Sophie’s World – A VFA Book Review by Stefan Emunds

Sophie’s World is a nonfiction novel by the Norwegian writer Jostein Gaarder. The storyline serves as a train track on which Jostein takes the reader for an entertaining trip through the philosophical landscape. I enjoyed his presentation of philosophy. If you ever wanted to visit philosophical landscapes without needing to cross dry-intellectual deserts, this book is for you.

The novel’s storyline follows the adventure of Sophie Amundsen, a teenage girl, and Alberto Knox, a middle-aged philosopher. Sophie and Alberto figure out that their world is a fancy of the philosopher Albert Knag who is writing a story for his daughter Hilde. Shocked by this revelation, Sophie and Alberto decide to escape their author’s tyranny.

This introduces the red thread of the storyline, the mystery of free will. Are we just characters in God’s story and are even the most atheist thoughts still God’s thoughts?


Jostein didn’t answer that question. The red thread rips and the train track ends in the outbacks. The end of the story is anti-climactic and odd. Sophie and Alberto escape into the real world where they end up as ghosts, able to see and hear, but unable to manipulate objects and interact with people. I didn’t get it.

What about free will?

If you asked a scientist, he would say something like, “No thing like that, buddy. We’re just bags of water.”

If you asked a priest, he would say something like this: “God bestowed us with a bit of free will to test our moral strength. If we fail the test we go to hell, if we pass the test we go to heaven.”

If you asked a philosopher, you would probably get an answer like this: “Rationality is the key to freedom of mind.”

Enlightenment Psychology has a simple answer to this ageless question. The avatar (ego) has no free will, but the higher self does. What about raising your awareness and re-identifying yourself with the higher self, the cosmic writer?

If you asked a writer whether story characters can rebel, the answer would be, “Absolutely!” Once conceived, stories and characters quickly get a life on their own.

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