Sunday, February 07, 2010

Vulcans are not mean...

I watched Star Trek, the most recent movie in the franchise, again yesterday. I did enjoy it very much. I did get the same sense again that I did the first time--contemporary culture has a tendency to equate objectivity with being mean.

The portrayal of the Vulcan council is off, and I'm not surprised that whoever wrote this version had Vulcan destroyed. Spock comes off as mean half the time and he is portrayed by the bad guy from Heroes.

To be sure, this Spock will be more interesting than Data. Maybe that was partly a conscious choice. But objectivity is not mean and the Stoics did not argue for apathy. The truth is neither mean nor kind. It just is.

The stereotype of thinkers in most pop media and pop culture is exactly that a stereotype. A truly objective person realizes that humans are emotional creatures, feeling things. A truly objective person would realize that emotions have to be taken into account and would deal with others accordingly. The stereotypical thinker who doesn't take feelings into account is one notch less a thinker than the one who knows feelings must be taken into account.

3 comments:

P-Squared said...

I think Vulcans are mean, but not because the truth of objectivity is mean. You are correct, the truth just "is." However, since the Vulcans do not express emotion, they lack the ability to "speak the truth in love." Love is more than an emotion, but there is an emotional element to it.

P-Squared said...

typo in my previoius comment. I meant to say "but not because truth or objectivity are mean"

Ken Schenck said...

It is modernist of me, but I do it as an expression rather than as a statement of the way things are. The distinction between truth and its presentation or application is crucial for me. The truth doesn't care that someone is dying of cancer. It simply asserts it. But the interpersonal dynamics that surround this truth beg for great care and empathy.