CHAPTER 7 CASE: Kirk and Spock The purpose of this case is to have the students consider whether a total absence of emotion can be deleterious for decision-making. Indeed, the evidence presented in this chapter suggests that Kirk’s emotions when under control allow him to focus on the most important information. enhanced. His ability to make decisions when time is of the essence are 2|Page STUDENT CASE: Kirk and Spock How do we characterize a “rational” person? Is he a cool and unemotional individual who bases decisions purely on logic? Let’s consider characters from the popular television and movie series Star Trek. The first episode of the show aired on NBC on September 8, 1966. Though the original series was canceled after only three seasons, spin-offs and movies have kept the characters alive for fans of the show. The episodes were set in the 23rd century and told the story of the experiences of the crew of the starship Enterprise. Two primary characters won the attention of many and they continue to be part of popular culture. Mr. Spock, half-Vulcan, is portrayed as a strictly rational thinker who thoroughly considers every piece of information. Vulcans, as a species, are known to suppress emotions and prize logic thinking. Spock, who is the Enterprise’s second in command, fully analyzes every decision at hand, but sometimes seems to get too caught up in the details. In contrast, Captain Kirk is purely human and likely to respond emotionally in difficult situations. At the same time, Kirk is generally thought to be a good decisionmaker. He is the captain of the Enterprise, after all. As an example of the characters’ natures, consider the events of a popular episode, “The Galileo Seven,” which originally aired on January 6, 1967. While on the way to deliver vaccines for a plague, the Enterprise stops to investigate a strange phenomenon. Because they have a few days before they are scheduled to deliver the vaccines, Kirk sends Spock and a team aboard a shuttlecraft, the Galileo, to explore further. The two vessels soon lose contact due to interference by a phenomenon, which appears to be some type of quasar. In the end, Spock saves the shuttlecraft team by making a risky decision to lift off the planet on which they had landed without sufficient power to remain in orbit. The Enterprise crew saw a flare from the shuttlecraft and returned in time to save ©2010 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be scanned, copied or duplicated, or posted to a publicly available website, in whole or in part. 3|Page them. Here is an excerpt of the dialogue between Kirk and Spock after the rescue: Kirk: Uh, Mr. Spock, there's really something I don't understand about all of this. And maybe you can explain it to me. Logically, of course. When you jettisoned the fuel and ignited it, you knew there was virtually no chance of it being seen, yet you did it anyhow. That would seem to be an act of desperation. Spock: Quite correct. Kirk: We all know, and I'm sure the doctor agrees, that desperation is a highly emotional state of mind. How does your well-known logic explain that? Spock: Quite simply, Captain. I examined the problem from all angles, and it was plainly hopeless. Logic informed me that, under the circumstances, the only possible action would have to be one of desperation. Logical decision, logically arrived at. Kirk: Aha, ha ha. I see. You mean you reasoned that it was time for an emotional outburst. Spock: Well, I... wouldn't put it in exactly those terms, Captain, but...those are essentially the facts. Kirk: You're not going to admit that for the first time in your life, you committed a purely human, emotional act? Spock: No, sir. Kirk: Mr. Spock, you're a stubborn man. Spock: Yes, sir. Do you think Spock is purely logical, as he is typically portrayed? Can emotion and logic be separated, as personified in the characters of Kirk and Spock? Do Kirk’s emotions have a positive side? ©2010 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be scanned, copied or duplicated, or posted to a publicly available website, in whole or in part.