The Philosophy of The X-Files

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From its first appearance in 1993, The X-Files has attracted millions of viewers interested in the paranormal investigations of intuitionist and belief-driven Fox Mulder and his partner, Dana Scully, the "consummate scientist" and skeptic. Addressing questions of trust and authority that plague our information-addled society, the series acquired a large fan base of individuals interested in debating and interpreting the philosophical themes that underlie the symbiotic partnership between Mulder and Scully. The Philosophy of The X-Files concentrates not only on the philosophical assumptions and presuppositions of the show but also on how the episodes portray the process of philosophical inquiry. Editor Dean A. Kowalski argues that both philosophy and The X-Files center around a determination to search for truth despite a frequent lack of information and proper tools. It is no surprise, then, to find the series riddled with common philosophical themes, including metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics, and existentialism, among others. The first section of the book addresses the credos put forth by the series and examines the philosophical significance of its three popular slogans: "The truth is out there," "Trust no one," and "I want to believe." In the second section, contributors analyze the philosophical underpinnings of the characters of Mulder, Scully, the Cigarette Smoking Man, and Assistant Director Walter Skinner. A final section is devoted to individual episodes and engages with the philosophical issues raised by "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" and "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space,'" in addition to the 1998 film The X-Files: Fight the Future. Two appendixes offer a summary of the main storyline and brief plot summaries of each television episode together with the philosophical issues it raises. The first collection of philosophical essays devoted exclusively to the show, The Philosophy of The X-Files shows a television series successfully engaged with the philosophical quandaries of the modern world and explores how Mulder and Scully's personalities and actions invite inquiry into patterns of human belief and behavior.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Philosophy of The X-Files will be a hit with X-philes and fans of philosophy alike. It might even turn some X-philes into philosophy fans." —Christopher B. Blakley, Louisiana State University" —

"Kowalski and his contributors have put together a great book that discusses central issues in Epistemology, Metaphysics, all against the backdrop of The X-Files." —Roger P. Ebertz, University of Dubuque" —

"The Philosophy of the X-Files... analyzes the underlying philosophy of the popular science fiction television series." —Ripon Magazine" —

"Conard's collection is particularly welcome because the contributors have but one task: to consider what precisely lies beneath the polished surface of the Coens' films, and to deconstruct the bleak vision the films consistently embrace. Elegant and engaging, this is a key resource on the Coens' films." —G.A. Foster, Choice" —

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813124544
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 9/28/2007
  • Series: Philosophy of Popular Culture Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 328
  • Sales rank: 838,739
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Dean A. Kowalski, assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin—Waukesha, is the author of Classic Questions and Contemporary Film: An Introduction to Philosophy and The Philosophy of Steven Spielberg.

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Table of Contents

Introduction Mulder, Scully, Plato, Aristotle, and Dawkins Dean A. Kowalski Kowalski, Dean A. 1

Pt. I The Credos

The Truth Is Out There: Abduction, Aliens, and Alienation Mark C. E. Peterson Peterson, Mark C. E. 17

Freedom and Worldviews in The X-Files V. Alan White White, V. Alan 37

Postdemocratic Society and the Truth Out There Richard Flannery Flannery, Richard David Louzecky Louzecky, David 55

Some Philosophical Reflections on "Trust No One" Richard M. Edwards Edwards, Richard M. Dean A. Kowalski Kowalski, Dean A. 77

"I Want to Believe": William James and The X-Files Keith Dromm Dromm, Keith 93

Pt II The Characters

Ancient X-Files: Mulder and Plato's Sokratic Dialogues William M. Schneider Schneider, William M. 111

Scully as Pragmatist Feminist: "truths" Are Out There Erin McKenna McKenna, Erin 126

Moral Musings on a Cigarette Smoking Man Timothy Dunn Dunn, Timothy Joseph J. Foy Foy, Joseph J. 142

Walter Skinner: The X-Files' Unsung Hero S. Evan Kreider Kreider, S. Evan 159

Science and the Mystery of Consciousness: A Dialogue between Mulder and Scully Gordon Barnes Barnes, Gordon 174

Pt. III The Episodes

"Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" Reprised 2009 Dean A. Kowalski Kowalski, Dean A. 189

The Many Tales of "Jose Chung" Dean A. Kowalski Kowalski, Dean A. S. Evan Kreider Kreider, S. Evan 209

Feelings and Fictions: Exploring Emotion and Belief in Fight the Future Christopher R. Trogan Trogan, Christopher R. 230

I Want to Believe...But Now What? Dean A. Kowalski Kowalski, Dean A. S. Evan Kreider Kreider, S. Evan 241

App. A The X-Files Mythology 262

App. B The X-Files Debriefed 265

Contributors 283

Index 287

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2008

    I Believe!

    The Philosophy of the X-Files sets a new standard for books looking at philosophical concepts through the lens of popular culture. Dean A. Kowalski has assembled a team of contributors that clearly know and love the show, and do an excellent job illustrating just how brilliant and complex The X-Files was 'or should I, with gleeful anticipation of the forthcoming film release, say 'is'?'. The book is divided into three parts: the Credos, the Characters, and the Episodes. The book begins, as it should, with an exploration of the many themes that drive the series 'i.e., Mulder's profession that he 'wants to believe' and the infamous tagline 'the truth is out there''. This helps set the context for better understanding the philosophical world in which the characters and episodes are based. In section two, the authors examine the major characters of the series, and brilliantly challenge the reader to reassess their commonplace assumptions about them. For instace, is it possible that Fox Mulder's quest for the truth harms others and threatens the state such that he might be cast as the villain? Is the Cigarette Smoking Man an unsung utilitarian hero, or does his manner of depravity and evil defy even conventional understandings of villainy? Can it be that Walter Skinner is the quiet hero of the series? And, finally, the book concludes with some very insightful 'and at times, very challenging' essays based on some of the key episodes from the show 'the hallmark of which is Kowalski's own look into 'Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose''. Overall, this book is a must read for any fan of the X-Files. X-philes of all stripes will not only gain a fuller appreciation of the series, but they will also learn more about themselves in the process. I can only hope that there is a follow-up to this release after the release of XF2 that incorporates the second movie and some of the later seasons.

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