Philosophy Department set to debut new course this fall – “PHIL 4221: The Philosophy of Rick and Morty”

Contract Lecturer develops half-credit course based on popular Adult Swim series.
By Leah Ching, Staff Writer

“Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die.” The popular adult animated series is being brought to life in a whole new way by returning contract lecturer Doug McGillivray. After gaining his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Toronto, the longtime fan of the series has decided to develop a half-year course on the Philosophy of Rick and Morty.

The series follows the misadventures of alcoholic scientist Rick Sanchez and his simpler grandson Morty Smith as they gallivant through space and time alongside dealing with the mundanity of domestic family life. Apart from the sheer absurdity a plethora of dick jokes, the series is carefully crafted by creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon to explore deep philosophical questions hidden between dark humor and interdimensional adventure.

“We’re looking at some real deep shit here. We start by exploring the theme of cosmic horror that runs throughout Rick and Morty,” said McGillivray. “Pioneered by author H.P. Lovecraft, cosmic horror emphasizes the terror that lies in the dark unknown of deep space.”

PHIL 4221 delves into a variety of philosophical theory. Turning to a study of Absurdism, foundational readings of Albert Camus will be required as students ponder Rick and Morty’s struggle to find meaning in this meaningless universe. By looking at the tension between active and passive nihilism embodied in main character Rick Sanchez, students will be confronted with the very real issues of cosmic pessimism. “What if we don’t matter? What if the universe doesn’t give a shit about us? What if we are just specks of dust in a meaningless universe?”

Students are encouraged to prepare themselves for a deep, introspective, existentialist experience. “Rick and Morty even die, only to be replaced by one of the infinite versions of them in an alternate reality,” explains McGillivray. “We’ll use the show to tackle questions of our own insignificance in this vast universe. How does humor play into it? Should we be terrified of our own insignificance, should we laugh at it?”

Rick and Morty holds nothing sacred. Pushing the boundaries of decency through sci-fi horror and exploring the absurdities of a purely rational universe, we in our turn get to ask all sorts of fun and depressing questions like “Why am I here?” , “What’s the point of it all?”, and “What do you mean, there’s an exam!?”

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