YOUNG VOICES

University Of Glasgow Offers Philosophy Course Based On The Simpsons

Here's Homer’s 5 most philosophical quotes.

16/11/2016 13:15

Kant. Marx. Aristotle. Any self-respecting philosophy student will have studied these great thinkers at one time. 

But the University of Glasgow is shaking things up by giving students the chance to study the philosophy of everyone’s favourite cartoon dad, Homer Simpson. 

It might sound bizarre, but after the Simpsons successfully predicted Trump’s presidency 16 years before his election, they just might be on to something.

Fox
The Simpsons predicted Donald Trump’s presidency 16 years before his election

 Although it appears Trump as president was one example where the Simpsons would have preferred to get wrong...

The short course, titled D’oh! The Simpsons Introduce Philosophy, will use the cartoon family to help Dr John Donaldson explain the fundamentals of philosophy to his students. 

Donaldson told the Daily Mail: “Matt Groening, the man behind The Simpsons, was a student of philosophy, and that comes through in each episode.” 

The philosophy tutor will use Homer Simpson to discuss whether Aristotle would have considered the greedy booze-hound a virtuous person. 

“Homer definitely has some moral failings,” Donaldson said. “He’s gluttonous, he struggles to tell the truth and can be quite violent, however there’s a lot to be said in his defence.

“He is a faithful husband, a family man who is open-hearted and, in his own way, good-natured.” 

FOX via Getty Images
Students will discuss Aristotle's theories by asking whether Homer Simpson is a virtuous man

Students will also learn about morality and free will through tear-away prankster Bart Simpson and the divine command theory by studying the Simpsons’ religious next-door neighbour Ned Flanders. 

The outline of the £30 course calls the Simpsons “one of the modern world’s greatest cultural artefacts”, saying the show is “full of philosophy”.  

“Aristotle, Kant, Marx, Camus, and many other great thinkers’ ideas are represented in what is arguably the purest of philosophical forms: the comic cartoon,” the course profile reads. 

“This day-school will explore some of philosophy’s most inspiring ideas as presented in Matt Groening’s monument to the absurdities of human existence.” 

Homer Simpson’s five most philosophical quotes: 

1. “Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.” 

2. “If you really want something in this life you have to work for it. Now quiet, they’re about to announce the lottery numbers.” 

3. “I won’t apologise, Lisa. I’m sorry, but that’s just the way that I am.” 

4. “If you pray to the wrong God, you might just make the right one madder and madder.” 

5. “To alcohol! The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems!”

It’s not the first time an academic has considered the Simpsons as a work of philosophical teaching. 

In 2012, founder of The Philosophers’ Magazine Julian Baggini called the cartoon “a work of philosophy”. 

He wrote in an article that the Simpsons “does philosophy better than most philosophers”. 

“Comedy is the most truthful art form we have. It’s great at puncturing any illusions we may have that we’re wise or important,” he added.  

Suggest a correction
Comments

CONVERSATIONS