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Old 07-04-2016, 09:12 AM   #4
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 144
Marwhini has just left Hobbiton.
Originally Posted by Pitchwife View Post
I must confess I'm in two minds about this endeavour of Tolkien's. On the one hand I find his reinterpretation of his own work in the essays making up the Myths Transformed section of HoME X highly fascinating as an insight into the working of his mind, and some (such as the passages dealing with the 'psychology' of Morgoth) are valuable independent of the rest; on the other hand I can't help feeling that his attempts to bring his sub-created world into concordance with real-world cosmology were tragically misguided and rode roughshod over some of the most powerful images of his mythology (such as the Sun and Moon being made from the last fruit of Laurelin and the last blossom of Telperion).
Myths Transformed was a doomed endeavor. And it was not necessary for the Universe of a to remain in concordance with a Unifying Metaphysics and Science.

The attempt itself shows that he intended Middle-earth to be a place that operates via consistent Laws of Science as does our world.

For instance, there are means of having the Sun and Moon being the product of Laurelin and Telperion that would be completely in accord with a Science derived from a Metaphysics internal to Middle-earth.

There would be MANY areas where Middle-earth and our world are in correspondence, but they would be accompanied by other areas where they are at variance.

Yet these variances would be a direct product of Laws of Science internal to Middle-earth, derived from the Foundational Assumptions of Metaphysics, and Cosmology that Tolkien himself sought.

I hit upon the solution to this problem long ago, but did not even realize it, when I was in school (University) the very first time, and Joseph Campbell asked a question:

"What would the world look like if these Myths were Literally True?"

The question was one that was Very Contentious, as it was aimed directly at the heart of the distinction between Christian Mythology and older Pagan Mythology.

But the class, in exploring the answers came up with a series of previously failed Philosophies (which we know to be false in our Universe) that would need to be True for the Myths to have physical form.

Christianity maintains that some of these Philosophies remain True (and struggles to continually redefine terms to keep them "True" in the face of Advancing Science).

But.... The Solution to Middle-earth's conundrums is that these Philosophies ARE True.

The core Philosophies are Cartesian Dualism (also known as Property or Substance Dualism: Where both the Body - Molecular Matter - and the Soul - some other form of "Matter" not made of molecules - both have some form of "Substance), and a form of Manichean Dualism (where Good/Evil and Light/Dark are "tangible" and "physical" things - or, at least they can be Physical and Tangible things at certain times and places).

This provides a Foundation out of which everything else in Middle-earth Naturally Falls.

It explains the seemingly Supernatural Elements as being just a Natural Property of the inhabitants of Arda.

It explains the distinction of the Fa and Hra.

It explains how Evil (Capital-E) is able to corrupt things and change their nature.

It explains the difference between the Natural Magic of the Elves, Ainur, and even some Humans and Dwarves and the Unnatural Magic (often called by Tolkien "Occult," "Sorcery," or "Necromancy") that was used by those who were corrupting the Natural functioning of a/Arda/Middle-earth.

It explains how Life-span can be affected by the nature/properties of the Fa of the being in Middle-earth, such that Elves seem to be immortal, yet Dwarves and Humans are Mortal (yet the former have exceedingly long life-spans).


And I have yet to find a feature of Middle-earth that the collective assumptions do not explain.

Some things, though, aren't dependent upon these assumptions (such as the Physical "Shape" of Middle-earth, which is explainable through a Simple Topological Configuration that allows for a Flat-Earth to be transformed into a Round-Earth), and just require using different values for known variables, or a different Topology for the underlying space(-time).

But having what seems to be a coherent solution allows for being able to derive a lot of unknowns regarding Middle-earth that would likely have been arrived at by Tolkien himself (since these Philosophical Properties seem to have been accepted, in one form or another - even if just implicitly, or unconsciously - by Tolkien in his ongoing work).

I'm not saying this to dissuade you from your enterprise, quite the contrary - the stress you put on the Myth of Light (light of Aman vs everyday (sun)light) seems to indicate this has been on your mind, too, and I'm curious to hear what solution you've come up with.

Since you mentioned an interest in the physics, chemistry and biology of Arda over on the Minor characters thread I was reminded of this old thread of mine inquiring into an apparent oddity about life in Aman. Maybe you'll have some new answers to offer to the questions posed therein, or otherwise it may lead you to ask some new questions.
Thanks for the link.... I'll have a look at the other thread.

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