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Philosophy explained through Dollhouse

Tuesday 14 June 2011, by Webmaster

Whedon Wednesday :: the philosophy of Dollhouse

A further rant may later be had, but this is a point-by-point dissection of every term that was on my philosophy final exam review sheet in Dollhouse terms. Because it helped me study, and it’s remarkable how true it is.

Solipsism: only what is inside of your own mind exists. Wherein one is reduced to what my teacher described (unknowing of the fortuitous phrasing for my own nerd purposes) as a “brain in a vat,” where one’s entire reality is what goes on in one’s brain. What you imagine, what you feel; there is no physical reality, just perception. In short? The Attic, wherein one is reduced to a brain hooked up with wires to a super-processor and inside of said brain made to experience one’s greatest fears and imagined scenarios.

Metaphysics: the philosophy of being, knowing, substance, cause, identity, time, and space. Abstract theory or talk with no basis in reality. Metaphysically, Clyde Ambrose envisioned what Rossum was capable of doing. Unfortunately for him, it was able to be a more literal reality.

Primary qualities: measurable, undoubtable facts. Quantities, numerical facts. Swimming ten laps in the pool.

Secondary qualities: opinions, subjective facts. Massages are relaxing and one is or is not their best.

Epistemology: essentially, believing that your opinions about something are true. The study of knowledge. Paul Ballard believing that yes, what the Dollhouse does is wrong. Removing people’s brains (interestingly, he goes sort of Descartes and says “souls” a couple of times) and making them into fancy assassins and/or prostitutes and/or whatever else you might need is wrong, dammit. He says so, with his tall, morally judgmental self.

Monism: believing there is only one reality, either the mental or the physical or the spiritual or the… whatever. Solipsism is monism. So is materialism. So is choosing to believe that, dammit, I feel like a person who exists. That means I will be a person who exists, boom, done. Paul and Mellie pre-exploding doom.

Dualism: believing that multiple realities can coexist. In a nutshell, Echo. A fully realized reality in the form of a person can exist with multiple pieces and fragments of reality going into it.

Ontology: discerning the nature of this reality, basically. Ontology is discovering that, well, crap, this technology does exist, people can erase someone’s brain, and adjusting your perception of what reality is accordingly.

Materialism: is really just irrelevant, because it disregards the brain entirely. And I have no patience for disregarding neuroscience.

Skepticism: does that really exist? Is that really the case? Ballard, is there really a place in the ground where people’s brains get erased? Do you really want to lose your job over what may or may not really exist?

Foundationalism: all things are provably true or so fundamentally true they don’t need to be proven. Insert neurogeeky tl;dr here, if you’d like.

A priori: making judgments on something before the fact and without direct experience. A priori knowledge is what happens when there has never been a composite event before, so nobody tries to premeditatively prevent it. Why would it? So Alpha’s allowed to continue to function, and then everything gets dumped in him by accident and wackiness ensues.

A posteriori: what happens when Echo starts to composite. Everyone sort of already knows what could happen and it’s bad, so Dominic is going Hey we should do something maybe, but then Adelle’s going Well, it could work out, and besides I want to see what happens and Boyd is secretly going Mwahahahaha evil plans falling into place that I won’t reveal for another season and wackiness ensues.

Direct realism: the opposite of solipsism. Seeing somethin in front of you and believing it’s real based on your ability to recognize its existence. Direct realism is why Paul doesn’t think to doubt that Mellie is real, because she’s right in front of him, so she must be.

Indirect realism: sort of like that but not; everything is a neural image of something real. Adelle’s pouring her clients alcoholic beverages and going We can create you the reality of your choosing, it will for all intents and purposes be real, even if it’s not technically, so pay us exorbitant sums of money and screw someone’s brains out, please.

Epistemological idealism: believing that yes, we have ideas, and yes, they’re real in our minds. Echo’s trying to convince Paul that even though she may not have originally been comprised of dozens of people living inside one brain and body, she’s real enough to know she wants to kiss him.

Metaphysical idealism: sort of like solipsism but not. The brain isn’t the only thing there is in this world, but it’s the basis of things. Mellie believes that she’s a real person, she has no reason to doubt it, because why would she? Echo knows that she’s real, even if she’s comprised of a bunch of different brains. She’s her own reality.

Positivism: well, up yours, Descartes, there’s no soul. Or if there is it’s not the scientific basis of… well, anything. What cannot be proven scientifically, logically, or mathematically is not real. Positivism has its ups and downs; there’s proof that the world will probably end because of this tech. Percentage-related proof, even. Also, the law makes sense because it’s logical, even though sometimes it’s not logical because some company engineers a senator and then hacks into the government and destroys civilization as we know it and everything goes to hell. Then your own moral code is acceptable.

–your fangirl heroine.