Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts

By David Baggett; Shawn E. Klein | Go to book overview
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14

Space, Time, and Magic

MICHAEL SILBERSTEIN

Where is Diagon Alley relative to the rest of London and the actual world? Where is platform nine and three-quarters? And where is Hogwarts relative to the actual world? How do wizards travel through space-time shortcuts such as those provided by Floo powder, the Knight Bus, and teleportation (Disapparating/ Apparating) via spells and Portkeys? Of course, these where and how questions go hand-in-hand.

A key philosophical question regarding any work of fantasy is where and when the fantastical realm in question is relative to the actual world of everyday experience. What spatio-temporal and causal relations do the fantasy world and its inhabitants bear to our own? For example, if the two realms are distinct then how does one travel between the fantasy world and our own? Does time “pass” in the fantasy realm at the same rate it “passes” on Earth? What is the nature of space and time in the fantasy world compared to our own? For example, does the fantasy world allow time travel, teleportation, or other extraordinary events? Is it logically and physically possible for normal humans to replicate these feats by technological (non-magical) means alone? If these things are possible in the real world—which is the concern of metaphysics—does the fantasy world contain space-time phenomena disallowed by the logical or physical laws of the actual world? Do the magical means of manipulating space and time miraculously break or bend the natural laws of the actual world or merely exploit unknown possibilities?

-186-

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