUGOLEHUWDULDQDr gument for
a nightwatchman state takes this moral theorDVDVWDUWLQJSRLQW.
Libertarians believe that if there were no political state—if we were all
living in “the state of nature,” a world without anSROLWLFDOLQVWLWXWLRQV&
violations of the right to personal libertZRXOGEH IDUPRUH UDPSDQWDQd
so a political state is necessarWRSURWHFWWKHPRUDOULJKWWRIXOOVHOI-
ownership of each and everSHUVRQ%XWDJRYHUQPHQWELJJHUWKDQWKe
nightwatchman state would itself significantlDQGFRQVLVWHQWO violate this
same right. And so, with due trepidation, human societVKRXOGHVWDEOLVKa
political state, endow it with powers—verOLPLWHGSRZHUV DQGNHHSa
verZDU eHRQEXUHDXFUDWVWRPDNHVXUHWKH do not overstep their
bounds. For a classic discussion, see Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and
Utopia (New Y ork: Basic Books, 1974).
16 ContrarWRDQDUFKLVWVOLEHUWDULDQVEHOLHYHWKDWLWLVQHFHVVDU to
create a political state—with a legislature, a police force, a court sVWHP,
and an arm DQGWRJLYHWKLVSROLWLFDOVWDWHWKHDXWKRULW to exercise
coercive power . A libertarian regime would support and enforce legal rules
that prohibit serious rights violations such as theft, breach of contract, rape,
and murder. Also, it would promote the securitDQGWKHHFRQRPLFLQWHUHVWs
of its own citizens, for instance, bDFWLYHO preserving free market
conditions at home and bVHQGLQJDPEDVVDGRUVWUDGHVSHFLDOLVWVDQd
militarQHJRWLDWRUVDEURDG.
17 Barton, “Harr3RWWHUDQGWKH+DOI&UD]HG%XUHDXFUDFy ,” pp. 1523-
1524.
18 Prisoner of Azkaban , p. 292.
19 Barton, “Harr3RWWHUDQGWKH+DOI&UD]HG%XUHDXFUDFy,” p. 1526.

20 “J. K. Rowling Wants to See a Democrat in the White House,”
available at www.earthtimes.or g/articles/show/184525,jk-rowling-wants-to-
see-democrat-in-the-white-house.html .
Prinzi admits that Rowling would not “identifKHUVHOISROLWLFDOO as a
libertarian, and that there are no deliberate links to libertarian political
philosophers or activists” in the books (Prinzi, Harr3RWWHUDQd
Imagination , p. 238). His claim is that there are implicit libertarian themes
in the Potter series and that these themes support a libertarian “reader
response” interpretation (personal communication). Far be it from us to
impose anKHJHPRQLFFRQVWUDLQWVRQUHDGHUV
DELOLW to “respond” however
theOLNHWRWKH3RWWHUERRNV2XUFODLPLVVLPSO that there is no explicit or
implicit endorsement of political libertarianism in the books, and that any
attempt to read libertarian themes into them is a stretch.

9
DUMBLEDORE, PLATO, AND THE LUST FOR POWER
David LaW illiams and Alan J. Kellner



Those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it.
—Albus Dumbledore

A citLQZKLFKWKRVHZKRDUHJRLQJWRUXOHDUHOHDVWHDJHUWRUXOHLVQHFHVVDULO best.
—Plato

Lord Acton, in an oft-repeated phrase, observed that “power tends to
corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely .” This phrase neatlVXPs
up what most would consider common wisdom. Y et the world finds itself
persistentlEXUGHQHGE the abuse of power. Rulers continuallILQGQHw
and creative waVWROLQHWKHLUSRFNHWVSULYLOHJHWKHLUIULHQGVDQGVHFXUe
and even bolster their own authority. The list of offenses would shock even
man'HDWK(DWHUV RUSHUKDSVILOOWKHPZLWKHQYy .
In an age that prides itself on its progress in technologDQGHYHQLn
morals, whLVLWWKDWZHKDYHSURJUHVVHGVROLWWOHLQSURWHFWLQJRXUVHOYHs
against the usurpations of our rulers? Perhaps it is because we have not
learned the important lessons of the first Western political philosopher,
Plato (C. 428-348 B.C.E.). Plato’ s solution to this problem is ingeniously
simple: power should never reside in the hands of those who lust for it.

Rather, it should be granted onlWRWKRVHZKRZRXOGSUHIHUWRRFFXSy
themselves with other matters. It is disinterest in power that paradoxically
makes the best rulers. This lesson turns out to be central to the climax of the
entire Harr3RWWHUVHULHV.

Plato and Dumbledore: Separated at Birth?
Albus Dumbledore lived in a stormDJH+HVDZWKHULVHDQGIDOORIWKe
dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, as well as V oldemort’s reign of terror . He
saw warfare, both with his wand and in the subtle forms of alliance building
and intelligence gathering. He also had personal relationships with the most
important plaHUVLQWKHVDJD*ULQGHOZDOGZDVDFORVHERhood friend, and
Voldemort was one of the most talented students at Hogwarts. These
experiences taught Dumbledore about the precariousness of peace and the
need for trulMXVWUXOHUV.
Plato likewise grew up in an age of remarkable political upheaval. His
entire RXWKZDVFRQVXPHGE the decades-long Peloponnesian W ar
between his home citRI$WKHQVDQGWKHPLJKW citVWDWHRI6SDUWD7Ke
war and its aftermath provided opportunities to observe both the best and
the the worst in human nature. Like Dumbledore, Plato witnessed a power -
hungrWDOHQWHGIHOORZSXSLOWKHWHPSHVWXRXV$OFLELDGHVULVHWRKLJh
militarDQGSROLWLFDOSRVLWLRQVRQO to betra$WKHQVE siding with her
Spartan enemies. 1 Athens would go on to lose the war and suffer the
indignitRIKDYLQJDQLPSRVHGWranny, known as “the Thirty,” headed by
the dreaded Critias. Critias was a bloodthirstWrant, who just happened to
be Plato’s mother’s cousin. Several HDUVODWHr , Plato was invited to travel to
SUDFXVHLQRUGHUWRWUDLQWKHSHWXODQWVRQRIWKHWrant DionVLXV,,QGHHG,
Plato, like Dumbledore, had once seriouslFRQWHPSODWHGDFDUHHULQSROLWLFs
—a natural choice, given his talents, familFRQQHFWLRQVDQGSHUVRQDl
experiences. 2 So, although Plato is sometimes regarded as a pie-in-the-sky
philosopher, nothing could be further from the truth. His observations about
politicians and their relationship with power are based on real-world
experiences.
What did Plato learn from his encounters with political power? His most
detailed reactions to his own personal experiences are recorded in his
“Seventh Letter ,” addressed to the rulers of SUDFXVH7KHOHWWHUUHFRXQWVKLs
own flirtations with political power , including the opportunitWRMRLQWKe
ThirtDWWKHHQGRIWKH3HORSRQQHVLDQW ar. At first, he was deeplWHPSWHd

to join with them in forging a new society, perhaps to promote the “greater
good,” as the RXQJ'XPEOHGRUHDQG*ULQGHOZDOGKDGGHVLUHG%XWKHVRRn
found that he could plaQRUROHLQWKLVQHZUHJLPHZKLFKPDGHWKe
former government seem in comparison something precious like gold.” 3
The limitless power of the tUDQWVZHQWWRWKHLUKHDGVDQGPDQLIHVWHGLWVHOf
in revenge killings, the settling of old scores, the confiscation of wealth, and
ultimately, under the restored democracy , the unjust execution of Plato’s
beloved teacher, Socrates. This was enough to make Plato “withdraw in
disgust” from a life in politics and ultimatelGHGLFDWHKLPVHOIIXOOWLPHWo
philosophy, just as the duel with Grindelwald that resulted in the death of
Dumbledore’ s sister changed Dumbledore’ s mind about a political life. 4
Like Dumbledore, Plato turned from politics to education.
Dissatisfaction with politics led him instead to establish the Academy , the
first universitLQWestern civilization. The AcademLVWKHURRWRIRXr
present English word academic , and it was here that Plato experienced
some of his greatest personal triumphs. The Academ
s notable alumni
included Cicero and Plato’s own pupil Aristotle. Plato would also write
manRIKLVPRVWIDPRXVZRUNVZKLOHWHDFKLQJWKHUHRQDZLGHUDQJHRf
subjects, including art, ethics, science, mathematics, philosophy , and even
love. So, both Dumbledore and Plato found solace from the burdens and
temptations of politics in teaching the RXQJ.
Plato’s retreat from political life, however , was hardlDUHWUHDWIURm
sVWHPDWLFWKRXJKWDERXWSROLWLFV LQPXFKWKHVDPHZD that Dumbledore
remained integral to magical politics even as a professor at Hogwarts. Plato
found the AcademWKHSHUIHFWSODFHWRUHIOHFWRQWKHSROLWLFDOZRUOGDQGWo
distill the wisdom he had acquired in experience. His political philosophLs
most fullDQGDUWIXOO rendered in his work the Republic . Perhaps the most
memorable proposal in this work is the of fice of the philosopher-ruler. 5 The
ideal societ3ODWRVNHWFKHVLQWKH Republic consists of three classes—a
working class, soldiers, and rulers. It is this last class that possesses all
policPDNLQJSRZHUVDVZHOODVWKHGD-to-daRYHUVLJKWRIVWDWHDf fairs.
Plato’s philosopher -rulers hold enormous power , and it is crucial that they
be the best and most qualified persons to rule. In particular , thePXVt
possess each of the four “cardinal virtues”: justice, courage, wisdom, and
self-control. To ensure that onlWKHZLVHVWDQGPRVWYLUWXRXVFLWL]HQs
become rulers, Plato proposes a rigorous and lengthHGXFDWLRQDOSURFHVs
designed to sort out the wheat from the chaf f. This process puts even

Hogwarts to shame, lasting until age thirtILYHIROORZHGE a fifteen-HDr
internship in public service. BWKHHQG3ODWRKRSHGZHVKRXOGEHDEOHWo
distinguish the Potters from the MalfoV.
To be sure, paramount for Plato among the qualifications to rule is
intelligence. He makes it repeatedlFOHDUWKDWUXOHUVPXVWEHTXLFNOHDUQHUs
and possess an unusuallJRRGPHPRUy . It is often rightlVDLGWKDW3ODWo
was the first philosopher to advocate openlWKHMRLQLQJRISROLWLFDOSRZHr
with intellectual heft. Indeed, this is whKHLQVLVWVWKDWWKHRQO qualified
rulers are philosopher-rulers—those who exceed all others in their cerebral
powers.
Although this is perhaps the most celebrated element of Plato’ s
qualifications to rule, intelligence alone is not enough. From popular
culture, we all know manEULOOLDQWFULPLQDOVZKRHPSORed their gifts for
devious purposes—Lex Luthor from Superman , Hannibal Lecter from The
Silence of the Lambs , Anakin SkZDONHUIURP Star Wars , and even Dr . Evil
from Austin Powers . Mere intelligence maEHDQHVVHQWLDOSUHUHTXLVLWHIRr
ruling, but Plato’ s demands transcend a super -sized cranium. Rulers must
combine their brains with virtue. The question—in Plato and in Potter—is
how to distinguish between the gifted who will use their power for good
and those who will use it for selfish ends.
Most notably, those burdened bH[FHVVLYHVHOIORYHDUHXQILWIRr
ruling. 6 TheDUHRIWHQDPRQJWKHPRVWLQWHOOHFWXDOO gifted of the students
but have difficulties in resisting their impulses and those who would flatter
them. Like V oldemort, theYLHZSROLWLFDOSRZHUDVDPHDQVWRIHHGRQH
s
desires, thus theOXVWDIWHUSRZHr. TheFUDYHLWDQGFOLPEDOORYHr
themselves to secure it. But it is preciselWKLVOXVWIRUSRZHUWKDWVXJJHVWs
their unsuitabilitIRUZLHOGLQJLWDFFRUGLQJWR3ODWR:KHQUXOLQJLs
something fought over . . . civil and domestic war destroVWKHVHPHQDQd
the rest of the citDVZHOO. 7 TUDQWVOLNH&ULWLDVXVXDOO live short lives and
are capable of bringing the entire state down with them. Recall, for
example, that V oldemort’s life—in anFRUSRUHDORUSKsical sense—is
relativelVKRUWDVZHOO,Q Sorcerer’s Stone , he must drink unicorn blood to
regain his strength; he must feed of f the life of another until he can assume
a phVLFDOIRUPDJDLQ(YHQWKRXJK3ODWRZDVDVVXPLQJWKDWPDJLFFRXOd
not be used to save oneself, his analVLVRIWrants also holds true in Harr
s
world. We should therefore rather seek out rulers who are disinterested in

holding political power: a “citLQZKLFKWKRVHZKRDUHJRLQJWRUXOHDUe
least eager to rule is necessarilWKHEHVW. 8
Plato offered a useful test for readers to distinguish those who might
succumb to the temptations of power from those who would resist, a tale
known as the “Ring of GJHVDOHJHQGWKDW-.5RZOLQJUHVXVFLWDWHVDQd
mirrors in the tale of the Deathl+DOORZVZLWK+DUU’ s invisibilitFORDk
(more on this shortl 3ODWR
s tale is delivered bWKHFKDUDFWHU*ODXFRQ,
who was Plato’s brother in real life. According to the story , a shepherd finds
a magical ring uncovered bDQHDUWKTXDNHDQGGLVFRYHUVWKDWE turning
the ring toward himself, he becomes invisible. Possessed of this new talent,
the formerlPRGHVWVKHSKHUGLPPHGLDWHO sets out to seduce the king’ s
wife, attack the king with her help and kill him, and seize the king’s power
for himself, all in rapid succession. Glaucon argues that “no one ... would
be so incorruptible that he would staRQWKHSDWKRIMXVWLFHRUEULQg
himself to keep awaIURPRWKHUSHRSOH
s possessions and not touch them,
when he could take whatever he wanted from the marketplace with
impunity, go into people’ s houses and have sex with anRQHKHZLVKHGNLOl
or release from prison anRQHKHZLVKHGDQGGRDOOWKHRWKHUWKLQJVWKDt
would make him like a god among humans.” 9
Plato’s implicit replLVWKDW*ODXFRQ
s conclusions applRQO to those
who lust after power. The trulMXVWDQGJRRG WKRVHILWIRUSROLWLFDOSRZHr
—would conduct themselves in preciselWKHVDPHZD whether theZHUe
invisible or not. For those few qualified individuals, there is no ambition to
promote one’s selfish interests over that of friends and fellow citizens. So,
there is no political benefit to invisibility . In the end, then, Plato wants
political power to reside in the hands of the wise and virtuous. These
qualities are best manifested in the indifference of rare individuals to the
temptations of power. The Ring of GJHVLVDPRQJWKHEHVWWHVWVWRVRUWRXt
those who can be trusted with this tSHRISRZHr . Indeed, this question of
who can resist the great temptations of power is one of the central questions
—if not the most important—to be investigated in the Harr3RWWHUVHULHV.

Fudge and Umbridge: The Lessons of Obviousl8QILW3RZHr-
Brokers
If Plato faced great challenges in securing incorruptible political power
in his ideal republic, the challenges facing governance in the more practical,
though magical, world of Harr3RWWHUPXVWEHQHDUO insurmountable. W ith
Dolores Umbridge’s acts of umbrage in her HDURIWrannical rule at
Hogwarts, Cornelius Fudge’ s refusal to believe clear evidence of
Voldemort’ s return, and Rufus Scrimgeour ’s tactless blandishments to
HarrLQH[FKDQJHIRUKLVVHUYLFHWKHUHLVJRRGUHDVRQWRTXHVWLRQZKHWKHr
proper rule in the wizarding communitLVHYHQSRVVLEOH,VWKH0LQLVWUy
destined to be corrupt? Rowling’ s characters have much to teach about the
nature of political power as we examine a few possible candidates for
Minister of Magic: Umbridge, Fudge, V oldemort, Dumbledore, and Harry.
No fan of the Potter series would consider Dolores Umbridge a model
citizen, let alone a just ruler. In fact, Umbridge’s relentless onslaught of
rules, vicious detention measures, and Gestapo-like tactics for gaining and
maintaining control might make us wonder whVKHZDVQRWLQV oldemort’s
cohort, rather than the Ministr
s. 10 Nevertheless, she holds positions of
power in the series—both at the MinistrDQGDW+RJZDUWV$3ODWRQLc
evaluation of her time as a leader must be negative. She provides an object
lesson in how not to rule.
Readers can understand Umbridge’ s unsuitabilitIRUUXOHIURPWZo
simple facts. First, that she lacks all of the necessarYLUWXHV3ODWRGLVFXVVHs
in the Republic —courage, wisdom, justice, and self-control. Umbridge’ s
lack of self-restraint is a particular weak spot. All it takes is one snide
remark, and her passive-aggressive rage is unleashed—hardlVRPHWKLQg
Plato would expect of a successful philosopher-ruler. Second and more
important, all of Umbridge’ s torment tactics reveal her inner lust for power .
Take, for instance, Harr
s detentions with Umbridge in Order of the
Phoenix . She instructs him, “I want RXWRZULWH) I must not tell lies ,’ . . . as
long as it takes for the message to sink in .” 11 This “sink in,” as we all know ,
is quite literal. And her crueltVHHPVRQO to increase, relative to the

amount of power she is given. As the HDUSURJUHVVHVDQGDVVKHDWWDLQVa
more prominent role of authoritDW+RJZDUWVE the Ministry, her decrees
multiply, as do her detentions. W e might even speculate that her
incremental increases in authoritPHUHO fuel her lust for more power . One
thing is certain, though: Plato would have expelled her from his Academy .
Whereas Umbridge never rose to the position of Minister of Magic, the
almost equallGDQJHURXVDQGLQHSW&RUQHOLXV)XGJHGLG3DUWRIZKDWPDGe
him such a poor Minister was his perpetual fear of losing power. This
concern fostered dictatorial tendencies that manifested in a control of the
press. The Dark Lord’s return to power was partlGXHWR)XGJH
s failings as
a leader. For example, when HarrDQQRXQFHGWKDWV oldemort had in fact
returned, Fudge resorted to trashing HarrLQWKHSUHVVLQRUGHUWRPDLQWDLn
his own public image—an image that onlJRWZRUVHRQFHWKHWUXWKFDPe
out.
Umbridge’s position as the Hogwarts High Inquisitor is another
example of Fudge’ s attempts to maintain power in unjust waV5HFDOOKRw
at the beginning of Order of the Phoenix HarrLVEURXJKWWRFRXUWIRr
producing a Patronus to protect himself and his cousin, Dudley , from
dementors. The dementors were not supposed to be awaIURP$]NDEDQT o
cover up the Ministr
s mistake, Fudge brings HarrWRWULDODQGGRHVDOl
that he can to tilt the scales against him. He moves the time of the hearing,
for instance, in an attempt to make HarrODWHDQGWRSUHYHQW'XPEOHGRUe
from attending. All of this goes to show that Fudge’ s virtues as a ruler are at
best dubious. He craves power, but his insecuritOHDGVKLPWRXVHWKDt
power for his own advantage, rather than for the public good. He stumbles
over himself in his attempts to maintain power , which prevents him in the
end from keeping it. So, like Umbridge, Fudge lacks the keIHDWXUHV3ODWo
described as necessarIRUVXFFHVVIXOUXOLQJSDUWLFXODUO courage, wisdom,
and self-control.

Voldemort and Dumbledor e: Two T empted b3RZHr
Self-confidence and decisiveness are certainlQRWTXDOLWLHVODFNLQJLn
Lord V oldemort. Even during his humble beginnings in the orphanage, T om
Riddle was drawn to power. “He was alreadXVLQJPDJLFDJDLQVWRWKHr
people, to frighten, to punish, to control. The . . . strangled rabbit and the
RXQJER and girl he lured into a cave were most suggestive.... ‘ I can make
them hurt if I want to .’” 12 ContrarWRWKHJUHDW(QOLJKWHQPHQWSKLORVRSKHr
Immanuel Kant’s dictum never to use another person merelDVDPHDQVWo
an end, Riddle used others as a means to feed his desires and ambitions.
The fledgling Death Eaters, “a group of dedicated friends,” were not friends
at all—onlIROORZHUV. 13 “Riddle undoubtedlIHOWQRDf fection for anRf
them,” Dumbledore tells Harry. 14 Riddle’s great intelligence and social
cunning were a deadlSDLr . A great suck-up, as well as a skilled wizard, he
was a star at Hogwarts not onlZLWKKLVFURQLHVEXWZLWKWKHIDFXOW as
well.
This attitude reveals Riddle’ s unwavering egocentrism—a trait that gets
more pronounced as he becomes Lord V oldemort. 15 Two clear examples of
this excessive self-love also reveal V oldemort’s intense craving for power
and his paradoxical abilitWRKDUPKLPVHOILQVHFXULQJLWWKHPXUGHURI/LOy
Potter and the creation of the Horcruxes. Despite his keIROORZHr ’s wishes,
V oldemort kills Lily , Severus Snape’s great love. Perhaps V oldemort feels
that Snape will not leave his side, regardless of what he does; perhaps he
does not care. Voldemort’s quest is his own, and others are valued bKLm
onlDVWRROVWRVHUYHKLVRZQGHVLUHV+LVOXVWIRULPPRUWDOLWy , even at the
cost of splintering his own soul, is the ultimate proof of his evil and his
propensitIRUWranny. Finally, we cannot neglect V oldemort’s schemes to
gain power at the Ministry . Although he realizes that his reputation
prohibits his direct seizure of power as Minister of Magic, he lusts after the
office’ s powers and plants others there as instruments of his desires.
With his ruthless egotism, keen intelligence, and tUDQQLFDOWHQGHQFLHV,
Voldemort fits perfectlLQWR3ODWR
s categorRIOHDVWWUXVWZRUWK rulers.”
Perhaps a character better fit to rule is Albus Dumbledore. He “was of fered

the post of Minister of Magic, not once, but several times,” and he is, after
all, the most philosophical character in the Harr3RWWHUVHULHVPDNLQJKLm
the obvious choice as philosopher -ruler. 16 NearlHYHU tale concludes with
a lesson from the wise sage, brilliantlWing together the previous HDr ’s
events with all of their manifold meanings. In Half-Blood Prince , while
engrossed in the Pensieve, Dumbledore delves into questions regarding
human nature and the moral psFKRORJ of evil, giving HarrDQGXs
important clues as to what a ruler ought to be like. Dumbledore even
exhibits all of the keWUDLWVDSKLORVRSKHr -ruler must have. He is
courageous, just, and wise, and has self-master RUGRHVKH",Q Deathly
Hallows , we learn that Dumbledore was tempted bSRZHULQKLVouth,
along with his friend and soon-to-be dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. He
admits of this period that “I had learned that I was not to be trusted with
power . . . that power was mZHDNQHVVDQGP temptation.” 17 Manears
later, after having realized his dangerous will-to-power , he is tempted again
b0DUYROR*DXQW
s ring, the ring that ultimatelVKRUWHQVKLVOLIH.
What makes Dumbledore venerable, even with these flaws, is his self-
knowledge. 18 Plato’s teacher , Socrates, instructed his students to know
themselves; Dumbledore had enough self-knowledge to know that he could
not be trusted with power . This simple realization makes the crucial
difference. It prevents him from accepting the of fer to be Minister of Magic,
which would confer the power he so desires. And so, although unfit to rule,
as it turns out, Dumbledore never reaches the dark lows of Grindelwald or
Voldemort—although he potentiallFRXOGKDYH'XPEOHGRUHSURPRWHs
justice in the wizard communitVLPSO bNQRZLQJKLPVHOIUHVLVWLQJWKe
power he craves, and passing his lessons on to his students. Had
Dumbledore succumbed to his own temptations, V oldemort might have had
a competitor as the most sinister character of Harr3RWWHr . Dumbledore’s
Socratic self-knowledge and Platonic teachings reveal the qualities that
virtuous Potter characters embody . TheKDYHVHOINQRZOHGJHDQGDUe
guided bMXVWLFHFRXUDJHDQGZLVGRP3HUKDSVWKHEHVWH[HPSODURIWKHVe
traits is HarrKLPVHOI.

Harr
s Cloak, the Ring of GJHVDQGWKHT emptations of
Power
As it turns out, HarrFDQEHWUXVWHGZLWKSRZHr . How can we be sure?
Recall Plato’s Ring of GJHV. 19 It measures our probity , or incorruptibility,
bDVNLQJZKDWZHZRXOGGRLIZHZHUHLQYLVLEOH5RZOLQJUHVXUUHFWs
Plato’s character -o-meter with Harr
s Invisibilit&ORDN7KURXJKRXWWKe
series HarrKDVFRXQWOHVVRSSRUWXQLWLHVWRDEXVHKLVXQLTXHSRZHr . He
never once, aside from breaking some minor rules (such as staLQJRXWODWH ,
used it to his own advantage at the expense of others. Unlike GJHV+DUUy
certainlGLGQRWNLOODQGVHL]HSROLWLFDOFRQWURO+HLQVWHDGVRXJKWWRXVHKLs
power for the greater good—the real greater good, that is. In the face of an
opportunitIRUDGYDQFHPHQW6FULPJHRXr ’s of fer of Harr
s dream job,
HarrVHHNVQRWKLVRZQLQWHUHVWVEXWWKRVHRIWKHHQWLUHZL]DUGLQg
community. As HarrOHDUQVRI+RUFUX[HVWKHPRVWGDQJHURXVLGHDLQDOORf
dark magic, he is not tempted to seek eternal life through murder as was
Voldemort. Rather , HarrUHOHQWOHVVO searches to destroWKH+RUFUX[HV,
emploLQJKLVFORDNIRUWKHSXUSRVH$VHDUO as Sorcerer’s Stone , Harry
displaVWKLVDGPLUDEOHTXDOLWy . As he faces Voldemort for the first time, at
age eleven, HarrORRNVLQWRWKH0LUURURI(ULVHGDQGILQGVWKH6RUFHUHr ’s
Stone in his pocket. Dumbledore’ s enchantment, allowing the stone to be
found onlE someone who had no intention of using it, reveals Harr
s
lack of selfish desire.
Harr
s indifference to the lure of power , it turns out, is the verTXDOLWy
that both Plato and Dumbledore celebrate as conducive to wise and just
statecraft. HarrFHUWDLQO possesses the other necessarYLUWXHVWRUXOHVXFh
as courage, justice, and self-restraint. But so do manRWKHUV7KHUHIRUHLt
reallLVWKLVSLHFHRI3ODWRQLFZLVGRPUHYLYHGDQGSXWDWWKHIRUHRf
Rowling’s world, that ought to guide our search for those fit to rule.
Although HarrLVRUGLQDU and easIRUUHDGHUVWRUHODWHWRWKHUHUHDOO is
something magical about his immunitWRWKHOXVWIRUSRZHr .

NOTES
1 Both Plato and Alcibiades were students of the great Athenian
philosopher Socrates.
2 Plato, “Seventh Letter,” 324b-324c.
3 Ibid., 324d.
4 Ibid., 325a.
5 This term is often rendered “philosopher -king,” but we find this
misleading because Plato—ahead of his time here, as often elsewhere—
believed that women were perfectlFDSDEOHRIIXOILOOLQJWKHGXWLHVRIWKLs
highest political office.
6 Plato, The Republic , 494b-494d.
7 Ibid., 521a.
8 Ibid., 520d.
9 Ibid., 360b-360c. One finds the same theme in the relativelUHFHQt
film Hollow Man , where a decent research scientist plaHGE Kevin Bacon
becomes invisible and goes on a rampage worthRI*ges himself.
10 Plato himself is deeplVXVSLFLRXVRIWKHXQQHFHVVDU multiplication
of rules and regulations, which onlVHUYHVWRFKHDSHQWKHLUYDOXH6He
Republic , 425e-426e.
11 Or der of the Phoenix , p. 266.
12 Half-Blood Prince , p. 276.
13 Ibid., p. 361.
14 Ibid., p. 361.
15 Interestingly , plentRIGHIHQGHUVRIDPRUHHQOLJKWHQHGHJRLVm
would suggest that V oldemort’s egocentrism was self-defeating because it
contained the seeds of his destruction. Had he trulORYHGKLPVHOIPRUHKe
would have realized that the best waWRSURPRWHKLVRZQLQWHUHVWVZDVQRt
to be so transparentlHJRLVWLF.
16 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 717.
17 Ibid., pp. 717-718.
18 For more on this theme, see Gregor%DVVKDP
s chapter on
Dumbledore in this volume, “Choices vs. Abilities: Dumbledore on Self-

Understanding.”
19 This parallel is noted in David Baggett and Shawn E. Klein’s “The
Magic of Philosophy,” in Harr3RWWHUDQG3KLORVRSK: If Aristotle Ran
Hogwarts (Chicago: Open Court, 2004), p. 3. Notably , another philosopher,
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), asked himself the same question that
faces GJHVDQG+DUU: “I have often asked mVHOIZKDWXVH,ZRXOGKDYe
made of this ring?” His answer turns out to parallel Harr
s actions—
namely, that he would use his power to promote the public good. Jean-
Jacques Rousseau, Reveries of the SolitarW alker , translated b&KDUOHs
Butterworth (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1992), p. 82.

PA RT F O UR
THE ROOM OF REQUIREMENT : A POTTER
POTPOURRI

10
IS DUMBLEDORE GA Y? WHO’S TO SAY?
Tamar Szabó Gendler



On October 19, 2007, before a packed audience at Carnegie Hall in
New Y ork City , J. K. Rowling made a remarkable announcement. In
response to a question about whether Albus Dumbledore had ever been in
love, Rowling announced that she had “alwaVWKRXJKWRI'XPEOHGRUHDs
gay.”
Reaction was immediate and emphatic. W ithin two daVFORVHWR0
comments had been posted at the Leak&DXOGURQPHVVDJHERDUGZLWh
another 2,500 at MuggleNet. There were articles in Time and Newsweek ,
reports on CNN and NBC, and even an op-ed piece in the New Y ork Times .
Responses fell into three categories. Some readers were delighted bWKe
news. As one Leak&DXOGURQSRVWHUZURWHY ou go Jo! FinallDVWURQJ,
wise, non-stereotSLFDOSRUWUDal of a gaPDQ. 1 A second group was
dismaHG,DPH[WUHPHO disappointed at Jo for her comments on
Dumbledore. It was not necessarIRUKHUWRSURPRWHVXFKDSHUYHUVe
lifestOHLQFRQQHFWLRQWRDVHULHVRIERRNVWKDWPLOOLRQVRIFKLOGUHQZLOOWDNe

interest in now and in the future,” wrote another. 2 But the most interesting
tSHRIUHVSRQVHZDVWKHWKLUG7KHVHUHDGHUVUHVSRQGHGWRWKHGHFODUDWLRn
bFKDOOHQJLQJ5RZOLQJ
s authorial authority. “Unless she decides to write
Book Eight, Ms. Rowling has missed her chance to impart anQHw
information about anRIWKH+DUU Potter characters. If the series is trulDt
an end, then the author no longer possesses the authoritWRFUHDWHQHw
thoughts, feelings, and realities for those characters,” wrote one reader . 3 “To
insist on ownership (as she has done) and the right to define or re-define
those characters as she sees fit after the fact, is to insist on an absolute
control over the literarH[SHULHQFHRIKHUUHDGHUVVKHFDQQRWSRVVLEOy
have,” wrote another . 4
On its surface, this third response is perplexing. After all, at the
Carnegie Hall interview , Rowling revealed all sorts of things that are not
explicitlSDUWRIWKH+DUU Potter stories. She told the audience about things
that happened after the Potter books end, about things that happened before
the books begin, and about things that happen during the books. But no one
wrote in to comment that Neville Longbottom didn’t go on to marr+DQQDh
Abbott or that Remus Lupin, prior to Dumbledore taking him in, didn’t lead
“a reallLPSRYHULVKHGOLIHEHFDXVHQRRQHZDQWHGWRHPSOR a werewolf ”
or that Petunia Dursle didn’t “almost wish HarrOXFNZKHQVKHVDLGJRRG-
bHWRKLPDWWKHEHJLQQLQJRI Deathl+DOORZs —all of which were things
that Rowling revealed onlLQWKHFRXUVHRIWKHLQWHUYLHw .
What we face here is a version of what philosophers call the problem of
truth in fiction .5 Are there facts about what is true in the world of a story,
and if so, what determines those facts? Is it simplDPDWWHURIWKe
statements that are canonicallH[SUHVVHGE the stor
s author? What role is
plaHGE the stor
s readers (or hearers) or bZKDWWKHDXWKRUZDs
thinking? What about conventions governing the genre to which the story
belongs? And so on.

Truth in Fiction
Because we’re trLQJWRGHWHUPLQHZKHWKHUDSDUWLFXODUVWDWHPHQWLVWUXe
in a work of fiction, one obvious strategZRXOGEHWRWKLQNDERXWWKe
problem in analogZLWKQRQILFWLRQ6ROHW
s ask: how does a historian or a
biographer go about determining whether a particular statement is true?
Well, she looks at the waWKHDFWXDOZRUOGKDSSHQVWREHXVLQJWKLQJVVXFh
as archival documents and historical records and archaeological evidence.
On this basis, she might determine that the statement “Geor ge Washington
was president of the United States” is true. It’ s true because (in the actual
world) George Washington was president of the United States.
How would this go in the fictional case? Can we learn that “Geor ge
WeasleZDVD*Uf findor Beater” is true (of the world of Harr3RWWHU Ey
learning that (in the world of Harr3RWWHU *HRr ge was a Grffindor
Beater? In the case of Geor ge Washington, we looked at the actual world.
So, in the case of Geor ge Weasley , we simplKDYHWRORRNDWWKH+DUUy
Potter world. The problem is, we don’ t reallNQRZZKLFKZRUOGWKDWLV.
After all, presumablWKHUHLVVRPH other imaginarZRUOG FDOOLWWKe
world of Harr6FKPRWWHU ZKHUH*HRr ge WeasleKDSSHQVWREH6HHNHr
for SlWKHULQ$QGDQRWKHU FDOOLWWKHZRUOGRI+DUU Plotter—where
George happens to be Chaser for Huf flepuff. And what about the world of
Harr3XWWHr , where theSOD golf instead of Quidditch? Or the world of
Harr+RWWHr , where theZHDUEDWKLQJVXLWVLQVWHDGRIUREHV"7KHSUREOHP,
as the philosopher David Lewis (1941-2001) pointed out, is that “everZDy
that a world could possiblEHLVDZD that some [imaginar@ZRUOGLV. 6
So, it’s simplQRWXVHIXOWRWKLQNRIWKHWDVNRIWKH ILFWLRQDO VWRUteller
as being like the task of the (real-world) historian or biographer . It’s pretty
clear that the historian is engaged in an act of discovery , and it’ s prettFOHDr
what kinds of things she’ s discovering. OnlRQHZRUOGLVWKHDFWXDOZRUOG,
and the hard part for the historian or the biographer is figuring out what
happened in it. But there are as manLPDJLQDU worlds as there are
imaginative possibilities, so the hard part for the fictional storWHOOHULs
deciding which imaginarZRUOGWRWHOOXVDERXW$QGLW
s far from clear

whether to call this an act of discoverRULQVWHDGWRFDOOLWDQDFWRf
creation .7 To put the same point in a slightlGLf ferent way, the problem
with figuring out whether “Geor ge WeasleZDVD*Uf findor Beater” is
true (of the world of Harr3RWWHU LVWKHSUREOHPRIILJXULQJRXW which one
of the infinitelPDQ possible imaginarZRUOGVLVWKHZRUOGRI+DUUy
Potter. And that leaves us right where we started.
Let’s trWRDSSURDFKRXUSUREOHPIURPDVOLJKWO dif ferent direction.
Let’s think about Harr3RWWHUDVDQDFWRIFRPPXQLFDWLRQLQZKLFKDZULWHr ,
J. K. Rowling, is trLQJWRJLYHKHUUHDGHUVDFFHVVWRDSDUWLFXODULPDJLQDUy
world that she envisions. She does this bZULWLQJFHUWDLQZRUGVWKDWVKe
expects her readers to understand in certain waV /HW
s assume for the
time being that there are no difficulties involved in understanding the literal
meanings of the sentences she has written.) BZULWLQJWKRVHZRUGVVKHOHWs
the readers know exactlZKLFKZRUOGVKHLVHQYLVLRQLQJ WKDWLVVKHOHWs
them know which world is the world of Harr3RWWHr .
And let’s trDJDLQIURPWKLVSHUVSHFWLYHWRDVN:KDWLVWUXHLQWKe
world of Harr3RWWHU"W e can start with a simple two-part proposal, one
that we will end up needing to revise. According to this proposal, what’ s
true in the world of Harr3RWWHUDUH D all and (b) only those things that
appear on 4,100 pages that together compose the seven core Harr3RWWHr
volumes (perhaps with the addition of Quidditch through the Ages,
Fantastic Beasts and Wher e to Find Them , and The Tales of Beedle the
Bard ).
How does part (a) of this proposal fare? It certainlVHHPVOLNHDJRRd
beginning, but there’ s one minor problem. If we require that the stories be
consistent (we can talk in a minute about whether this is a reasonable
requirement), then we can’t take everWKLQJWKDWDSSHDUVRQWKRVHSDJHVDs
true in the fiction. For there are trivial inconsistencies across the books. In
Sorcerer’s Stone , for example, PercW easle
s prefect badge is described
as silver , whereas in Order of the Phoenix , we are told that prefect badges
are scarlet and gold; in Chamber of Secr ets , we are told that Moaning
MUWOHKDXQWVWKHWRLOHW
s S-bend, but in Goblet of Fire , she is said to haunt
the toilet’s U-bend. If we require consistency , we’ll need to accept either the
S-bend claim or the U-bend claim—but not both. (Which one should we
choose? Presumably, the one that Rowling tells us she reallPHDQWW e’ll
come back to this issue in a later section.) With this caveat in place, it seems
reasonable to saWKDWDOORIWKHWKLQJVWKDWDUHZULWWHQGRZQRQWKRVH-

plus pages are true in the world of Harr3RWWHr. That is, it seems reasonable
to saWKDWWKHZRUOGRI+DUU Potter is one of the worlds in which the things
written down on those 4,100-plus pages are true. Let’ s call these things the
world’s primarWUXWKs .
Before we turn to (b), let’ s return to the claim that the world of Harry
Potter is supposed to be internallFRKHUHQW:KDWVHQVHRIVXSSRVHGWREH.
are we talking about? Well, it seems prettFOHDUWKDWIRUWKHPRVWSDUWWKe
world described in the Potter books is a coherent one—as evidenced bWKe
fact that the inconsistencies are so rare. And Rowling’ s readers expect her to
be describing an internallFRKHUHQWZRUOG DVHYLGHQFHGE the fact that
when there are inconsistencies, readers point them out as notable. It’ s also
obvious that Rowling intends to be describing a coherent world—as
evidenced bWKHIDFWWKDWVKHFRUUHFWHGWKHVHLQFRQVLVWHQFLHVLQODWHr
editions. Moreover, it seems apparent that the Harr3RWWHUERRNVDUHWKe
kind of books in which internal consistencLVSUL]HGWKH belong to a genre
(that is, a categorRIOLWHUDU compositions characterized bFHUWDLn
conventions) where internal consistencLVDKDOOPDUN.
We’ll come back to these four criteria—textual evidence, reader
response, authorial intent, and genre constraints—in our discussion further
on. But to get there, let’ s consider (b)—the suggestion that the only things
that are true in the world of Harr3RWWHUDUHWKHSULPDU truths. In contrast
to (a), (b) seems more problematic. For here are some things that are not
primarWUXWKVLQWKHZRUOGRI Harr3RWWHr : that Hermione Granger has ten
fingers, that Lavender Brown is more than two feet tall, that Helga
Hufflepuf f was never governor of Missouri, and that Cedric DiggorGRHs
not plaIRUWKH%RVWRQ5HG6R[$IWHUDOOWKHUH
s no sentence in anRIWKe
Potter books that reads: “Hermione had ten fingers” or “Cedric Diggory ,
though an excellent Quidditch plaHr, was not a member of a major league
baseball team.” And if it seems reasonable to think that these things are true
in the world of Harr3RWWHr , along with tons of others that are not explicitly
stated in the text, then what makes them true? What principles govern the
generation of what we might call secondarWUXWKs ?
One major source of secondarILFWLRQDOWUXWKVDUHQRQILFWLRQDOWUXWKs
imported from the actual world. Presumably , most readers think that in the
world of Harr3RWWHr, the Earth revolves around the sun, cats have four
legs, and JanuarSUHFHGHV)HEUXDUy . Although these things aren’t explicitly
stated in the books, theDUHFRQVLVWHQWZLWKWKHVWRU’ s primarWUXWKVDQd

theKHOSILOORXWWKHLPDJLQDU world in a waWKDWVHHPVXVHIXODQd
natural. But is it true in the world of Harr3RWWHUWKDW&KULVWRSKHr
Columbus set sail in 1492 or that John Lennon sang with the Beatles?
Although these things are consistent with the stor
s primarWUXWKVWKHy
don’t seem necessarWRKHOSILOORXWWKHLPDJLQDU world. And what about
things like Princess Diana and Prince Charles divorcing during Harr
s
HDUVDW+RJZDUWVRUWKDWGXULQJWKRVHears, iPods became popular? These
are not outright inconsistent with the stor
s primarWUXWKVEXWWKH seem
somewhat in tension with the imaginarZRUOG$QGKRZDERXWWKHUHDO-
world facts about Harr3RWWHULWVHOIWKDWWKHPRYLHYHUVLRQRI Goblet of
Fire was directed b0LNH1HZHOORUWKDW Deathl+DOORZs sold more than
11 million copies in its first twentIRXUKRXUV"1RWKLQJLQWKHVWRULHs
explicitlUXOHVWKHPRXWEXWVXUHOy , we don’t want to saWKDW these things
are true in the world of Harr3RWWHr .
These examples bring out the problem with accepting what we might
call the maximal inclusiveness principle: that everWKLQJWKDWLVWUXHLQWKe
actual world is true in the fictional world, unless it is explicitlFRQWUDGLFWHd
bDSULPDU fictional truth. For that principle would make it true in the
world of Harr3RWWHr that RXDUHUHDGLQJWKLVFKDSWHUULJKWQRZ!
Moreover, it’s not clear that we even want such a precise principle. Do we
reallWKLQNWKHUHLVDJHQXLQHIDFWRIWKHPDWWHUZKHWKHULWLVWUXHLQWKe
world of Harr3RWWHUWKDW,VDDF1HZWRQDQG*RWWIULHG/HLEQLz
independentlGLVFRYHUHG RULQYHQWHG FDOFXOXV" 7KDQNVJXs!) W ould
we reallZDQWWRVD that someone who denies that this is true in the world
of Harr3RWWHULVZURQJRUWKDWKHGRHVQ
t properlXQGHUVWDQGWKHVWRU?
And wouldn’t a similar issue arise, whichever specific principle we chose?
As Aristotle famouslVDLG2XUGLVFXVVLRQZLOOEHDGHTXDWHLILWs
claritILWVLWVVXEMHFWPDWWHr .... The educated person seeks exactness in each
area to the extent that the nature of the subject allows.... It is just as
mistaken to demand demonstrations from the rhetorician as it is to accept
merelSHUVXDVLYHDrguments from the mathematician.” 8 So it looks like
when we ask about a stor
s secondarWUXWKVZHVKRXOGEHDVNLQJIRU rules
of thumb about what allows us to make best sense of—or to best appreciate
—the work of fiction. And really , what else could there be? Unless we go
back to a picture in which the task of a fiction writer is like that of an actual
reporter whose job it is to tell us about a single fullVSHFLILHGLPDJLQDUy
world, it seems odd to require that there must be a definitive fact of the

matter about whether everVLQJOHSRWHQWLDOVHFRQGDU truth is or is not part
of the storZRUOG.

So, Is Dumbledore Ga?
Let’s go back to our central question—is it true in the world of Harry
Potter that Dumbledore is ga" DQGWKLQNDERXWZKDWVRUWVRf
considerations we can bring to bear in answering that question. As we
noted, there seem to be four places we can look: textual evidence, reader
response, authorial intent, and genre constraints.
As far as textual evidence goes, it’ s clear that “Dumbledore is gaLs
not a primarWUXWKLQ+DUU Potter: that sentence appears nowhere in the
4,100-plus canonical pages. So the question is whether it is a secondary
truth. Clearly, it’s not the sort of secondarWUXWKWKDWFDQEHLPSRUWHd
directlIURPWKHDFWXDOZRUOGEHFDXVH'XPEOHGRUHLVDILFWLRQDOFKDUDFWHr .
But is it the kind of implied secondarWUXWKWKDWDVWXWHUHDGHUVFDQEe
expected to pick up on—for example, from the wa5RZOLQJGHVFULEHs
Dumbledore’s intense relationship with Gellert Grindelwald in Deathly
Hallows (“You cannot imagine how his ideas . . . inflamed me”), and the
fact that no heterosexual romantic interests of Dumbledore’ s are ever
mentioned. 9 Here it seems fair to saWKDWZKLOHLWLV compatible with the
stor
s primarWUXWKV DQGSHUKDSVHYHQ suggested bWKHP ZH
OOFRPe
back to this at the end of this section), it is not strictlLPSOLHd bWKHP.
And, indeed, this was the response of some of the books’ most careful
readers: when actress Emma W atson (who plaV+HUPLRQH ZDVWROGWKDt
Dumbledore is gay, she responded, “It never reallRFFXUUHGWRPHEHIRUH,
but now [that] J. K. Rowling’ s said that he’s gay, it sort of makes sense.” 10
Yet whVKRXOGLWPDWWHUZKDW5RZOLQJVDs? As readers have
complained, “If the series is trulDWDQHQGWKHQWKHDXWKRUQRORQJHr
possesses the authoritWRFUHDWHQHZWKRXJKWVIHHOLQJVDQGUHDOLWLHVIRr
those characters.... T o insist on ownership . . . after the fact, is to insist on an
absolute control over the literarH[SHULHQFHRIKHUUHDGHUVVKHFDQQRt
possiblKDYH. 11 And, indeed, this sort of view of authorial authoritLs
held—in various forms—bOHDGLQJFULWLFVRIDXWKRULDOLQWHQWVXFKDs
W illiam K. W imsatt, Monroe C. Beardsley , Hans-Georg Gadamer, Roland
Barthes, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida. 12 TheSRLQWRXWIRr

example, that language is a social creation and that authors do not have the
power simplWRPDNHZRUGVPHDQZKDWWKH choose. If a professor
announces to her class that there will be a test on Thursday, then even if she
intended to saTuesday,” she can’ t simplFODLPWKDWZKDWKHUZRUGs
meant was that there will be a test on T uesday. (Of course, she can claim
that she meant to say “Tuesda EXWVKHFDQ
t claim that in saLQg
“Thursday,” she said words that meant T uesday.) Similarly , if an author has
a character recite a piece of poetrWKDWWKHDXWKRU intends to be a work of
great beautDQGSURIXQGLW but that consists of the words: “Hickory
dickorGRFN.UHDFKHUWRRNP sock,” it doesn’ t follow that “Hickory
dickorGRFN.UHDFKHUWRRNP sock” is a great poem. BWKLVUHDVRQLQJ,
it’s not up to Rowling to saZKHWKHU'XPEOHGRUHLVJD: her texts need to
be allowed to speak for themselves, and each of their readers is a qualified
listener .
One implication of this view is that there is no single “correct” meaning
or interpretation of a given text. Dif ferent readers approach the text from
different historical and cultural contexts, and their engagement with the text
will almost certainlJLYHULVHWRPXOWLSOHLQWHUSUHWDWLRQV7KH+DUU Potter
books might mean one thing to me, another thing to RXDQGDQRWKHUWKLQg
to J. K. Rowling—with no one interpretation privileged over anRIWKe
others. According to this sort of view , the whole idea of trLQJWRILJXUHRXt
what is going on in the world of Harr3RWWHULVPLVJXLGHGWKHUHLVQ
t a
single world that is the “world of Harr3RWWHU WKHUHDUHDVPDQ Potter
worlds as there are readers. 13
BFRQWUDVWLQWHQWLRQDOLVWOLWHUDU theorists such as E. D. Hirsch Jr .
argue that authorial intent is what fixes a text’ s correct interpretation.
Without such a constraint, Hirsch contends, one uses the text “merelDs
grist for one’ s own mill.” 14 And, at least to the extent that readers’ primary
concern is with understanding what an author meant to communicate,
intention is obviouslFHQWUDO,I,DVNou whether RXORYHPHDQGou
respond bUHFLWLQJDSRHPP primarLQWHUHVWZLOOQRWEHLQWUing to
interpret the poem from mXQLTXHKLVWRULFRFXOWXUDOSHUVSHFWLYHPy
primarLQWHUHVWZLOOEHLQWUing to understand what RXLQWHQGHGWRFRQYHy
bUHFLWLQJLW/LNHZLVHLI,
PWUing to understand a garbled militarRUGHU;
interpreting what I believe to be a divinelDXWKRUHGWH[WWUing, as a judge,
to discover a legislature’ s “original intent”; or offering what I hope will be
the definitive interpretation of Plato’ s Timaeus , mSULPDUy , if not

exclusive, interest will be in reconstructing the relevant authorial intent.
And this is also true for manUHDGHUVRIWKH+DUU Potter books.
Wh"%HFDXVHIRUPRVW3RWWHUIDQV5RZOLQJLVWKHSDWHQWHGRZQHUDQd
creator of the Potter universe. She’s the master storWHOOHUZKRKDVWKHULJKt
—indeed, the unique prerogative—to authoritativelILOORXWHPEHOOLVKDQd
continue her story. Rowling herself seems to endorse this view , claiming
that Dumbledore “is mFKDUDFWHr. He is what he is and I have the right to
saZKDW,VD about him.” 15 And in informing us, extra-canonically , that
Dumbledore is gay, Rowling is filling out for us, in a kind of oral appendix
to the Potter books, details of the storWKDWVKHZLVKHVKHUUHDGHUVWRNQRw .
Readers are free, of course, to read the relevant texts differentl LWLVDs
theVDy, a free country . But most Potter fans are primarilLQWHUHVWHGLQKRw
Rowling chooses to fill out her imagined world. And unless we have a
specific reason to discount what she saVLQWKLVFDVH DVZHPLJKWIRr
example, if we think she misspoke and said “Dumbledore” when she meant
“Madame Hooch”—it’ s hard to see how we could consistentlDFFHSWDOORf
the other details and backstories that Rowling has revealed onlLQWKe
context of her hundreds of interviews and postings. 16

Closing Speculations: Genre
Although, for manUHDGHUV5RZOLQJ
s declaration settles the matter, it
is nonetheless interesting to think about the question from the perspective of
our final theme—that of genre. One waWKDWDUHDGHUPLJKWDr gue against
the suggestion that Dumbledore is gaZRXOGEHWRFRQWHQGWKDW+DUUy
Potter belongs to a genre of children’s stories in which issues of adult
sexualitGRQRWDULVH$FFRUGLQJWRWKLVVRUWRIDFFRXQWLWVLPSO isn’ t
faithful to the storWRVD that Dumbledore is ga QRWEHFDXVHKH
s
straight or even asexual, but because it doesn’t make sense to speak about
his sexualitDWDOO.
But while this might be a plausible argument in the case of Goodnight
Moon or The Wizard of Oz , it’s hard to see how it could be maintained for
Harr3RWWHr , given that Rubeus Hagrid and Madame Maxime have a book-
length flirtation, and that Severus Snape’ s hatred of HarrLVSDUWOy
explained bKLVXQUHTXLWHGORYHIRU/LO Potter . Indeed, one might even
counter that facts about genre help the case that Dumbledore is gay. For the
Harr3RWWHUERRNV do belong to a genre of RXQJDGXOWILFWLRQLQZKLFh
adults’ personal needs and desires are lar gelLQYLVLEOHWRWKHouthful
protagonists. And this would help explain whQRPHQWLRQRI'XPEOHGRUH
s
sexualitLVPDGHLQWKHWH[WGHVSLWHLWEHLQJDQLPSRUWDQWIDFWDERXWWKe
larger imaginarZRUOG.
Alternatively , one might ar gue that Harr3RWWHUEHORQJVWRDJHQUHRf
imaginarVWRULHVLQZKLFKWKHQXPEHURIPLQRULW identities is limited.
While it’s true that Cho Chang is Chinese and the Patil sisters are Indian
and Lee Jordan is black, it’ s also true that the decorations at the Y ule Ball
don’t seem to include Hanukkah menorahs, and that we hear nothing about
students who are fasting during Ramadan or lighting bonfires for Holi—or
making use of a wheelchair or communicating using sign-language or
reading in Braille.
Fair enough. But one might counter that Rowling’ s approach to minority
issues is actuallUDWKHUQXDQFHG$WWKHOHYHORIOLWHUDOVWRUtelling,
tolerance is clearlWKHQRUPLQWHUUDFLDOGDWLQJLVVXFKDQRQLVVXHDVQRWWo

warrant explicit mention. But at a metaphoric level, issues of minority
identitDUHUDLVHGWKURXJKRXWWKHQRYHOVWKLQNRITonks’s willingness to
marr/XSLQGHVSLWHKLVGLVDELOLW status (werewolf), Hermione’ s mission to
liberate the house-elves, or the recurring talk of Mudbloods and purebloods
and wizard supremacy. In this light, the limited literal treatment of issues of
minoritLGHQWLW throughout the texts helps the case that Dumbledore is
gay. For again, it provides some explanation for whQRH[SOLFLWPHQWLRQLs
made of this fact in the 4,100-plus canonical pages. BLQWURGXFLQg
Dumbledore as a character with whom readers come to identify , Rowling
catches her readers in an act of unwitting toleration; she brings them to
recognize that like interracial dating, sexual orientation is such a nonissue
as not to warrant explicit mention.
Finally, one might ar gue against Dumbledore’ s being gaRQWKe
grounds that it does no work in illuminating the story , which renders
Rowling’s declaration at best an irrelevant fillip. But it seems clear that
Dumbledore’ s love for Grindelwald does important plot work. As Rowling
remarked at Carnegie Hall, “T o an extent, do we saLWH[FXVHG'XPEOHGRUe
a little more because falling in love can blind us to an extent? But he met
someone as brilliant as he was, and . . . was verGUDZQWRWKLVEULOOLDQt
person, and horribly, terriblOHWGRZQE him.” 17 Throughout the Harry
Potter series, characters fall in true love with those who are their authentic
peers: James Potter and Lil(YDQVDUHEUDYHDQGFKDUPLQJ0ROO and
Arthur WeasleDUHGHFHQWDQGORal; T onks and Lupin are courageous and
unluck%LOOWeasleDQG)OHXU'HODFRXUDUHGDVKLQJDQGDWWUDFWLYH.
Dumbledore’s great power is his intellect. Could it be that Dumbledore is
gaEHFDXVH5RZOLQJFRXOGQRWFRQFHLYHRIWKHUHEHLQJDZRPDQZKRZDs
his intellectual equal? 18

NOTES
1 “J. K. Rowling at Carnegie Hall Reveals Dumbledore Is Ga1HYLOOe
Marries Hannah Abbott, and Much More,” www.the-leak-
cauldron.or g/2007/10/20/j-k-rowling-at-carnegie-hall-reveals-dumbledore-
is-gaQHYLOOHPDUULHVKDQQDKDEERWWDQGVFRUHVPRUHSDJH8 .
2 Ibid., p. 230.
3 Brenda Coulter , “Wh-.5RZOLQJ,V1R$XWKRULW on
Dumbledore’s Sexual Orientation,”
http://brendacoulter .blogspot.com/2007/10/whMNURZOLQJLVQRDXWKRULW-
on.html .
4 Tara W eingarten and Peg T UH5RZOLQJ6Ds Dumbledore Is Gay ,”
www.newsweek.com/id/50787/output/comments . For a similar response,
see Edward Rothstein, “Is Dumbledore Ga"'HSHQGVRQ'HILQLWLRQVRI ,V
and ‘Gay ,’” New York Times , October 29, 2007, p. E1.
5 For some influential recent discussions of this question, see David
Lewis, “T ruth in Fiction” (1978), reprinted in Philosophical Papers:
Volume I (New Y ork: Oxford Universit3UHVV SS*UHJRUy
Currie, The Natur e of Fiction (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University
Press, 1990); Kendall W alton, Mimesis as Make-Believe (Cambridge, MA:
Harvard Universit3UHVV .
6 David Lewis, On the PluralitRIWorlds (Malden, MA: Blackwell
Publishers, 2001), p. 2.
7 Indeed, this breakdown between creation and discoverVHHPVWREe
true for abstract objects in general. Think about what a composer does when
she writes down a series of notes: Does she create a new piece of music, or
does she specifRQHRIWKHLQILQLWHO manDOUHDG existing (but previously
unnoted) sequences of sounds? Aren’ t these basicallWZRGHVFULSWLRQVRf
the same thing?
8 Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics , translated bTerence Irwin
(Indianapolis: Hackett, 1985), 1.3 (1094b13).
9 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 716.

10 Tim Masters, “Potter Stars React to GaT wist,”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7085863.stm .
11 Coulter , “Wh-.5RZOLQJ,V1R$XWKRULW on Dumbledore’ s
Sexual Orientation”; and Weingarten and TUH5RZOLQJ6Ds Dumbledore
Is Gay.”
12 For an overview of these issues, see Sherri Irvin, “Authors,
Intentions and Literar0HDQLQJ Philosoph&RPSDVs , vol. 1, no. 2
(2006): 1 14-128 (available online at DOI 10.1 111/j.1747-
9991.2006.00016.x), and the essaVFROOHFWHGLQ*DU Iseminger , ed.,
Intention and Interpretation (Philadelphia: Temple Universit3UHVV .
13 For a general discussion of these issues, see T err(DJOHWRQ Literary
Theor$Q,QWroduction (Minneapolis: UniversitRI0LQQHVRWD3UHVV,
1983), especiallFKDSWHU.
14 E. D. Hirsch Jr., The Aims of Interpr etation (Chicago: UniversitRf
Chicago Press, 1976), p. 91.
15 “J. K. Rowling on Dumbledore Revelation: ‘He Is M&KDUDFWHr ,’ ”
www.the-leakFDXOGURQRr g/2007/10/23/j-k-rowling-on-dumbledore-
revelation-i-m-not-kidding .
16 For a large collection, see www.accio-quote.or g/ .
17 “J. K. Rowling at Carnegie Hall Reveals Dumbledore Is Ga;
Neville Marries Hannah Abbott, and Much More.”
18 For extremelKHOSIXOFRPPHQWVDQGGLVFXVVLRQ,DPJUDWHIXOWo
Elliot Paul and Mar%HWKW illard.

11
CHOICES VS. ABILITIES
Dumbledor e on Self-Understanding


Gregor%DVVKDm



To “know thVHOIVDLG6RFUDWHVLVWKHEHJLQQLQJRIZLVGRP:KRDm
I? What are mGHHSHVWGHVLUHV":KDWDUHP talents? How can I live most
authenticall"'RHVP life have a purpose? What goals should I pursue?
From the beginning of W estern philosophy, such questions have been at the
heart of the quest for wisdom and perspective.
The search for self-understanding is a central theme of the Harr3RWWHr
books. At the beginning of Sorcerer’s Stone , HarrNQRZVDOPRVWQRWKLQg
about who he is or where he comes from. He thinks he is an ordinary , poor,
unknown boOLYLQJLQDKXPGUXPDQGQRQPsterious world. As the stories
unfold, HarrUHDOL]HVWKDWQRQHRIWKHVHWKLQJVDUHWUXHDQGKHDFKLHYHVa
progressivelGHHSHUXQGHUVWDQGLQJRIKLPVHOIKLVDELOLWLHVDQGKLVSODFHLn
the world. In traditional philosophical language, the Potter books are a tale

of personal enlightenment. TheGHVFULEH+DUU’s long and difficult journey
from “appearance” to “reality .”
Harr
s quest for self-understanding has manWZLVWVDQGWXUQVDQGKe
frequentlZUHVWOHVZLWKKLVVHQVHRILGHQWLWy . Remember the end of
Chamber of Secrets ? HarrLVDODUPHGWRGLVFRYHUWKDWKHVKDUHVPDQy
qualities with Voldemort, including the rare and somewhat sinister abilitWo
speak Parseltongue. Recalling how the Sorting Hat almost put him in
SlWKHULQUDWKHUWKDQ*Uf findor, HarrZRQGHUVZKHWKHUWKHUHLVDGDUk
side to his character . Professor Dumbledore reassures him, pointing out that
his actions have been verGLfferent from Voldemort’s and adding, “It is our
choices, Harry , that show us what we trulDUHIDUPRUHWKDQRXUDELOLWLHV. 1
The philosopher and Potter scholar T om Morris has aptlGHVFULEHGWKLVDs
“one of the most important philosophical insights in the Harr3RWWHr
books.” 2 What does Dumbledore mean? What are choices? How do they
differ from abilities? And is it true that our choices tell us more about
ourselves than our abilities do?

Choices
“Choice” is a topic philosophers have written a great deal about. One of
the earliest philosophers to grapple with the issue was Aristotle (384-322
B.C.E.), who in his Nicomachean Ethics carefullGLVWLQJXLVKHGFKRLFH.
(prohair esis ) from related concepts such as wish, appetite, emotion, and
voluntarGHFLVLRQ+HFRQFOXGHGWKDWFKRLFHLVDNLQGRIGHOLEHUDWLYe
desire” for things that are within our power . Aristotle argued that choices
are “a better test of character than actions are,” and Dumbledore’ s similar
remark maZHOOEHDQHFKRRI$ULVWRWOH
s famous discussion. 3
Philosophers have noted that “choice” is used in various senses.
Sometimes it refers to a purelLQWHUQDOPHQWDOHYHQWDQDFWRIGHFLVLRQWKDt
maRUPD not result in anRYHUWSKsical act. Someone who saV'UDFo
MalfoFKRVHWRPXUGHU'XPEOHGRUHEXWLQWKHHQGKHFRXOGQ
t bring
himself to do so,” is using “chose” in this purelLQWHUQDOVHQVH. 4 Call this
kind of choice “internal-choice.”
Sometimes “choice” refers not to anLQWHULRUPHQWDOGHFLVLRQEXWWRDn
observable phVLFDODFWSHUIRUPHGLQDFRQWH[WRISUHVXPHGDOWHUQDWLYHV. 5
To saWKDW'XPEOHGRUHPDGHVRPHSRRUFKRLFHVLQKLVouth” is to use
“choice” in this second sense. Call this kind of choice “act-choice.”
There is a third sense of choice that combines both internal and external
elements. Consider a well-known example of fered bWKH*HUPDn
philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). Storekeeper A and Storekeeper B
both choose not to cheat their customers. Storekeeper A does this because
he’s afraid of going to jail. Storekeeper B does it because he’ s honest and
wants to do the right thing. Have Storekeeper A and Storekeeper B made
the same choice? No, Kant said: Storekeeper B’s choice is a different and
morallZRUWKLHUDFWWKDQ6WRUHNHHSHUA ’s. 6 In this scenario, there are three
distinguishable aspects of Storekeeper B’ s choice: an internal act of
decision (deciding not to cheat the customer), an observable phVLFDODFt
(dealing with the customer honestl DQGDQLQWHUQDOPRWLYH WUHDWLQJWKe
customer honestlEHFDXVHLW
s the right thing to do). In this third sense of
“choice,” we can’t reallNQRZZKDWFKRLFHDSHUVRQKDVPDGHXQOHVVZe

know that person’s motive for doing what he or she did. Call this third and
most complex sense of choice “motive-choice.”

How Revealing Are Our Choices?
Now that we’ve determined the various meanings of choice , we can ask
whether Dumbledore is right in claiming that it is our choices, rather than
our abilities, that are most revealing of “who we trulDUH. 7
Clearly, internal-choices bWKHPVHOYHVPD tell us verOLWWOHDERXWRXr
true selves. For example, the mere fact that Dudle'XUVOH has decided to
give up sweets won’ t give him (or us) much insight into his character unless
we know whKHJDYHWKHPXSZKHWKHUKHFDQVWLFNWRKLVUHVROXWLRQIRr
anOHQJWKRIWLPHDQGVRIRUWK.
Similarly, act-choices maQRWUHYHDODJUHDWGHDODERXWRXULQQHUVHOYHV.
Character , as Aristotle reminds us, is a matter of settled disposition—of
habit , not individual actions. Just because Hermione Granger occasionally
breaks rules (for example, in helping to or ganize Dumbledore’s Arm)
doesn’t mean that she is a habitual rule-breaker . Moreover, as Kant’s
example of the two storekeepers makes clear , a person’s overt phVLFDl
actions maWHOOXVOLWWOHDERXWKLVRUKHULQWHUQDOPRWLYDWLRQV,QWKH3RWWHr
books, this point is brilliantlLOOXVWUDWHGLQWKHFKDUDFWHURI6HYHUXV6QDSH.
To outside observers, Snape’ s actions often appear to be those of a devoted
follower of Voldemort. Yet in the end, we realize that Snape’ s true loDOWLHs
were to Dumbledore and the memorRI/LO Potter .
The most revealing kinds of choices will generallEHPRWLYHFKRLFHV.
Motive-choices convePRUHLQIRUPDWLRQWKDQHLWKHULQWHUQDOFKRLFHVRr
act-choices do. TheWHOOXVQRWRQO what choice we have made (mentall ,
but also what motivated us to make the choice and whether we had the
strength and consistencRIFKDUDFWHUWRDFWRQWKHFKRLFH'XPEOHGRUHLs
probablWKLQNLQJRIFKRLFHVLQWKLVWKLUGDQGPRVWFRPSOH[VHQVHZKHQKe
praises HarrDWWKHHQGRI Chamber of Secrets and states that choices are
more revealing than abilities. The choices Dumbledore is referring to (for
example, Harr
s decision to risk his life bHQWHULQJWKH&KDPEHURf
Secrets in order to save GinnW easle DUHQRWVLPSO Harr
s internal
decisions or his bare phVLFDODFWV'XPEOHGRUHLVSUDLVLQJWKHWRWDl
package: (a) Harr
s decision (b) to enter the Chamber of Secrets in order

to save GinnWeasley , (c) which he acted on, despite the obstacles and
known dangers . In this sense, Harr
s choice was indeed highlUHYHDOLQJRf
his character.
Are there cases where our motive-choices won’ t reveal much about our
true characters? Sure. Trivial choices, such as picking Pumpkin Pasties
rather than Cauldron Cakes from the cart on the Hogwarts Express won’ t
tell us much about our deeper selves. More significantly, our motive-
choices can be uninformative or even downright deceptive if we are
mistaken about either our true motives in making a particular choice or the
real natur e or value of that choice. W ith his vast capacitIRUVHOI-
deception, Vernon DurslePD think that his motive for treating HarrVo
shabbilLVWRSURWHFWKLPIURPPDJLFDOIXQQ stuf f ” for his own good.
But if his real motive is to punish HarrIRUSRVVHVVLQJVSHFLDOSRZHUVRr
for burdening the DursleVZLWKKLVXQZDQWHGSUHVHQFH8QFOHV ernon’s
motive-choice, as he understands it, will conceal his true character , rather
than reveal it. 8
Motive-acts can also deceive those who are unaware of the true nature
of their actions. Vernon and Petunia DursleWKLQNWKH are great parents,
who shower their special “Dink'XGGdums” with love and af fection. In
reality, of course, theDUHWHUULEOHSDUHQWVZKRVSRLODQGFRGGOH'XGOHy
shamelessly . Because of their cluelessness in this respect, thePLVWDNHQOy
believe that their parenting choices show their characters in a positive light.
Thus, instead of learning from these choices, theDUHDFWXDOO misled by
them.
In J. K. Rowling’ s wizarding world, there is a further reason that one’ s
own motive-choices maQRWFRQWULEXWHWRVHOIXQGHUVWDQGLQJ,QWKDWZRUOG,
it maEHKDUGWRNQRZZKHWKHULWZDVUHDOO Ru who made a particular
choice.
Think of the scene in Order of the Phoenix when HarrWKRXJKWLWZDs
he who attacked Arthur W easleLQWKHIRUPRIDJLDQWVQDNH2QO later
does he find out that it was V oldemort who tried to kill Mr . Weasley , and
that HarrZDVVKDULQJWKH'DUN/RUG
s experiences bPHDQVRIWKe
fragment of Voldemort’s soul that he carries within him.
Or think of the episode in Half-Blood Prince when Voldemort steals
Morfin Gaunt’ s wand, uses it to kill his Muggle father and grandparents,
and then implants a false memorLQ0RUILQ
s mind, making Morfin think
that he had murdered the Riddles.

Finally, think of the perplexities that can arise due to magical spells
such as the Imperius Curse, PolMXLFH3RWLRQDQGPHPRU modification.
Imagine that Fred and Geor ge WeasleKDYHEHZLWFKHGDERWWOHRI2JGHQ
s
Old FirewhiskeVRWKDWLWORRNVDQGWDVWHVOLNHEXWWHUEHHr . You drink it and
fall asleep in a stupor . The next morning RX
UHFDOOHGLQWR'XPEOHGRUH
s
office and accused of transfiguring Filch’ s cat, Mrs. Norris, into an
armadillo. Did RXGRLW"You remember nothing, but three students from
Hufflepuf f swear theVDZou bewitch the cat. Dumbledore performs the
Priori Incantatem charm on RXUZDQGDQGGHWHUPLQHVWKDWLWZDVour
wand that cast the spell. Three possibilities occur to RX  Y ou performed
the spell but can’t remember it because of the booze (or perhaps because
RXUPHPRU was modified); (2) RXSHUIRUPHGWKHVSHOOEXWRQO because
RXZHUHXQGHUWKH,PSHULXV&XUVHDQGou have no memorRIWKHDFt
because no one remembers anWKLQJWKH do while under that curse; (3)
somebodGLVJXLVHGDVou due to PolMXLFH3RWLRQSHUIRUPHGWKHVSHOl
using RXUZDQG,ILVWUXHWKHQLWZDVour choice to transfigure the cat,
and RXPD be at least somewhat responsible for the misuse of magic. If,
however, 2 or 3 is true, RXGLGQ
t (voluntaril SHUIRUPWKHVSHOODQd
RX
UHQRWJXLOW of misuse of magic. What reallKDSSHQHG"7KHUHPD be
no waWRNQRw. Consequently, no firm conclusions about RXUFKDUDFWHr
can be drawn from the episode (except that RXZHUHDGLPZLWWRHYHUWUXVt
Fred and George).
As these examples make clear , there are special difficulties in the
wizarding world in knowing what choices RXKDYHPDGH7KHERXQGDULHs
between self and other are less clear in that world than in ours, and the
possibilities of manipulation, control, and illusion are greater . Still, in
Rowling’s world as in ours, choices do often reveal valuable insights about
ourselves. According to Dumbledore, choices are “far more” informative in
this waWKDQDELOLWLHVDUHT o see whether he is right, we need to understand
what abilities are and how theGLf fer from choices.

Abilities
The notion of ability , as the psFKRORJLVW0LFKDHO-$+RZHQRWHVLVa
“fuzzFRQFHSW. 9 In general, an abilitLVDSRZHURUDFDSDFLW to do
something. Thus, Voldemort has the rare abilitWRIO without a broomstick
because he possesses the requisite magical skills that allow him to flLQWKLs
way. Similarly , Sirius, as an Animagus, has the abilitWRWUDQVIRUPKLPVHOf
into a large black dog because he has the self-taught capabilitWRGRVR.
This much is clear , but what makes the concept of an abilitIX]]” is
that abilities come in degrees and often varZLWKFLUFXPVWDQFHV,VSHDk
about seventZRUGVRI0HUPLVK WKHODQJXDJHRIWKHPHr -people); Ru
speak three hundred words. Do I have the abilitWRVSHDN0HUPLVK"T o
some extent, but not as well as RX,FDQFRQMXUHDFKLSPXQN3DWURQXVEXt
onlZKHQ,
PUHDOO mellow and relaxed, which is rare. Do I have the
abilitWRFRQMXUHVXFKD3DWURQXV"6RPHWLPHVEXWQRWYHU often. In other
words, it’s not alwaVFOHDUZKHWKHUVRPHRQHKDVDFHUWDLQDELOLW or not.
This is one waWKDWFKRLFHVGLf fer from abilities—choices tend to be
more clear-cut than abilities are. As we’ve seen, choices are acts , either
mental or phVLFDO1RUPDOOy , there’s a definite answer whether someone
did or did not make a particular choice. 10 Did Peter Pettigrew choose to
betra+DUU’ s parents, rather than be killed bV oldemort? No question.
Did HarrFKRRVHWREUHDNXSZLWK*LQQ at the end of Half-Blood Prince
in order to protect her? Absolutely. BFRQWUDVWDELOLWLHVDUH powers or
capacities , rather than acts. 11 As such, theWHQGWRFRPHLQGHJUHHVDQGWo
be more variable than choices are.

How Revealing Are Our Abilities?
Dumbledore suggests that our choices tend to be more self-revealing
than our abilities. Is he right? W ell, some kinds of abilities will reveal little
or nothing about a person’s character or inner self. In general, these include
abilities that are:
• Trivial (e.g., the abilitWRZLJJOHour ears)
• V erZLGHO shared (e.g., the abilitWRGLJHVWJUDQROD)
• No t within one’s conscious control (e.g., the abilit to breath e
while sleeping)
• Innate, rather than acquired (e.g., the abilitWRFU) 12
• Unrec ognized (e.g., Harr
s abilit to speak Parseltongu e,
before he first became aware of the talent in Sorcerer’s Stone )
More important, manVRUWVRIDELOLWLHVZRQ
t be particularlUHYHDOLQg
because theDUH morallQHXWUDOFDSDFLWLHs that can be used wiselRr
unwisely, ethicallRUXQHWKLFDOOy . This seems to be Dumbledore’ s point
when he remarks that HarrVKDUHVPDQ qualities Salazar SlWKHULQSUL]Hd
in his hand-picked students. His own verUDUHJLIW3DUVHOWRQJXH&
resourcefulness—determination—a certain disregard for rules.” 13 Notice
that each of the qualities Dumbledore mentions can be used for good or evil
ends. For instance, both Voldemort and HarrDUHUHVRXUFHIXOY et
Voldemort uses his resourcefulness to pursue his goals of world domination
and personal immortality , whereas HarrXVHVKLVWRVDYHKLVIULHQGVDQd
fight tUDQQy. Likewise, both Dumbledore and V oldemort possess
exceptional magical abilities. Yet Dumbledore uses his magical talents to do
good, whereas Voldemort uses his to do evil. So, simpl having qualities
like resourcefulness or advanced magical abilities won’ t reveal much about
what kind of person RXDUH,W
s how RXXVHWKHVHDELOLWLHVWKDWUHDOOy
matters.
Does this mean that abilities never reveal much about a person’s
character? BQRPHDQV$ELOLWLHVWKDWFDQEHDFTXLUHGRQO through hard
work, self-sacrifice, and determination can tell us a lot about a person. The
same is true of ethical abilities, such as a capacitWRHPSDWKL]HZLWKRWKHUV

suffering, to think of other people’ s needs before RXURZQWRSODn
prudentlIRUWKHIXWXUHDQGWRUHPDLQUHVLOLHQWLQWKHIDFHRf
disappointment. So, if Dumbledore means that choices are generally more
self-revealing than abilities, he is no doubt correct. But at the same time, we
should also be honest and self-reflective about our abilities, because they ,
too, can tell us a great deal about ourselves and how we can live most
happilDQGVXFFHVVIXOOy.

BeRQG&KRLFHVToward a Deeper Self-Understanding
Reflecting on RXUSDVWFKRLFHVPD tell RXDORWDERXWourself, but it
maQRW&RQVLGHU*LOGHUR Lockhart. Lockhart thinks about himself a lot
—all of the time, in fact. But his self-image is completelRXWRIZKDFN+e
imagines that he’s a great Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher , but he
can’t even manage a cage full of Cornish pixies. Although he poses as an
expert duelist, he is easilEODVWHGRf f his feet b6QDSH
s Expelliarmus
spell. He vainlLPDJLQHVWKDWHYHUone is a fan of his, and when he
confidentlFODLPVWREHDEOHWRIL[+DUU’ s injured arm, he ends up
removing all of Harr
s arm bones instead. WhWKHELJGLVFRQQHFW?
Because Lockhart is blind to his own faults. He looks but doesn’ t see.
This is the basic problem with seeking self-understanding simplEy
reflecting on one’s own choices. If RX
UHZHDULQJURVHFRORUHGJODVVHV&
what psFKRORJLVWVFDOOFRJQLWLYHEOLQGHUV ou’re not going to see the
real RX.
So, what’s a better strategIRUDFKLHYLQJVHOINQRZOHGJH",IZHORRNDt
what the great thinkers have said on this topic, we can identifIRXUPDMRr
strategies:
• Cultivate a habit of self-examination.
• Be alert to RXULUUDWLRQDOWHQGHQFLHV.
• Get a little help from RXUIULHQGV.
• Challenge RXUVHOI.
As we’ll see, each of these principles is well-illustrated in the Potter
books.

Cult iv ate a H ab it o f S elf -E xam in atio n
Self-knowledge requires time, openness, and humility . What are my
deepest values and commitments? What do I like? What do I dislike? What
am I most passionate about? What are mJUHDWHVWVWUHQJWKVDQd
weaknesses? Am I the person I want to be? How can I make the most of my
time and talents? What would I like to be remembered for when I’m gone?
These are tough questions, and answering them takes time. It also requires
openness and humility, because, as Socrates pointed out, most of us find it
verGLfficult to face unpleasant truths about ourselves and to admit our own
limitations.
As the philosopher Thomas Pangle remarked, most of the time when we
reflect seriously , it’s because we’re in trouble. Some life crisis happens—
we lose a job, get divorced, flunk out of school, get a reallEDGKDLUFXW.
OnlWKHQLWVHHPVGRZHVHULRXVO evaluate where we are in our lives and
the choices we’ve made. But life should not be lived on autopilot. Just as
we need to develop good habits of diet and exercise, we need to form
positive habits of mindfulness and self-examination. OnlE knowing
RXUVHOIFDQou live honestlDQGILQGour own path.
Dumbledore is a model of a reflective, self-aware individual. When he
was a RXQJPDQKHUHDOL]HGWKDWKLVEHVHWWLQJZHDNQHVVZDVDORYHRf
power . Realizing this, he never accepted the position of Minister of Magic,
although it was of fered to him several times. Dumbledore also drew an
important lesson from his infatuation with the future dark wizard Gellart
Grindelwald. In a 2008 interview , Rowling stated that Dumbledore “lost his
moral compass completelZKHQKHIHOOLQORYHZLWK*ULQGHOZDOG. 14 As a
result, Dumbledore became verGLVWUXVWLQJRIKLVMXGJPHQWLQPDWWHUVRf
the heart and decided to live a celibate and scholarlOLIH.
In his effort to live what Socrates called “the examined life,”
Dumbledore regularlXVHVWKH3HQVLHYHDPDJLFDOVWRQHEDVLQWKDWDOORZs
individuals to view either their own or another person’ s memories from a
third-person perspective. Dumbledore tells HarrWKDWZKHQHYHUKHKDVWRo
manWKRXJKWVDQGPHPRULHVFUDPPHGLQWRKLVPLQGKHXVHVWKH3HQVLHYe
to siphon off some of these excess thoughts. This unclutters the mind,

removes painful or obsessive memories, and improves mental focus. The
third-person perspective also makes it “easier to spot patterns and links”
and to notice things that weren’t consciouslREVHUYHGLQWKHRULJLQDl
experiences. 15 Clearly, such a device would be a great tool for self-
understanding—not to mention as an instant replaGHYLFHDWWKH4XLGGLWFh
World Cup!

Be A le rt t o Y ou r I r ra tio n al T en den cie s
Aristotle classicallGHILQHGKXPDQVDVWKHUDWLRQDODQLPDO EXW,
obviously , he had never watched an episode of The Jerr6SULQJHU6KRw .
The fact is that we humans regularlIDOOSUH to irrational biases,
prejudices, egocentrism, close-mindedness, wishful thinking, and
stereotSLQJ$QGDVZH
YHVHHQour choices maQRWWHOOou much about
RXUWUXHVHOILIOLNHWKH'XUVOHs or Lockhart, RXUVHOILPDJHLVGLVWRUWHd
bSRRUWKLQNLQJKDELWV.
The solution is to recognize and activelFRPEDWRQH
s irrational
tendencies. As much as we might like to think of ourselves as unusually
self-aware and perceptive individuals, we’re all human and thus heir to all
of the thinking flaws that humans are so often prone to.
PrettPXFKWKHIXOOUDQJHRIKXPDQLUUDWLRQDOLW is on displaLQWKe
Potter novels—think of PercWeasle
s rule fetish and love of power ,
Malfo
s virulent racism and classism, Ron W easle
s irrational jealousy ,
Rubeus Hagrid’s blind affection for dangerous magical creatures, Cornelius
Fudge’s close-mindedness, or Luna Lovegood’ s credulitIRUWDOHVRIWKe
uncanny. But Rowling’ s best example of irrational thinking is wizards’
treatment of house-elves.
House-elves are ef fectivelVODYHVLQWKHZL]DUGLQJZRUOG7KH are
bound for life to well-to-do wizarding families or to institutions, such as
Hogwarts. TheSHUIRUPXQSDLGPHQLDOWDVNVDUHJLYHQOLPLWHGHGXFDWLRQ,
wear cast-off items such as old pillowcases as clothing, are forbidden to use
wands, and can be beaten, tormented, and even killed bWKHLUPDVWHUVZLWh
apparent impunity . Yet verIHZZL]DUGVVHHWKLVNLQGRILQGHQWXUHd
servitude as morallSUREOHPDWLFLQWKHOHDVW:K this ethical blindness?
Because as Ron and Hagrid note, with the exception of “weirdoes” like
Dobby , nearlDOOKRXVHHOYHV like being slaves and even regard freedom, as
WinkGRHVDVVRPHWKLQJGHSUHVVLQJDQGVKDPHIXO. 16
As Hermione points out, however , the fact that house-elves have been
conditioned to buLQWRWKHLURZQRSSUHVVLRQGRHVQRWMXVWLI the practice. 17
Although HarrDWILUVWVKDUHVWKHFRQYHQWLRQDOSUHMXGLFHVUHJDUGLQJKRXVH-
elves, in the end he accepts Hermione’ s view, digging Dobb
s grave with

his own hands and writing “Here lies Dobby, a Free Elf” on the
tombstone. 18 In this process of moral growth, HarrLVJUHDWO helped bKLs
friend Hermione, a tireless advocate for elf rights. This leads to our third
pointer.

Get a L it tle H elp f r o m Y ou r F rie n d s
Humans aren’ t like the Borg in Star Trek . W e don’ t have a collective
consciousness in which we directlH[SHULHQFHRWKHUSHRSOH
s thoughts and
emotions. Instead, we live our lives from the “inside,” from the vantage
point of our own personal mini-cam on life. This gives us a privileged
access to what’s going on inside our own heads. But sometimes we can be
too close to ourselves to see us as we trulDUHW e lack perspective,
objectivity. That’s where friends can help. Friends can tell RXZKHQou’re
being selfish or rude or making a total fool of RXUVHOI&RQYHUVHOy , they
can let RXNQRZZKHQou’re being kind or generous or need to lighten up
on RXUVHOI.
In the Potter books, friends frequentlSOD a vital role in enhancing one
another’s self-understanding. For instance, Hermione helps Harry
understand whKHZDVEHLQJLQVHQVLWLYHWR&KR&KDQJRQWKHLUWULSWo
Hogsmeade; Harry , Ron, and Hermione assist Neville Longbottom in
overcoming his painful shQHVVDQGODFNRIVHOIFRQILGHQFHDQG+DJULd
helps Ron understand whIULHQGVKLSVVKRXOGQRWEHZUHFNHGE petty
jealousies. BWKHVDPHWRNHQFKDUDFWHUVZKRDSSDUHQWO lack close and
supportive friendships, such as the DursleV/RFNKDUWDQG3URIHVVRr
Slughorn, tend not to progress in self-understanding. Honest and caring
friends can be a mirror in which we see ourselves as we reallDUH.

Challe n ge Y ou rse lf
In ordinarOLIHSHRSOHWHQGWREHKDYHLQVWHUHRWpical waVY ou can’t
tell much about a person bZDWFKLQJKRZVKHEUXVKHVKHUWHHWKRUZDONVWo
the bus stop. It’ s in out-of-the-ordinarVLWXDWLRQV HVSHFLDOO situations of
challenge or adversit WKDWWKHPRVWLPSRUWDQWGLf ferences between people
shine through. That’s why, as the Roman philosopher -poet Lucretius
observed, “It is more useful to scrutinize a man in danger or peril, and to
discern in adversitZKDWPDQQHURIPDQKHLVIRURQO then are the words
of truth drawn up from the verKHDUWWKHPDVNLVWRUQRf f, the reality
remains.” 19
In the Potter books, HarrDQGKLVIULHQGVDUHUHSHDWHGO tested. Over
and over, theDUHSODFHGLQVLWXDWLRQVWKDWWHVWWKHLUFRXUDJHORalty ,
intelligence, and resourcefulness. With a few notable exceptions (such as
Ron’s temporarDEDQGRQPHQWRI+DUU and Hermione in Deathly
Hallows ), theSDVVWKHVHWHVWVZLWKIOing colors and prove their true
mettle. As a result, theJURZLQVHOIFRQILGHQFHDQGVHOINQRZOHGJHDQd
emer ge at the end (much like Frodo and his hobbit friends in J. R. R.
Tolkien’ s Lord of the Rings ) as humble but battle-tested heroes.

The Ultimate Measure of a Person
So, in the final analVLV'XPEOHGRUHLVULJKWZKHQKHVDs that our
choices tend to be more revealing than our abilities. Our abilities show us
what we can do, but our choices reveal most clearlRXUTXDOLWLHVRf
character and what we care about most deeply . In this sense it is true, as the
author Tobias Wolff remarks, that “we define ourselves and our deepest
values bWKHFKRLFHVZHPDNHGD bGDy , hour bKRXr, over a lifetime.”
20 But as we’ve seen, some choices are more revealing than others. The
ultimate measure of a person is where he stands when tested bFKDOOHQJHRr
adversity. BWKLVPHDVXUH+DUU and his friends all earn O’ s, for
Outstanding!

NOTES
1 Chamber of Secrets , p. 333.
2 Tom Morris, If Harr3RWWHU5DQ*HQHUDO(OHFWULF/HDGHUVKLp
Wisdom fr om the W orld of the W izards (New Y ork: Doubleday , 2006), p. 23.
3 Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics , translated b-$.7KRPVRn
(London: Penguin Books, rev . ed., 1976), p. 116 (1111b5).
4 Andrew Oldenquist, “Choosing, Deciding, and Doing,” in Paul
Edwards, ed., The EncFORSHGLDRI3KLORVRSKy , vol. 1 (New Y ork:
Macmillan, 1967), p. 96.
5 Ibid., p. 97.
6 Immanuel Kant, MetaphVLFDO)RXQGDWLRQVRI0RUDOs , translated by
Carl J. Friedrich, in The PhilosophRI.DQt , edited b&DUO-)ULHGULFh
(New York: Modern Library , 1949), pp. 144-145. Kant frames his
discussion in terms of “acts,” rather than “choices,” but I think he would
agree that the storekeepers have made dif ferent choices.
7 The phrase “who we trulDUHLVDPELJXRXV,WPLJKWUHIHUWRWKe
metaphVLFDOVHOI ZKHWKHUWKHVHOILVDVSLULWXDOVXEVWDQFHIRUH[DPSOHRr
is ultimatelLGHQWLFDOZLWKWKH'LYLQH 2ULWPLJKWUHIHUWRWKe
psFKRORJLFDOVHOI RXUFKDUDFWHURUSHUVRQDOLWy . Because there’s no reason
to think our choices would reveal our ultimate metaphVLFDOLGHQWLWLHV,
Dumbledore must be speaking of the psFKRORJLFDOVHOI.
8 For more on the DursleV
WDOHQWIRUVHOIGHFHSWLRQVHH'LDQD0HUWz
Hsieh, “Dursle'XSOLFLW: The MoralitDQG3VchologRI6HOI-
Deception,” in David Baggett and Shawn E. Klein, eds., Harr3RWWHUDQd
Philosoph,I$ULVWRWOH5DQ+RJZDUWs (Chicago: Open Court, 2004), pp.
22-37.
9 Michael J. A. Howe, Principles of Abilities and Human Learning
(London: PsFKRORJ Press, 1998), p. 55.
10 Of course, it’s sometimes hard to know whether someone has made a
particular choice. (“Marietta looks shiftHed. Has she decided to betray
Dumbledore’s Arm")

11 In Aristotle’ s terms, choices belong to the categorRIDFWZKHUHDs
abilities belong to the categorRISRWHQFy . See Aristotle, MetaphVLFs , V, 7.
12 . As Dumbledore remarks, “It matters not what someone is born, but
what theJURZWREH Goblet of Fir e , p. 708.
13 Chamber of Secr ets , p. 333.
14 Adeel Amini, “Minister of Magic,” http://gallery.the-leak-
cauldron.org/picture/207262 .
15 Goblet of Fir e , p. 597.
16 See, for example, Goblet of Fire , pp. 224, 265; and Order of the
Phoenix , p. 385.
17 It’ s not uncommon for subordinated peoples to internalize their
oppressors’ values and come to see their own oppression as natural or just.
This is a form of what Marxists call “false consciousness.”
18 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 481.
19 Lucretius, De Rerum Natura , Book 3, lines 55-59.
20 Quoted in “Moments That Define Spirituality ,”
cnn.com/2008/LIVING/waRIOLIHRVSLULWXDOLWy .2.u/index.html .

12
THE MAGIC OF PERSONAL TRANSFORMA TION
S. Joel Garver



When we first meet Dudle'XUVOHy, he’s an utter prat. DudleGHVSLVHs
HarrDQGWUHDWVKLPOLNHDGRJWKDWKDGUROOHGLQVRPHWKLQJVPHOOy .” 1
DudleDOZDs wants his own way, and when it comes to his parents,
Petunia and Vernon, he knows how to get it. DudleWKLQNVKH
s alwaVLn
the right and can do no wrong. He can’t see himself as anWKLQJEXW*RG
s
gift to the world—a model of juvenile perfection, entitled to everJRRd
thing that comes his way. And DudleFDQ
t recognize HarrDVDQthing
but a nuisance—a worthless distraction, a potential threat to ickle Dudders’
own comfort and ease.
Yet bWKHEHJLQQLQJRI Deathl+DOORZs , DudleKDVFKDQJHd
dramatically . He leaves a cup of tea for HarrRXWVLGH+DUU’ s room at
Number 4 Privet Drive, and he defies his parents to instead do what Harry
urges. DudleXOWLPDWHO manages to express something like af fection and
gratitude toward Harry, even in the face of his parents’ incomprehension
and his own embarrassment. In the end, when DudleVKDNHV+DUU’ s hand
and saVJRRGEe, HarrVHHVDGLfferent personality.” 2

What happened? How did DudleFRPHWRVHH+DUU in a new way, not
as a nuisance, but with a newfound respect? And does this mean that
DudleFDPHWRVHH himself differentlWKDQEHIRUH",IVRKRZGLGWKLs
change occur?
These are questions about how DudleGHYHORSVDVDSHUVRQEXWWKHy
also raise fascinating epistemological issues. “EpistemologLVWKHSDUWRf
philosophWKDWDVNVDQGWULHVWRDQVZHUTXHVWLRQVDERXWKRZZHNQRw
stuf f. Specifically , let’s consider how DudleDQG+DUU came to know both
themselves and others better than theGLGEHIRUH% examining how these
two characters grow and develop, we can understand how Rowling presents
knowing as a process of personal transformation. As we’ll see, when we
encounter ourselves and others in significant waVZHJURZLQPLQGDQd
heart and become better knowers. 3

Positioning Our Prejudgments
In order to know and interpret our world, said the German philosopher
Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002), we must come to the world with
“prejudgments.” 4 EverWLPHZHWU to interpret a situation, a person, or a
text, we bring questions, biases, and expectations with us, like bringing a
handful of tools from a well-worn toolbox. W ithout such prejudgments, we
wouldn’t have anZD to “get into” whatever it is we’re trLQJWo
understand. It would be like a container sealed shut, and we’d be left
standing there, helpless and emptKDQGHG.
Our prejudgments shape, in turn, the kinds of information we’re able to
get out of what we’re trLQJWRXQGHUVWDQG%XWLIZHFRPHDWWKLQJVZLWh
the wrong tools, we aren’ t going to make much headway . What we’re trLQg
to interpret and understand will resist our advances. After all, we can’ t undo
screws verHDVLO with pliers, never mind with a hammer.
Gadamer said that there’s no use pretending we don’ t have
prejudgments that craft how we think and perceive. The issue is whether
our prejudgments will help us understand better or whether the
OOJHWLQWKe
way. It’s not simplWKDWWKHZURQJVRUWVRITXHVWLRQVRUH[SHFWDWLRQVZRQ
t
get us verIDr. Whether theKHOSXVXQGHUVWDQGDOVRGHSHQGVRQKRw
looselZHKROGWKHVHSUHMXGJPHQWVDQGZKHWKHUZHDOORZWKHVLWXDWLRQVZe
face to challenge and reshape our strategies. When we’re face-to-face with
a box screwed shut, do we have the sense to set down the hammer and
scrounge around for a screwdriver instead?

The Ignorance of Ickle DudleNLQs
If Gadamer’s insight applies to our world, might it applLQ+DUU’ s as
well? DudleVHHVKLPVHOIDVWKHFHQWHURIWKHXQLYHUVHDQGLQWHUSUHWVKLs
world through his own bloated ego. This is due mainlWRWKHZD Petunia
and Vernon constantlGRWHRQKLP,QWKHLUHes, there is “no finer boy
anZKHUHWKDQWKHLUEDE angel.” 5 TheEXLOGXSDQGUHLQIRUFH'XGOH’ s
sense of self at Harr
s expense, favoring their son over HarrZLWKJLIWV,
clothes, and special treats. Aunt Mar ge likewise is eager to visit her “neff-
poo” DudleDQGWRVOLSKLPDWZHQW-pound note. How could anFKLOd
treated in this waIHHODQthing but special and privileged?
Furthermore, Dudle
s sense of self resists anVRUWRIUHWRROLQJRr
change. AnLQIRUPDWLRQWKDWFDQSRVVLEO challenge or modif'XGOH’ s
prejudgments is quicklSDSHUHGRYHURUJLYHQDQHZVSLQE his parents.
TheDUHDEOHWRILQGH[FXVHVIRUKLVEDGPDUNVLQVLVWLQJWKDW'XGOH is a
“verJLIWHGER” but misunderstood bKLVWHDFKHUVDQGWKH brush away
accusations of bullLQJZLWKWKHFRQWHQWLRQWKDWDOWKRXJK'XGOH is a
“boisterous little boKHZRXOGQ
t hurt a fly.” Even when DudleLs
forced to go on a diet, Aunt Petunia asserts that he is merelELJERQHGa
“growing boZKRVLPSO has not HWVKHGKLVSXSS fat.” 6 This
environment of flatterDQGLQGXOJHQFHVFXOSWV'XGOH’ s own intellectual
outlook bZKLFKKHXQGHUVWDQGVKLVZRUOGKLVSODFHLQLWDQGKLVFRXVLQ,
Harry. As Mark T wain said, denial ain’ t just a river in EgSW.
But Dudle
s close encounter with the cold terror of the dementors
seriouslVKDNHVKLPDQGIRUFHVKLPWRFRQIURQWKLPVHOILQDQHZZDy ,
requiring a radical readjustment of his previous sense of himself. As Harry
knows, the dementors cause DudleWRUHOLYHWKHZRUVWPRPHQWVRIKLVOLIH.
All of Dudle
s intellectual habits that were designed to reconfigure or push
awaWKHDZIXOWUXWKDUHVWULSSHGDZDy . For the first time, DudleVHHs
clearlZKRKHWUXO is—“spoiled, pampered, bullLQJ DQGEHJLQVWo
interpret his place in the world properly . 7 When Dumbledore later speaks of
“the appalling damage” that Petunia and V ernon have “inflicted upon [this]

unfortunate boy,” perhaps DudleLVILQDOO in a position to hear and accept
Dumbledore’s diagnosis, even if his parents are not. 8
Dudle
s obstinate prejudgments finallFKDQJHVRWKDWKHFDQUHFHLYe
and understand the truth. This new perspective on realitDQGKLVRZQSODFe
within it enables DudleILQDOO to recognize Harr
s courage and capacity
to help, and to feel gratitude for Harr
s rescuing him and perhaps even a
certain admiration, if not affection, for his magical familPHPEHr .

BetraHGE Biases
Dudle
s experience isn’ t unique but rather reflects the similar
experiences of J. K. Rowling’ s other characters. Harr
s temperament,
biases, and expectations shape his own intellectual habits. Just consider
Harr
s ongoing prejudice against Severus Snape, his initial fear that Sirius
Black is out to get him, his misplaced trust in the imposter Mad-Ee
Moody , his confidence in the veracitRIKLVRZQGUHDPVDQGKLVWUXVWLn
the Half-Blood Prince’ s potions book.
These habits, in turn, blind HarrWRWKHUHDOLW of the situations around
him. He can’t see where the real dangers lie, who trulPHDQVKLPKDUP,
and what’s actuallJRLQJRQ+H
s oblivious to his own liabilitWo
deception and the potential harm of the Sectumsempra spell. HarrRIWHn
comes at his world with the wrong sort of expectations and questions and,
as a result, doesn’t end up with the right sort of answers. Because it’ s
Harr
s perspective we readers experience, we, too, are likelWRLQWHUSUHt
the unfolding events through the wrong filter .
In similar waVRWKHUFKDUDFWHUVPLVMXGJHWKHVLWXDWLRQVDQGWKHSHRSOe
around them. Dumbledore’s RXWKIXOLQIDWXDWLRQZLWK*HOOHUW*ULQGHOZDOd
feeds his ill-conceived dreams about wizards ruling the world “for the
greater good.” 9 Merope Gaunt is attracted to the wealthT om Riddle and
desires to escape her miserable home life, leading her to think that Riddle
might trulIDOOLQORYHZLWKKHr, even if she has to assist the process with a
potion. In Deathl+DOORZs , Hermione Granger, Harry, and Ron W easley
find their own fears, suspicions, and biases magnified bWKHORFNHt
Horcrux. TheHQGXSPLVUHDGLQJRQHDQRWKHUXQWLO5RQILQDOO runs of f in a
fit of paranoia, jealousy, and hurt. Likewise, the MalfoV
OXVWIRUSXUHEORRd
power impels them to underestimate the depths of evil to which V oldemort
would sink.
In each case, prejudgments make the characters misread the truth until
the pain of banging up against realitIRUFHVWKHPWRUHWKLQN7KLVLVZKy
the truth is something to care about: false beliefs do not accuratelGHSLFt
the world and thus prove to be an unreliable map for navigating through it.

Dangerous Dreams
Let’s consider a specific example involving Harry . In Order of the
Phoenix , HarrLVXQGHUVWDQGDEO disturbed bKLVLQVLJKWLQWRV oldemort’s
thoughts. Such flashes of vision mostlKDSSHQZKHQ+DUU is asleep and
dreaming, when his mind is at its most “relaxed and vulnerable.” 10
Yet HarrUHPDLQVFRFN in his own sense of mission in opposing
Voldemort, wronglEHOLHYLQJWKDWKHXQLTXHO understands V oldermort’s
true nature and capacities. So HarrFRPHVWRWUXVWWKHWUXWKRIKLVGUHDPVDs
a transparent window and privileged perspective into V oldemort’s own
mind. Dumbledore, however , warns HarrWKDWLIKHFDQVHHLQWo
Voldemort’ s mind, then V oldemort can probablVHHLQWR+DUU’ s mind as
well. And if Voldemort becomes aware of his connection to Harry , he could
use his formidable powers of LegilimencWRPDQLSXODWHDQGGHFHLYH+DUUy .
Harry, confident in his own ideas, discounts Dumbledore’ s warnings.
Even when Dumbledore emphaticallZDUQV+DUU that he “must study
Occlumency,” HarrQHJOHFWVWRSUDFWLFHDQGTXLFNO falls preWRQHw
dreams. 11 Although Dumbledore himself sent HarrWR6QDSHIRUOHVVRQVLn
Occlumency , Harr
s suspicions against Snape lead him to resist the
training. HarrVXJJHVWVLQVWHDGWKDWWKHOHVVRQVDUHPDNLQJWKLQJVZRUVH.
When Hermione ur ges him to keep practicing OcclumencDQGWRZRUk
harder at it, HarrOLNHZLVHUHMHFWVKHUDGYLFHLQDILWRIIUXVWUDWLRQ+LVODWHr
conversation with Sirius Black suggests that HarrQHYHUUHDOO saw why
OcclumencZDVDWDOOLPSRUWDQW,W
s tempting, therefore, to think that
Snape’s accusation hits a bit too close to the truth: “Perhaps RXDFWXDOOy
enjoKDYLQJWKHVHYLVLRQVDQGGUHDPV3RWWHr . MaEHWKH make RXIHHl
special—important?” 12

The Cost of Overconfidence
In this case, the price of Harr
s prejudices is profound: the death of his
godfather, Sirius Black. During his HistorRI0DJLF2W .L., HarrGR]Hs
and sees Sirius being tortured bVoldemort in the Department of MVWHULHV.
His immediate reaction is to begin plotting some waRIJHWWLQJLQWRWKe
MinistrRI0DJLFWRUHVFXH6LULXV.
Hermione raises a series of reasonable objections. 13 Rather than doubt
his own certainty, however, HarrVQDSVEDFNDW+HUPLRQH+HHYHQWXUQs
Dumbledore’ s warnings on their heads in order to prop up his own beliefs,
interpreting the OcclumencOHVVRQVDVSURRIWKDWKLVGUHDPVPXVWEHUHDO.
Hermione finallSHUVXDGHV+DUU to check first whether Sirius is still at
Grimmauld Place before trLQJDUHVFXH8VLQJ3URIHVVRU8PEULGJH
s office
fireplace to connect to Sirius’ s home, HarrILQGVRQO the lugubrious and
unreliable house-elf Kreacher there. Kreacher is onlWRRKDSS to confirm
Harr
s belief that Sirius had left for the Department of MVWHULHV7KLVLs
all HarrQHHGVVRKHVLQJOHPLQGHGO undertakes the “rescue” that will
lead to Sirius’ s death.
What are we to make of this? W as Kreacher’s testimonHQRXJKRIa
fact-check to justif+DUU’ s rescue attempt? Or was HarrDJDLQOHGDVWUDy
bWKHEHQWRIKLVRZQLQWHOOHFWDQGHPRWLRQVQRZWZLVWHGLQWKHKDQGVRf
Voldemort’ s craftiness? The danger of not thinking clearlLVWKDW+DUUy
begins to see certain “evidence” as reliable that should instead be
considered suspicious. T oo often, HarrXQGHUHVWLPDWHVWKHPDQ waVKH
s
far less objective in assessing the evidence than he might like to think.
Nothing up to this point in the storZRXOGVXJJHVWWKDW.UHDFKHr ’s
testimonLVZRUWKWDNLQJVHULRXVOy . Kreacher’s behavior seems prettVKDGy
as HarrLQWHUYLHZVKLPKHDSSHDUVKLJKO delighted about something,”
with signs of recent injurWRKLVKDQGVFKXFNOLQJDQGFDFNOLQJDW+DUU’ s
interrogations. 14 Indeed, as Dumbledore later points out, he had warned
Sirius that his lack of concern and coldness toward Kreacher could have
dangerous consequences. Harry, moreover, is acting all bKLPVHOf in his

trust of Kreacher’s testimonEHFDXVHKHQHYHUERWKHUVWRVKDUHZLWKKLs
friends that the house-elf was his source.
W e shouldn’ t be too hard on Harry , however. He is still onlDILIWHHQ-
HDr-old kid and is acting with noble intentions. The dangers to which he
falls preUHPLQGXVRIWLPHVZKHQZHRXUVHOYHV EHFDXVHRIHLWKHUouth
or cockiness, laziness or impetuousness—have seen what we wanted to see,
thanks to blinders that blocked or skewed our picture of reality .

Memories Help Make Meaning
MemorSODs a crucial role in how our biases and intellectual habits
form, develop, and reshape. If we forget the past, individuallRUDVa
culture, we lose knowledge that has alreadEHHQJDLQHGDQGZHORVe
valuable tools bZKLFKRXUNQRZOHGJHPD grow . Thus, time can be the
enemRIXQGHUVWDQGLQJFORVLQJXVRff from the resources of the past that
are necessarIRUNQRZLQJWKHSUHVHQW:KDW
s alreadKDSSHQHGFDn
disappear and be lost forever, entirelIRrgotten, unless traces of the past
somehow persist into the present. W e can speak of these traces of the past
as “memories,” especiallDVWKH register in our experience and
consciousness.
In his classic autobiography, the Confessions , the philosopher St.
Augustine (354-430 A.D.) tried to explain the nature of time and time’ s
connection to memory. He noted that the past no longer exists and the
future hasn’t HWFRPHLQWRH[LVWHQFH+Rw , then, can the past staZLWKXV?
Moreover, the present, as the place where the past and the future meet, has
no duration of its own. What, then, is this ghostly , fleeting thing we call
“time”? 15 Augustine’s answer was that time is onlIXOO known in human
experience. Through us, the memorRIWKHSDVWFRPHVWRJHWKHUZLWh
anticipation of the future in our present awareness. How we experience
“now” is a function of how the past brings us to this moment with all of the
remembered patterns and habits we possess. These, in turn, help us
anticipate and move into the future.
We can connect Augustine’ s idea with a point from Gadamer . When it
comes to knowing and interpreting reality , prejudgments are a kind of
memorZHFDQ
t do without. Through our prejudgments, what has
happened in the past af fects how we approach the present and how we view
the future. When we realize that prejudgments function almost like
memory, we can see wh*DGDPHUFRQQHFWVWKHPZLWKWUDGLWLRQDZRUd
that comes to us in English from a Latin verb that means to “pass down”
from the past. 16

In our prejudgments, memorLVILUVWRIDOOSHUVRQDO2XUSHUVRQDOSDVt
experiences—how we’re raised and educated, what happens to us growing
up, which responses seem to work for us—mold who we become. The way
Hermione values books and education was no doubt shaped bKHUZHOO-
educated parents. The older WeasleWZLQV
VKHQDQLJDQVQRWWRPHQWLRn
Mr. W easle
s penchant for tinkering with Muggle artifacts, likelEROVWHr
Ron’s understanding that rules are easilEHQWDQGPHDQWWREHEURNHQ.
Memory , however , is also thoroughlVRFLDOLQQDWXUH,QWKHEURDGHVt
sense, memorLVQ
t onlWKHWUDFHVRISDVWHYHQWVDQGSHUVRQDOH[SHULHQFHs
that we carrDURXQGLQRXUKHDGV0HPRU also includes all of the traces of
the past handed down to us within our language and culture, our artifacts
and institutions. 17 These, too, mold the intellectual habits, assumptions, and
expectations we use to interpret our world and move forward in knowledge,
often in waVZH
UHQRWHYHQDZDUHRI. 18
In Rowling’s novels, it’s the Pensieve that sPEROL]HVWKHSRZHURf
memor ERWKLQGLYLGXDOO and sociall DQGLWVPXFKQHHGHGUROHLn
communicating and forming knowledge. In fact, when Dumbledore
explains the Pensieve, he describes its primarIXQFWLRQDVHSLVWHPRORJLFDO:
to preserve and or ganize knowledge. Dumbledore remarks that he
sometimes has “too manWKRXJKWVDQGPHPRULHVFUDPPHGLQWR>KLV]
mind.” With the Pensieve, a person simplVLSKRQVWKHH[FHVVWKRXJKWs
from one’ s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’ s
leisure.” Not onlDUHWKHWKRXJKWVDQGWKHH[SHULHQFHVSUHVHUYHGEXWLt
“becomes easier to spot patterns and links . . . when theDUHLQWKLVIRUP. 19
The Pensieve allows its users to step back and look more observantlDt
themselves in order to gain a fresh perspective.
The Pensieve isn’t onlIRUSHUVRQDOXVHKRZHYHr . It also makes
memorDYDLODEOHWRRWKHUVUHPLQGLQJXVWKDWPHPRU is at root a social
phenomenon. Through the Pensieve’ s magic, Dumbledore puts HarrLn
contact with past events he otherwise would never have known about. And
these events provide evidence and context that bump up against Harr
s
assumptions, provide insight into those around him, and help him to better
understand the threats and the opportunities he encounters.
Most of Harr
s experiences with the Pensieve occur under
Dumbledore’s direction and provide HarrZLWKLQIRUPDWLRQKHQHHGVWo
understand and vanquish V oldemort. Thus, HarrOHDUQVRIT om Riddle’s
childhood as an orphan, his RXWKIXOVDGLVPKLVSURPLVHDVDSXSLODQGKLs

self-loathing that led him to murder his Muggle familDQGWREX into
pureblood ideology. HarrDOVROHDUQVKRZ5LGGOHVRXJKWLPPRUWDOLWy , even
though it required terrible acts of evil to split his soul and preserve its
pieces through dark magic.
In addition, the Pensieve presents reconstructed memories, extracted
onlZLWKGLfficultIURP+RNH and Morfin Gaunt. HokeZDVWKHKRXVH-
elf who worked for Hepzibah Smith, from whom V oldemort obtained
SlWKHULQ
s locket and Huf flepuff’s cup. Morfin was Merope’ s brother, the
uncle of V oldemort, whom the RXQJ5LGGOHIUDPHGIRUWKHPXUGHURIKLs
Muggle father and grandparents. W ith each additional memory, HarrJDLQs
more insight into Voldemort’s historDQGFKDUDFWHr , his past and present
activities, and, most important, his vulnerabilities. Just as DudleQHHGHd
true beliefs to replace his false ones, HarrQHHGHGDIXOOHUSLFWXUHRI5LGGOe
and his history, as well as crucial details about Snape’ s life, to discover how
to defeat the Dark Lord.

Moving Past Misdirection
In each book of the series, Rowling allows Harr
s prejudgments and
those of the other characters to lead them to false interpretations of their
world. But when enough tension builds and enough evidence piles up, it
alters their prejudgments until the
UHIRUFHGWRILWUHDOLWy . Dumbledore’s
dreams of wizard supremacHYDSRUDWHZKHQKLVUHODWLRQVKLSZLWh
Grindelwald leads to his sister ’s death. Merope’ s desire for Tom Riddle’s
love dissolves into despair when she stops using the love potion and he
abandons her . Ron comes to his senses as soon as he’ s awaIURP+DUU and
Hermione and the influence of the Horcrux. Even the MalfoVEHJLQWRVHe
Voldemort for what he trulLVRQFHV oldemort’s own ambitions threaten the
life of their son, Draco.
Most of all, HarrWUDQVIRUPV:KHQZHILUVWPHHWKLPKH
s a naive and
hesitant kid, just entering the wizarding world, full of curiositDQd
questions. Although he’s open to learning, he’s sometimes led astraRr
beRQGKLVDELOLWLHVE his loDOW to friends, disregard for rules, and desire
for a sense of importance and belonging. Later , HarrJURZVLQWRDn
impetuous and headstrong teenager, often cockLQKLVRZQLQVLJKWVDQd
quick to dismiss both friends and authorities he should trust. Through
mistakes, tragedies, and struggles, HarrHYHQWXDOO matures into a
remarkablFRXUDJHRXVoung man, able to discern what’ s happening and
what must be done.
Right knowledge and good intellectual habits are necessarQRWRQO to
get the facts straight, but also to exercise virtues such as bravery , loDOWy,
and generosity . HarrFDQ
t be trulEUDYHDIWHUDOOXQOHVVKHXQGHUVWDQGs
the nature of the danger confronting him, what sort of confidence he must
marshal in the face of it, and whose future depends on his actions.
Likewise, true loDOW to Dumbledore isn’ t a matter of minimizing his real
faults or clinging to a false, idealized image of who Dumbledore is. Rather ,
it is to understand that despite Dumbledore’s known faults, his missteps,
and his failure to disclose keLQIRUPDWLRQKLVPRWLYHVDQGMXGJPHQWDUe
worthRIWUXVW$QGVRSHUVRQDOWUDQVIRUPDWLRQRIFKDUDFWHUGHSHQGVRn

moving past misjudgments, being open to correction, and cultivating a
growing sensitivitWRZKDWLVULJKWDQGWUXH,QWKLVZDy, epistemologLs
inseparable from ethics.
What HarrDQGKLVIULHQGVJRWKURXJKDVFKDUDFWHUVZHDOVRH[SHULHQFe
as readers, because Rowling invites us to see Harr
s world largelWKURXJh
his eHV$OWKRXJKZHPD sometimes see beRQG+DUU’ s limited horizon
before HarrKLPVHOIGRHV5RZOLQJXVHVQDUUDWLYHPLVGLUHFWLRQLQZDs that
reinforce our mistaken assumptions and guide us awaIURPFUXFLDl
questions. ManRI our prejudgments remain unchallenged, and we, too,
along with Harry, go through a process of discoverDQGUHLQWHUSUHWDWLRQRn
the waWRNQRZOHGJH$QGUHWXUQLQJWRZKHUHZHEHJDQLIDSHUVRQVXFh
as Dudle'XUVOH can come to appreciate Harry , there’s good hope for
even the most resistant and unsPSDWKHWLFRIUHDGHUV.
The genius of Rowling’ s work lies not onlLQLWVSRZHUIXOVWRUtelling,
but also in its power to change us as readers. If we allow Rowling’ s magic
to work on us, it will engage, challenge, and transform our intellectual
habits. As we follow HarrDQGWKHRWKHUFKDUDFWHUVZHGRQ
t merely
become better readers, we become better people.

NOTES
1 Chamber of Secrets , p. 5.
2 . Deathl+DOORZs , p. 42 .
3 Philosophers distinguish several tSHVRINQRZLQJ3HUVRQDO.
knowing is a matter of immediate acquaintance (knowing Luna Lovegood,
knowing the Leak&DXOGURQ 3URSRVLWLRQDONQRZLQJLVDPDWWHURf
knowing that such-and-such is the case, whether or not one is personally
acquainted with the relevant object (knowing that Huf flepuff’s cup is in
Gringotts, knowing that thestrals are visible onlWRWKRVHZKRKDYHVHHn
death). And “practical” or “procedural” knowing is a matter of how to do
something (knowing how to Apparate, knowing how to inflict the Cruciatus
Curse). Often, these various kinds of knowing intertwine. Here, we’ll focus
mostlRQDFWVRIVHOIXQGHUVWDQGLQJZKLFKWpicallLQYROYHERWKSHUVRQDl
knowing and knowledge that such-and-such is the case.
4 Hans-Geor g Gadamer, Truth and Method , 2nd rev . ed., translated b-.
Weinsheimer and D. G. Marshall (New Y ork: Crossroad, 1989), especially
pp. 265-379.
5 Sorcerer’s Stone , pp. 1, 21.
6 Goblet of Fir e , pp. 26-27.
7 Order of the Phoenix , p. 30.
8 Half-Blood Prince , p. 55.
9 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 357.
10 Order of the Phoenix , p. 531.
11 Ibid., pp. 622, 635.
12 Ibid., p. 591.
13 Hermione ar gues that HarrKDVQHYHUUHDOO been to the Department
of MVWHULHVDQGVRFDQ
t know for sure what it looks like; that this turn of
events is “just so unlikelWKDWWKHUHLVDEVROXWHO “no proof ” for anRf
Harr
s speculations; that V oldemort might be preLQJRQ+DUU’ s well-
known (though noble) tendencWRVDYHSHRSOHDQGDFWWKHKHUR.
14 Order of the Phoenix , p. 740.

15 The following points are drawn from or inspired b$XJXVWLQH,
Confessions , Book XI.
16 Concerning what Gadamer calls “tradition,” see Truth and Method ,
pp. 277-305.
17 W e depend on others for what language we speak, on books and
teachers for much of what we learn, on parents and grandparents for family
history , on mentors for their alreadDFTXLUHGZLVGRPDQGVNLOODQGRn
previous discoveries for the technological advances we make.
18 In addition to Augustine and Gadamer , we can also add here Michael
PolanL
s work in the epistemologRIWKHVFLHQFHVHVSHFLDOO his
discussions of tradition, apprenticeship, and tacit knowing in Personal
Knowledge (Chicago: UniversitRI&KLFDJR3UHVV .
19 Goblet of Fir e , p. 597.

13
JUST IN YOUR HEAD?
J. K. Rowling on Separating RealitIr om Illusion


John Granger with Gregor%DVVKDm



There are manZDs to unlock the hidden mVWHULHVRIWKH+DUU Potter
books, but in this chapter we’ll consider one keLQSDUWLFXODr . 1 It comes
right near the end of J. K. Rowling’s seven-part series, and Rowling herself
saVWKDWVKHZDLWHGVHYHQWHHQears” to use two lines in particular . So, if
there is a keWRILQGWKLVLVDJRRGSODFHWRORRNYes, that’s right,” she
said. “All this time I’ve worked to be able to write those two phrases;
writing HarrHQWHULQJWKHIRUHVWDQG+DUU having that dialog.” 2 So, what
are those two lines, and what is their philosophical significance?

Tell Me One Last Thing
After HarrVDFULILFHVKLPVHOIDQGDZDNHQVLQWKHOLPER.LQJ
s Cross,
in his last moments of conversation with Albus Dumbledore he asks,
“Tell me one last thing,” said Harry . “Is this real? Or has this been
happening inside mKHDG".
Dumbledore beamed at him, and his voice sounded loud and strong
in Harry ’s ears even though the bright mist was descending again,
obscuring his figure.
“Of course it is happening inside RXU head, Harry, but why on
earth should that mean that it is not real?” 3
Rowling’ s remarkable claim is that she’ s been writing the 4,100-plus-
page series to arrive at just this point, so that HarrFRXOGKHDUWKHVHWZo
phrases: “Of course it is happening inside RXUKHDGDQGZK on earth
should that mean that it is not real?” These lines are among the most
philosophicallLQWHUHVWLQJLQWKHHQWLUHVHULHVDVZHOOVRWKH provide the
ideal chance to explore both their significance to the storDQGWKHLUGHHSHr
import.

What Is Real?
Harr
s question is a profoundlSKLORVRSKLFDORQHTXHVWLRQVDERXt
what is real lie at the heart of the philosophical quest. The branch of
philosophFDOOHGPHWDSKsics asks just these questions. Do souls exist or
God or numbers? These are metaphVLFDOTXHVWLRQVIRUWKH deal with the
issue of what is ultimatelUHDO7KHJRDORIPHWDSKsics is to break free
from mere appearances and capture the reality , to replace opinions with
knowledge. MetaphVLFVDVNVZKDWLVUHDOZKHUHDVWKHEUDQFKRf
philosophFDOOHGHSLVWHPRORJ is about how we can come to know what is
real, so that we’re not confusing what is unreal or illusorZLWKZKDWLs
genuine reality.
It’s onlQDWXUDOWKDW+DUU should wonder how real his experience was,
for we all can be deceived bH[SHULHQFHVWKDWVHHPUHDOEXWDUHQ
t. All of
us are vulnerable to wishful thinking, biased perspectives, and other sorts of
flawed judgment that can mislead us into mistaking appearance for reality .
Perhaps this is whWKHIDPRXVDWKHLVW$-AHr, after having a vivid near -
death experience near the end of his life, remained unmoved afterward,
choosing to chalk it up as a hallucination, rather than as a genuine
experience of a transcendent reality . Harry, too, wonders whether his
experience is real or simplPDGHXS.
Long before Dumbledore and HarrH[SORUHGDGDUNDQGSDUWLFXODUOy
creepFDYHWRJHWKHr , Plato (428-348 B.C.E.) of fered an image of a cave
that has stood as an example of what philosophLVDOODERXW3ODWRDVNVXs
to picture men chained inside a cave all of their lives, able to see only
flickering images on the wall cast bDILUHEHKLQGWKHP8QGHUVWDQGDEOy ,
theWDNHWKRVHVKDGRZVWREHUHDOLWy, rather than imperfect reflections of
real things. But one daDPDQLVUHOHDVHGIURPKLVFKDLQVDQGPDNHVKLs
waRXWRIWKHFDYH$WILUVWKH
s blinded bWKHGD]]OLQJOLJKWEXt
eventuallKH
s able to see the world as it reallLV+HUHDOL]HVWKDWDOORIKLs
life, he’s been mistaking mere appearances for realities, wavering images
on a cave wall for the real world. W anting to share his wonderful revelation
with his fellows, the prisoner returns to the cave but is greeted with hostile

skepticism bWKHFDSWLYHV3ODWRZDVFRQYLQFHGWKDWRXUHQWLUHHDUWKOy
pilgrimage takes place in a world of appearances and that ultimate reality
comes later. The philosopher ’s job is to raise people’ s sights to these deeper
realities, helping people stop confusing shadows and appearances for
authentic reality.
Even before Plato, philosophers grappled with questions of what is real
and how we come to know reality . So, Harr
s question of what is real is at
root a philosophical query , and the distinction he raises between “real” and
“in the head” provides a useful starting point for our discussion.

Going Mental
We can easilGLVWLQJXLVKWKLQJVWKDWH[LVWRQO in our heads from things
that exist both in our heads and in the external world. Hermione Granger ,
for example, as a fictional character exists in our heads but not in realit;
likewise Sherlock Holmes, Santa Claus, unicorns, and centaurs. Emma
Watson, Oxford, and King’ s Cross Station, on the other hand, aren’ t mere
ideas in our minds but actual persons, places, and things that exist in reality .
Although we might have the idea of Oxford in our minds, Oxford itself has
an objective, independent realitWKDWSXUHO fictional ideas do not. So,
although the idea of a thing and the thing itself maERWKH[LVWWRVD of
something that it exists in the head often means “in the head alone” and so
not in external reality. Harr
s question isn’ t straightforwardlVLOO or
stupid, in other words. He was concerned that his dialogue with
Dumbledore had merelEHHQDGUHDPRUDKDOOXFLQDWLRQDVKDGRZ image
on the cave wall.
Dumbledore’s reply, then, is telling. He doesn’ t denWKDW+DUU’s
experience has been in his head, but he insists that this doesn’ t mean that it
isn’t real. Harr
s question, in other words, is based on a false choice: either
in the head or real. HarrKDVWDNHQWKHWZRRSWLRQVWREHH[KDXVWLYHDQd
mutuallH[FOXVLYH7KHWUXWKRIRQHPHDQVWKHIDOVHKRRGRIWKHRWKHr . But
Dumbledore assures him that theDUHQ
t inconsistent at all. Mental
experiences can also be “real.”
A number of philosophers through the centuries have had a similar
insight, which is what makes Dumbledore’ s claim so philosophically
fascinating. Let’s consider a few of these examples from the historRf
philosophy. Plato’s idea has alreadEHHQPHQWLRQHGVROHW
s start with him.
He was a rationalist, who thought all knowledge is rooted in reason, rather
than in sense perception. Wh"%HFDXVHUHDVRQSXWVXVLQWRXFKZLWKZKDt
Plato believed is ultimatelUHDOWKHIRUPV&RQVLGHUEURRPVWLFNV,n
Harr
s world we see various and sundrEURRPVWLFNVEXWZKDWPDNHs
them broomsticks at all, according to what Plato saVLVWKDWWKH resemble,
imperfectly , the ideal Platonic form or abstract essence of what a

broomstick is. Our senses onlSXWXVLQWRXFKZLWKLPSHUIHFWFRSLHVQRt
with the Platonic ideal. Reason is how we get in touch with what’s
ultimatelUHDO,I3ODWRZHUHWRKHDUDGLVJUXQWOHGSKLORVRSK student
complaining about having to leave class and go into the “real world,” he
might suggest that we’re never more in touch with the real world than when
we’re thinking philosophically.
Plato is not the onlWestern philosopher to claim that true realitFDn
be known onlWKURXJKUHDVRQ7KHJUHDW)UHQFKUDWLRQDOLVWSKLORVRSKHr
René Descartes (1596-1650) ar gued that the essences of both material
things and minds cannot be known bVHQVHH[SHULHQFHEXWRQO bUDWLRQDl
analVLV7KH*HUPDQSKLORVRSKHU,PPDQXHO.DQW  Dr gued that
phVLFDOREMHFWVVXFKDVURFNVFKDLUVDQGWUHHVDUHPHQWDOFRQVWUXFWVWKDt
result from the interaction of our shaping and categorizing minds with
external reality. “Absolute idealists” such as G. W . F. Hegel (1770-1831)
and neo-Hegelians such as F . H. Bradle  ZHQWHYHQIXUWKHr
than Kant in stressing the ultimacRIPLQGDQGVSLULWXDOYDOXHV.
Similar views are found in some strands of British empiricism. For
empiricists, sense experience, not reason, is the source of all human
knowledge. The British empiricist Geor ge Berkele  LVIDPRXs
for his “immaterialist” view that phVLFDOREMHFWVGRQ
t exist at all but are
merelLGHDVLQWKHPLQGVRI*RGDQGRWKHUSHUFHLYHUV%HUNHOH believed
that for external things like clouds and mountains, “to be is to be
perceived.” So, all of what we experience as external realitLVLQDVHQVH,
“in the head” but is no less real as a consequence. Two centuries later, the
British empiricist John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) defended a
“phenomenalist” account of human knowing, according to which all talk of
material realitFDQEHFDVKHGRXWDVWDONRIDFWXDORUSRVVLEOHVHQVRUy
experiences.
Such views are also found in a varietRI(DVWHUQSKLORVRSKLFDl
traditions, including some schools of Hinduism, Buddhism, and T aoism.
For example, Yogacara Buddhists believe that everWKLQJKXPDQs
experience as “real” is fabricated bFRQVFLRXVQHVVDQGWKXVLV suna ,
empty, and lacking in anGHILQLWHQDWXUHRUHVVHQFH.
Whether the mind creates reality , in whole or in part, or puts us in touch
with an alreadH[LVWLQJUHDOLW or corresponds in some sense with an
independent reality, philosophers from a broad spectrum of views would

agree with Dumbledore’s point that what’s real and what’s in the head aren’ t
necessarilDWRGGV.

Rowling as an Inkling
Now let’s explore a suggestive possibilitWKDW5RZOLQJPD have had in
mind when she wrote this exchange between HarrDQG'XPEOHGRUH,t
doesn’t presuppose that she was staking out well-defined territorDPRQg
the murkWKLFNHWVRIPHWDSKsics, but it does potentiallVKHGOLJKWRn
questions of what realitLVOLNHDQGKRZZHFDQFRPHWRNQRZLW.
This interpretation depends on taking seriousl5RZOLQJ
s claim that she
was heavilLQIOXHQFHGE C. S. Lewis and his fellow Inklings, such as J. R.
R. Tolkien. The Inklings were a group of Oxford dons and their friends who
met regularlWRGLVFXVVRQHDQRWKHr ’s writings and other matters, often at
the Eagle and Child, an Oxford pub. Among the Inklings were Owen
Barfield, T olkien, Charles W illiams, Lewis’s brother Warnie, and other
well-known Oxford figures.
Rowling has spoken of her debt to Lewis in particular , attributing her
decision to write seven books to Lewis’s seven-part Chronicles of Narnia ,
which she loved as a child. T o be sure, the Potter books are quite dif ferent
from the Narnia books; nowhere is Rowling nearlVRREYLRXVLQSURPRWLQg
a particular religious message. To the extent that she does, I have ar gued
that it’s through sPERODQGIRUPLPSOLFLWPRUHWKDQH[SOLFLWDQGQRWDWDOl
heavKDQGHG6WLOOVKHKDVDGPLWWHGWKDWZKDWKHOSHGLQVSLUHWKHVWRULHs
was her personal struggle to hold onto faith, and she claims to be a
Christian whose religious convictions, if known, would have made much of
the storOLQHSUHGLFWDEOH6RLWZRXOGQ
t be surprising to find indicators of
such influences within the stories.
What could account for the fit between the content of our minds and the
real world? WhDUHRXUEHVWSKLORVRSKLFDOLQVLJKWVZLQGRZVLQWRUHDOLW?
How is it that reason is so successful in putting us in touch with the truth?
For an intriguing possibility, consider this quote from Lewis, in which
he laid out a big lesson he learned from his friend Barfield. Lewis said that
Barfield
convinced me that the [materialistic] positions we had hitherto held
left no room for an satisfactor theor of knowledge. We had been, in

the technical sense of the term, “realists”; that is, we accepted as rock-
bottom realit the universe revealed b the senses. But at the same
time we continued to make, for certain phenomena of conscio usness,
all the claims that reall went with a theistic or idealistic view. W e
maintained that abstract thought (if obedient to logical rules) gave
indisputable truth, that our moral judgment was “valid,” and our
aesthetic experience not merel pleasing but “valuable”. . . . Barfield
convinced me that it was inconsistent. If thought were a purely
subjective event, these claims for it would have to be abandoned.... I
was therefore compelled to give up realism.... I must admit that mind
was no late-come epiphenomenon; that the whole universe was, in the
last resort, mental; that our logic was participation in a cosmic Logos. 4
Some readers might recognize here the germ of the ar gument Lewis
would later develop in his 1947 book, Miracles , his so-called argument
from reason. 5 It was on this verWRSLFWKDW/HZLVKDGKLVIDPRXVGHEDWe
with the philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe (1919-2001), a debate that
required Lewis to amend the chapter . 6 Alvin Plantinga, a leading Christian
philosopher, has recentlRf fered an argument from reason against
naturalism that owes much to Lewis. 7 The basic idea of the ar gument is that
for us to retain confidence in the deliverances of reason, we must be
warranted in thinking that rationalitLVPRUHWKDQPHUHO subjective.
Rather, rationalitPXVWVRPHKRZEHDEOHWRSXWXVLQWRXFKZLWKH[WHUQDl
reality. If the reasons we hold various views are merelEHFDXVHWKRVe
convictions were formed through a naturalistic process according to the
laws of nature, there’ s not necessarilDQ good basis for taking our
conclusions as reliablWUXH.
It’s not mDLPWRDVVHVVWKLVDr gument here but to mention it as a line of
reasoning that might have influenced Rowling. It might provide some
insight into the overlap between realitDQGZKDW
s in our head. Note the
waWKDW/HZLVWKRXJKWRIUHDOLW as “mental” and our logic as participation
in a larger structure of rationalitZLWKLQWKHXQLYHUVH$VD&KULVWLDQKe
was inclined to cash this out as participation in the divine logos, bZKLFKa
Christian means Christ himself. Jesus, as depicted in John 1:1, is the
incarnation of the divine logos, the word from which we derive our word
logic .
Some earl*UHHNSKLORVRSKHUVFRQFHLYHGRIORJRVDVWKHLPSHUVRQDl
animating principle that upholds reality . Later, Greek and Roman Stoic

philosophers saw logos as the divine reason that pervades and
providentiallJXLGHVWKHFRVPRV:KHQ-RKQWKHHYDQJHOLVWFDPHDORQJDQd
announced that Jesus was the incarnation of the logos, he was espousing
something radical. His point, expressed in language that would have been
understood in that context, was that there is indeed a divine logos, bZKLFh
realitWDNHVLWVVKDSHDQGLVKHOGLQH[LVWHQFH%XWWKHORJRVLVQRPHUe
animating principle or impersonal force but a person, God the son.
According to this view, human reason and logic, our capacitWRHQJDJHLn
critical reflection and rational thought, are possible and reliable because
through the right use of our minds, we are participating in the divine logos.
As Rowling has remarked in an interview , it wasn’t a coincidence that
Harr
s fateful encounter with Dumbledore was at “King’ s Cross.”
Lewis’s point about the divine logos raises another suggestive
possibilitIRUPDNLQJVHQVHRI'XPEOHGRUH
s connection between what’s
real and what’s in the head. The suggestion is about both metaphVLFVDQd
epistemology. How our minds work inexplicablVHHPVLQWLPDWHO related
to the waWKHZRUOGLVLIZH
UHJRLQJWRDYRLGYDULRXVVNHSWLFDl
hSRWKHVHVVRPHWKLQJKDVWRDFFRXQWIRUWKHFRQVSLFXRXVRYHUODSEHWZHHn
external realitDQGWKHIXQFWLRQLQJRIKXPDQUDWLRQDOLWy . As so often
happens with philosophy, what at first seems an obvious connection LHOGs
on reflection a picture that maLOOXVWUDWHVRPHRIOLIH
s bigger mVWHULHV.

Harr
s Near-Death Experience
Dumbledore’ s remark that things can be real even if theRFFXURQO in
one’s head happens as part of Harr
s near-death experience in King’ s
Cross. Nowhere is the difference between “what’s real” and “what’s in the
head” posed more starklWKDQLQQHDr -death experiences. It’s worth
exploring such experiences as an additional clue to Rowling’ s meaning. 8
The current interest in near-death experiences (NDEs) began with the
publication, in 1975, of RaPRQG0RRG’ s best-selling book Life after
Life .9 In that book, MoodGRFXPHQWHGWKHH[SHULHQFHVRIPRUHWKDQa
hundred people who had been declared clinicallGHDGRUKDGFRPHFORVHWo
death and had then been revived.
Since Mood
s book appeared, an enormous amount of research has
been done on NDEs. For the most part, this research has supported Mood
s
findings. Studies have found that NDEs are relativelFRPPRQ DERXWWo
20 percent of people who survive cardiac arrest report lucid, structured
NDEs); that theWHQGWREHEDVLFDOO similar in people of all ages,
backgrounds, and cultures; and that theRIWHQKDYHPDQ of the
characteristic features MoodGHVFULEHV. 10 Based on the studies to date,
researchers have identified the following core features of NDEs:
1. Feelings of peace and serenity
2. A buzzing or ringing noise
3. Separation from the body
4. An experience of moving rapidlGRZQDGDUNWXQQHl
5. Meeting and being welcomed b others (usuall departed
friends or famil)
6. Encountering a welcoming and loving “being of light”
7. An instantaneous life review
8. A barrier or a border marking a separation of earthl existence
from “the other side”
9. Reluctance to come back to one’ s body
Studies have shown that these elements tend to occur in this order , and
that the first few features occur more commonlWKDQWKHRWKHUV. 11

Are near-death experiences “real” in the sense of being genuinely
paranormal glimpses of a postmortem world? Skeptics point to two major
problems with this interpretation.
First, as the leading NDE researcher Susan Blackmore notes, NDEs are
bQRPHDQVDOZDs the same. Some people have terrifLQJKHOOOLNe
experiences. 12 OnlDVPDOOSHUFHQWDJHRI1'(HUVUHSRUWVHHLQJDOLJKW,
meeting others, or experiencing a panoramic life review . Some NDEers
report having a graLVKWUDQVSDUHQWDVWUDOERGy, while others do not.
Children often report being met bOLYLQJSODmates (or even animals),
rather than bGHFHDVHGUHODWLYHVRUD%HLQJRI/LJKW$QGSHRSOHRf
different religious backgrounds often report meeting religious figures or
receiving messages that are unique to their own religious traditions. 13
Second, even if NDEs are often consistent in basic details, this doesn’ t
mean the experiences are genuinelSDUDQRUPDO$V%ODFNPRUHDrgues, it
might onlPHDQWKDWZHKDYHVLPLODUEUDLQVWKDWUHDFWLQVLPLODUZDs to
the phVLFDODQGSVchological stresses of dLQJ)RULQVWDQFHVKHQRWHV,
lack of oxJHQWRWKHEUDLQFDQSURGXFHPDQ of the same effects as NDEs,
including loud ringing or buzzing noises, sensations of floating, out-of-body
experiences, and bright lights.
Do such objections demonstrate conclusivelWKDW1'(VDUHQRWUHDO?
No, as Rowling’s tale of Harr
s near-death experience in King’ s Cross
shows verZHOO. 14
Suppose a child has an NDE in which her pet dog, Sparky , greets and
welcomes her to “the other side.” SparkLVVWLOOOLYLQJVRWKHFKLOGPXVt
simplEHKDOOXFLQDWLQJULJKW"1RWQHFHVVDULOy. For the experience might be
“real” in the sense of being a genuine divinelFUHDWHGYLVLRQRIWKHRWKHr
side.” The vision could be “true” (real) in the sense of being an authentic
supernatural revelation (not unlike Paul’s vision on the road to Damascus).
In other words, in asking whether an NDE is real, we aren’ t necessarily
asking whether it is a genuine out-of-bodH[SHULHQFHRIDQRWKHUZRUOG$n
NDE can be real (i.e., genuinelVXSHUQDWXUDODQGUHYHODWRU) even if it takes
place entirelLQVLGHWKHKHDGRIWKHSHUVRQKDYLQJWKHH[SHULHQFH.
It is this ambiguitRIWKHWHUP real that Dumbledore is plaLQJRQZKHn
he tells HarrWKDWDQH[SHULHQFHLVQ
t necessarilXQUHDOMXVWEHFDXVHLW
s
happening inside one’s head. Elsewhere, I have defended an iconographic
reading of the Potter books that sees HarrDVDVmbol of the “noetic” or
spiritual facultRIWKHVRXO. 15 In this reading, the waVWDWLRQ.LQJ
s Cross

is a real “place,” namely, logos-land or heaven. (Hence, for example,
Harr
s abilitWRFUHDWHREMHFWVWKHUHDQGKLVDSSDUHQWVHPLRPQLVFLHQFH)
Yet in asking whether Harr
s experience is real or not, the crucial question
isn’t wher e Dumbledore and HarrDUHPHHWLQJEXWZKHWKHULW
s really
Dumbledore who is speaking to Harry . 16 After all, in the wizarding world,
wizards can “channel” themselves through their portraits, “imprint” their
former selves in ghostlIRUPSRVVHVVRWKHUPLQGVDQGSUREHRWKHr
wizards’ thoughts through Legilimency . So, whVKRXOGQ
t Dumbledore
reallEHSUHVHQWWR+DUU’ s mind even if Harry, felled bVoldemort’s
killing curse, hasn’ t left his bodEXWLVVWLOOOing semiconscious on the
forest floor? 17
The American poet-philosopher Ralph W aldo Emerson once said, “Our
faith comes in moments.... Yet there is a depth in those moments which
constrains us to ascribe more realitWRWKHPWKDQWRDOORWKHr
experiences.” 18 In the same way, perhaps, Rowling is saLQJ'RQ
t be
dismissive of hints and glimpses of the divine just because theRFFXULn
RXUKHDG,IORYHUHDOO is the most powerful force in the universe, as
Rowling thinks, where else would it speak to us, if not in our heads?

NOTES
1 See John Granger’s most recent books on Harr Harr3RWWHr ’s
Bookshelf: The Gr eat Books behind the Hogwarts Adventur e (New York:
Penguin Books, 2009); How Harr&DVW+LV6SHOO7KH0HDQLQJEHKLQGWKe
Mania for J. K. Rowling’ s Bestselling Books , 3rd ed. (Carol Stream, IL:
TQGDOH  The Deathl+DOORZV/HFWXr es: The Hogwarts Professor
Explains the Final Harr3RWWHU$GYHQWXr e (Allentown, PA: Zossima Press,
2008); and Unlocking Harr3RWWHU)LYH.Hs for the Serious Reader
(WaQHP A: Zossima Press, 2007).
2 J. K. Rowling interview with Pais, Februar,
www.snitchseeker .com/harrSRWWHr -news/entire-spanish-j-k-rowling-
interview-54113/ .
3 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 723.
4 C. S. Lewis, Surprised b-R: The Shape of M(DUO Life (New
York: Harcourt Brace, 1955), pp. 208-209.
5 C. S. Lewis, Miracles (London: Fontana Books, 1960), chap. 3.
6 In recent HDUVV ictor Reppert has ar gued forcefullIRUa
philosophicallVRSKLVWLFDWHGIRUPXODWLRQRI/HZLV
s argument. See his C.
S. Lewis’ s Danger ous Idea: In Defense of the Ar gument from Reason
(Downers Grove, IL: InterV arsit3UHVV .
7 Alvin Plantinga, Warrant and Pr oper Function (Oxford: Oxford
Universit3UHVV FKDS.
8 Some of the language in the following few paragraphs is adapted from
Gregor%DVVKDPW illiam Irwin, Henr1DUGRQHDQG-DPHV0W allace,
Critical Thinking: A Student’s Introduction , 2nd ed. (New Y ork: McGraw-
Hill, 2005).
9 RaPRQG$0RRGy , Life after Life (New York: Bantam Books,
1975).
10 “Scientists to Stud :KLWH/LJKW
1HDr -Death Experiences,” Fox
News, September 15, 2008,
www.foxnews.com/storKWPl .

11 Susan Blackmore, DLQJWR/LYH1HDr -Death Experiences (Buffalo:
NY: Prometheus Press, 1993), pp. 25-26.
12 Ibid., pp. 98-102. An editorial in the British medical journal the
Lancet reported that “of male survivors of cardiac arrest, 80 percent had
dreams of violence, death, and aggression, such as being run over ba
wheelchair , violent accidents, and shooting their waRXWRIWKHKRVSLWDl
onlWREHNLOOHGE a nurse.” Quoted in James Rachels and Stuart Rachels,
Problems fr om Philosophy , 2nd ed. (New Y ork: McGraw-Hill, 2009), p. 46.
13 Blackmore, DLQJWR/LYe , pp. 17, 25-27, 126, 181.
14 In describing Harr
s encounter with Dumbledore in the waVWDWLRn
King’s Cross as a “near -death experience,” I don’ t mean to implWKDW+DUUy
has died and is experiencing a “life after life.” As Dumbledore makes clear ,
HarrLVQRWGHDGEXWFRXOGFKRRVHWRGLHLIKHZLVKHV.
15 See The Deathl+DOORZV/HFWXres , especiallFKDSWHU7KH6HHLQg
EHIRUDIXOOHUH[SOLFDWLRQRIP views here. Harr
s “traveling” to the
Kingdom of Heaven within his head after his sacrificial death explains
Dumbledore’s parting words. HarrKDVDVNHGZKHWKHUZKDWKHKDs
experienced is real in strictlHPSLULFDOWHUPVWKDWLVLVWKLVSODFHDSODFe
of objective measure and quantities or is it a place of onlVXEMHFWLYHDQd
personal perception not grounded in such quantities?” Dumbledore’ s
response, “Of course it is happening inside RXUKHDG+DUUy, but whRn
earth should that mean that it is not real?” explodes the false dilemma of
empirical epistemologE linking, rather than separating, “the real” and “in
RXUKHDG7KLVORJRVFUHDWLYHSULQFLSOHLVWKHSRZHUEHond the reach of
anPDJLFLQFKLOGUHQ
s tales about which Dumbledore saVV oldemort
knows and understands nothing. Nothing.”
Dumbledore’s answer to HarrUHTXLUHVDQHSLVWHPRORJLFDODQd
metaphVLFDOFRQMXQFWLRQLQWKHGLYLQHZRUGRUORJRV5RZOLQJDVZLWKWKe
other sPEROLVWZULWHUVRI(QJOLVKWUDGLWLRQRf fers this conjunction in story
form to give her readers an imaginative experience of this realitWKDWLs
“bigger inside than outside.” The tradition points, too, as Queen LucVDs
at the end of Lewis’s The Last Battle , to the incarnate logos that as a
newborn made a stable hold “something inside it that was bigger than the
whole world.” Separating realitIURPLOOXVLRQLQDZRUOGVLPXOWDQHRXVOy
logos-created and logos-known, the “whole universe being mental,” is only
possible in Christ.

16 In The Great Divor ce , C. S. Lewis imagines a kind of heavenlDQWH-
chamber that he calls the V alleRIWKH6KDGRZRI/LIH6LJQLILFDQWOy ,
characters in Lewis’s storH[SHULHQFHYDULRXVSODFHVLQWKHDIWHUOLIHTXLWe
differently , dependent on the state of their souls. Since hell is, as one
character in the book remarks, “a state of mind,” preciselWKHVDPe
ambiguitRIUHDOYHUVXVLQWKHKHDGRFFXUVLQ/HZLV
s tale as in
Deathl+DOORZs . It’s possible that Rowling’ s King’s Cross scene is
modeled in part on Lewis’ s description of the afterlife in The Great
Divorce .
17 In a recent interview , Rowling notes that “it is Harr
s image we see
[in the King’s Cross scene], not necessarilZKDWLVUHDOO there.” “W ebchat
with J. K. Rowling,” JulDYDLODEOHDt
www.bloomsbury .com/harrSRWWHUGHIDXOWDVS["VHF 3 .
18 Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Over -Soul,” in The Complete Essas
and Other Writings of Ralph W aldo Emerson (New York: Modern Library ,
1950), p. 261.

14
A PENSIEVE FOR YOUR THOUGHTS?
Harr3RWWHUDQGWKH0DJLFRI0HPRUy


Am.LQd



I som etimes find, and I am sure RX know the feeling, that I simpl have too man thoughts
and memories crammed into mPLQG.
—Albus Dumbledor e 1

Of all of the magical instruments available in the wizarding world, the
Pensieve is one of the most intriguing. As important as the Deluminator was
for Ron WeasleDQGWKH6ZRUGRI*Uf findor was for Harry, I’d have been
hoping for the Pensieve had Dumbledore singled me out when writing his
last will and testament.
Although it’s not much to look at—just a shallow basin covered with
runes and sPEROV WKH3HQVLHYHDOORZVou to of fload RXUPHPRULHs
from RXUPLQGDVHDVLO as RXRffload data from RXUKDUGGULYH,WPXVt
be wonderfullOLEHUDWLQJWREHDEOHWROLWHUDOO get something of f RXr
mind, at least for a time—to keep from obsessing over what RXVKRXOd

have said or done, to stop endlesslUHSODing a moment of embarrassment,
or simplWRJDLQVRPHGLVWDQFHIURPDSDUWLFXODUO disturbing experience.
And it must be wonderfullLOOXPLQDWLQJWREHDEOHWRUHYLHZour own
memories from an external perspective at RXUOHLVXUHLQWKHFOHDUOLJKWRIa
new day. As Dumbledore explains to Harry , when RXUHYLHZWKRXJKWVDQd
memories in the Pensieve, it becomes easier to spot the patterns and links
among them.
Yet it’ s not onlWKH3HQVLHYH
s potential for improving peace and clarity
of mind that makes it so special. Even folks like Muggles and Squibs who
don’t have magical powers can achieve something similar through
meditation or medication. Rather , the real intrigue of the Pensieve lies in its
philosophical implications for the boundaries of mind, memory , and the
self. We tSLFDOO view an individual’ s memorDVDIXQGDPHQWDOSDUWRIKHr
own identity, and philosophers have even attempted to understand a
person’s continuing existence through time in terms of memorDQGPLQG.
But our understanding of what—and where—the mind is gets called into
question if thoughts can be easilH[WUDFWHGIURPLWWDPSHUHGZLWKVWRUHd
elsewhere, and even discarded. And whose mind is it, once thoughts are
shared with someone else?

“A Swirling, Silver0DVV.
The powers of mind and memorDUHPsterious enough even without
the magical possibilities opened up bWKHZL]DUGLQJZRUOG:KLOH,ZDs
watching the movie In Bruges recently, it drove me crazWKDWQRPDWWHr
how hard I tried, I couldn’ t remember whWKHDFWRUSODing the main
character, Ken, looked so familiar to me. Much later , the answer finally
popped into mKHDG,WZDV%UHQGDQ*OHHVRQWKHVDPHDFWRUZKRSODs
Alastor “Mad-EH0RRG in the Harr3RWWHUILOPV2IWHQLW
s when we
stop thinking about something that we finallILJXUHLWRXW:K can we
remember all sorts of useless information, while the things that we want to
remember slip through the cracks, no matter how hard we trWRUHFDOl
them? WhGRHVPHPRU work in such quirkZDs?
Science has solved manRIWKHPsteries of memory, but it’s staggering
how much we still don’ t understand. In fact, we don’ t reallXQGHUVWDQGWKe
mind itself—either what it is or how it’ s related to the brain. Severus Snape
is right on target when he tells HarrWKDWWKHPLQGLVDFRPSOH[DQGPDQ-
laHUHGWKLQJ3RWWHURUDWOHDVWPRVWPLQGVDUH. 2
Philosophers who studWKHPLQGKDYHORQJEHHQGLYLGHGLQWRWZo
camps. The materialists, in the tradition of the British philosopher Thomas
Hobbes (1588-1679), believe that everWKLQJWKDWH[LVWVPXVWEHDSKsical
thing, made of matter and existing in space. Certain inhabitants of the
wizarding world, such as Nearl+HDGOHVV1LFNDQGRWKHUJKRVWVPLJKt
seem to pose a problem for materialism. But the materialist can accept the
existence of ghosts as long as the
UHPDGHRIPDWWHU SHUKDSVQRWVROLd
matter, but some kind of matter nonetheless. 3 Likewise for the mind.
Materialists tSLFDOO claim that the mind is a material thing and that there is
no distinction between the mind and the brain. Some of the descriptions in
the Harr3RWWHUERRNVSRLQWLQWKHGLUHFWLRQRIPDWHULDOLVP&RQVLGHr , for
example, the descriptions of thoughts clinging to wands like strands of hair
and leaking out of dLQJZL]DUGVOLNHRR]LQJEORRG.
Dualists, in the tradition of the great French philosopher René Descartes
(1596-1650), believe that in addition to material substances, there are also

immaterial substances—things that have no spatial extension or location.
According to the dualist view, the brain, which is made of matter , falls into
the first category, whereas the mind, which isn’ t made of matter, falls into
the second. The common idea that the mind could, theoreticallDWOHDVW,
exist without the body , presupposes this dualist view . HarrFRQVLGHUVWKLs
possibilitZKHQKHILQGVKLPVHOILQZKDWVHHPVOLNH.LQJ
s Cross Station
after Voldemort tries to kill him in the Forbidden Forest. Although he
ultimatelFRQFOXGHVWKDWKHPXVWVWLOOKDYHKLVERG “because he was lLQJ,
definitelOing, on some surface,” he initiallWKLQNVWKDWKHPLJKWH[LVt
onlDVGLVHPERGLHGWKRXJKW. 4 The dualist recognizes that there are close
connections between the brain and the mind; Descartes himself claimed that
“I am not merelSUHVHQWLQP bodDVDVDLORULVSUHVHQWLQDVKLS,Dm
verFORVHO joined and, as it were, intermingled with it, so that I and the
bodIRUPDXQLW. 5 But this intermingling of mind and bodGRHVQ
t change
the fact that for the dualist, the
UHIXQGDPHQWDOO dif ferent kinds of things.
ManRIXVKDYHFRQIOLFWLQJLQWXLWLRQVWKDWSXOOXVVRPHWLPHVWRZDUd
dualism, sometimes toward materialism. On the one hand, it’ s hard to
understand what it would mean for something to be completelLPPDWHULDO.
On the other hand, thoughts do seem to be more ephemeral and intangible
than other material objects such as tables and chairs. J. K. Rowling herself
seems caught up in this same tension; her description of Harr
s impression
of the contents of the Pensieve when he first comes across it in
Dumbledore’s office provides a beautifullFRPSHOOLQJH[SUHVVLRQRIWKe
push and pull between these two views of the mind and the desire to find
some middle ground between them: “It was a bright, whitish silver , and it
was moving ceaselesslWKHVXUIDFHRILWEHFDPHUXffled like water beneath
wind, and then, like clouds, separated and swirled smoothly . It looked like
light made liquid—or like wind made solid—HarrFRXOGQ
t make up his
mind.” 6

The Hallows of the Mind
Whether we’re dualists or materialists, however, there’s a strong
inclination to think of a mind as self-contained. Someone might transcribe
her innermost secrets in a journal or a blog, but assuming that she’ s not
engaged in dark magic, these transcriptions serve simplDVUHFRUGVRIKHr
memories. That’s what makes Tom Riddle’s diarVRXQXVXDOHYHQLQWKe
wizarding world. As Dumbledore saVWR+DUUy ,
“Well, although I did not see the Riddle who came out of the diary,
what RX described to me was a phenomenon I had never witnessed. A
mere memor starting to act and think for itself? A mere memory ,
sapping the life out of the girl into whose hands it had fallen? No,
something much more sinister had lived inside that book . . . a
fragment of soul, I was almost sure of it. The diar had been a
Horcrux.” 7
We leave Post-it notes scattered around the house to help us remember
things, and we keDOOVRUWVRILPSRUWDQWLQIRUPDWLRQLQWRRXU%ODFN%HUUs.
But no matter how dependent someone is on a PDA, the device is still a
memor aid , not a memor repository . W e don’ t consider our diaries and
iPhone contact lists to be similar to the Pensieve.
Recently , however , some philosophers have questioned this traditional
waRIORRNLQJDWWKHOLPLWVRIWKHPLQG,QWKHLUDUWLFOH7KH([WHQGHd
Mind,” And&ODUNDQG'DYLG&KDOPHUVUHMHFWWKHFODLPWKDWWKHPLQGLs
framed bWKHERXQGDULHVRIVNXOODQGVNLQ. 8 Although their article was
written more than a decade ago in the pre-BlackBerrDJHRIWKH)LORID[,
even then it was easWRILQGLQWHUHVWLQJFDVHVRIFRJQLWLYHUHOLDQFHRn
external objects. Most of us can do long division onlZLWKWKHDLGRISHn
and paper, and when plaLQJ6FUDEEOHZHGRIDUEHWWHUDWFRPLQJXSZLWh
seven-letter words bSKsicallUHVKXf fling the letter tiles in our traV. 9
Although it’s natural to see these external objects as plaLQJWKHUROHRf
“environmental supports,” Clark and Chalmers suggest that theRIWHn
function in more than simplDVXSSRUWLQJUROH2IWHQRXUXVHRIH[WHUQDl
objects can be seen not onlDVDNLQGRIDFWLRQEXWDVDSDUWRI thought .10

Clark and Chalmers propose the radical view that our mental lives need
not be solelLQWHUQDO5DWKHr, the mind extends into the world. W e already
accept that the bodFDQH[WHQGEHond its natural limits. For example, it’ s
not at all farfetched to suppose that a prosthetic leg becomes part of an
amputee’s body, not merelDQDUWLILFLDODFFHVVRU to it. More
controversially , consider a wizard who has a particularlVWURQJUHODWLRQVKLp
with his wand, as HarrGRHVWRKLVHOHYHQLQFKZDQGPDGHRIKROO with a
phoenix feather core. HarrLVVRLQVnc with his wand that he might view
it literallDVDQH[WHQVLRQRIKLVRZQERGy . 11 W e might even see Rita
Skeeter ’s relationship with her Quick-Quotes Quill the same way . And
certainly, Mood
s magic eHDQG3HWHU3HWWLJUHZ
s silver hand have
become parts of their bodies. Similarly , an external object might become a
mental prosthesis, extending the mind beRQGLWVQDWXUDOOLPLWV.
Rowling’s description of thoughts in the wizarding world makes the
idea of an extended mind even more plausible. 12 The gossamer strands of
memorEHORQJLQJWR6QDSHPLJKWEHLQVLGHKLVVNXOOOHDNLQJRXWIURPKLs
body, bottled up in a phial, or stored in the Pensieve. But wherever theDUH,
these memories are Snape’ s, just as the memories in Riddle’ s diarDUe
Voldemort’ s. Their phVLFDOORFDWLRQLVLQFLGHQWDOWRWKHLURZQHUVKLS.
But what about in the nonwizarding world? T o make their case for the
extended mind idea, Clark and Chalmers give the example of Otto, an
individual suffering from Alzheimer ’s. Otto relies on a notebook to help
him remember things. He writes down anQHZLQIRUPDWLRQWKDWKHOHDUQV,
and when he needs to recall something, he consults his notebook. This
notebook is alwaVDWKDQGDQGKH
s able to retrieve the information inside
it immediatelDQGHfficiently. According to Clark and Chalmers, Otto’ s
notebook serves the same purpose as a biological memory . We call things
up from memory , while Otto calls things up from his notebook; we keep our
beliefs in our minds, while Otto keeps his on paper .

Confundus!
At first, the extended-mind theorPD sound like something from a
Quibbler storKDWFKHGE Xenophilius Lovegood. (If it were described to
Ron, I can easilLPDJLQHKLPVDing—no pun intended—“That’s mental.”)
But it begins to make sense when we distinguish between what
philosophers call occurrent and nonoccurr ent beliefs. At anJLYHQWLPHWKe
overwhelming majoritRIDSHUVRQ
s beliefs are not consciouslDYDLODEOH.
Ron believes that Ireland won its match against Bulgaria at the 422nd
Quidditch World Cup, but, presumably , that belief isn’t at the forefront of
his mind—it’s not occurrent—while he and Hermione are racing to the
Chamber of Secrets to retrieve the remaining Basilisk fang during the Battle
of Hogwarts. At that point, all of his occurrent beliefs most likelFRQFHUn
the great danger of his present situation: the fastest path to Moaning
MUWOH
s bathroom and how he’ s going to manage to sa2SHQLn
Parseltongue, a language he doesn’ t speak.
Similarly, because the information in Otto’ s notebook isn’t in the
forefront of his mind, it doesn’ t seem at all analogous to our occurrent
beliefs. Rather, it functions like our nonoccurrent beliefs. Consider Rita
Skeeter’s nonoccurrent belief that Bathilda Bagshot lives in Godric’ s
Hollow, which is stored somewhere in her memory , waiting to be accessed.
When Rita decides to interview Bathilda in order to gather material for The
Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore , she must pause to think for a moment
to recall where Bathilda lives. It’s onlWKHQWKDWWKHEHOLHIEHFRPHs
occurrent. Likewise, suppose that Otto has his old friend Bathilda’ s address
written in his notebook. When he decides to visit her, he has to take a
moment to look up in his notebook where she lives. His belief is stored
somewhere inside the notebook, waiting to be accessed. Just as it would be
sillWRGHQ that even before she consults her memory , Rita has the belief
that Bathilda lives in Godric’s Hollow, we should accept that Otto has the
same belief even before he consults his notebook.
Clark and Chalmers don’ t go so far as to claim that everH[WHUQDl
support we relRQEHFRPHVSDUWRIWKHPLQGUDWKHr , theVHHVRPHWKLQg

special in Otto’s connection to his notebook. It’ s not the same as Harr
s
reliance on the marginal notes of the Half-Blood Prince in the Potions
textbook he borrows from Horace Slughorn or Neville Longbottom’ s
dependence on a handwritten list to help him remember the frequently
changing passwords when Sir Cadogan substitutes for the Fat LadLn
guarding the entrance to the Grffindor common room. Harr
s use of the
textbook and Neville’s use of the list both occur onlVSRUDGLFDOOy , and
Neville even ends up losing his list. Otto’s connection to his notebook is not
even like Hermione Granger’s reliance on Hogwarts, A History . Although
Hermione consults the book regularlDQGHYHQHQGVXSEULQJLQJLWDORQJRn
the search for V oldemort’s Horcruxes because she wouldn’ t feel right if she
didn’t have it with her , the information in the book seems more like a
supplement to the information in her mind, rather than an extension of her
mind. 13
What makes Otto’ s notebook different from these and other ordinary
cases is the waLW
s integrated into his dailIXQFWLRQLQJ(YHQWKRXJKWKe
information kept in the notebook is external to his body , he alwaVKDVKLs
notebook with him, and he alwaVFRQVXOWVLWZKHQWUing to recall
information. When using his notebook, he immediatelDFFHSWVWKe
information within it. 14 There are no deep respects in which the information
in the notebook is different from the information in our memories, except
for the fact that it’s stored outside the boundaries of Otto’ s skull and skin.
According to Clark and Chalmers, that one dif ference alone isn’t enough to
keep the information in Otto’ s notebook from being part of his mind.

Mischief Managed
Suppose, for the sake of argument, that we accept the extended mind
idea. Now consider Fred and Geor ge Weasle
s connection to the
Marauder ’s Map theVWROHIURP$r gus Filch’s office in their first HDUDt
Hogwarts. Until theODWHUEHTXHDWKLWWR+DUUy , theUHO on it so heavilLn
their escapades that it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to see their relationship
to it as analogous to Otto’s relationship to his notebook. The problem,
however, is that there are two of them. If the map becomes not onlSDUWRf
Fred’s extended mind but also part of Geor ge’s extended mind, then the
twins share even more in common than we’d realized. Their minds actually
overlap.
This suggests one of the potentiallGLVWXUELQJUDPLILFDWLRQVRIWKe
extended mind idea. 15 Once we accept that the mind extends beRQGWKe
boundaries of skin and skull, we open up the possibilitWKDWLWH[WHQGVLQWo
someone else’ s mind. When this overlap occurs, we don’ t need to be skilled
at LegilimencWRKDYHWKHDELOLW to extract thoughts from another person’ s
mind; those thoughts maDOUHDG be part of our own.
A related worrLVWKHSRWHQWLDOWKUHDWWKDWDQH[WHQGHGPLQGSRVHVWo
one’s sense of self. Compared to the ordeals that Harr3RWWHUKDVWRHQGXUe
and the greatness he achieves in spite of them, both the trials and the
triumphs experienced bPRVWZLWFKHVDQGZL]DUGV DQGFHUWDLQO most
Muggles and Squibs) seem trivial. But just as Harr
s experiences make
him the person he is, the personal experiences that each of us under goes
make us who we are. ManSKLORVRSKHUVHQGRUVHVRPHYHUVLRQRIWKe
memorWKHRUy of personal identity, which dates back at least to the British
philosopher John Locke (1632-1704). According to this theory , our
continuing identitRYHUWLPHFRQVLVWVLQWKHFRQWLQXLW of memory . 16 It’s the
chains of memorFRQQHFWLQJWKHPWKDWPDNHVWKHDGXOW+DUU who watches
his children board the Hogwarts Express the same person as the teenager
who faces V oldemort in the Forbidden Forest and the same person as the
orphaned infant taken in bWKH'XUVOHs. According to the memorWKHRUy ,
our memories are at the verIRXQGDWLRQVRIRXULGHQWLWLHV,IWKHVHVDPe

memories can be shared with someone else and can even become part of
someone else, then how do we know who we reallDUH?
At various times during his Hogwarts career, HarrVKDUHVWKHPHPRULHs
of several other individuals, including three of his professors (Dumbledore,
Snape, and Slughorn). And indeed, in almost everLQVWDQFHKHLVJUHDWOy
affected bKLVIRUDs into the Pensieve. T ortured bWKHORRNKHJRWYLa
Snape’s memorRIKLVRZQIDWKHr ’s arrogant and unappealing behavior
while at Hogwarts, HarrUHHYDOXDWHVQRWRQO his sense of his father but
also his sense of himself: “For nearlILYHears the thought of his father
had been a source of comfort, of inspiration. Whenever someone had told
him he was like James, he had glowed with pride inside. And now . . . now
he felt cold and miserable at the thought of him.” 17 When he learns, again
from Snape’ s memory, that a part of V oldemort’s soul lives within himself,
he’s forced to reshape his sense of his place in the world: “Finally , the truth
. . . HarrXQGHUVWRRGDWODVWWKDWKHZDVQRWVXSSRVHGWRVXUYLYH. 18 In each
of these cases, Harr
s use of the Pensieve leads to a sort of identitFULVLV.
But now think about what else can happen in the wizarding world.
PhVLFDODSSHDUDQFHFDQEHUHSOLFDWHGYLD3ROjuice Potion. Memories can
be almost completelHUDVHGE a flick of the wand and an incantation of
“Obliviate!” False memories can also be implanted. Each of these magical
possibilities poses a great threat to the integritRIDQLQGLYLGXDO
s identit&
much greater, in fact, than the threat of memorVKDULQJYLD3HQVLHYH.
When Bart&URXFK-r . imprisons MoodLQDWUXQNDQGXVHV3ROjuice
Potion to impersonate him, he’ s reallHQJDJHGLQLGHQWLW theft. Gilderoy
Lockhart steals countless identities via memorFKDUPVEHIRUHEHFRPLQg
his own victim through his use of a malfunctioning wand. Hermione has
much purer motives when she tampers with her parents’ memories, making
them believe that the
UHWendell and Monica Wilkins, a childless couple
fulfilling their lifelong dream of moving to Australia. But her good
intentions don’t change the fact that her actions deprive the Grangers of
their identities.
Clearly, Harr
s experiences with the Pensieve don’ t fall into this same
category. What makes his previous experiences with the Pensieve so
difficult is the content of the memories he’ s shared, not the memorVKDULQg
itself. Seeing Snape’s worst memorLVDQXQSOHDVDQWH[SHULHQFHIRU+DUUy
because of the painful facts it reveals, not because it somehow causes his
identitWRPHrge with that of the Potions Master . Had Snape been a good

storWHOOHUDQGKDG+DUU been able to trust him, the same awful knowledge
that HarrJDLQVIURPWKH3HQVLHYHFRXOGWKHRUHWLFDOO have been gained
from an oral recounting. Using the Pensieve is more effective, because it
allows HarrWRVHHWKHSDVWHYHQWVIRUKLPVHOIDQGLVPRUHREMHFWLYH,
because Snape’s own testimonZRXOGSUREDEO be tinged with sneering
subjectivity. But in principle, anNQRZOHGJHFRQYHed via the Pensieve
could be conveHGDQRWKHUZDy .

Lumos!
There are several different sorts of memories. Some are know-how
memories , memories of skill, as when an aging wizard who hasn’ t used a
broomstick since his Quidditch daVUHPHPEHUVKRZWRULGHLW6RPHDUe
factual memories , as when Hermione can report the properties of the
Mandrake during Herbology. Distinct from both of these are experiential
memories , memories from the first-person point of view , as when Harry
remembers the searing pain caused b'RORUHV8PEULGJH
s quill as it carved
words into his right hand.
The memories that Otto keeps in his notebook are factual memories.
When memorWKHRULVWVLQYRNHPHPRU in explanations of personal
identity, however , the
UHLQWHUHVWHGLQILUVWSHUVRQH[SHULHQWLDOPHPRULHV.
It is important to note that memories reviewed in a Pensieve are not of this
sort. The Pensieve replaVPHPRULHVIURPWKHWKLUGSHUVRQSHUVSHFWLYH. 19
When Dumbledore thinks about the trial and sentencing of Bellatrix
Lestrange, his memorLVSUHVXPDEO from the personal perspective that he
had on it at the time, from his seat on the highest bench in the gallerRf
spectators. But when he reviews the memorLQWKH3HQVLHYHWKHPHPRUy
no longer has this—or an SDUWLFXODUSRLQWRIYLHw . In fact, given what we
know about the Pensieve, the memorWKDW'XPEOHGRUHVKDUHVZLWK+DUUy
should alreadEHVKDUHGE all of the spectators at Lestrange’ s trial.
These facts about the Pensieve are crucial for understanding whLWVXVe
poses no threat to our individual identities. What’s important for personal
identitDUHRXUILUVWSHUVRQPHPRULHV-XVWDVXVLQJDT ime-Turner to revisit
past events doesn’ t jeopardize who RXDUHQHLWKHUGRHVVKDULQJPHPRULHs
via a Pensieve. 20 And just as sharing an experience with someone else
doesn’t threaten RXUVHQVHRIVHOIVKDULQJRQHRIour memories in a
Pensieve with someone else shouldn’ t either.
This also sheds light, more broadly , on whZHQHHGQ
t be threatened by
the thesis of the extended mind. The mind is indeed mVWHULRXVDQGWKHUH
s
much about it we don’t know. But one thing that we can be sure of is that
whether RXUWKRXJKWVDUHNHSWLQD3HQVLHYHLQDPLQGRULQour

notebook, those thoughts are still RXURZQ7KH3HQVLHYHLVDWUXO magical
device, and if I ever see one come up for auction on eBay, I’ll bid on it
without hesitation or limit. Still, however magical it is, it can’ t make Ru
someone RX
UHQRW.

NOTES
1 Goblet of Fire , p. 597.
2 Order of the Phoenix , p. 530.
3 Since ghosts in Harr
s world are described as “pearlZKLWHDQd
slightlWUDQVSDUHQWWKLVVHHPVDSUHWW plausible claim about them; see
Sorcerer’s Stone , p. 1 15.
4 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 705.
5 René Descartes, Meditations on First PhilosophZLWK6HOHFWLRQVIr om
the Objections and Replies , translated b-RKQ&RWWLQJKDP &DPEULGJH,
UK: Cambridge Universit3UHVV S.
6 Goblet of Fire , p. 583.
7 Half-Blood Prince , p. 500.
8 And&ODUNDQG'DYLG&KDOPHUV7KH([WHQGHG0LQG AnalVLs 58
(1998): 7-19. Clark’ s later work, Natural-Born CERr gs: Minds,
Technologies, and the Futur e of Human Intelligence (Oxford: Oxford
Universit3UHVV FRYHUVPDQ of the same ideas in an especially
accessible and engaging way .
9 Clark and Chalmers, “The Extended Mind,” p. 8.
10 Ibid., p. 10.
11 Dumbledore supports this waRIORRNLQJDWWKHUHODWLRQVKLSEHWZHHn
wand and wizard when he explains his theorRIZKDWKDSSHQHGWKHQLJKt
that HarrDQGV oldemort fought in the graveDUGRI/LWWOH+DQJOHWRQI
believe that RXUZDQGLPELEHGVRPHRIWKHSRZHUDQGTXDOLWLHVRf
Voldemort’ s wand that night, which is to saWKDWLWFRQWDLQHGDOLWWOHRf
Voldemort himself,” Deathl+DOORZs , p. 71 1.
12 Moreover , the creation of Horcruxes would allow not onlIRUDn
extended mind but also for an extended soul.
13 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 96.
14 Clark and Chalmers, “The Extended Mind,” p. 17. See also Clark,
Natural-Born CERr gs , pp. 5-6.
15 For other objections to the extended-mind thesis, see, for example,
Brie Gertler, “The Overextended Mind,” in Brie Gertler and Lawrence

Shapiro, eds., Arguing about the Mind (New Y ork: Routledge, 2007); also
Fred Adams and Kenneth Aizawa, “The Bounds of Cognition,”
Philosophical PsFKRORJy 14 (2001): 43-64. Clark surveVPDQ of the
most common criticisms and attempts to address them in Supersizing the
Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension (New York: Oxford
Universit3UHVV .
16 For Locke’ s development of the memorWKHRUy , see his Essay
Concerning Human Understanding , edited b3HWHU1LGGLWFK 2[IRUG:
Clarendon Press, 1975), Book III, chap. XXVII, sec. 9. A more recent
development of the view can be found in Derek Parfit, Reasons and
Persons (Oxford: Oxford Universit3UHVV .
17 Order of the Phoenix , pp. 653-654.
18 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 691.
19 This was confirmed b-.5RZOLQJLQDLQWHUYLHZZLWKWKe
fansites Mugglenet and the Leak&DXOGURQ DYDLODEOHDt
www .mugglenet.com/jkrinterview .shtml ). When asked whether the
memories stored in a Pensieve are truthful reflections of realitRUPHUHOy
interpretations of it from the rememberer ’s subjective perspective, Rowling
was adamant that the
UHDFFXUDWHUHSUHVHQWDWLRQVIURPWKHWKLUGSHUVRn
perspective. According to Rowling, part of the magic of the Pensieve is that
RXFDQJREDFNDQGH[DPLQHour memories in it and discover all sorts of
details that RXKDGQ
t noticed at the time:
Otherwise it reall would just be like a diary , wouldn’ t it?
Confined to what RX remember . But the Pensieve recreates a moment
for RX so RX could go into RXU own memor and relive things that
RX didn’ t notice at the time. It’s somewhere in RXU head, which I’m
sure it is, in all of our brains. I’m sure if RXFRXOGDFFHVVLWWKLQJVWKDt
RXGRQ
t know RXUHPHPEHUDUHDOOLQWKHUHVRPHZKHUH.
20 I don’t mean here to denWKDWWKHUHDUHDOOVRUWVRISDUDGR[HVSRVHd
bWLPHWUDYHOLQFOXGLQJSDUDGR[HVRILGHQWLWy . But those paradoxes are
tSLFDOO caused bDFWLRQVDWLPHWUDYHOHUPLJKWWDNHRUSUHYHQWZKHQKe
travels to the past—he might kill his own grandfather , for example,
preventing himself from being born (or, as Professor McGonagall warns
Hermione, he might kill his own past or future self bPLVWDNH 1RWKLQg
seems paradoxical, in and of itself, about a time-traveler being able to view
past events that would otherwise have been inaccessible to him.

15
A HOGW ARTS EDUCA TION
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


Gregor%DVVKDm



What kid wouldn’ t love to go to Hogwarts? Boarding school in a really
cool castle; tons of adventures; great camaraderie and a sense of belonging;
wonderful all-RXFDQHDWPHDOV URDVWEHHIURDVWFKLFNHQSRUNFKRSVDQd
lamb chops, sausages, bacon and steak, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes,
fries, Yorkshire pudding”). 1 And best of all, no boring math, French, or
science classes. PrettPXFKDOOou learn is—how to do magic! Y ou learn
how to fly, to travel instantlIURPSRLQWWRSRLQWWRFRQMXUHWKLQJVRXWRf
thin air, to transfigure objects into whatever RXZDQWWKHPWREHWRPDNe
potions that cure diseases or bring good luck, to defend RXUVHOIDJDLQVt
dark wizards, creepGHPHQWRUVDQGREQR[LRXVJLWVOLNH'UDFR0DOIRy .
Heck, Hogwarts is like a camp for future superheroes! From a kid’s point of
view, what could be cooler?

What seems cool to a kid, though, maQRWVHHPVRVZLIWWRDQDGXOW&
or to a philosopher. What would great educational thinkers—philosophers
such as Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and John Dewe VD about teaching and
learning at Hogwarts? Is Hogwarts a “model school,” as Susan Engel, the
director of the Program in T eaching at Williams College, has claimed? 2 Or
are there real problems with Hogwarts academics that need to be addressed?
Here we’ll look at the pros and cons of a Hogwarts education through the
lenses of both classic philosophers of education and contemporary
educational research.

The Good
The philosopher John Dewe  ZDVWKHPRVWLQIOXHQWLDl
thinker in American education. EarlLQWKHWZHQWLHWKFHQWXUy, Dewey
criticized traditional education for its stress on passive listening, rote
memorization, undemocratic values, and disconnect with practical, real-life
concerns. In opposition to traditional education, DeweDGYRFDWHGa
“progressive” approach to teaching and learning that emphasized three
features that have now been widelDGRSWHGLQ$PHULFDQHGXFDWLRQKDQGV-
on learning, building on the natural interests of children, and connecting
schoolwork to everGD life. 3 One of the clear strengths of education at
Hogwarts is that it reflects these three progressivist ideals.

Han ds-O n L ea rn in g
As we’ve seen, kids don’ t come to Hogwarts to learn calculus or
Spanish or world historWKH come to learn how to do magic. And bWKLs
DUGVWLFN+RJZDUWVLVFOHDUO a successful school; most of its students do
learn loads of useful potions and spells, pass their O.W .L.s. and N.E.W.T.s,
and graduate as capable magicians. How do the students learn so
effectivel"1RWWKURXJKOLVWHQLQJWR3URIHVVRU%LQQV
s boring lectures on
the historRIPDJLFRUE reading Professor Umbridge’ s purelWKHRUHWLFDl
textbook assignments. Instead, theOHDUQWRGRPDJLFLQDQDSSUHQWLFHOLNe
waWKDWWpicallLQYROYHV  GHPRQVWUDWLRQRIDPDJLFDOWHFKQLTXHE a
skilled teacher, (2) practice of the technique bWKHVWXGHQWV )
individualized coaching bWKHLQVWUXFWRUWRFRUUHFWIDXOWVDQG  FRQWLQXHd
practice bWKHVWXGHQWVXQWLOWKHWHFKQLTXHLVPDVWHUHG1HDUO all of the
examples of ef fective pedagogLQWKH3RWWHUERRNV IRULQVWDQFH5HPXs
Lupin’s teaching HarrKRZWRFRQMXUHD3DWURQXVRU+DUU’ s teaching of
defensive magic to Dumbeldore’s Arm LQYROYHWKLVNLQGRIKDQGVRn
learning bGRLQJ*LYHQWKDWPDJLFLVSRUWUDed in the Potter series as a
hard-to-acquire skill that can be mastered onlWKURXJKFRDFKLQJDQd
practice, this kind of teaching makes perfect sense.

Build in g o n t h e N atu ra l I n te re sts o f C hild re n
DeweEHOLHYHGWKDWFKLOGUHQDUHQDWXUDOO active and curious, and he
ur ged educators to use kids’ natural interests and real-life experiences as
hooks to encourage learning. Research has shown that students are more
engaged and learn more when theVWXG things theILQGLQWHUHVWLQJDQd
relevant. 4
Hogwarts students are clearlHDJHUWROHDUQPDJLF7KH love having
magical abilities and enjoGHYHORSLQJWKRVHDELOLWLHVDQGOHDUQLQJQHw
spells and skills. Moreover , theFOHDUO understand the practical value of
what the
UHOHDUQLQJ:KHQ8PEULGJHZRQ
t allow her Defense Against
the Dark Arts students to practice defensive magic, the pupils or ganize their
own class to practice on their own. TheNQRZWKDWOHDUQLQJWRGRGHIHQVLYe
magic is vital to their success on school exams, in their lives and careers
after Hogwarts, and to their efforts as part of Dumbledore’s ArmWRWKZDUt
Voldemort’ s return to power .

Con nectin g S ch oolw ork t o E ver y d ay L if e
T oo often, DeweEHOLHYHGFODVVZRUNLVVHHQDVDSUHSDUDWLRQIRUVRPe
remote and speculative future, rather than as part of life itself. Learning the
names of Urugua
s three largest rivers might be useful to some pupils (for
example, if theSODQWRRSHQDWXJERDWEXVLQHVVWKHUHVRPHGD). But for
most students, this information will be what the philosopher Alfred North
Whitehead (1861-1947) called “inert” knowledge—lumps of undigested,
untested, unused information. 5 DeweEHOLHYHGWKDWHGXFDWLRQKDVa
practical function and should not be seen as a series of pointless hurdles to
jump over before “real life” begins. Education isn’ t a preamble to life; it’s
part of life, and it exists to solve practical human problems and meet human
needs.
Some of what students learn at Hogwarts is prettLQHUW)RUH[DPSOH,
HarrDQGKLVIULHQGVFDQ
t see much point in Rubeus Hagrid’ s lessons on
raising uglDQGGDQJHURXV%ODVW(QGHG6NUHZWVRU3URIHVVRUT relawne
s
bogus crVWDOEDOOJD]LQJ%XWJHQHUDOOy , students can recognize right away
the practical paRff of what the
UHOHDUQLQJ7KH realize that when they
leave Hogwarts, theZLOOQHHGWRNQRZKRZWR$SSDUDWHDQG'LVDSSDUDWH,
to transfigure objects, to defend themselves against dark wizards, and so
forth. This makes them eager students and motivates them to learn.

The B ad
What’ s not to love about Hogwarts? As we’ve seen, the three real
strengths of a Hogwarts education are that it encourages hands-on learning,
builds on the natural interests of students, and teaches important, real-life
skills. There are other features of Hogwarts academics, however , that are
not so attractive. Three major negatives are:
• The school is too dangerous.
• There are too few qualified teachers.
• Students don’t get a well-rounded education.
Let’s look at these points, one bRQH.

Too D an gero u s
Let’ s face it, Hogwarts is a prettKD]DUGRXVSODFHWRJRWRVFKRRO,W
s
located next to a magical forest, where unwarRUUHFNOHVVVWXGHQWVPD get
eaten bJLDQWVSLGHUVRUVHWXSRQE hostile centaurs. There’s an ice-cold
lake next to the castle full of treacherous water demons (grindORZV DQGa
giant squid. All kinds of lethal creatures (three-headed dogs, trolls,
basilisks) maRQRFFDVLRQEHIRXQGLQWKHVFKRRO7KHUH
s a mischievous
resident poltergeist, Peeves, who’ s constantlWUing to trip students up or
drop heavREMHFWVRQWRWKHLUKHDGV6WDLUFDVHVFRQWDLQYDQLVKLQJVWHSVWKDt
students need to remember to jump over . Unmindful students wandering
near the Forbidden Forest maEHSRXQGHGWRDSXOSE the Whomping
Willow . Students sometimes work with dangerous magical creatures
(Professor Kettleburn retires at the end of Harr
s second HDULQRUGHUWo
spend more time with his remaining limbs”). 6 Potions often go awrDQd
injure or disfigure students. The most popular game at Hogwarts,
Quidditch, can easilUHVXOWLQVHULRXVLQMXULHVWRSODers. The T riwizard
Tournament involves three high-risk challenges. And even the RXQJHVt
students carrSRWHQWLDOO lethal weapons (wands) that theUHJXODUO use to
hex and jinx one another .
True, manLQMXULHVWKDWVWXGHQWVVXf fer at Hogwarts can be healed
quicklE Severus Snape’s potions or Madame Pomfre
s skilled nursing
care. But not all injuries can be cured (or cured quickl E magical means,
and as Albus Dumbledore saVQRPDJLFFDQUHDZDNHQWKHGHDG. 7
Granted, the Potter books are onlILFWLRQDQGDOORIWKLVGDQJHUDQd
violence makes for exciting stories. 8 But RXFDQEHWWKDWLI+RJZDUWVUHDOOy
existed, the WTA (Wizard T eacher Association) would be up in arms!

Unqualif ie d T ea ch ers
Hogwarts teachers are a mixed bag. There are good teachers who are
competent, caring, and fair . These include Albus Dumbledore, Minerva
McGonagall, Filius Flitwick, Pomona Sprout, and Remus Lupin. 9 Other
teachers are fairlGHFHQWEXWKDYHVLJQLILFDQWVKRUWFRPLQJV7KHVHLQFOXGe
Hagrid, who is knowledgeable and engaging but can’ t resist exposing his
students to dangerous creatures; Mood&URXFKZKRWHDFKHVKLVVWXGHQWs
“loads,” but, unfortunatel DV'HDQ7KRPDVQRWHV WXUQVRXWWREHa
disguised homicidal “maniac”; and Snape, who certainlNQRZVKLVVWXf f
but is bullLQJVDUFDVWLFDQGEODWDQWO biased in favor of SlWKHULn
students. 10
There are also downright crummWHDFKHUVDW+RJZDUWV7KHIRXUZRUVt
(if RXGRQ
t count the Death Eaters who brieflMRLQWKHIDFXOW in Deathly
Hallows ) are Binns, SELOOT relawney, Gildero/RFNKDUWDQG'RORUHs
Umbridge. Binns, a ghost who apparentlGRHVQ
t know that he’s dead,
regularlSXWVKLV+LVWRU of Magic students to sleep with his droning
lectures, doesn’ t know the names of his pupils, and is barelDZDUHWKDt
there are actuallDQ students in his classes. T relawneLVDQROGIUDXG.
who teaches a “woollVXEMHFW 'LYLQDWLRQ DQGHQMRs predicting her
students’ earlDQGJUXHVRPHGHDWKV. 11 Lockhart is a narcissistic and
inef fectual blowhard. And Umbridge, of course, is a twisted, power -hungry
racial supremacist who tries to undermine anHffective education at the
school.
Dumbledore has great difficulties hiring qualified facultDW+RJZDUWV.
Mostly, this isn’ t his fault. After Professor Quirrell’ s shocking demise,
we’re told that no one would take the job of Defense Against the Dark Arts
teacher except the hapless Lockhart. Y et the larger problem, as Arthur E.
Levine notes, is that the wizarding world has no teacher education programs
or certification requirements. 12 Apparently , anERG can teach at Hogwarts,
including those with little or no formal magical education, such as Firenze
or Hagrid. W ithout effective teacher training and credentialing procedures,
teacher qualitDWWKHZL]DUGLQJVFKRROLVERXQGWREHVNHWFK and even
pose risks to students.

No W ell- R ou nded E duca tio n
If HarrDQGKLVIULHQGVZHUHDWWHQGLQJD0XJJOH%ULWLVKERDUGLQg
school, theZRXOGKDYHFODVVHVLQVXEMHFWVVXFKDV(QJOLVKKLVWRUy ,
science, geography, music, mathematics, foreign languages, phVLFDl
education, citizenship, and religious education. At Hogwarts, the onlWKLQg
students learn is how to do magic. 13
WhLVWKLVDSUREOHP"%HFDXVH+RJZDUWVRf fers a narrow and
vocationallRULHQWHGHGXFDWLRQ. 14 It provides its students with the tools of
power but not the wisdom to use them.
As the noted philosopher of education Mortimer Adler (1902-2001)
remarked, a good secondarVFKRROVKRXOGSUHSDUHLWVVWXGHQWVWRGRWKUHe
things: “to earn a living in an intelligent and responsible fashion, to function
as intelligent and responsible citizens, and to make both of these things
serve the purpose of leading intelligent and responsible lives—to enjoDs
fullDVSRVVLEOHDOOWKHJRRGVWKDWPDNHDKXPDQOLIHDVJRRGDVLWFDn
be.” 15 Hogwarts is devoted almost exclusivelWRWKHILUVWRIWKHVHWKUHe
goals—vocational training. It teaches its students how to make a living in
the wizarding world but not how to live. 16
What is the aim of education? Great educational thinkers have defended
various views. For Plato, the first great philosopher of education in W estern
civilization, the purpose of education is to achieve wisdom, goodness, and a
just and well-ordered society. 17 For Plato’s pupil Aristotle, education should
promote human fulfillment ( eudaimonia ), which he defined as a life filled
with intrinsicallH[FHOOHQWDFWLYLWLHV HVSHFLDOO purelLQWHOOHFWXDl
activities). 18 John Locke (1632-1704) claimed that “virtue and wisdom” are
“the great business” of education. 19 Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)
advocated a “natural,” child-centered education aimed at producing happy ,
virtuous citizens uncorrupted bWKHKpocrisies and false values of
civilization. 20 Immanuel Kant believed that character development—
becoming a good moral person who wills the right things for the right
reasons—is the primarDLPRIHGXFDWLRQ 21 Even John Dewey, who, as
we’ve seen, criticized traditional education for its disconnect with real-

world concerns, argued that the ultimate aim of education is simplPRUe
education,” or “growth” in one’ s capacitIRUHQULFKLQJH[SHULHQFHV 22
An educated person should be able to write and speak well, think
critically, and be well-grounded in the sciences and the humanities that
form the foundation of a liberal education. The goal of a liberal education is
not to help students “get a good job” but to impart the knowledge, skills,
and dispositions needed to fulfill one’ s human potential; to understand and
appreciate the supreme productions of human thought and art; and to live a
rich, full, and vibrant life. A good secondarVFKRROVKRXOGOD the
foundation for such a liberal education. Above all, as Adler noted, it should
seek to impart to its students both “the skills of learning and the wish to
learn, so that in adult life theZLOOZDQWWRJRRQOHDUQLQJDQGZLOOKDYHWKe
skills to use in the process.” 23
Because there are no universities in the wizarding world, it is critical
that secondarZL]DUGLQJVFKRROVVXFKDV+RJZDUWVHQFRXUDJHDQGHTXLp
their students to become lifelong learners. 24 Yet Hogwarts clearlIDLOVLn
this regard. At Hogwarts, HarrDQGKLVIULHQGVDUHWDXJKWKRZWRSHUIRUm
spells and brew potions. TheDUHQRWWDXJKWWRORYHUHDGLQJRULGHDVWo
think scientifically , to appreciate art and literature, or to reflect in an
informed and disciplined waDERXWWKHSUREOHPVRIVRFLHW and the human
condition.
Of course, not all education at a residential school like Hogwarts takes
place in the classroom, and HarrDQGKLVIULHQGVOHDUQPDQ important life
lessons outside formal class settings. In fact, Harr
s most important teacher
and role model at Hogwarts is clearl'XPEOHGRUHDOWKRXJKKHLVQ
t one of
Harr
s regular instructors. For Harry , Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger ,
Neville Longbottom, GinnW easley, Luna Lovegood, and their circle,
Hogwarts does prove to be a kind of “school of virtue” of the sort that
ancient philosophers praised. In assessing the value of a Hogwarts
education, it’ s important to keep in mind what is learned both inside and
outside the classroom. MSRLQWLVVLPSO that Hogwarts’ formal
curriculum is too narrow and vocational. Remember that most Hogwarts
students have relativelOLWWOHFRQWDFWZLWK'XPEOHGRUHGXULQJWKHLUears at
the school. HarrPD pick up priceless nuggets of wisdom in
Dumbledore’ s office, but for most Hogwarts students, it’ s what theOHDUQ&
or fail to learn—in the classroom that makes the greatest dif ference in their
lives.

Some might argue that people with magical powers don’ t reallQHHGa
well-rounded, liberal education—that theFDQILQGKDSSLQHVVDQGDFKLHYe
their life goals without one. Besides, thePLJKWVDy , anVHULRXVPLVXVHRf
magic will likelEHGHWHFWHGDQGVHYHUHO punished bWKH0LQLVWU of
Magic.
This misses the point of a liberal education, however . A liberal
education is one suited to a free individual. It liberates the mind by
enlarging its perspective, refining its sensibilities, and freeing it from
ignorance and the limitations of one’ s time, place, and culture. As Adler
said, a proper education cultivates a person’ s “capacities for mental growth
and moral development” and helps her “acquire the intellectual and moral
virtues requisite for a good human life.” 25
The Hogwarts curriculum is not well-suited to provide the broad-based
knowledge, the intellectual skills, and the solid character virtues that a good
school—wizarding or Muggle—should seek to impart. Because of the
narrow vocational education theUHFHLYH+RJZDUWVVWXGHQWVDUHLOO-
equipped to deal with the manSUREOHPVWKDWFRQIURQWZL]DUGLQJVRFLHWy ,
including (as Hermione saV WKLVKRUULEOHWKLQJZL]DUGVKDYHRIWKLQNLQg
the
UHVXSHULRUWRRWKHUFUHDWXUHV. 26

The Ugly
This “horrible thing” is in fact the greatest problem wizards face. The
Potter books are a moralitWDOHDERXWDZL]DUGFLYLOZDr. On one side are
Voldemort’ s racial supremacists, who want wizards to rule over Muggles
and pureblooded wizards to rule over those of mixed ancestry . On the other
side are Dumbledore and those who reject such radical supremacist views
and believe, instead, in the basic equalitRIDOOUDWLRQDO Rr, at least, all
human) creatures on earth.
I saWKLVLVWKHELJJHVWSUREOHPZL]DUGVIDFHQRWRQO because of the
repulsiveness of such racial elitism, but because of what is at stake.
Totalitarianism, thought control, secret police, mock trials, racial cleansing
—all are real possibilities if the supremacists win. And, of course, they
nearl do win in the Potter books, just as the Nazis nearlZRQLQW orld
War II.
So, what is Dumbledore doing to educate Hogwarts students about the
dangers and the irrationalitRIUDFLDOVXSUHPDFLVP"1RWDKHFNRIDORW$t
least, not directly .
True, Hogwarts is open to all students with magical powers, regardless
of ancestry , race, or social class. And Dumbledore makes a point of being
an equal-opportunitHPSORer , hiring half-bloods such as Snape and
members of marginalized groups such as half-giants (Hagrid), centaurs
(Firenze), and werewolves (Lupin).
But that’s about it. There are, so far as we are told, no class discussions
of racism, no workshops, no school assemblies on the topic. Racial slurs are
rampant at Hogwarts, but no student is ever disciplined for using one. The
fact that Hogwarts houses the lar gest population of oppressed house-elves
in England is nowhere mentioned in the thousand pages of Hogwarts, A
History , and Hermione’s efforts to alleviate the house-elves’ plight are
given no public support from Dumbledore. Most seriously , Dumbledore
does nothing to remedWKHJUHDWIHVWHULQJVRXUFHRIPLOLWDQWSXUHEORRGLVm
at Hogwarts, SlWKHULQ+RXVH.

SlWKHULQLVDEUHHGLQJJURXQGIRUGDUNZL]DUGV$V+DJULGVDs, when
Voldemort rose to power there wasn’ t “a single witch or wizard who went
bad who wasn’t in SlWKHULQ. 27 And this is no accident; students are sorted
into SlWKHULQEHFDXVHWKH will “use anPHDQVWRDFKLHYHWKHLUHQGV. 28
Because people—especiallLPSUHVVLRQDEOHFKLOGUHQ WHQGWREHFRPHOLNe
those theDVVRFLDWHZLWK6Otherin is a hothouse of racial intolerance. It is
also, inevitably , a source of “fifth columnists” in Hogwarts—students
whose ultimate loDOWLHVDUHQ
t to Dumbledore or their classmates, but to
Voldemort and his warped racist agenda.
This cancer of racial intolerance and elitism is what is “uglDERXt
education at Hogwarts. The obvious question is wh'XPEOHGRUHGRHVQ
t
do more about it.
In one sense, of course, he does do something hugelLPSRUWDQWDERXWLt
—he works tirelesslDQGFRXUDJHRXVO to defeat Voldemort. But Voldemort
was powerless for more than a decade after his failed attempt to kill Harry .
WhGLGQ
t Dumbledore do anWKLQJWRDGGUHVVWKHSUREOHPVZLWK6Otherin
then?
MaEH'XPEOHGRUH
s hands were tied bVFKRROE-laws or the
tradition-bound Hogwarts Board of Governors. MaEHKHZRXOGKDYHEHHn
fired if he had tried to take decisive action. MaEHDVT ravis Prinzi argues,
he was a libertarian “gradualist” who believed in changing hearts and minds
bSHUVRQDOH[DPSOHDQGJHQWOHSHUVXDVLRQUDWKHUWKDQE coercive rules or
policies. 29 Who knows? There could be lots of reasons he refuses to take
stronger action. I, for one, am happWRJLYHKLPWKHEHQHILWRIWKHGRXEW.
But it’s a fair question, I think, whether Dumbledore shouldn’ t have done
more than he did.

Like Bertie Bott’s Ever)ODYRU%HDQVD0Lx
Hogwarts, like most schools, has its pros and cons. Its students love the
castle, the grounds, the camaraderie, the hands-on focus on practical magic.
It’s definitelDIXQDQGLQWHUHVWLQJSODFHWRJRWRVFKRROY et there are also a
few big negatives about a Hogwarts education, including some inef fective
teachers, a dangerous environment, a narrow curriculum, and a strong
undercurrent of racial intolerance and elitism.
So, would I send mNLGWR+RJZDUWV",QWKHILQDODQDOsis, HV,W
s just
too special an opportunitWRPLVV%XW,
GDOVREHVXUHDV,GRWRWHDFKPy
child about the fundamental equalitRISHUVRQVWKHYLWDOUROHRIGHPRFUDWLc
freedoms, and the importance of a well-rounded education. For these are the
values that can make our world a trulPDJLFDOSODFH. 30

NOTES
1 Sorcerer’s Stone , p. 123. And for dessert: “Blocks of ice cream in
everIODYRUou could think of, apple pies, treacle tarts, chocolate éclairs
and jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, Jell-O, rice pudding,” ibid., p. 125.
Y ou get the point.
2 Susan Engel and Sam Levin, “Harr
s Curiosity,” in Neil Mulholland,
ed., The PsFKRORJ of Harr3RWWHU$Q8QDXWKRUL]HG([DPLQDWLRQRIWKe
Bo:KR/LYHd (Dallas, TX: BenBella Books, 2006), p. 31.
3 . Dewe
s major work on education is DemocracDQG(GXFDWLRn
(New York: Macmillan, 1916). His later book, Experience and Education
(New York: Collier Books, 1963; originallSXEOLVKHGLQ LVVKRUWHr
and more readable.
4 See, for example, Barbara Gross Davis, Tools for T eaching (San
Francisco: Josse%DVV FKDS.HQ%DLQ What the Best College
Teachers Do (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Universit3UHVV S.
5 Alfred North Whitehead, The Aims of Education and Other Essas ,
reprinted in Steven M. Cahn, ed., Classic and Contemporar5HDGLQJVLn
the PhilosophRI(GXFDWLRn (New Y ork: McGraw-Hill, 1997), p. 262. Of
course, students need to learn lots of things thePD have little natural
interest in studLQJ LUUHJXODUYHUEVDQGWKHPXOWLSOLFDWLRQWDEOHVIRr
example). For a useful caution about going overboard in catering to student
interests, see E. D. Hirsch Jr ., The Schools We Need and WhW e Don’t
Have Them (New Y ork: Doubleday , 1996), pp. 86-87.
6 Prisoner of Azkaban , p. 93.
7 Goblet of Fire , p. 697. Mood
s disfigured nose and the insanitRf
Neville’s parents are apparentlLQFXUDEOH$QGDV+DUU’ s and
Dumbledore’s eHJODVVHVVXJJHVWHYHQEDGHesight apparentlFDQ
t be
fixed bPDJLFDOPHDQV.
8 That the books are fiction bears repeating. In pointing out
shortcomings with Hogwarts if it were real , I am not criticizing either J. K.
Rowling or the books. There’ s no reason to think Rowling means to depict
Hogwarts as an ideal institution. She portraV+RJZDUWVDVVKHGRHV Ds

dangerous, for example) because that depiction works as fiction . If Rowling
herself were headmistress of Hogwarts, no doubt she would recognize and
address manRIWKHSUREOHPV,PHQWLRQ.
9 Lupin might need an asterisk next to his name because of his
unfortunate tendencWRFKDQJHLQWRDOHWKDOZHUHZROIRQFHDPRQWKTrue,
Lupin takes Wolfsbane Potion to control his sPSWRPV%XWDVKLs
dangerous transformation in Prisoner of Azkaban makes clear, there is still
some risk to students.
10 Professor Quirrell isn’ t exactlZKRKHVHHPVWREHHLWKHU KHKDVa
bit of a split personality , actually.
11 Or der of the Phoenix , p. 315.
12 Arthur E. Levine, “No W izard Left Behind,” Education Week ,
November 9, 2005, p. 44. Levine’ s critique of Hogwarts is tongue-in-cheek.
13 There are exceptions. Hogwarts students learn some social studies in
HistorRI0DJLFDQGWKHRSWLRQDO0XJJOH6WXGLHVFODVV7KH also study
some conventional science in Astronomy .
14 A point also noted b&KDUOHVW. Kalish and Emma C. Kalish,
“Hogwarts Academ&RPPRQ6HQVHDQG6FKRRO0DJLFLQ PsFKRORJ of
Harr3RWWHr , p. 65; and Marc Sidwell, “No Child of Mine W ill Go to
Hogwarts,” ConservativeHome’s Platform,
http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2007/08/marc-sidwell-no.html .
15 Mortimer J. Adler, The Paideia Proposal: An Educational Manifesto
(New York: Simon & Schuster , 1998), p. 18.
16 Adapted from Father Richard Connerton, C.S.C., founding president
of King’s College (PennsOYDQLD ZKRVWDWHGWKDW.LQJ
s “teaches students
not onlKRZWRPDNHDOLYLQJEXWKRZWROLYH.
17 Plato, Republic , translated b%HQMDPLQ-RZHWW 1HZYork: Random
House, 1937), especiall%RRNVDQG.
18 Aristotle, Politics , translated b%HQMDPLQ-RZHWWLQ The Basic
Works of Aristotle , edited b5LFKDUG0F.HRQ 1HZY ork: Random House,
1941), especiall%RRNVDQG.
19 John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education , in John Locke
on Politics and Education (RoslQ1Y: Walter J. Black, 1947), paragraph
200.
20 Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile , translated b$OODQ%ORRP 1Hw
York: Basic Books, 1974).

21 Immanuel Kant, Thoughts on Education , translated b$QQHWWe
Churton, reprinted in Steven M. Cahn, ed., Classic and Contemporary
Readings in the PhilosophRI(GXFDWLRn (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997),
p. 216.
22 Dewey, Experience and Education , p. 36.
23 Mortimer J. Adler , Reforming Education: The Opening of the
American Mind (New York: Macmillan, 1988), p. 218.
24 J. K. Rowling, “ Scholastic.com Online Chat Interview ,” Februar,
2000, www.accio-quote.or g/articles/2000/0200-scholastic-chat.htm . Nor are
there are anSULPDU wizarding schools. Some wizarding children are
educated in Muggle primarVFKRROVEXWPRVWDUHKRPHVFKRROHG-..
Rowling, FAQs, “What education do the children of wizarding families
have before going to Hogwarts?” J. K. Rowling Of ficial Site,
www.jkrowling.com/textonlHQIDTBYLHw .cfm?id=101 .
25 Adler, Reforming Education , p. 120.
26 Order of the Phoenix , p. 171.
27 Sor cerer’s Stone , p. 80.
28 Ibid., p. 1 18.
29 Travis Prinzi, “Hog’ s Head PubCast #54: Revolutionaries and
Gradualists,” http://thehogshead.or g/2008/07/03/hogs-head-pubcast-54-
revolutionaries-and-gradualists/ . But see Beth Admiraal and Regan
Reitsma’s critique of this interpretation in this volume, “Dumbledore’ s
Politics.”
30 MWKDQNVWR-RKQ*UDQJHr, Bill Irwin, Dave Baggett, and T ravis
Prinzi for helpful comments on previous drafts. Of course, these friends are
partlWREODPHIRUDQ faults in the chapter , for as the Medieval philosopher
Thomas Aquinas saV( Summa Contra Gentiles , Book 3, chap. 135), “He
who helps another shares in his work, both in its good and in its evil.”

PA RT F IV E
BEYOND THE VEIL: DEA TH, HOPE, AND MEANING

16
THE REAL SECRET OF THE PHOENIX
Moral Regeneration thr ough Death


Charles Taliaferro



The phoenix is a majestic mWKLFDOELUGWKDWKDVWKHSRZHUWRLJQLWHLn
flames and then be reborn from its ashes. This power to be reborn through
death might simplEHSDUWRIWKHPDJLFDOEDFNJURXQGWR-.5RZOLQJ
s
Harr3RWWHUVWRULHVRULWPLJKWEHVRPHWKLQJPRUH$VSDUWRIWKDt
background, Dumbledore’s phoenix, Fawkes, plaVDEUDYHDQGQREOHUROe
in protecting HarrLQWKH&KDPEHURI6HFUHWVDQGLQVKLHOGLQJ'XPEOHGRUe
in the battle at the MinistrRI0DJLFE taking a killing curse. The key
opposition to Voldemort is called the Order of the Phoenix, but such
references might simplEHWKHUHWRHQULFKWKHSORWY et the magical power
of the phoenix maEHDFOXHWRDGHHSWKHPHDERXWWKHQDWXUHRf
relationships that philosophers have addressed.
Some philosophers propose that something similar to the process of
death and rebirth of the phoenix is necessarLQPHQGLQJUHODWLRQVKLSs

through a process of remorse, seeking forgiveness, and then developing a
new, reformed character . The basic idea is that the person who has
committed a serious wrong needs to confess what he has done, express
sincere remorse, repudiate anSOHDVXUHRUJDLQWKDWKHJRWIURPWKe
wrongdoing, and form radicallQHZLQWHQWLRQVDQGGHVLUHVWKDWPDNHDQy
future wrongdoing unthinkable (or at least unlikel 7KHDFWRIUHSXGLDWLQg
the past wrong and anLOOLFLWSOHDVXUHKDVEHHQXQGHUVWRRGE some
philosophers as a kind of death; one burns up or dies to the self who
committed the wrong. The reformed person emer ges from this process of
repudiation and remorse as an essentiallQHZSHUVRQ&RQWLQXLW is
maintained; the new person emerges from the one who did the wrong. But
there is still a radicallQHZVHOIRQWKHRWKHUVLGHRIWKLVPDVVLYHVKLIWIURm
bad to good, from evil desires to new , good intentions and resolutions.
This model faces some objections (we will consider two major ones at
the end of the chapter), but it has much intuitive appeal. In a friendship
broken bEHWUDal, it seems that the chief road to reconciliation has to
involve remorse (the person has to be genuinelVRUU about betraLQJou).
And once there has been evident reform, there has to be a genuine
acceptance of the person back again into friendship. Sure, both of Ru
might never forget the fact that a betraDOWRRNSODFHEXWGRQ
t RXERWh
have to put aside anRQJRLQJEODPH"You can’t have a verJRRGUHQHZHd
friendship if everRWKHUGD RXUHPLQGWKHSHUVRQWKDWVKHRUKHGLd
wrong. In ef fect, the repaired relationship has to be reborn ; RXKDYe
accepted the return of RXUIULHQGDQGVHHKHURUKLPLQDQHZOLJKWVHWWLQg
to one side resentment or focus on past injury .
This portrait of moral repair as a kind of death and rebirth is found most
famouslLQVRPHUHOLJLRXVWUDGLWLRQVHVSHFLDOO in Christianity , where the
transition from sin to life in God is described as a dLQJDQGULVLQJWRQHw
life (Romans 5). The Christian rite of baptism is traditionallVHHQDVDNLQd
of death to sin and rebirth into the household of God, in which the
redeemed soul maHYHQWDNHRQDQHZQDPH6HFXODr, contemporary
accounts of moral reform have also taken seriouslWKHZD in which
repentance requires a clear departure from the self that did the wrong and an
identification of the reformed person with a new set of desires and
essentiallDQHZLGHQWLWy. 1
In this chapter, we’ll explore the waVLQZKLFKWKLVPRGHOPD be seen
in the work of J. K. Rowling, with a focus on The Deathl+DOORZs . As

we’ll see, Rowling actuallJRHVIXUWKHUWKDQPRVWSKLORVRSKHUVKDYHLn
illuminating the process of moving to new life through a kind of death by
juxtaposing HarrDQG'XPEOHGRUHRQWKHRQHKDQGDQG/RUGVoldemort,
on the other. Voldemort provides a fascinating inversion or , really, a
perversion of the process of moving from death to life. V oldemort spreads
death bFOLQJLQJWROLIHZKHUHDV'XPEOHGRUHDQG+DUU move to a deeper
life bDFFHSWLQJGHDWK.

Remorse and Death
In their final confrontation, HarrJLYHVVoldemort a last chance, a
possible reprieve. That reprieve must involve remorse. In Harr
s invitation
or challenge to feel remorse, HarrGRHVQRWXVHWKHWLWOHVoldemort, He-
Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, or the Dark Lord, but instead his given name:
Tom Riddle. HarrVHHPVWREHFDOOLQJ5LGGOHEDFNIURPKLVUROHDVa
menacing, almost supernatural Dark Lord to take ownership of himself as
Tom Riddle, the confused, angry , but highlSURPLVLQJFKLOG7KHSURFHVs
that the one who calls himself V oldemort would have to undergo to admit
and feel remorse for his sordid, uglFULPHVDVT om Riddle is too
deflationarIRUWKH'DUN/RUG,QRWKHUZRUGV5LGGOHQHHGVWRVKHGRUGLe
to his past evil intentions and acts. Unwilling to under go such repudiation
and humility, Riddle as V oldemort attacks HarrDQGLVXQGRQH.
Remorse is a keHOHPHQWLQWKHSURFHVVRIUHIRUPDQGUHJHQHUDWLRQLn
the Potter stories—remorse and sorrow , as well as regret. The difference
between reform and regret is perhaps most apparent when V oldemort
commands his snake to kill Severus Snape. After giving the command
“kill” to Nagini, Voldemort has this reaction:
“I regret it,” said V oldemort coldly.
He turned awa there was no sadness in him, no remorse. It was
time to leave this shack and take charge, with a wand that would now
do his full bidding. He pointed it at the starr cage holding the snake,
which drifted upward, off Snap e, who fell sidewaV onto the floor ,
blood gushing from the wounds in his neck. Voldemort swept from the
room without a backward glance, and the great serpent floated after
him in its huge protective sphere. 2
Regret involves sorrow or displeasure that some event has occurred, but
remorse adds a crucial ingredient: a feeling of profound sorrow that one has
committed the act. Regret need not involve anSHUVRQDODFNQRZOHGJPHQt
of guilt or personal accountability , but remorse implies grief or sorrow over
one’s role in some past act or omission.

Perhaps Riddle could not begin to feel remorse because he had become
so identified with Voldemort or, rather, Riddle had become V oldemort, the
wielder of indomitable power , so that he could not see anQHZOLIHEHond
Voldemort through remorse. If one has committed wrong, and all that one
feels is remorse for the deed, one is in an almost intolerable position. Moral
reform requires that a person proceed to some positive new identity , passing
through remorse to a new life.
Dumbledore comes to realize that he needs to pass through death when
he recognizes his disastrous mistake of putting on the ring with the goal of
using the Resurrection Stone. His error was not motivated bHYLORUVSLWH.
He even thought that he might in some waEULQJDERXWQHZOLIHWKURXJh
the stone. As Dumbledore confesses to Harry,
“When I discovered it, after all those HDUV buried in the
abandoned home of the Gaunts— the Hallow I had craved most of all,
though in m RXWK I had wanted it for ver different reasons—I lost
m head, Harry . I quite forgot that it was now a Horcrux, that the ring
was sure to carr a curse. I pi cked it up, and I put it on, and for a
second I imagined that I was about to see Ariana, and m moth er, and
mIDWKHr , and to tell them how very , verVRUU I was. [. . .]
“I was such a fool, Harry. After all those HDUV I had learned
nothing. I was unworth to unite the Deathl Hallows, I had proved it
time and again, and here was final proof.” 3
Dumbledore realizes his wrong and is aware that this rash deed has
released a poison into his sVWHPWKDWZLOOEHKLVFRPSOHWHXQGRLQJGHVSLWe
Snape’ s best attempts to contain the damage caused bWKHFXUVH.
Dumbledore elects to work through this remorseful recognition of a wrong
in order to protect HarrDQGWRSURYLGHDSDWKIRUV oldemort’s ultimate
defeat. BDUUDQJLQJIRU6QDSHWRNLOOKLPXVLQJA vada Kedavra, he
sacrifices his life (and indirectlVDYHV'UDFR0DOIR’ s), dLQJ DVLWZHUH)
to his past self.
This moving beRQGKLVSDVWLVHYLGHQWLQWKHGLDORJXHEHWZHHQ+DUUy
and Dumbledore after Harr
s apparent death. Dumbledore fullGLVFORVHs
his plans and intentions, displaLQJWKURXJKWHDUVKLVSRVLWLRQDVa
vulnerable professor and guardian who has (in his view) failed in his tasks.
Dumbledore also painfullFRQIHVVHVKLVZHDNQHVVHVDVDoung man with
his parents, sister, and brother:

“I was gifted, I was brilliant. I wanted to escape. I wanted to shi ne.
I wanted glory .”
“Do not misunderstand me,” he said, and pain crossed the face so
that he looked ancient again. “I loved them. I loved mSDUHQWV,ORYHd
m brother and m sister , but I was selfish, Harry, more selfish than
RXZKRDUHDUHPDUNDEO selfless person, could possiblLPDJLQH. 4
It is partlWKURXJKWKLVGLDORJXHDQGWKURXJK+DUU’ s own passage from
death to life that Dumbledore and HarrDUHUHFRQFLOHG.
In the first few books of the Potter series, Dumbledore is a mentor , a
father figure like Merlin or Gandalf; he is a teacher and a professor , a
headmaster and a half-guardian to Harry, the embodiment of all that is good
and chivalric and noble. BWKHHQGRIWKHVHULHVZHVHHDQRWKHUVLGHRf
Dumbledore. We learn that he is a penitent who feels bound to confess his
own shortcomings to HarrLQWKHFRXUVHRIJLYLQJKLPWKHILQDOYLWDl
instruction that he needs to complete his coming of age. Dumbledore
concludes bRffering HarrWKLVYHU Socratic-sounding advice: “Y ou are
the true master of death, because the true master does not seek to run away
from Death. He accepts that he must die, and understands that there are far ,
far worse things in the living world than dLQJ. 5
The completion of Harr
s great trial (his education or formation),
which culminates in his combat with V oldemort, makes peers of HarrDQd
Dumbledore in the end. The exchange between HarrDQGKLVPHQWRr , which
occurs through the portrait of Dumbledore, suggests that their relationship
has changed; theDUHQRORQJHUPHQWRUDQGPHQWHH$NLQGRIHTXDOLW is
achieved in their reconciliation and in Harr
s victorDQGUHVROXWLRQVDIWHr
HarrWROG'XPEOHGRUHRIKLVSODQVIRUWKH(OGHUW and, “Dumbledore
nodded. TheVPLOHGDWHDFKRWKHr.” 6
HarrPXVWXQGHrgo a death and a rebirth in order to achieve the full
integritWKDWLVQHFHVVDU for his healing and renewal. When HarrZDs
attacked as a child and the killing curse rebounded, a piece of V oldermort’s
soul attached itself to Harry , thus allowing HarrLQVLJKWLQWRV oldermort’s
mind, giving him the abilitWRVSHDN3DUVHOWRQJXHDQGPDNLQJWKH6RUWLQg
Hat think he might do well in SlWKHULQV oldermort’s attack left an
indelible mark on Harr
s forehead that linked him to V oldemort’s mind. At
times, this bordered on possession, as in the climactic scene in Order of the
Phoenix when V oldermort speaks through Harr:

And then Harr
s scar burst open. He knew he was dead: it was
pain beRQGLPDJLQLQJSDLQSDVWHQGXUDQFH&
He was gone from the hall, he was locked in the coils of a creat ure
with red eHV so tightl bound that Harr did not know where his
bod ended and the creature’ s began. The were fused together , bound
bSDLQDQGWKHUHZDVQRHVFDSH&
And when the creature spoke, it used Harr
s mouth, so that in his
agonKHIHOWKLVMDZPRYH.
“Kill me now , Dumbledore . . .” 7
To overcome this horrifLQJOLQNZLWKWKH'DUN/RUG+DUU needed the
piece of V oldemort’s soul that was inside him to die, as occurs near the end
of Deathl+DOORZs , when HarrDOORZVV oldemort to perform the killing
curse on him. All is explained in the following conversation, as
Dumbledore reassures HarrWKDW+DUU is not, as he initiallEHOLHYHGGHDG:
“I let him kill me,” said Harry . “Didn’t I?”
“You did,” said Dumbledore, nodding. “Go on!”
“So the part of his soul that was in me . . .”
Dumbledore nodded still more enthusiastically , urging Harry
onward, a broad smile of encouragement on his face.
“. . . has it gone?”
“Oh HV said Dumbledore. “Yes, he destroHG it. Your soul is
whole, and completelour own, Harry .” 8
A little later on in the conversation, Dumbledore elaborates,
“You were the seventh Horcrux, Harry, the Horcrux he never
meant to make. He had rendered his soul so unstable that it broke apart
when he committed those acts of unspeakable evil, the murder of RXr
parents, the attempted killing of a child.
“But what escap ed from that room was even less than he knew . He
left more than his bod behind. He left part of himself latched to RX,
the would-be victim who had survived.” 9
To become whole once again, HarrPXVWGLHWRUHOHDVHWKHV oldemort
link.
While this dramatic case of dLQJDQGULVLQJLQYROYHV+DUU ridding
himself of that which is fundamentallIRUHLJQWRKLVWUXHLGHQWLW or core
values, there is a sense, in everERRNLQZKLFK+DUU under goes a process
of remorse and regenerating with respect to his own feelings and faults. So,

for example, in Order of the Phoenix , his mistrust of Hermione Granger and
Ron W easleQHHGVWREHUHGUHVVHG.
But before he knew it, HarrZDVVKRXWLQJ.
“SO YOU HAVEN’T BEEN IN THE MEETINGS, BIG DEAL!
YOU’VE STILL BEEN HERE, HA VEN’T YOU? YOU’VE STILL
BEEN TOGETHER! ME, I’VE BEEN STUCK A T THE DURSLEYS’
FOR A MONTH! AND I’VE HANDLED MORE THAN YOU
TWO’VE EVER MANAGED AND DUMBLEDORE KNOWS IT—
WHO SAVED THE SORCERER’S STONE? WHO GOT RID OF
RIDDLE? WHO SAVED BOTH YOUR SKINS FROM THE
DEMENT ORS?”
Ever bitter and resentful thought that Harr had had in the past
month was pour ing out of him; his frustration at the lack of news, the
hurt that the had all been together without him, his fur at being
followed and not told about it: All the feelings he was half-asha med of
finallEXUVWWKHLUERXQGDULHV. 10
HarrKDVWRUHQRXQFHKLVWHPSHUDQGKLVUDVKGHFLVLRQVDQGWKHUHLVa
recurring sense in which love has a role in solidifLQJKLVFRQWLQXRXs
development, his rebirth, as it were. So, for example, when he and Ginny
WeasleNLVVDIWHUDORQJVHSDUDWLRQWKLVLVGHVFULEHGLQWHUPVRI+DUU’ s
sense of realit:
“There’s the silver lining I’ve been looking for,” she whisper ed,
and then she was kissing him as she had never kissed him before, and
Harr was kissing her back, and it was blissful oblivion, better than
firewhisk she was the onl real thing in the world, Ginny, the feel of
her, one hand at her back and one in her long, sweet-smelling hair . 11
Harr
s love for others and their love for him is the foundation for his
maturation and his protection from V oldemort. As Dumbledore observes,
“That power [of love] also saved RXIURPSRVVHVVLRQE V oldemort,
because he could not bear to reside in a bodVRIXOORIWKHIRUFHKe
detests.” 12

The Inversion of Voldemort
As Voldemort, T om Riddle displaVDOPRVWWKHH[DFWRSSRVLWHSDWWHUQRf
development as do HarrDQG'XPEOHGRUH5DWKHUWKDQIHHOLQJUHPRUVH,
repentance, and renewal, with each murder V oldemort more deeplWDNHs
ownership of his identitDVDPXUGHUHUDQGDWrant, one who sees his life
as infinitelPRUHLPSRUWDQWDQGLQWHUHVWLQJWKDQWKHOLYHVDURXQGKLP.
Voldemort’ s pursuit of eternal life—in a sort of perverse inversion of the
Christian ideal of life through dLQJWRVHOI OHDGVKLPWRDIRUPRIVHOI-
division in which he divides his soul into seven (unwittinglHLJKW SDUWV.
“[T]he more I’ve read [about Horcruxes],” said Hermione, “the
more horrible the seem, and the less I can believe that he actually
made six. It warns in this book [ Secrets of the Darkest Art ] how
unstable RX make the rest of our soul b ripping it, and that’ s just by
making one Horcrux!”
Harr remembe red what Dumbledore had said about Voldem ort
moving beRQGXVXDOHYLO.
“Isn’t there an wa of putting RXUVHOI back together?” Ron
asked.
“Y es,” said Hermione with a hollow smile, “but it would be
excrutiatinglSDLQIXO.
“Wh"+RZGRou do it?” asked Harry .
“Remorse,” said Hermione. “You’ve got to reall feel what RX
Ye
done. There’ s a footnote. Apparentl the pain of it can destro RX I
can’t see V oldemort attempting it somehow , can RX". 13
The Horcrux embodiments of Voldemort’s soul become the repositories
of vile malice. Each must be destroHGWRILQDOO defeat the Dark Lord.
Notice the inversion here. Remorse and rebirth serve to foster a deeper ,
more natural life for HarrDQG'XPEOHGRUHZKHUHDVVoldemort’s pursuit
of evil makes him increasinglXQQDWXUDO)RUH[DPSOHIULHQGVKLSEHWZHHn
HarrDQGKLVPDWHVDQGKLVLQWHUDFWLRQZLWK'XPEOHGRUHRIWHQLQYROYe
eating (or, really, feasting), games, and af fectionate exchanges of gifts. W ith
Voldemort, there is no feasting but (most perversel WKHGULQNLQJRIEORRG.

Rather than Voldemort’s action leading to fullness of life, his evil acts
threaten his natural embodiment. When he tried to kill the infant Harry , his
evil act seemed to vaporize him, turning him into a mist, a disembodied
being.
He pointed the wand verFDUHIXOO into the bo
s face . . .
“Avada Kedavra!”
And then he broke: He was nothing, nothing but pain and terror ,
and he must hide himself, not here in the rubble of the ruined house,
where the child was trapped and screaming, but far awa . . . far
away . 14
Until V oldemort can become re-embodied, his “life” is parasitic on the
blood and the limbs of others. (He needs Harr
s blood and Wormtail’s
hand to regenerate a full-grown body .) In the final volume, Voldemort’s
bodGRHVQRWVHHPWREHQDWXUDOKLVIDFHLVVQDNHOLNHDQGKHLVDEOHWRIOy
without the aid of a broomstick or other magical means. The contrast with
the world of Dumbledore and HarrDQGKLVIULHQGVFRXOGQRWEHPRUe
radical, with its real eating and authentic, af fectionate touch. At the end of
the book, this culminates for HarrDQGKLVLPPHGLDWHIULHQGV5RQ*LQQy ,
and Hermione, in romantic love and child-rearing. There is a stark contrast
here between the natural world of remorse and regeneration and
Voldemort’ s efforts to hold on to his life at the cost of others’.
The contrast between V oldemort’s hideous seeking of immortalitEy
killing or maiming others and his refusing the natural course of regeneration
and integration through remorse is almost the complete opposite of Harr
s
and Dumbledore’s willing acceptance of moral, spiritual, and phVLFDOGHDWh
for the sake of love and goodness. As becomes especiallDSSDUHQWLn
Deathl+DOORZs , phVLFDOGHDWKLQ5RZOLQJ
s world is not the worst thing
for a soul or even the end of the soul. On the grave of Harr
s parents, we
read that “The last enemWKDWVKDOOEHGHVWURed is death.” At first, HarrLs
horrified that this is “a Death Eater idea,” but Hermione explains that the
reference is to living beRQGRUDIWHUGHDWK'HDWKLWVHOIPLJKWEHDSDVVDJe
to something more:
Seeing that Harr and Ron looked thoroughl confused, Hermione
hurried on, “Look, if I picked up a sword right now, Ron, and ran Ru
through with it, I wouldn’ t damage RXUVRXODWDOO.
“Which would be a real comfort to me, I’m sure,” said Ron. Harry
laughed.

“It should be, actuall But m point is that whatever happens to
RXUERGy , RXUVRXOZLOOVXUYLYHXQWRXFKHGVDLG+HUPLRQH. 15
The death of V oldemort is desperate, unmourned, and ultimately
pathetic (“Tom Riddle hit the floor with a mundane finalit ZKHUHDs
Dumbledore’ s death is integral to V oldemort’s defeat. 16 Moreover , all of
those who bravelGLHGLQILJKWLQJV oldemort (including Dobby, Fred
Weasley , Remus Lupin, NPSKDGRUDT onks, and Colin Creeve ZHUHGXOy
honored and lovinglJULHYHG.

The Integrit2EMHFWLRn
One of the recurring objections to the idea that moral reform involves a
radical regeneration akin to the dLQJDQGULVLQJSKRHQL[LVWKDWLt
undermines the integritRISHUVRQDOLGHQWLWy. If RXGLGVRPHZURQJLWLs
alwaVDQGIRUHYHUWKHFDVHWKDWLWZDVou who did the wrong. No amount
of renunciation can alter that fact. To imagine that RXDUHVRPHKRZDQHw
person after the grieving and the repentance invites a kind of self-deception.
Imagine that I harm RXZURQJO and claim that this act was done bWKe
“Bad Charles,” but I am now the “New Charlie,” a fresh new person who
has little sPSDWK with that old form of mVHOI7KLVUHELUWKVHHPVWo
threaten anNLQGRILQWHJULW I have with mLGHQWLW over time.
This critique of the regeneration model was advanced bWKH)UHXGLDn
psFKRDQDOst Melanie Klein (1882-1960). 17 She held that personal
maturitDQGFRQWLQXLW require that one keep a solid commitment to the fact
that a reformed person is the self-same person who did the wrong in the
past. An alcoholic, for example, usuallVWLOOWKLQNVRIKLPVHOIDVDn
alcoholic even after he has reformed and been sober for decades. The
integritREMHFWLRQWKXVVWURQJO opposes the regeneration model.
There is some force to this objection. The regeneration model can be
abused. If one assumes that the regeneration can be so radical that there is
no continuitDWDOl between oneself as reformed and the person who did the
wrong, self-deception seems to be at work. A case in which I casuallVSOLt
mVHOILQWRDJRRGDQGDEDGVHOIZRXOGVHHPPRUHOLNHDMRNHWKDQJHQXLQe
reform. Clearly , the regeneration model can be pushed too far . But without a
real break from the past, involving a genuine renunciation that comes very
close to a kind of dLQJRQH
s renewal or reconciliation will be incomplete.
It maEHWKDWSHRSOHDGGLFWHGWRDOFRKROZLOOWKLQNRIWKHPVHOYHVDs
alcoholics their whole lives, but in renouncing alcohol abuse theWKHUHEy
no longer see themselves as drinkers or drunks. Think of someone who
gives up smoking. Doesn’t making a shift awaIURPVPRNLQJUHTXLUHWKDt
one no longer thinks of oneself as a smoker but as a dif ferent sort of

person? The price of not undertaking a robust renunciation of wrongdoing
or past mistakes can be high. Consider the case of Severus Snape.
As revealed in Deathl+DOORZs , Snape trulORYHG+DUU’s mother, Lily
Evans. When he was a boy , he was attracted to her from afar . She was the
one person at Hogwarts who stood up to James Potter and other bullies
when thePHQDFHG6QDSH6QDSHKRZHYHr , made the disastrous mistake of
calling her a Mudblood, an insulting name for Muggle-born witches. He
later made the even more tragic error of inadvertentlJLYLQJV oldemort the
information he needed to find and kill Harry. Snape does feel deep remorse
for these acts, but he is unable to publiclFRQIHVVKLVIHHOLQJVDQGWKXs
achieve a full integration through remorse and renewal.
Snape owes a life debt to Harr
s father, who saved him from Lupin
when Lupin was transformed into a werewolf. Snape can be true to this life
debt bSURWHFWLQJ+DUU (which he does on more than one occasion), but he
is unable to openlFRPHFOHDQZLWK+DUU about his bond with LilRUKLs
debt to James. He nurses resentment toward HarrDQGLVXQDEOHWRIXOOy
detach himself from his past. His motives are at times completely
honorable, or as honorable as one’ s motives can be when one is a spIRr
the Order who also has to pretend to be a faithful Death Eater .
Snape is not an integrated person in the spirit of Melanie Klein; he is
impaired because he can’t bring himself to fullUHQRXQFHKLVSDVWZURQJs
and move beRQGWKHP,QDQLGHDOFDVHRIUHFRQFLOLDWLRQWKHUHPLJKWKDYe
to be a miracle: the actual restoration to life of James and Lily . But short of
that, the best reconciliation available might have been for Snape’ s true
loDOW to Lil DQG'XPEOHGRUH WRKDYHEHHQDFNQRZOHGJHGDQGKRQRUHd
during his lifetime. This might also have been impossible, however ,
because Snape apparentlQHHGHGWRUHWDLQKLVFRYHUDVVoldemort’s servant
as long as possible. Short of that, Snape still receives honor in a waWKDWLs
deep and enduring: HarrQDPHVRQHRIKLVFKLOGUHQDIWHU6QDSH7KHQDPe
given Harr
s son is the last word spoken b'XPEOHGRUHEHIRUHKHGLHV:
Severus .

The Fantas2EMHFWLRn
Consider brieflDVHFRQGREMHFWLRQ5RZOLQJKDVSURGXFHGa
masterpiece partlEHFDXVHVKHKDVLQYHQWHGDSRVVLEOHZRUOGTXLWHUHPRWe
from ours. In our world, spells are not cast, people cannot survive the death
of their bodies, portraits of dead headmasters do not talk to students, and so
on. If all of that is fantastic (literally, a matter of fantas ZK not think
that the regeneration model is a matter of fantasDVZHOO"5HDOHWKLFVDQd
serious models of moral reform need to be fashioned on the basis of
realistic narratives, not of imaginarZRUOGV.
As it happens, I have argued elsewhere against some of the
philosophical sVWHPVWKDWUXOHRXWWKHSRVVLELOLW of life after death. 18 I
have also argued that our world is one in which there can be genuine
enchantment, spells of sorts. 19 ContemporarHWKLFLVWVGRQ
t address the
practices of blessing and cursing, but this is regrettable, given the many
waVSHRSOHFDQDffect one another on subliminal levels. Y et even if we
bracket all of this and assume there is no afterlife and no magic at all in our
world, note that Rowling does not treat ethics as a matter of fantasy . All of
the values we share of loDOWy , friendship, romantic love, fairness, our
opposition to enslavement (free the house-elves!), and the role of remorse,
forgiveness, and reform are verPXFKLQSOD in both Rowling’ s fiction and
our own Muggle world. In the name of realism, the fantasREMHFWLRQZRXOd
dismiss Rowling’s genuine insights about the perils of cruelty , the wrongful
pursuit of purit SXUHEORRGV ORYHDQGVRRQ6XFKUHDOLVPLVPRUHa
matter of failing to engage the imagination than of falling into the
imaginary.

Fawkes’s Secret
As we noted at the outset, the role of the phoenix in the Harr3RWWHr
books maVLPSO be part of the magical background to Dumbledore’ s and
Harr
s lives. Fawkes, after all, mourns his master with “a stricken lament
of terrible beautDQGWKHQOHDYHV+RJZDUWVIRUJRRG. 20 But it could be that
he leaves Hogwarts after the death of Dumbledore because we now have
enough wisdom to grasp the message that the phoenix has left behind: that
sometimes spiritual or actual death maKDYHWREHHQGXUHGIRUWKHUHWREHa
regeneration of life, reconciliation, and a triumph of good over evil.
Fawkes, after all, did not save Dumbledore when he was poisoned. Perhaps
it was impossible, even though the tears of a phoenix can cure terrible
wounds. Fawkes did not shield Dumbledore from the A vada Kedavra curse
from Snape, nor did Fawkes intervene to prevent Dumbledore’ s fall from
the roof.
We have reason to believe that Fawkes could know the mind of his
master , and that Fawkes was probablZHOODZDUHRI'XPEOHGRUH
s willful
sacrifice of himself. Yes, perhaps Fawkes and the pattern of regeneration
were a mere coincidence in Rowling’ s masterpiece, but maEH)DZNHs
himself was fullDZDUHRIWKHQHFHVVLW of dLQJDQGULVLQJUHPRUVHDQd
regeneration. Fawkes maKDYHOHIW+RJZDUWVDWWKHHQGRI Half-Blood
Prince , but he maDOVRKDYHOHIWEHKLQGWKHPRVWLPSRUWDQWOHVVRQWKDWDQy
of us can learn. Cases of wrongdoing, betraDODQGYLFHWKDWOHDGWRWKe
rupture of friendships and communitQHHGWREHKHDOHGE a kind of death
and rebirth, in which one emerges from the flames of remorseful confession
as a new person with radicallQHZGHVLUHVDQGLQWHQWLRQVUHDG to rejoin
relationships and community. 21

NOTES
1 See, for example, Charles Griswold, Forgiveness: A Philosophical
Exploration (New Y ork: Cambridge Universit3UHVV .
2 Deathl+DOORZs , pp. 656-657.
3 Ibid., pp. 719-720.
4 Ibid., pp. 715-716.
5 Ibid., p. 721. For Socrates’ views on the philosopher ’s cheerful
acceptance of death, see Plato’ s Phaedo , 64a-68a.
6 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 749.
7 Order of the Phoenix , pp. 815-816.
8 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 708.
9 Ibid., p. 709.
10 Order of the Phoenix , pp. 65-66.
11 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 1 16.
12 Order of the Phoenix , p. 844.
13 . Deathl+DOORZs , p. 103.
14 Ibid., p. 345.
15 Ibid., p. 104.
16 Ibid., p. 744.
17 See Melanie Klein’ s books Love, Guilt and Reparation: And Other
Works 1921-1945 (London: Hogarth Press, 1975) and EnvDQG*UDWLWXGe
(London: Hogarth Press, 1975).
18 Charles T aliaferro, Consciousness and the Mind of God (Cambridge,
UK: Cambridge Universit3UHVV .
19 Charles Taliaferro, Love, Love, Love (Cambridge, MA: Cowley
Press, 2006). See especiallWKHFKDSWHU$0RGHVW'HIHQVHRI0DJLF.
20 Half-Blood Prince , pp. 614-615.
21 I am verJUDWHIXOWR(OL]DEHWK&ODUNIRUFRQYHUVDWLRQVDERXW+DUUy
Potter and remorse and her assistance in preparing this essay . Elsa MartLs
also thanked for dialogue about the regeneration model.

17
BEYOND GODRIC’S HOLLOW
Life after Death and the Sear ch for Meaning


Jonathan L. Walls and Jerr/W alls



After narrowlHVFDSLQJGHDWKRQO because of his mother ’s sacrifice,
HarrLVDQRUSKDQOHIWRQWKHGRRUVWHSRIKLVDXQWDQGXQFOHV oldemort,
we later discover, wishes above all things to avoid death and has performed
the most treacherous actions to ensure it. Almost everERRNLQWKHVHULHs
results in the death of a significant character , perhaps none more so than
Albus Dumbledore in Half-Blood Prince . It’s easWRKHDUWKHUHVRXQGLQg
echo of death all through the series, culminating in the near -death of Harry
himself.

Death and Philosophy
Legend has it that there was a professional philosopher some HDUVDJo
who decided to run for governor of his state. On the campaign trail, he was
asked what the most important lesson was that we can teach our kids. He
responded, “That the
UHJRLQJWRGLH+HGLGQ
t win the election.
Philosophers deal in the great questions and ideas. Not surprisingly ,
therefore, manRIWKHPKDYHEHHQDQGDUHIDVFLQDWHGE death, the ultimate
unknown. Because death is so unpleasant a prospect, however, some people
trWRDYRLGLWGHQ it, put it out of their minds. Young people are
particularlSURQHWRIHHOLQJLQYLQFLEOHDVWKRXJKGHDWKLVVRPHWKLQJWKDt
happens onlWRRWKHUV7KH often lack what the philosopher Martin
Heidegger (1889-1976) called authenticity , which comes from accepting
death and reflecting deeplRQRXUPRUWDOLWy.
Some philosophers, such as the Epicureans in ancient Greece, thought
that we should be unconcerned about death, because when we die, we cease
to exist. Death doesn’t exactlKDSSHQ to us, it’s merelWKHHQGRIXVW e’re
no longer around to experience it; the arrival of death corresponds with our
departure, so whVZHDWLW"+HLGHJJHr , in contrast, thought that authentic
living requires a choice to face boldlZKDWRXUGHDWKLPSOLHVWKDWZHZLOl
no longer be. As an atheist, he thought that at death we cease to exist, and
living authenticallLVWROLYHZLWKDSRLJQDQWUHFRJQLWLRQWKDWGHDWKLVHYHr
close at hand. It’s not simplDIDr -off event; it could happen at anWLPH,
without warning or the chance to reflect about it, and its imminence should
shape how we live and think right now . Our mortalitFRQIURQWVXVZLWKWKe
task of defining ourselves, recognizing both our limitations and our
opportunities, and not wasting anRIRXUVKRUWWLPHOLYLQJKDOIDVOHHS.
More than two thousand HDUVDJR3ODWRH[SUHVVHGVLPLODUWKRXJKWV.
Indeed, he is famous for teaching that “true philosophers make dLQJWKHLr
profession.” 1 To pursue wisdom is to live in such a waWKDWRQHLVSUHSDUHd
to face death when it comes.
HarrZDVFRQIURQWHGZLWKGHDWKULJKWIURPWKHVWDUWVRIURPDn
unusualloung age he was aware of his mortality . While HarrOHDGVDn

authentic life, Lord Voldemort lives a highlLQDXWKHQWLFRQHT o see why,
let’s consider Harr
s climactic death march and what follows in Deathly
Hallows .

The Approaching Battle
The matured and battle-hardened HarrVRPEHUO marches toward the
Forbidden Forest for what he honestlEHOLHYHVZLOOEHWKHODVWWLPH+H
s
going there to meet his own doom with open eHV+HKDVMXVWOHDUQHGWKDt
the onlZD Voldemort can be finished of f is for Harry to die, taking a
piece of Voldemort’s soul down with him. As HarrZDONVHDFKVWHp
bringing him closer to the end, his thoughts come keenlLQWRIRFXV,QWKe
shadow of his impending death, his senses become sharper . A great
appreciation wells up within him for all of the things he has possessed
(phVLFDORURWKHUZLVH EXWIDLOHGWRIXOO value. Yet he remains resolute in
the task before him. Dumbledore knew that if faced with this choice, Harry
would follow through, even if it meant his death: “And Dumbledore had
known that HarrZRXOGQRWGXFNRXWWKDWKHZRXOGNHHSJRLQJWRWKHHQG,
even though it was his [Harr
s] end, because he had taken trouble to get to
know him, hadn’t he? Dumbledore knew , as Voldemort knew , that Harry
would not let anRQHHOVHGLHIRUKLPQRZWKDWKHKDGGLVFRYHUHGLWZDVLn
his power to stop it.” 2
HarrKDGIDFHGGHDWKEHIRUHZKHQKHORVWDQXPEHURIORYHGRQHV$Qd
despite Dumbledore’ s assurance that death could be the next great
adventure and despite Nearl+HDGOHVV1LFN
s wisdom on departed souls,
HarrUHWDLQHGPRUHWKDQDIHZGRXEWVDERXWZKDWGHDWKZRXOGEULQJ7Ke
fact that dead bodies decaDQGURWLQWKHJURXQGILOOHGKLPZLWKPRUHWKDn
a little existential angst. Recall the scene in Deathl+DOORZs when Harry
and Hermione Granger finallUHDFKWKHJUDYHRI+DUU’ s parents in
Godric’s Hollow , and HarrVORZO reads the verse inscribed on the
gravestone of his parents: “The last enemWKDWVKDOOEHGHVWURed is
death.” 3
At first, HarrZRUULHVWKDWWKLVLVD'HDWK(DWHULGHDPRUHLQOLQHZLWh
Voldemort’ s quest to escape death than anWKLQJHOVHDQGKHZRQGHUVZKy
such an inscription is there. Hermione assures him, “It doesn’ t mean
defeating death in the waWKH'HDWK(DWHUVPHDQLW+DUUy.... It means . . .
RXNQRZOLYLQJEHond death. Living after death.” But Harr
s parents

weren’t living, HarrWKRXJKW7KH were gone. The emptZRUGVFRXOd
not disguise the fact that his parents’ moldering remains laEHQHDWKWKe
snow and stone, indif ferent, unknowing.” 4 If this is what death involves,
then talk of death’s defeat seems a mockery , and death indeed means just
this: moldering remains, decaLQJIOHVKHQGRIVWRUy .
This was the fate of Harr
s parents, and Harry, in that dark hour, senses
it is the fate of everRQH1Rw , as HarrYROXQWDULO marches to his own
death, he realizes something: “And again HarrXQGHUVWRRGZLWKRXWKDYLQg
to think. It did not matter about bringing them [his departed loved ones]
back, for he was about to join them. He was not reallIHWFKLQJWKHP7KHy
were fetching him.” 5 He can’t bring his parents back, but he can, and will,
die and thus join them.
Heidegger didn’ t advise that we should morbidlUHIOHFWDERXWGHDWh
until we’re depressed, but, rather , that we come to terms with death and the
limitations it implies, so that we can move into our remaining future,
however fleeting, boldly, taking advantage of what opportunities we have.
Think not onlRI+DUU in our scenario here, but also of Colin Creevey , the
underage wizard who sneaks back into Hogwarts to fight in the battle and
loses his life. Harr
s and Colin’s actions, regardless of their beliefs about
life beRQGGHDWKDUHJUHDWH[DPSOHVRIDXWKHQWLF+HLGHJHUULDQOLYLQJ:
recognizing limitations, seizing opportunities, and accepting one’ s own
mortality.

King’s Cross Station
When HarrUHFHLYHVWKHDSSDUHQWGHDWKEORZIURPV oldemort, he
awakens to find himself possessed of unexpected powers and in a place that
resembles King’s Cross Station—a sort of ethereal realm, where time and
space function dif ferently. This scene is one of the strangest in the Potter
books, but J. K. Rowling has made it clear that it is vital.
Waiting for HarrLQWKLVPsterious place is none other than
Dumbledore. This brings up another connection with Heidegger , who held
that we should look into our past to uncover new possibilities for
understanding life. One of his most important suggestions is that we need to
choose our hero from the past, an exemplar we can use to guide us and help
us make sense of our experiences. Heidegger proposes that we have a
dialogue with this departed hero, therebJDLQLQJLQVLJKWVWKDWZHUHZRn
from his or her own experiences.
So, who better for HarrWRPHHWDWWKLVFULWLFDOMXQFWXUHWKDQWKe
beloved Dumbledore, who himself suffered death not long before and
who’d devoted so much of his life to the fight against V oldemort? Not to
mention that Dumbledore was, as HarrRIWHQVDs, the greatest wizard of
all time.
Such a powerful wizard, one would assume, would be like a king in this
place, but it is not so. He is simplNLQGZLWWy, patient Dumbledore.
Dumbledore had once desired power and glory , until he realized, to his
chagrin and shame, how dangerous these pursuits are, especiallIRr
himself. The Dumbledore we now see is the wise, gentle headmaster whom
we all know and love, who, bKLVRZQDGPLVVLRQLVWKHEHWWHr
Dumbledore.
This mVWHULRXVZD-station, King’s Cross, evokes the image of
Purgatory , the place of postmortem penitence, penal retribution, and
spiritual growth in Catholic doctrine. As Dumbledore patientlFDWFKHs
HarrXSRQHYHUthing that was involved in Dumbledore’ s battle plan
against Voldemort, we see more than simplDQVZHUVWRULGGOHVZHVHe
repentance and atonement. “For the first time since HarrKDGPHt

Dumbledore, he looked less than an old man, much less. He looked
fleetinglOLNHDVPDOOER caught in wrongdoing.” 6 We also witness a full-
fledged apologDQGFRQIHVVLRQIURP'XPEOHGRUHWHDUVDQGDOO,WLVQRt
that Dumbledore himself was wicked or that he is now being caught in
some great lie or misdeed. But Dumbledore had been imperfect, and his
mistakes, mainlWKRVHRIKLVouth, had caused great harm. Now , in death,
Dumbledore has come to terms with his past misdeeds and has grown wiser
and merrier as a result.
In stark contrast to Dumbledore in the King’s Cross scene is the hideous
Voldemort creature. One can onlDVVXPHWKDWWKHUHYROWLQJGHIRUPHd
atrocitSUHVHQWLQWKHWUDLQVWDWLRQLVWKHLPDJHRIWKHYDQTXLVKHGELWRf
Voldemort’ s soul. It seems that the decisions made bV oldemort have
rendered his soul quite beRQGUHSDLr, as Dumbledore points out in the
following exchange.
Harr glanced over his shoul der to where the small, maimed
creature trembled under the chair .
“What is that, Professor?”
“Something that is beRQGHLWKHURIRXUKHOSVDLG'XPEOHGRUH 7
Dumbledore puts it into even plainer words as he and HarrGLVFXVs
whether HarrZLOOUHWXUQWRWKHOLYLQJWRILQLVKKLVZRUNRUVLPSO go on to
the mVWHULRXVEHond. “ ‘I think,’ said Dumbledore, ‘that if RXFKRRVHWo
return, there is a chance that he [V oldemort] maEHILQLVKHGIRUJRRGI
cannot promise it. But I know this, Harry , that RXKDYHDORWOHVVWRIHDr
from returning here than he does.’ ” 8
Ironically, it is Voldemort’ s misguided fear of death that has driven him
to the unspeakable acts that have obliterated anWUDFHRIJRRGQHVVZLWKLn
him, but it is because of these choices that V oldemort now actually has
reason to fear death.
It’s worth noting that J. R. R. T olkien’s The Lor d of the Rings , which
ranks with Potter as one of the most popular fantasHSLFVRIDOOWLPH,
echoes this quest-for -immortalitPRWLI$VT olkien noted in his Letters , the
real theme of The Lord of the Rings is not power or heroic resistance to evil,
but “Death and the desire for deathlessness.” 9 Sauron, the Dark Lord, pours
a good part of his life-force into the One Ring, tLQJKLVRZQLQFDUQDWe
existence irreversiblWRWKH5LQJ7KLVULQJLVWKHFDWDOst for much evil and
eventuallPXVWEHGHVWURed. Let’ s see what this motif represents and what
insight it maKDYHIRURXURZQOLYHV.

Reap a Destiny
It’s said that the great American psFKRORJLVWDQGSKLORVRSKHUW illiam
James (1842-1910) once wrote in the margin of a copRIKLV PsFKRORJy :
Briefer Course the following lines: “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an
action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character , reap a
destiny.” The idea is that it starts small and ends big; our thoughts lead to
actions, which upon becoming habit LHOGDFKDUDFWHUDQGXOWLPDWHO a
destiny. Voldemort’ s destiny, as revealed in the King’ s Cross scene, is the
result of a lifetime of choices that put him on a fatal trajectorWo
destruction.
This scene raises a possibilitWKDWZRXOGEHTXLWHIRUHLJQWR+HLGHJJHr .
After being raised a Catholic and seriouslFRQVLGHULQJWKHSULHVWKRRG,
Heidegger embraced atheism, abandoning belief in the afterlife. He once
described his philosophDVDZDLWLQJIRU*RGDSKUDVHWKDWLQVSLUHd
Samuel Beckett’s famous pla Waiting for Godot . But far from thinking that
atheism empties life of meaning or significance, Heidegger thought that our
mortalitPDGHFKRRVLQJKRZZHOLYHWKLVOLIHDOOLPSRUWDQW$VKHVDZLW,
death represents both the ultimate individuating event and the culmination
of the process bZKLFKHDFKRIXVIRUPVRXUHVVHQFHWKURXJKRXUFKRLFHV,
because each of us must go through death’ s door alone.
Rowling’s view is both similar and dif ferent. The Voldemort creature at
the station is saddled with an unchanging destiny . It represents the
culmination of his development of character, a process that is complete.
Voldemort no longer merelGLGHYLOKHKDGEHFRPHHYLO+HLVDs
Dumbledore saVEHond help. He’ s chosen his fate, and it’s ugly. As
James would have put it, V oldemort’s thoughts led to actions, then habits,
then a character , and finallDGHVWLQy . Aristotle noted how our actions put
us on a trajectory, turning us graduallLQWRSDUWLFXODUNLQGVRISHRSOHHDFh
choice incrementallVKDSLQJRXUVRXOV5RZOLQJ
s portraDORIVoldemort’s
terrifLQJIDWHUHSUHVHQWVWKHXOWLPDWHFXOPLQDWLRQRIVXFKDSURFHVVLI,
contrarWR+HLGHJJHr ’s view , we don’ t cease to exist at death but instead
must continue to live with the consequences of who we have become.

To put it another way , we might saWKDWLQGHDWKZHZLOO fully become
who we were in the process of becoming, and now we must live with our
chosen selves forever . Dumbledore was imperfect, but he showed remorse
for his mistakes and was freed from their harmful ef fects. In a similar way,
the ghostlLPDJHVRI+DUU’ s loved ones who walk with him to the
Forbidden Forest also reflect the good-natured, loving people theKDGEHHn
in life, something that is apparent in their appearance and conduct. Lily
Potter is nurturing; James Potter and Remus Lupin are reassuring; Sirius
Black is casual and even a bit flippant, just as we remember him.
Voldemort, bFRQWUDVWREVWLQDWHO refuses to turn from his self-imposed
path to perdition, all the waWRWKHYHU end. And it is not as if V oldemort
didn’t have his chances. Right down to the waning minutes of his life,
Voldemort willfullUHMHFWVWKHRQHWKLQJWKDWFDQVDYHKLPUHPRUVH)DFLQg
a terrible, HWYXOQHUDEOHV oldemort, HarrWULHVWRRffer a path of
redemption still: “But before RXWU to kill me, I’d advise RXWRWKLQk
about what RX
YHGRQH7KLQNDQGWU for some remorse, Riddle.... It’ s
RXURQHODVWFKDQFH,W
s all RX
YHJRWOHIW I’ve seen what RX
OOEe
otherwise . . . Be a man . . . trT rIRUVRPHUHPRUVH. 10
Of course, remorse is not something V oldemort can muster, and this is
his undoing. He maKDYHUHWDLQHGKLVIUHHGRPWRVKRZUHPRUVHHYHQDt
that last stage, but, undoubtedly , the pattern of behavior that had recurred so
often made it exponentiallKDUGHUIRUKLPWRGRVR)RULI$ULVWRWOHLVULJKW,
repeated wrong behavior makes us HWPRUHOLNHO to continue in it and
makes it harder for us to resist. W illful choices of evil in the end, then,
detract from freedom, if Aristotle’ s philosophDQG5RZOLQJ
s fiction are
right. If such a picture of the human condition and our moral development
is accurate, our choices bring certain truths into being and for ge our
characters. James was a firm believer that we are free, an assumption
Heidegger made as well. James stressed that this freedom, this liberation
from a deterministic universe, is the most intimate picture each of us has of
“truth in the making”:
Our acts, our turning-places, where we seem to ourselves to make
ourselves and grow , are the part s of the world to which we are closest,
the parts of which our knowledge is the most intimate and complete.
Wh should we not take them at their face-value? Wh ma the not
be the actual turning-places and growing-places which the seem to

be, of th e world— wh not the workshop of being, where we catch fact
in the making? 11
Such freedom, if it exists, is trulRQHRIOLIH
s great mVWHULHVIRULt
would enable us to make decisions on the basis of reasons that aren’ t
causes; we would be morallDQGPHWDSKsicallIUHHDJHQWVZKRVe
decisions shape our destinies but whose choices aren’t written in stone.
Such a view of human freedom need not require a denial that all events are
caused, but it demands that some events are caused not bRWKHUHYHQWV,
such as the phVLFDOSURFHVVHVRIRXUEUDLQVEXWE us, bSHUVRQV.
According to this view, our actions don’t merelUHIOHFWZKRZHDUH;
theVKDSHZKRZHDUHEHFRPLQJT o the last, Voldemort retains the
capacity, however diminished, to show remorse, but he refuses and thereby
seals his fate and grows literallEHond redemption. Plato said that evil is
done onlRXWRILJQRUDQFH%XWPLJKWVRPHSHRSOHDFWXDOO prefer the
darkness to light, because the
YHFXOWLYDWHGDSSHWLWHVWKDWRQO vice can
satisf"V oldemort’s fate raises just such a question.
How we live and what the significance of death is are connected in
important waVWRTXHVWLRQVRIZKHWKHr , as Heidegger believed, death is
indeed the end or, as Rowling’s fiction depicts, there’ s life after death. Both
Rowling and Heidegger highlight the Jamesian point that our choices here
shape our destinies: either our completed human essence at the time of our
deaths, in Heidegger’s case, or the part of ourselves that we take to the next
life if death isn’ t the end. The philosopher John Locke (1632-1704)
suggested that the things that give us our most real identitDUHRXr
memories and character . Locke’s view of personal identitDVLQH[WULFDEOy
connected to our characters, together with the possibilitWKDWGHDWKPD not
be our end, ratchets up the importance of developing the right character to
literallLQILQLWHVLJQLILFDQFH)RUWKLVZLOOEHDFKDUDFWHUZLWKZKLFKZe
might be stuck for more than three-score and ten, a character that is the
result of our own contingent choices, rather than something inevitable or
unavoidable.
In one of his most famous ar guments, the German philosopher
Immanuel Kant claimed that to ensure the ultimate harmonRIYLUWXHDQd
happiness, we have to assume the existence of an afterlife. Before him, the
French philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) was astonished at how many
people draw up their ethics and carrRQWKHLUOLYHVLQGLf ferent to the
question of whether there’s an afterlife:

The immortalit of the soul is something of such vital importance
to us, affecting us so deeply , tha t one must have lost all feeling not to
care about knowing the facts of the matter . All our actions and
thoughts must follow such different paths, according to whether there
is hope of eterna l blessing or not, that the onl possible wa of acting
with sense and judgment is to decide our course in the light of this
point, which ought to be our ultimate objective. 12
Heidegger rightlVDZWKDWLIGHDWKLVWKHHQGRIXVIRUHYHr , this has
implications for meaning and morality. The flip side of the same coin is that
if death is not the end but just the beginning, even bigger implications
follow.
In the earlYROXPHVRIKHUVHULHV5RZOLQJOHIWLWDPELJXRXVZKHWKHr
death is the end or merelWKHEHJLQQLQJLQKHUILFWLRQDOZRUOG,Q Sorcerer’s
Stone , Dumbledore, in a trademark showcase of wisdom and
foreknowledge, tells HarrWKDWWRWKHZHOORr ganized mind, death is but
the next great adventure.” 13 Yet it remained unclear just what the great
adventure consisted of and whether it included life beRQGWKHJUDYH1Rw ,
however, the scope of the adventure has been brought more fullWROLJKW.
One of the most gripping aspects of Rowling’ s magical fiction is its
compelling character development. Imperfect and morallIODZHd
characters tangling with profound choices between what’ s good and what’s
easSURYLGHLQVLJKWLQWRWKHPRUDOILEHURIFKDUDFWHUVZH
YHFRPHWRFDUe
about. Adding to the drama and lending more potencWRZDWFKLQJWKHVe
characters progress or digress into what theZLOOXOWLPDWHO be is Rowling’ s
sober recognition of human mortality. Even beRQGWKDW+HLGHJHUULDQIRFXV,
though, is this: if Rowling’s fictional portraDORIWKHDIWHUOLIHFDSWXUHVDn
aspect of reality, the choices we make in this life maEHYDVWO more
consequential than we could imagine if death, the last enemy , were never
destroHG.

NOTES
1 Plato, Phaedo , 67e.
2 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 693.
3 Ibid., p. 328.
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid., p. 698.
6 Ibid., pp. 712-713.
7 Ibid., p. 708.
8 Ibid., p. 722.
9 The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien , edited b+XPSKUH Carpenter
(Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980), p. 262. Perhaps the clearest example of
the quest for immortalitLQT olkien’s writings is the invasion of Aman, the
Blessed Realm, b$r -Pharazôn and the men of Númenor in The
Silmarillion (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1977), p. 279. The
Númenoreans sought to wrest immortalitIURPWKHJRGV WKHV alar) and
were destroHGIRUWKHLULPSLHWy. For an insightful discussion of this theme
in Tolkien’ s writings, see Bill Davis, “Choosing to Die: The Gift of
ImmortalitLQ0LGGOHHDUWKLQ The Lor d of the Rings and Philosoph:
One Book to Rule Them All , edited b*UHJRU Bassham and Eric Bronson
(Chicago: Open Court, 2003), pp. 123-136.
10 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 741 (emphasis added).
11 This is a quote from James’ s last lecture at Harvard, given on
December 6, 1906. Quoted in Robert D. Richardson, William James in the
Maelstr om of American Modernism (New Y ork: Houghton Mif flin
Company, 2007), p. 287.
12 Blaise Pascal, Pensées , translated b$-.UDLOVKHLPHU /RQGRQ:
Penguin, 1966), p. 427.
13 Sorcerer’s Stone , p. 297.

18
WHY HARR Y AND SOCRA TES DECIDE T O DIE
Virtue and the Common Good


Michael W . Austin



What do Harr3RWWHUDQG6RFUDWHV %&( KDYHLQFRPPRQ?
At least one important thing, as it turns out. HarrDQG6RFUDWHVERWKGHFLGe
to die for verLPSRUWDQWUHDVRQV.

Fulfillment for Muggles and Wizards
Before we consider the momentous decisions of HarrDQG6RFUDWHVZe
need to think a little bit about human fulfillment. Important aspects of
human fulfillment fall under ethics, which is the branch of philosophWKDt
focuses on how we ought to live and what kind of people we ought to be.
ManSKLORVRSKHUVEHOLHYHWKDWWKHTXHVWLRQVRIHWKLFVDUHLQWULQVLFDOOy
connected to human nature and that to be trulKDSS and fulfilled as a
human being, one must live a moral life.
WhGRHV6RFUDWHVJLYHKLVOLIHIRUKLVFRQYLFWLRQVDQGZK is Harry
willing to do so in Deathl+DOORZs ? More generally, whEHPRUDODWDOO?
In the Republic , Socrates’ student Plato of fers an answer to this question.
Plato (427-347 B.C.E.) argues that to be fulfilled as human beings, we must
be moral. For Plato, being a moral individual is necessarDQGVXf ficient for
true happiness. This means that in order to be trulKDSSy, we must be
moral. It also means that if we are moral, then we will be trulKDSSy . In
this, Plato is expressing the same views as his mentor, Socrates. Yet just as
HarrKDVDQHQHP in Lord V oldemort, Socrates has enemies of his own,
philosophical and otherwise.

Voldemort and the Sophists
A crucial part of the drama of the Harr3RWWHUERRNVLVWKHFRQIOLFWWKDt
happens not onlEHWZHHQWKHZDQGVRIWKHZL]DUGV DOWKRXJKWKLVLVYHUy
cool—but between the worldviews of HarrDQGV oldemort. In this conflict,
theUHVSHFWLYHO represent the views of Socrates and his opponents, the
Sophists. 1
The Sophists were a group of teachers-for-hire who were highlVNLOOHd
in the art of rhetoric and had verOLWWOHUHJDUGIRUWKHWUXWK,IWKH have
contemporarFRXQWHUSDUWVWKHEHVWFDQGLGDWHVZRXOGEHXQVFUXSXORXs
advertisers and political spin doctors. According to the Sophists, the just or
moral person alwaVJHWVOHVVWKDQWKHXQMXVWSHUVRQGRHV,PPRUDOLW paV,
because bEHLQJLPPRUDORQHLVEHWWHUDEOHWRVHFXUHSRZHr , wealth, and
pleasure. As the Sophist ThrasPDFKXVSXWVLWLQKLVGHEDWHZLWK6RFUDWHVLn
Book I of the Republic ,
You must look at it as follows, m most simple Socrates: A just
man alwaV gets less than an unjust one. First, in their contracts with
one another , RX
OO never find, when the partnership ends, that a just
partner has got more than an unjust one, but less. Second, in matters
relating to the city, when taxes are to be paid, a just man paV more on
the same property , an unjust one less.... When each of them holds a
ruling position in some public office, a just person, even if he isn’ t
penalized in other waV finds that his private affairs deteriorate
because he has to neglect them, that he gains no advantage from the
public purse because of his justi ce, and that he’s hated b his relatives
and acqu aintances when he’s unwilling to do them an unjust favor. The
opposite is true of an unjust man in everUHVSHFW. 2
The unjust man is able to gain more wealth because he takes advantage
of others in order to do so. He is not held back from doing this bKLVPRUDl
commitments, as the just person is. This reasoning applies not onlWRWKe
pursuit of wealth, but also to the pursuit of power and pleasure. If the unjust
person can get others to trust him, then theEHFRPHYXOQHUDEOHWRKLPW e
see Voldemort do this time and again, not onlZLWKKLVHQHPLHVEXWHYHn

with his followers. TheWUXVWKLPHQRXJKWRSXWWKHPVHOYHVDWKLVPHUFy,
and he generallPDNHVWKHPSD for that trust once he no longer needs
them. When trust and vulnerabilitDUHSUHVHQWWKHXQMXVWSHUVRQFDQWKHn
manipulate and exploit others for his or her own personal gain of power,
pleasure, or wealth.
Plato, through the character of Socrates in this dialogue, mounts a
counterargument to the views of the Sophists and those who agree with
them. The first prong of the ar gument explains whOLYLQJDPRUDOOLIe
benefits the morallJRRGSHUVRQ7KHVHFRQGSURQJKDVWRGRZLWKWKe
intrinsic goodness of being an ethical person.
First, Plato argues that there will be justice in the afterlife, because the
just and the unjust will receive what theGHVHUYH. 3 Socrates, during his trial
and prior to his death, warns those who are accusing him that he and they
will receive what theGHVHUYHLQWKHQH[WOLIH6RFUDWHVKROGVWKHYLHZWKDt
those who pursue virtue will be rewarded in the afterlife, while those who
are concerned onlZLWKWKHPVHOYHVZLOOQRW.
This sort of cosmic justice comes into plaQHDUWKHHQGRI Deathly
Hallows , when HarrLVDWWDFNHGE V oldemort in the Forbidden Forest.
After being struck down bWKHNLOOLQJFXUVH+DUU regains consciousness
in a strange bright mist unlike anWKLQJKH
s ever experienced. He hears a
pitiful noise and spots its source. “It had the form of a small, naked child,
curled on the ground, its skin raw and rough, flaHGORRNLQJDQGLWODy
shuddering under a seat where it had been left, unwanted, stuf fed out of
sight, struggling for breath.” After HarrFRQVLGHUVRffering it some comfort
but not being able to do so, he hears the words “You cannot help.” 4 It is the
voice of Harr
s dead friend and mentor , Albus Dumbledore. As we now
know, HarrZDVWKHVHYHQWK+RUFUX[$QGV oldemort’s weakness, which
he believed to be his strength, was that he neither valued nor sought to
understand friendship, loDOWy , innocence, children’s tales, or, most
important, love. Dumbledore tells HarrWKDWWKHVHWKLQJVKDYHDSRZHr
greater than V oldemort ever had and constitute a truth he can never grasp.
There is justice in the afterlife. The trembling, moaning, pitiful creature
in the mist appears to be V oldemort or at least a picture of V oldemort’s fate
in the afterlife, unless, in Harr
s later words, he “tries for some remorse.”
But the Dark Lord is onlIXUWKHUHQUDJHGDQGWULHVWRNLOO+DUUy . Tom
Riddle ends up dLQJVHDOLQJKLVIDWHLQWKHQH[WOLIHE his choices in this
one. The picture is not one of punishment, as the fire-and-brimstone

preacher might proclaim, but rather one in which Voldemort is justly
allowed to experience the result of his choices in this life. 5
People who live justlGRQRWQHHGWRZDLWXQWLOWKHDIWHUOLIHWRUHFHLYe
their reward. According to Plato, justice is intrinsicallJRRGEHFDXVHWKe
moral life is also the happOLIH3ODWRKRZHYHr, doesn’t mean happy in the
sense that we often use the term, such as “I’m happWKH&KLHIVZRQRr
“I’m happWRGD is Friday .” The tSHRIKDSSLQHVV3ODWRLVUHIHUULQJWRLVa
deep and sustainable inner contentment, moral and intellectual virtue, and
well-being. Such a state requires that we be moral, that reason rule the soul.
For Plato, reason is the aspect of the human soul that desires knowledge,
including knowledge of moral reality . Spirit is the aspect of the soul that
desires honor and gets angry, and appetite is the aspect of the soul that
desires food, drink, sex, and other bodilSOHDVXUHV:KHQUHDVRQUXOHVRYHr
spirit and appetite, there is an inner harmonWKDWFRQVWLWXWHVWUXHKDSSLQHVV.
A person with the four “cardinal virtues” of wisdom, moderation, courage,
and justice is the trulKDSS person. The virtuous person is in a state of
harmonDQGVSLULWXDOKHDOWK.
Harr
s storLOOXVWUDWHV3ODWR
s views. He is bQRPHDQVSHUIHFWEXt
HarrGLVSODs manRI3ODWR
s virtues. HarrVHHNVZLVGRPWKURXJKWKe
counsel of Dumbledore, and he often displaVH[WUDRUGLQDU courage,
especiallLQKLVZLOOLQJQHVVWRIDFHGHDWKLQRUGHUWRVDYHKLVIULHQGV+DUUy
is devoted to justice for wizards and Muggles and is willing to give his life
for the common good if necessary .
For Plato, the immoral soul is the sick, disordered soul. When one’ s
desire for honor, pleasure, or wealth takes over , the ultimate result is inner
turmoil. We know from experience that a life of cowardice, intemperance,
foolishness, and injustice can also lead to external turmoil. Such vices are
verGDPDJLQJWRRQH
s personal relationships, for example. W e see an
excellent illustration of all of this in the character of V oldemort. His lust for
power leads to inner misery, and it isolates him from others. The imagerRf
the Harr3RWWHUERRNVDQGPRYLHVEULQJVWKLVRXW7KHSKsical appearance
of Voldemort reflects his wretched inner life. Contrast that with the phVLFDl
appearance of Dumbledore, which reflects the inner peace and harmonWKDt
constitute his good (though imperfect) moral character .
For Plato, the choice of the moral life is the rational choice. 6 Imagine
that RXDUHJLYHQDFKRLFHSHUKDSVZLWKWKHDLGRIVRPHPDJLFIURPa
wizard, between two lives. In the first life, RXZLOOKDYHQXPHURXs

sicknesses, suffer from chronic pain, and end up dLQJDIWHUDORQJDQd
drawn-out struggle with some terminal disease. In the second option, Ru
will live a life that is free of anVHULRXVLOOQHVVRULQMXUy , and RXZLOOGLHRf
old age in RXUVOHHS,Iou choose the first option, it would be fair to
assume that RXDUHEHLQJLUUDWLRQDO1RRQHLQKLVULJKWPLQGZRXOGFKRRVe
a life of phVLFDOLOOQHVVRYHURQHRISKsical health. The rational choice is
phVLFDOKHDOWK.
Similarly, we are given a real choice, Plato believed, between a life of
moral and spiritual health and a life of moral and spiritual sickness. The
moral life is the best life, and those who choose the immoral life are making
an irrational choice. The rational choice is the just and moral life. W e see
the realitRIWKHVHWUXWKVRIHWKLFVDQGKXPDQQDWXUHH[HPSOLILHGLQWKe
inspiring storRI+DUU Potter and his long fight against Voldemort. The
rational choice and the right choice are the same choice, as HarrLOOXVWUDWHV.

The Common Good versus the Greater Good
In the conversation between Dumbledore and HarrQHDUWKHFORVHRf
Deathl+DOORZs , Dumbledore is verKRQHVWZLWK+DUU about his own
mistakes. One of those occurred when he was a RXQJZL]DUGDQGKDVWRGo
with his relationship with Gellert Grindelwald. The two RXQJZL]DUGs
dreamed of a revolution and personal glory . As Dumbledore puts it in
recounting these events to Harry,
“Grindelwald. You cannot imagine how his ideas caught me,
Harry, inflamed me. Muggles forced into subservience. We wizards
triumphant. Grindelwald and I, the glorious RXQJ leaders of the
revolution. Oh, I had a few scruples. I assuaged m conscienc e with
empt words. It would all be for the greater good, and an harm done
would be repaid a hundredfold in benefits for wizards.” 7
J. K. Rowling is not alone in being skeptical of high-minded—but, in
reality , ethicallEDQNUXSW DSSHDOVWRWKHJUHDWHUJRRG0DQy
philosophers are also suspicious of the notion of the greater good and
instead endorse an ethic that includes the idea of the common good.
What’s the dif ference between the greater good and the common good?
This is a dif ficult question, as sometimes the phrases are used
interchangeably . Dumbledore’s “justification” for the harm done bWKe
benefits for wizards exemplifies the notion of the greater good. The harm
that is inflicted on innocent people is supposed to be justified because of the
good of the manWKDWZLOOUHVXOW:KHQWKHJUHDWHUJRRGLVJLYHQDVa
justification, the rights, dignity , and integritRILQGLYLGXDOVDUHXSIRUJUDEV.
That is, these things maEHVDFULILFHGIRUWKHJRRGRIWKHPDMRULWy . Some
can be made to unjustlVXffer in order to benefit others. According to
Dumbledore and Grindelwald’ s plan, Muggles would suffer and be forced
into subservience, but this would be outweighed bWKHEHQHILWVWRZL]DUGV.
This is verGLfferent from the common good, in which sacrifices are
made for the good of all . An example from U.S. historLOOXVWUDWHVWKLVLGHD.
Part of the appeal of the civil rights movement was that it was not merely
the good of African Americans that was at stake in the struggle, but the

good of all members of the American community. The claim that the good
of all Americans suffers when the rights of some are violated is an appeal to
the common good. Harr
s decision to return from the mist to fight
Voldemort is a decision based on the common good of Muggles and
wizards. Dumbledore tells HarrWKDWWKHUHLVDFKDQFHWKH'DUN/RUGPDy
be finished, that HarrPD defeat him. V oldemort wants to build a new
world, but HarrILJKWVDQGZLQVRQEHKDOIRIWKRVHZKRZLOOVXf fer under
the new order. With V oldemort’ s defeat, the revolution in the name of the
greater good is defeated, but the common good is realized, in which the
rights, interests, and dignitRIDOODUHUHVSHFWHG.

Two KeVWRWKH*RRG/LIe
HarrZDVZLOOLQJWRJLYHKLVOLIHLQ Deathl+DOORZs in the struggle
against the Dark Lord and his allies. Socrates, Plato’ s teacher, died for what
he believed to be true. Socrates was accused of leading the RXWKVRf
Athens astraZLWKKLVSKLORVRSKy , but he refused to give in, choosing death
rather than exile. Dumbledore chose to die for something that Socrates, his
student Plato, and Plato’s student Aristotle all valued—the common good.
Harry, too, is willing to die for the common good, if that’ s what is necessary
to defeat Voldemort.
Some might question whether Socrates reallGLGGLHIRUWKHFRPPRn
good. A case can be made, however , that while neither HarrQRU6RFUDWHs
chose to die solelIRUWKHFRPPRQJRRGWKHFRPPRQJRRGZDVa
significant factor in both of their decisions to die. Socrates died for the sake
of virtue and the examined life and was unafraid of death, in part because of
his views about the afterlife. A case can also be made that Socrates’
martUOLNHGHDWKFRXOGKDYHFRQWULEXWHGWRWKHFRPPRQJRRGYLDKLs
example of virtue, and that this was in part intentional. 8
Socrates believed that the life of the philosopher is a superior life, and
that the philosopher is not afraid to die. In a sense, his own death was the
ultimate displaRIKLVFRQYLFWLRQWKDWDOLIHLQSXUVXLWRIZLVGRPLVWKHEHVt
kind of life, and his willingness to die for this conviction is an example that
others would be wise to follow. In this way, then, the death of Socrates
could have contributed to the good of Athens. His friends and followers, if
theIROORZHGKLPLQWKHSXUVXLWRIYLUWXHZRXOGDOVRKDYHFRQWULEXWHGWo
the good of Athens, inspired bWKHOLIHDQGWKHGHDWKRI6RFUDWHV:KHWKHr
Athens did in fact benefit from Socrates’ death and the ensuing lives of his
students is a question for historical investigation. But it is clear that there
can be no common good without individual goodness, and that Socrates
acts as an exemplar for others to imitate in his willingness to die for his
convictions.
Similarly, Dumbledore is more concerned with defeating the Dark Lord
and his allies than with preserving his own life, because he believes that this

is what will be best for all. He, of course, wants to avoid being tortured by
his enemies, and he wants to preserve his soul. Yet he is also willing to die
in order to prevent Severus Snape’s spLQJIURPEHLQJUHYHDOHG,WLVKHUe
that the common good comes into play , as it is clearlEHQHILFLDOIRUWKRVe
opposed to Voldemort to have an allLQKLVLQQHUFLUFOH6RERWK6RFUDWHs
and Dumbledore laGRZQWKHLUOLYHVZLOOLQJO for virtue and the common
good.
There is something verLPSRUWDQWDERXWWKHLQGLYLGXDO
s commitment
to the common good, rather than to mere self-interest (understood as the
pursuit of power, pleasure, comfort, or wealth). V oldemort put self above all
else, and his existence is not something that we envy , even if he had
defeated Dumbledore and Harry. Harry, however , in his unselfishness,
devotion to his friends, and loDOW to the good of all, lives a rationally
desirable and morallJRRGH[LVWHQFH7KHOHVVRQKHUHLVWKDWZHOLYHEHVt
when we live for a cause greater than ourselves. This is something of a
paradox. Those who, like V oldemort, put self above all else end up worse
off than those who often put the common good above the self. The best life
is the moral life.
There is another lesson in all of this for those who pursue this tSHRf
fulfillment, and it has to do with Harr
s relationship with Dumbledore.
Readers of the Potter series know that Harr
s relationship with
Dumbledore is vital to his personal growth and fulfillment. It is also crucial
to the fulfillment of his destiny. One thing that is highlFRQGXFLYHWROLYLQg
a good life—even (or perhaps especiall IRUXV0XJJOHV LVWKHSUHVHQFe
of one or more mentors in our lives who provide guidance, instruction, and
encouragement along the way. HarrKDVPDQ mentors at dif ferent points
in his life, but none more significant than Dumbledore.
WhLV'XPEOHGRUHVXFKDJRRGPHQWRUIRU+DUU? A good mentor is
humble in accuratelUHFRJQL]LQJDQGVKDULQJKLVRZQIDXOWVDs
Dumbledore does when confessing his past mistakes. A good mentor is
honest with his mentee, as Dumbledore is when he refers to Harr
s
hotheadedness in his conversation in the mist at King’s Cross. A good
mentor also praises the virtues of his protégé, as Dumbledore does in the
same conversation when he notes Harr
s courage, unselfishness, and
willingness to face death. Finally, a good mentor is able to encourage his
mentee at critical times in his life. W e’ve alreadVHHQKRZ'XPEOHGRUe
plaVDFUXFLDOUROHLQ+DUU’s fulfilling his destinGXULQJWKHLUFRQYHUVDWLRn

in the mist. There is, however, another pivotal point, in Order of the
Phoenix , in which Dumbledore’ s presence and words make all the
difference for Harry .
After Sirius Black’ s death and a confrontation with V oldemort, Harry
and Dumbledore take a PortkeEDFNWR'XPEOHGRUH
s office, where they
have one of their most significant conversations. HarrLVDQJUy , and a part
of him feels like giving up the struggle against evil. After Dumbledore
explains whKHKDVEHHQNHHSLQJKLVGLVWDQFHIURP+DUUy, he offers the
words that HarrQHHGVWRKHDULQRUGHUWRIXOILOOKLVGHVWLQy . Dumbledore
recounts all that has happened in the five HDUVVLQFH+DUU’ s arrival at
Hogwarts and expresses his pride in all that HarrKDVGRQH+HLQHVVHQFe
tells HarrWKDWKHKDVZKDWLWWDNHVWRIXOILOOKLVGHVWLQy, because he has the
character to do so. Dumbledore then explains the lost prophecWR+DUUy ,
which singles him out as the onlSHUVRQDEOHWRGHIHDWVoldemort.
Dumbledore’s faith in Harr
s abilitWRGHIHDWV oldemort ultimately
enables HarrWRGRVR$QGLWLVV oldemort’s inabilitWRXQGHUVWDQGWKe
power of self-sacrificing love that ultimatelSURYHVKLVXQGRLQJ7KLVVRUt
of love encompasses virtue and the common good, and it is the reason that
HarrDQG6RFUDWHVRSWIRUGHDWK.
Returning from the realm of Hogwarts to our own Muggle lives, we can
draw two practical lessons related to human fulfillment. First, if we are to
live good lives, we must be devoted to something lar ger than ourselves. Lily
Potter, Dumbledore, and HarrGHFLGHGWRGLHEHFDXVHWKH believed life
was about more than themselves, and that the greatest life one can live is
one devoted to the common good of all of humanity . Fortunately, this tSe
of love is not just the stuf f of fantasOLWHUDWXUHDQGLPDJLQDU heroes like
Harr3RWWHr, but of real-life heroes such as Martin Luther King Jr ., Gandhi,
Jesus, and Socrates. Second, if we want a good life, we need a mentor , too.
We need someone who can provide us with and lead us into insight and
wisdom about life’ s big questions and the small dailFKRLFHVWKDWPDNHXp
the substance of our answers and our lives. These choices also make up the
substance of each individual’ s character.
The mentor maEHDSDUHQWDFRDFKRUDFRPPXQLW leader of some
sort. Readers have the advantage of not being limited to the present. They
can be mentored bVRPHRIWKHJUHDWHVWPLQGVLQKLVWRUy , such as Aristotle,
Confucius, and Jesus, to name just a few. A close reading of Aristotle’s
Nicomachean Ethics , the book of Matthew in the New T estament, or King’s

“Letter from Birmingham Jail” enables us to bridge the gaps of time and
space to learn from some of the wisest persons ever to walk the earth.
Ideally, our mentors will be able to go through life with us, as Dumbledore
does with Harry . And ultimately , if we’re committed to the common good,
we’ll also be mentors to others, whether that occurs in the context of our
homes, our workplaces, or religious or communitRr ganizations.

The End of the Story
At the end of the day, philosophical reflection on ethics should have an
impact on our dailOLYHV*LYHQWKLVFRQVLGHUWKHIROORZLQJTXHVWLRQ:Ko
would RXUDWKHUEH+DUU or V oldemort? For anWUXHORYHURIYLUWXHDQd
the common good, the answer is clear . What might be less clear to some,
but is no less true, is that RXUDQVZHUVKRXOGUHPDLQWKHVDPHHYHQLf
Voldemort had won. The value of love, in its best form, is not lessened
when love is apparentlGHIHDWHGT o underscore this point, I close with the
wise words of Albus Dumbledore to Harr3RWWHr , the boZKROLYHGDQd
ultimatelZRQYou are the true master of death, because the true master
does not seek to run awaIURP'HDWK+HDFFHSWVWKDWKHPXVWGLHDQd
understands that there are far , far worse things in the living world than
dLQJ. 9

NOTES
1 Kell-DPHV&ODUNDQG$QQH3RRUWHQJD The StorRI(WKLFV:
Fulfilling Our Human Nature (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall,
2003), pp. 7-23. This short and well-written book traces the theme of the
relationship between ethics and human fulfillment from ancient times to our
era and is worth reading for those interested in pursuing this subject further .
Much of what follows is drawn from this work. See also Plato’s Republic .
2 Plato, Republic , translated b*0$*UXEHUHYLVHGE C. D. C.
Reeve (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1992), pp. 19-20.
3 . See Book X of the Republic , 621 a-621 d.
4 Deathl+DOORZs , pp. 706-707.
5 For more on this theme, see chapter 17 in this volume, “BeRQd
Godric’s Hollow: Life after Death and the Search for Meaning” b-RQDWKDn
and JerrW alls.
6 See Clark and Poortenga, The StorRI(WKLFs , p. 21.
7 Deathl+DOORZs , p. 716. The passage is stronglUHPLQLVFHQWRf
Saruman’s attempt to justifWR*DQGDOIKLVWUHDFKHURXVDOOLDQFHZLWh
Sauron in J. R. R. T olkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring (Book 2, chap. 2):
“We can bide our time, we can keep our thoughts in our hearts, deploring
maEHHYLOGRQHE the way , but approving the high and ultimate purpose:
Knowledge, Rule, Order.”
8 For an account of the trial and the death of Socrates, see Plato, Five
Dialogues: EuthSKro, Apology, Crito, Meno, Phaedo , translated b*0.
A. Grube (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1981). There are several points raised in
the dialogues that lend support to the claim that the common good was one
of Socrates’ motivations regarding his decision to die. In the Apology 29d-
30c, Socrates expresses his refusal to cease philosophizing in Athens as a
refusal to stop calling its citizens to value truth, wisdom, and the state of
their souls more than theYDOXHZHDOWKDQGUHSXWDWLRQ7KHUHLVDn
important connection between the character of the citizens and the character
of the city, and Socrates would rather die than refrain from contributing to
the common good through his philosophizing on the streets of Athens. He

would rather provide an example to those who continue living of the
importance of a life devoted to virtue and the common good. As he saVDt
the end of this passage, “Wealth does not bring about excellence, but
excellence makes wealth and everWKLQJHOVHJRRGIRUPHQERWh
individuallDQGFROOHFWLYHOy .” Other reasons for Socrates’ decision to die
that are related to the common good include his belief that the god has
given him this mission ( Apology 30e), his concern for the reputation of
Athens ( Apology 34e), and his belief that he should die rather than flee
Athens, because he owes a debt of gratitude to the cit( Crito 50a-52e).
9 Deathl+DOORZs , pp. 720-721.

CONTRIBUTORS
The Hogwarts (for Muggles) Faculty
Beth Admiraal , associate professor of political science at King’ s
College in PennsOYDQLDLVDFDUERQFRS of Lil3RWWHr , except she doesn’t
have red hair or green eHVKDVQHYHUFRQMXUHGDVSHOODWQRSRLQWFDOOHd
her future husband an “arrogant toerag,” and rarelVHHVWKHYDOXHLQa
person before that person sees this value in himself. She does, however , see
the value in studLQJLQWHUQDWLRQDOUHODWLRQV.

Michael W. Austin teaches philosophDW(DVWHUQ.HQWXFN University ,
with a focus on ethics and philosophRIUHOLJLRQ+HKDVSXEOLVKHGMRXUQDl
articles on ethics, philosophRIVSRUWDQGSKLORVRSK of religion. His
published books include Conceptions of Parenthood: Ethics and the Family
(Ashgate, 2007), Running and Philosoph$0DUDWKRQIRUWKH0LQd
(Blackwell, 2007), and Football and Philosoph*RLQJ'HHp (University
Press of Kentucky, 2008). He’d love to tr4XLGGLWFKEXWFDQ
t find a
Firebolt anZKHUH.

Gregor%DVVKDm teaches at King’ s College in PennsOYDQLDZKHUHKe
specializes in philosophRIODZDQGFULWLFDOWKLQNLQJ+HZURWH Original
Intent and the Constitution: A Philosophical Study (Rowman & Littlefield,
1992), coauthored Critical Thinking: A Student’ s Introduction (McGraw-
Hill, 4th ed., 201 1), and coedited The Lord of the Rings and Philosoph:
One Book to Rule Them All (Open Court, 2003); The Chr onicles of Narnia
and Philosoph7KH/LRQWKHW itch, and the Worldview (Open Court,
2005); Basketball and Philosoph7KLQNLQJ2XWVLGHWKH3DLQt (University
Press of Kentucky , 2007); and The Hobbit and Philosophy (forthcoming,
Wile *UHJKRSHVWRUHWLUHHDUO to spend more time with his remaining
hair .

Catherine Jack Deavel is associate professor of philosophDWWKe
UniversitRI6W7KRPDVLQ6W3DXO0LQQHVRWDDQGDOVRDVVRFLDWHHGLWRr
of American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly . She serves on the executive
council of the American Catholic Philosophical Association.

David Paul Deavel is associate editor of Logos: A Journal of Catholic
Thought and Cultur e and contributing editor for Gilbert magazine. The

Deavels’ collaborative work has included articles in Logos, New
Blackfriars , and St. Austin Review , as well as two chapters on philosophy
and popular culture. It also includes four children—and theDLPWRKDYe
more than the WeasleVGRDOWKRXJKUHGKDLULVQ
t in the genes.

S. Joel Garver teaches philosophDW/D6DOOH8QLYHUVLWy , focusing on
freshman teaching, interdisciplinarFRXUVHVHSLVWHPRORJy , and
philosophical theology. He recentlSUHVHQWHGRQ%RQDYHQWXUHDQG$TXLQDs
on prophecy, South Park and ontologies of violence, and the phenomenon
of divine revelation. After Olivander disappeared, Joel ended up crafting his
own wand, although he wonders whether his cat’ s whisker is reallDSURSHr
core.

Tamar Szabó Gendler is professor of philosophDQGFKDLURIWKe
cognitive science program at Y ale University. Her research focuses
primarilRQLVVXHVLQHSLVWHPRORJy , philosophical psFKRORJy,
metaphVLFVDQGDHVWKHWLFV6KHLVWKHDXWKRURI Thought Experiments: On
the Powers and Limits of Imaginar&DVHs (Routledge, 2000) and an editor
of ConceivabilitDQG3RVVLELOLWy (Oxford, 2002), Perceptual Experience
(Oxford, 2006), and The Elements of Philosoph5HDGLQJVIr om Past and
Present (Oxford, 2008). She has been unsuccessful in her ef forts to allow
students to substitute N.E.W.T.s for SA Ts in applLQJWR,Y League
schools.

John Granger writes and speaks on the intersection of literature,
philosophy , faith, and culture. He has published articles in Touchstone , has
been a keQRWHVSHDNHUDWQXPHURXVDFDGHPLFDQGIDQFRQIHUHQFHVDQGDt
major universities from Princeton to Pepperdine, and is the author of
several books on Harr3RWWHr , including How Harr&DVW+LV6SHOl
(TQGDOH  The Deathl+DOORZV/HFWXr es (Zossima, 2008), and Harry
Potter’s Bookshelf (Penguin, 2009). John was also a finalist in the 2006
W itch W eekl0RVWW inning Smile” house-elf division. He lives with his
wife, Mary, and their seven HarrORYLQJGZDUYHVLQ3HQQVlvania.

Alan J. Kellner is a graduate student in philosophDWWKH8QLYHUVLW of
Chicago in the master of arts program in the humanities (MAPH). His main
interest in philosophLVWKHLQWHUVHFWLRQRIPHWDSKsics, ethics, and politics

in the historRISKLORVRSKy. Despite the fact that he goes to school in
Chicago, Alan lives in Milwaukee, W isconsin. He has, in fact, discovered a
Floo Network going between the two, which is how he commutes each day .
When he’s not reading or writing, he’ s petting his cat, Plato.

Am.LQd , whose specialtLVSKLORVRSK of mind, teaches at
Claremont McKenna College. Her research has appeared in journals such as
PhilosophDQG3KHQRPHQRORJLFDO5HVHDr ch, Philosophical Studies , and
The Philosophical Quarterly , and she has also previouslZULWWHQRn
philosophDQGSRSFXOWXUHWRSLFVVXFKDV Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek,
The Hobbit , and Angel . When she recentlWRRNDQRQOLQH+DUU Potter
identitTXL]VKHZDVWHUULEO dismaHGWRGLVFRYHUVKHPDWFKHGXSEHVt
with PercW easley.

Andrew P. Mills is the chair of the department of religion and
philosophDW2WWHUEHLQ&ROOHJHZKHUHKHKDVWDXJKWMXVWDERXWHYHUy
philosophFRXUVHWKHUHLV+H
s interested in metaphVLFVPHWDSKLORVRSKy ,
and the pedagogRISKLORVRSKy, having published articles in the Canadian
Journal of Philosophy, Philosophical Papers , and Teaching Philosophy . His
essa:KDW
s So Good about a College Education?” has been used at
schools all around the countrWRH[SODLQWRVWXGHQWVWKHQDWXUHDQGYDOXHRf
a liberal arts education. At present, he’ s working to perfect the
“aEHHFHHGHHVSHOOZKLFKZLOOJHWKLVSDSHUVJUDGHGLQDIODVK.

Tom Morris , after teaching philosophDW1RWUH'DPHIRUILIWHHQears,
became a public philosopher and has since reached millions of Muggles
worldwide through the magic of television, radio, and the Internet and in
talks on topics ranging from business ethics and excellence to
Dumbledore’ s favorite reading list. He’ s the author of around twentERRNV,
including If Harr3RWWHU5DQ*HQHUDO(OHFWULc (Doubleday, 2006),
PhilosophIRU'XPPLHs (IDG Books W orldwide, 1999), True Success
(Berkle%RRNV  The Art of Achievement (MJF Books, 2003), If
Aristotle Ran General Motors (Henr+ROWDQG&R  Making Sense of
It All (W .B. Eerdmans, 1992), and The Stoic Art of Living (Open Court,
2004). He maZHOO$SSDUDWHWRDFLW near RXLIou contact him on
Twitter , where he is holding court dailDVT omVMorris; at the Huffington

Post , where he blogs weeklRUYLDKLVPDJLFDOWeb site:
www.MorrisInstitute.com .

Jerem3LHr ce is a PhD student at SUDFXVH8QLYHUVLW in New Y ork,
who works on metaphVLFVSKLORVRSK of race, and philosophRIUHOLJLRQ.
He is also an adjunct instructor at Le MoQH&ROOHJHZKHUHKHWHDFKHs
ordinarSKLORVRSKy, and at Hogwarts School of W itchcraft and Wizardry,
where he teaches the manPHDQVRIGLVFRYHULQJWKHIXWXUHWKURXJKPDJLc
and the manZDs of not changing the past with T ime-Turners. It wasn’ t
until he had children that he realized that sleep is too important to use T ime-
Turners to get more accomplished during the day .

Regan Lance Reitsma , assistant professor of philosophDW.LQJ
s
College, works in ethics, especiallLQWKHDUHDRIPRUDOQRUPDWLYLWy , when
he’s not battling V oldemort (nobodKDVWKHKHDUWWRWHOOKLPKH
s not real).
He received a “T” on his grad school comps and invented a howler e-mail.
If no response is received within three daVWKHUHFLSLHQW
s computer begins
belting out “Muskrat Love.”

Eric Saidel teaches philosophDW*HRrge Washington University . His
interests have to do with the relationship between the mind and the body . If
he were an Animagus, he’d like to think that the form he’d take would be a
hippogriff. He’s sure that he would be too dignified to chase his own tail
(but we have our doubts).

Scott Sehon teaches philosophDW%RZGRLQ&ROOHJHLQFOXGLQJFRXUVHs
on topics such as mind, language, religion, law , and logic. His research
focuses on philosophRIPLQGDQDUHDLQZKLFKKHKDVSXEOLVKHGDQXPEHr
of articles and a book titled Teleological Realism: Mind, Agency , and
Explanation (MIT Press, 2005). He hopes to start a philosophical
counseling practice, in which he will treat abnormal dementors who suf fer
from chronic happiness.

Anne Collins Smith teaches philosophDQGFODVVLFDOVWXGLHVDW6WHSKHn
F. Austin State University . She has taught, published, and given
presentations on philosophLQSRSXODUFXOWXUHDVZHOODV0HGLHYDl
philosophy. In teaching a college course on the philosophRI+DUU Potter ,

she was delighted to find that students who read 700-plus page books for
fun are also willing to read great whacking chunks of Aristotle and other
philosophers. She enjoVWDQWDOL]LQJKHU,QWHUPHGLDWH/DWLQVWXGHQWVZLWh
selections from Peter Needham’s Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis , in
which Snape gives an especiallLPSUHVVLYHGHPRQVWUDWLRQRIWKHXVHRIWKe
subjunctive in indirect questions. It is her opinion that the students at
Hogwarts should be learning Latin as well, but so far she has received no
response to her application.

Charles Taliaferro is a professor of philosophDW6W2ODI&ROOHJH+e
has written or edited eleven books, including Evidence and Faith
(Cambridge Universit3UHVV DQGDFROOHFWLRQRIHVVDs on love
called Love, Love, Love (Cowle3UHVV ZKLFKFRQWDLQV$0RGHVt
Defense of Magic.” In most of his courses that are held in Holland Hall at
St. Olaf (which resembles Hogwarts), T aliaferro includes a section on
Defense Against the Dark Arts.

Jerr/Walls is currentlVHQLRUUHVHDUFKIHOORZLQWKH&HQWHUIRr
PhilosophRI5HOLJLRQDWWKH8QLYHUVLW of Notre Dame and is the author of
several books, including Heaven: The Logic of Eternal Joy (Oxford
Universit3UHVV DQG The Chronicles of Narnia and Philosophy
(Open Court, 2005; coedited with Gregor%DVVKDP +HKDVDOVRDXWKRUHd
several articles on pop culture and philosophy . SomebodHYLGHQWO put a
Muggle Repelling Charm on his lawnmower. EverWLPHKHFRPHVQHDULW,
he suddenlUHPHPEHUVDQXrgent appointment and has to dash of f.

Jonathan L. Walls , Jerr
s son, is a former musician and an aspiring
filmmaker who switched to his current career path after repeated rejections
from the W eird Sisters. He will be finishing film school soon, and he is also
somewhat of a Potter proselWL]Hr , having led manSHRSOHWRWKHMRs of
Rowling’s series.

David LaW illiams is associate professor of philosophDQGSROLWLFDl
science at the UniversitRIW isconsin-Stevens Point. He has published
articles in HistorRI3ROLWLFDO7KRXJKW7KH-RXUQDORIWKH+LVWRU of Ideas,
Polity, Telos , and Critical Review and is the author of the book Rousseau’ s

Platonic Enlightenment (Penn State Universit3UHVV $Qy
resemblance of David to Harr3RWWHULVSXUHO coincidental.

THE MARAUDER’S INDEX

ability
Academy
“act-choices,”
Acton, Lord
Adler, Mortimer
afterlife. See also death
agape
Alcibiades
Alexander of Aphrodisias
allegorRIWKHFDYe
Amortentia
Animagi, identitDQd
Anscombe, Elizabeth
Apollo (Oedipus)
argument from reason
Aristotle
on destiny
education and
love and
power and
on “second self,”
self-understanding and
truth in fiction and
virtue and
Augustine, Saint
authenticity
authority
Avada Kedavra curse
AHr , A. J.

Baggett, David
Bagshot, Bathilda
Barfield, Owen
Barton, Benjamin
Battle of Hogwarts
Benedict XVI, Pope
Bentham, Jeremy
Berkeley, George
bias, transformation and
Binns, Professor
Black, Regulus
Black, Sirius
destinDQd
identitDQd
patriotism and
radical feminism and
self-understanding and
soul and
transformation and
virtue and See also Padfoot
Blackmore, Susan
Blast-Ended Skrewts
Booth, Heather
Bradley , F. H.
brain, mind vs.
BrFH)UDQk
Buckbeak
bureaucracy , libertarianism and

“care of souls,”
Carrow, AmFXs
Cartesian view , of soul. See also Descartes, René
Cattermole, Reginald
Chalmers, David
Chang, Cho
character
children
natural interests of
parenting of See also education
Chocolate Cauldrons
choice
love and
redemption and
self-understanding and
Christianity
love and redemption
moral regeneration and
predeterminism and
on reality
Chronicles of Narnia (Lewis)
“Cinderfella” (Gallardo-C., Smith)
civil rights
Clark, Andy
class, power and
common good, greater good vs.
communitarianism
compatibilism
Confessions (St. Augustine)
context, truth in fiction and
cosmopolitanism
Crabbe, V incent
Creevey, Colin
Critias
Crookshanks

Crouch, Barty, Jr.
education and
identitDQd
Pensieve and
soul and
Crouch, Barty , Sr.

danger, education and
death
moral regeneration and
mortalitDQGVHDUFKIRUPHDQLQg
virtue and
Death Eaters
identitDQd
libertarianism and
mortalitDQd
patriotism and
power and
soul and
Delacour , Fleur
Dementors
Descartes, René. See also Cartesian view , of soul
destiny
compatibilists vs. libertarians
prophecDQd
self-fulfilling prophecDQd
time travel and
determinism
Dewey, John
Diggory , Cedric
DionVLXVI
Diotima
discrimination, patriotism and
divine providence
divisiveness, patriotism and
Dobby
Doughty , Terri
Dresang, Eliza
dualism
Dumbledore, Albus
choice and
destinDQd

education and
as gay, and truth in fiction
libertarianism and
love and redemption
love potions and
moral regeneration and
mortalitDQd
patriotism and
Pensieve and
power and
radical feminism and
realitDQd
self-understanding and
soul and
transformation and
virtue and
Dursley , Dudley
Dursley, Petunia
Dursley, Vernon

education
negatives of
progressive approach to
racism and
Elder Wand
Emerson, Ralph W aldo
empiricism
Engel, Susan
“environmental supports,”
Epicureans
eros
ethics
love potions and
patriotism and See also moralitYLUWXe
eudaimonia
Evans, Lily. See Potter, Lily
“examined life,”
experiential memory
“Extended Mind, The” (Clark, Chalmers)
extended mind theory

factual memory
fallible prophecy
fantasy, moral regeneration and
Fawkes
Felix Felicis
feminism. See radical feminism
Filch, Ar gus
Firenze
destinDQd
education and
libertarianism and
politics and
“first-wave feminism,”
Fletcher, Mundungus
Flitwick, Filius
Forbidden Forest
Frankfurt, Harry
freedom. See politics
free will
friendship
Fudge, Cornelius
fulfillment
“fuzzFRQFHSW.

Gadamer, Hans-Geor g
Gallardo-C., Ximena
Gandhi
Gaunt, Marvolo
Gaunt, Merope
Gaunt, Morfin
gender
love potions and
stereotSHV( See also radical feminism)
genre, truth in fiction and
Gertrude the Great, Saint
giggling, radical feminism and
Gladstein, Mimi
Glaucon
Gleeson, Brendan
global conflict, patriotism and
Goldfield, Evi
Goldman, Emma
good vs. evil
radical feminism and
redemption and
GoOH*UHJRUy
Granger, Hermione
destinDQd
education and
identitDQd
libertarianism and
love potions and
moral regeneration and
patriotism and
Pensieve and
radical feminism and
realitDQd
self-understanding and
soul and

transformation and
truth in fiction and
greater good, common good vs.
GreEDFN)HQULr
Grindelwald, Gellert
power and
self-understanding and
transformation and
truth in fiction and
virtue and
Griphook
Grffindor House
libertarianism and
patriotism and

Hagrid, Rubeus
education and
libertarianism and
patriotism and
self-understanding and
truth in fiction and
hands-on learning
happiness
Harr3RWWHUDQG,PDJLQDWLRn (Prinzi)
Harr3RWWHUDQG3KLORVRSKy (Baggett, Klein)
“Harr3RWWHUDQGWKH+DOI&UD]HG%XUHDXFUDF” (Barton)
“Harr3RWWHr’s Girl T rouble” (Schoefer)
Hasker, William
Hegel, G. W . F.
Heidegger , Martin
Heilman, Elizabeth
Hirsch, E. D., Jr .
Hobbes, Thomas
Hogwarts
Battle of Hogwarts
education at
Hogwarts, A History
Houses of, and patriotism See also Grffindor House; house-elves;
SlWKHULQ+RXVe
Hokey
Horcruxes
destinDQd
love and redemption
moral regeneration and
power and
radical feminism and
soul and
house-elves
education and
libertarianism and

patriotism and
self-understanding and
truth in fiction and
Howe, Michael J. A.
human fulfillment
humanity, soul and

identity
integritRf
memorWKHRU of personal identity
mind-bodGLVWLQFWLRQDQd
minoritLGHQWLW and truth in fiction
patriotism and
radical feminism and
reason and
self and
self-understanding and
transformation and
illusion. See reality
immaterialist view
Imperius Curse
“inert” knowledge
infallible prophecy
Inklings
integrity, moral regeneration and
intelligence, power and
intentionalist literarWKHRUy
“internal-choice,”
invisibilitFORDk

James, William
Jesus
John the evangelist
Jorkins, Bertha
justice

Kant, Immanuel
education and
mortalitDQd
patriotism and
power and
self-understanding and
Kern, Edmund
Kettleburn, Professor
King’s Cross
Klein, Melanie
Klein, Shawn E.
know-how memory
Kreacher
Krum, V iktor

Laius, King (Oedipus)
laws, libertarianism and
Lestrange, Bellatrix
Letters (Tolkien)
Levine, Arthur E.
Lewis, C. S.
Lewis, David
liberal education
liberal feminism
libertarianism
Harr3RWWHUDQG,PDJLQDWLRn (Prinzi)
“Harr3RWWHUDQGWKH+DOI&UD]HG%XUHDXFUDF” (Barton)
love potions and
Life after Life (Mood)
Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledor e, The
life-source view, of soul
Locke, John
Lockhart, Gilderoy
choice and
education and
Pensieve and
soul and
logos
Longbottom, Neville
destinDQd
libertarianism and
Pensieve and
self-understanding and
Lord of the Rings, The (Tolkien)
love
love potions and
radical feminism and
redemption and
Lovegood, Luna
Lucretius

Lupin, Remus
destinDQd
education and
identitDQd
libertarianism and
love and redemption
moral regeneration and
patriotism and
radical feminism and
soul and
truth in fiction and

Malfoy, Draco
libertarianism and
love potions and
self-understanding and
transformation and
Marauder ’s Map
Mar ge, Aunt
masculinity
materialism
maximal inclusiveness principle
Maxime, Madame
McGonagall, Minerva
destinDQd
education and
identitDQd
love and redemption
radical feminism and
meaning, transformation and
memory
aids ( See also Pensieve)
memorWKHRU of personal identity
transformation and
mentors
metaphVLFs
Mill, John Stuart
mind
brain vs.
extended mind theory
mind-bodGLVWLQFWLRQDQGLGHQWLWy
See also Pensieve
MinistrRI0DJLc
libertarianism and
power and
radical feminism and
Miracles (Lewis)

Moaning MUWOe
“model school,”
Moody, Alastor “Mad-EH.
education and
identitDQd
Pensieve and
realitDQd
transformation and
Moody, RaPRQd
morality
education and
patriotism and
self-understanding and See also ethics; moral regeneration; virtue
moral regeneration
fantasDQd
integritRISHUVRQDOLGHQWLW and
Order of the Phoenix and
remorse and death
Voldemort and
Morris, T om
mortality
accepting death and
destinDQd
repentance and
“motive-choice,”
Munaker, Sue

Nagini
near-death experiences (NDEs)
Nearl+HDGOHVV1LFk
Nicomachean Ethics (Aristotle)
nonoccurrent beliefs
Nussbaum, Martha

Occlumency
occurrent beliefs
Oedipus (Oedipus)
open future view
Otto (extended mind theorH[DPSOH)

Padfoot. See also Black, Sirius
Pangle, Thomas
Parseltongue
Pascal, Blaine
patriotism
communitarianism and
cosmopolitanism and
dangers of
discrimination and
division and divisiveness
global conflict and
Patronus
Harr3RWWHUDQd
James Potter and
NPSKDGRUDTonks and
Pensieve
extended mind theorDQd
materialism vs . dualism
occurrent vs . nonoccurrent beliefs
tSHVRIPHPRU and
“people,” radical feminism and
personal identity . See identity
personal liberty. See also libertarianism
perspective, self-understanding and
Pettigrew, Peter
identitDQd
Pensieve and
radical feminism and
self-understanding and See also Wormtail
phenomenalism
philia
philosopher -rulers
philosophy
connection to Harr3RWWHr
death and

Pince, Madame
Plantinga, Alvin
Plato
allegorRIWKHFDYe
on death
education and
love and redemption
on philosophy
power and
virtue and
politics
libertarianism and
patriotism and
power and
PolMXLFH3RWLRn
Potter, Albus Severus
Potter, Harry
destinDQd
education and
identitDQd
libertarianism and
love and redemption
love potions and
moral regeneration and
mortalitDQd
patriotism and
Pensieve and
power and
radical feminism and
realitDQd
self-understanding and
soul and
transformation and
virtue and
Potter, James
love and redemption
moral regeneration and

mortalitDQd
Pensieve and
soul and
truth in fiction and
Potter, Lily
destinDQd
love and redemption
love potions and
moral regeneration and
power and
self-understanding and
soul and
truth in fiction and
virtue and
Potterwatch
power
rulers and
temptation and
predeterminism
prejudgment, transformation and
primarWUXWKs
Prinzi, T ravis
prophecy
fallible
self-fulfilling
tSHVRf
PsFKRORJ: Briefer Course (James)
purebloods
libertarianism and
patriotism and
racism and

Quidditch, radical feminism and
Quirrell, Professor

race
civil rights and
racism and See also purebloods
radical feminism
Harr3RWWHr (series) as sexist vs . progressive
liberal feminism vs .
love and
“rational animals,”
rational choice
rationalism, self-understanding and
reader response, truth in fiction and
reality
argument from reason and
metaphVLFVDQd
moral regeneration and
near -death experiences (NDEs) and
perception of
reason
identitDQd
realitDQd
redemption
choice and
good vs . evil
love potions and
transformation and
tSHVRIORYHDQd
regret
religion
love and redemption
moral regeneration and
mortalitDQd
predeterminism and
realitDQd
remorse, death and
Republic (Plato)

Resurrection Stone
Riddle, Tom
moral regeneration and
patriotism and
Pensieve and
power and
soul and
transformation and See also Voldemort
Riddle, T om, Sr.
Ring of GJHs
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques
Rowling, J. K.
on destiny
on libertarianism
on moral regeneration
on Pensieve
on power
on reality
on self-understanding
on soul
truth in fiction and
Runcorn, Albert

Sauron (The Lord of the Rings)
Schoefer , Christine
“school of virtue,”
Scrimgeour , Rufus
secondarWUXWKs
“second self,”
“second wave feminism,”
Secrets of the Darkest Art
Seers
self
identitDQG( See also identit)
soul and
self-examination
self-fulfilling prophecy
self-knowledge
self-love
self-reliance, libertarianism and
self-sacrifice
self-understanding
abilitDQd
challenging oneself and
choice and
perspective and
rationalism and
self-examination and
sentience
sentimental conception, of soul
“Seventh Letter” (Plato)
sexism
Shacklebolt, Kingsley
Skeeter , Rita
Slughorn, Horace
destinDQd
love potions and
Pensieve and

soul and
SlWKHULQ6DOD]Dr
SlWKHULQ+RXVe
Harr3RWWHUDQd
love and redemption
patriotism and
racism and
Smith, C. Jason
Smith, Hepzibah
Snape, Severus
destinDQd
libertarianism and
love potions and
moral regeneration and
Pensieve and
power and
radical feminism and
self-understanding and
transformation and
virtue and
SocietIRUWKH3URPRWLRQRI(OILVKWelfare (S.P.E.W.)
Socrates
Sophists
Sorcerer ’s Stone
Sorting Hat
soul
defeating death and
moral regeneration and
philosophical conceptions of
self and
sentimental conception of
as surviving bodilGHDWh
virtue and
Sprout, Pomona
Stevenson, Adlai
Sword of Grf findor
SPSRVLXm (Plato)

teachers, education and
Thicknesse, Pius
“Thirty,”
Thomas, Dean
ThrasPDFKXs
Tolkien, J. R. R.
Tolstoy , Leo
Tonks, NPSKDGRUa
“tradition,”
transformation
bias and
identitDQd
memorDQGPHDQLQg
prejudgment and
redemption and
T relawney , SELOl
destinDQd
education and
libertarianism and
Triwizard T ournament
trust
destinDQd
love and redemption
truth in fiction
authorial intent and
defined
genre constraints and
reader response and
textual evidence and

Umbridge, Dolores
education and
libertarianism and
power and
radical feminism and
transformation and
utilitarianism

Vane, Romilda
vice, patriotism and
virtue
common good vs . greater good
fulfillment and
justice and
patriotism and
power and See also ethics; morality
Voldemort
destinDQd
education and
libertarianism and
love and redemption
love potions and
moral regeneration and
mortalitDQd
patriotism and
Pensieve and
power and
radical feminism and
self-understanding and
soul and
transformation and
virtue and See also Riddle, T om

Waldron, Jeremy
Watson, Emma. See also Granger , Hermione
Weasley , Arthur
identitDQd
libertarianism and
self-understanding and
truth in fiction and
“Weasley , Barny ,”
Weasley , Bill
Weasley , Fred
Weasley , Geor ge
Weasley , Ginny
destinDQd
love potions and
moral regeneration and
self-understanding and
Weasley , Molly
identitDQd
love potions and
radical feminism and
truth in fiction and
Weasley , Percy
Weasley , Ron
destinDQd
identitDQd
love potions and
moral regeneration and
patriotism and
Pensieve and
self-understanding and
“well-rounded” education
Whitehead, Alfred North
Wilkins, Monica
Wilkins, W endell
Winky

Wizengamot
Wolfsbane potion
Wormtail. See also Pettigrew , Peter

Yogacara Buddhism

Zettel, Sarah
X