Philosophy in Rick and Morty

I found the comments in this video on the meaninglessness of existence pretty interesting, especially as Reese Witherspoon says the same thing in the movie Wild (which I just happen to have watched recently) while pointing to this poster:


The poster is in a classroom and she expresses frustration that kids are being taught that they’re “insignificant.”

I found that scene kind of horrible because, one, I don’t know why it should follow that acknowledging our place in the cosmos should automatically lead to depression at our “insignificance” and, two, the apparent alternative is either (a) not teaching kids the truth about our place in the cosmos or (b) not actively reminding them of this. I find both options pretty deplorable.

Carl Sagan, as usual, has a better way to frame our cosmic situation (aka “insignificance”). He says that, while it certainly should cause us to think of our chauvinisms as petty and insignificant, it should also cause us to reflect on the fact that our self-awareness can be viewed as a rare gift that we can squander on petty disputes, greed, and reality TV, or that we can use to satisfy what he sees as our deep-running need to explore the cosmos and reality in general.

I’m surprised, incidentally, to hear a philosophy scholar misuse “begging the question.” No, cosmic horror does not “beg the question ‘Are we significant?’ ”; it may, however, invite that question. Also, the presenter here suggests that Star Trek, like “most science fiction,” places humans at the “metaphorical” center of the universe. However, this isn’t true of Star Trek: TNG, Voyager, or Enterprise. I can’t speak for TOS because I haven’t seen enough of it and, what I have seen, I haven’t really liked.

Thoughts Concerning Game of Thrones


  • It’s infuriating to me how much more enjoyable this was to me than Borgia or The Tudors. The dialogue is consistently better, the characters more vivid, the storylines more interesting.
  • Loved this: “There is only one god, and his name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: ‘Not today.’ ”
  • There are a lot of things that evolved the same on GoT planet just as they did on our planet. Apparently, evolution favors humans, cats, dogs, rats, pigs, potatoes, poppies, etc., regardless of things like climate or geography.
  • Beware of people who’ve watched Game of Thrones without subsequently undergoing therapy.
  • Khaleesi’s dragons (Sir Sean Connery) start out small. They grow. Why? They’re magical. Why must they eat? Why must they grow over time?
  • Brienne of Tarth vs. The Hound!
  • The most magical thing about GoT: lots of wine; not one vineyard.
  • Reproduction on this planet takes place when men slap their flaccid penes against others’ pudenda. Just to be clear: we can graphically depict all manner of sadistic murder, but an erect penis or a vulva are completely out of the question. This isn’t new.
  • This classic sex and violence in media debate reminds me of a recent conversation I had with some LDS missionaries. I’ve been meeting with missionaries on and off for a few years now. They’re always very polite, of course, and the conversations are always interesting. They were very polite, for example, when I told them how unfortunate I think the church’s latest stance on homosexuality is. And, they were very polite when I informed them that I’m agnostic and then gave a brief explanation of my utilitarianism. And, they were very polite when I questioned a basic premise of Christianity (namely, that God sacrificed Himself to Himself to save the humans he created from Himself — this doesn’t fit LDS theology perfectly, but the difference, I think, is unimportant). They also politely listened as I told them that I don’t think omnipotence, omniscience, and benevolence are compatible with the allowance of suffering.

    The missionaries, as they usually do, suggested that if only I would read scripture with an open heart I’d be persuaded by it. I told them that, as someone who attended a Christian school, who has formally studied Biblical Hebrew, and who has generally been exposed to quite a lot of Judeo-Christian scripture, I feel like the open heart I started reading it with closes a little more each time I revisit it. Continue reading “Thoughts Concerning Game of Thrones