I watched the latest installment of Star Trek: Into Darkness in theatre recently. I felt that it wasn’t as epic as the previous one, but good nonetheless. This time, the crews of the enterprise take on a new enemy named Khan. I am actually not familiar with this nemesis of the Star Trek world. The Wikipedia description does give good background information about who this Khan guy is. He is “one of a group of genetically engineered supermen, bred to be free of the usual human mental and physical limitations, who were removed from power after the Eugenics Wars of the 1990s.”
I thought that this Khan guy was somewhat like the Vulcans, in that they are portrayed as beings of superior intellect compared to the human beings and relative lacking in emotion. Indeed, one of the theme that is observed in the star trek world is the juxtaposition of the characteristic of intellect and emotion, with the portrayal that the two have an inverse relationship with the other. The quality of being logical and rational is opposed to what is seen as the primitive trait of emotions.
I think it an interesting inquiry about whether this juxtaposition is true. I do see the likes of such kinds of people who appear as having a lack of emotions, or a lack of ability to express them. There are professors whom I encounter who seem quite socially inept and emotionless. In the law faculty however, most of the professors have a relatively nice and sociable personality. I wonder whether the personalities of professors in the more technical-based disciplines such as engineering sport a blander sort of personality. The stereotype of the absent-minded professor is afterall the caricature prevalent as cultural memes.
Indeed, one of the observations in the field of psychology is the presence of a particular set of symptoms in human beings known as autism. While people on the autism spectrum have supposedly a higher intelligence, they suffer from a relatively lack in social skills and ability to express emotions. However, contrary to public impression, these individuals do experience emotions, perhaps even more intensely than a normal individual; they just have difficulty expressing them.
Instead of the trait of emotions and intelligence being conflicting in nature, I was thinking that perhaps emotions and intelligence are more of evolutionary trade-offs. For example, I do learn that viruses that develop the trait of being more resistant to antibiotics do so at the expense of being less virulent in nature. And as the common stereotype goes, beautiful people are less intelligent than ugly people, and vice versa. There is this concept known as evolutionary cost where the development of certain qualities in a species comes at a cost in the development of other qualities. My thought is that the ability to express emotions is a quality developed by evolution which is an effective method for communication. But intelligence, which improves an individual’s ability to communicate via words, and through signs and symbols, comes as a trade-off to an individual’s ability to express himself via emotions.
There is this interesting bit on philosophy in the Wikipedia page about Khan and the concept of the superman in Nietzche’s philosophy – “Superficially, Khan is believed by some to have similarities with Friedrich Nietzsche's concept of the "Übermensch" (superman or overman). Khan is mentally and physically superior to any normal human. In the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Borderland", Malik, the leader of a group of "supermen" created from the same genetic engineering project as Khan, actually quotes Nietzsche, telling Archer that "Mankind is something to be surpassed". Professor William J. Devlin and coauthor Shai Biderman examined Khan's character compared to the Übermensch and found that Khan's blind pursuit of revenge is against Nietzsche's ideals of transcendence and self-creation of a meaningful life. Instead, the authors offer Spock's self-sacrifice in The Wrath of Khan as a better example of the Übermensch.”
I have not read Nietzche before, but I think I do get the idea of what his philosophy is about. And it seems like a depressing picture of humanity where might is right. One of the objections that I read from Christian apologists about morality based on atheism is that the atheist has to deal with the problem of nihilism before he can suggest humanism as a code of ethics to live by.
I saw an interview of J.J Abrams who was director of the star trek movies on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He mentioned about him not being a star trek fan but a star wars fan. Jon, a Star Trek fan, humorously commented that he didn’t hear Abrams say anything after that statement, only that he observe Abram’s lips moving. I am not sure how true the saying that people who are star trek fans are not star wars fans, and vice versa. But it certainly holds true for me. I am a star trek fan and not a star wars fan. I like the space sci-fi and the concept of diplomacy amongst different space races on different planets in Star Trek, and not the fantasy, good vs evil theme of Star Wars.