Glasgow University offers Homer Simpson philosophy class

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The University of Glasgow is to offer a philosophy course which examines whether Homer Simpson is a "virtuous" character.

The one-day course will take moments from The Simpsons and relate them to philosophical questions around morality, religion and free will.

Philosophy tutor Dr John Donaldson said beer-swilling Homer was a "complex character" who was hard not to like.

The Simpsons was created by Matt Groening and first aired in 1989.

It is the longest-running US sitcom and the longest-running US animated programme.

Dr Donaldson said the course - which is called "D'oh! The Simpsons Introduce Philosophy" - was designed for members of the public who had an interest in philosophy.

The course is being run on 14 and 21 January - though the earlier date has already sold out, the university said.

It takes popular themes from philosophy and applies them to different episodes and characters in the Simpsons.

Homer Simpson...

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  • On children

"A boy without mischief is like a bowling ball without a liquid centre."

"Marriage is like a coffin and each kid is another nail."

  • On beer

"Beer. Now there's a temporary solution."

"When will I learn? The answer to life's problems aren't at the bottom of a bottle, they're on TV!"

  • On cartoons

"Oh, Marge, cartoons don't have any deep meaning. They're just stupid drawings that give you a cheap laugh."

In particular, the course examines Aristotle's classic account of a virtuous character and compares it to Homer. The budding philosophers will then debate arguments for and against whether they consider Homer virtuous.

Homer is a very complex character in many ways," Dr Donaldson said.

"He's very gluttonous, he can be quite violent and self-interested. But at the same time he's a character that's hard not to like.

"He's very popular. He has a childlike joy of life, he's open to doing the right thing and he's a faithful family man."

Dr Donaldson, who is a long-term fan of the show, said the cartoon had a rich seam of moments for a philosopher to plunder, with many episodes having a moral and a moment of realisation.

"I like the Simpsons because it's a great work of art. It's a cartoon of a great tapestry. There's so much going on in it," he said.

"It encourages you to reflect on what's important in life."

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