Dr. Spock and Captain Kirk as a Mirror of the Human Soul


This new “Star Trek” film recounts the origin of Captain Kirk’s career aboard the U.S.S. Starship Enterprise along with the origin of Spock, Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, Nyota Uhura, Scotty, and other familiar characters from the original Star Trek series.
I’ve never been a Trekkie, but my immediate reaction to the film was that it demonstrated what it means to be truly human. To be honest, I didn’t like elder Spock’s advice to younger Spock that he should not be so rational but instead do what “what feels right”. Yet if we look at the wider context, I think that this scene does present a proper image of what it means to be human, especially as described St. Thomas Aquinas when we realize that elder Spock is catechizing younger Spock in how he completes Kirk and vice versa. Spock and Kirk together create the potential for success. They need one another. Similarly, the human soul has higher faculties such as the intellect and will, but it also has the concupiscible (desires) and irascible (strength/courage) powers associated to our animality. Spock represents human rationality at its best. Kirk represents the need for emotive response.

Spock is half Vulcan, half human. Vulcans do not feel, they rationalize. Spock’s curse (from the Vulcan point of view) is that Spock possesses the capacity for feelings – a fact that Vulcans exploit early in the film. Spock responds by checking his latent emotions and makes decisions with his calculating mind.

Captain James Kirk is similar to Spock but in an opposite fashion. Kirk is intelligent but he is guided by his passions. Kirk is lusty, ambitious, funny, and brave. Without Spock, Kirk would be out of control. Spock tempers Kirk, but Kirk provides the emotive power to face down the Romulans, go on dangerous missions where his life and the lives of his crew are in danger.

If you haven’t seen the new Star Trek yet, definitely don’t miss it in the theatres. It is action-packed, funny, witty, interesting, and the special effects are incredible. I’ve always been a Star Wars fan, but after returning to Star Trek, I now see that Star Trek possesses themes that are much more profound than anything in Star Wars (I know, them’s fighting words). That’s not a knock against Star Wars. I simply think that Star Trek‘s connection to earth and the human race as it engages other “rational creatures” makes for more interesting possibilities.

For those of you that have seen the new Star Trek film, what did you think?

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