Philosophy and Science Fiction

Jeffrey Paris

PHIL 195
Core D1

Course Description:

Philosophy & Science Fiction introduces philosophical themes through short stories and novels from the tradition of SF (science fiction and speculative fiction). Course readings for the upcoming semester may include novellas by Samuel Delany, Ursula LeGuin, China Mieville, and Cory Doctorow, as well as a range of short stories both classic and recent. These will be paired with authors in the canon of Western philosophy, such as Plato, Descartes, Hume, and Sartre, to address questions including: Can we discern reality from illusion? How do brains produce consciousness? The course includes in-class visits from local (and occasionally not-so-local) SF authors to discuss their work. Students will also attend viewings of SF films, and to spend two or three Saturday evenings at a local SF literary reading.

Faculty Bio:

A longstanding reader of speculative and science fiction, Associate Professor Jeffrey Paris believes that philosophical ideas can often best be conveyed in narrative vehicles, and has a particular interest in science fiction. Following the dictum of Octavia Butler: the future of humanity lies in the stars! My philosophical training is in critical theory and existential philosophy, and I have taught a wide range of courses in contemporary political and postmodern philosophies, many of which have included science fiction novels or stories as “text.” I have published articles including reflections on novelists William Gibson, Don Delillo, and Michel Houellebecq.