Friday, January 14, 2011

V 2.2: Do Beings from other Planets Have Souls?

The most interesting part of V 2.2 this week was Diana's explanation of human emotion as arising in the soul, and her daughter Anna's consequent vow to seek it out and destroy it.

It's interesting and actually profound - one of the good things about V is how it flirts with profundity - because it raises the question of whether the Visitors have souls, and the larger, deeper question of whether sentient being from planets other than Earth can have souls.

Presumably the Visitors do not, otherwise Anna would not be bent on destroying human souls, as the best way of making sure the illness of emotion does not spread any further to her and her insect people.  But the fact that Anna and Diana are subject to human emotion - not to mention Ryan, who obviously is capable of deep, compassionate love - suggests that Visitors do have them after all.

Perhaps they're dormant in the Visitors, and their souls are awakened by contact with we humans and our emotions.   Father Jack certainly thinks so, and tells Ryan he just needs to find a way to get in touch with his soul.   Father Jack is one of my favorite characters on the show, and the search for soul should give him an even more central role in the story.

Back in our off-television reality, the question of whether beings from other planets have souls is one which we may need to investigate, should we ever come in contact with aliens.  James Blish did a good job in his 1950s novel (first a shorter novelette), A Case of Conscience.   The question of course gets to the fundamental question of what we are right here down on Earth.   If soul is just a word for the complex neurology based in our brains and bathed in hormones - otherwise known as the less metaphysical notion of "self" - then presumably any alien intelligent enough to build a star ship and get here would have one.   But if soul is something the Deity breathes into us - and not quite into other living organism - as a steering force for our intelligence, then why wouldn't other sentient beings from other planets also have them?   As I point out in my 2003 book Realspace: The Fate of Physical Presence in the World, On and Off Planet, the spiritual component will be as important as the scientific as we reach out into space.

See alsoV is Back and Badler

And reviews of Season 1:  V Returns to TV ... V 1.2: The Effects and The Characters ... V 1.3: Multiple Twists and Lizard Visions ... V 1.4: Good Medicine for Television ... V's Back in 1.5 ... V 1.6: Floating Witches ... V 1.7: Ryan's Story ... V 1.8: Is Lisa Becoming 5th Column? ... V 1.9: Moral Complexity and NonStop Action ... V 1.11:  Lisa's Loyalties ... V 1.12: Complex Chess and Red Cloud

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The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

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