Philosophy ETDs


James C. Moss

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Grimms' Marchen are not only a delight to encounter, but they contain material of substantial philosophical value. This is a philosophical analysis of Grimms' tales, intended to introduce folklore to the realm of philosophy. Two major areas are investigated. They are the value of Marchen to a theory of knowledge and the existential value of these tales in influencing living, thinking, and acting. The major areas analyzed are the epistemology or world view, horror, humor, and ethics of these tales. The epistemology section discusses the hybrid nature of these Marchen as a synthesis of mythic consciousness and scientific or discursive thought. This synthesis offers a keystone factor in the completion of a theory of knowledge, discussed by Ernst Cassirer. Also, the value of Marchen world view as offering new perspectives of being and the subsequent existential effect is discussed. Next a phenomenology of horror in Grimms' tales is analyzed. The metaphysical implications along with the existential effect of the realm of horror should be recognized by philosophers. "Being" is expanded and meaning is restored. Also, there is discussion of the humor in Grimms' Marchen. The major fun-generating stimuli are analyzed and humor is found to offer valuable perspectives to philosophy. Humor is a way to cope existentially, along with offering new perspectives of existence. Ethical analysis proves that these tales powerfully convey a set of useful ethics. The development of individual character is stressed. No categorical imperative is present. Rather, the consequences of certain actions and traits prove what is desirable and what is not according to Grimms' Marchen ethics. Grimms' Marchen are philosophically valuable and deserve to be recognized as a substantial body of philosophy in their own right.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Matthieu Casalis

Second Committee Member

Hubert Griggs Alexander

Third Committee Member

Marta M. Weigle



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Philosophy Commons