The Philosophy of the X-Files


The Philosophy of the X-Files



Edited by Dean A. Kowalski ; foreword by William B. Davis.

Includes a chapter by College at Brockport faculty member Gordon Barnes: Science and the mystery of consciousness : a dialogue between Mulder and Scully.

From its first appearance in 1993, The X-Files has attracted millions of viewers interested in the paranormal investigations of intuitionist and belief-driven Fox Mulder and his partner, Dana Scully, the "consummate scientist" and skeptic. Addressing questions of trust and authority that plague our information-addled society, the series acquired a large fan base of individuals interested in debating and interpreting the philosophical themes that underlie the symbiotic partnership between Mulder and Scully. The Philosophy of The X-Files concentrates not only on the philosophical assumptions and presuppositions of the show but also on how the episodes portray the process of philosophical inquiry. Editor Dean A. Kowalski argues that both philosophy and The X-Files center around a determination to search for truth despite a frequent lack of information and proper tools. It is no surprise, then, to find the series riddled with common philosophical themes, including metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics, and existentialism, among others. The first section of the book addresses the credos put forth by the series and examines the philosophical significance of its three popular slogans: "The truth is out there," "Trust no one," and "I want to believe." In the second section, contributors analyze the philosophical underpinnings of the characters of Mulder, Scully, the Cigarette Smoking Man, and Assistant Director Walter Skinner. A final section is devoted to individual episodes and engages with the philosophical issues raised by "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" and "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space,'" in addition to the 1998 film The X-Files: Fight the Future. Two appendixes offer a summary of the main storyline and brief plot summaries of each television episode together with the philosophical issues it raises. The first collection of philosophical essays devoted exclusively to the show, The Philosophy of The X-Files shows a television series successfully engaged with the philosophical quandaries of the modern world and explores how Mulder and Scully's personalities and actions invite inquiry into patterns of human belief and behavior.



Publication Date


Publication Information

Lexington : University Press of Kentucky, 2007.

xx, 275 p. ; 24 cm.

Series: The philosophy of popular culture






Located in Drake Library at: PN1992.77.X22 P45 2007 and PN1992.77.X22 P45 2009, plus as an eBook (full-text limited to College at Brockport members:

CONTENTS: Introduction : Mulder, Scully, Plato, Aristotle, and Dawkins / Dean A. Kowalski -- The truth is out there : abduction, aliens, and alienation / Mark C.E. Peterson -- Freedom and worldviews in The X-files / V. Alan White -- Postdemocratic society and the truth out there / Richard Flannery and David Louzecky -- Some philosophical reflections on "trust no one" / Richard M. Edwards and Dean A. Kowalski -- "I want to believe" : William James and The X-files / Keith Dromm -- Ancient X-files : Mulder and Plato's Sokratic dialogues / William M. Schneider -- Scully as pragmatist feminist : "truths" are out there / Erin McKenna -- Moral musings on a cigarette smoking man / Timothy Dunn and Joseph J. Foy -- Walter Skinner : The X-files' unsung hero / S. Evan Kreider -- Science and the mystery of consciousness : a dialogue between Mulder and Scully / Gordon Barnes -- "Clyde Bruckman's final repose" reprised / Dean A. Kowalski -- Hope and pessimism : the two tales of "Jose Chung" / Dean A. Kowalski and S. Evan Kreider -- Feelings and fictions : exploring emotion and belief in Fight the future / Christopher R. Trogan.

The Philosophy of the X-Files