Glasgow & West Scotland

Glasgow University offers Homer Simpson philosophy class

The Simpsons Image copyright AP

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...

Image copyright AP
  • 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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