Twilight Zone Reflections

An Introduction to the Philosophical Imagination

Subjects: Philosophy, General, Performing Arts, Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror
Imprint: Lever Press
Paperback : 9781643150628, 535 pages, 6 x 9, June 2024
Open Access : 9781643150635, 535 pages, 6 x 9, June 2024
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An introduction to philosophy through thought experiments in the 1959–1964 television series, The Twilight Zone

Description

Twilight Zone Reflections is the first book of its kind to explore the entirety of The Twilight Zone (1959–1964) as a series. It acts as both an introduction to the field of philosophy and as a complete guide to the philosophical issues illustrated throughout the original 1959-64 television series. Author Saul Traiger explores each of the 156 episodes, investigating the show’s themes in metaphysics, epistemology, moral and political philosophy, and other topics in a way that is accessible to both seasoned philosophers and those outside academia. 

Each short chapter dives into a single episode and concludes with helpful cross-references to other episodes that explore similar philosophical problems and subjects. For example, a reader may be interested in questions about the nature of the mind and whether machines can think. By referencing this book, they could easily discover the thematic connections between episodes like “I Sing the Body Electric” or “The Lateness of the Hour,”  and learn how both episodes introduce the viewer to possible worlds that challenge us to consider whether our idea of the mind, and even our very personhood, extends beyond the human to robots and other artificial intelligences. Each chapter introduces fundamental philosophical questions such as these through the lens of The Twilight Zone and inspires additional exploration. Further readings are suggested for all episodes, making this volume indispensable to academics, students, and fans of the show. Each chapter is short and accessible, ensuring that this book is the perfect resource to accompany a complete series re-watch. 

The Twilight Zone considered questions that strike at the heart of philosophical inquiry, such as the nature of self, the existence of god, the possibility of an afterlife, the relationship between knowledge and mental illness, the nature of possibility, even the nature of imagination itself, and so much more. Traiger argues that each episode can serve as an entry point for philosophical reflection. Twilight Zone Reflections is a valuable reference for anyone interested in exploring a well-known slice of popular culture history that doubles as a vast store of philosophical ideas.

Saul Traiger is Professor Emeritus of Cognitive Science and Philosophy at Occidental College, where he co-founded the Department of Cognitive Science in 1987. He has published extensively on the philosophy of David Hume, in contemporary epistemology and in the philosophy of mind. He is a former president of The Hume Society, and a former co-editor of Hume Studies

"Twilight Zone Reflections is both a fascinating and accessible introduction to philosophy, and a superb companion to the classic TV show. As fans of the show have long understood, its secret ingredient is the deliciously uncanny thought experiment, the what-ifs of imaginary worlds just two beats off our own. The thought experiment is also the stock in trade of philosophy, as we stress test our ways of thinking by following out their consequences in different imagined worlds. Twilight Zone Reflections steers us through each episode of the original TV show, explaining the underlying philosophical puzzles that give the show its questioning  spirit. Easy for non-philosophers to dip into and enjoy, Twilight Zone Reflections is also a superb guidebook for instructors and students connecting the imaginative worlds of the Zone to philosophical questions and ideas."

- Thomas Holden, University of California Santa Barbara