We have met the Star Trek aliens and they are us

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


Many people gain their identity, their self, through their cars, houses, friends, families, station in life, talents, even their jobs. Investigation into the self is as old as time itself. This self has been studied for centuries in many disciplines, including philosophy, religion, psychology, sociology, and even the theater and motion narratives. Has a definitive answer of who the self is been found? I explore some answers using theorists from the turn of the twentieth century to the present day. My method is to use the work of some theorists--George H. Mead, Erving Goffman, Jean-Paul Sartre, Soren Kierkegaard, and Roland Barthes--to analyze Star Trek: Deep Space Nine through the lenses and filters of microsociology, existential philosophy, literary criticism, television criticism, U. S. and world history, and social psychology. In the early 1900s, George H. Mead said that to gain a self, we need to have a subjective I and an objective me. We gain these through interactions with those around us. If we do not have both an I and me, we are only conscious, not self conscious. This self has a deeply private, internal component that includes memory and imagination as well as the interactive component of language, both verbal and physical. It is through daily interactions with others that we develop our self. Once we have our self, we then present or perform that self to the world. Whether we do that in our front or back region, or "stage," as Erving Goffman wrote, or for-others or for-itself, as Sartre says, we still present our self to others around us. Even if there is no verbal conversation, we still communicate with others through what we can view of the other. From Sartre, we learn how we perceive others as opposed to our self and how that influences us and the other, which is the socialization process we experience. Every time we interact with someone or some group, we, and they, go through mutual socialization, thus re-creating culture. This is what Star Trek: Deep Space Nine teaches us.




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