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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: 2019
Oct 29, 2019

Death Wish.

Nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche held that Western philosophers from Socrates onward have had a gigantic death wish in the form of philosophical escapism and denial of our nature as finite, embodied beings with our own uniquely individual perspectives, drives, and desires. Philosophers in the Q Continuum likewise seem to have a death wish, especially Quinn, the Q Continuum's greatest philosopher.

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison discuss the philosophical and existential themes in the second-season Voyager episode "Death Wish." Although "Death Wish" is usually interpreted as a moral dilemma about assisted suicide—itself a hot moral topic since the 1990s—Zachary and Mike argue instead that "Death Wish" is a subtler but highly-developed example of Nietzschean philosophy of embodiment, perspectivism, and metaphorical self-expression. 

Zachary and Mike also discuss the question of meaning as it relates to death, the finitude of human life, and the possibility of immortality—in the Q Continuum or in any form of the afterlife.

Chapters
Intro (00:01:19)
Initial Thoughts on Voyager: "Death Wish" (00:03:32)
Philosophical Overview and Examples of Nietzschean Philosophy (00:06:43)
Quinn: Genius or Madman? (00:16:39)
The Meaningfulness of Life (00:26:16)
The Problem with Perfect Being Theology and the Death of God (00:42:04)
Camus and The Myth of Sisyphus (00:43:18)
Existentialism and the Subjectivity of Fulfillment in Life (00:48:31)
Marcus Aurelius and the Question of Legacy (00:55:15)
How the Q Continuum is Depicted in Death Wish (00:58:49)
Comparing and Contrasting How Star Trek Depicts the Q Continuum (01:08:25)
Is All of Star Trek Escapist? (01:11:38)
A Few Final Questions About "Death Wish" (01:21:17)
Closing (01:25:56)
 
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) Mar Walker (Associate Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)

Jun 4, 2019

Utopianism in Star Trek.  

The Star Trek universe is sometimes claimed to be a utopia. From technological progress to an enlightened view of human nature and equal opportunity, the vision of the future depicted in Star Trek is often touted by fans as the best possible future for humankind. An often-overlooked aspect of utopianism, however, is that "utopia" literally means "no place," calling into question the plausibility of such an optimistic future. 

From intragalactic wars to power-hungry admirals to secret government organizations, the struggles of the 23rd and 24th centuries are all very familiar to us here in the 21st century, potentially undermining the very notion of human progress for which Star Trek is so famous. With the overall darker tone of Star Trek: Discovery and, to a lesser extent, Star Trek: Enterprise before that, it is reasonable to ask whether fans themselves, when pressed, really do still believe in the Star Trek vision of the future. 

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling discuss utopianism in the Star Trek universe, whether Star Trek should really be considered a utopia after all, the dark sides of "perfect" societies, and the importance of having an idealistic vision of future human society—a modern-day take on a futuristic Plato's Republic—whether or not that ideal future is possible to achieve.  


Chapters
Intro (00:01:19)
Initial Thoughts on Utopianism in the Star Trek Universe (00:01:55)
DS9 and Criticisms of Federation Utopia (00:06:33)
What Ways is the Society of the 24th Century Utopian? (00:12:50)
The Role of Human Improvement in a Utopian Society (00:19:40)
Non-Utopian Aspects of Society in Star Trek (00:21:48)
Do Fans Believe in the Utopian Message of Star Trek? (00:33:50)
Plato's Republic and the Perfect Society (00:42:23)
Counter Culture Moving Humanity Forward (00:50:11)
Kirk: Destroyer of Utopias vs. Picard: Preserver of Utopias (00:57:50)
Final Thoughts (01:06:07)
Closing (01:09:34) 

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 6, 2019

Alternate Universes and Modal Realism. 

The Star Trek franchise is full of alternate universes, from different quantum realities (TNG: "Parallels") and the alternate reality seen in the Kelvin timeline (Star Trek, 2009) to the Mirror Universe seen in the Original Series, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Discovery. In Star Trek, these alternate universes are just as real as the actual universe, a philosophical position known as "modal realism." In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison debate modal realism, the reality of alternate universes, through the lens of the Star Trek universe and whether we should consider alternate realities or "possible worlds" to be as metaphysically real as our own actual universe.  


Chapters
Intro (00:01:19)
Initial Thought on Modal Realism (00:04:04)
What Difference Does It Make? (00:08:45)
David Lewis and Counterfactuals (00:12:36)
Modal Concepts (00:17:43)
The Distinction and Contrast of the Mirror Universe in Star Trek (00:20:46)
Quantum Branching (00:29:50)
Gottfried Leibniz and "Best of All Possible Worlds" (00:34:28)
Is Modal Realism a Scientific Question or a Philosophical Question? (00:39:00)
The Space Between the Spaces (00:43:26)
Different Types of Possible Universes (00:45:20)
Criticisms of Modal Realism (00:57:13)
Diverging Universes (01:00:10)
Closing (01:05:03) 

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)

Jan 21, 2019

Discovery Season 1 - Essential Trek Philosophy.  

We in the 21st century do not live in an age of mythology as the ancient Greeks and Romans did, with epic heroes and narratives to provide context and meaning for our lives. Yet we hunger and thirst for meaning, as humans have done since the dawn of human history and consciousness. To its fans, Star Trek has become a form of modern mythology, with its own ethos, purposefulness, and meaningfulness, and with its own epic heroes—whether Captain Kirk in the Original Series or Michael Burnham in Star Trek: Discovery—whose journeys, struggles, and overcoming of obstacles are reminiscent of the existential journeys of classical epic heroes, from Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey to Dante Alighieri in the Divine Comedy.  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling discuss the philosophical themes in season one of Star Trek: Discovery, from speculative and theoretical issues in contemporary physics and biology—emergence, panspermia, and panpsychism—to existential questions of self-identity and self-definition—including the rise, fall, and redemption of Michael Burnham, the Federation's struggle to maintain its ideals during wartime and in the face of imminent threats to its very existence, and the emerging unification and national identity of the Klingon Empire.  

Chapters 
Intro (00:01:19) 
Initial Thoughts About Star Trek: Discovery - Season One (00:2:31) 
Essential Trek Philosophy Essentials (00:17:19) 
Context is for Kings (00:19:06) 
The Vulcan Hello / Battle at the Binary Stars (00:27:07) 
The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry / Choose Your Pain (00:37:50) 
Lethe (00:42:43) 
Will You Take My Hand? (00:50:54) 
Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad (00:59:03) 
Final Thoughts (01:04:58) 
Recap (01:12:48) 
Closing (01:13:55)  

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)

Jan 14, 2019

Equality and Equal Rights.  

Equality in the United Federation of Planets is often taken for granted, that alien life forms are entitled to the same rights, privileges, and opportunities as humans. But to which beings does this equality extend? Humanoids? Only sentient life forms? Intelligent androids? Whales? Nanites? And equality in what sense? Political equality? Moral equality? Equality under the law? Equality of opportunity?  

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison discuss the philosophy of equality in the Star Trek universe, from issues of accessibility for disabled Starfleet officers such as Commander LaForge (TNG) and Ensign Melora (DS9: "Melora"), to the rights of non-humanoid life forms, whether intelligent whales here on Earth (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) or non-human aliens such as the Horta (TOS: "The Devil in the Dark") and the Sheliak (TNG: "The Ensigns of Command").  


Chapters 
Intro (00:01:19) 
Equality - Making a Distinction (00:03:16) 
Political Equality Over Time in Star Trek (00:04:49) 
Moral Equality in the Federation (00:11:22) 
Moral Equality and Future Potential (00:20:25) 
Equality Under the Law, Equal Rights, and the Ethics of Care (00:28:07) 
Equality and Exploitation (00:33:48) 
Deep Space Nine and Equal Opportunity (00:36:34) 
Starfleet and the Federation: Is the Captains Life More Valuable? (00:46:42) 
Our Attitude Toward Other Cultures in the 24th Century (00:55:34) 
Closing (00:58:52)  

Hosts 
Zachary Fruhling and Mike Morrison  

Production 
Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) 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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