Troy Philosophy Society and Students for Liberty got together to discuss the philosophical implications of a popular TV show on Wednesday, April 19.
“Rick and Morty” is an adult sci-fi animation that covers various ethical and philosophical ideas around science and human nature, according to Jeremiah Baky, a senior political science major from Dauphin Island and the president of the Students for Liberty.
Baky led the discussion on the second episode that was screened during the event, “The Ricks must be crazy” on Kantian ethics.
“Particularly, the first or second part of the categorical imperative is stating that you should not use people as mere means,” Baky said.
In the episode, Rick, the crazy scientist, creates a mini-verse which serves a single goal of generating energy for Rick’s car. His grandson, the everyman of the show, Morty, observes that the universe is “slavery with extra steps,” which goes against the non-aggression principle.
The first episode screened is titled “Mortynight Run,” which showed several reactions to the idea of cosmism, or an uncaring universe, an idea developed by American author H.P. Lovecraft.
“There’s this thing in horror literature, where humans place themselves in the center of the universe, and the universe doesn’t really give a s*** about humans,” said Cade Ashley, a sophomore economics major from Jemison, who led discussion from the side of the Philosophy Society. “We try to establish these laws, these moralities, these different philosophies for approaching life, but then monsters come out and then destroy everything, or it turns out that our code of ethics doesn’t have anything to do with our reality function.”
In the episode, Rick sells a gun to a mercenary to spend a day in the arcade, and Morty tries to prevent the mercenary from using the gun to kill a gas cloud organism. Morty goes to great lengths to save the gas cloud, kills many others in the process, and finds himself killing the gas cloud itself in the end as it was going to destroy the entire human population after it joined its species.
“Nothing that we try to do has any meaning whatsoever, and there’s a lot of reaction to that within the show,” Ashley said. “At least, Rick, the grandpa—he’s just partying and swearing a lot. His approach is nihilistic hedonism, so he’s just trying to have a good time because he realizes there’s no real purpose to anything and he’ll sell weapons to murderers to have a day at the arcade, but then some things he does ends up being for the best.”
Hedonism is defined as “the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the highest good,” according to Dictionary.com.
When the adventure is over, the two heroes find out that in another reality where Morty didn’t leave the arcade to save the gas cloud, no one died, except the gas cloud.
The discussion also touched on religion, comparing the gas cloud, who is explicitly said to be a higher being and who infuses Morty with a sense of being as one with the universe, to God.
Brent Wilton, a junior risk insurance management major from Auburn, said he liked the event but wished it was on a different episode.
“I have watched all of the seasons, all of the episodes,” he said. “(The show) talks about the kinds of things that we overlook in our daily life. There’s an episode that talks about the subjugation of the dog species.
“You would never think about that, but then when you sit down and watch the episode you’re like, you know we really did do some really not good things to our animals, our pets . . . kinda treat them as objects.”
Jay Valentine, assistant professor of philosophy, said the event was initiated and planned by students themselves and the name, “The Philosophy of Rick and Morty: A Duel Armchair,” suggests the main purpose of the event.
“That’s playing on the fact that the two groups are coming together,” Valentine said.
Events of both Student for Liberty and the Philosophy Society are open to any Troy students, faculty members, and staff.