Thursday, April 7, 2011

Final Fantasy and Philosophy

I thought I would put a little post up about quite an interesting book I read earlier in the year. It is titled "Final Fantasy and Philosophy" and is essentially a selection of essays from unknown academics at minor institutions on the philosophical issues raised by the FF series. The book is not as good as it could have been, it tries far too hard to be 'pop culture' with pointless jokes and word plays (possibly at the hand of a redactor) thrown in, this is epitomised by the opening prologue which you should probably avoid, it completely trashes the essays' academic credibility. Secondly, the 'philosophers' as a whole know absolutely nothing about Christian Philosophy and make one or two embarrassing references to the philosophy of St Thomas and some clumsy supposed problems with the Christian vision are thrown out without any explanation. I am thinking in particular of Chapter 13- Is fear of stopping justified and Chapter 8- The four light warriors saved the world. A third problem is that some of the essays are very dull- the first and last chapters which both centre around the philosophy of language are tedious and philosophically narrow with the impression that the individuals just heard a 101 on a certain linguistic philosopher and decided to apply it to an aspect of ff. A fourth problem is the inclusion of essays written solely about the film "Final Fantasy- The Spirits Within", which every genuine FF fan would rather not hear about!

Now on to the good qualities, some of the authors have a really good knowledge of deep issues playing out in some of the major FF games- and spot the existentialism, deep green philosophy and Neitzschean Nihilism running throughout. The three best essays by far are 2- Kefka, Neitzsche, Foucault, 11- Sin, Otherworldliness and the Downside to Hope, and 12- Human, all to human. Cloud's existential quest for authenticity. The last two feature an analysis of FFX which parallels my take on it reviewed on this blog some time ago.

The difference is that the philosophers (explicitly ch 12) are more or less writing from the atheistic existentialist perspective themselves. They raise some important questions though and I really enjoyed them. I enjoyed their contribution to the debate.

The chapter that sides most with our way of thinking is that which touches on what FF teaches us about morality Ch 7- Final Fantasy and the Purpose of Life The essay is poorly structured but essentially supports a teleological virtue based morality (which he claims is based on Aristotle but includes not one reference to Aristotle throughout the article!) over Kantian and Utilitarian morality.

My overarching conclusion of the book was that it could have been much better, but for the few decent chapters I felt it was worth the £7 I paid for it.

If anyone has read it, I would love to hear you thoughts as well.


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Peter Owens said...

I liked it. You mention some of the weaknesses, but I thought as an introductory source for philosophy, it was alright. I used it in a two week January term class for high schoolers and had a generally good experience with it.