The Simpsons as philosophy

Cartoons abstract from real life in much the same way philosophers do. Homer is not realistic in the way a film or novel character is, but he is recognisable as a kind of American Everyman. His reality is the reality of an abstraction from real life that captures its essence, not as a real particular human who we see ourselves reflected in.

The satirical cartoon world is essentially a philosophical one because to work it needs to reflect reality accurately by abstracting it, distilling it and then presenting it back to us, illuminating it more brightly than realist fiction can. —Julian BagginiThe Simpsons as philosophy (BBC)

I was particularly amused by this comment, appended to the story by a reader who differs with one of Baggini’s major points:

Far from being “simple philosophical truths”, his quips are “tempting excuses for inaction”. So perhaps the Simpsons’ main gift is to be vague enough to read whatever you like into it.

I haven’t watched an episode in years. When I used to teach technical writing to students who were in the middle of technical courses where they were expected to absorb and internalize a huge amount of special jargon, and often thought that a technical writing assignment was their chance to impress me with how much technical jargon they could use.

I told them to write for Homer “Where’s the ANY key?” Simpson.