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Philosophical science fiction 
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Post Philosophical science fiction
The blogger Kenny Pearce is attempting to compile a list of short science fiction works that represent "some of the best philosophical science-fiction." The only Heinlein on the list so far is By His Bootstraps, under the heading "Philosophy of Space and Time." I know this community can do better, with all the philosophical influences in Heinlein's short stories. Anyone game to contribute?

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Wed Nov 11, 2009 2:18 pm
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Post Re: Philosophical science fiction
I am having a hard time contriving an operational definition of "philosophy" under which "philosophy of space and time" is exemplified by By His Bootstraps. Anyone care to help me out?


Wed Nov 11, 2009 6:29 pm
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Post Re: Philosophical science fiction
PeterScott wrote:
I am having a hard time contriving an operational definition of "philosophy" under which "philosophy of space and time" is exemplified by By His Bootstraps. Anyone care to help me out?


The philosophical aspect, (speculative philosophy since there is no way to test it), is the question of whether we have 'free-will' with respect to time vs. events being 'fixed'. BHB and AYZ, and 'Door into Summer' deal solely with 'fixed events' in which the time travelers can not change events, but cycle through the events from different POVs.

On the other hand, Heinlein has a wide mixture of 'free will' time where events can be changed by time travelers. Some examples are in '', 'Farnham's Freehold' and 'The Cat Who Walked Through Walls'.

See: http://home.windstream.net/dwrighsr/heinlein.html Link to 'Articles' and then 'Timelines for AYZ and Bootstraps'


Wed Nov 11, 2009 7:56 pm
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Post Re: Philosophical science fiction
Um, well, okay, then does I Will Fear No Evil exemplify the philosophy of gender identity?


Wed Nov 11, 2009 7:59 pm
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Post Re: Philosophical science fiction
PeterScott wrote:
Um, well, okay, then does I Will Fear No Evil exemplify the philosophy of gender identity?


Yes, but more importantly, I think, is the question of whether there is more to a person than his brain and body. He raised the same discussion in Beyond This Horizon


Wed Nov 11, 2009 8:17 pm
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Post Re: Philosophical science fiction
IWFNE did not describe ANY differences in a person because of gender - the heroines were identical to his heroes with a few minor appendages tacked on here and there. IMHO. If you want to look at what I believe is a GREAT treatise on gender identity I think Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness still holds up.


Wed Nov 11, 2009 8:38 pm
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Post Re: Philosophical science fiction
PeterScott wrote:
I am having a hard time contriving an operational definition of "philosophy" under which "philosophy of space and time" is exemplified by By His Bootstraps. Anyone care to help me out?

Itwould have been more clearly philosophical back in 1940. There was a huge Neo-Kantian revival around the turn of the 20th, and BHB clearly engages Kantian categories. Kant is so far out of fashion now we don't tend to see those categories as philosophical questions any more.

Here's a nomination for philosophical short fiction: "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag." You've got an almost postmodern multiple layers of reality, alternative cosmology, other stuff.


Wed Nov 11, 2009 9:18 pm
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Post Re: Philosophical science fiction
I scanned the Pierce's blog post; he mentions "Solipsism/External World Skepticism" as a category. Ok, regarding Heinlein, that one's too easy. :lol:

There is no category for "Political Philosophy;" if there was, I'd nominate "Coventry."

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Thu Nov 12, 2009 8:44 pm
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Post Re: Philosophical science fiction
I'm currently rereading Waldo and think that there might be something there that belongs here. I may post a quote later today, when I've got the book in my hands.

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Fri Nov 13, 2009 7:01 am
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Post Re: Philosophical science fiction
Perhaps "By His Bootstraps" was included simply because its protagonist is a philosophy student?


Fri Nov 13, 2009 8:17 am
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