I have spent my life with my head in the clouds.
The clouds are thick. Beyond the dust and water vapor, my clouds are filled with faster-than-light drives, space opera, energy-based weapons, and these things are easily juxtaposed to the sword-and-sorcery fantasy genre that fills the other clouds with wizards, magic, and Ged traveling Earthsea. I have always dreamed of the future, better technologies, and even to this day, I often fall asleep to Picard or Kirk in the background, especially since Netflix has carried them for the last several years.
In a way, Star Trek was filled with philosophy, even before I knew I would dedicate my life in pursuit of it. Spok epitomized the rational and logical part of the soul praised by Plato. When Data created his daughter, he told her the last stage of sentience was the ability to reflect on epistemology and aesthetics. When Picard asks Wesley if he read that book he gave him, Wesley says he hasn’t had time to read “William James.” In the first few episodes of season 1, Kirk’s friend is evolving past the limit of human knowledge and that friend calls Spinoza simple while hinting that Kirk used to teach such difficult books at the academy. I can only surmise that philosophy was part of that hinted instruction.
One can also see where they are in relation to Star Trek. As I have become a philosopher, and in particular since I have bought into a more primordially emotional existence in James, Heidegger, and Scheler, my philosophy has inverted the priority given to logic by Spok. Like Scheler, I agree with Pascal to privilege and elevate the “logic of the heart.” Now, I side with Spok’s brother, Sybok, in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. However, there was a time where I was more analytic, had an appreciation for science much more than theology, and it’s plain as day that Leonard Nimoy had a hand in my development as a philosopher.
Science fiction makes us dream. We envision different worlds, different ways societies can be organized, what new technologies will do to the older traditions, and how to conceive a unity beyond the tribalism of our own limited humanity. In philosophy, we often use our imagination to test philosophical concepts. We imagine ridiculous scenarios to see if a premise or concept can hold water as universally as we speculate it can. Science fiction and philosophy are my two separate guilty pleasures in this world, and they both draw on the imagination.
Leonard, I will miss you. I never knew you. I have imagined different worlds because of you. At the end of Star Trek III: The Search for Spok, Spok was joined with his regenerated body and katra. As you had a hand in directed that movie, I often wonder that if there is truly an afterlife where I can meet you and sit and have coffee with you. If such a place exists, then the words at the end of that movie orignally meant to herald the hint of Star Trek IV become even more significant: And the Adventure Continues… I hope it does for you. If not, then I can only think those words were meant for us. We can continually be inspired by your life. It was fantastic seeing you perform, introducing me to the “spirit” of logic, and I am glad that I had the chance to know of you.
Oh yeah, you’re not a bad director either. Three Men and a Baby was a funny movie, too. Peace.