• RRP: £12.06
  • You Save: £0.83 (7%)
FREE Delivery in the UK.
Only 2 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
The Philosophy of Tolkien... has been added to your Basket
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind The "Lord of the Rings" Paperback – 1 Oct 2005

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

See all formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
£7.22 £10.40
Note: This item is eligible for click and collect. Details
Pick up your parcel at a time and place that suits you.
  • Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
  • Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
How to order to an Amazon Pickup Location?
  1. Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
  2. Dispatch to this address when you check out
Learn more
£11.23 FREE Delivery in the UK. Only 2 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Special Offers and Product Promotions

Frequently Bought Together

  • The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind The "Lord of the Rings"
  • +
  • The Power of the Ring: The Spiritual Vision Behind the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit
  • +
  • Tolkien's Sacramental Vision: Discerning the Holy in Middle Earth
Total price: £34.61
Buy the selected items together

Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Product details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press (1 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586170252
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586170257
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.9 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 265,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Kreeft shows how Tolkien gives a very convincing myth or vision which makes sense of reality and gives arguments for them. This is an exciting and insightful book."

About the Author

Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy at Boston College, is one of the most widely read Christian authors of our time. His many bestselling books cover a vast array of topics in spirituality, theology, and philosophy. They include Practical Theology, Back to Virtue, Because God Is Real, You Can Understand the Bible, Angels and Demons, Heaven: The Heart's Deepest Longing, and A Summa of the Summa.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See all 4 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
What is special about the Lord of the Rings is that you want to read it again and again. It is a great prose, of course, but there are other reasons for getting enchanted with that masterpiece.
One can try to identify important philosophical issues which the book addresses, but it takes a brilliant intellectual to venture a profound analysis of the book's attraction. Peter Kreeft is just the kind of an author who can do that successfully. Reading his books is an intellectual pleasure and this one no exceptions. If this is your first book of Peter Kreeft, I hope it will prompt you to get acquainted with his other works too. (Not all of them are in print. An exellent series of lectures on the history of moral thought is available only as a download on [...] or [...]
Comment 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
This is a good read by a good author. More to the point, the book appealed to me on several levels. First, Dr. Kreeft provides a summary of the classic world view that rests behind Tolkein's great work. Kreeft ties the themes of LOTR with Philosophy as it used to be understood and taught. Secondly, the book serves as an outline of philosophy 101; this should be of value to many who despite a university education, still do not know their Ontology from their Ethics. Finally, as always when reading the works of Peter Kreeft, his Christian world view comes through loud and clear with the force of reason and faith. And, as iceing on the cake, Kreeft ties in the works and words of C. S. Lewis on each major point. Tolkein, Lewis and Kreeft, a bargain at any price and well worth the readers time.
Comment 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Please do not buy this book. I have no idea what has got into the other reviewers or how on God's green earth they could have rated this five stars. It gets one star from me only because Amazon require at least one. I will give you two good reasons not to buy; (i) if you love Tolkien and are looking for genuine insights into his work you will be very, very disappointed, and (ii) although it also presents itself as "an engaging introduction to philosophy" and is, apparently, by a philosopher, it is so philosophically off the wall as to be utterly bizarre and misleading, at best, and is sometimes just plain dumb (I write, for what it is worth, as someone who has taught philosophy at an established university for more than twenty years).

With respect to the first, the book borrows heavily from C. S. Lewis; so heavily, in fact, as to make you think you've bought a book about Lewis's philosophical viewpoint. There is often not much Tolkien in it. My advice, if you like the sort of discussions which interested Lewis, is to go and buy Lewis - it's a lot more interesting and readable than this. Often, when Tolkien does appear, Kreeft just gets him wrong. I often wondered whether he had bothered to read Tolkien, the errors are so basic (e.g. Eowyn is 'saved' from the Nazgul by Pippin). The 'insights' are often, well, bonkers. For example; "Tom Bombadil and Goldberry are quite possibly the Valar Aule and Yavanna". The entries he cites in support of this possibility simply suggest no such thing. And how about this: the great Tolkien puzzle, according to Kreeft, is how and why Tolkien "has produced the most convincing, desirable, beautiful, believable and awesome Elves. And the answer is," Kreeft suggests, "that he must have been an Elf. Or at least he had Elf blood somewhere in his ancestry.
Read more ›
5 Comments 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a well- thought- out and well-written book. I found it fascinating and it gives an extra dimension when reading Tolkein's works. I enjoyed it immensely.
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8b470300) out of 5 stars 54 reviews
85 of 89 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b57bb84) out of 5 stars Heaven in Middle Earth 11 Jun. 2006
By Rocky Raccoon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Peter Kreeft is a gifted writer. He is able to take some of the most difficult concepts and make them accessible to the reader. He is very concrete and clear. In this book about Tolkien, he states his objective concisely: "This book is not about Tolkien's world. It is about Tolkien's worldview, Tolkien's philosophy. Exploring that* can be another adventure. For while this philosophy is as much a part of Tolkien's world as its wars,...the philosophy is not on the surface,...but hidden beneath it,..." Kreeft uses a wealth of thinkers, philosophers, theologians, and writers to illuminate (or contrast) Tolkien's major ideas and ideals. He presents a virtue, a philosophy, or a theological concept, then defines it, expounds on it, and ties it to "The Lord of the Rings". He is also adept at applying his ideas to modern events such as 9/11. Then he takes excerpts from Tolkien's own books and provides the clincher.

As succinct as he is at this task, it is significant that he seldom mentions Tolkien for nearly the first sixty pages, and the introduction consists of only about twenty of them. Correspondingly significant, he quotes from C.S. Lewis more often than from Tolkien. However, this is a description, not a flaw, for he frames Tolkien well with Lewis. (Sometimes Lewis is better at describing the process and/or values of Tolkien.) He is masterful for tightly presenting key concepts from Plato, Dostoyevski, Sartre, G. K. Chesterton, and Hegel, just to name a few, and applying them to the framework of Tolkien's deepest beliefs. And, I must note, you don't have to have read any of these figures to understand the book or their references.

It is hard to argue with Kreeft. Like any of his books, you are backed into a corner, for which (thankfully, this reviewer believes) one must accept the Kreeft package or be a gifted debater. He is not one to compromise! I wonder what disparity there would be between a Christian and secular audience for this book. For the former, "The Philosophy of Tolkien" is soul food; for the latter, it may be a fascinating, extraneous, or infuriating experience depending on the taker. It is hard to say where Kreeft could have done better, but his other works resonate even better and seem even more seamless, but his execution is so remarkable that any minor criticisms should be taken with at least a grain of salt.

This is a brilliant book and a wonderful gift to readers. Peter Kreeft may take you on a different voyage than "The Lord of the Rings," but, while he challenges you, he does most of the work.

(Allegedly, it took Kreeft two years to publish this book because the Tolkien and Lewis estates are tight-fisted about their copyrights. If true, it would make this book a particular treasure.)

(*italicized, emphasis the author's)
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ada954c) out of 5 stars Thoughtful Well Beyond the Topic 17 Mar. 2006
By Matthew Dickerson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a superb book. Well-written, and insightful. If viewed only as a work of scholarship on J.R.R.Tolkien, it might not be indispensible. But Kreeft is full of such profound insights into the bigger issues of the value of story, and how story incarnates philosophy--and he articulates them so clearly--that the book becomes a must read for anybody interested in the value of story, the value of fantasy, the value of myth... and how a reader should approach this genre of literature. Of course the book does an excellent job at the stated topic also, outlining how Tolkien's masterpiece addresses the most important questions of philosophy.
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ca96c6c) out of 5 stars Forget "Lord of the Rings and Philosophy"; THIS is your book! 8 Jan. 2007
By Kendal B. Hunter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I recommend this books hand and fist above "Lord of the Rings and Philosophy." It has the blessing of being both narrowly focused while surveying a broad filed. Kreeft manages to cover 50 philosophical touch-points, and show what Tolkien has to say on each of them.

This is important. Esthetics is a branch of philosophy--a neglected branch of philosophy since one wag said "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and everyone believed him--and therefore all art is a form of philosophic engagement. The astound thing this is that Tolkien never set out to be a philosopher--" It is neither allegorical nor topical . . . I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations."

On page 11, Kreeft suggests that this book can be used as a grid for comparing and contrasting books such as "Nausea," "The Stranger," or "The Sound and the Fury." He is way too modest: you can use this book as a key for unlocking every book you read. I am going to follow a similar formant for the next time I read "War and Peace." Both Tolkien and Tolstoy have written long books, and both are each other's equals.

This book's biggest boon is its concordance. Most of the 1,000 references in the text are actually contained in this nexus. The Lord of the Rings becomes a new book, allowing you to isolate key passages from the "background noise" of the prose. There is one warning: the concordance refers to specific editions of LOTR and Silmarillion, etc, so you need to get this book first and then buy the appropriate editions as found on page 229 and page 12. Hopefully when the estate of JRR finally produces a standard text, an expanded concordance can be made. Until then, use this one in conjunction with "The Complete Guide To Middle-Earth."

Although the back implies that he quotes a chilion references in the prose of the book, he doesn't. Don't blame Kreeft for this--a copy editor wrote the blurb on the back. I have had the same problem with my book "Consider My Servant Job."

This book has two drawbacks. First, Kreeft does not fully incorporate "The Hobbit" into his study and the concordance. True, "The Hobbit" is not part of the main storyline of the War of the Jewels and the Ring, and it is written as a children's book, but the charters and events are an important prequels to the LOTR. Much like Lewis's "The Horse and His Boy," Doc Smith's "Vortex Blaster," or Adam's "Young Zaphod Plays it Safe," they are bona fide parts of their respective cannons. We need to treat them as such.

The second drawback is the reliance upon C. S. Lewis. This is actually more of a philosophical since we are not sure how exactly C. S. Lewis's ideas meshed with Tolkien's. There are some oblivious differences, such their denominations (Anglican versus Catholic), or their use of allegory in their writing. However, recognizing the terse argument on page 12 , and from what we can infer, there does seem to be a lot of overlap. They both represent a classical pre-modern and pre-post-modern (an ugly word!) worldview.

The real weakness is that Tolkien did not do much formal philosophizing as Lewis. Aside from "On Fairy-Stories" and his "Letters," Tolkien did not write much on his personal intellectual beliefs. He has no equivalent of "Abolition of Man," Mere Christianity," "God in the Dock," or "Weight of Glory." All we have is the LOTR, the Hobbit, and reams of posthumously published material that is mostly draft revisions of the LOTR, and "The Silmarillion."

Furthermore, if you compare Tolkien's letters to C. S. Lewis's, you see that Lewis was the sharper thinker, and the better writer and persuader. Tolkien's letters are formal and paternalistic, with chatty parenthetical asides, and abstruse references to Old English root-words. Formal philosophizing and theologizing was not his cup of tea, so Kreeft uses Lewis to fill in the gaps.

This book is for a thoughtful reader of Tolkien, or s student of Christian philosophy and Christian art.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b47e8b8) out of 5 stars Another Great Commentary on a Great Book 11 Jan. 2006
By Robert Woods - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Peter Kreeft is one of the best at helping readers see key insights. For those who love Tolkien, Kreeft is a most helpful guide at exploring the worldview that permeates the entire masterpiece by Tolkien. The author of more than 40 books (not amazon reviews that miss the point) has done it again!
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b57be9c) out of 5 stars Too much Lewis, too little Tolkien 12 Jan. 2012
By Dr. John D - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Important to be clear about what you are getting with this interesting book.

Prof. Kreeft has written an entertaining review of what he calls 50 of the "great questions of philosophy" from the perspective of self-avowedly conservative Christian apologetics. He uses Tolkien and C.S. Lewis to illustrate the points he is making - Lewis largely from his non-fiction essays and Tolkien from his letters and, to a lesser extent, his fiction.

Approach the book from the perspective of a Tolkien buff wanting to learn more about Middle-Earth or JRRT's life and times and you will be disappointed. Similarly, if, like me, you are not too interested in Lewis' apologetics, you will find yourself getting a bit antsy.

It is a bit surprising to me that the book dwells so rarely on the Catholic tradition, since this is very much the one from which JRRT was writing (I mean particularly matters of sacraments, intercession, authority and the Virgin), but perhaps the author did not want to alienate the large protestant market. A pity, because I think it prevented the book from making some potentially fascinating points.

A note on the tone: some reviewers appear to have taken exception to Prof. Kreeft's no-nonsense tone, and there are certainly passages here which may challenge those with sympathy for liberalism. (And, wow, does poor old Nietzsche get a roasting!) I personally didn't find it to be too off-putting, but I enjoy reading the views of intelligent, opnionated people.
Were these reviews helpful? Let us know