Science Fiction and Philosophy

Reply Mon 24 Aug, 2015 03:55 pm
Science Fiction is a fictional art form depicted in books and movies that shows possible scenarios of alternate and future realities. Now what is philosophy? Truth? The difference between truth and fiction? or fantasy and reality? Does philosophy know why it exists and what it is supposed to achieve? I know we could start a long debate on that subject and some interesting concepts may appear BUT we would probably go nowhere - Often philosophy goes nowhere and gets bogged down in rhetoric that some might say lacks meaning or substance - it becomes aimless. This is why I say that on many subjects science fiction trumps philosophy - It shows potentials of human imagination and expands parameters of consciousness - Philosophy on the other hand is often the reverse of this - Philosophical rhetoric seems to be always seeking limits of thought and how to think - it stifles the imagination while science fiction expands it. What do you think?
Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2015 06:13 am
I don't know what to think. I haven't seen the movie yet.
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Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2015 06:25 am
More seriously...

I disagree, largely because they are so different in intent. Philosophy offers ways of thinking about existence and offers reasons why those ways are valid, directly. Science fiction tells a story that may or may not engage you and any interaction between the philosophical intent of the author and the philosophical reaction of the reader are tacit, largely. Sure you could see a science fiction story as being allegory to make a point, but its success is based on the enjoyment of the reader. Philosophy's 'success' is its ability to be useful in understanding the human condition and offering a framework for decision making.

Also I don't think it's useful to anthropomorphise philosophy by asking what it thinks it's for - it doesn't think; the people who philosophise do.
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Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2015 06:45 am
Sometimes, all too often, one of the worst things about science fiction is the author's use of that particular medium to flay his readers with his half-baked, often extremist point of views. Robert Heinlein and Orson Scott Card come to mind.
Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2015 07:02 am
Agreed, but it can also be for good results. What makes Fahrenheit 451 so interesting is its political and philosophical content. One could see all dystopias and utopias as a sub-genre of science fiction with a philosophical or political content.
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Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2015 07:05 am
Does philosophy know why it exists and what it is supposed to achieve?

Philosophy is a kind of thinking that can't be defined by limits or domains. It can apply to anything, in fact it generally does. I dare say there isn't any human activity that is without a philosophical kernel, at its core. That includes science fiction.
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Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2015 07:17 am
If you think the goal of philosophy is to find/supply absolute truths, then you don't know squat about philosophy. Philosophy is more properly the discipline of resoning well from what is observed (modern Western philosophy, at least). Learning how to reason. Once you get that, you can apply it to any more specific discipline. Science is natural philosophy, remember. Kudos to Aristotle.
Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2015 09:57 am
Science Fiction and Philosophy are two completely different things so you can't really compare them in a broad sense.

On a personal note, I enjoy Science Fiction far more than I enjoy philosophy.
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Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2015 01:24 pm
Indeed, science is an off-shot of philosophy. And science fiction is a sort of literary off-shot of science.
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Finn dAbuzz
Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2015 02:19 pm
Science-fiction is simply a genre in which a writer chooses to stage his or her thoughts, either because they are most comfortable with a more imagined reality or they require a new or different reality to illustrate what they want to say.

There is plenty of "pulp" sci-fi, but there is plenty of "pulp" literature.

If one wants to read intelligent, challenging and philosophy laden sci-fi, it's out there. Preferable to other genres or "straight" literature? Only if the stage is one you're attracted to more than others.

My personal recommendations (in no particular order) are

Phillip K Dick
Neal Stephenson
China Mieville
Octavia Butler
Ursula Le Guin
Ray Bradbury
Ted Chiang
Greg Egan
Norman Spinnard
Greg Bear

The following are probably more aligned with what is now considered the "Fantasy" genre:
R Scott Bakker
JRR Tolkien
CS Lewis

Honorable Mention:
Orson Scott Card
Isaac Asimov
Robert A. Heinlein
Gene Wolfe

As well, we should realize that there are a number of authors who have written within the genre but are not specifically identified as sci-fi writers. They include but are not limited to:

George Orwell
Aldous Huxley
Margaret Atwood
Jorge Luis Borges
Doris Lessing
PD James
Cormac McCarthy
Haruki Marukami
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Reply Fri 28 Aug, 2015 04:17 am
I would also like to note that most of what gets called science fiction is in fact science fantasy. FTL (faster than light) drive systems (to use Le Guin''s term), almost instantaneous communications over interstellar distances are just two of the more obvious, hilarious ideas which make science fiction a misleading term. Marion Zimmer Bradley is the only author i've known of who honestly calls it science fantasy.

Then again, this could strengthen your argument, since so much of philosophy also belongs in the fantasy genre.
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Finn dAbuzz
Reply Mon 31 Aug, 2015 03:40 pm
The other day I saw a show on TV that addressed black holes and white holes and the possibility of traveling between them through a "wormhole." Wormholes are common conveniences in sci-fi or sci-fantasy. I don't think I've read a story or novel that went very far at all in explaining how humans might open or, more importantly, travel through a wormhole. However in this show an actual physicist says that he knows how to open one. I can't explain it very well so won't try, but suffice it to say that he acknowledges that to do it two spheres of astronomical size would have to be constructed and placed precisely one atom apart.

As another physicist noted, just because something seems impossible now doesn't mean we can't accomplish it in some far distant future.

If the theory is correct then the rest is engineering, and humans are excellent engineers.

The difficulty in imagining a far distant future where such feats are possible is the limits of our imagination in terms of having any sort of good idea of what humans will be like then. I very much doubt that unaugmented humans will be able to accomplish such feats, and augmented humans may be difficult to recognize, by us, as fellow members of humanity.

One author who, I think did an excellent job of addressing this issue is Greg Bear in his novel "Eon" (and less successful sequels).

In the novel, humans technologically advanced beyond our current status but essentially Homo sapiens like us come into contact with humanity of a far distant future. The initial passages wherein future humans meet far future humans provide the reader with a unique experience. We share the future humans confusion and difficulties, but Bear is a good enough writer (I think he's underrated) to with time allow us to understand the far future humans as the future humans do. Of course, he has to, twosome extent, dial down the strangeness. It's a difficult balance, but I think he did a fantastic job with it.

Of course he was writing a novel that people had to, to some extent, comprehend, so I believe his goal was to demonstrate how different from us we can expect far future humans to be. To make the story compelling though, the far future humans had to retain enough of our humanity to allow us to relate to them in some way.

I think that if the encounter he writes of actually happened we probably wouldn't be able to relate to them at all, but again he was writing a novel.

So, even if a sci-fi writer can imagine the far future when we can create million mile wide spheres place exactly one atom apart, he can't write a story based on it if he wants more than a relative handful of people to read it.

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Frank Apisa
Reply Mon 31 Aug, 2015 03:51 pm
I've loved sci-fi all my life.

Still read it at age 79.

And I look forward to all sci-fi movies...even the poorly done ones.

Phillip K. Dick has probably contributed the most to the sci-fi done in movies.

I truly enjoy philosophy also. Read as much as possible...debate some stuff on the Internet.

Both are great...both provide diversion and enjoyment.

For anyone who does not like one or the other (or either)...there are lots of other things to make life interesting.
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