This article from Philosophy Now (UK) explores the link between philosophy and science fiction, arguing through a series of case studies that science fiction's creation of nonhuman minds -- be they robots, aliens, AI, or animals -- is a means of thinking through what it means to be human in the first place.
"At a deeper level any science fiction film is an allegory of the human condition. Accordingly, sci-fi representations of non-humans are molded to serve as a mirror or a contradiction for us. They throw back at us our own existential anxiety, frailties and limitations, as well as our strengths and beauty, but far more than that, our unconscious need to define the meaning of existence. They confront us with intense questions: Who are we? Is there anything special about us? Do we play a unique role in the scheme of things? As a central aspect of the absurdity of our existence (which has been captured so well in existentialism), the human species seems to stand alone in the universe. We meet no other species which can compete with or challenge us. Confronting humans who are accustomed to thinking in anthropocentric ways with ‘competitive species’ can provoke in us the need to seek distinctions and at least somewhat answer fundamental questions about our identity, role, and significance within a vast, empty universe."
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