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Philosophical Parable

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Often philosophers are not happy just exposing a point, sometimes they feel like trying their hand at writing fiction. Instead of rambling on about the topic at hand, the philosopher decides to deliver the message as Aesops through the characters.note 

The protagonist in these stories usually starts out as no more illuminated than the rest of us lowly humans, but at some point, the inner workings of the world became obvious to him. This may come about with the help of a mentor, deep meditation, self-understanding, or some other reason.

Sub-Trope of An Aesop, aka the moral of the story, and of Allegory, the term for works that are metaphors. Compare Author Tract where the main point is the fiction and the author's views seep into it.

Note: When listing examples, don't forget to mention what philosophy/ideology is being espoused and how it's portrayed through narrative elements.



Films — Live-Action

  • The Tree of Life: It's a story that fully supports Creationism. Opening with a quotation from The Bible, it explores the Christian duality of human nature —the conflict between people's sinful nature and the grace God gifted them. It ends by vindicating God, aka doing theodicy, by concluding that God is always aiming for perfection and beauty that cannot be grasped by human minds. The characters, a troubled but stereotypical family of The '50s, represent this when they discover that the solution to their problems is love (God's prime mandate).
  • Valley Of Flowers:
    • The movie itself is an exploration of concepts of karmic balance, and ending suffering by letting go of self and ego and attachment, in Eastern religions. Jalan and Ushna get further down the Beyond Redemption line as their story progresses. And each time it means that they only increase their karmic debt, and increase their suffering.
    • They spend the first act of the movie robbing caravans of material riches. The camera often focuses on the coins, gemstones, and tapestries that they plunder. They are already racking up a significant amount of bad karma with these actions, and that's just the start.
    • Then, they take to robbing people of their spiritual gifts, such as good luck or the power to levitate, which are actually more valuable to their rightful holders than any material possessions.
    • Next, they steal the Elixir of Life in a vain effort to spend eternity together in the physical world as eternal lovers. Nothing is permanent in the universe, and all things good or bad must come to an end to preserve balance in the universe. Jalan and Ushna trying to spend eternity together amounts to a deliberate decision to defy the immutable laws of the universe. And then the universe itself, with Yeti as its agent, sees to it that their efforts are all in vain.
    • That in turn makes the statement that the desire for immortality, desiring permanence in a universe where it is just not possible, is an obstacle to the achievement of nirvana. Letting go of ego and self and attachment to end suffering.
    • Obsessive romantic attachment is likewise depicted as an obstacle to the attainment of enlightenment.
    • The desire for immortality and romantic obsession together becomes an even worse mixture. Jalan and Ushna's efforts, therefore, lead not to the bliss they hope to enjoy together, but to centuries-long suffering that is in proportion to the karmic imbalance they have brought about and needs to be corrected.


Live-Action TV

  • Debris: "The Soldier and the Penguin," written for Finola's mother and related by Finola herself, serves this purpose in Episode 9. Telling the story of a soldier who escorts a penguin across a desert to be with its true love, it's An Aesop about how fear of being hurt or becoming vulnerable can keep you from acknowledging what you truly desire, much less achieving it.


  • Californication: "Easily" is an anti-materialist song, and refers to concepts such as the aforementioned "story of a woman on the morning of a war", "a licking stick looks thicker when you break it to show", and the act of throwing oneself "to the wolves because there's order in the pack"

Mythology & Religion