The Study of The Simpsons

Ellie Sutcliffe

“You tried your best and failed miserably. The lesson is: never try”

This may sound bleak but it’s spoken by perhaps one of the greatest philosophical thinkers of our time; Homer J Simpson. Now, I know what you’re thinking…well I don’t, but I can give a pretty good guess. What does Homer Simpson have to do with philosophy?

 The University of Glasgow is about to provide some answers, or at least something to ponder on. The university is the first in the UK to run a course called ‘Doh! The Simpsons Introduce Philosophy’.

The one-day course, led by Dr John Donaldson, is designed with the general public in mind will cost students £30. The course takes themes such as free will and religion, applies philosopher Aristotle’s account of the virtuous character and apply it to Homer, allowing students to debate arguments for and against this viewpoint.

The course description states that it will cover philosophers such as Kant, Mill, Camus and other great thinkers in an exploration of Matt Groening’s exploration of human existence. Anyone who has watched the show knows that The Simpsons has a rich history of satirising deep subjects and viewing the comic aspects of the human condition. It seems like animation is an art form that is able to explore these deep subjects with a level of absurdity that makes it easy to digest for the layman, which is probably why the show has endured for all of these years.

 It’s not the first time that pop culture and philosophy has been discussed either. If you look, you can find a number of resources online, such as YouTube channel Wisecrack, and tie it to other series such as Rick and Morty and South Park. Homer’s brand of philosophical thought is also explored in the book The “Simpsons” and Philosophy: The D’oh! of Homer’,  available on Amazon.co.uk.

 In a world where we are seeing the worst of humanity in our day to day lives, its a welcome chance to look at the world from a different point of view and maybe gain a better understanding.

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