Asimov's Foundation and Philosophy
Isaac Asimov’s Foundation is the most influential
science-fiction epic of all time.
Published as a series of books and short stories from the 1940s to the 1980s, the series has impacted most subsequent science fiction, and influenced sciences like sociology, statistics, and psychology. The story has now been made into a highly acclaimed TV serial (Foundation), on Apple TV, the second season now shooting in Prague.
The story begins 45,000 years in the future, and spans centuries in which a vast and successful interstellar human empire is unknowingly headed for total collapse. Using an advanced mathematical technique called psycho-history, a brilliant scientist, Hari Seldon, predicts the collapse and establishes a “foundation” to bring about the resurrection of human civilization many generations in the future.
Asimov’s Foundation and Philosophy is a collection of twenty-four chapter by philosophers exploring the philosophical issues and puzzles raised by this epic story. Topics include whether one individual can make a big difference in history, the ethics of manipulating large populations of people to bring about a desirable future result, the Dao of non-action, the impact of education on future generations, whether human affairs are governed by predictable cycles, whether attempts to plan for the future must be thwarted by free will, the futility of empire-building, the ethics of cloning human beings, and the use of logic in analyzing human behavior.
Joshua Heter teaches philosophy at Jefferson College, Missouri, and is co-editor of Better Call Saul and Philosophy: I Think Therefore I Scam (2022).
Josef Thomas Simpson is an academic coach and part-time lecturer. He contributed chapters to Westworld and Philosophy: Mind Equals Blown (2019) and Orphan Black and Philosophy: Grand Theft DNA (2016).