General Knowledge

Sci-Phi: Philosophy through Science Fiction

Science fiction isn’t juvenile escapism. It finds its origin in philosophical writings and is one of the fundamental avenues through which we engage with philosophical questions. Do we have free will? Could machines think? Could there be an afterlife? Does God exist? What is good and evil? In this course, we will explore these questions and more by seeing how they are raised in science fiction and how the world’s greatest thinkers have tried to answer them. After finishing the course, you will have a greater appreciation for science fiction and a better understanding of the philosophical questions raised by such stories.

10 lessons
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Free for 7 days. Then $7.5/mo.
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About the author

1 course

David Kyle Johnson is a professor of philosophy at King’s College (Pennsylvania) and has three courses for “The Great Courses”: Sci-Phi: Science Fiction as Philosophy (2018), The Big Questions of Philosophy (2016), and Exploring Metaphysics (2014).

Academically, he specializes in logic (both formal and scientific), metaphysics, and philosophy of religion. He has published articles in journals such as Religious Studies, Sophia, Philo, Think and Science, Religion, and Culture, and most of his articles are available (for free) on

Kyle also publishes prolifically on the intersection of philosophy and popular culture. He’s edited four books on the topic—“Black Mirror and Philosophy” (forthcoming), “Inception and Philosophy” (2011), “Introducing Philosophy through Pop Culture” (2010), and “Heroes and Philosophy” (2009)—and written over 20 pop culture and philosophy articles (on Star Trek, Doctor Who, South Park, Tolkien, The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, Family Guy, The Office, and Battlestar Galactica, just to name a few). He maintains two blogs for Psychology Today (Plato on Pop and A Logical Take), is the author of “The Myths That Stole Christmas,” and has an authors@google talk on Inception, with over half-a-million views on Youtube.