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Doctor Who and Philosophy: Bigger on the Inside

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Doctor Who and Philosophy: Bigger on the Inside
Doctor Who and Philosophy:
Bigger on the Inside

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Not only is Doctor Who the longest-running science fiction television show in history, but it has also been translated into numerous languages, broadcast around the world, and referred to as the “way of the future” by some British political leaders. The old (or Classic) Doctor Who series built up a loyal American cult following, with regular conventions and other activities. The new series, relaunched in 2005, has emerged from culthood into mass awareness, with a steadily growing viewership and major sales of DVDs. The current series, featuring the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, is breaking all earlier records, in both the UK and the US.

Doctor Who is a continuing story about the adventures of a mysterious alien known as “the Doctor,” a traveler of both time and space whose spacecraft is the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimensions in Space), which from the outside looks like a British police telephone box of the 1950s. The TARDIS is “bigger on the inside than on the outside”—actually the interior is immense. The Doctor looks human, but has two hearts, and a knowledge of all languages in the universe. Periodically, when the show changes the leading actor, the Doctor “regenerates,” changing his body and his personality quirks, but retaining all his memories. Regeneration causes the Doctor to be temporarily disoriented and weakened, both before and after. The Doctor usually has one or more companions, most often attractive young females, who also change from time to time, giving the Doctor the opportunity to explain some basic facts about himself to the new companion. The Doctor is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey and battles various evil forces in the universe, including the nasty robot Daleks and The Master, a renegade Time Lord.

In Doctor Who and Philosophy, a team of mostly human philosophers (who are also fans) looks at the deeper issues raised by the Doctor's mind-blowing adventures. The book examines issues of personal identity, and explains how the Doctor provides valuable insights into understanding “who” we are. The volume also discusses Doctor Who’s representation of science, logic, speciesism, perception, physics, and causation. A section on ethics provides both a nice introduction to ethics and some important insights into how the Doctor tells us to live the good life. In addition, two chapters deal with human existence and aesthetics.

The book includes two bonuses. First, there is a collection of insightful quotes from the Classic and New series of Doctor Who. These quotes provide a wealth of philosophical knowledge, sure to enlighten and entertain readers. Second, the volume contains a complete list of episodes and companions, so the reader can look back on all the Doctor’s adventures and friends. 

ISBN 978-0-8126-9688-2 

320 pages