In trying to find inspiration and meaningful, existential advice, many turn to philosophy. I am no exception. I’ve read a lot of philosophy, and enjoyed studying it both intellectually and from the more personal standpoint as way to help live my life. And yet I never was able to glean much from it that was meaningful in a way to impact my own life. Instead, it’s the fantasy genre that has had the greatest impact upon my own perceptions of how to live my life — how to maintain relationships, seize upon moments inspiration, and do great things.
Why is this?
Perhaps it is because it can be easier to identify with fictional characters who are dealing with situations that parallel reality. Fiction possesses the same power as learning through example, allowing for a greater degree of imitation. Here, philosophy fails. However profound it may be, the “great works” of philosophy are abstract, oftentimes too cerebral to be readily applicable to daily situations of the individual. It is, therefore, fantasy literature and not philosophy that has had an enormous impact upon and catalyzed many changes to my own worldview.
Please note: This post will contain plot and character arc spoilers for The Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, and The Stormlight Archive series. If you are not familiar with the events of these books, you have been duly warned and please proceed with caution.