Science Fiction and Philosophy?

I’m in one of my word-playing moods this evening…

Somebody (anyone know who?) said: Biology is Chemistry

Paul Dirac said: Chemistry is Physics

Bertrand Russell said: Physics is Mathematics

So by inductive logic we have biology is mathematics. I’ll leave the implications of biology existing as mere information on a computer to the wilder imaginations amongst you!

But here’s the interesting point… when writing my novel, I did a fair bit of maths to help me form my world (no I did write that maths into the novel – it was used merely to ensure my world consistent). But during that process, I came to the conclusion that the mathematics was pointing a way to a philosophy of why we exist in the way we do! Which by default means that science fiction can enlighten us on philosophy!

Now this is a BIG¬†concept… science fiction leading the way in philosophy.

Come to think of it, it has happened before… Asimov’s laws of robotics are in their way philosophy, aren’t they? And of course George Orwell’s Animal Farm was looking at the conflict of different philosophies… whoa, hold on moment… these were written in the middle of the last century.

I’m trying to think of more recently written science fiction that dealt with philosophy… and nothing springs to mind… um, what am I missing here?


6 thoughts on “Science Fiction and Philosophy?

  1. You’re right, it seems that philosophy is a dying subject matter in modern science fiction. Perjaps because it has been claimed by the more cerebral end of the fantasy genre?

    Food for thought.

  2. Come to think of it – your post is true, to a point however. There were, just to throw an example, some books written in late 90’s by Strugatsky brothers (and later by Boris Strugatsky himself) which were quite philosophical. I realize that unfortunately a lot of them have not been translated to English. Still, there are works of science fiction in other languages being written that tackle philosophical questions one way or the other as, I’m certain, are in English.
    As for the philosophy and fantasy… in my personal opinion s-f works better to present utopian/dystopian landscapes, but to each their own.

  3. Thank you for your comments… If you look up the Strugatsky brothers on wikipedia, I think you will find quite a few of their book shave been translated into english – getting hold of them may be another matter. Their fiction will be limited to what was publishable under the Soviet Union’s regime, though.

    Still, it’s worrying that there is so little easily identifiable philosophy in science fiction…

  4. Schrodinger’s Mouse is trying to fill the niche of philosophy/ethics-based sf with regard to shorter fiction, but it is struggling a bit with lack of resources. I work in bioethics, and agree that we need more of this.

  5. Nearly got mixed up with Schrodinger’s Cat – which itself has caused quite a bit of debate that could be said to be a basis for philosophy. [And of course not to be mixed up with the C.A.T.!]

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