Join Professor of Philosophy David Kyle Johnson, of King's College, on a 24-lecture exploration of the final frontiers of philosophy across several decades of science fiction in film and television. See how science fiction allows us to consider immense, vital - and sometimes controversial - ideas with a rare combination of engagement and critical distance.
Begin your journey with a look at why science fiction is one of the primary ways contemporary society engages with philosophical issues. Get an overview of the kinds of sci-fi media you will explore throughout the course and explore how you will address the interpretation of art with a look at the film Inception.
Sci Phi is an online science fiction and philosophy magazine. In each issue you will find stories that explore questions of life, the universe and everything and articles that delve into the deep philosophical waters of science fiction universes. This month we have, An original Novellete from author John C. Wright, The Ideal Machine, a tale of aliens from a distant star come to visit an old country church and offer our world a chance for the future. Original Science Fiction stories fromJoshua M. Young - Domo - A story of a Robot who wonders if he has a soulDavid Hallquist - Falling To Eternity - Can a Blackhole help you get away with murder?Frederick Best - Cosmic Foam - What is beyond the visible worldJane Lebak - Abandoned River, Dry Water - What do you do when life throws you a curve ball?Original Essays byDavid Kyle Johnson - In Defense of the Matrix Saga: Appreciating the Sequel through PhilosophyJames Druley - Star Trek's Prime Directive : Moral Guidelines, Exceptions and AbsolutesStephen S. Hanson - Personhood in H.Beam Piper's Little FuzzyDaniel Vecchio - "I am Groot": An Aristotelian Reflection on Space Aliens and SubstanceRuth Tallman - Endangered Species: Exploring Transhumanism, Genetic Engineering and Personhood Through the World of Sweet ToothAnd a book review by Peter Sean Bradley, Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia.
Open this lecture with a look at how and why we get scientific information from experts and why what we should conclude about climate change is as much of a philosophical issue as it is a scientific one. Then, through the film Snowpiercer, take a look at how a lukewarm approach to pressing issues can create narratives of false security and cast doubt on real dangers that will have consequences.
The pervasive influence of social media makes life feel more performative than ever, yet it really just demonstrates an old dilemma heightened by new technology. Here, see how the anthology show Black Mirror and the Star Trek-influenced series The Orville offer episodes that examine extreme cases of objectification and mob mentality.
Which will you choose, the red pill or the blue? Look at different ideas concerning truth, knowledge, and reality through the film The Matrix, from Plato's definition of knowledge to the theories of Jean Baudrillard. Also, grasp the important distinctions between epistemology and metaphysics.
Dive into the ethical questions of "designer babies," genetic manipulation, and human evolution at the heart of the movie Gattaca, a film which NASA once considered one of the most plausible sci-fi films ever made. Then, turn your attention to a similar issue as you explore the philosophical and scientific ins and outs of cloning, via the Canadian TV show Orphan Black.
Open with a look at a fan-favorite episode of Doctor Who and explore the nature of paradoxes in time travel. You will also see that science fiction doesn't always have to take itself seriously to tell a great story - or to explore fascinating philosophical questions - when you turn your attention to the Futurama episode "Roswell That Ends Well."
Sentient machines have been a staple of sci-fi for decades. Focus on a few key stories, and take a look at the long history of intelligent machines in film and TV - as well as get a glimpse into our very possible future - examining the ways we conceive of the mind and the implications of artificial intelligence. Machines can calculate, but could they one day be sentient?
Science communicator Carl Sagan believed science and religion could be compatible. But does Contact, the film based on his novel, prove his point or undermine it? Probe the many ways humans use personal experience to justify belief and whether or not such experiences can justify belief in the face of contrary scientific evidence.
Though panned by critics and science fiction fans alike, upon first release, the two sequels that followed The Matrix - Reloaded and Revolutions, respectively - provide surprisingly fertile ground for philosophical investigation surrounding the existence of free will. Compare multiple theories and see whether these oft-derided films can offer any answers.