So, almost everyone who is about my age and who has a philosophical bent is a fan of Star Trek, the Next Generation. I even went to school where a cast member’s father taught, and it was at the height of the TNG’s success, and the father was worshipped like a god for their offspring’s success.
So, why are philosophy people so into Trek? Why are there books out like ‘the philosophy of star trek,’ etc.? Well, because Gene Roddenberry created a show on purpose which would deal with ‘big picture’ issues, which delve into the major problems in Western history, and, very often, which grapple with one of the more important myths, or topoi, of Western culture, including the Garden of Eden; and the whole point of each episode is that it’s supposed to grapple with some major ethical dilemma. Of course, most people can watch the show and not realize this, which is why it enjoyed any success. But their inner souls do get it – and that’s also why the show is popular. Specifically, it’s why the show has become one of the major contributions of c20th culture to the Western canon, along with Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings. They all deal with those central myths, those ‘clashes of good vs. evil’ which belong properly to the genre known as ‘epic.’ So Star Trek was intentionally epic from the outset. (more…)