Over the past two weeks I’ve been re-reading the seven Harry Potter novels. A lovely way to spend long summer afternoons.

I’ve been thinking how much fun it would be to teach a year-long course that involved reading and talking about all of the novels, perhaps to fifth or sixth grade students. The stories are so full of philosophical suggestiveness. It would be interesting to teach them together with an English teacher, and read the novel from both literary and philosophical perspectives.

As I read the final novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I created a list of some of the philosophical questions that occurred to me as I read:

The “Mirror of Erised” is a mystical mirror that shows the “deepest and most desperate desires of our hearts.” What do you think you would see looking into the mirror? Would the mirror be able to tell you something you don’t know? If you are not sure of the “deepest desire of your heart,” can it be really be your deepest desire?

What does it mean to trust other people? What must be true for us to say we “trust someone?” Can we ever trust someone completely? What would that mean?

Is bravery the absence of fear? Is it action despite fear? Is courage an act or a quality of a person? What does it entail?

What are the obligations of friendship? Do they vary based on circumstances? If so, what circumstances?

“Horcruxes” are objects used to split a person’s soul and thus seek immortality. There is a comment in the novel that for Voldemort, splitting his soul is the same as splitting his mind. What does this mean? Are the soul and the mind the same thing, or only for Voldemort (and if so, how would that work)? What are the soul and the mind?

How do you prove something is not real?

If something is happening to you, is it real?

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