Sci-Phi: Philosophy through science fiction

Science fiction isn’t juvenile escapism. It finds its origin in philosophical writings and is one of the fundamental avenues through which we engage with philosophical questions. Do we have free will? Could machines think? Could there be an afterlife? Does God exist? What is good and evil? In this course, we will explore these questions and more by seeing how they are raised in science fiction and how the world’s greatest thinkers have tried to answer them. After finishing the course, you will have a greater appreciation for science fiction and a better understanding of the philosophical questions raised by such stories.

   405 students completed this course

   94% recommend it to other students

   Teacher: David Kyle Johnson, PhD


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94% of students recommend

  “Very informative. Huge fan of every show mentioned, so it was interesting to see a different perspective and mindset from them. Thank you for sharing your insight.”

  “I have never read science fiction but I will now after this course. Thank you.”

  “Well organized and presented! I wish that there was a part 2 as there is so much more I would like to see discussed!”


Course plan

Lesson 1. Classic Star Wars: Did Han Shoot First? (How Should We Interpret Art?)
Lesson 2. Inception: Is Inception a Dream? (Is Your Whole Life a Dream?)
Lesson 3. The Matrix Saga: Does Neo Have Free Will? (Do We Have Free Will?)
Lesson 4. Doctor Who: How Does the TARDIS Work? (Is Time Travel Possible?)
Lesson 5. Star Trek: Does the Transporter Preserve Personal Identity? (Could There Be an Afterlife?)
Lesson 6. Westworld: Is Dolores Self-Aware? (Could Machines One Day Be Minded?)
Lesson 7. Black Mirror: Has Technology Corrupted us? (What Are the Dangers of Technology?)
Lesson 8. The Orville: Is Religion Dangerous? (Is Religion a Force for Good?)
Lesson 9. The Handmaid’s Tale: Is The Handmaid’s Tale Feminist? (What Is Feminism?)
Lesson 10. New Star Wars: Should We Move beyond Good and Evil? (Is the Emperor Nietzsche’s “Superman”?)
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  • Format
    One lesson delivered via email daily
  • Duration
    10 days
  • Time
    5 minutes reading a day

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