Philosophical Star Trek Episodes

About 20 years ago, I taught a college course titled: “Philosophy and Star Trek.” I also remember the original Star Trek series premiering on TV in 1966 and I’ve seen all of the original episodes multiple times.

Here are some particularly philosophical episodes from the original series, with the caveat that such lists are subjective and I’m probably omitting some classics. (Episodes in bold are particular favorites.)

Title                                                                     Subject

the enemy within                                          personal identity
the menagerie                                              reality
the conscience of the king                         justice
the squire of gothos                                     power
arena                                                                  mercy
the return of the archons                           society
a taste of Armageddon                                war
this side of paradise                                  happiness
the city on the edge of forever             time
amok time                                                        desire
who mourns for adonis?                          gods 
mirror, mirror                                                   parallel universes
return to tomorrow                                       robots
specter of the gun                                          mind
plato’s stepchildren                                      corruption
let that be your last battlefield                cold war
the cloud minders                                         economics

all our yesterdays                                       time 

As for Star Trek the Next Generation, my all time favorite episode is “The Inner Light.” While I don’t know the series as well as the original one, here are a few I’d recommend for the philosophically inclined.

Encounter at Farpoint                                 humanity
Remember Me                                                memory
Relics                                                                  aging
Best of Both Worlds                                      power
Clue                                                                    lying
The Measure of a Man                               artificial intelligence
Elementary, Dear Data                                reality
Ship in a Bottle                                             reality
All Good Things                                              time
Q Who                                                                 power
Tapestry                                                           choices
Yesterday’s Enterprise                                 time
The Inner Light                                             meaning
Thine Own Self                                               reason
The Drumhead                                               conspiracies
Darmok                                                              language

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