Monday, December 2, 2013

"Life Is Always A Test": What The Stumbling Living Can Learn From The Walking Dead


"You think it's still a test?"
"Life is always a test, Rick."
Herschel and Rick, Season 4, Episode 5

"You step outside, you risk your life. You take a drink of water, you risk your life. And nowadays you breathe and you risk your life. Every moment now, you don’t have a choice. The only thing you can choose is what you’re risking it for.” 
 Herschel, Season 4, Episode 3
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AMC's The Walking Dead may well be one of the best shows on TV right now. I could do without the excessive gore (though one could argue it's needed to establish the context), but the questions the show raises about life, morality, faith, humanity, and hope are profound.

After watching the first two seasons, I picked up The Walking Dead and Philosophy, one of many books in a series that uses popular entertainment as a way of addressing deeper philosophical questions. Some articles were better than others; all of them raised thought-provoking questions. I offer the following links for those who are interested in using the undead as a means to think more deeply about the life.

"How Do You Solve A Problem Like A Zombie?":

"What exactly is the mind, and how is it distinct from or similar to the brain? For that matter, how important to our humanity are the immaterial aspects of our nature - our consciousness, our mind, our thoughts, ideas, and emotions? And is there a philosophical system sufficient to explain them?"

 "Much Undead Ado About Nothing":
"The debate about what it means to be human has taken an interesting direction following the recent fixation with zombies. The Walking Dead and Philosophy opened with two essays arguing that the consideration of philosophical zombies (P-Zombies) - theoretical beings identical to human beings but lacking consciousness, qualia, or sentience - mitigates against a purely materialistic view of the world."
"Leviathins and Zombies: Social Contracts and The Walking Dead":
"The Walkers are humans stripped of what political theorists call a 'social contract,' an agreement between the rulers and the ruled. The humans who remain have a choice: head off into the woods and make do with whomever they can find, or head for the nearest city and attempt to recreate some form of government."
"Absurd Heroism: Camus and the Real Walking Dead":
"If Camus and his disciples are correct, we have always lived in a post-apocalyptic world. Which is worse, I wonder – a world in which human are wiped out, or one in which human have always roamed an earth devoid of meaning, hope, morality and truth?"
"Deconstructing Humans":
"If one can be human without being a person, how far away does one have stray from criteria such as Ms. Warren's before one loses moral and legal status? On the flip side, how far up the scale of capacity can one be and still not obtain the privileges and status of personhood?"
"Desperate Human Beings":
Yuen notes, 'Nothing is more frightening than desperate human beings.' That is frightening, true. What frightens me more are human beings who, with great articulation and artful rhetoric, try to convince us that killing children is defensible because select, elite thinkers have decided on behalf others how much suffering is acceptable, which human lives are defensible, and to what degree we should harden our hearts for the sake of a nebulous and ever changing greater good."

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