Spring 2019 HC 223H: Philosophy of Science Fiction in Film

Spring Term, 2018-2019

Professor: Steven Brence

4.00 credits

CRN 32515: Monday & Wednesday, 16:00 - 17:50 @ CHA 301

What is it to be a human being? Does technology enhance humanity (us, that which makes us human, or both) or threaten it? Could technology become human, combine with it, or even replace it? What do current or emerging trends, if extended into the future, mean? Are we on a path to transformation? Extinction? What would it mean to encounter extraterrestrial life? Will nature be (even more fully) replaced by something of our own creation, perhaps even a virtual reality? Will we have to live underground or in space? Will we all wear identical jumpsuits or have names spelled only with consonants? What if we invent time travel; won’t we get really confused? 

These questions and many others, the serious among them essentially philosophical in nature, are raised by science fiction films. Sci-fi films also attempt to answer these questions, often in very subtle and insightful ways. Through careful viewings and in-depth discussion (in class and on-line), this course will explore how we may use some of the best of science fiction films as kinds of philosophical texts to explore and evaluate ourselves, and the broader human condition, in the present.