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“My People once lived in Caves”: Pre-modern Societies in Star Trek

  • Christian Domenig
  • Stefan Rabitsch
Chapter

Abstract

Encounters with pre-modern societies are a popular topos in Star Trek. Starfleet’s intrepid explorers often make contact with worlds devoid of industry, electricity, and contemporary as well as futuristic comforts. Etymologically, the term pre-modern points to its root in ancient Greek – oikos (οϊκος) – which encompasses the family, the household, and property as well as the domicile itself – all headed by a chief called pater familias in Latin. Secondly, pre-modern refers a society whose everyday life is greatly influenced by (dogmatic) religion. And finally, the term connotes a society’s high dependency on agriculture. In the Star Trek universe, interactions with pre-warp civilizations are regulated by the Prime Directive, which actually prohibits any interference with such cultures. By reason of exigencies and for dramatic purposes, this Starfleet General Order 1 is often violated. Tapping into the didactic potential of example episodes and movies, this chapter discusses such violations vis-à-vis the images of pre-modern societies, which specifically refer to the Middle Ages. Ultimately, this chapter pursues a question central to the philosophy of history and the teaching thereof: Is the history of mankind paradigmatic for the whole universe?

Keywords

Pre-modern societies oikos Prime Directive Pre-warp civilizations Philosophy of history 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryAlpen-Adria-Universität KlagenfurtKlagenfurtAustria
  2. 2.Department of American StudiesKarl-Franzens-Universität GrazGrazAustria

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