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Meta Treks: A Star Trek Philosophy Podcast

Meta Treks is a Trek.fm podcast dedicated to a deep examination of the philosophical ideas found in Star Trek. In each episode, Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison take you on a fascinating journey into the inner workings of Star Trek storytelling, deeper into subspace than you've ever traveled before.
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Meta Treks: A Star Trek Philosophy Podcast
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Now displaying: 2018
Jul 2, 2018

The Original Series Season 1 - Essential Trek Philosophy.  

The entire Star Trek franchise, with over 700 television episodes and 13 feature films (to date), owes its existence to the strength of season 1 of Star Trek: The Original Series. If season 1 hadn't been as strong as it was, we wouldn't have the Star Trek franchise we know and love today. Season 1 of The Original Series isn't just strong dramatically, however. It is also strong philosophically, episode by episode exploring abstract ideas, future human potential, and the human condition.  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling go back to where it all began in a discussion of their top picks for Essential Trek Philosophy from season 1 of Star Trek: The Original Series. Join Mike and Zachary as they discuss the four dominant philosophical themes in the premiere season of Star Trek: ethical and moral dilemmas, transhumanism and future human potential, the internal struggle of conflicting human natures, and the ethics of war.  

Chapters 
Intro (00:01:19) 
Initial Thoughts on TOS Season One (00:01:58) 
The Four Main Philosophical Themes (00:10:26) 
Moral Choices and Ethical Conundrums (00:14:54) 
The City on the Edge of Forever (00:15:07) 
Transhumanism (00:21:13) 
The Cage (00:22:24) 
Arena (00:26:28) 
Errand of Mercy (00:28:11) 
The Return of the Archons (00:33:39) 
Space Seed (00:37:47) 
Where No Man Has Gone Before (00:39:52) 
Charlie X/The Squire of Gothos (00:40:30) 
What Are Little Girls Made Of? (00:42:32) 
Miri (00:46:13) 
Dagger of the Mind (0047:31) 
Exploration of Human Nature (00:50:49) 
The Enemy Within (00:52:06) 
The Conscience of the King (00:56:21) 
The Alternative Factor (00:58:03) 
Ethics of War (01:03:48) 
Balance of Terror (01:04:33) 
A Taste of Armageddon (01:06:14) 
This Side of Paradise (01:08:35) 
Devil in the Dark (01:11:38) 
Recap and Final Thoughts (01:15:08) 
Closing (01:18:31)  

Hosts 
Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

May 28, 2018

Philosophical Themes in "These Are the Voyages."  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison explore the philosophical themes in the series finale of Star Trek: Enterprise, "These Are the Voyages." While "These Are the Voyages" remains controversial with fans of Enterprise because of the focus on Commander Riker and Counselor Troi aboard the Enterprise-D, "These Are the Voyages" had the weighty task of book-ending 18 continuous years of Star Trek on television, from 1987 with the premier of Star Trek: The Next Generation to 2005 with the finale of Star Trek: Enterprise. From finding meaning and answers to life's biggest questions in historical events, to ethical conundrums involving conflicting duties, Zachary and Mike give a philosophical valentine to the underappreciated "These Are the Voyages."  

Chapters 
Intro (00:01:20) 
Plot Problems and Interesting Philosophy (00:08:25) 
The Hermeneutical Question (00:15:25) 
Recreating the Past and Finding Meaning (00:23:04) 
Commander Riker and Conflicting Duties (00:35:40) 
Kant, Truth, and Consequences (00:41:49) 
Open Source Information vs. Closed Access (00:53:54) 
Perspective Through Interpersonal Stories (01:02:21) 
The Value and Weight of History (01:11:17) 
Closing (01:18:45) 

Hosts 
Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Apr 23, 2018

Good vs. Evil in Star Trek.  

We generally understand the meaning of "good," whether in the sense of following the rules or in the sense of minimizing the suffering of others. But, paradoxically, we understand the nature of "evil" to a far lesser degree. While Star Trek tends to shy away from making strict moral judgments, opting instead to humanize its villains by explaining the psychological motivations for their actions or the roots of those actions in past experiences, Star Trek does, however, explore the nature of evil in characters such as Armus from "Skin of Evil" (Star Trek: The Next Generation), the Borg Queen (Star Trek: First Contact; Star Trek: Voyager), and the Pah-Wraiths (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling discuss "good versus evil" in the Star Trek universe. Are these supposedly evil characters are truly evil, or are they off the hook because of their backgrounds and their respective sob stories?  

Chapters 
Intro (00:01:19) 
Initial Thoughts on Good and Evil (00:03:17) 
Pah-Wraiths and Evil in DS9 (00:08:43) 
False Dichotomies and Defining Characteristics of Evil (00:11:25) 
Enter Armus from "Skin of Evil" (00:18:09) 
Comparing Evil in Star Trek to Evil in Theology (00:28:52) 
The Borg as a Candidate for Evil (00:38:00) 
The Borg Queen vs. The Pah-Wraiths (00:50:39) 
Nietzsche and the Judaeo Concept of Evil (00:56:41) 
Khaaaan! (01:05:51) 
Final Thoughts (01:13:52) 
Closing (01:27:02)  

Hosts 
Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Apr 10, 2018

The Visitor.  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison discuss the philosophical themes in the fourth-season Deep Space Nine episode, "The Visitor." Inspired by Jake Sisko's passion for writing, Zachary and Mike discuss the relationship between creative writing, lived experience, and what the German philosopher Martin Heidegger called "Being-in-the-World." Zachary and Mike also discuss "The Visitor" as a phenomenological metaphor for various aspects of human experience, including interpersonal connection, parenthood, regret, aging, and the lifelong quest to rediscover one's true self.  

Chapters 
Intro (00:01:20) 
Initial Thoughts about DS9 "The Visitor" (00:02:46) 
Heidegger and "In-der-Weld-Sein" (00:03:44) 
Life Observed vs. Life Lived (00:10:39) 
Unresolved Moments in Time (00:18:29) 
Phenomenology of Human Experience (00:26:32) 
Metaphysical Personal Connection (00:30:16) 
Self-Sacrifice and Cutting the Cord (00:47:00) 
Experience and Change Over Time (00:51:43) 
The Old Defiant Crew Out of Mothballs (01:03:17) 
Final Thoughts (01:05:51) 
Closing (01:12:56)  

Hosts 
Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Mar 21, 2018

TNG Season 5 - Essential Trek Philosophy.  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling compare their top picks for Essential Trek Philosophy from season 5 of Star Trek: The Next Generation. From transhumanism and a positive spin on genetic engineering in "The Masterpiece Society" to the philosophy of language and an exploration of non-referential language in "Darmok," season five contains some of the philosophically richest episodes in all of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Mike and Zachary also discuss Kantian ethics versus consequentialism in "I, Borg" and medical ethics in the aptly named episode "Ethics," in addition to the unique explorations of the metaphysics of time and the ethics of time travel in "Cause and Effect" and "A Matter of Time."  


Chapters 
Intro (00:01:20) 
The Masterpiece Society (00:06:15) 
Darmok (00:20:03) 
I, Borg (00:47:31) 
Cause and Effect (00:55:37) 
A Matter of Time (01:01:39) 
Conundrum (01:06:59) 
Ethics (01:10:33) 
Closing (01:20:43)  

Hosts 
Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Mar 12, 2018

The Conscience of the King.  

To what extent does a person remain morally responsible for his or her actions over time, even after many years or after changes in character and experience? Can people ever change who they fundamentally are inside, or do they merely become better actors playing different roles?  

In "The Conscience of the King" (Star Trek: The Original Series, Season 1), Captain Kirk suspects the 23rd-Century Shakespearean actor Anton Karidian of actually being the (believed-deceased) former governor of Earth colony Tarsus IV, Kodos "The Executioner," notorious for having executed over 4,000 people. Is Karidian really Kodos after all? And if so, is Karidian now a different person, in a moral sense, than the person he used to be? Or is Kodos "The Executioner" still there just beneath the surface and under the guise of Karidian the actor?  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison discuss the philosophical themes of moral responsibility and personal identity over time in "The Conscience of the King," including the inspired use of theater-acting and masks as metaphors for personal transformation, or perhaps the lack thereof.  

Chapters 
Intro (00:01:20) 
Initial Thoughts about "The Conscience of the King" (00:02:30) 
Morality and Identity Over Time (00:10:31) 
Radical Conversion, Paul the Apostle, and Identity (00:16:31) 
The Sins of the Father: Lenore Karidian (00:24:26) 
Caesar of the Stars (00:26:46) 
Kodos and Eugenics (00:32:18) 
Not Very Human (00:41:03) 
Truman on Trial (00:51:29) 
Guilt and Culpability (00:57:10) 
Riley and Revenge (01:00:25) 
Closing (01:14:29)  

Hosts 
Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Mar 5, 2018

Drone Warfare and "The Arsenal of Freedom."  

When the Enterprise is sent to the Lorenz Cluster in search of the missing U.S.S. Drake, the crew gets drawn into a life-and-death game of cat and mouse with the demonstration model of an ancient automated weapon system, including increasingly powerful and adaptive autonomous sentry probes. While the concept of automated drone warfare may have been closer to science and military fiction in the late 1980s during the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the philosophical ethical issues related to automated warfare in "The Arsenal of Freedom" are even more relevant today.  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling discuss "The Arsenal of Freedom" (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 1), from the commodification of war within the military industrial complex to the pros and cons of peace through superior firepower. Mike and Zachary also discuss the distinction between genuine artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms.  

Chapters 
Intro (00:01:20) 
Initial Thoughts on "The Arsenal of Freedom" (00:02:44) 
Star Trek and Reagan-Era Warfare (00:09:14) 
Data as The Terminator (00:14:31) 
TNG and Virtues of Drone Warfare (00:20:03) 
Peace Through Superior Firepower (00:27:49) 
The Commodification of War (00:41:41) 
Is Technology Morally Neutral? (00:50:58) 
Algorithms vs. Artificial Intelligence (00:56:23) 
Failsafe Failures (01:07:34) 
Geordi and His First Command (01:16:03) 
Dr. Crusher, Medicine Woman (01:25:37) 
Closing (01:34:04)  

Hosts 
Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Mark Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

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