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Sophie's World

Jostein Gaarder

Romanticism and Hegel

The Enlightenment and Kant

Kierkegaard and Marx

Summary

Romanticism

Hilde wakes up the next morning, eats, and begins to read. Sophie returns home and learns that her mother has invited Joanna and her parents over. Joanna and Sophie create an invitation to her birthday party, which is to be a "philosophical garden party." Joanna's parents decide it looks interesting and ask to come. On Tuesday, Alberto calls and tells Sophie he has been working on their plan. It is easier to work when Albert Knag is focused on Sophie, he says. He points out that her party is scheduled for the same day that Hilde's father is supposed to return from Lebanon. Later that afternoon they meet and Alberto talks about ##Romanticism# which centered in Germany. The Romantic period was characterized by a worship of the individual and freedom. Romantics felt that art was humanity's greatest expression of freedom. One of the Romantics he described was engaged to a girl named Sophie who died four days after her 15th birthday, something that scares Sophie. The Romantics saw nature as a world spirit, and this was the view of Schelling, the greatest philosopher of the time. After Universal Romanticism, this earlier phase of Romanticism, came National Romanticism, which was concerned with history, language, and culture of the people. Fairy tales and folk songs became important. Writers would write without knowledge of all that they wrote and then at a certain moment directly intervene and retake control of their own story.

Suddenly Albert Knag begins having Alberto call for a new section and tell Sophie that she should not worry about dying because there are clearly several chapters left in their story. Aladdin, who has a message from Albert Knag in his lamp, visits them. Alberto says that they are inside Hilde's father's mind and that he is working hard on their story so he cannot sleep. Then he tells Sophie that he was not really speaking but that Albert Knag directly dictated the words. Now they are sure that they exist in a book written by Hilde's father. Alberto calls upon Hilde to rebel against her father. Then he points out that Hilde and her father could be inside of someone else's mind, someone who is writing a book about Hilde's father writing a book. Sophie points out that even that author could be in the mind of someone else, and Alberto says that he must have had them discuss that option because the book is really a textbook on philosophy.

Hegel

Hilde decides she will teach her father a lesson, and then she reads on. ##Hegel# Sophie learns, believed the world spirit was just the sum of human interactions. He thought truth was subjective and that human reason changed each generation. Thoughts must be judged in their context, and right and wrong change accordingly. But human knowledge is always increasing through history, so history is progressive. He also believed that thinking evolves dialectically—one thought leads to its opposite and then we combine the two thoughts to form a new idea that contains the best elements of both. Hegel also believed in the community over the individual and felt that language forms people, rather than vice versa. The world spirit realizes itself in three increasing stages—in the individual it is the subjective spirit, in the community the objective spirit, and in art, religion, and philosophy it is the absolute spirit. Philosophy is the greatest form of knowledge because it involves the world spirit reflecting on itself.

Analysis

The philosophy lessons and the plotline of the novel have become so intertwined that at this point it is difficult to separate them. Gaarder illustrates the philosophy of the Romantic period and of Hegel by using examples of what is described. Alberto tells Sophie that Romantic authors often felt that their books were writing themselves but that at certain moments they would blatantly exert their own power as authors. Immediately afterward, Gaarder begins doing the same, on several levels. We feel that Albert Knag is showing off his power by making Alberto say certain things and also causing section breaks to appear, but we are also made aware that Gaarder is behind everything. The fact that the author sometimes loses control of the work is interesting on two levels. On the one hand, it suggests that somehow Sophie and Alberto may really be able to do something that Albert Knag is not completely aware of. But that fact really suggests that authors sometimes feel as if books write themselves. When we write, we are all aware that often the words that come out seem very different from the thoughts we were trying to express. Sometimes authors state that their characters take on a life of their own. The author's mind has complete control over the characters, but perhaps the author does not always have complete control over his mind. In fact, this is not just true about written work.

It also happens that when we speak we are often unsure about what we are going to say until after we have said it. If what we say or write comes from our minds then this simply means that we are not conscious of all that is going on inside our minds. But this is very important, and Gaarder makes us keenly aware of this fact. It is likely that when writing this book he had a general idea of what he was going to write but much of it must have been written spontaneously. We edit our writing to attempt to make clearer what we mean, but it is possible that some thoughts are not even communicable. That is, perhaps some of the things that we think of cannot be spoken or written down without losing something critical. Given that communication works so well in general, it is unlikely that many things are incommunicable, but it is possible. The part where Sophie suggests that even the author of Albert's book could be a character in another book is important not because it snuck into Gaarder's writing but because it was deliberate. Furthermore, Gaarder shows us how much a book is an interaction between author and reader. We can find amusing the fact that the characters in the book are aware of that interaction, but still the interaction itself is important. We should always be aware of the fact that even Sophie's World, instructive as it is, is just a book written by an author who may be a character in someone else's book. Gaarder forces us to question everything and we cannot assume that anything is certain.

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a question we all ask

by pala909, August 08, 2012

For my whole life, I have questioned where God came from. I've always believed in a God and that He created us, but I could never wrap myself around the idea of where He Himself came from. One day, I asked my friend and his answer was quite helpful and it might also help you guys, he said, I think God was always there as the essence of "there". God doesn't exist like you and I exist. Based on the way we understand existence, God doesn't exist. That's why that question is so hard for us. When Moses asked God's name he said "I Am"
And t... Read more

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