THE SIMPSONS is to be used to teach students philosophy in a new course at a Scots university.
Glasgow university are to examine the wisdom of Homer Simpson and his family from the hit US cartoon series alongside great thinkers such as Aristotle, Socrates and Voltaire.
The short course, entitled D’oh! The Simpsons Introduce Philosophy, has attracted a huge amount of interest and is expected to be massively oversubscribed.
John Donaldson, a tutor of philosophy at the university, has created the course and insisted using The Simpsons was a legitimate means of stimulating interest in the subject.
He said: “Matt Groening, the man behind The Simpsons, was a student of philosophy, and that comes through in each episode.
“The Simpsons is a very sophisticated work of popular culture, with a broad scope and depth, and is full of philosophical themes.
“Very pleasingly, the course has proved to be incredibly popular on social media. It has gone viral. We’ve never really had a response like this before.”
Dr Donaldson will consider the deeds of Homer, the beer-swilling head of the family from Springfield, and ask whether Aristotle would have regarded him as a virtuous figure.
He said: “Homer definitely has some moral failings. He’s gluttonous, he struggles to tell the truth and can be quite violent, however there’s a lot to be said in his defence.
“He is a faithful husband, a family man who is open-hearted and, in his own way, good-natured.”
Promotional material for the unorthodox class at the university claims it will “introduce students to some of the key ideas of some of the great thinkers in the history of philosophy”.
It adds: “The Simpsons is one of the modern world’s greatest cultural artefacts partly because it is so full of philosophy.
“Aristotle, Kant, Marx, Camus and many other great thinkers’ ideas are represented in what is arguably the purest of philosophical forms: the comic cartoon.
“Come along for a day of learning and explore some of philosophy’s most inspiring ideas as presented in The Simpsons.”
The course, which is open to all and costs £30 a head, take places on Saturday January 14.
It will also consider morality and free will by examining an episode in which Bart , the family’s eldest child, is sent to a school for gifted children after cheating in a test.
Ned Flanders, the Simpsons’ next door neighbour, will be used to introduce divine command theory, the school of thought that holds that morality revolves around obeying the commands of “God”.
Mr Donaldson is not the first academic to suggest that the hugely popular series has an intellectual depth.
Julian Baggini, founder of The Philosophers’ Magazine, wrote an essay in 2012 in which he said: “The Simpsons is much more than a funny animated cartoon, it’s a work of philosophy. It does philosophy better than most philosophers.
“Comedy is the most truthful art form we have. It’s great at puncturing any illusions we may have that we’re wise or important.”
A Simpsons episode 16 years ago foresaw Donald Trump being US president. In the episode, Bart to the Future, Lisa Simpson becomes “the first straight woman president” and tells her staff she has “inherited quite a budget crunch from President Trump”.