Book Chapter

Prophetic foreknowledge in Game of Thrones



Rennick S (2016) Prophetic foreknowledge in Game of Thrones. In: Silverman EJ & Arp R (eds.) The Ultimate Game of Thrones and Philosophy: You Think or Die. Popular Culture and Philosophy, 105. Chicago: Open Court, pp. 151-158.

There is a pervasive and prevalent folk intuition permeating much of fiction and philosophy: that if someone knew your future, it would prevent your being free. Many of the characters in GoT have prophetic dreams or prescient visions: some self-fulfilling, most cryptic, and many misleading. But some, at least, are accurate; Jojen Reed for instance, insists his prophetic green dreams always come true. This chapter explores this intuition and debunks it, demonstrating the compatibility of true prophecy and free will. Drawing on a variety of examples from GoT, I highlight the difference between a prophecy that describes future events and one which causes them, and show why even the latter should not lead to fatalistic worries. In doing so I discuss the difference between third-person and first-person foreknowledge (i.e. when a character is prescient concerning someone else’s fate versus their own), and the puzzles of self-fulfilling prophecies.

Foreknowledge; Causal Loops; Self-Fulfilling Prophecies; Game of Thrones; Media

FundersUniversity of Glasgow
Title of seriesPopular Culture and Philosophy
Number in series105
Publication date31/12/2016
Publication date online31/12/2017
PublisherOpen Court
Publisher URL…omp&target=blank
Place of publicationChicago

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Dr Steph Rennick

Dr Steph Rennick

Lecturer in Digital Media (Interactive), Communications, Media and Culture