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Lore Reasons: We Answer Your Philosophical Questions About Kingdom Hearts

In which I disagree with Tetsuya Nomura about what a "person" is. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

by Austin Walker
Mar 15 2019, 9:51pm

Image courtesy Square-Enix/Disney

Seven weeks ago, we at Waypoint set out on a journey to untangle the lore of Kingdom Hearts. Partially, this was for our listeners who trust our expertise in all matters of the heart, but in honesty, it was mostly for ourselves. We, perhaps like you, had been plagued by questions about the Disney-Square collaboration. These were not novel questions, we know, and to series diehards they were simple: Why do so many people have the letter X in their names. Who was Xehanort, and what did it men to be norted? What's up with Mickey Mouse's shirt situation? How many different ways can you write out the sound "key"? What's more powerful, friendship or darkness? We learned, of course, that many of these questions were deeply connected. Especially the one about Mickey's naked chest.

What we didn't anticipate, though, were all of the complex questions that went beyond lore and into the realm of philosophical inquiry: If there are bodies, souls, and hearts, where does the person reside? If some people are drawn inexplicably to the darkness, does that relate some terrible truth about their eternal character? Should we think of the unfractured world (before the First Keyblade War) as an uncorrupted, Rousseauian state of nature or as a violent, Hobbesian land of unrepressed violence? And speaking of repression, what the hell is up with memories?

These are big questions, and we could not answer them alone. That is why Waypoint's intrepid lore master, Natalie Watson, and I followed the example of Sora and sought allies for this difficult journey. Which is why, joining us today are Waypoint columnist Cameron Kunzelman and games academic Michael Lutz, the co-hosts of Game Studies Study Buddies over on the Ranged Touch. Together, we dive into all of these questions and more. Though we left with even more questions to answer, the experience brought us clarity and provoked entirely new modes of understanding. We hope it does the same for you, and if you'd like to dig deeper on any of these topics, a good starting place is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (And please know: While it is not a recap, we do spoil parts of Kingdom Hearts 3.)

Discussed: The Aura (Benjamin), Neoplatonism, Forms (Platonic and Aristotelian), Existentialism, Identity (Code Switching, Gender Theory, Queer Studies), Dialectics, Ontological Pluralism, Panpsychism, Kingdom Hearts

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