CC 300 H - Science Fiction and Philosophy

3 Credits
Professor Pearce
TR 3:00-4:15 pm  

The great science-fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon (1918-1985) was known for insisting that science-fiction ought rather to be called 'speculative fiction' or 'if fiction.' Many works of science-fiction are concerned to raise a 'what if . . . ?' question -- either to answer it, or to leave it unanswered. These questions lead to many of the same issues that have exercised philosophers. In this seminar, we will focus around three themes: knowledge, personhood, and time. We will be examining the variety of ways in which 'what ifs' related to these themes have been explored by philosophers and science-fiction writers,past and present.

Science-fiction material will be drawn primarily from 'Golden Age'short stories. (The 'Golden Age' of science-fiction is here identified with John W. Campbell's editorship of Astounding Science-Fiction,1937-1971). We will also encounter some more recent stories and films. Philosophical material will be drawn primarily from recent Anglo-American ('analytic') philosophy, though we will also read some classic texts from the broader Western tradition. No background in philosophy or literature is presupposed.