Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, April 24, 2017

Section 8: Installment 1: The Walking Dead and Philosophy!

The Walking Dead and Philosophy is a book written by Wayne Yuen, a philosophy professor at Ohlone College in Fremont, California. The Walking Dead is a successful comic book series and a popular television show. Personally, I believe that philosophy is very important when it comes to the idea of the zombie apocalypse. It touches major aspects such as survival, fear of death, and the unexplainable and mysterious human mind. According to Yuen, zombies are not a new thing to philosophers. Rene Descartes talked about mindless humans that have no internal mental life. This subject gives rise to the question of whether our bodies can exist without consciousness. Dualism is a view that humans are both physical and non-physical. Rene Descartes himself believed that the mind can exist without the body. His famous phrase, “I think; therefore, I am,” means that you can doubt anything and everything. If our mind does the thinking, then our body is a present physical thing that can’t do any thinking. In terms of a “philosophical” zombie, the person’s immaterial mind is no longer part of the physical body. This, then, promotes the idea of the afterlife. “The mind can live without the body” is what we believe. For example, when you go to a beloved one’s grave, a grandfather or grandmother for instance, it is often considered “normal” to speak to them even though they passed away and, technically, their mind and body are separated. This goes to the idea of the afterlife, which every single person has his or her own ideology about. Gilbert Ryle challenged Descartes idea about the body and mind being independent of one another. Yuen mentioned that Ryle’s explanation means that the mind is occupying the body, but both the mind and the body have an impact on one another and therefore have a connection. We, as humans, want to believe that when our bodies die, our minds, or who we are, does not die with it. This would reject dualism and lean more towards materialism, the belief that everything in the world, including the human mind, is physical.
These things are mainly referring to the dead ones and their relationships and interactions with life and the real world. But what about the ones who are still living and breathing; and their philosophical conflicts amongst themselves, as well as the dead ones. When something as terrifying as this happens, everyone will have a different coping mechanism to deal with it. People won’t be the same anymore. The walking dead does a very good job in showing the human mind in situations that would reflect our species as a whole and how we act; something that is critical to philosophy.
Some further questions that rose in this book include: How should we treat one another? How should we divide the labor? Without support from things like government, law enforcement, and political correctness, are we equal? Can we take whatever we find? Does private property still even exist? Can we have children? What do we do with someone who did something that was “morally” wrong?



  1. It has never occurred to me before to connect the zombie apocalypse with philosophy. The real test of the mental strength of a person is an apocalypse. Someone being able to keep a level head while the world is crumbling around them is truly astounding.
    The afterlife is a comforting idea, which is why so many of us believe in it, apart from religion. The fear of the unknown is a very real and scary thing. It is easier to think that when you die, you'll be greeted by all of your deceased family members and friends while also simultaneously being able to look after your alive family members and friends. Personally, my coping method with dead is just to not think about it.

  2. The Walking Dead is a fantastic show that depicts the every day struggles of our main group and their struggle with people and zombies. I personally agree with Descartes in his idea of dualism which is depicted in the Walking Dead perfectly during the CDC episode where they learn that they all have this disease which turns us into zombies before they die so no matter how they die they will turn. Which aligns perfectly with Descartes idea of the mind and body being separate, whether the body is dead or alive the mind remains active. And only a head shot will put'em down. An apocalyptic world has no rules and regulations, just people trying to survive anyway possible.

  3. "Rene Descartes talked about mindless humans that have no internal mental life"-implicitly, maybe. But he quickly concluded that even if everything else can be doubted, his essence as a "thinking thing" cannot be.

    Students have told me they believe zombies are real. I'm pretty sure they're not... but there are mindless beings among us, no doubt.

    You might want to take a look at what philosophers like David Chalmers and others have said about all this zombie talk - https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/zombies/