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The Metaphysics of Star Trek (Star Trek Series) Paperback – July 1, 1997

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Product Details

  • Series: Star Trek Series
  • Paperback: 253 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Edition edition (July 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465091245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465091249
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,474,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

For those who like their philosophy with a twist, … la The Tao of Pooh, an intriguing though sometimes too constricted elucidation of some of Star Trek's deeper meanings. Perhaps because it is such a pop-culture icon, Star Trek (the original TV show, the sequels, the movies) has attracted legions of interpretations about everything from its deeper meanings to the reality (or lack thereof) of its science. Now Hanley, a philosopher at Central Michigan University, boldly and entertainingly goes where no philosopher has gone before. Though the show frequently grapples in its playful, inconsistent way with issues such as the fixity of identity, the limits of personhood, and the nature of time, Hanley is primarily concerned with employing it to illustrate his own theories on these topics. Using the Android Data, for example, as well as holograms and exocomps that appear in various episodes, he argues that ``the fairest test to determine whether or not an individual qualifies for personhood does not depend on its ability to pass for a human being.'' However, as a disciple of the analytic school of philosophy, Hanley isn't particularly interested in the really big questions (Why are we all here? What does it all mean?), questions Star Trek also tends to shun. He believes, instead, in a more narrowly focused approach that is ``continuous with the natural sciences.'' This leads to a certain aridity, a relentless reliance on logic that seems finally not only limiting but ultimately unconvincing. Like many philosophers, he is better at attacking those he disagrees with (he's particularly good at pointing out the show's philosophical contradictions) than building wholly credible positions of his own. Still, his ideas are spirited and provocative. It's to Hanley's credit that he's been able to mine so much from what after all is just clever, light entertainment. Philosophy 101 was never this much fun. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By on January 31, 1998
Format: Paperback
Don't be misled by the title: even people who haven't seen the series will really enjoy the contents of this book. The Star Trek universe is used in a very agile way by Hanley to analize quite an interesting number of subjects, offering his point of view, and opening the door for hours of stimulating discussion.
Richard Hanley challenges the reader to reconsider (or perhaps consider seriously for the first time) a number of philosophical issues concerning our existence: what are the basic elements of our human nature (or our personhood); life after death; mind over matter...
Hanley uses the plots of different chapters of ST to make the reader think. It does not matter if the depicted scenarios are not possible with today's technology, because what really is important is the analysis of situations. For instance, as a very small sample of what you will be discussing:
- Willl androids eventually become life forms, with rights of their own?
- Is it possible to alter the past? Is it possible to alter the future?
Finally, a personal contribution for more philosophical discussion. In the episode of Unnatural Selection, we are put face to face with the Fountain of Eternal Youth: the transporter!
It's so simple to use: you store all the physical identity of yourself, say at age 20 (better make some backups too, just in case!), when you have excellent health. Any time in the future, say 20 years after (or every year, suit yourself!), you put yourself in the transporter, and they beam you somewhere (inside the same ship will do just as well!). The only thing that you have to do is ask the operator to rematerialize you using the physical information of yourself at age 20. Voilá!
A very stimulating book indeed!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
...until I read Richard Hanley's book. I read this book while taking Hanley's Philosophy 102 class and it really helped me understand the basic philosophical questions we were tackling. It also helped me understand why people are so obsessed with the Star Trek shows. It reminded me of Sophie's World-both books teach you about philosophy and get you thinking without boring you to death.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Yauch on May 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
...and loved it then. Now that I'm in my mid-20s, reading it again provides much more insight into things in the 'Star Trek' universe. The book is well thought out, concise, and probably one of my favorite Trek books.
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