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Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Orville 1.12: Faith in Reason and the Prime Directive



An excellent season 1 finale of The Orville tonight - 1.12 - which picks up on what I long ago adopted as the mantra of this blog (see above), what George Santayana called an "irrational faith in reason".

That philosophic recognition - that the value of reason cannot be demonstrated without an appeal to reason, which in assuming the value of the very proposition under investigation is circular reasoning, or illogical, and is a form of infinite regress - was a cornerstone not only Santayana's philosophy, but Bertrand Russell's and Karl Popper's.

In The Orville, it's the solution to a violation of what in Star Trek is known as the prime directive, or the need for an advanced civilization to keep clear of any less-advanced civilization, lest it pollute it and derail its evolution.  Of course, in Star Trek that happened all the time - Kirk violated the Prime Directive with near abandon - and it happens tonight when Kelly visits a planet, in a primitive stage of pre-civilization, that phases into our universe every 700 or so years in its timeline, which plays out as 11 or so days in ours.  In the tritest part of the story, a religious cult grows up around Kelly.  But the resolution is pretty nifty.

And it entails a faith in reason.  Isaac is left on the planet - because, as in Star Trek, the only way to undo a contamination caused by a violation of the Prime Directive is to violate it again (a sort of paradox in itself) - and he manages to transform the faith in Kelly into a faith in reason.   And this, as Santayana, Russell, and Popper argued, is the basis or best defense of rationality over irrationality on our Planet Earth, as well.

Did Seth MacFarlane read those philosophers?  Maybe, very likely, who knows?  But what I do know is that he's created a space opera it is as profound as it is funny - or maybe as funny as it is profound - and it's funny and profound indeed.

And I'll see you all here for season 2.

See also The Orville 1.1-1.5: Star Trek's Back ... The Orville 1.6-9: Masterful ... The Orville 1.10: Bring in the Clowns ... The Orville 1.11: Eating Yaphit


1st starship to Alpha Centauri ... had only enough fuel to get there

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