Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts

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

9

Is Ambition a Virtue? Why
Slytherin Belongs at Hogwarts

STEVEN W. PATTERSON

Suppose that you and three friends got together and decided to form a school of witchcraft and wizardry. You all have certain traits that you think make for good witches and wizards, so to encourage those traits in your trainees, you decide to divide your school up into four houses. All students will train under instructors from all the houses, but only one house shall be the home of each student. This system will ensure that students of like temperament and character have an opportunity to bond, form friendships, and support each other through the rigorous educational program that your school will offer. This is a fine idea, and you and your friends take up the task of drawing up the central traits you wish to encourage. Here’s how the conversation might go.

You, going first, say that as you are a courageous wizard, you would like to see your house as a place to nurture young wizards and witches who are unafraid to pursue their craft, and to be at the forefront of the wizarding world as leaders and heroes. Your friend says that as she is intelligent, and finds that to be the key to sound wizarding, her house shall be home to students whose intellectual gifts set them apart as a breed unto themselves. After her comes your third friend, a hard worker by nature whose diligence in her work reflects a deeper loyalty to all that she holds dear. She, naturally, says that her house will be a haven for those whose natural gifts of courage and intelligence may be found wanting at times, but whose unswerving

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