Farewell Terry Pratchett, a philosopher as well as an author and satirist
Here at Palgrave Macmillan, we would like to pay tribute to one of the greats, and acknowledge the immeasurable contribution Sir Terry Pratchett made to world of Literature and beyond.
"Words fails us. They just can’t explain exactly how we feel or what we think to another human being. There is always something missing, something not expressed in quite the right way, a gap, a distance between what we mean, what we say, and what other people hear, or more important, understand. So we are isolated, alienated from other people.
We can only hope that we sort of get our point across, for the most part, some of the time. Pratchett’s writing overcame this chasm. He reached out to his readers and we felt as if he understood us and we understood him. Somebody out there got it, and how great a feeling that was, to not be alone.
I connected deeply with the sense of hope in Pratchett’s world; that narrative imperative will make it so that good conquers evil, at least once in a while, and when it really matters. That we are rising apes, not just falling angels. I’ll forever carry this sense of hope away from his work, and that’s as it should be.
After all, we have to believe in things that aren’t real. How else can they become? Pratchett’s life and work was proof that we can overcome our alienation from each other, his death reinforces that it is so real."
Jacob Held, author of Philosophy and Terry Pratchett
"I first read Terry Pratchett back in the late 1980s. His work had a profound influence on me and I learned a tremendous amount about what it is to be human from seeing how he dealt with the need for narrative, the way he developed a robust world populated with species that exhibited human qualities while remaining their own species, for example, vampires, and the way he showed the complexities of managing a city through the work of Lord Vetinari.
His supreme creation, the character of Death, managed to demonstrate the complexities of humanity from a slightly skewed perspective and in such a way as to startle at least this reader with piercing insights about life.
Along the way, of course, in reading Pratchett I laughed a lot, got angry at human stupidity as portrayed so accurately by him, and came to find myself “inhabiting" the imaginary world that he so richly conceived and write about. I feel like I know his characters and their richly detailed psychologies so well that I can ask myself, for example, what would Sam Vimes do in this situation and be confident in my answer to that question.
That is the hallmark not just of a richly imagined world, but Pratchett’s gift of filling out his community and characters in realistic ways. And, as an academic myself, I was always amused by his portrayal of academics and rather surprised how often he got it (alas) right. In sum, he is one of the rare writers of whom I can say they taught me something about being a better human being. His loss is painful, but the stories he told and characters he created will live on in readers’ imaginations now and, I suspect, for as long as people read novels."
James South, author of Philosophy and Terry Pratchett
You can read Sir Terry Pratchett's obituary from The Guardian to learn more about his life and works here.
And finally, we'll leave you with some of our favourite quotes from Sir Terry Pratchett on Philosophers...
“Take it from me, whenever you see a bunch of buggers puttering around talking about truth and beauty and the best way of attacking Ethics, you can bet your sandals it’s all because dozens of other poor buggers are doing all the real work around the place.”
“The philosopher Didactylus has summed up an alternative hypothesis as ‘Things just happen. What the hell.’”
“One of the recurring philosophical questions is: ‘Does a falling tree in the forest make a sound when there is no one to hear?’ Which says something about the nature of philosophers, because there is always someone in a forest. It may only be a badger, wondering what that cracking noise was, or a squirrel a bit puzzled by all the scenery going upwards, but someone.”
“I used to think that I was stupid, and then I met philosophers.”
“’What’s a philosopher?’ said Brutha. ‘Someone who’s bright enough to find a job with no heavy lifting,’ said a voice in his head.”
“His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools – the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans – and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, ‘You can’t trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there’s nothing you can do about it, so let’s have a drink. Mine’s a double, if you’re buying. Thank you. And a packet of nuts. Her left bosom is nearly uncovered, eh? Two more packets, then!’”
In Philosophy and Terry Pratchett thirteen professional philosophers survey such key philosophical issues as personal identity, the nature of destiny, the value of individuality, the meaning of existentialism, the reality of universals and the existence of alternative realities. In considering these and many other equally fascinating themes, close reference is made to more than 35 Discworld novels as well as to the ideas of some of history's greatest philosophers including Aristotle, Hobbes, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein and Rawls.
During your journey, you will be surprised by numerous provocative conclusions including the startling claim that the existence of Discworld is logically possible!
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